Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What is Normal?!

Like Martha and Kate have both mentioned, and as many of you know, finding your way to a new "Army" normal can be quite interesting and sometimes difficult. This first hit me when we were at Fort Leonard Wood (FLW). FLW is primarily a training installation. Soon after my arrival, I began to notice lots of these:

And in case you cannot read that bright red sign on the front it reads "STUDENT DRIVER." Day-in and day-out I would pass huge vehicles with this big, red sign when going about my daily routine. I passed them coming out of my neighborhood, on the way to the gym or grocery store and even on the way to the park. Not that this experience in particular was weird or difficult, I had to get used to seeing trainings take place so close to home.

Army installations, it's soldiers and families have a strange way of making a new normal out of an Army life. That seems a bit funny to say because everyone experiences new normals, when a baby is born or a new job pops up, but this new normal is different. It isn't something that really has a routine, a consistency or even certain hours. This normal has a odd combination of training and working for something far bigger than yourself while still trying to proceed with everyday, mundane tasks. For example, our coat closet looks like this:


an odd splattering of everyday wear combined with uniforms that only select people in our great country are authorized to wear. Each weekday, Tyler puts on a uniform that represents a strong commitment to our country and on the weekend, although he gets to wear his "civilian" clothes, we know that he is still on duty and at the drop of a hat our phone could ring and he could go into work.

And then there is the nook where Tyler's gear is housed. At each duty station soldiers are given certain pieces of equipment that may be specific to their duty station or job. One piece of equipment is authorized everywhere ... a flack vest. 

This guy is authorized because it protects the soldiers most important organs when riding in a hum-vee, training or at war. This little treasure sits and waits for my husband to need it, but could possibly be his saving grace one day when he wears it. That combination of "just another something I wear and this could possibly save my life" is so strange. A shocking twist of reality and just another piece of equipment somehow get caught up in our new normal.

I'm not really certain what I sat down to say tonight, but I hope that some of you who are struggling to find a new normal or to research to see what that new normal may look like have found a piece of what you are looking for here. Know that everyone's normal looks different, and the steps to get there vary, but you can find peace and happiness in this life. Please, do not be afraid to speak up about how you found your normal, what you're looking to find on this blog, or just to say hello; we'd love to hear from you.

Happy Hump Day!
-- Ginna

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life in a Snap Shot

After Martha mentioned it, I realized just how often this is left in the living room....Along with training binders and discarded baby boy shoes. 'Welcome' to my life :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

CPT Scotty Smiley and CPT Daniel Luckett made a big ol tub of lemonade.

On April 6, 2005, CPT Scotty Smiley's humvee approached a suspicious looking man on the side of the road in Iraq. Seconds later, bits of shrapnel entered his eyes and brain and Scotty would never see again. I met Scotty and his wife at my nephew's baptism a few years ago. He was a classmate and friend of my husband's and I remember being amazed and in awe of the fact that not only has he bounced back from his injuries, but he decided to stay in the Army, began adjusting to life as a blind man, was about to begin his MBA program at Duke and his wife was hugely pregnant. I knew right away that he had not let his unfortunate situation get him down. Now, a few years later, his name is back in the news as his book, Hope Unseen is being published and he has taken command of the Warrior Transition Unit at West Point. He now has two sons, climbed Mt. Rainer, ran a triathlon tied to a fellow Captain and went skydiving. He may not be able to see anymore, but he sure can 'do'. And of course, it goes with out saying, part of his success can be attributed to his amazing wife who stood by his side through all of it. You can read more about Scotty here.

