The Deployment Diary

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

A very sad day...

I'm waking up to this news this morning Bomb Kills Five U.S. Troops in Iraq.

I normally wouldn't write an entry before even finishing my first cup of coffee, but the next few days will probably be long and frightening days.

Images of Somolia come to mind. My religion says to hand this over to God and pray for the victims, their families and our enemies. My human side says it's time to level the place and let God start over...

Pray for these wonderful Americans that have been lost. Maybe it's the article, maybe it's the lack of coffee, but I cannot tell if the victims were soldiers or civilians. Regardless I cannot believe anyone could treat other humans so brutally.

A prayer for my soul might be helpful at the moment too.... . My feelings at this moment are not very Christian nor are they very American.

How many days of living this do we have left? May God save my soul, because I have such anger, disgust and - well, I'm ashamed to admit it but hatred for those who could do such a thing.

My prayers today are with the victims and their families....

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Fire Fight in Fallujah

View a slide show of the fire fight involving the Marines in Fallujah on Friday, March 26, 2004.

Slide Show

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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Bunker Mulligan

Last week I found a new blog I enjoy reading linked from trying to grok. I thought some others here might enjoy his writing also. Give Bunker Mulligan a visit and enjoy. He has some great photos you won't find anywhere else. As he points out - this is the kind of decisions our loved ones over there face on a daily basis.

Please say a prayer for all our service personnel currently serving abroad and protecting our country.

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Citizen Smash and the Anti-War Protests

I found LT Smash's site last summer I believe. Matter of fact, it was the first blog I had ever read. I was completely mesmerized by the thought of a service member writing from a war zone. Anyone who has followed his blog knows he's an excellent writer - one who can make a sandstorm interesting to read about.

As of late, I now have over fifty blogs I follow regularly organized into a blog folder under my favorites. Citizen Smash is still under my media folder - so the past few months while my interest in blogs has increased, I've not been a regular reader.

I happened by the other evening and read his account and subsequent interview with a college socialist named Rebecca. All I can say is, go take a gander at this. Be prepared to be disgusted. It proves to me, once again, that a college education does not ensure intelligence.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Rebecca's Remarks

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Army Spouses Discuss Deployment

Ok, so that is what I would have titled this article provided to us by the Washington Post. It's five internet pages covering Army spouses' views concerning not only Army life, but life during a deployment. Instead, we must take the "big" news (retention), that is mainly discussed in the last page and title our article as such.

Maybe I'm biased against the press, but I just feel they could have titled this piece something that reflected the full and broad scope of this article. When I clicked on Army Spouses Expect Reenlistment Problems, I fully intended to be mumbling under my breath throughout the entire read. I figured the press had once again found the disgruntled of disgruntled to quote and use as a way to show military spouses hate military life and also feel our Army is stretched too thin. To my surprise, the article is quite informative. A long read, but I found it very well written, informative and an honest, direct look at the lives and emotions of those left behind.

Nope, I'm not thrilled with the title they chose. However, for the Washington Post, it was a well rounded, unbiased look into the hearts and minds of today's military spouse. Take the time to go read. You won't be sorry. As surprised as I am, I wasn't.

Army Spouses Expect Reenlistment Problems

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A Violation of their rights...

U.S. Administration Bans Iraqi Shi'ite Newspaper

"These false articles not only mislead readers but constitute a real threat of violence against coalition forces and Iraqi citizens who cooperate with the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq," a letter signed by Bremer said.

The letter referred to a series of articles it said had incited hatred, including an editorial entitled "Bremer follows the steps of Saddam."

"This is a violation of our rights," Yasseri said

Yeah, I'm sure you are an expert on human rights.

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Marines in Iraq

An interesting and informative article about the Marines in the Sunni Triangle. If you've been following the news, they've had a hard week. All those in this area could use your prayers.

Army commander says Marines face challenge in quieting Iraqi town

If you weren't aware of Ar Ramadi and Fallujah, I will bet you'll hear more and more from this area as the weeks progress. The Marines will be doing things differently than the 82nd Airborne did. I'll be extremely interested to see if the change in force and the way they do things will bring about a big change in the area. I trust our military leaders for the most part. However, this is a scary place and I can't help but worry for the young Marines who will be doing the hard job.

"Our families only know what they read in the paper, what they hear on the news. And I tell you, our families cringe when they see Fallujah on the news. 'Soldier killed in Fallujah.' They know what that means. I think the world now knows the name Fallujah."

Sir, if they don't, I have a feeling here soon the town will be a household name. It already is for Army spouses.

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Do Military Spouses Ever Forget?

I'll admit, I'm not a Sarah Smiley fan. I find her writings to be condescending some days - and irrelevant to today's military spouse quite often.

Her latest flop, Do Military Spouses Ever Forget? is just another example of irrelevancy.

I read her bio each time I catch one of her articles and am awed by her accomplishments. However, when it comes to her writings for (the only place I catch her column), I either read and say "huh?" or read and think "who died and left her the voice for all of us?"

Take this wonderfully crafted paragraph:

One of my Dustin's worst, most unforgettable infractions was leaving me alone for six months with a newborn baby and a toddler while he went off to - of all things - serve the country. I distinctly remember him using words like "duty," "honor" and "commitment" as I cried hysterically over his packed sea bag and begged him to stay.

I try to remember that branches of service do things differently. Often, the job (and/or rank) of your soldier will dictate what beanies he does or doesn't get. For instance, the R & R program for the Army. For most, the younger soldiers go first, so higher ranking soldiers end up getting no R & R because once it's their turn, they are too short and R & R has been halted. Those with babies due, commanders try to schedule their R & R around that time. For Navy, I was told by a Navy spouse that they do not send sailors home when on deployment for a birth. So forgive me when I cannot find the compassion for her having to be a parent when we have spouses at home giving birth alone (often with a little one they must find care for while they give birth alone) while their loved one is facing life and death daily in a combat zone.

In my small world, the spouses I know never cry and beg their soldier to stay. They know, it's their job, the soldiers have no choice and most wouldn't want a choice and abandon those who are depending on them.

We cry. Of course we do. Where our loved ones go, they are shot at constantly, mortared and must watch for bombs on the side of the road. We cry because we're scared. We cry because we will miss them and worry. We know though, we can stand up and take care of our children, our homes and our responsibilities. It's just that fear thing you know. Lets face it, anyone who sends their loved one to Iraq and doesn't in the small corners and recesses of their soul have some fear is either dead or lacking the love needed for a happy marriage.

"But what about me?" I cried. "What about your commitment to me? You can't just leave me like this!"

As he slung the heavy green bag over his shoulder and walked to the rumbling airplane waiting to take him away, I marked the injustice in my mental notebook of things I might never be able to forgive.

This just bothers me. Yes, there are spouses that would shoot themselves in the foot if they thought it would keep their husbands from having to leave. There's the male spouse who lied about a phone call saying his wife had died to try to get her home. The military is nothing more than a cross section of America and there are all types of people both good and bad, both with morals and lacking. For the majority of military spouses though, I believe they are the most selfless, compassionate and strong group of people I've ever had the pleasure of being associated with.

Yes, we cry and wish it wasn't our soldier's turn on the bad days. We worry and pace the floors when the time nears to say good-bye. The first month they are gone we are often in shock, numb and emotional. We do eventually pull ourselves up, give ourselves a kick in the pants and say, "get on with it." And we do. I have never had the displeasure of meeting a spouse who screamed, "What about me!!" as their soldier left. I'm sure they are out there, but thankfully I think they are the exception, not the rule. Most are more worried about the safety of the one they love to stop for even a moment to worry about themselves. After all, we're the ones who stay in the comfort of our own homes, safe, dry, comfortable et al.

OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit. I obviously understand my husband's commitment to the military. At the time, however, as I was standing on the flight line with two babies on my hip and tears in my eyes, his leaving seemed so unbelievably - unforgivably - cruel. And I truly believed that maybe, just maybe, if he had begged hard enough, he could have been excused of the deployment and stayed home with me.

(Even the most rational, well-experienced military wives lose their perspective and common sense as they're waving goodbye to their husband and watching his plane fly away. And in this state of emotional distress, it is easy for women to actually blame their husbands for the deployment, and in some cases, the memory of that pain is permanent.)

If he'd begged hard enough? I'd be embarrassed had my husband "begged" to not have to go do the job he's being paid to do. The job those he works with are depending on him to do well so lives are not lost. Do civilians happening by and reading this come away with a clear picture of the average military spouse? My heavens, I hope they don't accept this as the norm.

It's easy for women, in this emotional state to BLAME their spouse for having to go DO THEIR JOB? And the pain is permanent? Again, I'm sure there are those folks out there. I'm sure every FRG Leader here in the states and abroad has dealt with "that spouse" at some point. He/she isn't the norm.

I have to wonder, is Mrs. Smiley connected to reality? My pain that will be permanent is the fact my husband has seen things that I would wish no human would have to see. He has lost friends and had young soldiers lose limbs. The "pain" of this deployment WILL be permanent. The pain of loss and fear and grief. This is war and these emotions ARE the norm.

Just as soon as I was adjusted to my life alone, Dustin would call from some exotic foreign port. In the background I'd hear music and laughing and people having a great time. All while I was smearing Desitin on babies' bottoms and stepping on Lincoln Logs.

