Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 27 – A picture of your favorite night

Me, the Little and Kathryn, June 2011
Unfortunately there are not many people I can turn to when I'm having a really bad day. Yeah I've got friends I can talk to but there aren't many I go to when I need to be cheered up.

Kathryn however is one of those girls who I could call day or night and talk to about anything from deployment to DPW.

This particular night is definitely one of my favorites. I'd had a pretty terrible few days and I was just over everything. I called Kathryn, we chatted for a while and then made plans to do dinner and the post concert going on that afternoon. What started as a "cheer Ashlee up" night became much more.

We started with a few Corona's, tacos' and some country music. Then we loaded the Little up in the stroller and walked up and down the hills of Baumholder to get to our place under the ugly white tent in the gym parking lot. The nice thing about the military is the perks we get. The girls and I saw Toby Keith in Ramstein back in May 2010, for free. Its nice to have people who realize families serve to. The Jeremy Graham Band
were playing up on stage. He mostly did cover's of other country artist's hits, but it was still nice to get out of the house.

We laughed, joked, danced, took pictures and had a few more corona's by the time the night was over. And for the first time in days I was able to laugh. I could honestly say that I was having a good time. My entire world was crashing in around me, but I was smiling, joking and toasting to life. I was only able to do so because I had people around me that made it possible.

It was a night that I will not forget. And now I look back and thank my girls back in Germany, the ones that listened to me cry, sat with me as I complained, and took the extra 220 stuff from my house when we left. I am so glad that I had them in my life, they were more needed than they may have ever realized. Sometimes I wish I could wake up and see them all again and give them big hugs and tell them how much I love them and thank them for everything they'd done for me.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 26 – A picture of something that means a lot to you

Donate Life Wrist Band

Everyone has moments they will never forget. Moments that many wish they could forget, but they are embedded in their brains begging to be released.

I've already spoken about my Papa. My fix-it man. The man who sprayed Corona all over a picture at a restaurant because his thumb wasn't on it properly. The man who had "bull dog" cheeks, my sister even called him her bulldog.

When my Dad called to tell me that we'd lost my grandpa, it was one of the worst moments of my life. I remember saying that I was going home that instant. I wanted my ticket switched, as impractical as it would have been. I remember going shopping that afternoon, because there wasn't anything to do in my Mom's new house. I remember talking to Dennis for hours on the phone sitting on my Mom's deck just crying. I remember getting on the plane to come home, crying the entire way from Atlanta to Houston and then Houston to Colorado Springs. I bought spaghetti at the Houston airport, but didn't even eat much of it.

The next few days were a blur, I called off work, spend the days with Dennis out of the house because greeting one more face and hearing, "I'm so sorry" one more time was going to make me hurl. I know those people were just expressing their feelings and as I look back I appreciate it, but then I wasn't in the right frame of mind. I just didn't want to think that Papa wasn't coming back. That I was going to get married, have children, and be a grown up without him there.

Sometime in the window after his death we were given bracelets from the Donate Life people. Neon green naturally a horrible color that clashes with just about everything a person wears, but we all put them on. We wore them with immense pride. My family chose to donate my grandfather's organs and tissues to those who desperately needed them. My neon green band was firmly placed around my ankle until the summer I was 9 months pregnant and the swelling started to cause the band to cut the circulation off my foot.

During the holiday season 2010, while we were in Germany my family received a letter from the tissue coordinator in Denver. 2 of the tissue recipients wrote letters to my family thanking us for helping them. Both recipients needed a tissue donation because of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Dear Donor Family,

I am writing to thank you for the kind and generous gift of tissue donation from your loved one. I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know that your decision to donate has changed my life in a very positive way.

I needed a tissue transplant because rheumatoid arthritis has destroyed my joints.

Since the tissue transplant, I have been able to continue my volunteer work at the senior center and also to continue doing my crafts.

For this, I am very grateful to you and your loved one. My family and I will always remember your act of kindness and generosity.

Thank you.

The second letter read:

Dear Donor Family,

I wanted to take this time to thank you for that very special person in your lives that wanted to help someone like me through the gift of tissue donation. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have had three major surgeries on my feet. The gift of your loved one brings renewed hope to me in a measure I cannot describe. I am still in the process of healing but I hold in my heart a new vision of walking. Every step I take will be in appreciation of your act of kindness and generosity.

God's richest blessings on your life.
As hard as it was to lose my grandfather, I am so thankful that he was able to help people during their times of need. And that is why I wear my neon green, Donate Life wristband with pride.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 25 – A picture of you from last year

So I looked in my folders, I don't have anything quite from January 2011 that has me in it (as I've come to notice I'm usually the one behind the camera as opposed to in front of it) so you're going to have to settle with February 2011.

This moment is especially hard for me, with everything that has gone on in my life this year looking back and thinking about the moments leading up to a deployment, get me every time.

