Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fare Thee Well, Harker Heights!

Whew!  Packing and loading are complete and we begin our Trek-Across-Texas to see family and friends before making our way to our new assignment in Washington, DC.

Fare thee well, Fort Hood and Harker Heights, Texas!  We will miss you!

Driving away from our Texas home.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Baby Gets Baptized!

As born-again Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He was sent to Earth, born of a virgin, and died on a cross after leading a perfect and blameless life. taking on the burden of all sin, and rising again on the third day, thereby defeating death and sin.  Jesus came so that we could be united with His Father, Our God, in a personal relationship.

Our faith is important to us and we love Jesus with all our hearts.  We were absolutely thrilled when our youngest made his decision to follow Christ and show his decision to the world by being baptized.  We are thankful for his faith and proud of his commitment. 

Joshua was excited that his Uncle Danny would perform his baptism at our beloved home church, Legacy Church, and that family and friends would be there with him to celebrate his decision.  What a blessed and wonderful night!

We are so proud and so thankful that Joshua has given his heart to Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pastor Danny begins the Baptismal Service.

Joshua is ready.

Sweet cousins attend Joshua's Baptism.

Gram and Granddad wouldn't have missed this amazing night!

Making Final Repairs

Nate and Trey make a few last-minute repairs in the house before major packing begins.  We'll miss this house ... it's be a great 7+ years here at The Great Place!

And there is light!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Joshua's 9th Birthday Party

Joshua decided on a "Capture the Flag" theme for his birthday party and really wanted to host his party before we left Texas. We were happy to find an area we could reserve at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Center so we squeezed it in between the battalion change of command, packing, and loading our house. It turned out to be a really great time. 

BIG hugs and thanks to my sisters-in-law, who insisted (based on the total panic on my face as I deliberated how to make this happen, I'm sure) on providing the cupcakes, napkins, food, drinks, decorations, and bandanas for the 'Capture the Flag' teams. You guys are the BEST!
















Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sure! I’d Be Glad To!

This is the rough-draft version of the speech I gave the night of my Farewell from the 3-82 Field Artillery Family. There was a lot of improvisation on my part as I tried to adequately thank each and every lady who attended. I was very emotional and honestly could not imagine a world without daily interaction with these fabulous ladies. At the end, I gave each attendee a magnet (pictured at the end of this blog post) that I made as a reminder of the amazing ways they had handled a multitude of stresses during our time together.

I will forever treasure my time in this unit and with these Families. Best wishes always to the Red Dragons of 3-82 Field Artillery!
A good friend once shared a quote with me that I have loved ever since:
Stress is when your gut says ‘no’ but you’re mouth says, “Sure! I’d be glad to!”

As Army spouses, we endure a multitude of stresses.  Enduring long separations, worrying about the safety of our Soldiers, learning single parenting skills, taking care of all household, school, community, and unit needs, supporting our Army sisters no matter what, and doing it all with a smile ... this can create a certain amount of stress.  

I have discovered, however, that my Army sisters are champions at handling stress and always have a “Sure! I’d be glad to!” attitude when needed.

Sometimes stress can be caused by a text, an email, a phone call, or conversation at an FRG Steering Committee Meeting.  Here a few real almost-exact-quotes that represent a portion of our 2+ years together in the Red Dragon battalion ...
  1. The first FRG Family Night was great.  Next time, let’s add a potluck, individual battery meetings, a complete slide show with music, and a full workshop with activities and crafts for all the kids who attend!
  2. Let’s plan a Family Day where we shoot live ammunition, conduct dismounted patrols in the staged Iraqi village, qualify in the simulator, have FRG fundraiser booths at each station, and add on a Volunteer Appreciation ceremony AND Month of the Military Child presentations at the end!
  3. The Trunk or Treat planned for 75-100 kids – including all of the food, events, crafts, activities, and decorations -- needs to be moved entirely into one of the bay areas at the Motor Pool … today. 
  4. Our theme for the FRG Family Night is Super Heroes.  Could you make 50 super-hero capes for the kids who attend?  We don’t know how many boys or how many girls or really how many kids at all … or their ages … but you can do that, right?
  5. Um, the shipment of Red Dragon flip flops that just arrived at my house doesn't match the original order OR the enclosed invoice.  Could you come over and help me sort through it?
  6. We need to close out our battalion throw order, complete sign-ups and payments for the Black Jack Spouse Spur Ride, distribute the flip flops that were ordered, and turn in all of our Santa’s Workshop applications.  Let’s make a party!  Red Dragon Night Out!
  7. Hey, we need to collect money and items to make 181 gift baskets for our single Soldiers coming home from Iraq … it will take 6 hours of shopping at 6 different stores in 4 different cities in the central Texas area just to get started.  Are you in?
  8. Now it’s time to prepare the single Soldier barracks.  Wanna help by carrying 181 baskets up three flights of stairs in 4 different buildings? 
  9. Hey! I've got an idea!  How about each battery FRG provides two different activities for the 75-100 kids who will attend the Dragon Egg Hunt next week?
  10. And when the phone call says your husband will be on return flight Black Jack 5 but your husband insists he’s on Black Jack 4, you just roll with it.
Stress much?  Each of these things actually happened--sometimes--okay, almost always--due to my incessant idea-generating--yet each and every time, the spouses of 3-82 Field Artillery answered with, "Sure! Why not?"