On my first Mother's Day, Dustin called from Spain, and the music of the club in the background was so loud we could barely talk. I had waited nearly two months for that phone call and my disappointment was enormous.

I remember crying to him, "So I guess this is your commitment to having a great time and enjoying all that foreign wine!"

(Again, even rational women lose their cool under the pressure of deployment.)

Again, different branches, different experiences possibly. However, I can say that if my husband called me from a party on Mother's Day where we couldn't even carry on a conversation, I'd be hurt and angry - and I find nothing irrational about that. If the tables were turned and on Father's Day I called him from a party where he couldn't even hear me say, "Happy Father's Day" or the two of us be able to have a conversation after not being able to talk for a few months, he'd be hurt too. It's having mutual respect and concern for those you love. Mostly, it is caring for their feelings and them missing you enough to WANT to be able to hear your voice as much as you want and need to hear theirs.

To me, this just reinforces the stereotype that sailors (or soldiers) head for the nearest bar to act like fools the minute they have a moment of free time. Is that still the reality? Maybe it is and I'm just fortunate not to be married to someone who feels the need to go toss a few back every time he has a moment to spare. Sure, he enjoys a beer on the weekends while working in the yard or sitting on the porch on a Friday night after a long week. He'll have a few beers and we'll talk about any and everything under the sun. When he's gone though, even to a school here in the states where he does have some free time, he has never called me drunk or from a bar. He'll go out with buddies, but calls when he gets back to his room sounding like he always does. I wouldn't be getting smashed here at home around strangers (or in private for that matter since I don't drink). We expect that from each other. We've both lived long enough to know that alcohol, strangers and strange places are a ready mix for trouble.

As military spouses, we understand our husband's duty to the country and that things like deployments and weekend duty are out of our spouses' control. But that doesn't make it hurt any less.

Yes, Dustin, I do forgive you for leaving me on the runway and calling from wonderful foreign ports. Will I ever forget these things though? Probably not. But if you go do the boys' bath, as I did 180 times while you were gone, that might be a good start...

Is it hurt she speaks of or resentment? Seems to me, resentment. Yes, I do tire of being a single parent. My husband and I are the perfect team. We balance each other out in many ways including parenting. If you saw him, you'd think he would be the hard-nosed, do-it-because-I-said-so strict parent. However, that role falls to me. He's the mushy parent who lets them get away with things ;), gets them talking with food in their mouths and thinks it's funny.

When he is home, he gives the baths in the evening because he's missed seeing them all day. He wants that time with them, to laugh and carry on when I'd be saying "don't splash! You'll get water everywhere" lol. He wants to put them to bed and be the one reading the night night stories. It's their special time together when he works such long hours and rarely gets to see them during the week. I never once had to ask him to change a diaper or get up in the middle of the night with a colicky baby. I'd be getting a leg out from under the covers and he'd say, "no I'll get him, go back to sleep baby."

He's a soldier. He has a job to do and it's often not fun. People are depending on him and trust him. I'm proud of the fact that as hard it is for him to leave us (we both say it gets harder every time) and for us to say good-bye to him, he doesn't try to skate his responsibilities.

He's a husband. He thinks about my feelings and acts accordingly when he's home and when he's gone. He's never called me from a bar. If the phone bank was so noisy we couldn't talk, he would wait. He gets up at 4 in the morning his time to go when the phone bank is quiet and no one is waiting so we can get an extra five minutes sometimes.

He's a father. When he's home, he is a hands-on Dad. He takes them to the park. They go on a weekly outing to the library - just the three of them. When he's working in the yard, the babies are out there with him and he lets them help as much as they want. He never loses his patience or hurries them along because he has a football game to watch or a nap to catch. He gives baths, kisses boo-boos, prepares snacks and checks on them before he can go to bed at night. He's a father in all senses of the word.

I just don't believe my husband is the exception to the rule. I don't believe her article paints a picture of today's military family that I would want America to assume is the norm. I certainly don't feel it's even close to the concerns or realities of miiltary families today, who have loved ones off fighting a war. The concerns we have are more important than desitin and diapers or resentment. Our concerns are life and death - and we don't need fluff like this article minimizing the emotions and reality of what today's military spouses face.

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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Day 200

It's day 200! It's finally arrived.

This week was spring break week. Enough procrastination has made the week's accomplishments on the old house pretty scarce. It was a good week though. It's always wonderful to have my oldest home with us all day. She's so much fun and has such a creative mind! Even with it raining some of the days - like today ;), they've made some great craft projects and had a wonderful time making the house look as though a tornado hit it ;). Normally, this would drive me nuts being the anal, borderline obsessive compulsive that I am. But, it seems that the older I get the less the small stuff gets to me. Maybe it's the deployment - maybe it's just me. However, I finally realize that what goes on in our house is small stuff. It's just "stuff" as long as we are healthy and happy. Toys laying on the floor or scraps of paper all over the dining room table makes me smile, not want to rush in and clean up. It means they are using their minds, having fun and when it all boils down to it, that's what childhood at the ages they are should be about. Once we're sure we're done playing with Gi Joe, the race cars, the crayons, glue, glitter and construction paper - then we'll pick it up. I'm enjoying the new found freedom of not being so obsessive over the house looking perfect 24/7.

I'm really looking forward to summer vacation now. This week went by too fast! I enjoyed us being able to start the day at our own pace and think up things to pass the time that we normally wouldn't have time for between school, homework, baths, supper and the rest. We even dug up some areas in the backyard by the new fence and put flower seeds down. Both little ones are really excited to see what flowers will come up. I bought a box of wild flower mix, so it will be a surprise to see what blooms. I think it will look beautiful next to the little area of dirt by the drive that runs against the fence. Something about vibrant colors next to that white fence screams beauty to me. I guess I should get out there this week and paint that section of fence though. I don't want to get paint on the flowers once they start sprouting ;).

I picked up all the rest of the things to finish up the dining room at Lowes. I'm thinking I will start making the trek in the opposite direction to Home Depot from now on though. They offer military families a ten percent discount. I'd read other spouses say the Lowes in their area, when asked, would give them the ten percent. When I asked last week, the lady was really snooty about it and said, "We ONLY give a discount on Memorial and Veterans' Day." I can understand that, but she could have been nicer about it. Think I'll take my money elsewhere ;).

I do have one wall's woodwork sanded down and ready to add the polyshade to it. Minwax has a stain/poly mix and I used Antique Walnut on all the woodwork in the kitchen. It turned out beautifully. We have eight windows and two door facings in the kitchen alone - all original. Our carpenter says the original woodwork in the house is cherry, so when you add the stain/poly mix, it has a beautiful deep color that has a hint of red to it. However, the new woodwork (on the poor folk's budget ha!) in the dining room is NOT cherry. It's birch for the plate rail and wainscoting and the french doors are white pine. The carpenter stained several scraps to get the right color to match the kitchen's woodwork, so I purchased the plain stain to apply to it first that will give it the reddish tint and three containers of the Antique Walnut to apply over it. I want the woodwork to have a gloss to it and the polyshade is satin, so I bought regular polyurethane to apply over the finished product. Now, if I could just downshift out of procrastination and get started ha! I think, I'm truly worried of messing up the woodwork though, and that has been the key to the problem of getting in there and doing it. This afternoon is the day though! Keep your fingers crossed ;). I'll be doing all the old woodwork first - then I'll start the new to make sure it matches the old per the carpenter's advice. I hope I can do it right where you cannot tell old from new. Prayers would be most helpful ;). I really want this room to turn out to be gorgeous so when he gets home he's really impressed with the finished product!

Hope everyone had a great week and sorry for the delay in updates. More thoughts coming...I've bookmarked several things I've read this week I wanted to comment on. Maybe you'll find something that will interest you.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Day 197

Sorry for being absent. It's been a rough few days.

First off, I'm trying to finish this darn job. Now, in my defense, I did try to get out of it. I just did not want the added stress. I did a site for them starting in October of last year and it was not finished until right before Christmas. They said later on, they'd want me to do another site for their new publication. To my horror, later on was January. I tried to politely decline, but they wanted this one set up like the other and were SURE no other person could do it like I could. In all honesty: no one else would do it for such a low price and not flee the project mid-way through when their 4,000th change came in at the last minute.

So, since Saturday I've been up until 3 or 3:30 a.m. every night working. Thankfully, it's spring break so I can sleep until 8 the next morning. My peepers - they just don't want to stay open. I worked from 8 this morning until about an hour ago (around 1-ish a.m.). I'm beat.

Sunday morning I got my regular email from my husband saying, "I'll talk to you at our regular time tonight."

I got to a good stopping place around 730 Sunday night. By 10 pm when the phone still hadn't rang, I knew it wasn't going to. I figured he got busy or the phones were down. No need to worry. I'd get an email explaining Monday morning.

Monday morning and all day Monday - no email. When I got the 75 emails that morning (one of which is to me, the rest is spam which is a gripe for another day) and an email from him wasn't among them, a twinge of worry caught me.

I check the news. More bad news from overnight. Now I worry a bit more.

By six that evening, I was really worried. My mind said there was a reasonable explanation, but my worry side just couldn't keep quiet. I emailed him a nice email telling him how much I missed him and loved him. Just had to tell him right then. What if...