My second story today took me by complete surprise while catching up on facebook this morning. A friend's status made reference to an inspiring Auburn graduate, Army officer and all around gentleman. I read the story quickly, amazed at the resilience of a young man who lost part of his right foot and his left leg in Iraq in 2008 and has now returned to his unit and deployed again, still as an infantry man. As I read the story, I thought of how sometimes I won't return to a restaurant if I have a bad experience, I can't imagine wanting to return to a place like Daniel did. Less than a year after Daniel's injuries, he was able to run a mile in eight minutes, fitted with a prosthetic left leg and a specialized foam piece fit where his right toes should be. He later received his Expert Infantryman's Badge. In May of this year he returned to the Middle East, this time to Afghanistan, where he is severing next to his fellow soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division. After spending some time reading the article, I flipped through the pictures and realized I actually knew Daniel. I hung out with him often during my freshman year at Auburn, it had just been so many years since I had seen or heard his name, I didn't realize it right away. Once I made the connection, I remembered how nice he was, genuinely nice. I had no idea he had been hurt, but I am thankful for my friend who posted the story. You can read more about his amazing path here.

Now, I understand as Army Wives, the last thing we want to think about it our something bad happening to our men, but I couldn't help but share these stories. Not only are they inspiring because of the way the men bounced back from their tragic situations, but they exemplify the essence of the Army. Without legs, without eyes, the Army found a place for Daniel and Scotty, and more importantly, they found a place in the Army.

Have a great week,

Friday, September 24, 2010

It all begins...

“YOU PRAY ABOUT IT!” my sweet husband said to me as he looked me square in the eyes. We had been having the same argument for about four years.  We had been going back and forth about his desire to serve in the Army. I was clueless and scared. Even though he had trying for so long to explain his heart for service, I would not listen. The arguments did not last long because they usually ended up with me crying and eating pounds of candy and in between bites telling him that he needed to pray about it.

Well, four years of his prayer only made his desire stronger. Finally, the last argument we had about it was him asking me to pray about this decision. I remember a shaking in my soul as his strong voice said to me, “YOU PRAY ABOUT IT!”  I think at that moment I knew as soon as I opened my heart to the Army career, we would be on the same page. I reluctantly walked into the back room (with my candy of course, who can pray without candy?!) and experienced the most amazing heart transformation I’ve ever experienced.  I was able to see my husband’s desire to serve and wanted to join him with all of my heart. We had become a “we” as Kate talked about earlier.

Of course I would have saved my marriage and my blood sugar level a lot of stress had I been open to this career to begin with. But I would not trade the process for anything. It took us to a deeper level as a couple but most importantly; it allowed me to fully process what the commitment meant (as much as I could) and still sprint towards this new adventure with my husband.

Because his call to serve was such a huge part of his heart, by experiencing this with him I was able to fall in love with him all over again.

When he started this journey a few years ago, I searched for any Army wives’ blogs I could find. I wanted to get a glimpse into what the lifestyle would look like. If any of you are in the beginning stages of this discussion or need a little encouragement, I’d love to talk to you about how this journey of communication can take your relationship to such a sweet place…even when he leaves his rucksack in the middle of the living room.

                                                                                    Love to you,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why We are a We

One of my pet peeves is when people use the word 'we' inappropriately. More specifically, I literally cringe when I hear a couple expecting a child say "we are pregnant." No, no you are not. A man literally cannot be pregnant (except for that Oprah guy, but he doesn't really count). It is just plain ol incorrect, and I can say that because I have been pregnant and I assure you, Kev was not.

When I first became an Army girlfriend, I was surprised at the number of women attached to Army men who referred to themselves as 'in the army'. Phrases like 'we are staying in the Army', 'we are going to branch detail to X' and 'we have been through 2 deployements' used to just confuse me. In the beginning, it was worthy of a 'we are pregnant' cringe and I would always have to mutter under my breath 'you are not in the army, your boyfriend/husband is."

However, almost 5 years later, I understand it. The military is the only profession in which a spouse is correct to say "we." The Army takes so much of the family into consideration. The active member gets a salary which compensates for his/her dependants. There are groups specifically for families who meet on a regular basis and provide support to their members. Ginna has a wonderful story that hopefully she will share one day about a company commander who asked her opinion of an assignment that Tyler was going to get, not because he needed her permission, but because he truly cared about them. I guarantee that does not happen in the civilian world.

