Thursday, December 27, 2007

Missing my Co-Mothers

This is really silly, but I miss being part of the Stryker mothers' forum. I enjoyed the common bond we shared supporting the 4th Stryker Brigade. Even my assigned "Friend-in-Arms" mom and I have lost touch. The "I know exactly how you feel" is gone. I feel like I stole Home Base in the World Series in a game I had money on. But I wouldn't trade!

Austin is waiting to see if he has a future in the Army. Kris is enjoying his 30+ days of leave. They will both be here soon for Kylee's wedding.

I cannot believe my daughter is getting married in 23 days and the invitations are still not mailed out. She and her sweetie were waiting for Austin to return to the US in July and now are in hurry-up mode because there is no reason to wait. We're not "formal" people so everyone who is invited already knows when and where. We made the invitations ourselves -- not a craft project I would recommend. But they are so darn cute!

The weather has been wonderful here -- definitely a warm Christmas and it looks like a warm New Year's too. We keep turning the air conditioner on, then off, then on, then off.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The rap video that Cpt. Adam Snyder's brother Evan made is posted here, along with the memorial service and other videos that were shown. The service lasted for two hours (the fast forward and rewind were a little tricky on my computer). Evan speaks for quite a while toward the beginning of the service and you should watch at least that part and Evan's video.

After I watched myself speaking I thought "I'll never do that again!" I look so old and frumpy -- but I feel so young and fit. I said "July of 2007" when I should have said "July of 2000." I have a "familial tremor" and noticeably shake all the time. Given the emotions of that day it was much more obvious. I wasn't very nervous, just very sad for this family. Adam was such an all around great person and now he's gone.

I also think -- what gives me the right to speak at these funerals. Most "presenters" read the script and present the banners in 2-3 minutes. For some reason I feel motivated to gather information about the soldier and speak about his accomplishments and read very little of the script. Oh well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Fallen Hero:

As I posted below, Cpt. Snyder's funeral was on Friday, December 14 in Ft. Pierce, Florida. On Saturday, December 15, I attended the funeral of Sgt. Daniel Beougher, 23, Ft. Myers, Florida.

"Danny" was the youngest of four boys -- the only one who chose military service. He had survived two tours in Iraq and one in Afganistan, only to come home and be killed by a drunk driver. He and his wife were within one mile of the family home when a truck crossed the median and struck their vehicle. Danny was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was critically injured and remained in the hospital for 10 days and was unable to attend his funeral.

After the accident one or two of the people in the truck ran from the scene. One woman remained in the cab of the truck, on the passenger side, but she is suspected of being the driver. The Highway Patrol is investigating.

At Danny's funeral I met his Grandmother Rose. She's a tiny little lady; probably around 75 years old. She has lost a brother, a son (Danny's father) and now a grandson to hit and run drivers. When we met she asked if she could read to me what she was going to read from the podium during the service. We sat down together and she read her brief introduction that she'd written and then took out a piece of paper that she had obviously held on to for a long time. I put my arm around her while she read. When she was finished I told her that what she had chosen was absolutely perfect. That's when she told me about the other accidents.

The Army had chosen to present Danny's family with his Purple Heart and another badge privately in the church library. The Army officers and the family asked me to join them and present the Gold Star banners after the medal presentation. So that's how it happened that day. I told them I am much more comfortable speaking in front of a thousand people than so closely with all of the family (about 20 people), because I was so afraid of disappointing them. Danny's mother-in-law accepted his wife's Gold Star banner. She was so sweet. She hugged me and didn't want to let go.

I stayed for the funeral and then drove the 2 and 1/2 hours back home truly exhausted but thankful to have been allowed the privilege of honoring these two families. After seeing the photos of the graveside service I wish I'd gone along with the Patriot Guard. Next time I will so I have no regrets.

Today I received a response from my new boss on my request to take this afternoon off to take Austin to the airport. She knocked the wind out of me; kicked my legs out from under me; broke my heart. She e-mailed me, "I would recommend you contemplate your commitment to your position and XXX over the next few days and decide if you feel you can honor that commitment. . ." No one has ever questioned my commitment to my job --- in fact, others have always spoken of my passion for my job and my mastery of my responsibilities.

So I cried most of the day; talked to some of the other managers and was assured that I was a valued employee and my dedication to my job is exceptional.

People suck.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cpt. Adam P. Snyder
November 18, 1981 - December 5, 2007
Honor Grad, West Point Class of 2004
KIA Iraq
"That wars would never start. . ."

Yesterday I attended Cpt. Snyder's funeral. If it can be said that a funeral was "good," this was a good funeral. Adam was an incredible person; truly "the best of the best." I am so thankful to now know so much about him.

The service lasted for two hours. There were many eulogies by people Adam had asked to speak at his funeral in the event of his death in Iraq. The eulogy by Adam's friend Zach Thomas is posted

I was so proud to be part of the service. When I arrived at the church Lt.Col. Maddox introduced me to Pastor Dale who made me feel completely welcome. He had me sit up front with the soldiers. There were no less than 800 people at the service -- probably more. Courage came from somewhere and I was able to speak from the podium for about 10 minutes; even got some laughs; but most importantly did my part to honor Cpt. Snyder and his family. I presented the Gold Star banners to Cpt. Snyder's mother and step father privately at their seats in the front row.

Adam's 15 year old brother Evan spoke about his relationship with his brother. He definitely has his brother's sense of humor and charm. Evan made a rap music video about his feelings on the loss of his brother. Here are the words "by FrAZer":

Soldier, Brother, Friend


I love you, my brother; please tell me how you've been
I'll keep you in my heart 'cause without you I can't win
I love you, my brother; but your life had to end
But everyday of my life you'll be my soldier, brother, friend

I have gone crazy--I do not know which way to go
No one can save me. I'm left in life without my bro
You were my friend, and you had told me all you knew
Your life would end, but of this fact you had no clue
You were a soldier--and you were just doin' your duty
No one is bolder. It's folks like you we see in movies
Everyone loved you--not a day goes by without hearin' your name
I'd always trust you. But now you're gone and it's such a shame (Hook)

When I was informed of the burden that I soon would bare
I broke down cryin' and I didn't care 'bout who was there
I felt your presence but I wanted to see you in person
I needed medicine 'cause at that point my heart was hurtin'
And your best friend took me home while we both was cryin'
You may not be here now but tell you what, we both is dyin'
I never got to say I loved you right before you left
And now I'm sittin' here alone at home and in a mess (Hook)

My brother's life was stolen by all these Iraqi thieves
You say, "Can I do anything for you?" Bring my brother back to me
This keeps attackin' me: this truth, this hurt, this love, this pain
He died in a conflict, but now it's conflictin' my brain
We were just startin' to get closer buildin' our relationship
Spent some time talkin' about movies, girls and politics
You'll never meet a better man and I tell you the truth
The Bible says to pray and that's exactly what I'll do (Hook)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sweet Relief!

After 15 months in Iraq, Kris arrived in the USA Tuesday evening. We'll get to see him when Kris and Katie are in Florida a few days after Christmas and then again for Kylee's wedding and yet again for Stef's wedding. He sounds GREAT! How sweet it is!

