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Archive for November, 2008

Change is hard.  Change is constant.  Change is inevitable.  How you handle change, however is up to you.  I did promise that I would get around to covering change, and although this will graze on it, it is not the post I promised.  Look for that this weekend.

My house is a wreck.  My days seem longer than usual.  My fuse is a short as Daisy’s shorts used to be.  My heart literally hurts, my head is swimming, and my emotions are off the charts.  I recognize that is is mainly my fault.  You want to know why?  I DID NOT KEEP TO MY SCHEDULE!  I do not cook dinner every night.  I am not hungry when I get home, so I only fix something for the kids.  They eat at the table, but its not the same as eating dinner as a family.  I haven’t stuck to their 8 p.m. bedtime during the week, although I only vary that slightly.  I have not done anything with regularity, except for attending work.  I am paying for it.  The kids are irritable, whiny, and all around not their usual joyous selves.

The holidays are usually busy to begin with, however I now have to add to it.  I have to get back into my routine and reorganize our lives so that everything that they are used it isn’t thrown out the window.   I am not the only one that struggles, nor am I the only one who recognizes this cause-and-effect relationship during deployments.  Here’s an interesting article from Fort Levanworth on the same subject.

embarassWell, I suppose I must get to work on my mess.  THANK GOODNESS that my mother is visiting.  I have you know that it is the first time I have seen the bottom of my laundry room floor in a very (embarrassingly) long time!

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update: ‘bear’ing it all

I finally received pictures from FOAST that were taken the night of the concert.  They are displayed below for your viewing pleasure.

EMAIL RECEIVED WITH PICTURES:

Hi.

Thank you so much for your participation in our Fairbanks Charity concert. You certainly went way beyond what we ever expect of any volunteer outside the ranks of the Troopers. I want you to know that the impact of our having a Safety Bear and uniformed Trooper at each concert is nothing but positive. I will be sending you a copy of our BANNER,  the  news bulletin  FOAST prints generally four times  a year. The one that is going to press now is a double issue, all in color with a considerable  amount of coverage  of the concert. You were a part of our success and I can’t thank you enough.

I am attaching some pictures of you as Safety Bear along with TPR Wery.  I thought your kids might like to see  them also. Again you will be hearing from me when the BANNER is completed.

God Bless you and your family and may your husband be in His hands. Have a joyous and safe Thanksgiving. Because of people like you and your family we have much to be thankful for.

Most sincerely,

Laura L Caperton

Executive Director FOAST

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deck the halls

‘Tis the season!  Next week fires the starter’s gun for Christmas.  Many people I know take the weekend following Thanksgiving to put up the tree and deck the halls, officially starting the Christmas portion of the holidays.  My mother will be in attendance for Thanksgiving, and that makes me more than thrilled to know that I have HELP putting up the decorations (really, its only a tree).  It is a job that I usually do alone while the DH watches football.  The day after Thanksgiving also starts the buying frenzy with Black Friday shopping.  I have most of my shopping done, my Christmas cards are in the process of being completed, and my stress level is pretty close to nil.  I can feel your jealousy, really, let it go.

What is circling everyone’s mind is what to buy for their deployed Soldier?  (Well, not my mind, because we do not exchange presents. Again with the jealousy?)

There are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

* How much storage does your DS (deployed Soldier) have?

* How often does he travel?  (does that storage move with him?)

* What does your DS need?

* Will you get him something to have in Iraq or something to have at home?

* Does he even want to exchange this year?

* Are you going to spend the usual amount, or less?

More importantly, what do you get the guy you are sending multiple boxes to already each month?  You are more than likely already sending the following items:  razors, shaving gel, batteries, baby wipes, food, beef jerky, powdered drink mix, etc.  Your DH probably already owns a PSP (or similar product), an MP3 player, or some other sort of entertainment devices.  He more than likely stocked up on the appropriate gear prior to heading out, thrusting him into the category of has everything. His needs are not what they usually are, and having never been in his shoes before you have no idea what to get this man that you are just so damn proud of.

First, let us remember that presents do not equal showing that you care.  Your letters, emails, and his calls do that!  Keep that stuff up, and do not think for one minute that he expects you to send him lavish Christmas presents.  He has no need for pjs or slippers.  He cannot use a snow machine, nor a four-wheeler, so buying him one for Christmas is a little skivvy, if he can’t immediately enjoy it.  You have to figure out what the point of your present is.  That will help you to determine what to send the man who has everything and nothing (due to his location) all at the same time.

Okay, I am getting a little lengthy here, so I will just spit it out.  Give him what he wants the most: family! He has missed the last few months of the kids growing (or the dogs, or just you), so make photo albums to send him.  Keep storage in mind when choosing a size, and also be aware that it will get banged up while overseas.

Send him a pillow with a pillowcase made of photos.  You can either order one from www.snapfish.com or you can buy transfer paper and make it yourself!  Even if he took a pillow with him, or claimed he didn’t need one, a fresh pillow (smelling of home), and sandless, would be a great comfort.