About a month ago when Kev was deciding whether to get out or stay in, it was always our decision. Never once did he say "what should I do?" It was always, always "what should we do?" And now that I am comfortable using the phrase, I have to tell you how proud I am to be able to say it. We are staying in the Army. We will continue to be part of this great community. We will take new, challenging assignments and hopefully we will be able to mentor young families under Kev's command. We will deal with deployments as/if/when they come. We will get through them together. We agree to move every few years and completely accept it. Sometimes, (most of the time), even we get up for PT in the morning...the alarm usually wakes me up first.

Army life can be straining, but its comforting to know that they care about my entire family, not just my husband. When Cullen was born, Kev's commander presented us with an engraved baby bowl and cup set during a Hail and Farewell. It was such a neat and unexpected moment for me to see my baby boy be 'hailed' into this larger family we are a part of. We are a we because others genuinely care about us. We are a we because spouses and families are invited to join in military traditions. Do our civilian friends come to the office when a boss gets promoted? I don't think so.

So go ahead, say it with me, We are in the Army. This phrase is not only physically possible but 100% accurate.

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Army Song

I am truly a traditionalist at heart. I can be a wee bit contemporary and sometimes a bit modern, but I love tradition, in my home, relationships and ceremonies. The Army is a great place for my traditionalist style. Ceremonies, meals, deployments, redeployments and many other events are filled with pomp and circumstance and traditions that began hundreds of years ago. 

One of my favorite traditions is the singing of the Army Song, a bit cheesy, but I love it! I vividly remember my first ceremony, Tyler's graduation ceremony from EBOLC at Fort Leonard Wood. My girlfriend and I were sitting together and everyone stood to sing. So, we rose, but were quite awkward as the graduating class began with the Engineer song followed by the Army song. Although all of the words were printed in our program, we were stumbling between do we sing, do we not sing?! We ended up singing quietly and hoping we were following protocol. Immediately following the ceremony, Tyler informed me that we would be singing for years to come. And boy was he right. 

Depending on what type of ceremony you attend and where the ceremony is depends on what songs you sing. For instance, in Alaska we have an Arctic Warriors song, the engineers have an engineer song, etc. The common thread among all events is the Army Song, which closes all formal ceremonies. It was written in the late 1800s by a Field Artillery lieutenant then later adopted as the Field Artillery song before being adjusted to be the Army Song. The song was officially adopted in 1956 and renamed "The Army Goes Rolling Along." The stanzas represent the past, present and future of the Army. Although there are a few stanzas, we only sing the first verse and the refrain. If you are nervous about your first ceremony you can study up, but don't worry, you'll quickly catch on.

Have a great Monday!
-- Ginna

Friday, September 17, 2010

How We Met

No, this isn't a story about how we met our wonderful husbands, but rather a fun story about how our friendships came to be.

It started with Ginna and me. As she mentioned in her last post, she and Tyler remained at Wake for a few months upon graduation, just about that time Kev and I arrived. Kev came home one day and told me he really thought I would like Lt. V's wife because she was "really bubbly and a teacher too." Well, hubby got that right. We went to dinner as a foursome once, and it was all over from there. Ginna and I had our "did we just become best friends??" moment while walking one afternoon right after we met. I had just told her I was 8 weeks pregnant, so the conversation quickly turned to baby names. Turns out, we both plan on having daughters with a double name, their second name being the middle name of their daddy's. Little Nora Scott and Jane Blair. Once we realized this, we may have stopped our walk to jump up and down and hug. We now talk about our hypothetical daughters being best friends more often than normal people would. Just in case you are wondering, we have big plans of getting to Stewart at the same time so Nora Scott and Jane Blair can run around Spanish Moss covered parks in their matching monogrammed smocked dresss. We should probably let the Army and our husbands in on this plan. Ginna and I also bonded over the fact that we walk because we enjoy gossiping and looking at pretty houses more than actually exercising.

