Getting a Little Political

Ok, if you have been watching the news at all, you can see that things in Syria are getting pretty serious. If you haven’t been watching, I would suggest tuning in.

Yesterday, the Senate started the vote for military action, first getting it approved in a committee.

We have been talking about Syria for a while in our household. Regardless of what the news is saying, it will affect us as a military family.

A fellow Army wife shared this article yesterday, and it really made me think. It made me think enough that I felt the need to respond in my own words.

Please keep in mind that I am talking from my military spouse lens. This is not meant to be about why we [United States] are considering military action. It is just my reaction to some of the media comments as of late, what I see at work and expanding on that article.

Many people think that our time in Afghanistan is coming to a close, and some even believe we are out. This is false, even though it is something we have been told even before Tom left for his first tour there. I even heard a politician say something to the tune of “We aren’t sending anymore troops there.” Tom deployed the next week to said “there”. One of our very good friends is currently there and schedule to be there until next February. He just found out yesterday that his first expected child is going to be a boy. I don’t think they would agree that we are “moving out” of that area. Also, Tom is scheduled for his second deployment back to Afghanistan next July. They have started extensive training which takes him away from our family for days at a time and often has him coming home at odd hours of the night. This kind of training will continue up until they leave next summer. I sure wish it was true that they were out of that country!

“But we are leaving the county” (and also Iraq) they continue to report. The reality is that, yes, there are less troops being sent over. Many COPs (combat out posts) are being closed, but we are still planning to have a presence for awhile to come.

Military families will not be affected with the current proposed Syrian Plan. Hmmmm… As of right now the plan is not to use ground troops and to take no longer than 3 months from everything that I have read. That is great and I am absolutely on board with that seeing as my hubster is the ground troops. But when you talk about war, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. While this timeline would be ideal, it may not be completely accurate once we begin. We have no idea how the other side or other countries will react to our plan.  You cannot wrap war up in a pretty little package with a bow, which is what I think this plan insinuates. The leaders of Syria are already warning us of what may unfold. Who are we to say they aren’t bluffing? This three month thing could get an approved extension to add support troops to this initial wave.

Plus let’s think about it, if we are going to get involved with military action, some troop somewhere has to take that action. I don’t think they are going to be doing that from American soil, so even though it may be for a couple months, some military family somewhere IS going to be affected. It doesn’t matter if this is the safest plan for our troops, there is always a concern from families. Always. Even when Tom was in a “safe” country on his way back from Afghanistan, I was still worried. I still felt this weight on my chest that I would never see him again. Unless your service member is beside you in person, you have concern and are affected by any type of deployment. And to be real with you, I still worry about him even when he is in the safety of our house. Being in the military is a life altering commitment that while I am honored to be a part of it, the reality is that it affects me every second of every day, and terrifies me all the same regardless of if he is stateside or not. His job is literally life or death. I am not sure how that can’t affect me.

And being gone just for one day affects families. Try saying that it doesn’t affect a family to the mom who has to figure out daycare and carpooling for all 3 kids since their partner is gone. Try saying that it doesn’t to the 3rd grader who didn’t see their mom in the stands at their first little league game. Try explaining how it doesn’t to the parents who just said goodbye to their 18 year old as they board that plane for overseas. The time does matter to us, and we are affected.