Instead of dwelling on the negative of the past, this is about the picture.

It was February 6, 2011. Super Bowl Sunday. The Steelers were playing the Packers. Back up a few hours. The Little had been fussy, so we'd been napping while Dennis was off at the gym and then had made a  Commissary run to pick up stuff for dinner. The house was dark when he came home, I actually think the Little and I were napping on the couch.

I heard him come in, set the groceries on the table and pause. I shifted slightly on the couch assuming he was going to tell me they were out of one of the few necessary items we'd need for dinner that evening.
What's wrong?

I've got some news.

News? What do you mean, news? 
We'd been waiting for the day he'd deploy for weeks, but at that point in time it wasn't until just before Valentine's Day, we had a week. A week I was banking on to get myself into the right mindset. There was so much we still had to do before he left, make a trip to Trier together so we could pick up gummy bears, he was going to record a few books for Kaylin so I could play them for her as she grew up, we hadn't gotten a good talk about everything in either.
They moved my deployment date.

Yeah? When do you leave?
I tried to sound hopeful, I was secretly praying it'd be after Valentine's Day. Anytime after Valentine's Day. Even though I don't like to actually get roses and go out to eat, it'd be nice to spend that day together.
I got the call at 1500, if I don't hear back from my sergeant by 1700, I leave tomorrow. 
Honestly I'm pretty sure my heart fell to the floor. The Little's 13 pounds (maybe) felt like a ton on my chest. I wasn't prepared for this moment, he was going to go so soon.

We'd be invited to head to some friend's to watch the Super Bowl, but being in selfish freak out mode, I told Dennis we'd be staying in and spend the last night as a family in the comfort of our own home. He didn't object, but about 20 minutes later I asked him if he had really wanted to go. Naturally he said he did, so I apologized for being selfish and we made the arrangements to head out the door.

This picture was taken at that party, it was probably close to 12 am at this point. The Super Bowl usually doesn't start until around then because of the time difference. I was emotionally unprepared and completely exhausted but I was determined to get a ton of good pictures of us. It was our last moments together for a year, I was not going to waste one moment.

We stayed until around 1:30, I couldn't bring myself to stay up all night. I needed to lay in our bed and snuggle one last time. We crawled into bed and I cried to myself silently for a while. I knew I had to be strong for us, for the Little and for me. The 5 am alarm came all too soon, and I peeled myself out of the bed in full zombie mode.

I poured myself coffee, made the Little a bottle and got ready to take Dennis to his company. The sun wasn't up when we got there, and the buses were waiting for them outside. We stayed a few hours and chatted with the First Sergeant, and I busied myself with tasks to make the time go faster for the day. Then the words came, "Time to load up." We took one last picture, kissed and he promised he'd come home. I waved goodbye and got into the car doing all I could to keep from crying.

The day is still a blur, I remember taking a new wife to get her ID card and show her around a bit before I headed home. I couldn't face everything yet, so I made plans to walk to the post office with my friend Correna. Shockingly it was a nice February day, and we walked all our stresses off. Dinner came in the form of a cheeseburger from Burger King and with a prayer I headed up my 7 flights of stairs to my empty home, for the first of many nights.

Does being a military wife have its advantages, yes. But nothing can prepare a person for those moments. This picture is one of the last times I remember being absolutely terrified but completely happy at the same time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wait...its not a 1970's song?

Before you begin you're laugh fest, remember I've been in Germany for 2 years. When it comes to anything current from movie stars to new movies I am practically a foreigner (thanks to Kristen). With the exception of a few big movies and the 2 days later E! News broadcasts I had no idea what was going on in the entertainment world. I found out Elizabeth Taylor died 3 weeks after. 

Music has never been my strong point. While I love music, I have never been good at the "name the artist" game. Unless the artist has a very distinct voice, like Garth Brooks or Katy Perry, I typically get the answer wrong.

This also happens quite often when I imagine what an artist looks like. 9 times out of 10 I hear the song on the radio (or Dennis' iPod) and have no idea who the artist is. So based on the song I'm listening to, I end up with a wild impression of what the artist looks like.

I'm also great at coming up with absolutely ludicrous ideas to play along with my fantasy artist's image. Take for example this song, we play it at work and during one of our slower days it totally made my creativity go into over drive.

Every time I hear this song I have flashes of the 1970's hit Coca-Cola Commercial I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing. You know that totally vintage, barely colored, yellow look. Yeah.

Add the lady, she sorta looks like Gwyneth Paltrow with long blonde hair, cut evenly around her mid-back. She's wearing a flower headband (flower power!!!), a pale one piece dress that goes to her mid thigh, brown boots (similar to Ugg's) and she's got an acoustic guitar to play the song with. Let's add the grassy hill she's sitting on and the camera floating around her head to get her at every possible angle.