It was over a year later, while sorting through a really shady pile of clothes donated to our Junior League sale, that a red head, who just a few minutes earlier had been wearing a blue sparkly jacket with shoulder pads, stopped me and said really emphatically "Did you just say your husband is in the Army???" Martha's husband had just been accepted into the JAG Corps and she was shocked to find another Army wife in Winston. We had our "did we just become best friends??" moment when we hung out the next day, and the next day, and two days after that. Then reluctantly and awkwardly admitted that we missed eachother when a week went by without hanging out. Finally, we showed up to a BBQ wearing the same dress that we, unknown to one another, had just bought at Marshall's. (Side note, Martha's hair is not really red, she had just dyed it for the winter, however, in my mind, she will always a red head. Much the same, in Ginna's mind, I probably will always be nauseous.)

In between these two meetings which changed my life, Martha and Ginna had become friends. Martha was best friends with Tyler's older brother growing up (you still with me here?). She began skyping with Ginna and relying on her as the only other person she knew in the Army. They can fill in the blanks on this story for you one day :)

Some other fun facts about our soul-mate-friendships:
-Ginna and Martha had the same wedding dress
-Martha and I have the exact same 'everyday' china
-Our husbands all have eerily similar personalities
-We all work/worked at schools
-We all get easily excited about really little things. There is usually hugging involved.
-Wine. Well, yea.

I thought this would be a fun way to round out our 'about us' week. We hope you enjoyed getting to know us and will continue reading as we delve further into our stories!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Rookie!

Hello friends! I'm Martha, aka the rookie of the three little army wives. My husband and I met in college and have been married over four years. I'm a mental health counselor and Sam is a lawyer. My husband Sam and I began conversations about joining the Army about.... five years ago. My husband wanted to join so badly but he had already signed up for law school. I, being the understanding wife that I am, would cry and stomp my feet every time he would talk about joining the service. Truth be told, I knew nothing about the Army life and it scared the heck out of me.

After a few years of talking (arguing) about it, Sam finally looked at me and told me that joining the Army was not a boyish dream, it was his call and I needed to pray about it. Well, I prayed and it was an immediate transformation. I was ready to answer that call with my husband. And my heart could not have been more excited about it.

In his last year of law school he applied to JAG Corps. We heard that over 5,000 people applied for less than 100 spots in the US so we knew it was a long shot. Then we got the call that Sam was one of the 100!! That moment is honestly one of the happiest moments of our marriage. So, now we're waiting.
He is slated to start in February but we're praying for a miracle that he gets into the October class (he's on the waitlist) and we're waiting for our assignment. I never thought I'd be counting down the days to start this Army adventure but I am! These two ladies that are with me on this blog have become my dearest friends and I'm so grateful for them. I'm grateful that I get front row seats to watch my husband live out his dream. Thanks for reading our blog and we're ecstatic about the new adventure of our book.

Me and my stud at the beach                                               

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hello, from the Last Frontier!

Good morning! I am Ginna, and I have been an Army wife for the past two and a half years. My handsome groom, Tyler, and I met while attending Wake Forest University in North Carolina (Go Deacs!). Tyler was at Wake on an ROTC scholarship, so I was fully aware of his excitement for and commitment to the Army before we began dating. At first, the idea of coming into the Army beside him was a bit scary .. so much so that I didn't date him at first. Through lots of prayer and conversation, he finally won my heart and I was excited to begin this life with him. 

Upon graduation in May of 2008, we were married and began our life together in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Tyler was a recruiter for the ROTC department at Wake before heading to Army schools in the Fall. After spending two months apart we packed up our stuff and moved on to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where Tyler would finish school in March of 2009.

This was our little home in Missouri. We were fortunate enough to live on Fort Leonard Wood, and we quickly discovered how much we like living on post. The community that surrounds you is so fun, and the fact that Tyler comes home for breakfast and lunch is absolutely wonderful! At the end of March 2009, we were on the move again; our stuff was packed and we drove thousands of miles to Fort Richardson, Alaska.