Austin is having fun hanging out with his sister and her fiance. He looks good but his knee keeps him from sitting or standing in one position for very long. I didn't know that his knee injury occurred when the Stryker he was in was "blown up." After seeing the before and after photos I'm glad I didn't know about those (yes, "those", not "that") incidences.

I have taken the Blue Star (3 stars) banners off my car and the house. My life is returning to that of a normal middle-age woman with adult children. We're trying to set a date for Kylee's wedding but things keep getting in the way. Stef's wedding is scheduled for April. Two daughters getting married within a few months --- yikes!

If there were only a word or phrase to describe how my heart felt when I had "children" in Iraq and when I don't --- but all I can say is "sweet relief." Due to their situations it is highly unlikely that either Kris or Austin will be returning to Iraq. Thank God!

Life is good.

Friday, November 30, 2007

OMG! Austin is HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

We picked him up at the airport three hours ago. I can't believe he's here! We went to dinner w/ him, Cal and Kylee, and I just kept touching him and hugging him and telling him, "you're right here! You're not over THERE or over there, you're right here!" Oh, what a relief it is!!!!!!!!!

When we got back to the house I asked him for another BIG hug. He hugged me and hugged me and hugged me. OMG. There is no "high" available from any drug in the world that could possibly make me happier than I am right now. No amount of lottery winnings; nothing. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He looks GREAT. He had a lot to tell about his experience in Iraq. He has photos of a lot of the guys in his Company. AND, he was recently promoted to Specialist ---- he didn't even tell us! Surprise! Yeah!

I'm going to bed and will sleep better than I've slept in over a year! I'm sleeping in tomorrow w/ a smile on my face. I couldn't get this smile off my face if I tried. My cheek bones look GREAT! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Austin will be home-home at 6:00 p.m. today!!!!!!! We haven't seen him in eight months!

Three more days until Kris Leaves Iraq!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Saturday, November 24, 2007

10 More Days 'til he's back in the USA!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where Have I Been?

Well, that's a good question.

My husband is back at work just four and 1/2 weeks after his triple bypass surgery. His recovery went very well; amazingly well. Modern medicine!

Austin hasn't made it to Florida yet but we're hoping to see him next week for Thanksgiving. He's doing well; he's just waiting for the Army to decide his future. It would be great if he could stay in the Army but have a different MOS.

Kris will be in Iraq for a few more weeks. I'm still holding in that great big sigh! Katie is finishing up her first semester of grad school, bought a new car, and is getting the house ready for Kris to come home --- after 15 months away.

Kylee and Cal have set a date! The March wedding and reception will be on the beach at a restaurant on Anna Maria Island. We're hoping for great weather -- you never know in Florida.

Stef and Jorge are now engaged and have also set a date. Their April wedding and reception will be a very formal affair. So now we're planning TWO spring weddings.

My blogging days are probably numbered. Without all the fear there isn't much to write about. Life is good; and it will be better soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


My husband went back to work less than four weeks after having open heart surgery. He's working just a few hours a day this week. He'll go back close to full time next week. Is that incredible or what? If he hadn't brought an ear infection home from the hospital he probably would have gone back to work last week.

Jorge will be released from the rehabilitation center tomorrow. We're getting together this weekend to welcome him home. It's been almost two months since his motorcycle accident. My husband and I haven't seen him in weeks b/c of my husband's surgery and recovery. It will be great to see him again --- and he's walking!

Austin had surgery last Monday (10/22) and is doing very well. He doesn't call his mother as often as I would like (he just called me after I wrote this). He should be headed this way soon and I can't wait to see my Baby! What a relief it is. Kris will be home in less than 30 days and then then my heart will finally relax. Until then, I'm 1/2 way there!

My new boss seems to be working out very well. Other than saying hello every day I haven't had much contact with her. My job is very autonomous and I "just do it." We're having inventory tomorrow and Friday and somehow it fell in my lap. Now that the witch is gone I really, really love my job.

My "Army Mom Times Three" association might fade away as my sons and daughter-in-law will no longer be serving in Iraq or under any kind of pending deployment. Kris and Katie will be in grad school and then teaching at West Point and hopefully making me some grand kids! It will be great to spend time at West Point again --- when Kris and Katie were in college there it was a really wonderful, prideful time for us as his parents.

It's starting to cool off here in Florida. Our electric bills have been around $300 a month and I'm ready for that to stop. Since we live in an historic house (old) and we're in Florida, we had to go to the state sponsored homeowners' insurance company. Our house payment just went up by $300 a month to make up the escrow shortage. Dang.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Austin is Back in the USA!!!!

Austin is at Ft. Lewis in Washington awaiting knee surgery and most likely will NOT be returning to Iraq; ever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This just gave me the best giggle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ding Dong the Witch is Gone

The boss from Hell has been escorted from the building!!!! I wish I'd been there to see it.

I'm working from home over a s-l-o-w connection that is testing my patience. I've also got a patient testing my patience. Actually, he's been really good for having had his chest split open 10 days or so ago. He's even got me cooking again. Now I'm going to gain weight. NOOOOOO!

Austin is in Germany! That means he is NOT IN IRAQ!!!!! Yeah! He sees the surgeon tomorrow and should know the plan soon (did I say "soon" about something to do with the Army?). He told me via IM today that he feels "weird and out of place" at Landstuhl. It's hard to imagine how that must feel, or any part of this war must feel, to actually be in it. I'm just glad he's out of the Sandbox, however temporarily.

We've been watching a lot of WWII history on TV; probably because of Ken Burns' latest documentary "The War." In my opinion, (and this is, afterall, my blog) what we've seen is NOTHING compared to what that generation went through. WWII seems like the "worst war," but it was probably the first war to be so well recorded, on paper, tape, film and in our parents' and grandparents' memory. It is hard to relate imagines of WWI Chaplineque soldiers running awkwardly from the trenches as being those of real people.

My parents and grandparents all died before I had an appreciation for history, especially family history. Like a lot of other people, they may have wanted to put it behind them and not talk about it. I never asked. My mother left behind love letters from my father (they were married in 1946). There may be some "history" there. I read ONE of the letters years ago and decided that was some stuff I did NOT want to know about (and it had nothing to do with war)!

Since I'm discussing history here, there is some investigating that I've always wanted to do regarding my mother. She never knew her father and we don't know if her mother and father were married when she was conceived or ever, which might have been quite the scandal in LA (Lower Alabama) in 1927. Her father's name was James Gamble (I always wished he owned Proctor & Gamble but apparently he didn't). My grandmother's family lived mostly in Dothan and Headland, Alabama. We used to go visiting "up there" when my grandmother was living. It was such fun to play in fields, feed the pigs and chickens. WOW could those women cook!

But we were never to speak of "him." To me he was more than "him," he was "them." He must have married (or remarried), had more children, and there were possibly relatives out there I'd never met. Once, when I lived in Alabama (for a very short time in another life), I traveled a circuit w/ a legal aid lawyer as her assistant. We'd go to all the little towns and provide legal services for the poor. I was filing some documents at a courthouse in a town I sure wish I could remember the name of, when the clerk said to me, "You're one of the Gamble girls, aren't you?"

