Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hi Honey, I'm Home...

Last night Mike came home looking like this:

Turkey Day in Texas

Ginger carving her 22-pound turkey!

Matt and his new bride, Beth.

Almost ready to eat!

Amber helps with the rolls.

We're thankful it's time to eat!
Like most Americans, I ate my weight in turkey, stuffing and pie last week. Mike and I spent Thanksgiving in Texas with Mike's family. We had a nice, relaxing time with lots of great food. Ginger, you are such a great cook! We played card games and board games, which I always enjoy. The girls (Ginger, Beth, Amber and I) went shopping at a Christmas Village-type place and found some cute gifts. The warmer weather was a definite highlight, too!

Once again, Junah came with us on our travels and was such a good boy the entire time. Here he is in his "carry-on" with Bunny. He hates that I always have a camera in his face, hence the "oh, Mom" stare.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane... Yup, it's Brian!

I stood under a rain-soaked umbrella at the Manassas Regional Airport for no more than a minute when I saw the bright lights of the airplane I knew my big bro was flying. The plane was beautiful! It was so neat to see Brian in the cockpit as they taxied up. He came to Virginia for an overnight in D.C. last Monday, and I told him he must stay with us. So I drove up to get him and had the opportunity to meet Ron Geary, the CEO of Louisville Executive (the company Brian flies for) and ResCare (another company Mr. Geary owns). Brian flew him to D.C. for a business meeting he had in the city. He was nice and had some very positive things to say about Brian.

After we left the airport, Brian let me dig into one of the leftover catered lunches they'd had on the flight (so delicious!!!). Then we did some all-day Christmas shopping in Dale City. We had a ton of fun, laughing and joking around, as always. Brian got to meet my "Stafford Wives" when we met the three of them for dinner that night. When we got home, Brian could barely hold his eyes open after getting up so early. Mike didn't get home until midnight, unfortunately, but they got a chance to visit the next morning before Mike left at 6 a.m.

I was so glad Brian was able to stay with us, even if it was only for one day. I'm so proud of all his accomplishments in doing what he loves.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Frozen Fox

Mike belongs to Fox Company here at The Basic School in the USMC. Once a month, Fox Company has to spend a week in 'the field.' The company is deemed "The Frozen Fox" because all of their field exercises are during the winter months.

So last Monday, Mike packed up a ton of Marine stuff in this gi-normous camoflauge backpack that he calls a "ruck." I helped him strategically pack it, putting his clothing in plastic freezer bags to keep it dry during the forecasted thunderstorms. The ruck ended up weighing around 75 pounds, which he had to carry around for five days in the freezing cold. They were truly roughing it. No bathrooms, no showers, no tent, no fire to keep warm - only a sleeping bag. Temperatures got down to 22 degrees at night. I bought Mike some Baby Wipes (maybe he'd rather I call them wet towelettes... ha, ha) so he could semi-bathe, but he said they froze solid!

This time they practiced certain 'enemy objectives' which have a bunch of names you wouldn't understand. Well, maybe you would, but I don't understand them enough to explain them anyhow. They also watched artillery demos (ie: watched a bunch of big guns unload), a close air support demo with an F-18 (ie: watched a really loud jet fly around) and then ended the week with an 8-mile hump (ie: a really long jog carrying 100lbs on their backs).

Needless to say, he came back a dirtball and couldn't wait to get into the shower. He's been brushing his teeth several times a day since his return - just because he can, I guess! Good thing he has another month before he has to do it all over again!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy 50th Mom!

First, I'd like to say happy birthday to my mom who turned the big 5-0 Friday! I spent the last month trying to plan a surprise party for her. I sent out an e-mail invite, which she inadvertently saw while watching my brother check his e-mail on his new phone. That and a couple other slips made me believe she knew something was up. However, she never figured out the where and when of it until she showed up at the party, so I'm still counting it as a surprise. It was a great party and a very happy birthday for Mom. A million thank-yous to my sister-in-law Carrie, as well as Dad, Brian and Joy for all your help in planning.

And to my dear mom: You are such a wonderful mother and I love you beyond what words can say. You are so caring and giving and just amazingly beautiful from the inside out. Happy Birthday, and thank you for a great time at home last week!

Cookie Cake: Mom's favorite

Sunday, November 06, 2005

USMC Birthday Ball

Saturday, Mike and I had the pleasure of attending the Marines' Birthday Ball, held at the Marriott in Richmond, VA. There were an estimated 1,500 guests. We had a great time getting all dressed up and spending the evening celebrating with friends. The dinner was delicious and I even got Mike to dance a little. It was the first time Mike wore his Dress Blues. I know he wasn't comfortable all night, but he looked so great in them!

From left: Chad (Sommer's husband), Mike and Mike Trent (Jody's husband)

From left: Carolyn, Jody, Sommer, Me and Margaret

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheers to my 'Stafford Wives!'

A few days after we moved here, I arranged a birthday dinner for Mike and invited a few of the guys in his platoon. Little did I know that 25 or so would show up! And to my delight, a couple of them brought their wives. The result? Instant bonds and friendship that I did not anticipate. I met Carolyn (far left) and Sommer (middle) that night at the restaurant, and shortly after, we met Margaret (right) at the spouses' orientation. These girls have truly been my saving grace here. Without them, I don't think I could stand the long hours Mike is gone every day. We are experiencing the same new lifestyle together as our husbands are going through the same things as well. Their support/company is a Godsend!

We like to joke about ourselves becoming the "Stafford Wives," as a play on the movie "Stepford Wives" because of our experiences with the sometimes overbearing traditions and proper etiquette that's expected of Marine Corps spouses.

We have such a great time. Our dogs are like our children. We take them everywhere we can, and this week we discovered a beautiful lakeside park on the USMC base. They all ran around and played - well, except for Junah, who isn't a big exerciser. Since he's a bit um... shall we say, 'fragile,' I took him over to the swings instead of risking the other dogs' rough play. This swing is just his size! (Now don't laugh... I may be a little crazy, but he's all I have.)