Saturday, November 24, 2012

What keeps you sane while your sweetheart is away?

Home Alone (Phase) 3

After 78 days of playing this Ranger School game... I'm relatively settled in to a routine of living alone.
From taking care of business all on my own to deciding that it's acceptable to wear leggings every day of the week, catch up on all the classic movies and Law & Order I can handle for the year, and eat roasted brussel sprouts for dinner... ok maybe it's not the most balanced routine, but it works!

What keeps you sane while your sweetheart is away?


best way to get a million crazy stares in the Commissary....?
carry a huge stalk of brussel sprouts around at lunchtime before Thanksgiving!
+ This bread recipe from Simply So Good is super easy to make and so very delicious. 
(Cranberry Orange Almond variety) 

More on my Georgia adventures here (theramblingnomad)
Columbus, Ga

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Recycle Land

What?! Recycled? No, no, no, not him, he's too strong, he leads too well, his peers all like him....

Well, ladies, I don't care how strong or tough your men are... sometimes at Ranger School, it's all about numbers. If RI's need to have 30 men recycle, they're going to get those numbers. B. gave me the reasons he recycled -- and as luck has it, it was just a bad draw of RI graders. He got the same one twice -- and that fellow was PCS-ing to Hawaii after that, so he failed everyone he graded. B. then had 1 shot with a "fair" grader... who wasn't so fair. "Big giant douche," was what another squad mate of his said.

The fact of the matter is, recycling is tough. Very tough. Tough on you, tough on him, tough on anyone who happens to cross your path. And, in fact, this post has been sitting in "draft" mode for almost 2 weeks now, because I truly didn't know how to approach it.

Here's how it ran with me/us. Class of 11-12, on Friday, began calling to let their loved ones know they got their GO. My phone stayed silent. Eerily silent. Then I get a text from another SO -- "I'm so sorry, girl. He recycled."

Just like that. My first reaction was relief that I knew for sure; the second, unending sorrow for B. I've seen him at his worst when things don't turn out well "because of something he did." He gets furious with himself. I've learned to just not speak and wait for him to pull himself out of his funk, which he always does. But imagining him dealing with this letdown, I knew what he'd think -- he'd feel like he let me down. He'd be embarrassed, ashamed, and feel worthless, and nothing I could/can say or do would change that. Trying to change his mindset would make him feel even worse because he'd be letting something affect his mind that he didn't want to affect him.

All Friday night, my phone didn't ring. It came to be about 11 pm my time, and I went to bed, with the phone on loud, right next to my ear. Still nothing. I was tortured, guys. Everything I had heard said that I should have gotten a phone call that night. Why wasn't he calling me? Was he just too ashamed to talk to me? (That thought killed me, we've always been pretty good at communicating what was going on, no matter how difficult it might be to spit out.) Did he just get one phone call and used it on his mom? (That was a better thought, but I hadn't heard from her, so who knew what was going on...)

Saturday morning I got a call from Katy -- M. had reached out to her to let her know he had recycled, and that B. was in the barracks with him. I had a huge sigh of relief, and now I knew 100% that B. wasn't moving on to Florida phase. I had gotten most of my bad feelings out of the way, and spent the rest of Saturday just waiting for B. to call me from Dahlonega. Pretty rough, but by no means as rough as Friday night's wait.

Saturday evening, circa 6 pm or so, I got a call when I was at my parent's house. My mom looked at me expectantly, and I just said, "It's him." Then I dashed off to the guest bedroom and took the call. "Hello?" I just heard the hesitation in my voice. The nerves. I'm sure he did, too, but if he did, there was no indication.

"Hey babes, it's me."

And just like that, the worry, the stress, the fury at the "Man" all dissipated. Absolutely nothing mattered except that I was hearing B.'s voice for the first time in over 3 weeks. I'm sure I said something like, "Hey, how's it going?" or something equally lame, but his next phrase was, "So I'm guessing you've heard the bad news?"

"Uh, yeah, I have.How are you?" I could hear him deflate on the other end. What was me bracing myself for a bad reaction sounded a hell of a lot like disappointment on his end. Oh, shit.

