Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Really? How Lazy Can We Get?

The ladies of our brigade are hosting a welcome for our brigade commander's spouse.  It will be at a local winery with a 'vineyard' type theme.  I'm a total novice at all things wine-related, so I spent some time this morning searching for ideas.  I came across this crazy contraption and couldn't help but share it with you!

Truly, I'm all for innovation and creativity.  I think our nation flourishes because of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our people.  But really, a wine glass holder necklace?!  Come on ... are we really so encumbered by holding a glass?  And, honestly, if you're apt to "soak a fellow party guest" as the ad describes, perhaps a little less wine would be a better solution for you than a portable wine trough.  I'm just sayin' ...

From the online ad:
With the Wine Glass Holder Necklace you can keep your hands free at parties by keeping your wine glass close at heart! If you talk with your hands a lot, you will never have to worry about soaking your date or fellow party guest again with the Wine Glass Holder Necklace! This clever little silicone sling leaves your hands free for all kinds of gestures and activities and holds a regular-size stemmed wine glass to your chest, giving you the freedom to snack and socialize as you sip!

Again, really!?!  Needless to say, I won't be purchasing this as a gift for our guest of honor, but if you have and love this device, I'd love to hear from you!  Perhaps I'm simply missing the finer aspects of a ground-breaking party favor?

Have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Letters From War: Tribute to Mothers of Soldiers

I cannot fully appreciate the sacrifices made by the parents of our US Army Soldiers.  Mothers, especially, who send their children off to war and pray for their safe return ... have my undying gratitude, love, and prayers.  With two young sons of my own, I can get an inkling of what it might be like, but really, I cannot know.

I have seen my husband's mother support him throughout his lifetime, including four years at West Point, and through sixteen years in the Army, including thirty or so months of combat deployment.  She is a stalwart supporter and a sensational prayer warrior.

We are fortunate to live close to Family while we are stationed at Fort Hood.  Both sides of our families are in Texas, with Hubby's parents living only an hour away.  This affords us (and them!) with some priceless opportunities to spend time together more often than when we live several states (or continents) away.  His Family is always supportive of us and our Army life and for that, we are extremely grateful.  In this photo, Hubby presents yellow roses to his mom at his Change of Command reception.

I recently came across a song and video titled, "Letters from War" by Mark Schultz.  Always a glutton for punishment, I clicked 'play' and sat back to listen and watch.  The song is a moving tribute to the mothers of our Soldiers.  I could see my mother-in-law in the care and devotion the on-screen mother showed for her son, far away at war.  Writing, especially, is a gift of hers and she is a constant source of support for my husband, deployed or not, and for our Family.

I wanted to write this post to say a public "Thank You" to my Soldier's mom ... and to share this song with you.  Please share with the mothers of your Soldiers and tell them thank you for their service and sacrifice. 

Letters from War is a beautiful song by Mark Schultz and a loving tribute to mothers of Soldiers.  Kleenex are required for this vieiwing ... don't say I didn't warn you!


Letters From War from Mark Schultz on Vimeo.

She walked to the mailbox
On that bright summer's day
Found a letter from her son
In a war far away.

He spoke of the weather
And good friends that he'd made.
Said I'd been thinking 'bout dad
And the life that he had.
Thats why I'm here today
And then at the end, said
You are what I'm fighting for.

It was the first of the letters from war.

She started writing ...
You're good and you're brave.
What a father that you'll be someday!
Make it home.
Make it safe.

She wrote every night as she prayed.

Late in December
A day she'll not forget
Oh, her tears stained the paper
With every word that she read

It said "I was up on a hill
I was out there alone
When the shots all rang out
And bombs were exploding
And thats when I saw him
He came back for me.

And though he was captured
A man set me free.
And that man was your son.
He asked me to write to you
I told him I would, oh I swore."

It was the last of the letters from war.

And she prayed he was living
Kept on believing
And wrote every night just to say ...

You are good
And you're brave
What a father that you'll be someday!
Make it home.
Make it safe.

Still she kept writing each day.

Then two years later ...

Autumn leaves all around
A car pulled in the driveway
And she fell to the ground
And out stepped a captain
Where her boy used to stand.

He said "Mom, I'm following orders
From all of your letters
And I've come home again."

He ran in to hold her
And dropped all his bags on the floor
Holding all of her letters from war.

Make it home
Make it home
Make it home

Monday, April 19, 2010

Military Blogger Contest Entry: This Fabulous Army Life

Hey, Guys!  Sure would appreciate your clicks and comments for this Military Blogger contest!  I wrote about my son's experience with Operation Purple Camp and would love to get the word out about it!

Just click (... and comment, too!).  Thanks a bunch!

Military Blogger Contest Entry: This Fabulous Army Life

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Military Blog Carnival on Mondays!

