Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Soldier's Homecoming

I've lived in Fayetteville, NC for a little over 20 years now. Our family has had many friends and neighbors in the military and have seen them leave on deployments and have been blessed to welcome them all home...but I've never been to "GreenRamp" on Ft Bragg, I've just heard about it. But, as a civilian, you just assume that going to welcome your loved one home can't be a lot different than going to the airport and welcoming any loved one home...all that changed on March 24, 2009.

Chad was deployed to Afghanistan in November of 2008. He joined up with the 101st Division out of Ft Campbell, KY - A Company 2nd- 506th. He certainly was a lot more fortunate than most...his deployment was five months when most others were 12 months.

There is a system you have to go through when your soldier is preparing to come home. For security purposes, you might have an idea when they will be coming home, but no definite is on stand-by until the official word. The first notice comes (or should come) about 72 hours out. That gives family like ours time to pack and hit the road for a 10 hour drive. The second notice comes about 12 hours out with a definite time...well, as definite as anyone can get...even civilian airlines are not always on time!

So the excitement begins when you pack your bags and start your ride. If you're as lucky as Rick and I were, you have someone waiting for you when you arrive to walk you through the Guiding Angel was Diana and her two beautiful children...and the rest of the wives from 1st Platoon.

Rick and I drove on Post and to the Battalion offices where buses were waiting to take us over to the hanger to begin waiting for our soldiers. My Guiding Angel was waiting for Rick and me with the rest of the wives and children so that we could ride over together...I didn't fully appreciate it then...but this was the beginning of a bond that I am sure will last for a very, very long time!

One of the greatest parts of being a Grandparent is that you are usually recognized as one...and when you offer to help with little ones...those little guys usually recognize you as one of the good guys!

This little cutie kept me occupied on the ride over to the hanger!

I have a few more pictures below of the bus ride over....Rick told me his camera has image stabilization...but I guess that doesn't work for bouncy buses. My first picture is of Diana, my Guiding Angel...Chad will HAVE to get me a better picture of her later!

Diana "My Guiding Angel"

Riding the bus over, we were delivered to the hanger on the flight-line where the plane would be coming in on. This is the "Good New - Bad News" part. The good news is that you are only a short time away from seeing your soldier - the bad news is you need to be there two hours early! The American Legion was there with coffee, drinks and popcorn. The kids were all having a blast running around the middle of the gym - we even had a country western singer playing for us...I kept waiting for someone to start a line dance...but the didn't :) Then, every half hour, someone stood up at the podium and said, "Flight Number (I forget) is approximately 2 hours/1 and a half hours/1 hour/a half hour out! "

Then the big announcement comes that they are heading in...THIS is where it's good to have friends that have done this before...the trick is to quietly start gathering the kids up and move outside to get the GOOD spot. Start jumping up and getting excited, well, then you have to fight the crowds!!

And we wait...Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, wives and children, friends, relatives, Veterans that still come out to show their appreciation! It's like a huge family reunion.

And then someone yells, "The PLANE!!"

It seems to take forever for it to land, then it taxis in.

And then the first soldiers begin to deplane....

That's when it hits are now a part of something a lot bigger than you thought. I knew that Chad was on that plane...he'd called us from Maine about 4 hours before that...but all of a sudden I really needed to see him. As you watched soldiers deplaning you thought of all those that had gone over...and not come home. You remembered those that had deployed with this group who had come home early injured. All the prayers - all the time that he been gone came down to one final prayer, "Thank You."

We watched them file by - then finally - that one soldier out of many that raised his finger to say his first "Hello"

And it was all good....

BUT we still couldn't reach out for that first hug...nope, first they had to drop their gear

Then we were herded back into the hanger. As soon as we were settled, the back doors of the hanger were pulled back and in entered our soldiers!!

There was a brief...and they were good, it was a very brief, welcome home speech...then they were dismissed for 15 minutes with family!!

This is the last picture that Rick took that day. There was then a lot of waiting around while they turned in their gear - then we took Chad back to his apartment.

Rick and I thought we would take Chad out to dinner...celebrate...but when he got to his apartment Chad immediately took off his uniform and boots, changed into his pajama pants and t-shirt and we took one look at him and said, "He'll never change out of that to go out!!"