I get back to work fighting with a stupid poll and saying ugly words under my breath. I guess I could have yelled them - the babies were in bed by then. Probably would have felt better.

Out of the blue, the cell phone rings. I figure it's my cousin who is having a problem with his mySQL database and wants my help. Instead, the phone says UNAVAILABLE - and that's usually my husband.

Heart is pounding, I'm so thankful he's calling - and in a second as I pick up the phone I'm thinking, if this my MIL with some phone card I'm going to let her have it. I answer and there's that familiar sound that those of you who talk to someone on the other side of the world understand ;). It's HIM!!!

He says, "Hey baby. Are you ok? I'm sorry I couldn't call."

Am I OK? I'm sitting here in our house, cussing a poll - you're in a war zone and you're asking if I'm ok?

Yeah, ok, he knows me too well ;). I tell him there's nothing to be sorry for. I'm just glad he's calling and I'm getting to hear his voice. He tells me about the phones being down. He thought it was just their tent so he went to the other company's phone bank and they were down too. So, he went to the computer tent to email and let me know. That's when they told him two Marines had been killed and communication was cut. Yeah, cause we all here in the middle of America are hanging out with those Marine wives in CA (rolling eyes).

Anyhow, I had to get teary on the phone telling him how much I love and miss him. I told him I was just so darned tired and thankfully he knows when I'm overly tired I get teary over everything. Especially after worrying and finding out he's ok lol. I just couldn't help to get was so good to hear his voice!

It was a good conversation. They always are. I'm just so glad he's ok.

And, in another week we'll hit month seven. Something we talked about on the phone and were both thrilled that now we are completely over that hump!

The weather is beautiful here. I had my windows open until 8 pm! I only closed them because the wind started blowing so hard it knocked over my new lamp. I'm taking tomorrow off. It's spring break and the babies and I are going to spend the day in the yard! They waited the entire month of March to send me the stuff I needed to get this project finished. They still have more to send me. So, they can wait on me for a day while I spend some quality time with my babies and get the heck out of this house. I'm beyond cabin fever!

Hope everyone is having a good week! Wednesday is already here. I can't believe it!

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

And the Idiots Unite...

I live in a patriotic small town in middle America. I'm thankful for that. Shortly before my husband deployed, word was in the press they were leaving of course. On the interstate between our small town and the thirty five minute drive to the installation there are several overpasses. On one trip to the fort, twenty or so people were standing on one of the overpasses waving American flags and holding signs that read, "We love you!" and "Stay Safe!!"

Of course, I cried and honked the horn as we went under the overpass. It warmed my heart. Especially after friends at other installations had shared their stories of people spitting on or hitting their vehicles as they tried to get on post. Their children in the car with people holding signs or yelling things such as, murderers or other atrocious "slogans."

I'd told a few of my friends with the worst stories, they were much stronger and classy women than I. Had someone taken their fists to the hood of my car yelling such garbage with my children hearing it, I'm afraid this southerner may have downshifted into second and made my own political statement heh heh. I'm kidding of course. I'd never run over an idiot, I'd just think some wordy durds as I made my way through.

Thousands of protesters marched through Chicago's downtown shopping district. The Rev. Jesse Jackson urged the crowd to express their opposition to the war by voting against Bush.

"It's time to fight back," Jackson said. "Remember in November."

Ah yes. The race warlord himself. He has to get where the cameras are you know. People in Haiti die - it's time to deploy all our forces. Hundreds of thousands in Iraq are in mass graves, brutally butchered and tortured, their wives and daughters raped, but they are not worthy of helping if you ask Jackson. Such a compassionate man. I true leader for the oppressed. If, you are the right color of course.

Many of the demonstrations were accompanied by smaller gatherings of Bush supporters. In Los Angeles, marchers passed by several dozen people who lined one Hollywood block, waving flags and chanting "Four more years."

"We believe in George Bush. We believe in what he's doing," said Gary Beck, 48, who was visiting from Tampa, Fla.

See, it's my firm belief that conservatives and those who support Bush in general are true freedom lovers. We are individuals. We believe in being individuals. This means we do not categorize ourselves in special interest groups. We do not enjoy group status because it takes away from our individuality. We prefer our government do what it is suppose to do - protect us, protect our freedom and we pursue happiness on our own. Being responsible for our accomplishments as well as our mistakes. It's a novel concept really.

We understand that the Constitution of this great country does not include the "right" to a good paying job. It is our responsibility to work hard, follow our dreams and accomplish being qualified for that good paying job on our own.

We understand that the Constitution of this great country does not include the "right" to health care. As with it being our own responsibility to get the proper training and education to land a good job, it's our responsibility to work hard, study hard and be dependable to get the good jobs that offer us health care.

We are not group followers by nature. We are busy working, studying and improving our lives. Therefore, while we have these marchers and screamers getting the press - it may appear they are larger in number. Meanwhile, our voices are heard at the voting booths because we're too busy to take a week off work to go march somewhere.

"He got support based on fear," said Shannon Sharrock of Temple, Texas, a former Army helicopter pilot whose husband serves in Iraq. "The war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism."

Fear? Nothing to do with terrorism? Now, we all know had Saddam handed off some glowing something or another and it wound up in her town killing hundreds or thousands, she would be one of the first saying, "That Bush KNEW Iraq was a danger and he did NOTHING to protect us. The election season was too close and he would put his own political gain ahead of protecting us!!!"

And so it goes. The idiots unite.

Major Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary

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The Marines Arrive

and I cannot help but wonder if their commanders are already rethinking all the judgment they placed at the feet of the 82nd Airborne. For a few months, I've read quotes from Marine higher ups about the Army's job in this area. Often scathing criticisms of what they view as "heavy-handed" tactics. Frightening quotes of putting Marines on foot patrols in this region and befriending Iraqis in this Sunni "hate America" region. The changes they planned because, if you read into what they were saying without saying, the Army had failed and it was their fault for such high insurgent rates in this area.

I'll be honest. More than once I read what these higher ups were saying and thought, yeah - wait to pass judgment until you are there doing the job. These people do not "feel the love." Being in your easy chair back in California critiquing the job of those dying there is easy. You may have to adjust your game plan once you arrive. All the posters in the world will not fix what is this area's problem.

I hope they are paying attention and will not needlessly risk young Marine lives. This isn't like the war. It's a whole 'nother ball game.

Marine recounts battle

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

Day 193

It's hard for me to believe that we're almost at day 200. I think back to the day he left and shudder. It was the darkest point in my entire life. Maybe I should be thankful that it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my 29 (heh heh) years.

I think about that day and all I can do to describe it is say I was two hairs away from insane. I've never felt so out of control. I felt sick from the inside out. Twelve months of fear, loneliness and the unknown was ahead of me and I just could not make myself feel normal.

The area he was going I'd never heard of until about two weeks before he left. It seemed like after that, the only news about Iraq came from that area - and it was all horrible news. I got online and did a search on the town and it was more of the same. They were Sunni, they hated Americans and it was "the most volatile" region in Iraq. It still is.

Watching him hug our little boy that last time and knowing our child had no idea that when Daddy walked out the door, he wouldn't see him again for a long long time. His little hands reaching up for him to pick him up and saying, "I ove oo Daddy." Seeing the tears well up in my husband's eyes and him saying, "I love you too, Buddy." Him hugging him so tight - closing his eyes as if to relish the moment and file it away for later when he wished he could hug his son.

Having to go pick up our daughter from school that afternoon knowing that even though she'd just started first grade, she would be in second grade before he saw her again. Wearing sun glasses into the school because my eyes were so red and swollen, I was afraid someone would ask me if I was ok and I'd burst into tears.

Walking through this house that first night alone and wondering what I was thinking when I said it was my dream house. It felt perfect when I imagined our children being teens and the extra room making it comfortable for us all to have our space. Now, it felt too big - and so empty. How had I ever thought it was the perfect size for our family to grow older in?

Getting the throws to cover up with off the backs of the recliners that first night and getting on the couch. The first night of a year's worth of nights sleeping on the couch with the dog - instead of upstairs in our bed with my husband.

Laying there wondering how in the world I'd ever survive an entire year without him. Praying at the same time, that a year is all I'd have to face.

We're now over half-way to homecoming. A friend of mine's husband just returned. Our installation is welcoming more troops home this weekend. And I'm so very thankful we're not at the beginning of this. We may not be to reunion time, the rumors are just rumors, but we are closing day 193, not day one. Life is good...

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A Year Ago...

A year ago we started the bombing of Iraq.

We were watching the news together every night after Bush gave Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq. My husband had gone to the gas station to get gas in his car and pick us up some M & Ms and sodas to snack on. One of those nights where we wanted something sweet, but had nothing in the house to munch on.

He was gone less than five minutes when Fox started showing the first bombs dropping around Baghdad. I called his cell and the darn thing rang in the kitchen lol.

It seemed like he was gone forever and FINALLY he pulled back up in front of the house. I went out on the porch and hugged him, kissed him on the cheek and told him how thankful I was he was home. Then, as we walked back in the house, I told him the bombs were falling. I don't remember us talking really, just watching the coverage.

I didn't sleep much that night. When we finally went to bed, I just watched him sleep and listened to him breathe. So thankful I could look at him and see that he was ok. I knew so many other spouses were in front of the TV at that moment worried about where their loved one was, what they were doing, if they were ok. I felt truly blessed I could have my hand on my husband's back with him peacefully sleeping in his own bed and there be no question he was safe.