Constant battering of the military expenses. I have held my tongue to this point about all the sequestering business, even as I watched vital offices/services around base get closed during regular weekly business hours to help cut costs. But as I went home to MO this past weekend and saw billboards about the fast food strike and the “right to work”. As I have been seeing comments all over the place about how our military is ready to go, I was pondering our jobs and what effort we put into our work as a country. I thought about the respect that is given to those who choose to work in this [military] field without much regard except on big holidays. The military is ready to go at any time. That is what is so great about our Armed Forces. Tom is ready to go wherever America needs him to go (a little to eagerly in my opinion, but I am a little greedy about my hubster time.) This commitment to the oath they took to serve their country hasn’t come with full support of our nation. Constantly over the past year there have been talks about cutting benefits, bases, and military personnel. Here at Ft. Campbell they are going to be eliminating one of the most famous brigades (Band of Brothers) in the next year to hit the mark on the new budget. The scope of what that means, just boggles my mind. But regardless of the comments or the payback, they are ready to serve and willingly go every time. They do it with pride and honor. They do it without constant(or even regularly scheduled) pay raises. I think that is something that people should take note of before considering taking a swipe at the defense budget. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome benefits, and I am grateful for what we do get, but on the grand scale of things I am not sure that everyone has their facts straight when trying to say the military gets too much. P.S. There is no sitting out in the military. Have you heard the term AWOL and did you know  that you can get arrested for it? Also, war doesn’t stop when you are asleep, eating, going to the bathroom, so a full-time job has a whole other meaning for service members.

I work in a field were we constantly talk about injustice and under-represented groups, which is one thing I love about my job. I love getting out there and connecting people to their passions no matter their past or situations. We all have a voice and story to be told, and I love that I am in an environment that allows me to interact with a variety of people.  I think the military should be one of those under-represented communities that comes to the forefront of people’s minds because they are so misunderstood and disregarded too often. They also encompass many of the most common groups that folks think of when you say the word “diversity” or “social justice.” You cannot always tell if someone is military, and many don’t feel it necessary to boast about those achievements. But, just because they don’t want to talk about it, doesn’t mean we don’t need to take care of them in this country. Yes they are independent and have had experiences that are worse than most of our nightmares. That, I think, puts most people in this mindset that veteran’s and military folks can just take care of themselves because of all that they experienced. They can handle anything right? Well, maybe so, but that doesn’t mean we don’t owe them a little gratitude and a hand. We need to be more empathetic to this population and how our politics can affect them.

Because, quite frankly, they will fight to their death to save our county.

They would rather make sure they are ready and trained for their war life. They cannot control the whens/whys/hows of  where they go; they can control how prepared they are once given orders. Why can’t we as a country be ready to support them in this endeavor?

Ask yourself are you ready to go to war? I know I am not. So I am thankful that service members are willing to put it all on the line so I don’t have to.

(I have a similar contempt for America’s treatment of teachers, but that is a soap box for another day.)

As I said, this was not intended to be a debate on whether we should go to Syria or not, but I hope it inspires you to think a little harder about what you say about the folks that do go and the support you provide them. Seriously, we should think about any group we talk about and seek to know the facts. We need to hear the stories of that group before we turn a blind eye. Obviously, I am biased, and I will own that. But I see what these men [in Tom’s unit] do every day and I think it is about time someone takes notice instead of throwing stones at what they don’t know or understand.

So here I am just trying to tell a little bit of our story to hopefully remove some barriers.

Hometown Hero

There have been several stories recently of soldiers who have told lavish stories about deployments and honors/medals they received for their service. They have been regarded as hometown heroes. As time passes and their accolades become bigger and the truth surfaces. These deployments and reasons for honor never occurred. They have tarnished the uniform and made up a story to gain some fame and glory. Unfortunately, this happens and it casts a shadow on those who humbly serve our country without any flashy recognition.

Definition of HERO from Merriam-Webster

a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability

b : an illustrious warrior

c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities

d : one who shows great courage

I am sure we all have figures (real or not) who pop in our minds ranging from Superman to our own parents that fit this definition. I wanted to share a real story of one particular soldier. He shows how our soldiers not only fight for our freedoms across the seas, but they do so much stateside to inspire and encourage their fellow man. This soldier shows us the “noble” qualities and illustrates what a warrior can be on a normal day. It is just one example of the stories that go untold but do show how human our soldiers are and that at the core they believe in fighting battles every day to pursue dreams. They may seem like heroes for what they do on deployment, but they also show heroic characteristics and give great strength to those they leave behind. This is a true hometown hero.

