Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Leaving the apartment

Katie and I spent Monday and Tuesday at Fort Hood, emptying and cleaning the apartment she and Seth had shared for such a short time. I know she had mixed feelings about leaving the apartment behind. She said being back there was weird, she couldn't help but feel that she would look up to see him walk through the door at any moment. That was where she and Seth had started their lives together...where they had laughed and cried and loved. It was full of wonderful memories...but, the one thing that made the apartment so special to her was already gone. So, in the end, we left behind a mere shell where they had lived for a while, and she moved on to a year of living with her in-laws (us) and waiting...for phone calls, letters, IMs, and emails. Yes, it will be a long year, but their love for each other is so strong that it will see them through this separation...I have no doubt about that.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A great day!!

This has been a great day!! True, Seth and Kevin were not able to be home for Christmas, but we had the next best thing. Seth hailed on the IM about 1000 this morning and we put him on conference with everyone, including Kevin in Alaska. It was great!! When Seth had to sign off, we continued on the IM with Kevin and turned on our cameras. We spent hours on the computer while we opened presents, showed him the pets and the fireplace, and made faces back and forth. Kevin rubbed in the fact that he had a white Christmas by showing us all the snow in his parking lot....he's such a punk..... :) What a great day!!!

Technology is a wonderful thing. If you have any doubts about that, talk to someone who fought during WWII. My Dad never ceases to be amazed at how we can talk to Seth on the computer or the phone....the sole form of communication back during his war was to write a letter, and it was sometimes months between those. We are so spoiled nowadays that people complain when they don't hear from their soldiers for a week. Yep, things have certainly changed.

One thing you can be sure of, though, a laptop and camera will be on their way to Seth before too long so we'll be able to do the same thing with him that we did with Kevin. Right now, though, he's still getting settled into his new home in Iraq...he just moved north a few days ago. Soon, Seth, very soon we'll be able to see that mug of yours.....then it will be Christmas all over again..... :)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Birthday!!! Merry Christmas!!!

In all the hubbub of the, wrapping, parties, traveling, etc...and in dealing with the emotions of Seth's deployment and Kevin's not being home for Christmas...again...I almost lost sight of the real reason for Christmas. I don't ever want to forget it is my faith that gets me through the tough times, and I'll be needing that more than ever in the days to come. So, I'll take this opportunity to say happy birthday to that little baby who was born in the manger so very long ago and who changed the lives of so many people, including mine. Merry Christmas everyone and may God bless you all!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home for Christmas

One Christmas, some 15 to 20 years ago, I made each one of the boys a "raggedy" soldier and put them in their stockings. They were treasured for a while and sat around on their beds for a few years. Then, as the boys got older, the soldiers got tucked away with the stuffed animals and eventually disappeared into storage boxes and bags. When we were clearing out Rick's room this fall, I found his soldier up on a shelf. I couldn't help but smile as I picked him up and gently wiped the dust from his uniform. When I made those soldiers, I never imagined that two of my boys would actually be wearing that uniform one day. I sat him on the dresser for a few weeks, and when we put up the Christmas tree, it just seemed appropriate to put him underneath it. But, one just wasn't enough, I have two boys missing. So I went into the boys room, also known as the black hole...the room that Seth and Kevin shared...and dug around in one of the storage bags full of stuffed animals until I found another soldier. I put him next to his brother-in-arms beneath the tree where they tirelessly guard the presents. One should actually be in ACUs and desert boots instead of BDUs, and the other shouldn't be wearing a beret (neither should have a camo beret), but that's not what's important. The presence of these two raggedy soldiers under my tree makes me smile and think of Kevin and Seth...that's the important thing. And in a way, it brings them both home for Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Military families

I had a recent comment from someone who said she was "in awe of all the wonderful military families." It was really sweet, but it made me stop and think. Are we really different from other families?

Most of the time, I think we're like any other family. We struggle with everyday problems, fight the battle of the finances, and take care of one another. We worry about each other when we're traveling (be sure to call when you get there), and get together whenever we can.

But then again, military families might be different in some ways. To put it in a Jeff Foxworthy kind of way.....

You might be in a military family...

...if you fly the "colors" all the time, not just on the 4th of July.

...if you surprise a Soldier at the airport when you understand the military jargon and acronyms he uses.

...if you talk back to the TV when reporters only have negative things to say about what's going on in Iraq.

...if you get frustrated with friends who don't take the time to dig into the blog sites of deployed soldiers to find out what's really happening.

...if you don't go anywhere without your cell phone so you don't miss that call that might come in from the other side of the world at any time, night or day....yeah, you even take it to the bathroom with you and sleep with it.

...if you keep the Instant Messenger active on the computer, even at work, just in case.

...if you spend as much on shipping as you do on the present at Christmas or on birthdays or any other holiday and in between. And you have to have your shopping finished a week or two before Christmas, depending on where the package is last minute shopping on Christmas Eve.