I'm going to find some of those Gamble girls and see if I do resemble them. There could be cousins who look just like me! I'd love to meet one of my mother's half-siblings. After my grandmother died, my mother talked about finding her "lost family," but she never did even look, I don't think. So that is my next project. If you can help me, this is what I know:

Tera Smith (the person I want info on would be a Smith), my grandmother's maiden name
Tera Poe, her married name (1st? 2nd?)

My grandmother had at least three sisters, one named Cora who was married to Pleaman, a peanut farmer. When she was married to Mr. Poe (never met him, don't know his first name, most likely James), she had two other children, Barbara and James (who served in the Navy), who are both still living but aren't from the "dark side."

Lilly (or Lillian) Jeanne Poe, my mother's maiden name (did Mr. Poe adopt her?)
Jeanne Sciame, my mother's married name (Schamae; it's Italian--my Dad Joseph P. Sciame)
April 10, 1927, my mother's birthdate
Headland, Alabama, believed to be her birth place

In her quest to obtain a passport years ago my mother learned that the courthouse where her birth records and possibly her mother's marriage records were stored had burned down. . . or had it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We Have an American Flag!

We now have an American Flag flapping in the breeze on a tall pole at work! Yeah! A former Army Ranger raises it every morning and lowers it every afternoon. This is a huge step forward for patriotism -- the former owners' religion did not allow them to display the American Flag.

My husband is home and doing really well. Modern bypass surgery is really amazing -- "We have the technology." And WE have great health insurance!

Jorge gets better every day. He called my husband today and carried on a good conversation. He is very grateful for all the thoughts and prayers on his behalf.

As for me, I want to scream a series of profanities, hit somebody, collapse in to bed and stay there for a month! But all in all, we are a blessed family. So I will behave.

That's it for now. Sorry it's so boring, but I'm so very tired.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Will It Ever End?

Thursday morning my husband went to our local hospital before work for a routine stress test. He failed the test and was transported by ambulance to another hospital. After a cardiac catheter procedure we were told he needed bypass surgery, which he had the next day. He is doing really well and should come home from the hospital tomorrow. I'm going to be working from home for two weeks until he can stay by himself.

Which means --- I have a computer! Stef still has mine so I borrowed Kylee's (which she recently bought from Kris --- gotta keep them in the family).

Jorge is out of ICU and getting better every day. Tonight he made some good connections in his healing brain and said "you still make the BEST buns!" (I'm famous for my homemade yeast rolls at family get togethers.) Hopefully he will be able to leave the hospital in a week or so. Poor Stef has had to visit two hospitals: Jorge is in Tampa and her Dad is in Lakeland.

Austin will have knee surgery in Germany sometime soon. We're hoping the Army will just send him home. Kris only has 9-10 weeks left in Iraq! My husband and I want to make the trip to Kansas to welcome him home. What a relief that will be. I cannot imagine how lonely Katie has been this past 13 months.

This has not been a good year for our family. I'd never seen a person on a respirator. This year I've watched the rhythemic up and down of mechanical breathing on three people I love (Kenny, Jorge, Steve). We're still grieving the loss of Kenny. I've imagined over and over what Kenny would be saying to Steve during this ordeal. But Kenny is gone and I still have trouble accepting that fact. Of all the people in all the world, why Kenny?

Thanks for "listening", caring and praying.

Here We Go Again

My husband had triple bypass surgery Friday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

He made it!!!!!

Yeah! Jorge is recovering! He's awake, breathing on his own and wants to get out of here!!!! His mother and I went in together after he'd started communicating. He looked at her and said "Hi Ma!" What a sweet moment.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quick Note

Jorge is still in ICU. His breathing is better. The doctor told Stef yesterday to not get her hopes up because it is still 50/50. I don't understand this since they've taken the nitric away, backed off the oxygen, the paralytic and sedation drugs and he is showing small signs of waking. We were so excited Wednesday that all of this was done and then to hear that on Thursday was extremely disappointing.

Austin's knee is no better (darn). He should find out tomorrow if he is going to have surgery soon or move with his Platoon to a different FOB. Reports from the Platoons who have already moved are NOT good regarding conditions --- bed bugs, no hot water, etc. I think a call to the White House might be in order!!!

Kris is now able to IM every day so we are having our first "conversations" in over a year (other than his R&R break and a phone call on Mother's Day). I'm learning things I never knew before --- IMing must be more comfortable for him to share information (not OPSEC stuff). Kris AND Katie have signed on for 20 years! For anyone who ever asked me if they were "lifers", the answer is YES.

Kylee is in Kansas visiting Katie and Kayli. It's homecoming weekend at Kayli's college so they should have a fun time. None of us had met Kayli. Now she'll be an official member of the "FAM".

So, we wait . . .

Monday, September 24, 2007

Update on Jorge

Jorge remains in critical condition in the ICU. His kidneys failed over the weekend so he was put on dialysis. Stef (and I) set up a site for him. This is a wonderful (free) service for keeping in contact with family and friends while your loved one goes through an extended illness or prolonged recovery. Take a look and if you know of anyone in a similar situation, tell them about this.

Austin has re-injured his knee and is out of the fighting for at least a month and probably longer. I've never been so excited and relieved to hear that one of my children had an injury. He's just hanging around at the FOB giving his leg time to heal. I want to tell him to jump up and down on that leg, but I probably shouldn't!

Stef still has my laptop so I'm sneaking this in at work. I'm "Jonesing" for a computer!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

No Posts for a While

Jorge is not doing well at all. Stef has my laptop so she can work from the hospital.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Check this out!

It's the Welcome Home T-Shirt design for Kris' battalion!!!!! If there's a t-shirt design then they must be coming home soon!

In the photo below Kris (left) is handling the re-enlistment of one of his former soldiers. (I am definitely NOT old enough to be this MAN's mother!) Kris has moved on to Battalion Staff for the remainder of his deployment; I'm not sure what that means other than he is no longer the CO of the 111th Sapper Company.

The photo is from the 1st Engineers' August newsletter.

I came across August edition of The Desert Raider, the newsletter of the 4/2 combat team. Though there was no mention or photo of Austin, my familiarity with the list of the Fallen confirmed I was reading about his activities as part of the brigade.

Oddly enough, there were TWO articles about deployed siblings; two brothers and a brother and a sister. I found this little tidbit in one of the articles.

So it has now been confirmed that I am NOT the only stressed out Mom of two deployed soldiers.

Actually, I am less stressed now than I have been in years. With all of the deployments and pending deployments, my heart has been on a roller coaster ride since 9/11. Now we're heading for the finish line and I'm excited!

[Jorge is still the same. The doctors backed off the respirator a little to see if he could do some breathing on his own; he can. Yeah!]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Harm at Home

Stef's boyfriend Jorge is in intensive care in a Tampa hospital. He was injured in a motorcycle accident a week ago -- battered, bruised, a broken hand and pelvis -- but no life threatening injuries.