Military Mondays Family and Spouse Carnival at Army Wives' Lives


I read TONS of wonderful blogs every week written by fabulous Army wives and others.  I hope you'll all participate in the Military Mondays Carnival – April 19 Edition today!  Candace at Army Wives' Lives hosts a blog carnival each monday in honor of #militarymon and it's a great way to find the best military blogs AND to share your amazing blogs as well.

AND … this week, she is offering a PRIZE for the next two carnivals, courtesy of Susan Wiggs, author of The Ocean Between Us!  From her blog:

■One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive a $50 VISA gift card AND a copy of The Ocean Between Us.

■Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!

*** The only Military Mondays Blog Carnival rules are: ***
■In the “Link Title” field, please place the title of your post, plus the name of your blog and/or your name. (e.g. “Grow Where You Are Planted @Army Wives’ Lives”)
■In the “URL” field, please place the direct “permalink” to the specific post, not to your main page of your blog. (e.g. “http://armywiveslives.com/2009/10/coping-during-deployment/” not “http://ArmyWivesLives.com”)

■Your post must be relevant to the military family experience. I also retain the right to delete links to any posts that contain hate speech, plans to commit illegal acts, or anything that violates the spirit of this carnival or U.S. law.

Please make this a post from sometime in the last month or so.
So, there you have it!  Pick a post and join in the fun!  See you at the carnival!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gosh, My Kids are Cute!

I know, I know ... everybody thinks their kids are the cutest ever ... me included!  I am just loving how precious they are and trying to absorb every moment as they seem to grow by leaps and bounds each day.  One of the things I love most about being their mom is the way they can make me laugh out loud when I'm totally not expecting it.

For example, this morning, we're rushing out the door at 7:15 (our crazy school starts at 7:35 ... ugh) when I turn back to lock the front door.  My 1st grader is standing next to me and scans the skies for hints about today's weather.  He takes one look at the gray clouds overhead and says, "Well, it looks like a slight chance of recess today!"

Isn't that great?  LOVE how these kids think.  They bring such a sweet, innocent perspective to life and I am so happy to be a part of that.  This is a short, totally random post, but that little comment has kept me smiling all day today. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Black Jack" Reception and Cake-Cutting

I posted yesterday about the amazing traditions in the 1st Cavalry Division and the Change of Command Ceremony last Friday.  Today, I'll post a peek into the reception afterwards, which was equally impressive.

There is a semi-permanent tent outside the division headquarters that is used during "Welcome Home" ceremonies; this is where the reception was held after the change of command.  Each battalion set up a 'static display' of their colors, flags, and other paraphanelia to showcase their unit.  They all looked amazing.  There were seven tables lined up against one wall, each with a unit cake.  The receiving line area had the division colors and even had a red carpet! 

The first order of events was the receiving line.  The brigade commander, all battalion commanders, new CSMs, and their respective spouses all lined up to greet everyone as they entered the tent.  This was my first time to be in an Army receiving line and I didn't relish the idea of it.  I kept wondering what on earth I was going to say to all of these people!  It turned out to be less stressful that I envisioned, though, as folks were clipping along down the line pretty quickly.  When you're meeting twenty new people in a line, you tend to keep moving right along.

Once we had greeted everyone, it was time for welcome comments from the new brigade commander and the cake-cutting ceremony.  As with all things, the Cavalry really makes a show of it.  No quick cuts here!  Here is our battalion's cake:


Watch how cool the cake-cutting part of the ceremony was:




After the cake-cutting, each new commander moved to his unit display table and guests gathered around to hear some quick welcome comments and witness the presentation of yellow roses to the mothers of the Soldiers and their spouses ...

Nate presents roses to his mom:


And gives his father a boutonniere:


He then presents roses to my mom:


And gives my step-dad a boutonniere:


Last, he presents boutonnieres to both of our boys (who were excited to be a part of the presentation!):


After the presentations, he thanks everyone for being a part of the ceremony, especially our out-of-town guests which included his sister and her son who drove up from Dallas, his best friend from high school who also drove down from the Dallas area, church friends who took the day off of work and came from Austin, and aforementioned family members who came from Waco and Gainesville.

We were able to meet and chat with some of the unit Soldiers and spouses, which was very fun, then it came to an end ... another wonderful tradition in the Army and made even more special by the CAV.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Change of Command Ceremony

Last Friday, my Family and I participated in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division change of command on Fort Hood, Texas.  Hubby became the battalion commander of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment and joined a wonderful group of "Red Dragon" Soldiers and Families.  It's a dream come true for us ... one of those things you hope in the back of your mind you'll get to do one day, but know realistically that the chances are slim you'll get to do it.