This particular story is told from the perspective of a mom of a nine year old boy who has always dreamed of being in the United States Army.
Last Halloween TJ decided he wanted to be an “army guy.” Ever since TJ was able to speak, he has talked of being in the army. Over the past few years, we’ve had an abundance of army decorations, parties, clothing and hundreds (literally) of army toys and figurines. It was no surprise to us when he said he wanted to dress up as what he considers to be the ultimate hero. We went online and as we were looking at costumes, he suddenly got up from the table. He seemed upset and as he walked away, he said “I don’t want a costume now.” I followed him and when I asked him why, he said that it was because he gets too tired to walk around the neighborhood. It broke my heart that something as simple as trick-or-treating was a monumental effort for my son. When other children run around the neighborhood and bound up stairs to homes, my son will usually skip the houses with stairs (which are most) since he knows he can’t reach the door without help. I reminded TJ that we had his new wheelchair (which is army green by the way) and I would push him from house to house when he got too tired to walk. His reply was “No, Mom. Army guys aren’t in wheelchairs.” That was one of those times as a parent, you have to dig deeper than you ever thought possible for that positive attitude, put on a smile and try to come up with a worthy response. I dug deep but hit rock bottom and still had no words of wisdom to give my son. I simply let the subject lie for the time being. He needed to feel and I needed a game plan.I prayed for God to help us guide TJ. Do I push him to accept the wheelchair or do I let him miss out on Halloween? What is the right thing to do? Is there a right thing to do? That night I decided his wheelchair was somehow going to become part of his costume. If we made it cool enough, he’d want to use it. I decided one way or another we were going to make his wheelchair into an army tank. I had no idea how, but Craig and I started planning. My plans started by using a few boxes and a couple cans of spray paint. My husband decided that wasn’t quite enough so before I knew it, wood glue, 2x4s, screws, duct tape and paint (along with crude blueprints) became the new “plan.” When we told TJ our idea he was excited and trick-or-treating was back on our agenda. “The tank” became the new family project.TJ loved Halloween. He went to more houses, stayed out later and (most-importantly) acquired more treats than ever before. After posting the boys Halloween pictures, a teacher at TJ’s school emailed the picture of TJ in his “tank” to her brother, Tom, who was serving in Afghanistan. TJ decided to draw a picture and write a letter to Tom. Since Tom couldn’t receive physical mail, I scanned it and emailed it to him. He responded to TJ and answered his questions and shared more pictures of himself and others serving with him. TJ was thrilled because he officially had an army buddy. TJ was enthralled with the pictures and he was so impressed seeing first-hand what he has always dreamt of becoming. Upon Tom’s safe return home to the states, he visited TJ’s school. He brought pizza for TJ (making TJ a semi-star with his school buddies). He also asked to come to our house one Saturday and visit with TJ. After being away from his wife, family, dog, friends and home for over a year, Tom would have been more than justified to take some time and decompress or take a vacation. Instead, he decided to make that trip and talk to en entire elementary school and pay extra attention to my son….my soldier. Tom was simply doing what he thought in his heart was the right thing to do. By doing so, he was instrumental in helping TJ maintain his hopes and dreams. He helped a 9-year old see that physical abilities don’t limit us – it’s our heart, our drive and our mental state that sets our limitations to life. As we all see the years pass, we realize that we might not be exactly what we planned to be when we were young. Our dreams are either a memory or, if we are lucky, they are slightly skewed from the original goal. This will not be any different for TJ. His dreams will change and adapt just like everyone. Life will always throw us road blocks. But, it’s how we handle those road blocks that make us who