Here are a few more examples of the Army heroes in my life who have answered life’s stressful questions with a resounding “Yes!” and served as mentors and friends to me.

Missy
Your husband is the division Command Sergeant Major, with unending roles and responsibilities in support of all Troopers in the 1st Cavalry Division.  Would you stand by his side every day, attend countless meetings, forums, conferences, and sessions as a front-row example to all spouses in the division?  Would you maintain your own interests and plans, demonstrating an amazing ability to balance endless expectations?

Trish
How about you come back into the Army after an eight year absence, become a brigade S1, and overlap a deployment with your husband so that you’re apart for about 15 months?  Oh, and don’t forget to squeeze in being a full-time mother of two and serving as the senior FRG advisor for the brigade!

Angie and Suzie
Hey, while the brigade commander’s spouse is deployed, could you guys serve as the senior FRG advisors?  It will really just be a ton of extra work, phone calls at all hours, extreme problem-solving skills, and a much-fuller calendar.  Are you in?

Black Jack Babes (Lisa, Cindy, Melinda, Sharon, and Marjan)
Congratulations!  Your husband is a battalion commander.  Over the next two years, would you pledge to put your life on hold, attend countless meetings, care for hundreds of Army Families, organize dozens of major events, prepare a Care Team for the unthinkable, lead your Families through a stressful deployment, fall in love with your unit, then agree to turn it all over to someone new at the end of your two years?

Molly
The Black Jack brigade needs to organize a basket for auction at the OSC Wild West Night next week.  Could you contact all the battalions, collect money, purchase items, organize it, and deliver it to Club Hood?  Great, thanks!

Arcy
Hi.  You’re being welcomed tonight at the 3-82 FA Coffee.  Oh, and could you pick up the new commander’s wife on your way and escort her?  Awesome, thanks!

Sarah
Welcome to the Army!  As a full-time Supervisor Physician marrying a guy moving into a battalion XO job, you have a busy life already.  Would you balance working a full-time job, supporting your husband, and volunteering your time for the battalion?

Ethel
Your husband is our battalion’s Command Sergeant Major.  In between moving into a new home, getting your daughter settled in school, and interviewing for a new job, would you like to jump in head-first and plan a formal ball?

Debbie
Hi!  We’ve been without an FRSA for 6 months, and since you’re here tonight, could you help sign in newcomers, make nametags, and hand out agendas?  Thanks!  Oh, and welcome to 3-82!

Georgia
Um … I know you’re new to the Army and to the FRG and to the Coffee Group, but I have a sick kid at home.  Could you host the Coffee at Barnes & Noble tonight?

Kim
Hi. The good news is we have 30 art easels.  The bad news is that they are all table-top easels and we need floor easels.  I know it’s 7:30 in the morning but could you be at Hobby Lobby at 9:00?  And shop for easels?  And see how many we can get for $200.00?  Thanks!  I’ll meet you at the check-out line at 9:30.

FRG Leaders ~
[Leslie/April]  [Kim/Georgia, Angie/Jeralyn] [Laura/Deana, Liz] and [Beverly/Lani]
Good evening!  It’s 9:00 PM and we need to know all 48 Spouse Spur Ride t-shirts by 7:30 in the morning.  Could you make phone calls, send texts, and create Facebook messages to send to everyone in your battery and find out what size shirt they need?  Thanks!

Beverly and Tracey
Hmm.  We have half of the photo frames we need for table centerpieces.  Would you mind running to every local Dollar Tree and purchasing 78 more?  They should all be the same color and size and we need them yesterday.  Cool, thanks.

Christine (and Ted!)
The lovely folks in the ICU waiting room at Scott & White are stealing all of the snacks that the Care Team has provided for the Tyree family.  Could you make a sign that politely explains that these snacks are not for them?

Ethel, Kimberly, Val, Lani, Beverly, Liz, Tracey
I got this cool idea from Martha Stewart about making centerpieces for the ball.  I have no idea how to actually put them together, but I’m going to show up with a whole bunch of picture frames and some vellum paper.  Would you come and see if we can figure this out?

Kimberly and Valencia
Okay, so I have a box of baby stuff for the battalion baby bags.  It’s sort of a mess and all over the place.  Would you mind taking this on, making sense of it, and distributing baby bags to all the battery FRG Leaders when they need them?