When I first saw his name on 'the list' that the Army publishes, I was elated for him.  No one knows more than I do his passion for the Army and for the Soldiers in it.  He is a wonderful leader and cares so much.  We both knew that this would be the adventure of a lifetime.  We explained this new job to our two boys (ages ten and six) as best we could and they kept saying, "We'll have 500 new friends on Friday!" as their summary of the discussion.  =)

The ceremony was amazing, a standing tribute to the well-established and very impressive traditions of the Cavalry ... including an entrance on horseback, cannon shots, the Cavalry charge complete with guns firing and covered wagon pulled by mules, and the traditional changing of the battalion colors from the outgoing commander to the incoming one.

If you've never seen a Cavalry change of command, here are some highlights:

Red roses are brought in to say "Farewell" to all of the outgoing commander's spouses.  Yellow roses are then presented to all of the incoming commander's spouses to say "Welcome" to the unit.


After the Artillery cannon salute, one of the emptied rounds is presented to the outgoing brigade commander by one of the Field Artillery Soldiers.


Then, each unit changes commanders with the "Guidon" ceremony.  The battalion Command Sergeant Major (CSM) holds the 'colors' (flag) of the unit, representing all of the Soldiers of the unit.  He then passes the colors to the outgoing commander.  The outgoing commander passes the colors to the brigade commander, signifying the end of his responsibility and leadership in the unit.


The brigade commander passes the colors to the incoming commander, signifying that the responsibility of the unit now rests with the new commander.


The new commander of the unit then passes the colors back to the Command Sergeant Major, showing a complete transfer of authority from one commander to the next and signifying the partnership between the new commander and the CSM.


After each unit has completed their change of command, the outgoing commanders mount the horses that the incoming commanders rode into the ceremony, and are led off of the ceremony field.


The new commanders take their positions in front of their units, then conduct a "Pass in Review" where all the troops march in formation in front of the reviewing stand.  In the photo below, my (super cute!) husband leads his unit across the field.


I'll have to save the reception stories for another post, but I was so impressed with the traditions of the Army and of the 1st Cavalry Division, I really wanted to share them here.  We are so excited and so proud to be a part of the amazing Army Family, the Fort Hood community, the "Black Jack" brigade, and the 3-82 Field Artillery "Red Dragons!"

Here is the Fort Hood article about the ceremony:  New 'Black Jack' Command Team Focused on Basics

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Military Monday Tribute to the Troops

As an Army Family, we think about our Soldiers and their Families on a regular basis, but I still wanted to send a special HOOAH and THANK YOU to our troops, their Families, and all the troop supporters out there on this "Military Monday."  We could never thank you enough and could never be more proud.  You are what makes this country great!

If you're not familiar with "Military Monday," here's a quick-read to catch you up on the details: Happy Military Monday!

If you haven't seen the live performance of Trace Adkins and the West Point Glee Club singing "'Til the Last Shot's Fired," I know you'll love it here:



Thank you to all our servicemembers, their Families, and all those who support and love them. We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers ... 'til the last shot's fired ... and they all come home!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Breakfast

This Easter Sunday, the boys woke to a fun Easter breakfast.  On the menu?  Blue Peeps on a green sugared nest, two orange cinnamon rolls, and a boiled egg.  Not the healthiest breakfast ever, but fine for a special occasion ... and the dash of protein from the egg got the kids through our worship service before they were hungry again.

Love this fun Easter breakfast!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Photos of an Easter Past

We love Easter at our house.  Not only do we have the supreme privilege of worshipping a risen Savior and celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday, it also gives us an opportunity to make some fun memories with our children.  We look forward to the Easter Bunny's visit and welcome Spring with open arms.

As I was looking through photos, I found these of my youngest son's first Easter.  They were so cute I had to share them.  I can't believe my babies are growing up so fast!  In these photos, the older son is only four and the youngest is not even a year old.  Crazy how time flies.

We loved making this Easter Bunny cake together, although if I remember correctly, the boys didn't want to eat any of it because it was covered in coconut.  Cute for bunny 'fur,' not so good for eating.


This baby was not greedy about his Easter eggs.  One in each hand was plenty for him.


Our family all dressed up for Easter Sunday.


Here is wishing you all a very happy Easter weekend and some wonderful family memories!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day Fun

I've never been a huge fan of April Fool's Day, mostly because I'm painfully gullible.  I truly will believe just about anything someone tells me so I'm usually an easy target on April Fool's.  However, there are some really cute ideas of things to do for your kids on this crazy day and I'm all for that!

One of my favorite websites is http://www.familyfun.com/.  Here are some of the best meal ideas they have this year for some tricky April Fool's Day fun.  Can't wait to try out the Shamburgers!

Fakin' and Eggs for Breakfast ...


Grilled Cheese for Fools for Lunch ...


And For Dinner ... Chicken-Not-Pie