we are. We always have to keep dreaming and setting goals. Tom spoke of men and women who served our country that couldn’t walk. He spoke of men and women that might not have the bodies for serving front line, but have the heart to help those that do put their lives on the line for us. He made sure TJ realized that everyone is instrumental in the big picture. Everyone has significant abilities.The majority of his visit, Tom simply sat down and just played with TJ. He listened and talked to both of our boys. He showed them pictures and patiently answered any and all questions two young boys would have about the life of a soldier (and there were plenty). Tom then became a superstar when he showed the boys how to clear a room. (That was definitely one of the highlights!) Before Tom left our home, he said he had a few things for TJ. He gave TJ one of his medals, a boonie hat, his flashlight, a 50 cal shell casing and a 101st airborne patch. Each and every one of those items has a place of pride on TJ’s dresser. Anyone that goes in his room is required to see them.A man that we hardly know has earned a place in our hearts forever. He unwittingly took serving his fellow man to a new level. In turn he became a hero in the flesh to a 9-year old who needed to dream big. There wasn’t anything flashy or showy. There was no press to highlight his selflessness.
Thank you Tom and all of our service men and women who continue to be inspiration humbly camouflaged.
I am fortunate enough to know this particular soldier. A man whose childhood dream, much like T.J., was to be in the Army. There are pictures still around that he drew as a kid depicting himself in a military uniform. Ever since I have known him, he spoke of dreams of following in his grandpa’s military footsteps. He was fortunate to fulfill this dream and fight for our nation, but also have the opportunity to outreach to young men like T.J. He has never wanted the limelight for this experience with T.J. He has always said, “T.J. is a good kid, and I like hanging out with him.” He is just doing what he thinks is right and wanted a young man to remember to never give up and to always fight for what you believe in. This wasn’t an event to be big and flashy, and he didn’t have to wear his uniform or be in a tank to have such a heroic impact. His intent was never to have status himself, and he always made it about the boys. He was just being himself and playing with some kids on a Saturday afternoon.
But that is not where this story of heroism ends for me.
I believe that this family fits the definition of heroes. They have a unifying love that is shown in their support for one another. They have been able to foster their children’s dreams despite circumstances, and one may say because of their circumstances. They have such faith and belief to make each day worthwhile. They have provided a space for their boys to mature into strong, humble, gracious, and encouraging individuals. As we begin to think about starting our own family, I can only hope that we are able to pass down some of these same qualities. They have been role models to show how a family should be there for each other. They are hometown heroes.
We have to remember and be thankful that we get to live out our dreams no matter what our circumstances may be. Things may not go the way that you planned and your dreams may change, but that’s ok. I mean seriously, I wanted to be a choreographer and/or an elephant trainer when I was a kid. So You Think You Can Dance and the Ringling Brothers haven’t knocked on my door recently, but I am still loving my life. Give life a chance, and it may be better than you could have imagined. And it’s still good to have big dreams. They make life fun! Someday I may have that elephant you never know! For now I will settle for a bathroom homage to the animal.
Every day you need to be “humbly camouflaged” and be willing to give back. Thank God for what you are given and show selfless love. He gives you gifts and opportunities to make and fulfill dreams (maybe your own and maybe others). You never know when you may have the chance to help someone fulfill their own aspirations. For me, that can be just as satisfying, if not more. (I must sound unbearably repetitive with this message; you can go to probably ever other post for my soap box rants about service…Sorry folks…)

