Thursday, September 25, 2008
But here is my question. We want to go an a little trip sometime soon. Like a long-weekend getaway. But not being from Savannah, I don't know a ton of places within driving distance that would be a good get-away spot. Any ideas?? We don't want to spend a lot of money and don't want to drive more than 7ish hours to get to our destination. So tell me all of your ideas...please and thank you!
Monday, September 22, 2008
1. Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks (if you haven't tried it yet, run to your nearest Starbucks and get one. First of all, it's like a little cup of autumn with whipped cream on top and second, it will change your life forever!)
2. Cool, crisp mornings that make your cheeks pink
3. The leaves changing colors - this is the one time a year that I really, really miss not living in the mountains anymore. How can you not believe in God when you drive through the mountains in October?
4. Sweaters, boots, jeans, scarves (or is it scarfs? I'm so confused now)
5. Apple Cider & Hot Toddies
6. Getting decked-out in leather to ride the Harley because 60˚ feels like 40˚ when you're flying down the road. And yes, I'm talking leather jacket, chaps, leather gloves...you're getting the idea.
7. The smell of wood-burning fireplaces in the air
8. Butt-warmers in my car (they kind of make me feel like I have to pee, but aside from that, they are definitely something to look forward to!)
9. Decorating the house for Thanksgiving and Christmas
10. Tweed, Herringbone, Plaid and Houndstooth
11. Mums - I've already killed one so far (And for my Australian friends - these are flowers, I'm not talking about my mom!!)
12. Getting all snuggled up in the comfiest of clothes next to Johnny to watch a movie because in case you haven't heard - HE'S COMING HOME!!!
And just for the record, we are still in shorts and flip-flops in Savannah. BUT I grew up in Roanoke and it actually did get cold there, so I have lived through a "real" fall season before - so I know what I'm talking about!
What are you most looking forward to this fall?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I am SO PROUD OF HIM; for his perseverance and commitment to following a HUGE goal of his and not giving up....even when he thought he saw zebras in Georgia! I am driving up to Ft. Benning on Wednesday to see him and I can hardly stand it!! It feels like forever since I've seen him. It's finally OVER!!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Today is the last day of the 9-day FTX (stands for field training exercise where they were given missions to lead) and whenever it is officially over (it could be at midnight tonight...who the heck knows!), they will get their final evaluations and receive either a GO or a NO-GO. This will determine whether he graduates next Friday the 26th or has to re-do the Swamp Phase again. Technically the Swamp Phase is the shortest Phase in regards to actual training and field time because the last week of the Phase is for "Recovery and Out-Processing" before graduation.
So, I am expecting a phone call from him either today, tomorrow or Monday with the word on whether he got recycled or will be graduating Ranger School on the 26th. I'd like to say I am patiently waiting for his phone call with no anxiety whatsoever, but we all know that is IMPOSSIBLE for Amanda!! I keep replaying the different scenarios in my head, like what I will say if he says he recycled or how loud I will scream if he says he is graduating. And unfortunately I have not gotten any letters from him this week, so I can't even analyze his thoughts on how the missions are going to determine if he's doing well or not. I'm a girl...I analyze everything!
I'll update this when I find out...hopefully with good news! Thanks for your prayers everyone! I know they are being heard :)
Friday, September 19, 2008
(You can click on the picture for a close-up.)
Hand-picked flowers by my one and only, laminated to the back of the envelope. Is he just not the sweetest husband ever?!! (okay, you can stop throwing up now, the mushy part is over!)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I have received several letters from him since he started the Swamp Phase, but he mostly talks about how much he misses home and everything he wants to eat when he gets back! He wants to grill hamburgers the first night he’s home and then put a huge pig shoulder on at 0300 (3:00 a.m.) until the next evening. He mentions food on average, about every other sentence. The poor boy is hungry!! He apparently has perfected the art of dumpster diving for left over food after people are finished eating. This slightly worries me because there is a huge dumpster across the street from our house for all the construction that’s going on around us, so I guess if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t find Johnny, he’ll either be in the dumpster looking for food, or sleeping on the ground in the backyard. The “adjustment & recovery period” should be interesting! His mood and motivation took an 180˚ turn once he got his GO from the Mountain Phase. He says he can kind of see the end in sight, just barely though because it still seems so far off.
WILDLIFE & REPTILES
“I’m sitting in a class waiting for the Battalion Commander to come in and I see 9 wooden boxes with locks on them and signs on them that read ‘DANGER VENOMOUS SNAKES’. In the background I hear rattles. I can’t wait for these guys to pull the snakes out! Well, the snakes were cool. Some huge while other were small. And a small gator. I touched them all of course. Except one that was hissing and mad!”
