This week started out with colds and a cold. I had the cold while Lou got to experience a week of chilly weather in the field. It fortunately didn't rain to the same extent as last week-until this morning, that is. Then it poured while the picnic lunch was in full swing. Which made it both a challenge and a great time for the soldiers' kiddos! They will always remember this day as the one that "Mommy let us throw mud at each other and play with long sharp sticks in the rain".
Granted, Mommy (Kristin-who is a terrific organizer and mommy) was setting up food for 150 men, nervously eyeing the quickly emptying meat platters, counting change, and keeping of tally of payees/non-payees. We Army folks have learned quickly that "required fun" is typically something you also have to pay for-with federal reserve notes. The guys come and eat the terrific food and in the process give up a 5 dollar bill. It seems perfectly fair for all those single guys to have to pay (no offense intended to you guys) but the married guys whose wives are busy making the food all week typically come to the front of the line with a glance at the cashbox and a "Hey Hon, you got a 5 in your purse for me?" Of course, this could also be interpreted to mean that we wives really DO keep our husbands on a strict budget, doling out $5 allowances to our penniless hardworking men only when strictly required! :)
The fund-raising portion of our work is now over and next week is the culmination of a month's planning and cooking, the senior wives social. Which, is the grand party we host for a group of women who have been inside the loop long enough to tell us what to expect and when as we head to our first duty stations. That duty station assignment is typically for 1-2 years. The Alpha Company Wives Group decided to choose a wine tasting spring party theme (I suggested umbrella waving cheers as part of the evening's program, but was not taken seriously by anyone. Something that happens frequently in my line of sarcasm.) We have raised the money to buy wines, food, flowers, hostess gift etc. and are searching our closets desperately for that outfit that meets all the standards of "spring cocktail" attire. I'm not sure there is more stress than that we all exhibit when trying to discuss "formal" vs. "informal" vs. "cocktail" vs. "afternoon" vs. "evening" when it comes to parties and such. No one wants to be the only "Miss America" in a room of slacks and straight skirts! The more experienced women say that no matter what you wear (unless its a swimsuit/leotard) there will be someone with clothing dressier or more casual in the room.
Lou's week was less hectic with the biggest challenge being a 12 mile ruck-march last night, starting around 2000. The guys carried 50 lbs. apiece and were required to complete it in 3 hours or less. (15 minute miles) It did rain tremendously last night, but he did fine and pulled in at 2 hours, 50 minutes. More importantly, his feet are blister free! Yay! We attribute it to: long foot soaks in Epsom salt baths, vaseline applications, $$$$$$$ sock liners (he used to wear womens' knee highs between his socks and feet to help with movement fluidity) and $$$$$$$$$ socks. Gear for the military is a real racket. Maybe I should do that instead of Ebay selling. The last time Lou did a 12 miler was in Air Assault, from what I can remember. They had the same deadlines and he had a torn ligament in his right foot. I still remember him telling me about the end-where you finish and finally bend your legs and fall to the ground and starting shaking and cramping uncontrollably. Then he said, characteristically,"It was BEAUTIFUL!" About the 10th mile last night he said his legs were cramping and threatening to give, so you just can't bend them. Apparently if he bends them, they give out so he does the remainder of the march in lock-step.The sad news is that anyone who failed the march now has to complete it next Friday AND if they don't, they have to recycle I-BOLC. I don't know if I ever told you what I-BOLC is, so here goes: Infantry-Basic Officer Leadership Course. Only infantry officers attend, just to keep the confusion down. :) Normally a 13 week course. His graduation date is April 8th.
Other fun activities this week were the demolition course/practice. These guys should double as extras for Rico. I am now more familiar with C-4....must have heat AND pressure to detonate. A guy lit a packet wrapped in twine on fire and held it while explaining to the guys that if he dropped and stepped on it, it would blow his foot off. However, with just one or the other of heat/pressure it is harmless....unless ingested. One practice session had them tying two bags of IV fluid together with C-4 and a blasting cap somehow attached. They then took out a metal door with the lethal combo. Apparently the extreme pressure from the water being detonated by the c-4 with the blasting cap/fire can throw a metal door off its hinges and 20 feet into a room space. Pretty amazing!
OK, enough about blowing up things. Onto the future. We're closing on our house! Oh happy day! That would be March 25th at 1600. We will no longer be home owners but children again. Carefree and unable to contemplate the thought of mortgage payments, electric bills, and maintenance. Well, maybe not.....but it will be a strange feeling. I bought the house in April of 2005. I am going home to Virginia for the week of the 24-29th, as Lou will be in the field for a 9 day stint, his last before graduation. Mom is keeping me comfy in her "sparest of spare rooms". I promise not to jump on the bed. (and in the process, any visiting great-aunt Josephines)
I told Betsy I'd put a picture of this online simply to amaze all with my sewing prowess. No, my friends know what a terrible seamstress I HAVE been in the past. Dresses with zippers that end 4 inches from the collar, projects that never get completed, dress hems that rise as they circle the skirt base-in a helical fashion. But, I have actually managed to complete a shower curtain on my own! I bought the white fabric at the thrift store as curtains- $1 for two in beautiful condition. Then I found the blue/yellow at Joanne's on clearance. 45 hours of work later....its finished!!! The hours probably would have been cut drastically if I hadn't been sewing-illiterate, using a manual-missing machine I bought at a yard sale. Excellent price, but its a fancy 150 stitch machine with a 150 page manual that has to be downloaded to the computer. I literally ran back and forth to the computer printing off pages on "how to attach the buttonholer" and "how to troubleshoot bobbin issues". The buttonholes are my FAVORITE!
Also, I'm ashamed to say I didn't even own a pair of shears, I cut it out with my kitchen scissors and measured it using my drywall square. Now that I'm a bonified seamstress though, I went and bought BOTH a wonderful pair of shears and a proper measuring tape/square! :) I used my old shower curtain flower hooks, painted with oil-based spray paint for a clean white look.
My bumper sticker came in the mail yesterday! Hope John and Daniel approve of the pictures. I was unable to reach their agents for comments. :) We pray for you both and I AM so very proud of you!