You don’t have to fake your way to heroism. And I am sure it doesn’t help enrich the lives around you. The stories of these soldiers who cling to fabricated stories, are just sad. It minimizes the time they did spend serving our country justly and honorably. They have wasted an experience and a shot at true greatness for a few seconds of fame. You can be a respected hero without a medal or patch that says so. So choose your actions wisely.

Truth be told, there are many stories that will never be told publicly of what our soldiers do. They are much more than the uniform they put on. They are much more than the guns and tanks we associate them with. They aren’t all anger filled machines. Most are selfless and reserved with their actions, and are just doing what they believe to be true and just. They are giving back to their communities in many ways that are often never recognized. And for that they will always be heroes.
We may never have met this family without the Army theme uniting us. We will forever be impacted by T.J. and his remarkable family. The magnitude of that impact will only be told with time, but I am sure that this is only the beginning of how our families have been intertwined.
If you want to hear more about T.J. and what a courageous young man he is and the experiences he and his family have please visit T.J’s Triumph. I think it is safe to say he is a textbook hero already at 9 years old. We have a lot of living up to do!
My craft spotlight is this family’s ingenuity with some cardboard, duct tape, spray paint, love and persistence. I always loved homemade costumes! And look at this smile!

Acascuse Me?!?

First of all, if you haven’t watched Pitch Perfect, you need to add it to your life like yesterday. Aca-amazing.

Second of all, this is going to be the post where I pull the Army Wife card. I have pulled back from writing this post when I am highly emotional, and I have debated whether to even write it ever. But I feel that it is a post that needs to be expressed.

Throughout my short career as an Army Spouse, I have been appalled on many occasions at the misunderstandings and perceptions that people in our nation have about the military.

Sometimes I have gotten so angry at an individual’s disdain and rudeness that I think I might throw up. Then I have to remind myself that many people just don’t know.

So let me educate you just a bit from my perspective. These are just a few things and definitely only hit the tip of the iceberg.

1. Men and Women of the military make a choice to defend our freedom and our country’s constitution. They endure months/years of demanding training both mentally and physically to be able to protect the rest of us in our very cushy lives.

2. Ultimately, they do not get to choose the missions they go to or where they are stationed. My husband got out of basic and then not even four months later was sent to Afghanistan. Not exactly how we imagined our second year of marriage.

3. Just because they are trained killers, doesn’t make them crazy and evil. No matter what the news/Capital Hill may say. My husband is one of the most loving, loyal and dedicated people I have ever met. The military is trying to help other nations keep the peace and find the means to better themselves. Our military gets a bad rap because that’s what sells newspapers. Because they wouldn’t want you to know that all over the world, units are supplying food, medical care, education, and just general support to help countries in their time of need.

4. They have the utmost respect for our country’s values. To hear these men and women talk about their pride or watch them when the national anthem is played-it leaves me speechless. Many of them learn how to care and be considerate of others because of what they have been through in the military. I think many people in our nation could take a lesson from what the military teaches about respect.

5. Not all people in the military are homophobes. Stop labeling them as such. That just makes you the judger.

6. Deployment is not vacation, even if they are surrounded by sand. There are no beachy umbrella drinks found here.

  • They can’t call home whenever they want. And when they do, it is not a private call. It may only last 30 seconds, but could last 30 minutes. But you never know when you get that call.
  • They can’t eat whatever they want. At Tom’s station there was one cook for the unit. So you ate when they served. If you happen to have night duty, you ate what family/friends sent you in care packages or MREs because the cook wasn’t on duty. Dietary choice is no longer a luxury. (However, my husband does love those MREs.)
  • My husband’s living situation was a room that is smaller than most walk in closets. This is where all of his gear and cot were. He now lives in a room the size of our bedroom with 7 other men (cots and all their gear).
  • They may not have typical modern toilets and have more of an outhouse situation going on. Can you imagine going in a port-a-potty for 9 months?
  • It isn’t a walk in the park. It’s dirty, temperatures cannot be controlled…most Americans would be miserable in their conditions. (I know I wouldn’t last one day…) But they do it willingly, many signing up for re-enlistment for a shot at another deployment.
  • They may have internet, but the connection isn’t as nice as they make it out to be on TV. Tom and I were only recently able to skype and even now the video is about 3 minutes behind on the audio which can make things weird while you are talking. Some places have it capable in their room and some don’t. Some have to wait in line to only have a few minutes online. And there are some people out there that believe that since they have internet that their deployments must be a breeze and not so horrible for the internet and Facebook must mean 1st world living.  Seriously?
  • They are away from their loved ones and miss out on holidays, birthdays, big milestones, and just every day life. This has got to be one of the biggest sacrifices of all.
  • I could keep going, but I won’t. Just know that they are making substantial sacrifices and don’t act like it is nothing just because you may not agree with why they are over there.

7. There are a lot of good things that come out of a military career as well. To name a few:

  • You have a paying job and benefits, which in this economy is a blessing.
  • Education can be paid for. Yay no debts!
  • You get to see and experience the world. I know I have really enjoyed the unique knick knacks that have been sent home from other cultures.
  • There is support for not just you, but your entire family. This includes benefits, housing, education, lifestyle, counseling, etc.
  • Great sense of accomplishment and pride. Not everyone can do what they do.