...if you spend Christmas morning with a phone in your ear while you open presents, so your son who hasn't been home for Christmas since 2002 can "be there."

Well, I'm sure you get the idea by now, and I'm sure there are many other things that could be listed, if you'd like to add to the list, feel free, I'd love to hear from you..... :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Always remember

I know alot of you have probably seen this on other blogs and in e-mails, but I had to post it here because it means so much to me.

You see, the day after Seth deployed, I sent e-mails to a few friends with pictures from that night. A volleyball friend replied to my e-mail with this poem. I read it aloud to my husband and Katie as we were decorating the Christmas tree, and had trouble getting through it. I got choked up and teary-eyed several times, as it really hit home. Since then, I've seen it in several places on the Internet, but it gets to me every time.

There are so many service men and women out there spread all over the world, who won't be able to be home for Christmas this year. Two of them are mine, so I know how difficult it is for them and for their families. Please don't forget about all of our Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and sailors this Christmas......say an extra prayer for them, and for their loved ones.

A Soldier's Christmas
by Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled there in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
Sleep without fear as you turn out your lights."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl' on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn, and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Today started out like any other Monday, but while I was on my way to work this morning, Katie called. She said Seth was on the instant messenger and would only be on for another 30 minutes. We hadn’t heard from him since last Tuesday night when he was in Germany, so I was anxious to talk to him. Geez, I was 15 minutes from a computer in any direction. I proceeded to break at least half a dozen speed limits getting to the office...I’m glad there weren’t any cops watching...and ran from the parking garage across the street to my office building.

By the time I got the computer booted up at work and got myself signed on to Yahoo IM, not only was Seth on, but so was my son in Alaska. It was wonderful. We didn’t have much time to talk...Kevin was about to leave for his shift at the base and Seth had to sign off after about 15 minutes...but it was oh so wonderful getting to talk to both of my military boys at the same time. After they signed off, I just sat there staring at the computer with tears running down my cheeks. How do I describe the feeling?? Heartache and total joy, all at the same time. What a great way to start the day!!! :)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

One more pic

Just thought I'd post one more picture from last Monday night, it's one of my favorites. There's nothing quite like standing next to your grown-up son, having to look up to see his face, and seeing that smile....and he's not even the tallest one out of the bunch. Hey, no short jokes, please..... :)

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Anytime I'm feeling a bit down, my sisters have a way of cheering me up.

We had a sisters day today. A sisters day can sometimes be running errands, sometimes it's shopping, and sometimes it's a different kind of mission, but it always includes lunch, a margarita (for the little sister and occasionally for me, if I'm not driving), and lots of laughs.

Well, today we went Christmas shopping....go figure. I'm running way behind on that because of the events of the last couple of weeks...the only shopping I had done was to get Seth an MP3 player before he deployed. So, trying to get out of my funk and kick myself into gear, we set out mid-morning and stayed out till after dark. The traffic was terrible around the mall this evening, so I jumped into the opposite lane in the parking lot drive to go around a bunch of people and jump into another parking area (there weren't any cars coming at the time). I caught hell the rest of the night for "driving English". Hey, I got us there without any problems and a heckuvalot quicker than if I'd stayed in that line. Besides, what would a sisters day be without me doing something stupid for the sisters to tease me about..... :)

Anyway, I only bought 3 little things, which doesn't even make a dent in the shopping I need to do, but I had a great day and am still smiling. It was just what I needed. Sisters are great!

Friday, December 09, 2005


I feel old and tired today, and that's pretty unusual for me. I think I'm just physically and emotionally drained after the past couple of weeks. I spent last week on a business trip sleeping in a different hotel every night in California and getting motion sick driving through the mountains.....and wondering if I would get back in time to see Seth off. Then, the minute I got home Saturday night, I turned around and drove to Fort Hood and slept on an air mattress on the floor for three nights.

Last night, for the first time in two weeks, I stopped moving and just sat still, and suddenly, I felt totally spent. I didn't want to finish decorating the tree. I didn't want any dinner. I just sat and stared at the TV.....but I only half watched it. I feel like I need to find some place where I can be alone to let out all the emotions I've been holding in for the past couple of weeks regarding Seth's deployment. I think I really need to do that and then I'll be okay. I'm tired of being strong for everyone else. And maybe a trip to my little sister's Beeranda tonight would help...... :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Finding the Christmas spirit

I've been trying to get into the Christmas spirit. It's not an easy thing to do when you have sons on opposite ends of the earth.