We are still in Alaska, but time is moving quickly toward our date to leave. Tyler has had many wonderful, unique experiences here, and together we have made many, many wonderful friends.

Thank you for taking this journey with Kate, Martha and me. We look forward to sharing our experiences, trials and excitement with you as we travel down the Army road. It is nice to meet you all, take care!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meet Kate!

Hi Friends! Thank you so much for taking interest in our new blog. I hope that it will be a great resource for understanding life in the Army and let's be honest, a few minutes of daily entertainment. This week, we all will be posting a little about ourselves. Since we have three authors, we thought it woudl be useful for you to have some insight into who we are and how we got here.

I'm Kate and although some of you may know me by Katie, since my husband and most people who know me well call me Kate, we are going with that here. I have been an Army Wife since March 2007. Kevin and I met through our families several years ago, but really got close during the second half of his first deployment. I was finishing my last semester at Auburn University and ran home from class every day to check my email and hope to catch him on yahoo chat. I graduated from college at the same time he returned safely from Iraq and after only six months we were enaged, despite our relationship being long distance from DC to Savannah. We were married 7 months after that and husband looked o-so-handsome in his blues.

Six weeks after that day, Kev headed to Kansas and prepared to deploy again. We didn't live in the same city until we had been married for almost a year and a half. We welcomed our beautiful son into the world in May of 09 and you can check out my personal blog for many, many, many more pictures of him!

In the past 2 years, we have had some much welcomed stability with Kev being an ROTC instructor. We decided just 3 weeks ago that he would remain in the Army as a career and are anxiously awaiting our next assignment.

So that is the cliff notes version of my life as an Army Wife. Although I have not had a 'normal' experience so far (since I stayed in DC while he was gone, and for the past 2 years we have been in a university setting), I have really enjoyed being a part of this community. I cherish the friends I have made (especially the two lovely ladies that will be introducing themselves shortly) and have so much respect for all our service men and women and their families.

I hope through this blog, I will continue to learn more about Army Life, about my own strengths and weaknesses, and hope to meet more wonderful friends and supporters of the military. Thanks again for checking us out! Don't forget to follow us, leave comments and share your blog if you would like us to add it to our roll.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


I was a freshman in college and walking through the dining hall to get my daily smoothie when I saw a crowd of students gathered around the television. I remember being filled in and feeling as though I couldn't breath for fear that another plane would hit. I ran back to my dorm room and kept the television on as I was praying for my friends in NYC and for their families. I thought it was personal then...

I want to be honest with yall and tell you that I do not feel worthy of this blog or the book with my amazing two friends who have already sacrificed so much. You see, we are at the very beginning of our journey. My husband is in the JAG Corps but we have not received our assignment nor has he left for training yet. We haven't experienced the tremendous sacrifice that you all have. However, September 11 was one of the most pivotal days in my husband's life. He says that because of that day and his desire to protect what he is proud of is the reason he went to law school and to join the JAG Corp. He felt an urgency for justice.

I am in awe of the sacrifices that were made on and since September 11 as our country became one and lifted each other up. I hope we remember those that we lost that day and continue to join hands and lift each other up.

-- Martha

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

September 11, 2001 is a day that many of us will never forget. I began thinking about it tonight as I was washing my face and just slowing down for the night. I thought about what my life was like on September 10, 2001, and I couldn't remember. September 10 was a Monday, and I'm sure it was super hot. I was a sophomore in high school and I'm willing to bet that I just went through the Monday routine of life. And then ... it was Tuesday, September 11 and as I was walking into my safe, normal routine of a high school day my world was beginning to turn upside down.

My pre-calculus teacher was offering extra credit if your parent came to class, so, my dad was coming to school. I remember walking down the math hall and he was chatting it up with the teachers about what was happening in New York. We turned on the TVs, and that was class for the remainder of the day. This particular Tuesday was an early release day so Mom picked me up at 1 and we were glued to the news after getting home.