I am not trying to say that being in the military makes you better than those that aren’t. We each have our own thing, and Lord knows that not everyone would flourish in a military lifestyle. What I am saying is that our country needs to take a little more time understanding what the military endures to protect us.

This week I had to deal with a financial situation where we were being charged for something that we had thought we had taken care of. Since it was Tom’s card, the customer service rep said I was not an authorized user. Even after explaining the situation, giving them all the card information, and letting them know I had power of attorney, they still denied me the right to take care of it. And they just kept saying, “Well you can take this into a branch to speak with someone in person.” The closest branch for this organization was 163 miles away. Then they said that since I was not authorized to do so my deployed husband could just call and take care of the dispute. They said this even after I explained to them repeatedly that he was deployed.

Oh no girl, you didn’t. Them is fighting words.

This situation made me furious. It takes me a lot to get heated, but this just kind of pushed me over the edge. So naturally I started crying to the rep and blubbering “He is deployed” over and over again. I was totally trying to pull the Army Wife card, and it just wasn’t working! He can’t just call willy nilly, he is half-way across the globe! I can’t just make him appear to fix this issue. Believe me, if I had that power, I’d be on that. (FYI, they still did nothing to help me that day. Tom ended up having to call when he could to take care of it, which was uber frustrating for both of us.)

It is situations like that that just make me sad and angry. There are so many misconceptions around the military, so please seek first to understand their situations. Even if you don’t agree with their purpose, they have a unique story to tell and has a right to be heard. They make sacrifices that even I don’t always understand. I have to check myself sometimes too, so I know it is not an easy pill to swallow.

These sacrifices are made so that we can live as a free nation. Our history is based on acts that service members have diligently fought and died for so we could get to where we are. Take a moment to honor that, I mean you are on the internet and all. 🙂

Maybe if we all knew what was at risk, we would be more appreciative of what we have.

I know after this experience I am.

One thing I know is that the military is a proud group who is willing to fight for the country and you. But I will ask you, who is fighting for them?

So with that little nugget to munch on, I will move on to my craft.

Every year I take some time to make a blanket for my honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi. We have an auction every spring as a fundraiser, and my contribution, even after graduating 5 years ago, is mailing in a homemade crocheted blanket. So each year, I come up with some new design and pull out yarn that are some shade of yellow and purple. It’s like my yearly challenge to come up with something better than the year before. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my creativeness and skill; other times I am just hoping someone will bid at least $5.

This year was a good year.

I tried a new stitch-the treble crochet.

My pattern was:

1. 3 single white on each end

2. purple 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble

3. 2 single white

4. repeat step two with yellow.

5. repeat step 3.

6. repeat step 2-5 until hit desired size.

I really like the effect of the treble.


And here is the full effect with Grace hogging the limelight as well.





Gobble till you Wobble

It is probably cliche that I am going to write a post about gratitude the week of Thanksgiving. Well get over it, it’s happening.

I have been wanting to write a message of thanks to the outpouring of support my family has received since Tom went overseas, but I just haven’t found the right words to do so. I am still not quite sure if I can express all of my gratitude to those around us as eloquently as I wish too, but I needed to say thanks somehow.
With the holidays coming up, I have been wondering lately how I am going to get through a time where family is the focus without mine present. I just kept focusing on what Tom and I would be missing out on. I mean this is the first time in 5 years he and I will not have been together for the holidays. I selfishly kept wallowing about the fact that my husband left me for the holidays. The feeling of being alone is highlighted exponentially at this time. Then I did something absentmindedly last week that reminded me that even though there are parts that stink about this, we have so much to be thankful for. (And really he didn’t choose to be gone at this time of year, so I needed to get over myself and stop being a Lifetime Christmas Special Movie.)