I'm pretty sure I was convinced this song was from the 70's, until I did a bit of googling for this post. This song is current. Like last 5 years current. The band played it at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City for New Year's Eve 2009.

So here's what Shayna Zaid really looks you can see, my imagination gets a bit carried away.

Personally I think she reminds me more now of Alanis Morissette.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 24 – A picture of someone you miss

Some people come in our lives and go right back out, while other people never leave.

Over the last year I've learned who all will be there for me and never leave, who is willing to walk away, and who I can't get rid of if I tried.

Now I have many people that I miss from Germany. The time difference sucks because I can't always communicate with them the way I'd like to. But I think about them, daily. Wonder what they are doing and how many crazy adventures we'd be having right now if I stayed.

I'm going to take you back a few years, to January of 2009. Dennis and I had just gotten married, and he swore he was going to write me while he was in his last 3 weeks of basic training. After almost 2 full weeks of hearing nothing, I grew concerned and started googling information on basic training and stuff. I came across the mother load of help. Solo-Ops is a support forum for military wives and girlfriends, of all branches. There are wives who's husbands are no longer in the service, wives who are no longer with the men in the service, and there are girlfriends who are brand new to all of it and are scared out of their minds.

I fell into the third category, accept I wasn't a girlfriend, I am a wife. I remember posting about how long letters take to come out of basic, and running home every night to check the mail for letters. I was accepted into this new community and quickly became friends with the women on the board. They knew what I was going through, I didn't feel dumb asking them questions about AIT, moving, and even when things were difficult for me. These ladies became my second family.

Then in May of 2009 Dennis and I were getting ready to move across the Atlantic Ocean. I was going to be away from the people who I knew had my back no matter what I was doing. I had no friends in this soon to be "home" and I reached out to one girl on the site who was heading to Germany around the same time I was. Jennifer was heading across the ocean with her little girl, Cassidy. Her hubby was already there waiting for her, and we started talking constantly.

What started on an internet site soon became much, much more. We went from being friends to sisters. Sisters that had never met, but rarely went a day without talking to each other.

I was there for her when she was pregnant, and barely able to move and her hubby was deployed.

One time in February 2010, Cassidy lost her car keys. She couldn't even go to the commissary because she had no spare set, it was freezing outside, and her doctor told her she couldn't walk far or she'd risk having Cadence early.

She wrote me crying on Valentines Day saying she was out of milk and that she didn't know what else to do. I looked at Dennis, who was busy playing video games, and asked him what we were going to do. Since both of us are a little opposed to Valentines Day, (I don't want roses because its V-Day, get me them because you want to, any day) he said probably nothing. Maybe a night in, cooking my favorite dinner, lemon peppered chicken.

Can we go to Wiesbaden?

What's in Wiesbaden?

Jennifer. She's out of milk and Cassidy lost her car keys. So she can't drive. 

Uh, sure.

So we got into the car and drove the almost 2 hours to Wiesbaden with our trusty GPS guiding us the entire way. We took her to the commissary, got the milk and she cooked us a wonderful Mexican dinner.

From that moment on we were best friends. She was there for me when Dennis deployed, offering her home to the Little and I so I could get out of my deployment funk. We wandered around Wiesbaden in the chilly February weather, ate Chinese food with cheap wine, and danced our hearts out until we couldn't see straight.

She's been there for me when I thought my world was crashing down on me. She's visited just when I needed her, and just because I was down. Her family became my family. I love them all, just like I love my Little.

I didn't want them to go when they came up for the Little's birthday party. Watching them pull away sucked more than anything. It hurt when I knew that it would be months before I could see them again. To cook a whole chicken and fail at it with her. The Little's birthday was beyond bittersweet.

I can't wait until they are stateside, with iPhone's so we can facetime...constantly. 

Best Friends Forever

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 23 – A picture of your favorite book

Since I have been able to read I've read quite a number of books. Some have peaked my interest and I couldn't put them down like, A Child Called It (incredible book, GO read it). Other books I could barely get through like, Holes.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books I couldn't put down. I was the nerdy girl in bed reading with a flash light, just to be able to finish this book.

One of the most controversial banned books of all time. It is the story of a little girl, Scout, her father, and her life in a small Alabama town. 

Scout's father is set to defend Tom Robinson, a black man in the town accused of raping a young white girl. Since Scout's father, Atticus,  didn't want the children at the trial they watched from above. 

The story is about racism, the loss of innocence and compassion.

I read the book in high school and just fell in love with it. The characters, the plot, the sadness. I am that type of person who gets attached to people easily, falls too hard, and trusts too many people. I got completely attached to the characters in this book, even Tom Robinson.

Even the movie was good. And anyone who knows me, knows that I have 2 movies I like in black and white. Young Frankenstein (Abby-Abby Normal) and To Kill a Mockingbird. My standards are high.