We attempted to find the spirit last night. I loaded all my Christmas CDs into the changer and started them playing. Then I began the ritual of putting up the Christmas tree. You have to understand that I've been pretty much the sole decorator of the tree for years, since all the boys are grown men now. Ken always helps with the lights, but after that, it's all me. Well, this year, with Katie in the house, it was quite different (she's living with us while Seth is overseas). I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Katie and Ken kidding with each other while they were testing lights and we laughed so hard. I have to remember to thank Seth for picking a good one. And, I actually got Rick to help with the lights on the top of the tree, see he's about 6'3" and doesn't need a ladder like I do. It turned out to be a very nice night, and I've been singing carols ever since.

This picture was taken the last time all three boys were home for Christmas, it was December 2002. Aren't they a great-looking bunch? Bet you can't guess which ones are in the military.

Now, if I could only beam my two military boys home for Christmas again......sigh. But, there's something comforting in knowing that they're out there on the job...Kevin keeping the "eye in the sky" flying to protect our borders, and Seth keeping the terrorists at bay. Where would we be without people like them? I guess I'll just have to hug Rick for all of them...... :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Baby boy

Here's my baby boy the night he left. Who wouldn't be proud of him???

He called yesterday morning from Maine. They were greeted at the airport by some wonderful people who provided them with cell phones to call home. I'd read about some of these groups on the Internet. They are comprised of people of every age, from 80-something to very young, who meet every plane of soldiers coming and going from Iraq or Afghanistan, no matter what time of day or night, to let them know how much they are appreciated. When I read the article, I thought about how wonderful those people were...but I had no idea at the time that they would one day be greeting my son. They are great Americans and true patriots...I wish that everyone was like that.

* The last time we heard from him, he was in Germany enjoying some bratwurst...... :)

* Oh, and the mis-matched boots......he broke his toe riding a 3-wheeler during the Thanksgiving weekend at home and is wearing a boot cast. His other tan boot is strapped to his backpack...... :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

He's gone......

I watched him march onto a bus at the head of the battery last night, carrying the Bravo Battery guidon. It was a very proud moment for me, but a somber one, too.

At 1830 yesterday evening, he left the apartment, telling Katie, his wife, and I that he would probably be back in a couple of hours. He didn't expect to leave until today. Instead, we got a call from him telling us he was going with the main group and to come up to visit for a couple of hours with the rest of the families. We dropped everything, stood in line for 45 minutes to get a pass at the gate, caught up with him at the bag drop, and followed him back to the battery.

They had to draw their weapons from the arms room, so we stood in line with him and dozens of other soldiers. If you've never been around a bunch of soldiers getting ready to deploy, it's a wonderful experience. I watched as Seth joked and talked with his buddies and realized that he'll be with brothers while he's in Iraq. It really eased the pain in my heart. I saw him give one of his soldiers a hard time as he was passing out magazine holders telling them what to do with them. Seth kept asking, "Now, what are we supposed to do with this?" After about the 10th time, the guy finally looked at Seth and said some smart remark that had everyone laughing. Yeah, just like being with his brothers. It did my heart good.

I finally got to meet the guys I've heard him talk about so often......a bunch of really great guys from all over the country. For some of them, it's their second deployment to Iraq, and for some, it's even more than that. I took pictures of him with his friends, and of course, a picture of him with his weapon to send to my Dad, the WWII vet. There were also pictures taken of him with Katie and me, the formation, and of the loading of the buses and such.

I did really well, I didn't shed a tear until I got in the car to leave, but I knew I had to be strong for Seth and for Katie. Truthfully, after watching him with his brothers-in-arms, it was hard to be sad. He's just begun an adventure that will change his life, with a family that I know will protect his life with their own, and vice versa. For those of you who haven't ever experienced that, it's an incredible thing. It doesn't get much better than that...

Oh yeah, today is Seth's birthday...he was 24 as of about 0030 this morning. Happy birthday, baby boy!! I love you with all my heart......

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Saying Goodbye

I'm spending a couple of days at Fort Hood, saying goodbye to Seth. He leaves for Iraq tomorrow or Tuesday. This is going to be harder than I thought it would be, but easier, too. My emotions are so mixed and confusing that it's hard to know exactly how I feel sometimes.

To start with, my son is going off to war, so naturally, I'm worried and concerned about his health and well-being. What mother wouldn't be??? I'm going to miss him something awful, and there are times that I feel like I might never see him again. Yes, I do think about that more than I care to admit, even to myself. And those are the times that I cry quietly by myself.

But, I'm also very proud of him. He's stoked and ready to go do the job that he committed to three years ago and has been training for the past year. I can't help but smile and laugh when he talks about his buddies. I know that he'll be with another family while he's over there and that they'll take care of each other. I can't explain my feelings to my friends, though, they just look at me with pity. I know they mean well, but they don't have a son or daughter in the service and will never really understand how I feel. Just like those who have never been to war will never really understand how those who have been feel.

One thing's for sure, though, I'll squeeze him tightly before he leaves, tell him I love him, and pray every day for his safe return.....