So Iowa State has an obsession with listserves. There are listserves for everything and everyone. Well this week, I had a Dawson’s Creek moment like when Joey sent a private message to all of campus. Fortunately, mine had positive effects instead of the public embarrassment Joey encountered.   I have been sending out emails requesting help with sending Tom and his unit items they need or want. This week I added all the appropriate groups, and pressed send. A few hours later, I get an email from one of my residents saying that she had some letters she hoped that she could give me to send in Tom’s packages. I know that I have talked about Tom and said things during Friley Senate (our hall council meetings), but I was still really confused about the timing of this email. Then I realized what silly thing I did. Instead of sending this request email to the Upper Friley staff, I accidentally sent it to ALL of Upper Friley. Yep, all 630 of them. I then started having several conversations/emails of people wanting to give letters or items. After just  a few days, this was the stock I got.


Here are students coming out to give items to people they have never met, just because I sent a very vague email about this dude named Tom. Seriously, I didn’t even mention that Tom was in the service, which apparently prompted many people to talk to their CAs on who Tom was. Double bonus-community builder!

Speechless and humbled. I still am not really sure how to react to all the donations.

Not only am I thankful for the students who have helped donate in this last week because of my slight of hand, but I am extremely appreciative for individuals who have helped over the last few months. Countless people have come and dropped off goodies for me to ship. I don’t even mind that now the post office knows me by name, and that they have to restock their custom forms and flat rate boxes every time I come in! Two other buildings here at ISU did Penny Wars to raise funds for donations and to help cover the cost of postage. Again for people they have never met; although, they did plaster pictures of Tom all over their hall desk. My sister-in-law did a request at the elementary school where she teaches, and has had similar reactions to sponsor Tom’s unit. Kindergartners are giving up their allowance to provide items for these soldiers. Isn’t that seriously the cutest thing?

There is so much bad press out there about the military, and I often feel that we are in our own little world sometimes. I feel that people forget those who are in the military and seriously misunderstand what they are doing for our country. And that sometimes, they just want a bag of Twizzlers to get them through the day (or the cold desert night). But this is the time that I want to say a big sincere thank you for the support that people have shown us in the last few months, even if it is just buying a box of easy mac or coordinating large scale efforts to show support. It reminded me at a time that I needed it that I have so much to be thankful for.

It’s nice to be able to send a little piece of home to Tom and his buddies, so thank you for helping make that happen. I am grateful for it all.

As for the family that I do get to see over the holidays-here is a little sneak peak of a gift I will be giving.

This Birthday Board project was the most in depth that I have attempted to do so far. I had to ask for help from my neighbor, Dick. And it took me a couple weeks to finish it.

You will need:

  • A long board
  • wooden letters
  • paint
  • wooden circles
  • screw eyes
  • jewelry circles
  • paint pen
  • a drill

First I had Dick drill holes into all the wooden circles and the long board. Thanks for the help Neighbs!

Then once this was completed, the painting began. This took me a couple days to complete. I didn’t realize there was so much to paint!

I painted each letter a different color, and I also did 4 of the wooden circles in each color. I used the thumbtacks to help make it easier to paint each item without getting paint all over myself. The wooden circles I painted both sides. Looking back now that it is complete, I could have dipped the circles into paint and covered the screws up completely with paint. That might have gone faster, but would have been a little messier and probably wasted some paint.

On each circle, I wrote someone’s name and the day of their birthday using a paint pen. (I just did the immediate family, so I made a lot of blank circles to accommodate others that this person wants to remember.)

I used some circle hooks that I found in the jewelry section of hobby lobby to fasten all the screw hooks together.

Once all the paint was dry, I glued the wooden letters onto the long board and added the white letters for the months of the year. I used some small foam letters that we had around as stamps.

So there is the final product of the family birthday board. And apparently on the Whitener side, I am the only one without a birthday month buddy.

It will be cool to see this grow as names are added!

Again, thank you for all the love and support as Tom and I go through this adventure!
Now it is time to celebrate the best holiday of the year because it is all about giving thanks, family and food! Gobble till you wobble friends!