All that changed yesterday when during surgery to repair his pelvis, blood clots from the injury traveled to his lungs which put him in pulmonary arrest. Fortunately he was on a respirator for the surgery or he may not have survived.

He is still on the respirator and under heavy sedation until his heart rate returns to normal and he can breath on his own. When we left the hospital tonight he had a fever but otherwise looked calm and comfortable.

Stef doesn't like this photo because she looks like she has two chins --- but she was leaning back being silly right when I took it. But it's such a cute photo of Jorge being affectionate.

I've always thought Jorge looks like The Rock -- he can do the eyebrow thing too.

Jorge enlisted in the Army last year at the age of 32. After a few weeks of basic training he realized that military life was not for him and was able to return home. He tried though; he really did. Otherwise there would be four stars on my Blue Star Banner and that would just be too much.

This is going to be a long road to recovery for Stef and Jorge. They've been together for two years and there is no doubt how much they love each other. Keep them in your thoughts over the next week or so as Jorge recovers.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One Year Ago !!!

Next Friday Kris will have been in Iraq for ONE YEAR! A whole year! Three hundred and sixty-five days! Fifty-two weeks! Twelve months! And I'm still sane (well, sort of -- I don't poo my pants or anything like that). I should wait until next Friday to write about this, but I'm so excited that I can't wait. Today I have been almost giddy with the anticipation of that HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF that I will feel in three months (and one week)!

Of course, tempering that is Austin's tour in Iraq lasting nine more months. BUT, having "made it" to one year when this time last year I didn't think I could "make it" a week, I know I can hold on for nine more months. What's nine months when I've already "tackled" an entire year. (I know it's 3/4 of a year but let's not think that way!). AND, if the maximum time when either Kris or Austin (or both) would be in Iraq is 22 months, I'm more than 1/2 way home! (BTW, my math might be messed up, but Austin is due back early July 2008).

And it's FRIDAY! This time last week I was having a blissful time in Vermont. At this EXACT time I was taking a nap at the B&B in a bed close to a window with a refreshing breeze blowing in along with the sounds of the wind in the trees. I keep thinking -- wouldn't it be really neat if we could sort of stay awake while we take lovely afternoon naps? Sort of twilight sleep so we can experience all that lazy time of day offers and still get some yummy rest.

Now for your Friday viewing pleasure: on your left, MEN will see a sunset on the beach. WOMEN, however, will see my soon-to-be son-in-law (on the beach at sunset). Is he HOT or what --- I mean it is ALWAYS hot on the beach, so I'm only assuming that he was HOT the day this photo was taken. Right? Wouldn't you assume that too? His name is Cal (Callen) --- how COOL is that? He is as sweet as he is hunky (did I say that?). This photo reminds me of a six pack. I mean a six pack of beer! Perv! I was thinking of buying him a six pack of beer. Yes, that's what I was thinking.

Ok, that's enough silliness. You'd think it was Friday night of a rough week and I'd already started sipping delicately on some fine wine. Well, you are wrong! It is Friday night of a rough week but I'm actually chugging on some mediocre wine! After the first glass, does it really matter?

Actually, I'm just mellow and that's a good thing.Since hubby won't be home for a couple of hours I think I'll take another blissful nap --- hey, where's the breeze and the sound effects?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Last night I wrote in my journal: "Tomorrow is 9/11. Six years ago my daughter called me crying and asked 'does this mean Kris will have to go to war?' Now the war has both of her brothers and most of my soul." I'll leave it at that.

Vermont and back

The Vermont trip was lovely -- I wanted to stay for a week but settled for most of three days. It was HOT Friday and Saturday but cooled off with rain on Sunday. There were tiny areas where the leaves had either started to turn or those trees just had orange leaves. In two weeks the mountains will be beautiful -- but I won't get to see them.

We left on 6 a.m. flights and the six of us were in our rental car in Vermont at 11 a.m. That still amazes me; how we can travel so fast. Our first stop was the Von Trapp Family Lodge where we had lunch outside overlooking the mountains, then literally frolicked in the meadow while singing "the hills are alive. . ." It was corny but fun. I have video of us dancing and singing on my phone (I forgot my camera) but I don't know how to get it to my computer. Everyone else took lots of photos and I'll share them once they are uploaded.

Norwich has an almost fairytale campus. It is so neat and tidy, old and sturdy. It seems the ideal setting for enjoying life and getting an education. Of course, I've never been in Vermont in the winter -- it has to be brutal.

The military aspect of the college was great for me to see. It definitely reminded me of a small, more casual West Point. We watched the freshmen in their first parade and they looked mighty fine. At the football game all the freshman had to stand in the end zone and do push ups when the team scored. Unfortunately the team didn't score much and lost their Homecoming game 20-13. Our favorite quarterback was disappointed but kept a good attitude.

We stayed at a really great B&B. We had three bedrooms on the third floor (former attic) and since we kept the adjoining doors open it felt like a big suite. I could have enjoyed just staying there relaxing and reading. The flowers in Vermont are incredible and this B&B had an abundance of hydrangas, ferns, sunflowers, hostas, petunias. If we tried to maintain those kinds of plants and flowers in that quantity in Florida we'd need a 2nd mortgage to pay for the water.

Austin called at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday but by the time I woke up and realized my phone was ringing I missed him. He tried to get on Yahoo IM today and I felt so bad for him because each time he'd get signed on he would get knocked off within a few seconds. He managed to write that he'd waited for two hours to use the computer, only had 30 minutes and couldn't talk to anyone. I felt myself trying to "feel his pain" so the yoga breathing kicked in and I was able to avoid falling apart. But I wanted to help him so badly and I couldn't do anything.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Diet of Double Deployment

( I love this photo so I'm posting it again.)

My nightly glass (or two) of Chardonnay is sending me to twinkle land early this evening. It could be the lack of food. I've lost over 20 lbs. since my boys went in the Sandbox to play. Not that it is bad thing because I needed to lose 20 lbs. But sometimes real food like meat, veggies, sauces, just are inedible to me so it's nothing or a bowl of cereal for dinner. I do love multi-grain Tostidos or is it Doritos. Whatever it is, we're OUT. That's my after work, after yoga, after whatever snack and sometimes my dinner. Multi-grain tortilla chips and Chardonnay. The diet of double deployment.

I had a HORRIBLE dream about Austin last night. He had, of course, been killed and I could not accept that knowledge and looked all over the world for him. It was an awful feeling, even after I woke up and realized it was just a dream; a nightmare if there ever was one.

Then at work today around 10 a.m. I see "Austin is now online." WOWOWOWOWOWOWOW! I was so excited to KNOW that he was OK. We only had about 15 minutes. He said the computers "there" are on timers. He was also IM'ing w/ Kayli and Kylee. He must be one fast typer.