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Friday, March 19, 2004

The Alarm Bell is Ringing

Oliver North has hit the nail on the head in his latest commentary on

He correctly tells us to find the parallels between the rhetoric of Spain's socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during his candidacy to John Kerry:

Mr. Zapatero's upset victory means that the Jihadists we are now fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the mountains of Pakistan now have a new incentive to try even harder to pull off another major attack inside the United States. They have proven that they can alter the outcome of an election in Spain. We're the next logical target.


Mr. Zapatero's opposition Socialists maintained that the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns were wrong "because fighting terrorism with bombs [and] Tomahawk missiles, isn't the way to defeat terrorism." Availing himself of a sympathetic media, Mr. Zapatero harped that Spanish citizens were vulnerable at home, pledged less militancy, greater reliance on the United Nations and promised to strengthen domestic police agencies because, "Terrorism is combated by the state of law."

If this sounds vaguely similar to a campaign closer to home, listen carefully to Senator John Kerry's disparaging critique of the Bush administration's strategy of fighting terrorism as far as possible from the United States. Those who kill and use terror to bring about political change are reading our newspapers on the Internet. They watch our television on bootlegged satellite signals. They comprehend the difference between a president who has pledged to "stay the course in Afghanistan and Iraq" and a challenger who wants to "work more closely with the United Nations" and who believes "the war in Iraq is wrong, wrong, wrong!"

Frighten you? It should...

Oliver North: The Alarm Bell is Ringing

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Day 192 - Rumors and Ramblings...

This week has been hectic. I'm trying to finish up a web design job which is no easy task with a puking three year old ;). I'm happy to report that PukeFest 2004 seems to be over and for now - we are all healthy. The content management system is all set up, the design kink in Netscape found (note - hspace in the image tag WILL disrupt a table in Netscape if it's too wide lol), the database is working correctly (after two hours of failing to recognize the admin and having to hunt down that problemo), the content is 99% together. This weekend it will be adding content and more content. All the hard parts are finished!! Whew!

This week the weather has been gorgeous. I cannot wait to get the pond cleaned out, clean water in it and the fountain going. It's so peaceful! I'm also looking forward to planting a ton of flowers around the new fence on the sidewalk side. I still have to find the letter (dh wants the first letter of our last name hanging on the gate) and antique it and put that up - oh and get the last few post caps primed and added. I have planter boxes and trellises to build out of the pickets that were not used. I need to plant grass in the bare spots, add a weed killer to the front yard and buy and plant some bushes. I also need to get some Lyme (or is it Lye - white powder stuff) to put around the house to keep the spring bugs from finding their way into the old house.

So much to do - so little time.

The dining room is still waiting on sanding and the second coat of mud on the cracks. Tomorrow I hope to head to Lowes and get the paint, primer, stains and polyurethane to finish up that room. Then, it's a mad dash up to our bedroom to get that thing started so I can finally have a BED to sleep in (new bedroom suit on layaway just waiting for room to be done). This old couch has lived through so many separations of me snoring on it - the thing is now so soft it gives me a backache. See, I'm one of these odd people who refuse to sleep in our bedroom when he's gone. It's less stressful if my clothes just reside in the bedroom and I fall asleep in front of the TV every night.

The Rumor
So, one of my friends in the FRG and I just have this feeling they will be coming in sooner than expected. We've had this feeling since October I'd say. We can't really place our finger on why - but it's just there and it's such a strong feeling you can't really overlook or ignore it. We scour news articles looking for mention of them and redeployment. We have found several that state our suspicions even though the Army will never confirm or deny lol!

Now, before anyone gets upset or thinks "there's the rumor mill every FRG Leader dreads," what we think and what we find online stays between myself, my friend and a mutual friend. The three of us are on the same page as to it's an inside conversation not to be shared with the populace lol. We don't call others outside the "nutty three" and let them into our strange world of lots of prayers, nightly searches online and a bunch more hope ha!

The way we look at it is, if nothing else, it gets us to that next place - and by the time we are there, we will be as far out from homecoming as we are now with the suspected "rumor" date - so there will STILL be plenty to be excited about ;). I guess for us, it's just another way to have a day to strive for - a goal if you will. Like back in September, it was "if we can just get through Halloween." Then, Christmas etc. For me - it was always, "If I can just get through February with my sanity still hanging out with me, the rest will be a breeze."

So, now we have these rumors that we discuss, that brings us a ray of hope (without being crushing if they are not true), which turns to discussion of what all we want to have done before they get home... In short, it's just a mind game of sorts to keep our spirits lifted. I'll be honest - it's so much fun! Just because we are past the six months and we're on the downside!! It gives some bounce in our steps, something to dream about...

Well, my friend has a friend (isn't that the way all rumors start out lol?). This friend of a friend works at the hospital. She also gives one of the debriefings at redeployment for all incoming troops. The woman wouldn't discuss it, but somehow a bottle of wine got involved and she spilled that the hospital is planning the redeployment debriefings for our group - soon. SOON. Ok, not in the next few weeks, but soon enough to be a reality when you think how long it takes to convoy, wash vehicles and get them loaded up.

My reaction to this news? "OH SHIT!! I haven't even started the bedroom and the dining room is a wreck and this job - and I wanted bushes and to order this sign and to have that room cleaned out and..."

My friend says, "WHO CARES??! So it won't be perfect - you don't always have to have everything perfect!!"

And, she of course, is right!! I've just had this plan through all this of what all I wanted completed in the house. How I imagine the outside to look when we pull up that first time. If this rumor is true, it will be weeks of 10 hour days in our bedroom to get that done before he gets home! And what does that mean? It means that the time will FLY!!!! It'll be here before I know it!

If the rumor isn't true? I will have found that motivation I needed to get my rear in gear. Instead of slowly finishing up all these projects, I'll knock them out and actually have some time before he comes home to relax a bit! To read a few books, sit on the front porch in the evenings and wave at neighbors as they pass by for their nightly walks. I'll be able to LIVE in this house instead of always WORKING in the house!

The best part if it's true? Of course, the best part is he gets out of such a dangerous place and we get him HOME. The other best part? It will be early enough to where we COULD take a trip to Mothers because school wouldn't have started! We COULD leave the babies for a weekend with Grandma and Paw Paw and take a drive to the beach ALONE!! Time for just the two of us!! We could lay in the sun all day, sleep in, eat a meal without correcting manners :). The thought of us having three or four days just to be alone together has me wanting to scream in excitement!! Since our oldest was born, we've not spent more than a few hours alone to go out to eat or walk through Wal-mart while MIL is visiting!

Ok, so there are the rumors and ramblings. True or not true - the sun is shining, spring is FINALLY almost here, this job is close to being finished and life is feeling so great right now!! It is official - I'm a summer person lol! I need that sunshine to feel good, to feel normal and not be so down in the dumps!! Come on SPRING!!!!!!

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Monday, March 15, 2004

Runner Up Quote of the Day

Yep, my husband will win out every time ;), but this I couldn't pass up. Also found on Boortz this morning. Enjoy lol!

By the way ... a great line from the Bush camp over the weekend. sKerry, as you know, is challenging Bush to a series of monthly debates leading to the election. Bush officials said that perhaps it might be a good idea for Kerry to finish debating himself before he tries to take on the president.

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Quote of the Day

Day 188 for those counting along with me ;)!

The quote this day comes from the most handsome, loving and wonderful man in the world. That, of course, would be my husband.

He called last night and my goal (now that we get to talk almost every week for a few minutes) is to get him laughing on the phone. I'm an aggravator. Mother says I get it from my father - she's right ;). I love to give him a hard time and get him laughing. I can see his face get red, I can see him in my mind laughing with that great smile and tears welling up in his eyes...

Last night it was about the ceiling in the dining room I am redoing. He says get the contractor back out here - I say I'm looking into this stuff that's like wall paper. The ceiling isn't falling in, just a bad patch job from years ago that mud isn't going to fix. Five minutes later we had moved on to another topic and Mr. Control Freak was back talking about calling the contractor. I reminded him, we'd covered that Hero (my nickname for years for him - gets him all riled he he). I'm the man of this house - if I need to, I'll rip the damn ceiling out myself ;). He's just holding the tail lol, so move on. He gets so tickled when I give him a hard time and it makes me feel so good to hear him laugh. There's not much to laugh about where he is I'd imagine.

He also pointed out that he'd be getting close to forty here soon. I reminded him I was still 29 and holding lol! This morning he sends me such a loving email. Of course he has to get a joke in there. Nothing like waking up to a good laugh on a rainy Monday morning.

There's not a second that goes by that I don't think of us, our dreams and our life together as I grow older and you, of course, continue to stay in your mid-twenties.

Gosh I miss him so much. I cannot wait until he's finally home - where I can not only hear him laugh, but see his wonderful smile. I love this man with everything that I am.

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Monday Political Notes...

No better way to start off a week than show Kerry's flip-flopping ;).

Kerry Ready to Invade Iraq - in 1997 that is. When Bill was in office.