Hakuna Matata

This weekend, a couple friends of mine traveled with me to the closest military base. We went to explore the Post Exchange/commissary and see what we could find. In my head, I thought it was going to be this extravagant grocery store that I had seen at Ft. Campbell. And that turned out to be not so much the case. This base does not have quite the same amenities as bases I have been to before. The PX was basically a gas station convenience store. I got some good candy, and Linda and Melissa both got a Camelbak that says “hydrate or die.”  We also drove around the base for about 5 minutes seeing all the sites. It just boggles my mind to think how different this was from Ft. Campbell and Benning, which are both massive bases. But if you think about it, they each have different jobs and demands on their soldiers, so it makes sense. I am sad that I was not able to find my Odwalla juices for a dollar though.

Even though I was not able to do the shopping that I wanted, it was still nice to share the experience with friends. I was able to blend my two worlds for once.

I have been watching the series FRIENDS lately. It is absolutely hysterical. I highly recommend it. (I am also convinced that Tom and I are a real life version of Monica and Chandler.) This show is all about the bonds of friendship and how as a group they can get through anything together. The iconic theme song has a pretty awesome message too-“I’ll be there for you.”

My friends here in Ames are one big reason why I have not moved yet. Having this support system already in place is a Godsend. Whether they realize it or not, they give me a reason to get off the couch and out of my apartment. They help me relieve stress and keep my mind off the fact that I haven’t heard from Tom in 24 hours. Just being around them makes me not worry. It’s when I am alone that I freak out the most, like for example today on the drive to volleyball. I started realizing that I have not talked to Tom since Friday, so what does my brain do? It starts envisioning military personnel standing outside my door waiting to tell me the worst. Oh or every time someone has called in the last week for political garb, I panic when I see the unknown number calling me to tell me something has happened to my husband. So I apologize for anyone who has called me wanting me to vote for so and so. I have been pretty short to them because I get so worked up before I answer the phone. Whoops. I also have been having nightmares that they wont be able to find me since I live in a residence hall to tell me anything. See how easy the mind wonders? So having people to distract me is so helpful. They help keep my life normal.

I know that I would have people to reach out to in Ft. Campbell, but the decision to stay here was obviously the right one for now. My life kind of got turned upside down in some ways in September. If I would have moved, everything would have been unfamiliar, and I would have become a shut-in. It’s been comforting to be here in Ames where I have a place and people to lean on already. I didn’t have to work at establishing that once Tom left. Ames has been my constant. The friends that I have here are great, and I am not quite ready to start friend dating again. They don’t teach you how to do that in school.

I know that the move is coming someday soon, and I am sure I will forge on and make new life-long friends. But for now, Ames people are my security blanket.

What a great segue! My blanket project for this entry is something that has been a long time coming. I started this blanket a year ago. I got carried away with the size. Unfortunately, I still stink at judging the length/width with the first couple lines. But by the time I realize how big the silly thing will be, I have already invested too much time to dare pull it all out.

Anyway, my intention was for this blanket to be a gift for my previous graduate student, Tiffany. We had been together for two years and had begun our Ames journey together. She graduated last May, so you can see how I failed meeting my goal to have it done by the time she graduated. I will also defend myself that it took longer than I had planned because you have to change the yarn on every row, which takes more time. I also had to really pay attention to the pattern on this one, which again took more time.

I did a crochet boucan pattern. Here is the video I used as a guide.

This woman is awesome at teaching crochet stitches. I have watched several of her videos, and she breaks it down really well for you.

Even though it has been a rough time getting it done, I would say that this turned out to be one of my favorites. It looks pretty snazzy! Go Cyclones!

Grace doesn’t like it when I put the blankets on the ground to take photos. She has to inspect it. And see what I mean about it being massive?
Here is the pattern up close.

In parting, they say “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I say that’s silly. Why would I want to hang out with people who make me miserable? Friends keep you going even when you are at your lowest low. They are there to remind you of “Hakuna matata.” No worries, we got you.