We actually 'talked' about real war/political issues today. We are both convinced that basic human nature is to blame. Just think about it --- if there were no "bad guys" there would be no war. But what constitutes a "bad guy"? Someone who disagrees with US (no pun intended). We both agree that taking out Saddam was necessary; however, trying to civilize an uncivilized population who think they are going to be rewarded for dying in the act of killing other people? (Cue "Mission Impossible" theme.)

So, what's it all about? Greed, power, subjagation of women. Greed certainly on the part of the US contractors who were supposed to provide services to the US and Iraqi militaries. Power certainly on the part of ANYONE given it. Subjagation of women --- is that their biggest fear? That their women will unveil themselves and demand that they be treated like human beings?

Tonight at yoga when we were finishing up and winding down, my mind kept wandering to BAD places. No matter how hard I tried to focus on my "breath," I had horrible imaginings in my head. I tried to shake them off but back I'd go. It's as though a moment still is a moment of terror. Now even when I sleep.

Ten+ more months to go. At 22 months (15+15 w/ a 9 month overlap) to go I could not imagine living with this feeling of dread and doom for even a few weeks. It's been almost a year now and I'm still alive. Still have a husband, a job, a house, two dogs, three cats, one truck, one suv, a few friends, my health is questionable, but appears OK. My face has probably aged more in the past 11 months (since Kris left) than in the last 11 years. A friend at work and I have made a pact to get mini-facelifts in early 2008. We shook on it -- so I've got to do it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tea Time

A few weekends ago we went to Coral Springs to surprise our friend Ann for her birthday. This was her first birthday since her husband died in February (see post "My Friend Kenny) so we wanted it to be full of friends and fun.

We had dinner Friday night at DJ's on the Beach, then Saturday we ladies had "Tea" followed by some pampering at a spa.

It was fun to put on these old hats, gloves and bobbles. I might have this hat on backwards. We had so much fun pretending to be fancy smancy.
We had a very relaxing time with our friends "down south".

This weekend we ladies are going to Vermont for Homecoming at Norwich University where Ann's oldest son is the quarterback of the football team.

Kris has moved to his final post before redeploying back home. That was a real relief to hear. This post is apparently very large and away from the "action."
Austin was able to IM several times last week. Kylee is going out to Kansas to visit Kris' wife Katie and then to visit Austin's girlfriend Kayli at college for their homecoming weekend. Hopefully sometime soon the rest of us will get to meet Kayli. She's such a sweet girl.
There'll be no Army "business" for me this week (hopefully) and I'm looking forward to a break from it all.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

14 Hours of Wonderful Sleep!

A glass of wine and goodnight was my Friday night! Ok, AND one xanax.

Hey --- it's September! I get to mark another month off the deployment calendar!!!! Just FOUR left for one and ELEVEN for the other!

Friday, August 31, 2007

First, if you have any suggestions on good wines to try, please let me know as my consumption is going to increase. Not for any particular reason. I just like feeling "comfortable numb."

Jan Wesner published an article featuring me in the St. Petersburg Times today. The online version doesn't have the photo and I wanna see the photo real bad. I looked around "our town" and could not find a paper. We are in the next county over from St. Pete and there probably aren't a lot of readers over this way yet. Jan wrote that some parents turn to alcohol or sedatives to cope with their son's deployment and that I turn to support groups such as the Blue Star Mothers. Well I also turn to alcohol AND sedatives to cope with my sons' deployment. I've made several attempts to try to sleep without xanax and give up between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m.

Today I attended Sgt. Britt's funeral in Longwood, FL. It was a very nice service, very sad of course. The CAO had told me yesterday I would be doing a private presentation to the family after the service. When I arrived at the church today the CAO told me there was a change of plans and that I would be doing the presentation before the congregation. The representatives of the Patriot Guard also gave their presentation in the same manner and they did very well (thank you Susan).

One of the reasons I attend the funerals and make the presentations is to permanently imprint the faces of the families in my mind and heart. We sometimes say so casually that "they will never be forgotten" and a few weeks later we cannot remember their names. I've seen so much sorrow over the last two months and I want to honor my vow to never forget these brave soldiers and their families.

I truly feel honored to be allowed into the lives of these families for just a few minutes to show them that we care, that we can only imagine how much they are hurting. And after each presentation (or during it) I cry and cry and cry and it helps me to have a long emotional cry because afterwards I feel somewhat cleansed and ready to face a few more days or weeks of fear for my own children's lives.

During this long weekend I am going to do a lot of nothing. I'm so tired that I could probably sleep until Sunday night.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sgt. Sandy R. Britt, Fallen Hero, and Yet Another

I will be attending Sgt. Britt's funeral tomorrow to present the Gold Star Banners to his family.

Today I was notified that another soldier from our small town was killed in Afghanistan; Cory Clark, 25 years old. He was deployed from Ft. Lewis, WA (as is Austin).


Today I went to a dentist who uses nitrous oxide on wimpy patients like me(my former dentist refused to work on my teeth because I have panic attacks every time I go into a dental facility). I should NEVER have used the gas. At first I felt really good, really, REALLY good. I thought to myself, "I get to do this for an hour!" Then it went very wrong. All I could think about was Austin (probably because we had an IM chat today) and these were NOT good thoughts. I think if you are basically happy the gas will make you feel happier. But if at the core of your being you are terrified, the gas makes it easier to imagine the source of your terror.

When I started crying the dentist asked me if I wanted to reschedule. It's hard to breath through a snotty nose (that's where the gas goes in) and I'm sure he didn't want his fingers in the mouth of an hysterical person. But I wanted to get this over with and not have another appointment to dread. I was able to calm down and after the last Novocaine shot for the second procedure I had them take the gas off. I handled the rest of the procedure w/o the gas and, other than trembling all over, did just fine. They were very kind and understanding but I was very embarrassed.

Thursdays are meditation class nights but I just wanted to come home.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Fallen Heros

Florida has lost two more heros. Staff Sgt. Sandy R. Britt,, 30, of Apopka, FL and Sgt. 1st Class David A. Heringes, 36, of Tampa, FL, both out of Ft. Bragg, NC. Sgt. Heringes' funeral and burial will be at Arlington; Sgt. Britt's funeral and burial will be in Apopka, FL. If the family chooses to allow the Blue Star Mothers of Florida to present them with Gold Star Banners at the funeral, I will be the presenter. Everything is ordered and on the way; I await the family's decision. Strangely, if the funeral were on Saturday I would attend even if they did not invite us; but attending a soldier's funeral on a weekday costs me a day's pay. Why should that matter?

The Blue to Gold Star liaison from Michigan called me this afternoon and she too finds that attending these funerals and presenting the Gold Star Banners helps her cope with her son's deployment. Personally I think it is extremely important that the presenter be a mother/wife of a currently deployed serviceman because we can honestly say that at any time the next Gold Star Banner could be presented to us. Which thought, statement, or whatever, gives me chills up my spine and sends me into complete denial!

Tonight I am going to read up on "anticipatory grief," as was suggested by "She Who Waits" (see Blogs I Read). I honestly believe there is no way to prepare one's self for the death of a child, but something in my head tells me there is. Isn't it odd to look at a person and know that 24/7 they are living in fear? I still cannot even imagine 11 more months of this constant state of terror. But I have no choice but to live with it.