Now, please take note of his rhetoric from that year. Listen to how it mirrors so closely this "arrogant" Bush Administration that we have now. Lets face it people, the UN, France, Germany and Russia all had their (monetary) reasons for not wanting us to invade. They were no more interested in toppling the dictator then than they were in 2003. If we'd followed Hanoi John back then, he'd have had to put together a coalition of the willing too. It's not about this admin's failures - it's the FAILURES of our so called allies.

From Boortz this morning:


Yet more evidence today that the standard-bearer for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination has absolutely no political soul, and just makes things up as he goes along. Today's installment? The war in Iraq. Now, you know that Kerry has been both for the war, against the war, for it again, sort of against it and then for it again. What you may not know is just how ready he was a few years ago to do just what he criticizes President Bush of doing.

Speaking on CNN's "Crossfire" on November 12, 1997, Kerry criticized the United Nations, France and Russia for not being tougher on Iraq. Not only that ... he even pointed out that the Clinton administration didn't need UN approval to act on Iraq. "The administration is making it clear they don't even need the UN security council to sign off on a material furthermore, I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests." He also went on to criticize the French for not being more helpful, and said that the issue wasn't just about weapons of mass destruction, but Iraq's breach of agreements. In other words, he said the same things then that the Bush administration has been saying all along. Holding Saddam Hussein accountable is only a good idea if there's a Democrat in the White House.

It's too bad for the Democrats that Kerry already has the nomination sewed up. They rushed the process, and now they've wound up with a lemon and no return policy. I guess they can always vote for Nader.

Also from Boortz this morning: (you should really just go read his program notes every morning ;) ).


The Bush campaign is catching heat from an Arab-American group for accurately portraying the truth in a campaign ad. The group is calling on Bush to remove a "Middle Eastern looking" man from an ad that focuses on terrorism. The president of the Arab-American Institute is calling it racial profiling. The Bush campaign is telling them to stick it. Time for a little insensitivity training.

Yeah ... you heard that right. Arab-Americans are complaining because there's a Middle Eastern looking man portrayed as a terrorist in a campaign ad. Using a person of Middle Eastern decent to portray a terrorist is like using a tall person to portray an NBA center.

So we really need to go over the facts here? All of the terrorists on 9/11 were Arabs, all of the terrorists on 9/11 were Muslims, all of the terrorists on 9/11 were "Middle Eastern-looking" men. So, to accurately portray the truth and to represent a terrorist in a commercial, what do you expect the Bush campaign to do? A regular old white guy isn't going to look very convincing as an Islamic terrorist. It would be a tough sell, even with a turban.

A better response to this would be to ask the president of this group why so many terrorists supposedly practice the "peaceful" religion of Islam? Why does Allah tell them to blow up so many innocent civilians? Where is it written that flying airplanes into buildings, blowing up buses and using suicide bombers in busy cafes is peaceful? It isn't, and it's not.

It's time for these groups to worry more about how the terrorists make them look than about how terrorists are portrayed in campaign ads.

All I can do is quote Alan Keyes, "If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's probably a duck."

For My Leftist Friends::
News those on the left who pander to terrorists and rogue regimes don't want you to hear. Iraq is moving forward at lightening speed. Just compare the progress to - oh say, our other friends in the world Americans have died for. Heartening progress in Iraq

And finally, those "leaders" abroad who want Kerry:
And lastly - for now, if you are Kerry lover, you do have friends abroad who want to see you AT THE POLLS voting for the idiot. With friends like these - who needs enemies?
He's the toast of Paris

Seems Kerry speeches are being played over the air waves by that sawed off dictator in North Korea. Yes, we want a President this nut-ball can support! Sure!! When hell freezes over. He sees another appeaser. He may be crazy, but he's apparently not stupid.
Pinning one on Kerry


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Sunday, March 14, 2004

If You Haven't Seen This...

Take a moment to hear what John Kerry really thinks about American Soldiers.

That no emotion voice you'll recognize well.

John F'n Kerry

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Kerry no hero in ex-crewman's eyes

The chilling part I guess is the coincidence that he lost his job hours after an article ran where he talked negatively about Kerry. Those unions you know, they love the democrats. So many right wing conspiracies. Seems there's room for that on both sides.

Later, Gardner said, a campaign official working with Kerry's crewmates contacted him to sound him out on his views about Kerry. Then historian Douglas Brinkley, who did not interview Gardner for his recent book about Kerry's Vietnam service, "Tour of Duty," called Gardner over the weekend. Brinkley told him there would be a firestorm if he went public, and the two discussed Gardner's views on Kerry's Vietnam service, Gardner said.

Brinkley warned him there'd be a "firestorm" if he went public. I guess he meant there'd be some coincidental layoffs.

Kerry no hero in ex-crewman's eyes

Source: A Collection of Thoughts

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Day 187 - News and other Political Ramblings

I woke up this morning and hit my regular rounds online to catch the news updates. During the week, I get up about 45 minutes before it's time to wake the little ones to hear some news and check email. I'm so not a morning person. I need that time to have some coffee and turn from grouch into pleasant mommy ;). On the weekends, I sleep until the little ones wake up so I don't see any news on TV before they are downstairs. I rely on the internet on Saturday and Sundays instead.

Of course, my first stop is Iraq Wires (linked to the right) where I see we've lost six soldiers while I slept somewhat peacefully. Six more lives gone. Six more sets of families, friends and co-workers and their families in mourning. Like many days before, this day started in prayer also.

I enjoy the lulls. Where there's little death news out of Iraq - soldiers especially, but Iraqi civilians too. It's those days I gain my footing somewhat, stand a bit straighter, worry less and live more free heartedly. When we have days where we lose our loved ones, I take a few steps back. Days where it hits close to home like back in January or more recently when my friend was touched so close, I take a leaps backwards. I guess in this deployment, unlike others, it's two steps forward and a step back on the emotional roller coaster. You'd think after six months I'd be used to it. I'm not.

I read a soldier's thoughts the other day and for the life of me I can't recall where I found the link - or what blog I read it. The soldier had said they thought an increase in violence would take place leading up to the handover on June 30th. I can't help but agree. The motivation, if I understand news accounts, is to try to incite a civil war.

What would the US do if Iraqi did break into a civil war? I guess I'm glad I'm the (to quote Madeline Albright in 1998) "arm chair critic." It seems in this region, the only thing some understand is hard-line, no playing around butt kicking.

I'd make an announcement that we are there to build a free and democratic Iraq. We have given lives of American citizens (and soon to be citizens) in this endeavor and will not fail due to our national security and the honor of our dead.

I'd explain that there are those among them that want nothing more than war within the different sects and those are the people the Iraqis should target, turn over to the Coalition and stop. If a civil war breaks out, we will level both sides and let God start over.

Now, go in peace, allow us to help you build your country into one of riches and freedom.

I can't help but pity and dislike the Iraqis all at the same time. I try to put myself in their shoes. What would I feel having been brutally treated my entire life and all of a sudden have freedom at my fingertips. Would I be like someone living in America in a gang war zone - afraid to turn in those who are causing the problems? Afraid they'd kill me, or my children or both? It's easy for me to sit in middle America and judge them. Too easy when people I know and love are losing arms, legs and some - their lives.

Before my husband left, we sat on our porch one evening. It's a porch I've always dreamed of having. Beautiful huge columns, room for wicker on one side and rocking chairs on the other. Coming from a poor home, owning something (even a home needing as much love as this old place still needs after almost two years) like this was a fairy tale - not reality for me. To be sitting on this porch and instead of relaxing with a mint julep (if I drank, which I don't lol) discussing landscaping or our daughters grades, we're discussing a future without my husband. A dream home, a beautiful porch - well, it's nothing without him. NOTHING.

He was so calm and straight forward about it. He sat there with a cup of coffee (our drink of choice) and discussed his reasons for feeling like this was the right thing at the right time. He said, "Look at this street. By the time our children are grown, if we don't do this, it could very well mean they never know freedom and security. Instead of watching their friends ride by and wave from their bicycles, they could be seeing tanks rolling through doing patrols. I've lived a good life, a happy life - but if I don't come home, it'll be worth it if my children and grandchildren never have to see that."

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time or know me, you know what stupid here was doing. Yep, big ol' tears rolling down my cheeks. I agreed with him. At that moment, I wished that back when we first married and I thought of joining the Army I'd done so. When we married, we planned to have no children. I'm so thankful for our babies, but in those few minutes on the porch, I wanted to put on a uniform, have our last name proudly sewn on MY uniform too and go with him. If nothing more, to follow him around and shoot anyone who looked at him wrong. Oh yeah, I was really sane those days leading up to him leaving lol! Thankfully, talking to a few other wives in our FRG - I am not the only nut in our group lol. Many others had the same feelings. I come from the south - the land of the concealed weapons permit. I'm a damn good shot with a shotgun, rifle, pistol and semi-automatic 9mm. I figure I could have aced the military firepower of choice in a week tops ;). I guess the truth is, I wish I were there with him most days - almost as much as I wish he were here with us.

If I can continue on my Madeline Albright crusade of the arm chair critic here, I'd advise this Administration to hit the airways now. Talk to the American people about what we face leading up to the hand over of power. Explain that as the stabilization period comes to an end, the crucial time is now. We will see an increase in violence. We need to stand firm with the Iraqi people and not allow a small minority turn our collective progress into failure. Many Iraqis have died trying to forge freedom in that country too, along with our Coalition of the Willing.