Thank goodness there was an awesome barbecue place across the street that we ordered take out from! We brought that back (with sweet tea of course!!) ate dinner, heard stories and looked at his pictures. And yes, every once in a while I would reach out and touch him....just because I could.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week in Review

I've been just a little busy...playing in my "stamp room" is my therapy - may not be less expensive that a medical therapist...but a lot more fun...and I save a lot of money on gas!!

Here's the front and inside using Heard from the Heart.

I love using these Hostess sets from Stampin' UP in the Fall Winter catalog...Best Yet and Organic Grace. My favorite is the flower in the center!

Here's an oldie but a goodie...Sassy Stems!! Maybe you can see the glitter added in the vase around the "water marks". I used the Stardust Pure Glitter Pen that I found at Gina K's shop...LOVE this little pen...easy, easy to use and adds a lot of targeted glitter.

I pulled out the Big Shot for these cards and love, love, love them! The Top Note Die Thank You card is totally cased from Patty Bennett as is the scallop envelope.

The Thank You cards are for a swap I'm doing on the Paper Craft Planet with the Swaps group I belong to and the envelopes will hold a Ghiradelli Chocolate wrapped in DP for my friend at work to give her kids to hand out to teachers.

That's it for today...there are more to come...

This is one of those times when I really, really appreciate those bloggers that I visit every's HARD to post all the time when you'd rather play!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Christmas Projects

I have two very big Christmas projects planned for next December. The first one will be a Card Organizer that will hold a minimum of 24 cards each....10 times 240...easy peasy, right?

The second one will be a Recipe Carousel that I first saw at Two Peas in a Bucket - both seem a little intimidating...however, I think I'll be ok :o)

So what kind of cards will I be putting in my Card Organizer??? The very best part of putting this Organizer together is that no one I will be giving it to cares if the stamps are "current" or not - and I think that's why I'm so excited about it!! I can make whatever I want! GASP - I can even mix stamp companies!!!! OMG - How liberating is that for a Stampin' Up Demonstrator?!?!?!?

I love this stamp set. It came out last year in the Spanish Catalog for SU! and I fell in love with this rose! I was following a layout challenge and used my Nestabilities to cut and emboss my circle.

When it comes to making white cards...and I do so love them...they look so clean!! - I get rather snobby about this...if you don't use Paper Trey Ink's 110 lb cardstock or Gina K's 120 lb cardstock you need to find a different color to work with. I LOVE SU! cardstock...but whisper white is great for card layer and especially stamping...but never a white card base...JMHO :o)

Card Recipe:
Stamps: Flores suaves, Best Yet
Paper: White from PaperTrey, Regal Rose and Old Olive from SU!
Ink: Regal Rose, Old Olive SU!
Accessories: Spellbinders Circles

I'm Back!!

OK - it took a little while *sigh*... first I had issues with my other blog ... There were so many spam emails sent to it that it finally locked up and died!!

Then, my house was robbed and they stole my laptop...that was bad enough, but it was about two weeks later when I realized they'd also stolen my camera. No, never did submit that to the insurance, pretty much wasn't worth the effort (if you know what I mean!!).

Anyway, I now have a new laptop...a KICKIN' XPS M1530...and exactly WHY do I need all that my children ask...because I can.

My XPS, by the way, is PINK!!

We've been picking up and putting down a lot of cameras over the last several weeks until yesterday, when I met with the girls for a little stamping and a lot of eating and someone said, "Hey, I have a camera for sale....Canon PowerShot S50"

SOLD! So these are my first pictures I'm uploading...I have a little work to do when it comes to lighting and figuring out my new please be patient :o) - the very best part of buying this camera from a very good friend is that she is also a VERY good photographer and will never let me wander around pretending like I know what I'm doing....she'll bail me out!

Finally, if you're reading this and thinking, "Well, now that she's replaced everything...." We have also purchased a Home Alarm system that will blow out the neighbors windows (so much for the "Gee, I was home all day and didn't see a thing") Finally did what everyone tells you to do and you always say, "Someday I'm going to take pictures of all of my stuff and write down the serial numbers....just in case" and last but not least, installed LoJack - yeah .. if you haven't heard of need to stop by their site.

So let the posting begin!!!!