I've mentioned before that I should buy stock in Kendall Jackson (if it is a publicly traded company). My first act after walking the dogs is hitting the bottle. Gift cards gratefully accepted.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Deployment Letter

Dear Deployment:

When you came around again for Kris he was very excited to see you. He is Army through and through and he actually even likes you. Other than missing his wife, I think he'd stay with you. You offer him the opportunity to be a leader, a warrior, perhaps a hero. For that I thank you.

But I don't like you much at all. Over the past 11 months I have become accustomed to you; kind of like a shoe that doesn't quite fit. What was at first an oozing blister is now a tough callous. You and I are on the back stretch, just about to round turn three, breeze into turn four and cross the finish line in four (hopefully) short months. Your grip on my heart is loosening and I can imagine the time when that gigantic sigh of relief will put you out of my life for a very long time.

When you came for Austin he was determined to get along with you even though you took him before his leg was completely healed from surgery. You took hold of his mind and convinced him that loyalty to you was more important than his own personal safety. You offer him the opportunity to be a man, a soldier, perhaps a hero too. For that I also thank you.

We are just getting to know each other in this relationship and you have scared me beyond the point of sanity. My heart is firmly in your tightening grip and unless I strengthen myself, you will win this fight.

Deployment, I am resolved to not allow you to destroy my life. You had me down on the mat and the count was at nine and 1/2, but I'm up now. It's "no holds barred" from here on out. You keep my son for another 11 months --- almost another entire year --- but you keep him SAFE! He is completely dedicated to finishing YOUR job, part of which is to protect him. Deployment, if you take my son from me you will win. I cannot lie. You will win. But you will also suffer because I will admonish you from "sea to shining sea" as a hateful bastard who should be banished to hell.

Kris and Austin's Mom

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A New Day

This will be short because a friend is coming over to help me redecorate my bedroom because she thinks it will help me to feel better -- is that sweet or what?

I'm not deleting the two paragraphs from my last post YET because I'm getting the feedback and advice I desperately need!

My husband is working today -- I sent him an e-mail "Do you want me to buy new painting tools or just destroy yours?"

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why Does My Son Rage?

I really want all of you to know that I appreciate your comments, your love, your hugs, your advice, and everything about those of you who read my ramblings! Every day when I get home I go straight to my blog to "hear" from you all. You make my days brighter!

Regarding the helicopter crash on Wednesday, the unit initially identified as being involved was incorrect. The two pilots and two crew members on the helicopter were out of Ft. Lewis, WA --- Austin's unit. If I had seen that before I heard from my sons, more than panic would have happened; probably a lot of screaming, crying and I'd definitely have less hair.

Most tragically, one of the soldiers killed was the second son in his family to be killed in Iraq. How horrible for his family. How does life go on?

My older son is very upset with me for my recent "interference" in things of war. He's been brutally open with his disapproval of me for panicking when I heard of the helicopter crash ("if something happens to one of us you will find out w/n hours through official channels"); becoming involved in getting generators fixed; sending an e-mail to the White House to try to get Austin home; and on and on. When he was home for R&R and I mentioned some things I had become involved in he said, "Why don't you just live your OWN life?" This IS my OWN life. If one of my sons is killed in this war it would not only be the end of them, it would be the end of me!

Sometimes I want to change the name of my blog to ArmyMomOfOne because Austin is really the only one who cares that I care that he is in danger. He listens to what I have to say, appreciates what I am willing (and sometimes able) to do, he knows how much his being killed or wounded would destroy me. Katie is in grad school in Kansas and Kris is fighting WWIII and emulating George Patton.

I know tomorrow I'll delete the last two paragraphs, but for now they stay. This is my life. This is how it is. This is the truth.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Panic Attack!

This morning when I signed on to Yahoo messenger at work to be available if Austin was able to IM, there it was: "Helicopter crash kills 14 soldiers." After I saw that, nothing else penetrated my brain --- I just shut down. Nothing mattered to me except trying to find out that none of those killed were MINE.

I knew that either Kris or Austin were going to be on a helicopter going to visit each other and I just knew whichever one was on board was gone. I started breathing heavily, sweating, couldn't focus, couldn't really even understand what people were saying to me even though I was trying to act like nothing unusual was going on.,, . . What I read was somewhat reassuring --- they actually published the name of the unit involved. I think that is horribly wrong for the families of those who were killed (or even in the same unit) but selfishly right because of the relief it brought to others, specifically ME.

Austin hadn't IM'd me in over a week yet a few minutes after I saw the news, there he was! I e-mailed Kris just saying "I need an e-mail!" He e-mailed back 10 minutes or so later and blessed relief set in. Both of my sons were safe.

Kris told me that I was annoying and that if I didn't get help soon I was going to have a heart attack. Austin told me his company had lost a soldier last week and when I asked for details he just said "don't worry about it." Unfortunately I will be long dead and gone before these sons of mine realize that parents don't have an "off switch"! If I did, believe me, I'd throw it!

All day I just kept thinking about the soldiers who did die in that helicopter crash and about the 14 families that would get that dreaded knock on the door today. Those soldiers were just like mine; those families just like mine.

I was trying to explain how I feel to a co-worker (mother and grandmother) and all I could come up with was either Russian Roulette where the trigger is pulled until a bullet discharges from the gun and kills SOMEONE's child; or that casino wheel where the ball goes round and round and eventually lands somewhere --- on SOME MOTHER'S number?

Eleven and 1/3rd more months. If one of them goes again, give me the gun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A BIG DAH!!!!!

If it weren't for my other blog, I'd think nobody loved me any more! I must have changed the setting by accident! I kept looking and looking and thought if nobody is reading this, why write!

Thank you so much for telling me you COULDN'T COMMENT!

Both boys are A-OK. I did have an e-mail from Kris this morning (yeah!) and Kayli and Kylee IM'd w/ Austin yesterday.

More later (I'm at work).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Doesn't Anyone Read my Blogs?

I'm feeling lonely! Where are my pals who usually leave comments? Have I become too boring? Boo-hoo.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Doggone it!

I hired a dog walker! Because my husband gets home from work at least two hours after I do AND I work 20 miles from home, I was feeling really tied down by having to be home by a certain time every day to walk the dogs. Now, two days a week they get a nice long walk with a very nice woman and I can stay in Lakeland and do fun stuff. Yoga was on the menu for this evening but I forgot my comfy clothes and had to work late anyway. Definitely meditation tomorrow evening.

We are hearing from "the boys" on a regular basis these days. I'm still scared of everything unfamiliar or unexpected; still wishing this was all over.

My sons don't even think I am entitled to worry about them. And they won't understand how I feel until they have children of their own who go off to war --- but even then they won't be mothers! They just think I should be able to go on about my regular life as though they were just "at the office." Come on! We're talking about maternal instincts here. I haven't found the "off switch" yet -- have any of you?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Say Cheese! Newspaper photographer -- for an upcoming article by Jan Wesner

stpetetimesphotos 002 good

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fallen Hero Pfc. Cody Grater

Today I attended the funeral of Pfc. Cody Grater, 20, Spring Hill, Florida. I drove up last night and stayed w/ my new wonderful friend Jan, and together we presented the Gold Star Banners to Cody's mother and stepfather. Cody was buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. I rode to the cemetery on the back of a Harley w/ the Patriot Guard. The streets were lined for miles with people waving flags, saluting, crying.