Instead, we're seeing Russert on Meet the Press grill NSA Rice on WMDs instead of the future of Iraq. Afterwards, lobbing soft ball questions at Dean. And if anyone thinks Dean likes Kerry - just watch his face. The man is a leftist version of me ;). If I'm thinking it - it's written all over my face. Dean is the same...he despises Kerry and knows he's wrong for this country at this time, but lets play the party affiliation game. You know, your political party is so much more important than your COUNTRY.

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Saturday, March 13, 2004

I'm a Daddy's Girl

I always have been. I can remember being five years old and sitting in the garage of our home in GA watching Daddy work on a car. He's not a mechanic by trade. He worked on airplanes in the Air Force during Vietnam, he worked for Lockheed Martin when my parents first married and that was the extent of it.

When I was a teen, I wanted to be just like him - be great at working on cars too. My Father, he could fix a car with a bowl of oatmeal and a string if he had to. He's brilliant. At 15, he drove to AL with one of my uncles (one of his six other siblings) and picked me and my muscle car up and drove us back to GA. He had hoses, belts and tools in my uncles car figuring something "would crap out" (as he would say) on the way lol. I'm proud to say my old 77 Trans-Am purred at 60 down I-20, making it out to the barn at my Grandmother's house with no problems. There, I spent two weeks watching my father rebuild the top end of my car.

The car you see, had been purchased brand new off the lot by him in 1977. In the divorce, Mother chose the Trans-Am over a 1972 Honda CVCC that resembled a booger as she put it. She was right - it was quite the ugly color of green lol. To quote her, "He must think I'm stupid if he thinks all I'm getting out of this marriage is a green booger" I once over heard her saying to my Grandmother when I was suppose to be outside playing ;). Mother had a strict rule of no one EVER saying a bad word about Daddy in front of us kids, divorce or no divorce. I thank her for that to this day. It made things so much easier.

Then, my lovely liberal, everyone-owes-him-something-brother got his hands on the car at the age of 16. Where he drove the car into the dirt, never changed the oil, put it into a ditch more than once (thankfully never doing any body damage to it, just dragging weeds out with it) - in short it was, as we would have said back then, "ragged out."

You see, when you do not change the oil, the oil gets dirty. There's friction in them there engines. There's this thing called a cam-shaft that moves lifters on rods and when it's not taken care of, that cam-shaft gets worn. The cam in this car was so worn, if you came to a quick stop - the car went dead. When Daddy pulled it out of that 400 block - the cam's lobes were worn to almost complete circles. Daddy said he had no idea how we'd even got it to crank, much less drove it two hours.

Mother had taken the car from my brother after the umpteenth time he'd done something stupid with it. Then she gave him her land yacht at the time (a gray caddy) where within six weeks he proceeded to run from the cops for some still unknown reason LMAO and got caught. Mother peeled paint for several weeks over that one. I'm sure Big L begged the cops to keep him in lock up so he could stay safe lol. Guess them caddy's just don't handle as well as those Trans-Ams with limited slip and a 6.6 Litre engine lol! Idiot.

Yes, I was the "good' child lol. Ok, so I had my few slips growing up like spray painting a stop sign once (and getting caught), missing curfew - mild, MILD in comparison lol. For the most part, I got to be the wall flower - and watch Mother's head explode and her peel paint every other week as she ripped him a new one for some idiotic thing he'd done. He was LOSER with a capital "L" in those days. He's now a pretty good guy just a screaming left wing liberal - so "Big L" still fits him heh heh. I'm a meanie right winger. What can I say?

At any rate, Daddy couldn't stand the thought of me being stuck on the side of the road in this ragged out car, so he came and got me and the car and rebuilt the top end in it. He put an oversized Crane Cam in it, replaced gaskets, push rods and lifters (and other things I'm sure). He put the motor back together and we hopped in to take a test drive late one summer afternoon. There was this huge curve down by my Grandmother's home and once you got past the curve - a long straight-away. He hit the curve at 20 mph, slowed up to the straight away and said, "Lets see what she'll do."

He stomped it, that car squatted down like it was hugging the road, hit second and left black marks (it was an automatic by the way) - my heart is pounding, my Father breaks out in a cold sweat and we pull slowly into my Grandmother's drive. He stops. Of course, I'm thinking "yeah baby!! Got me a muscle car now!!" lol.

Daddy, white as sheet says, "Baby, I don't think that cam was a good idea. You've got to understand what you've got under the hood here and it's something that can kill you. You have to promise me you'll be careful and not be like your idiot brother running the thing off in a ditch. With what we've done to this car - you won't be coming out of the ditch, baby."

My excitement crumbled. He was worried that he'd just signed my death certificate. I'm a Daddy's girl and him worrying settled any allusions I had for a while of being The Bandit lol. I promised and before long, I was back to watching the car sit in Mother's drive and counting down days until my sixteenth birthday.

I had money saved and had it painted. Black (original color) with slight gold metallic added to the paint. Not enough to make it gold if the sun hit it, but enough to make it sparkle some. The new Phoenix went on the hood, the rest of the decals for the back bumper, the sides and the hood scoop. I had the seats redone where Big L (brother's) bony butt had ripped out stitches. The car was perfect by my 16th birthday.

I quickly found out it would pass everything but a gas station. And, ever since Daddy had driven it off the lot years before, it had some electrical problem where it liked to eat alternators - and later on starters too. I've changed more alternators and starters than most women have changed nail polish. I've changed fuel filters, replaced belts, changed oil and oil filter blah blah blah. If it "crapped out" on that car, I fixed it - except for having the carburetor rebuilt. I did hire a professional to eventually do that lol. Those things were out of my league.

Needless to say, I worked a lot those last two years of high school just to keep gas in the car, insurance paid and parts replaced ;). You know you have an old muscle car when you know the tow truck driver by name - and they know you when you call and say, "Yeah, I've got that black Trans-Am and need the back towing tow truck to come get me. I'm right past mile marker..." And they reply "Well, it's been two months, we were wondering when you'd call us again." LMBO!

I loved that car though. It was Daddy's - it was my link to Daddy being the product of a divorce that moved us to the state next door where I rarely saw him.

Eventually, I parked it at Mothers while I went on to a non-gas guzzler of a Celica. She fielded the Bubbas who stopped by every month or so to see if I had decided to sell it. I finally did in 1998. My husband and I were in VA on our way to AK - he was still in the desert and Mother had had enough of listening to Big L whine about the car "sitting there to rust" and five Bubbas a week stopping by wanting to buy it.

My heart is still with that car. It was my adolescence and for so long my only link to my father. Now, I no longer have the car, but this Daddy's girl gets to talk to him every week and email often. He's one of the few people in this world besides my husband I admire. One of the few people besides my husband who can do no wrong and if there's even a whisper of someone alluding to them doing wrong - I'll stand toe to toe defending them.

And he has me worried. All this to say, my father is seeing a cardiologist on Tuesday. Seems on his yearly physical, something was found wrong with his heart. We won't know what until the day before my birthday. Perfect timing huh? He'll visit the cardiologist and they'll give him the results of the tests they've done.

I can't email my husband and talk to him about it. We made a deal before he left. If someone in the family was sick and they wouldn't send him home, I'd sit on the info until he returned. No sense in chancing his mind being elsewhere and getting him hurt. So it's just me. Standing on my own two feet again instead of leaning on my husband's shoulders. I'm facing this one head on - but it sure would be easier if he were here. No sense lying about that one.

Please say a prayer for my Dad. He's a great man and I'm not ready to lose him. I'm not done being a Daddy's girl and making him proud of me...

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Quote of the Day - Day 186

My little ones had gone upstairs to play for a bit. I decided to see what was happening on HGTV. You know, find some motivation to finish the room that is torn apart downstairs.

It's almost as if the channel changes, a sensor in their little brains is notified and they come tearing down the stairs to see why I turned "their shows." You know, they were watching that from upstairs - between singing with the radio and arguing over whose turn it was with the mic.

Our oldest (daughter) flops down in the chair and sees a home expert rearranging some furniture. Our youngest hits the chair across the room saying, "Momma, my shows are still on. I know they are."

Daughter pipes in with the quote of the day, "Wow, they are redoing that room. It's almost like our house except they don't take as long to finish it as you do."

I started to explain there is a CREW doing the work, whereas here, it's little ol' ME doing all the work. That they EDIT - you know, cut out lots of parts to it and fast forward to the end to see the beautiful result in thirty minutes.

Instead, I said nothing. It's my cue to get in there and get to work on that room lol!

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August and Everything After - PART II

I get in the car after saying good-bye to my husband the first time he'd been deployed after we married. This Counting Crows song starts playing. My gosh, it said so much of what I was feeling at that moment. Verses in italics really hit home...

Time and Time Again

I wanted so badly somebody other than me
Staring back at me but you were gone
I wanted to see you walking backwards
And get the sensation of you coming home
I wanted to see you walking away from me
Without the sensation of you leaving me alone

Time and time again
Time and time again
Time and time again
I can’t please myself

I wanted the ocean to cover over me
I wanna sink slowly without getting wet
Maybe someday, I won’t be so lonely
And I’ll walk on water every chance I get

Time and time again
Time and time again
Time and time again
I can’t please myself

So when are you coming home, sweet angel?
You leaving me alone? all alone?
Well if I’m drowning darling, you’ll come down this way on your own

I wish I was traveling on a freeway
Beneath this graveyard western sky
I’m gonna set fire to this city
And out into the desert we’re gonna ride

Time and time again
Time and time again
Time and time again
I can’t please myself

I can’t please myself
I can’t please nobody else

The fact the desert (even if the writer had meant out west here in the states lol) made it even more moving to me.

