Most of the craziness is over. On the 19th, Bryan & I went to the battery around 0530. The families were allowed to stay until 0800. Overall I think things went pretty well. At around 0730, Smoke got them into formation and as he called off their names, each person was supposed to say goodbye. Bryan and I had a moment and there were some tears on my part but we both tried our best to be tough. I took another wife and her children home and then hit the road to Frankfurt. On Monday and Tuesday I took the family to Paris. I worked on Wednesday. On Thursday we of course had Thanksgiving and some of my friends came over. On Friday and Saturday we were in Rothenberg. I took them back to the airport around 0800 yesterday morning. It was fun having the family here, but 5 of us in a small living space and together nonstop for a week was a little much. Misha and I enjoyed the peace and quiet we had yesterday. It's been snowing for a few days now. It came down pretty hard yesterday and last night, but today has been clear. My neighbor Laura had her little girl early Friday morning. I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Talmadge Lee. I met and was able to hold Tally last night. She is so precious and I look forward to watching her grow! Congratulations Laura and John! My dad helped me get some Christmas lights up and put together my Christmas tree. I'm not thrilled about having a fake tree but it's better than nothing and MUCH easier than trying to deal with a real one by myself. Hopefully I'll get the rest of the house decorated by the end of this week. Bryan seems to be doing well. He was pretty sick the first few days he was there. I don't think they are doing a whole lot, just some training. We have been able to instant message online quite a bit and even use webcams. I'm working on getting something together where he can put online things he or his platoon needs in case anyone would like to send them some stuff. More info to follow soon......
Bryan will be leaving tomorrow. I will drop him off and then go straight to the airport to pick up my family. It is going to be a crazy day for me emotionally. I'm going to be my family's European tour guide next week. I'll be off all week so I don't know if I'll get to blog. Oh yeah - even though there is a lot of other crazy stuff going on tomorrow - it's still a UGA game day! From www.georgiadogs.com : On Saturday, Georgia (7-2, 5-2 SEC) and Kentucky (3-6, 2-4 SEC) meet for the 59th time since 1939 with the Bulldogs leading the series 46-10-2. For the second time in three years, Georgia will be looking to claim the SEC Eastern Division title if it can post a win over the Wildcats. Kick-off is at 12:30 and the game is being televised by Jefferson Pilot. GOOOOOOO Dawgs!!
Most of Bryan's battery left last night/this morning. Bryan's platoon still has a few more days here because they didn't have enough room for everyone. Bryan had to work last night to make sure everyone got off okay. It was a little hard for him to watch them go without him. He'll be reunited with them soon enough though! As the week goes on, the post is getting more and more empty. Please pray for the soldiers and their families as this deployment begins.
I know I'm an Army wife when... I have to move an IBA out of the way to put groceries in the car. My husband asks me to hand him a magazine and I automatically reach for a rifle magazine rather than the reading material. I experienced both of these things lately so I thought that would be my blog today.
Here is a whole list that I found online! You Know You're An Army Wife If: ...you can unpack a house and have everything in place in 48 hours ...you string Constantina wire to keep the neighbor's kids out of your flower beds ...your husband's work and dress clothes cost more than yours do ...you've changed more oil and mowed more lawns than your husband because he's never there to do it himself ...you use a crook-neck flashlight with a red lens during power outages because it's the only one you can ever find in the house ...your children say "hooah" or "roger that" instead of "ok" ...you know that it's normal to light shoe polish on fire and that the best way to spit-shine boots is with cotton balls ...your husband does a route recon and takes a GPS for a trip to the mall ...you only write in pencil because EVERYTHING is subject to change ...you need a translator to talk to your civilian friends, only because they have no idea what DFAS, AER, TDY, ACS, NPD, PCS, and ETS mean ...you have a larger selection of curtains than Walmart does ...you can remember where you kept the Scotch tape in your last house, but unfortunately, not in this one ...you mark time in duty stations, not years ...you refer to friends not only by name but by the state that they live in ...you know that "back home" doesn't mean at the house you live in now ...you tear up when you hear "Proud to Be An American," even though you've heard it 50 times by now ...you know that a 2 month separation IS short, no matter what your civilian friends say ...you ALWAYS know when payday is and get ticked off if there are more than 2 weekends during that pay period ...you know better than to go to the PX or commissary between 11:30 and 13:00 