All of this was an amazing show of love for this young soldier who gave his life in America's continued battle for freedom.

People ask me why I go to these funerals. Here is my answer: I can do absolutely nothing to protect my two sons in Iraq but I CAN do THIS to help comfort the families of our Fallen Heroes. Attending these funerals on behalf of not only the Blue Star Mothers, but on my own behalf AS a mother, is the only real contribution I can make. It is doing SOMETHING --- the opposite of doing NOTHING.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Learning to be Still

After work this afternoon I went to an introductory Yoga class. In my quest to deal with the my emotions during the deployment of my sons, I am trying many different ways to calm myself. Since I was the only person in this Intro class, I had a "private lesson." The woman instructor is a school teacher with an amazingly calm voice. During the relaxing times after the stretches she read to me peaceful passages from a book on learning how to live in the moment. This woman also teaches meditation and I'm going to that class tomorrow night. I often think of the Eagles' song "Learn to be Still" when I try to describe how I want to feel.

It’s just another day in paradise
As you stumble to your bed
You'd give anything to silence
Those voices ringing in your head

. . . But you never will-Learn to be still

I'm not turning "weird" or converting to Buddhism or anything like that. I am simply participating in activities that will "restore" my mind and ease my tense body.

Florida has lost another soldier, Spc. Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Florida, who was killed on August 6. This Saturday is the funeral for Pfc. Cody C. Grater, 20, of Spring Hill, Florida, who was killed on July 29. Another Blue Star Mother has invited me to stay with her near Spring Hill Friday night so that I won't have so far to drive on Saturday, but I'm still don't know if I CAN attend this funeral.

At Sgt. Howdeshell's funeral yesterday, as the Honor Guard was folding the flag w/ amazing precision and while taps was played, I watched his wife gasping for breath, barely able to stand, and I wanted to go hold her up. But I didn't.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fallen Hero Sgt. William R. Howdeshell

Today I attended the funeral of Sgt. William R. Howdeshell, United States Army. I want to write about this Fallen Hero's funeral, his life, his family, his little boy, but I want to do that when I am not emotionally exhausted.

Presenting the Gold Star Banners was a humbling experience for me and I will do it as often as I am called upon.

One of my favorite quotes (though I don't know who wrote it) is "If your child can stand in battle to ensure my freedom, then I will stand in grief with his family to honor him." It was my honor and privilege to stand in grief with the family of St. Howdeshell today.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Presenting Gold Star Banners Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will present Gold Star Banners to the wife, mother and father of a Fallen Hero. His funeral is being held about 50 miles from my house and he will be buried in Arlington later this week.

I've never seen a Gold Star Banner presentation and I have certainly never made one. However, either I'm in this war all the way or I'm not in this war at all. I cannot go on as if nothing is happening and not do "my duty" when called upon.

Please think about me around noon tomorrow as I hopefully am able to honor this family and console them in their loss.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My New Blog Is Up and Running

Instead of redesigning this blog, I decided to have two going at the same time. This one will be mostly about my sons' experiences and how I interfere in their lives trying to be Super Mom. The other one is going to be about BLISS.

It's really beautifully designed. I haven't added all my personal info yet or any links, but I'll get to it soon.

My "opening statement" will be repetitive to what you already know about me, so go back in a few days for "fresh" stuff.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Mom, did you call the President?

Well, ah, no, not call, certainly not call, but, um, wait a minute, I think I might have e-mailed the White House; yes, that's it, I e-mailed the White House several months ago. Why?

Tuesday, July 31, Austin was "summoned" to his Commanding Officer's location and told that the White House had authorized him to return to the US because his mother had contacted the White House stating that she did NOT want both of her sons in a war zone at the same time. Can you believe that? One e-mail sent months ago when Austin was deployed to Iraq six weeks after having knee surgery and wasn't sure he'd even be able to walk, much less run, achieved the goal of allowing Austin to come home from Iraq!

Austin is not coming home from Iraq. His initial reaction was NO, he was staying with his fellow soldiers and serving his country. His fellow soldiers told him he'd be crazy not to jump on this chance to go home. He spoke with his CO, his sister, his girlfriend, me, and his firm decision was NO, he did not want to go home.

His CO called me from Iraq about 1 in the afternoon (our time) to discuss the information he had been provided. He said that Austin is an excellent soldier and a vital part of their team and that if he chose to leave, it would be their loss. The CO was VERY kind and understanding, assuring me that Austin was not in trouble of any kind -- I guess it felt like being called to the Principal's office in elementary school; only a lot worse.

I had truly forgotten about sending that e-mail because a few weeks later Austin had adjusted to life in a war and no longer wanted to come home. And to think that ONE E-MAIL to the White House would actually be acted on, much less the request granted? I was absolutely stunned. I was also extremely proud of Austin for making the brave decision to stay and fight the battle with his fellow soldiers. For a few minutes when I thought he MIGHT be coming home I felt a tremendous sense of relief, but this is his decision to make and I think he made the right one.

After I talked with Austin's CO, he put Austin on the phone. The connection was really bad so I couldn't hear much of what he said but about an hour later we had a lengthy IM discussion and got things cleared up. On his MySpace page, Austin put "My mother is way more awesome than yours" and "You better not mess with me, man, or my mom will send you an E-MAIL!" I'm so proud!

Apparently none of the officers in Austin's unit knew that his brother was also in Iraq. Austin told me that if siblings are serving at the same time the Army sends them both to a green zone to visit for a few days now and then. So next week Austin and Kris will get to see each other for the first time in over a year and a half. Kris is going back to Battalion Staff in a week or so, but hopefully Austin will get to see him "in action" as the CO of the 111th Sapper Company.

Kris is seven years older than Austin and he left for West Point when Austin was only 11. Four years at West Point and then seven in the Army didn't a foster close relationship between. After Austin joined the Army the only time Kris and Katie saw him was at Basic Training graduation. Then they were all here, there and everywhere, just not at the same time.

So I'm hoping these two sibling soldiers can get to know each other better in the Sandbox and develop a bond that will last way beyond the end of this war.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Photos Tomorrow!

Generators at some locations in Baghdad are non-operational; thus no A/C ---- we have a contact on the ground in Baghdad who works for the contractor that supplies and maintains these generators.

My son's "forum" will not allow me to get the word out that if other sons are suffering in this intolerable heat and taking risks because of it ---- to let me know. Now is the time!

sjross at tampabay (

My son's "location" has now had power for THREE DAYS! YEAH!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Censored by request

This morning I was contacted by XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX regarding the inoperative generators!!!!! He responded to a comment I left on the XXXXX website. I called him in Baghdad and gave him the necessary information. This is his e-mail:

"I would like to fix those generators. Where are they located, in particular which site?"