I sit and think of what that day meant for the people of New York, DC and Pennsylvania, but then I thought about what that day meant for me. You see, I didn't know that there was a boy two hours down the road that would one day become my husband. I didn't know that that particular boy become more passionate about his country and our freedom on that day. I didn't know that I would one day be serving alongside him to defend this nation that we love.

So many lives changed on that day, whether we knew it then or not. I am grateful for the men and women who served on 9/11, grateful for the unity and grace in our country on that day and those immediately after, grateful for those men and women who serve humbly day-in and day-out to protect our normal, everyday routine.

Please take a moment to say a prayer for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, those who were killed on that day and their sweet families who are left behind.

God Bless America
-- Ginna


Nine years ago today, our world changed. I was a senior in high school, sitting in my guidance counselor's office, watching the first twin tower up in smoke. I saw the second one get hit. Just a little while later, when I was in English class, with a nun who refused to turn on the TV and continued to teach, we heard the plane that would hit the Pentagon fly over our school. The next several minutes were rippled with fear as we heard there was another plane unaccounted for supposedly heading our way. One of our schoolmates lost her father in the Pentagon. My mom's cousin was in the bathroom while his office was blown to pieces. Kev's uncle got as many people out of his tower building as he could before the rest died when the building crumbled. Two weeks prior to this day, my future husband signed his letter which committed him to the active duty Army after completing West Point. Turns out, that would mean two years of his life so far would be in Iraq.

Today, I pray for those who lost someone. I pray for those who are still suffering because of it. I pray for people filled with hate. I pray for the brave men and women who do their very best to ensure something this tragic never happens again.

My hope for you now is to hug the people you love a little tighter, not take a second for granted, be thankful for our freedom, respect those who preserve it and pray for an end to all violence throughout the world.

God Bless America.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

There were Three Little Army Wives. They had a wonderful life, but were constantly pestered by the Big Bad Wolf. Whenever he came sniffing around, they attempted to make safe houses out of straw and sticks to ward him off. The Straw House was constructed with fear and anger. The Stick House was built with frustration and sadness. And neither house was able to withstand the power of the Big Bad Wolf.

On good days, when the world was as it should be, the women were able to take shelter in their Brick House. The Brick House was constructed with family, friends, faith and love. The Big Bad Wolf was never able to knock it down. It was during these times, the women appreciated and basked in the community in which they lived. Even though they knew the Big Bad Wolf was just around the corner, the benefits of their adventurous life in the Brick House outweighed any uncertainties he presented. Resultantly, they were able to live happily ever after.
As Army Wives, the biggest hurdle we face is the unknown (the Big Bad Wolf). Whether it is fear and anger tied in with a deployment, or frustration that you don’t know your next assignment or sadness that your husband is missing another important moment, the Big Bad Wolf of the Unknown is the emotion that tends to get the best of us.

But there is a way to beat it. We Three Little Army Wives, Kate, Ginna and Martha, have found peace in the Brick House. In this house, we surround each other with love, providing a kind of wisdom and support we all can understand. We embrace the community the Army has allowed us to join. We take great pride in our husband’s desire to serve. In fact, We are motivated with utmost respect for all of our soldiers’ commitment to our country. We rely on our faith, family and friends to lead us away from making decisions with straw and sticks.

Through this blog, we hope to share our trials, tribulations and rewards associated with being an Army Wife. We hope to be a resource of hope and compassion, to encourage patriotism, and most of all help each other not to make decisions with fear or sadness. Overall, we hope to build Brick Houses throughout our community and the civilian world.

We hope you will take this journey with us. Please check back often, follow us, and leave comments. Let us know if you have a blog you would like us to add to our blog list which shares your experiences in Army Life. Most of all, know that whatever unknowns come our way, we will not let the Big Bad Wolf huff and puff and blow our house down!