In another letter he says, “Let’s talk about wildlife for just a second: Within the first hour of being close to the woods yesterday, I saw a coral snake & black racer and I probably saw about a dozen banana spiders (HUGE). Then I went to get my ruck sack after a mission and had 3 wolf spiders on it over a quarter in size. It was quite disturbing."
One day they did “Close Quarters Combat” training in urban areas. This basically means fighting in houses, buildings and towns. They use rope bridges to cross large bodies of water and he said they stay wet the majority of the time either from the swamps or because it rains every day.
If it starts lightening, they go into “lightening lockdown” which means they stop all training and get in groups of 3-4 and sit in an open field until the lightening has stopped.
They are currently in the field for a 9-day FTX (field-training exercise). This is where Johnny will get at least 1 mission where he has to plan, lead and execute a group of guys in order to get his GO. They will be living out in the swamps the entire time.
PHYSICAL & MENTAL SIDE-EFFECTS
Physically he is doing alright. He says he has loss a great deal of strength and his pants are very baggy on him (not if he keeps up the dumpster diving though!). He has poison ivy AGAIN, but went to the medic right away this time. His big toes are still numb – they have been since the first phase and his hands and fingers crack open really bad so the medic gave him lanolin for that. He has already said he will need MAJOR foot care when he gets home, apparently they are in bad shape. The mosquitoes and sand gnats are really bad down there, so his neck and face (the only skin that is uncovered) looks like he has chicken pox.
He said they have a term to describe the feelings guys have while at
THOUGHTS ON 9/11/08
He wrote one letter on 9/11 and says, “It doesn’t seem that long ago that the towers were attacked. But being here and sacrificing my/our time for a greater cause kind of motivates me. It reminds me what this country represents. I hope that even though we are apart today and suffering because of the separation, that we can feel good about what we are doing and going through.”
And here is a hilarious story (to me anyways) about his encounter with a cup of coffee the other day! These are Johnny’s words:
“A RI (Ranger Instructor) just came into the barracks for our OPORD and he had a cup of coffee. Neuert & I joked about who would be the decoy while the other took the coffee from him. Well, you know I just had to at least smell it. Anyways, I get closer for a better smell. About that time he goes to take a sip. My eyes follow the coffee to his mouth and back down. He looks at me and offers me a sip, I smile and deny it. Then before I know it Neuert is behind me asking, ‘Are you serious?’ See, RI’s often joke like that. They will offer you something they know you want and you get super excited about it and say yes, and then they laugh and/or cuss at you. So the RI answered Neuert and said, ‘Yeah, I’m not a jerk.’ Before I know it I’ve got a hot cup of coffee to my lips tasting the delicious flavors of coffee bean and International Delight (creamer)! Two more sips of joy for me for a total of 3 sips/gulps. Temperature was not an issue during this mission, quantity was. You know I have been craving coffee for well, since Day 1 of Pre-Ranger! So it was awesome!”
He is very scared/nervous about getting recycled again. He said he was burned once with a recycle and it was devastating, so he can’t help but be a little scared. Please pray that he will not recycle! And he asked specifically for prayer for his knowledge, strength and endurance both physically and mentally and that he would be able to execute missions successfully.
Monday, September 15, 2008
On my way back to Savannah, I stopped at my in-laws' house in Bluffton to get the crabs out of our crab cage to cook and clean them. So Mike and I (my father-in-law) went to the dock and dumped the crabs into a bucket (I definitely got pinched!! I feel like an official crabber now!) and took them back to the house to boil them up and clean out all the yummy fresh blue crab meat. It sure is a lot of work for not much meat! Ten years ago I would've never dreamed that me - a little ol' prissy Virginia mountain girl -would be teaching her in-laws how to clean a fresh crab! ha! Life is funny that way I guess!
What did you do this weekend? Tell me about it, I'd love to hear!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
No, NOT the chair or the bookcase - the CURTAIN! Or a "cornice" for all those curtain experts out there. Like it?!
I designed it (yes, I know it's in the shape of a rectangle, but I still had to choose the shape!), measured it perfectly, and built it! It makes the room SO homey and warm and inviting! And I attached it about 15 inches above the top of the window to make the room look taller than it really is and to keep it from blocking out a lot of sunlight. I have two more smaller ones to make sometime this week to put on the single windows, one on either side of the couch. I'll post another picture of the whole family room so you can see the finished product once the other two are up.
Hope you are having a great Tuesday!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Ranger School is one of the toughest training schools a soldier can volunteer for. Army Ranger NCO's are experts in leading soldiers on difficult missions-and to do this they need rigorous training. For over two months, Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies.
Emphasis during the Swamp (Florida) Phase is to continue the development of the Ranger student's combat arms functional skills. He must be capable of operating effectively under conditions of extreme mental and physical stress. This is accomplished through practical exercises in extended platoon level operations in a jungle/swamp environment. Training further develops the students' ability to plan for and lead small units on independent and coordinated airborne, air assault, small boat, and dismounted combat operations in a mid-intensity combat environment against a well-trained, sophisticated enemy.