(I removed his name and contact information.) He was so genuinely concerned (hopefully) and I just kept saying "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you . . ." Finally I said "if I stay on the phone I'm just going to keep saying THANK YOU!" He promised to call me tomorrow to report on any progress! If he doesn't, I'VE GOT HIS NUMBER and a BLOG to post it on!!!!!

I don't know when I've been so excited about anything! I talked to my FIA (Friend In Arms) for TWO HOURS after speaking with the XXXXXX rep. this morning. I also contacted the local tv reporter who has been helping me! And, of course, CNN!

IF (I am still cautiously optimistic) this happens and our soldiers are provided relief from the overwhelming heat and lack of electric power, I will proclaim LOUD AND CLEAR that we (ordinarily people like you and me) CAN use our voices and resources to do our part in this war. WE CAN HELP OUR SOLDIERS!

LAW (Liberal Army Wife) --- if it weren't for you I never would have known to or thought of contacting XXXXX. You are and have always been my ROCK!

Friday, July 27, 2007

My "Friend In Arms"

My "Friend In Arms" (Kathy) has started her own blog. Please go visit her and offer your support and encouragement. Her son is deployed in Iraq in the same unit with Austin. Long story/short: we have a large support group over at; about a month ago one of the members decided that we mothers should be paired up to develop closer relationships. Kathy and I were assigned to each other but we'd already been e-mailing and talking on the phone, so it was really a fun surprise to find out that we had become official "Friends In Arms".

I'd estimate that 20-25 e-mails pass between us every day. I've never met Kathy but I feel like I know her so well. We're both mothers of soldiers who are fighting a war and we just want them back home w/ us. Kathy is a homemaker and caretaker of a foster child who lives in New Jersey. I work full-time (plus) 20 miles from home in Florida. If I need anything and don't have time to find it, Kathy does it for me. She is absolutely amazing. She's new to blogging, so help her along as much as you can!

I'm still working on the "situation" and sent out over 100 more e-mails today. So far, no solution.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Austin was able to IM for a few minutes yesterday. I can't go into the situation, but I've got three national organizations working on a solution. I also contacted our Congressman's office, who contacted the House Liaison for the Department of the Army in Washington, DC. I e-mailed several well-known milbloggers, the NY Times, the Washington Post, Anderson Cooper. I'm one pissed off Army Mom.

The comments on my last post were great -- Butterfly Wife, if I ever meet you I'm going to knock all the dust off your wings! No, just kiddin'. I always blamed Kris for getting snippy with me when it was probably me treating him like a child that caused the snippiness. It's so hard to think of my children as adults. Kris is a West Point grad, an Army Captain, a company commander and I still want to hold his hand when he crosses the street (but they won't let me go to Iraq with him). It was almost surreal when my psychologist so bluntly pointed out what I've been doing.

Why does it take the eyes of others for me to see?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Getting "Over It"

Well, I had the cutest post going when my computer when SPLAT! The battery has NO charge in it at all (i.e., it's toast) so if the adapter cord comes lose for a second it shuts down. This is try #3 to get something posted. I should have known to remain in that uncomfortable position and NOT move an inch and thus dislodge the adapter cord.

Remember SAVE OFTEN!

I was writing about my new (male) psychologist who is very skilled in asking the right questions and following up with specific instructions, assignments, exercises for me to do to get my depressed brain out of the dumper. It has taken me years to realize (just today) that I cannot go to a woman psychologist (sorry Deborah) because I can't dump out all my emotional baggage on a woman. I remember telling my woman psychologist before my last woman psychologist that I just didn't want to ruin her day! But I can sure dump on a man.

And thank you, Lala, for your comment --- I plan to stop rocking soon! Just as soon as I finish reading all these damn self-help books. Actually, that comment was the kick in the butt I needed to get out of the pity-party.

I got a funky new haircut and color last night and I love it. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate what my friend Carol did on my own. She used some new spray stuff with a flat iron and when she turned me back to the mirror I thought I was going to start receiving transmissions from Mars! But after taming it with some wax it is the BOMB! (should I use the word bomb?) I was going upstairs and I said to my husband (who is firmly planted on the sofa in front of his HDTV w/ his sound system blaring) "isn't my hair the best?" He said "your SMILE is the best!" Maybe I should wear one of those more often, huh?

Kris e-mailed today and he is safely back at the FOB; no word from Austin in a while. But NNIGN, right?

One topic I discussed w/ my shrink today is my unwillingness to let go of my children. I'm fighting something I can't control (my words, not his) because I want them all back in their rooms in this big old house with me! I want to drive them to soccer, church, ROTC, band, cheerleading and on and on --- but they're grown and on their own. They are all financially independent and very responsible adults. My shrink had the nerve to ask me if my soon-to-be 30 year-old son really needed me treating him like he is 10. Can you believe that?

The nest is empty, the babes have flown; like it or not, we're all alone.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Shouldn't Have Watched That . . .

CNN aired the story of four fallen Marines who were all killed in the same vehicle in January 2005. After two years the family members have found that time DOES NOT HEAL and they remain in almost unbearable pain.

And there are almost 4,000 other families! That is one number I never want to be a part of. As for myself, my life would be over. As I've probably said before, there might be a functioning human body walking around that looks like me, but my heart would die along with my child.

The pile of self-help books beside my bed keeps getting higher and higher. Some I've finished, some I've almost finished, some I've half finished and some I just started. I think I need a self-help book on how to focus on reading one self-help book at a time.

I'm going through a workbook about Relaxation and Stress Relief. My neck is so tense that it's hard to find a comfortable position to even sleep. I'm going to a new psychologist and am hoping to make some progress. He recommended the workbook and yet another self-help book.

Then there are my journal entries. Some are raving mad, horribly sad and definitely all reveal my complete confusion in trying to cope with both of my sons being in a War.

There are online support groups, forums, advice. But I wish so badly that I had a close friend to talk to who would understand how this feels.

I joined a local book club to meet people who like to read (I hope they don't choose self-help books); I'm going to try a meditation/yoga studio this week.

I'm thinking about ordering a MacBook.

I've signed up to take an online creative writing course taught by a well known British author.

My boss was nice the past two weeks. I've been somewhat put on notice that the new computer system the company will be installing in the next six months will make my job obsolete. I'm trying to not focus on that too much. "It's a Job, Not Jail," is the title of a self-help book that I'm about 2/3rd finished reading.

Here is a photo of my "Devil Dog." She's a Schipperke and she loves me bunches but does not like men at all. She has come to tolerate my husband and he her, but she acts like she's big stuff around my boys until they walk towards her and she runs away like a chicken.

Her name is Meika and contrary to her appearance in this photo, she is a very loving, possessive, protective doggie. She has the cutest underbite and her lower right teeth stick out over her top lip.

Like our other dog, a Vizsla Weimaraner mix, she is constantly underfoot. Never get either breed if you like your privacy. They are GREAT company though. Eva, the V/W, is just a big, clumsy, smart, loveable dog and she is sweet to everyone, even men.