Leslie
Besides leading an FRG and mothering three active boys, this fabulous friend has been asked to do the unthinkable.  You have been asked to support your husband through a traumatic brain injury.  With doctors telling you there was no hope for his survival; you have had to depend on your faith, your family, and your friends to make it through the past month.  And now?  He IS recovering and has defied all odds since his initial accident.  Your strength and perseverance have been awe-inspiring and you are a true example of that Army wife that says, “Sure!” whenever a tough challenge is asked of her.

Kelly
Would you give up all comforts of your life, deploy even while your husband is also deploying, and work tirelessly every single day to keep our Soldiers healthy and safe?

Emily
Your fiance was chosen to be the battalion's Rear Detachment Commander, then maybe not, then yes again.  Would you plan a separate wedding and reception while your fiance is planning for 500+ Soldiers to deploy and supporting each of their Families?  After your wedding, could you rush back to Fort Hood to endure months of all-night phone calls, crazy situations, and still support your Soldier?

Amy
Your Soldier is taking on battery command.  Would you be supportive and available, sometimes with little or no notice, and always show up with a smile?  Oh, and in those spare moments, could you pledge to always bake those really yummy cupcakes for the battalion Warrior Dash events? 

Chari
So, you’re an Army spouse in the world of Chief Warrant Officers.  Would you pick up everything familiar in your life and follow your husband to the ends of the earth?  Would you support him in a crazy job with endless hours where everything matters and nothing can be left to chance?  When he drops you off in a strange land then disappears for weeks or months at a time to train or deploy, will you handle it all?

Linda
Would you selflessly support your husband as a minister’s wife, playing the piano, singing, raising the children, and changing your plans at the spur of the moment when asked?  Would you then go on to earn your doctorate and keep a full time job as a professor in your spare time?  Would you be the perfect example of the Proverbs 31 woman and serve as a constant role model for your children, their spouses, and your grandchildren?  After raising these three beautiful children, you’ll be asked to see one of them off to multiple deployments, in a time of war.  Would you be supportive of this and pray continuously for your son’s safety?  

Rachel
You have been called to be a minister’s wife, a mother, a teacher, and a foster parent.  Would you put your own needs last, home school your children with amazing creativity, help your husband start a church from scratch, plan super-fun activities for the preschoolers of Legacy, and nurture the families of the church, always being available when needed?  Oh, and if you could, would you organize a group of ladies to plan phenomenal children’s activities for a group of Army kids each month, drive over an hour to Fort Hood, become best friends with the Visitor Pass staff at the Main Gate, and support your brother-in-law’s battalion in a hundred different ways?

I am so proud to be a part of a group of women who, no matter how challenging or stressful the question may be, answer with, "Sure! I’d be glad to!"

Farewell from the Red Dragon Ladies

Tracey greets me with a sharp pin ... and a corsage.
My mother-in-law, Linda, is honored with a corsage.
The planning crew ... Ever want world peace? Assemble these ladies and it's done.

Amazing table decorations by wonderfully talented ladies.

Flowers and color and jewels, oh, my!

Beautiful cake by Muffy Patterson, the Cake Diva!

Generous gifts from big hearts.
Ladies write notes for a farewell photo album.

Cannot adequately describe how much these ladies mean to me.

It's sunny and bright on the patio of the Dead Fish Grill!

Arcy and Sarah say some really sweet things, some of which are true. :)

I get through my speech with a few laughs and a few more tears.

Red flowers and a red boa ... I am Artillieried up!

Black Jack Babes (Missy, Angie, Suzie, Cindy, me, Trish, and Molly)

My fabulous family, Rachel and Linda


Missy, Georgia, Beverly, Sarah, Kim, Angie, me, Christine, Arcy, Val, Lani, Chari, Amy, Rachel, Linda, Tracey, Leslie
Ethel, Suzie, Kelly, Debbie, Cindy, Molly, Trish


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Red Dragon Ball 2012

The Red Dragon Ball was an amazing night of great friends, good fun, and fond memories.  Nate and I have been so very proud to be a part of this group and enjoyed this celebration as one of the last events with our 3-82 FA Family.


Army Strong! CAV Tough! Black Jack! Red Dragons!
Love these beautiful ladies!
We were so excited that Nate's local family members could join us!
With Christine.
With Leslie.
Nate provides his remarks and some entertainment to Red Dragon Soldiers and Families.
Leading the way on the dance floor!
Nate and his XO, Brian.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cindy's Stellar Send-Off

Cindy with a 15th BSB candy crest!

Giovanni's Italian Restaurant in Copperas Cove handled the delicious dinner.

Guests left with a cute take-home favor including a packet of bluebonnet seeds!

Nametags, guest book, and take-home favors.

Custom name-tags for all guests.

Guests wrote notes to Cindy in this super-cute guest book.

Beautiful custom cake by My Sweet Diva!

Beatiful Dessert Table

Farewell comments and gifts presented to Cindy.

Black Jack ladies attend Cindy's Farewell.