unless it's a life or death emergency ...you show your military ID to the greeter at Walmart ...you know that any reference to "sand" or a "box" describes NTC at Ft. Irwin, not your kid's backyard toys ...you know that "Ft. Puke" is a completely accurate description of Ft. Polk ...you find yourself explaining your husband's LES to him ...you have enough camouflage in your house to wallpaper the White House ...you don't have to think about what time 21:30 is ...you've ever been referred to as "Household 6" ...you're the TC, not a backseat driver ...you start ripping open MREs and looking for the M&Ms when you run out of Halloween candy ...you can't remember the last time you saw a doctor who wasn't wearing BDUs ...you've ever had a pet named Scout, Ranger or Sergeant ...the local dry cleaner knows you by your first name ...it only cost you $25 to have a child ...you find that a large number of your clothes and household items are olive drab or loam, even though you never planned it that way ...you pick apart uniforms on TV and in the movies, even though you used to yell at your husband for doing the same thing ...you know what "pogey bait" is and which kinds everyone in your husband's platoon prefers ...you wish you could go to CIF to DX your old stuff like your husband can ...you've learned to sleep through the sounds of tanks, planes, helicopters and artillery simulators ...you give your kids a hand receipt when they take your Tupperware to school ...you can hate military life but be terrified to leave it all in the same breath ...you defend your lifestyle no matter how bad things get because you know there's no other life for you!
There's an old adage borrowed from the poetry of John Milton: "They also serve who only stand and wait." Milton wasn't writing about military spouses (or families), but he could have been. While the deploying troops garner most of the attention (and deservedly so), their wives and families wait in relative obscurity. Their burden (loneliness, fear, stress) is as heavy and their sacrifice often as poignant as that of their loved ones with boots on the ground in dangerous places.
That's one of the subtle themes of Jessica Redmond's compelling account of the experiences of six Army wives during their husbands' deployment to Iraq in 2003-2004. For the most part, Redmond is content to allow the women to tell their stories and to leave the conclusions to the reader. Beyond the subtleties lurking just beneath the surface, Redmond admits to "one overarching theme:" the women's "ability to persevere and find meaning in ... the most difficult period of their lives." Perseverance, however, is a relative concept and it's not always the most prevalent characteristic on display here. Whatever their faults, however, much is asked of these women and they deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.
Redmond, a freelance journalist and first-time author, was an Army wife stationed at Baumholder, Germany, in 2003. After her husband's unit, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, deployed to Iraq, she began the research that would become A Year of Absence. Out of her interviews with the wives of deployed soldiers, she chose six diverse women whose stories represent the sundry experiences of those left behind. While most are twenty-something (combat is a young man's burden after all), they represent a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Some have attended college; others haven't. Most have children; two do not. Their husbands' rank ranges from Private First Class to First Lieutenant.
The most glaring difference, however, is in their attitudes and coping skills. The long separation and the attendant loneliness and fear are a common experience, but the way the women react is not. Some cope well, maintain a positive outlook, and stay busy. One not only volunteers for her Family Readiness Group but also makes a to-do list of projects to complete before her husband returns. Redmond notes that "The projects kept her focused on the present, not just wishing the year away." Another -- after a brief false start -- discovers new friends (her Buddy Club) to keep her active and grounded.
Others wallow in self-pity. "When is this nightmare going to end?" one wails. Another complains that she's "sick of having so little control over her life." One of them becomes so distraught over the news that the unit's deployment is being extended that she frightens her young daughter who pleads in a soft voice, "Mommy, you're scaring me." Instead of getting a grip, she continues to frantically dial her own mother's phone number back in the states. In these cases, it seems obvious that the strain of deployment only exacerbated existing problems and character flaws. You just know that one or two of these women are never going to be happy -- whether their husbands are soldiers or civilians, deployed or not.
The deployment finally ends and the soldiers return -- except for the twenty-six who made the ultimate sacrifice. For a few, the homecoming is bittersweet as the separation has taken a toll on their marriages. For most, it "was a time of jubilation and renewal." In fact, soon enough the post is in the midst of an incipient "baby boom."