The other song - which I've yet to really understand the original intent of, had verses that hit close to home also.

Raining in Baltimore

This circus is falling down on it’s knees
The big top is crumbling down
It’s raining in baltimore fifty miles east
Where you should be, no one’s around

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call

These train conversations are passing me by
And I don’t have nothing to say
You get what you pay for
But I just had no intention of living this way

I need a phone call
I need a plane ride
I need a sunburn
I need a raincoat

And I get no answers
And I don’t get no change
It’s raining in baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same

There’s things I remember and things I forget
I miss you I guess that I should
Three thousand five hundred miles away
But what would you change if you could?

I need a phone call
Maybe I should buy a new car
I can always hear a freight train if I listen real hard
And I wish it was a small world
Because I’m lonely for the big towns
I’d like to hear a little guitar
I think it’s time to put the top down

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat

I had grown up in a military town, but never dated a soldier. So, the verse of "But I just had no intention of living this way" gets me every time. It says to me, you love who you love - and no matter what plan you had for your life, love takes you where it takes you. I had never imagined falling in love with someone who put their life on the line for their country. Although many family members have served in wars through the years, I never imagined I'd live anything remotely close to what they had lived. One day, everything changes and the intentions you had, what you thought would be - it matters nothing because of love. I'd follow him to the ends of the earth. I'd wait for him for years, I'd give my own life to save his. Intentions are nothing. Love is everything.

I'm sure anyone who has lived this can understand the part about not getting answers, not getting change. It's raining in Baltimore, baby - but everything else is the same. It's just so true - I try to keep life the same. No new friends, no new big purchases. Where when he returns, it's the same - we're still the loving family he left, supper is still on the table at the same time and he can decompress and fall back into regular life. Maybe that's stupid, but it works for me and apparently works for him. Life is just going through the motions most days when he's gone. Probably not healthy, probably work a therapist would love to embrace lol. However, our babies don't wake screaming at night. Our oldest is excelling in school despite being a Daddy's girl and missing him deeply. Our youngest regressed a little in potty training when Daddy left, but now is completely potty trained and sleeping in big boy undies now. We don't sit around and cry every day, we still read together, watch fun movies and eat popcorn on Friday Night Movie Night on Disney, we go to the park, we laugh together, plenty of hugs and love. When it's just me though, and they are tucked in and safe in their beds - it's raining in Baltimore, but here on the homefront - everything else is the same and will remain the same until he returns. We're a partnership and half makes no big moves without the other.

And then there's the some things you remember and some you forget. It's like when you're driving down the road and a memory of something just strikes you out of the blue. Something funny that happened, some little tiny thing you hadn't thought of in years and you smile and wonder how you could have ever forgotten it.

What would you change if you could? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. There is no other I love on earth like him. No matter what happens, that love will always be his and will always be waiting on him.

It’s raining in baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same...

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August and Everything After...

Counting Crows was popular years ago. My husband and I had their tape back in the days before cars had CD players ;). I remember us taking a trip once and listening to "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here" on one particular long trip to the beach.

The first time he deployed after we married, I had been nostalgic for our past times where things were easy and life wasn't scary. I had been listening to the tape in the car a lot while we waited for the day he'd be leaving (we had 48 hours notice on this trip to the desert). The day I met him up at the hanger to say good-bye and watch them shake the hand of the general who stood between them and the bus that would take them to the unknown, the tape was in the car.

We said our good-byes. I was the only wife sobbing. For months after that day I beat myself up for not being "strong" like the other spouses. Years later, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a crier. Hey - maybe some can stand stoned faced and watch their loved one leave. More power to them. I'm not cut from the same cloth. God made me (as my Mother has said for years) as one who wears their heart on their sleeve. I hated that about myself for years, but now I embrace it. I have such empathy for others. I care so deeply for people I've never met who are going through hard times. I keep their troubles on my shoulders as if they were my own and pray for them as if they were family. I'm thankful God gave me a heart big enough to hold it all, and to shed tears when I'm needing to. One of my Aunts has never cried. EVER. She's hard, she's stone - and I admire her and pity her. I'm soft and mushy and there's a place for both types of people and everything in between in this world. It's what makes each of us special.

So, the day I watched him disappear behind the tinted windows on that bus, our seven month old and I headed to the car. Through tears, I strapped her into her car seat, put the stroller in the trunk and headed back to our home to walk through the front door and to learn to live alone again. It had been a few years since I'd lived alone.

I was amazed at how easily I had forgotten how to be independent. I guess a happy marriage will do that to you. I had gotten my own apartment as soon as I turned 18. Mother wouldn't let me "live there" until several months later when I graduated from high school. I was too stupid to take advantage of the Pell Grant I would have easily qualified for. Instead, I worked 50+ hours every week in a dead-end job. Eventually becoming a legal secretary and working the dead-end job at night and on the weekends for extra spending money. I had been independent from a pretty young age. While my friends were still living off Mommy and Daddy drinking their money from part time jobs in-between going to classes, I had my own place, my own bills and my own life.

After meeting my husband - the first day I met him actually, all that changed. I didn't want to be alone anymore. I wanted to be with him. I knew when I first saw him HE was the person I had been searching for all my life. I was 22. I guess it is something that runs in my family. The story as I remember it is this: My cousin had been at a baseball game in Birmingham with some friends. She spotted this guy several rows down. She told her friends, "See that guy? I'm going to marry him." Her friends thought she was crazy. They've been married probably 20 years now. It's just something inside that says "THERE he is!!" I can't explain it, but when it happens, you know.

At any rate, back to the story here. The thought of learning how to be on my own again, with a baby no less - scared me. Not as much as what might happen to my husband where he was going, but it was up there in the scary department.

I got the car started, headed out and for some reason the Counting Crows tape was on a song I'd never bothered to listen to. It said everything I was feeling at that moment. And, some years later, it still says everything I feel during this deployment. After listening to all the songs I'd skipped over through the years - another one fit the bill. We were near Baltimore at the time, we'd just driven through Maryland not long before to visit his family. Two songs on the tape that fit and since then, even when he's home, I can't help but get teary eyed when I hear them.

I tore this house apart several weeks ago looking for that tape. After over an hour of searching, I found the cassette case, but the tape is long gone. I went to Wal-Mart and found the CD. I plan to make my husband a CD with special songs and send it in the care package I'm mailing out on Monday. Some of the songs are special to us, some are special just to me. I also plan to make me a copy of the same CD so while I'm working in the yard in the coming weeks, I can sing along and lose myself in yard work and wonderful memories of us.

Song list and lyrics posted soon....

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Another Week Behind Us - Day 185

Thankfully, another week has gone by. Unfortunately, I didn't get much accomplished this week. Laundry done, house cleaned, good suppers cooked - but no work in regards to restoration of the old house. I'm hoping over the weekend I'll get my second wind and get busy. I also have a deadline on a job coming up. I'm so ready to get that thing off my plate!

I have a friend here in town. She's such a super nice lady. We both view our marriages as something sacred, we have the same views on raising children, our morals and values are similar etc. We don't get together often, but we talk when we pick up our children from school and occasionally we email or call one another. She's busy, I'm busy - but we keep an eye out for each other.

It was in January when I called her in tears needing a shoulder to lean on. It was the evening after I'd found out my husband lost two of his friends in one day. She has such compassion for every soul on earth. I cannot describe the strength of this woman, her calm demeanor, her caring and concern for everyone. She runs herself ragged working, taking care of her daughter, taking care of all the spouses in her husband's platoon. She gives so much and never asks for anything in return.

Recently, it was my turn. I received a phone call from her. Her husband's platoon had lost soldiers. She had helped out one of the spouses several times so she knew them pretty well. The evening she called, she had spent the day at the woman's home and the next day she was taking food to her. I offered to pick up her daughter from school for her the day she'd be taking dinner.

The afternoon of, she called and asked if I would mind picking up her daughter. Of course I didn't. I took them to the store and got us all sodas and we went to the park for a while. Then, we came home to the under construction house lol and they played upstairs in my daughter's room until my friend arrived. It felt good just to do something for her. She's always doing for someone else, she's always giving to someone. It's time some of us who appreciate her kindness, her love and her always being there to give back to her.

Even though her husband is safe and she's heard from him, she still has a few rough weeks ahead of her. It's hard when it hits this close to home. For me, I had just started to feel secure in all this and the reality of it all came crashing back when he lost his friends. It brought me back to day one it seemed - the feelings of fear and insecurity of the future. I was again waking in a jolt in the middle of the night to listen to the updates on Fox at the top of the hour. I was back to the feeling as though I might jump out of my skin at any given moment. I was back to crying jags - where I might not cry for a few days and then one day, when the babies were asleep, just break down and sob for a good thirty minutes just because I couldn't take the pressure of it all building up inside for another second.

I'm praying for these families. I'm praying for my friend and her husband. None of us will ever be quite the same after this. I doubt many of us will ever take tomorrow for granted.