Snapfish is a great company that I order my prints from, but you can browse their store to find all sorts of great ideas from calendars, to photo flip books, coffee table books, posters, etc.  Shutterfly is another alternative.

Send him a couple of your best towels.  They will remind him of home, still smell of home, and have to be better than the brown Army towels he took with him.

If your DH is among the handful that didn’t bring a MP3 player over with him, buy one of those.  You can buy one with 4GB of memory for under $30.  They don’t all have to be ipods, but make sure you take the time to load it up with his favorite songs!  If you want to buy an ipod you can get one of the cool ones that stores pictures and use that opportunity to load all the pictures of your family and all the ones he’s missed since deploying.

FOOD! Hickory Farms has a special section for Military Gifts, and will ship directly to your Soldier overseas.  Yum! Yum!

If you don’t mind forking over the dough, I know I would love the KINDLE reading system from Amazon.  If your DH reads half as much as I do, this would be well worth the cost.  You can purchase books on its wireless internet, and you will have a book available anytime you want it.  I know that I cannot use it in Alaska due to it using a certain internet provider, however I suggest that you ask the amazon website if they will work in Iraq.  I have seen comments from other countries, so it should.  But I would double check before buying.

Something useful?  Map Pens!

Knives?!?! Why not?  Maybe a digital camera, or flip video camera would come in handy as well, and those can be found nearly anywhere, but I purchased mine from Amazon.com.

If you are making gift boxes to send over to no one in particular, here are some great ideas: carmex, razors, shampoo, deodorant, Dr. Scholl’s foot spray, candy (not chocolate), disposable cameras, and a million and one other “daily use” items.  Just put your mind to it and I am sure your Soldier will appreciate it!

During deployments, its really is the thought that counts.  So make it meaningful!

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Podcast

Thank you to those who had the misfortune of being interviewed!

BACKGROUND MUSIC:  Con Migo (club remix) by Inko Neido

BACKGROUND MUSIC:  I found a world just like Christmas, by Chuck Prophet

OTHER MUSIC USED:  Family Tradition, Hank Williams, Jr.

Expect a follow-up (podcast or just written) with information that wouldn’t fit into this podcast, like my interview with an Inupiat Elder by the name of Warren, a whaler with great stories!

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moving

A son dances a tribute for his deployed father.

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Veteran’s Day 2008

Land of the FREE because of the BRAVE!  Thank you to every Veteran out there in this great country of ours.  Thank you for your services in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Mogadishu, Afghanistan, Iraq and all the places in between.  Thank you to our grandfathers, and their fathers, our husbands, and their sons.  Thank you to all the women who have graced the armed forces with their abilities…

Thank you!

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Since the DH is out of the way, I am (as are most of you) free to leave my scrapbooking supplies out for weeks at a time.  I do not have a designated area for such work, so I am usually resigned to the dinner table, which means I have to clear it before supper time.  No more!  I can leave out my stuff in one area of the table, and the kids and I can eat at the other end!  (Yes, I am lazy, get over it!)

I have been contemplating a Washington DC book, from the trip the kids and I took in 2007 with the Families United group.  Looking through the pictures from that time lead me to another realization: most people, to include military families, do not understand the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its guard.  Here is a little refresher, as well as a healthy dose of good ole’ patriotism, mixed in with some of my own pictures.

 

How many steps does the guard take across the Tomb, and why?

t The guard takes 21 steps, and that alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor bestowed upon any military or foreign dignitary. 

 

How long does the guard hesitate following his about face, and why?

The guard hesitates for 21 seconds for the same reason as mentioned above.  t2

 

Why are his gloves wet?

The guard wears wet gloves to ensure a firm grip on his weapon.

 

On which shoulder does the guard carry his weapon?

 t5 The rifle is always carried on the shoulder furthest from the tomb.

 

How often are the guards changed?

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

 

Who qualifies to be a guard for the Tomb?t3

In order to even apply, the Soldier must be between 5’ 10” and 6’ 2”, his waist size cannot exceed 30”.  The guard is a two-year commitment, requiring him to live in the barracks beneath the tomb.  He may not drink alcohol on or off duty for the remainder of his life.  He may not swear in public for the rest of his life, nor may he disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.  Following the end of his assignment, the guard is given a wreath pin to wear on his lapel, signifying his service. There are only 400 currently worn.  He must obey these rules for the remainder of his life, or give up his wreath pin.  His shoes are made with thick soles to keep the heat and cold away from his feet.  Metal heel plates are extended to the top of the shoe in order to make the audible click when the guard comes to a halt. 

t6 The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe
E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy.

Various sites of information on the Tomb (where all this information was pulled, some verbatim):

I found misinformation on a few of these sites, but by looking through each of them I feel I was able to get accurate information.  Especially from the Arlington National Cemetery website, specifically the ceremonies tab. 

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/ceremonies/sentinelsotu.html

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-vetscor/1126293/posts

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/tombofun.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier

 

Extra Photos!

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 r4

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