Earning a Relaxing Veterans Day

Veterans Day is always a funny day for me. The appreciation for those of us who chose to join the military is nice – as is the free cupcakes and coffee. The overabundance of commercialization of the day bothers me some – camouflage on every football uniform and other feel good actions. The day makes me humble as well; while I am a veteran, I didn’t deploy, served a short period of time and didn’t do anything spectacular to earn the title.

But my favorite thing about Veterans Day is that I am the only one who has it off. I mean, the postman has it off too, but A works, day care is open and I have it off. The past two years I have protected this day, not filled it with must dos or errands. A day to enjoy my coffee while it is still warm. To shop without toddlers and yes, eat cupcakes.

Today I enjoyed my Veterans Day bagel, followed by my Veterans Day coffee, while catching up on all those emails that I’ve been snoozing for a week. Then I had a massage. Now, I’m not complaining, but this was the most intense massage I’ve ever had. Things clicked – is your back supposed to click? I am so sore after this massage that I’ve taken two hot showers and am sitting with a heating pad on my back. A massage is a lovely thing, this one was just perhaps a little too much of a lovely thing.

Veterans Day always come at a time when I really need it. In the middle of the hectic fall, before the (official) start of the holiday season. Overall, Veterans Day 2014 was a success, relaxing and helped prepare me for the coming weeks – but already leaves me dreaming about Veterans Day 2015.

Christmas, Not Always According to Plan

As we prepare for a Christmas not quite as we had planned (no one imagine there not being a new baby here by now), I am reminded of previous holidays that were not as we imagined.  Perhaps the one that fits this description the most is our first married Christmas.  We were married in June 2007 and A left almost immediately for pre-deployment training.  His training came to an end in December and he deployed to Afghanistan Christmas Eve.  Even though we celebrated “our” Christmas early, it was still incredibly hard to say good bye and know A was flying to the other side of the world (practically) on Christmas Eve.

One great comfort that year was receiving an unanticipated phone call late in the evening of Christmas Eve.  Families had been discouraged from coming to the hangar to see the unit off, so I had said good bye to A before he headed out and then went to Connecticut to spend Christmas with my family.  A had called earlier in the day to say they were boarding the planes and he would call from Germany. So when my phone rang at about 9pm that evening, I was not expecting to hear A’s voice on the end of the line.

He was calling from Bangor, Maine, a common “last stop” for troops headed overseas.  He told me of the amazing people who greeted them as they got the plane and how much that meant to him.  The greeters at the Bangor Airport have been greeting troops who travel through their airport since May 2003.  Their simple act of kindness can provide comfort and a just a small bit of home for those about to travel so far (or who may finally be returning home).

As we prepare for this unexpected Christmas this year, I am reminded of how far we have come since Christmas 2007 and how lucky we are to all be together (in one way or another).  I’m thankful for people like the Bangor greeters who make small sacrifices to thank those making larger ones.  I’m thankful for those who will not be home with their families this holiday as they answer whatever call to service they may have heard.  And I am thankful that even if she screwed up our “First Christmas” plans for her, BE2 is healthy and happy where she is and she will join our family soon.


Lost My Edge

As I’ve been complaining about on Twitter, A is out of town this week.   Solo parenting is rough, but so is simply having your husband be away for a week.   But to be honest, I’m disappointed in myself.  After all, we used to do this professionally (ok, maybe semi-pro).  A and I were long distance for the first four years of our relationship.  We were really good at it.  So why is it I can’t even make it through a week’s absence? 

Clearly I’ve lost my edge – my seeing each other every 6 weeks is a great track record, my I totally survived a year of deployment air of awesomeness.  I’d pin it on the distance and time difference – but Taiwan is only slightly worse than Afghanistan and we made that work.  I’d point out, however, wireless internet is a lot more reliable in Afghanistan than Taiwan.  Part of it may be I’m old now.  Gone are the days that A would call at 2am my time and I would instantly wake up and be willing to chat for 45 minutes, regardless of what time I had to be up the next morning for PT.  Momma just can’t work on those hours anymore.

Mostly, I think I’ve just grown accustomed to having A here – leaving his jeans in a pile next to him bed, sharing inane details about some third string NBA player while I am trying to feed LC dinner or taking up much more than his fair share of the blankets.  This whole bed to myself (well, to me, B-Cat and Cal) but I can’t appreciate it anymore.  I’ve grown soft and have no interest in being long distance, no matter for how short a period of time it may be.  I guess I better hope A returns soon and doesn’t take a liking to traditional Taiwanese food.

Thoughts for Veterans’ Day

Dogs Even More Awesome Than Cal

In a lot of ways Cal is the most awesome dog ever.  He cuddles.  He is incredibly trainable for a beagle.  He loves LC.  He has very expressive eyebrows.  He plays well with others.  Overall he’s just a really great dog. 

But then the story about a dog being along with the Navy SEAL patrol that killed Osama Bin Laden came out.  Cal won’t even sleep on the couch by himself if we are all in bed on the other floor.  War dogs are definitely a different breed.  (And I don’t just mean that they aren’t beagles.)  I mean, check it out.

This picture makes me tear up for many reasons.  1) I hope the puppy isn’t scared.  2) He trusts his handler so much that he will jump out of a helicopter with him.  3) I hope the puppy doesn’t get hurt. 

For more great war dog pics, take a look at this photo essay.  And don’t worry, I know Cal will totally agree that these dogs are super awesome.  (Though Cal on the A-Frame at agility class pretending to be Snoopy is definitely a close second in awesomeness.)

Hooah, Army Strong

In addition to Saturday being Cal’s 2nd birthday, it was the promotion ceremony of BG Jonathan Ives.  BG Ives was A’s commander while he was deployed in Afghanistan.  BG Ives was kind enough to invite us to his promotion ceremony at Fort Lawton in Seattle.  It was a beautiful day for the ceremony, especially because Fort Lawton is on the shore in the Magnolia neighborhood and the views are difficult to beat.

The ceremony was very nice and I was impressed by both the host speaker’s, BG Miller and BG Ives’ speeches.  BG Ives spoke of how the Army is a large family and being promoted to a general places him in the position to be responsible for the members of that family.  His words reminded me what I liked so much about the Army, the amazing bond you have with people simply because you wear the same uniform.  A and I never served together and in fact our times in uniform barely overlapped but I think our shared experience of being the military helped us to form a friendship that turned into a marriage.  We both have amazing friendships with people who were in the military with us, perhaps not better displayed than in this photo of our Army friends living it up at our wedding celebration last year (ok Army friends and A’s cousin Nick).  

 Since BG Ives was being promoted to the rank of General, he received a cannon salute.  A was in the field artillery and was a little nostalgic.  Here he is reliving the “glory days” with the King of the Battle. 

Like every good Army ceremony, there was cake, ok 4 cakes, at the reception afterwards.  BG Ives and the most junior member of his unit cut the cake with the ceremonial saber.  I took this photo a split second too early because after this shot they “slashed” through the cake as the cavalry officers slashed through the brush in days of yore.  It was an impressive cake slashing to say the least.  Army Strong indeed.