We have another week behind us. We're one week closer to when this deployment will be over. Spring is slowly arriving. I'll be able to work in the yard some and stop being the hermit I've turned into. I'll hopefully finish the one room I have torn apart and get to start on the next room planned in plenty of time to finish it before he comes home. The job will be finished up and I can take some down time to read something that has a cover and pages instead of what is on a computer screen. We'll be heading to the pool to enjoy some sun. The flowers will be in full bloom and as it gets so hot that I catch myself wishing for fall several times a week and cringing at the electric bill to cool this place - we'll hopefully have word on when he'll be coming home. And then, hopefully, God willing - it will be smooth sailing. He'll return, take block leave, finish up the 90 days stabilization, put in his retirement paperwork and ACAP slowly - retiring at 21 years instead of the planned 20. I look forward to the day when there will be no more scary good-byes. He's done his time. I've now done my time - and the rest is our time. I'm not planning on sharing him - ever again.

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I Know What Foreign Leaders Support Him

Kerry says:

"I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly," he said. "But, boy, they look at you and say: 'You've got to win this. You've got to beat this guy. We need a new policy.' Things like that."

I'm quite sure Libya would love for an appeaser to get in the White House. I'm sure North Korea would jump on that bandwagon. Although not a foreign leader per se, I'm sure Osama would love for us to go back to the days when this was a law enforcement issue, not where we sent people with big guns to go kill them wherever they are in the world.

The problem it seems, is that reporters are looking into his schedule and there's no evidence he had a chance to meet with more than ONE leader:

The Massachusetts Democrat has made no official foreign trips since the start of last year, according to Senate records and his own published schedules. And an extensive review of Mr. Kerry's travel schedule domestically revealed only one opportunity for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to meet with foreign leaders here.

I'm getting flashbacks of Weasely Clark here. Anyone else? Tell a tall tale and then try not to look like too big a fool when you're called out on your lie. I'll enjoy watching him dig out of this one. Sort of like his spokesperson trying to dig him out of the foul language on his site by saying it was caused by a virus. Yeah, those nasty computer viruses rewriting files and inserting quotes with wordy durds into articles. Darn those right-wing virus makers!!

At least the republicans are taking him to task. And what bigger an insult than saying you are worse than Al Gore at stretching the truth?

Republicans have begun calling Mr. Kerry the "international man of mystery," and said his statements go even beyond those of former Vice President Al Gore, who was besieged by stories that he lied or exaggerated throughout the 2000 presidential campaign.

Finally, we're hearing from the republicans. Read the full article here:
Kerry fails to back up foreign 'endorsements'

Quote of the Day: "Kerry's imaginary friends have British and French accents," Mr. Gillespie said.

I couldn't help but chuckle over that one...

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A Traitor Deserves Death

We all seem to be ready to make examples out of people. Look at what has happened to Martha Stewart. Right or wrong, if she had not been a high profile person, I highly doubt charges would have been brought against her. With her name though, it would get the media in a frenzy and an example would be set in front of the entire country.

Now, I always shudder when I listen to democrats. I honestly catch myself feeling as if some are on the wrong side of this war on terror. Now we have one in our net - it's time to make an example out of her. I don't want to see her sent to prison for a few years. I want to see her put to death. Set the example - if you betray your country and those who fight to defend it, we will execute you. Bring back Ol' Sparky...

Susan Lindauer, the former Democratic congressional aide charged with spying for Iraq, was arrested several months after meeting with an FBI agent who posed as a Libyan intelligence agent looking to recruit support for Iraqi groups attacking U.S. forces in the aftermath of the war.

Trying to recruit support for resistance against our troops. What more can you do to deserve the death penalty??! Fry her and set the example.

The indictment says Lindauer met with the agent again on July 17, 2003, to discuss the same topic. Then, according to prosecutors, the undercover FBI agent instructed Lindauer to leave a set of documents at a designated spot in Takoma Park, Maryland, the suburb of Washington, D.C., where Lindauer lives. The indictment says Lindauer left the requested documents on August 6, 2003, and left another set of documents on August 21, 2003.

Not an isolated incident, she even drops off documents. TWICE. Thankfully, she was giving them to the FBI. I'd like to know what the documents were and how she got her hands on them.

During the period from June 2003 until February 2004, the indictment alleges, Lindauer remained in regular e-mail contact with the FBI undercover agent, whom she believed was working for Libya.

Just last month she was still thinking she was in contact with Libya. Our soldiers are dying while trying to stabiize Iraq and she's in contact with someone she thinks will help INCREASE the resistance. What more do we need? Lets give her a fair trial and put her sorry tail to death. No mercy for betraying those who wear the uniform and your country. NO MERCY!

UPDATE: A link would be helpful. huh? Well, here you go ;):
How Susan Lindauer Was Caught

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

No OPSEC Yells Please ;) - Day 184

I've added a nifty day countdown under the links on the right. I wanted to give everyone a head's up before I received any comments that it is an unsafe thing to do ;).

This is the Army we're talking about lol. I have no idea when he will be home. I just went by the day he left - one year boots on the ground and all. If that's true, he won't actually be home until well after my little countdown there runs out lol.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A Must Read For Service Members...

and their families. I found this link by chance while looking for info on the transitional health care coverage for those leaving the service - not retiring.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2004. It's an article written for the Air Force Association. It details the increases in "pay and benefits for active duty members, retirees, and reservists."

I am especially interested in the “Keep the Promise” Bill mentioned near the end of the article. As my husband nears retirement, it really irritates me that the free health care for life he was promised when joining is not free. You retire, you pay premiums if you want to use Tricare Prime.

Another interesting tidbit for anyone who may know someone who is not separating from the military voluntarily:

Eligible Involuntary Separation: You and your family are authorized to use military treatment facilities for a period of 60 days (if you served fewer than six years) or 120 days (if you served six years or more). During this period of transitional health care, you will have the same priority as family members of active duty personnel. After this 60-/120-day period, you and your family are no longer eligible to use military treatment facilities or the TRICARE health care plan. However, you may purchase extended transitional health care insurance, known as the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), for up to 18 months of coverage. You have 60 days after your initial transitional health care ends to purchase CHCBP. See your Health Benefits Advisor for specific information.

I had no idea the government had this in place for those who are being separated involuntarily. You can read more on the Health and Life Insurance section on the Army's ACAP website It also covers voluntarily separating and the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). Unfortunately, with the type of premiums the CHCBP has, most voluntarily separating will not be able to afford it.

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Another Blah Day

For those who are counting along: Day 182

Yesterday was a great day. Truly! I can't explain what made it a great day. We didn't do anything exciting unless you consider laundry exciting. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to open the windows in the afternoon.

It was the first time since he left that I've enjoyed cooking. Cooking actually isn't one of my favorite things to do to begin with, but when he's home I do frequently catch myself enjoying it.

I guess I was born in the wrong era. I like the floors freshly vacuumed in the late afternoon right before he gets home (we have dogs, dog hair drives me crazy).

The babies know when it's time for me to start cooking, it's time for them to start picking up so I can get the house vacuumed and supper started. He normally leaves for work several hours before we get up and start our day. When he comes home, I don't want him tripping over toys just to be able to sit down and take his boots off.

When he comes home from work in the evenings, I like to have supper on the table - or about ready to be put on the table so he can sit down and eat. I love when he walks in the door and says, "Something smells GREAT! I'm starving!"

If I worked fourteen to sixteen hours a day, I'd be ready to eat, get a shower and relax when I got home. I like to have everything just so. I'm not sure if other wives do this or if I'm stuck in some 1950's time warp.

He wouldn't care if the toys were out or if I'd skipped a day (or two or three) of vacuuming. If he did, he would do it himself I imagine. He's just like that. For example, no matter what I say (ok, threaten) after dinner, he pushes me out from in front of the sink, points me to the door and says, Go relax, you cooked, I'll clean up."

He's wonderful to me.

Back to yesterday. It was just a great day. Like I said, I even enjoyed cooking dinner. The babies were in the kitchen acting silly. I made a cream cheese pie for desert. We ate, I cleaned up the kitchen, we watched one of our daughter's favorite shows and then it was bath time. Bed time was even easy without our son pulling his new found need for water the minute his little rear gets in the bed lol.

Last night I tried to figure out why such a regular day had felt so great. I couldn't nail down any one reason. Maybe it was the sunshine. Maybe my mood is going to start improving once spring has sprung. Maybe it was a fluke.

Today I was back to blah. Not as bad as it was during February though. Can someone explain why the shortest month of the year takes the longest to get through? A few times, I seriously questioned if the darned thing would EVER end or if I was stuck in a rotation of dark, dreary weathered days - feeling about as bad as the weather looked lol.

I want yesterday's feeling back! That's what I'm striving for every day. It was as if finally I was ok with it all. Ok with cooking for one - and watching our picky eaters pick a lot. Ok with the topic of conversation over supper revolving around recess and how many times the class clown (little Austin) was told to stop, quit or don't. Ok with the thought of another night of telling one dog or the other (or on bad nights both) to stop snoring instead of my husband.

It was ok. I was ok. And if ok gives me that much peace - I want it every day until our countdown is finally done. I can make that happen. I can. It beats the heck out of blah any day!

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