The Florida Phase continues the progressive, realistic OPFOR (Opposing Forces) scenario. As the scenario develops, the students receive "in-country" technique training that assists them in accomplishing the tactical missions later in the phase. Technique training includes: small boat operations, expedient stream crossing techniques, and skills needed to survive and operate in a jungle/swamp environment involving learning how to deal with reptiles, and how to determine the difference between venomous snakes and non-venomous snakes. The camp has specially trained reptile experts that teach how to not be afraid of them.
The Ranger students are updated on the scenario that eventually commits the unit to combat during techniques training. The 9-day FTX (field-training exercise) is a fast-paced, highly stressful, challenging exercise in which the students are further trained, but are also evaluated on their ability to apply small unit tactics/techniques. They apply the tactics/techniques of raids, ambushes and movement to contact to accomplish their missions. The capstone of the course is the extensively-planned raid of the ALF's island stronghold. This small boat operation involves each platoon in the class, all working together on separate missions to take down the cartel's final point of strength.
Afterwards, students who earned graduation spend several days cleaning their weapons and equipment before returning to Ft. Benning. By then they have earned PX (Post Exchange) privileges, and access to the "Gator Lounge", a place where they can use a telephone, eat civilian food and drink beers and watch television. During that time students are fed three daily meals. The graduation is at Camp Rogers in Ft. Benning. In an elaborate ceremony at Victory Pond, the black-and-gold Ranger tab is pinned to the graduating soldier's left shoulder. The Ranger tab is permanently worn above the soldier's unit patch.
Historically, the graduation rate has been around 40%, but this has fluctuated in both directions at certain points. In the last three years the graduation rate has risen from 52% in 2005 to 54% in 2006 to 56% in 2007. Only around 20% of soldiers make it through all three phases without having to repeat a phase.(The first two pictures are green because a night-vision lens was used to take the pictures.)
Johnny called me late last night unexpectedly and illegally (in Ranger world) because he had just found out he was moving on to the third and final phase....the Swamp Phase! We spoke for only about 15 seconds, but hopefully we'll be able to talk today for at least a few minutes before they head down to Florida. I'll be posting some information soon about what all the Swamp Phase entails, until then, let's keep him prayed up so we can get him home in 3 weeks!! I'm ready for this to be over!!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I am looking for the kind of friend who is a:
genuine, Christ-following, independent, silly (yet mature), active, dependable, creative, honest, compassionate, food-obsessed (in a healthy kind-of way), adventurous, domestic, goal-oriented, optimistic, talkative, husband-loving, military-living, army wife.
Why is she so hard to find?
If you fit that description, please contact me immediately!! I want to be your friend :)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I did receive several letters from Johnny last week and it seems his moral is back up despite having to re-do every test, class, and mission over again which he is a bit bitter about! He was joking more in those letters than he has since he left, and seemed more like himself which made me happy! He said his new company, Alpha Company, is much better than Charlie Company he was in the first time through the mountains. He is learning a lot more this time through and he even has a guy who graduated from The Citadel in his company this time! He will hopefully get to make a call this Friday to let me know whether he got a GO and will move on to the third and final phase - The Swamp Phase. I am pretty confident he will be moving on to the Swamp phase this weekend, but there is of course a small chance that he won't get a GO and will be recycled again. However, this time, if he recycles again (which I seriously doubt will happen) he will have to start the entire Ranger School over again from DAY 1...not just the mountain phase. You are only allowed 1 recycle per phase before you'd be required to go back to the beginning of the program. PLEASE PRAY THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN!!! I want him home in 3 weeks....NOT 3 more months! So, I suppose my lack of writing could be due to the fact that I have been seriously nervous about Friday's outcome. I know, I know, nothing good comes from worrying, sometimes it's just hard not to.
I'm also on "Hanna" watch. I love Savannah but I do not love Hurricane Season. I am not a fan. All the unknowns and potential devastation from such a fickle storm leaves me anxious and wanting my husband!! I've stocked up on jugs of water and wine and batteries and my pantry is full of food and if I loose power I still have the charcoal grill (which I still need to move into the garage. Thank you for reminding yourself, Amanda) to cook dinner on. What an adventure this will be!
So, I'm counting down until Friday. To hear from Johnny and to see what Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna decides to do. I'll keep you posted. I promise I won't go another 8 days without a post this time :)
Oh! And here is a picture of me and my grandparents from this past weekend. I went down to my parent's house in FL for the long weekend and we met up with my Grandma and Papa in Orlando for a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater! We had so much fun together. I love how active and full of life they are and we're usually always laughing when we're together...you never know what will come out of my grandmother's mouth! :) I love y'all!