All six of Redmond's subjects make it through the deployment relatively unscathed. A couple of marriages are strained to the breaking point, but hold. And in a satisfying -- if inevitable -- development, several discover that the enforced isolation and responsibility helped them become "more independent and self-assured."
Despite the reservations of some of the women, five of the six husbands elect to stay in the Army. The sixth wants to stay but bows to the desire of his wife to return to civilian life. The wives of those choosing to stay -- even the skeptical ones -- embrace their husbands' choices even though it almost certainly means future deployments.
Redmond allows her subjects to tell their stories with a minimum of interference. The stories are instructive -- often powerful -- and need little embellishment. Not that the author can't turn an insightful or eloquent phrase: e.g., her description of the young wife who "resumed her weekly trip to the commissary, more out of habit than hunger," or, the young wife who's determined that her husband's sendoff will be positive: "When he leaves ... all he will see is utopia."
There is one final important point that Redmond suggests but leaves to the reader to reach: the wisdom of deploying troops from overseas bases. In the Global War on Terrorism, such deployments have been frequent. But, they place an even greater strain on families than deployments from state-side posts. Families left behind in Germany, Italy, or Korea are cut off from the support of family and are even more isolated. Fortunately, as the Pentagon permanently moves units (like the First Armored Division) state-side from Germany and Korea, that should be less of an issue in the future. Redmond provides us an unflinching look at military wives (and by extension families) during their hardest challenge and reminds us again that there are heroes on the home front too. A Year of Absence deserves a wide audience. --- Jessica Redmond will embark on a book tour in November that will take her to Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. as well as Ft. Drum, NY, Ft. Bragg, NC, Ft. Leavenworth, KS, Ft. Sill, OK, Ft. Lewis, WA, Ft. Hood, TX, and Ft. Benning, GA. If you live nearby, go out and hear her.
1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave. 2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years. 3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3. 4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you. 5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses. 6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries. 7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen. 8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it. 10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee. 11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : ) 12. You don't have time to read this - it has more than five things listed! 13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message, so they can't read this either! 14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list. 15. Your pet has a serial number
Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq? Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million Iraqi people? Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq? Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating? Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the reestablished Fulbright program? Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational?! They have 5- 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment. Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operational squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers? Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion? Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers? Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks? Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities. Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations? Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October? Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%? Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consists of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations? Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004? Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a televised debate recently?
OF COURSE WE DIDN'T KNOW! WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW? OUR MEDIA WOULDN'T TELL US!
Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the presidential motorcades. The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes. It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States thus minimizing consequent support, and it is intended to discourage American citizens.
---- Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense web site.
I'm always at a loss for a good title so today it's just the name of the song I'm listening to at the moment. I started back morning workouts today. As I turned the corner to go in the back door of the gym I saw a few busses and soldiers. At first I just wondered who was going to the field. I soon realized what was really happening though. Those soldiers weren't going to train again, they were leaving for the real deal. When I got inside the gym it was even more obvious. There were soldiers everywhere carrying their rifles and any extra items they were keeping on them. There was a large group of soldiers in a huddle praying. I guess I was getting another wake-up call that the time is coming soon, which leads me to my next thought.... On Friday night it hit me that we could be just a week and a few days from Bryan's departure. I started to wonder how this week should be. How do you spend the last week that you're going to have for basically a year? Do we just carry on like normal or spend every second that we can attached at the hip?? There's got to be an instruction manual for this somewhere......
We made it back to Germany on Wednesday morning after spending 2 weeks in Georgia. Going home has its pros and cons, but we were glad to get back to "normal" in Baumholder. Bryan has spent the past 2 afternoons playing golf so he's practically still on vacation. I, however, am back at work. We are in the process of trying to get a 2nd digital camera before Bryan leaves. I ordered one from www.6ave.com and they completely screwed me over. After making a lot of phone calls it looks like Dad's going to be able to get one for us from Office Max. Now I'm just hoping it can get here in time since 6th Ave wasted 2 weeks of my time! We got some webcams while we were home and I got one hooked up last night. I love it and it's pretty fun to use! I uploaded a few new pictures to the fotopic site. Here's the link: www.cristin-fanning.fotopic.net. They're under the title "All Sorts of Stuff".