"Yeah, man, it just.... sucks." Shit, shit, shit. Way to go, asswipe, make him feel like crap, that's being supportive. And what did I do next? Act sympathetic? Nope. I made a joke.

 "Ha, I'll bet. Well, it wouldn't be Ranger School if they just let you skate on through all the phases. They had to make it hard for you somehow."

By the grace of God, that got him to laugh, and in an instant we were back to normal. Or as normal as a long-distance military couple enduring Ranger school could be. I told him how so incredibly proud I was in the next breath, and how much I loved him. I could hear him sound relieved, and I started peppering him with questions to take his mind off of what was, on my part, a major screw up (I've got to watch my tone....).

Eventually we got around to what had happened. Basically, there were RI's who sucked, and RI's who majorly sucked. Then there was the RI's who majorly sucked AND were leaving the 5th RTB to PCS to Hawaii, so they didn't give a tiny rat's ass about who they passed and failed... so they just failed everyone! B. got that last guy (who's PCSing to Hawaii) for two of his three graded patrols. Odds were stacked against him, even though he should have gotten 3 different graders all 3 times. The fightin' side of me wants to go talk to this RI who just failed everyone, but not only is that psycho, it's also not my place. But it makes me feel good to say "I'm gonna kick his ass!", so there, I just did.

So, for a week, B. called me every night, which was awesome because he even got to call me on my birthday! The Birthday Song never sounded so sweet as it did when he crooned it (hahah, okay, maybe not actually a croon, but that's what it sounded like to me).

Friday, October 26th was the last time I talked to him on the phone. On Monday, October 29th, I got his letters that he had written during down time in Recycle Land.

One paper was his reaction to having just found out. Another was more reaction. And another was more reaction. The other six (yes, SIX) were all what he did during the day. But the first three... would break anyone's heart.

The day that the guys from his squad moved on to Florida, they made the recycles serve breakfast to them -- as if to reinforce the mentality of "you're worthless." Then the recycles ate alone as all their friends moved on to the next phase. Cruel, sick, horrible, but such is Ranger School.

You see, what he hadn't told me over the phone, everything I had suspected was bothering him, was in those three letters, plus so much more. Emotions and memories I didn't even know would affect him. So, after the window in which to talk to him on the phone closed, I was reading these raw emotions, something I had never done. In the 3 years we've been together, I had never heard him so beaten down, embarrassed and just.... not him. He had felt he let me down (he said that at least four times), and how he knows I expected better of him (right, like he could have done anything to help his situation) and all this other stuff.

But, the next letters were all super upbeat, almost happy that he was a recycle. He got 3 square meals a day, he got a ton of care packages the last day (even though they told them they'd get them daily.... that's another spot of contention for me...), and we got to talk every night for an hour or more about our day, our future plans (woohoo, New Years Eve celebration!) and so on. So, things were right with the world when he went to tackle Mt. Yonah for the second time.

What to take from all this: This was clearly just my experience. I know B. pulls out of his funk quicker than the average male. Trust me, I've dated the average male. B. has got a pretty good handle on his emotions and psyche, and it's one of the things that makes him incredibly strong. He's also got a good meter for my emotions as well. Our conversations weren't all about him. He made them about me, too, which is incredible, and true to his style. But other guys might not handle this rejection, so to speak, as well. Just know your man. If he broods, let him. If he vents, let him. Whatever works, go with it. Watch your tone, don't make the mistake I did. You can't show him your facial expression to show you're not disappointed, just nervous -- make sure your tone says that for you.

And most of all.... just be supportive. It's rough, I absolutely agree with you. If you're reading this, you're probably looking at where to turn during this Purgatory phase -- and I'm happy you are! Because this is the place to vent and to ask questions regarding yourself (for now). Until he's out of Ranger School, our comrades, the other Army SO's, are our battle buddies. For him, now, we're just the one-woman cheerleading squad. 

And that's okay.

Stay classy.


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The Lost Art of Letter Writing

We, as Ranger School wives, girlfriends and fiances, are intimately acquainted with a tradition long out of practice - the art of writing love letters.  At this vantage point of Day 54 (36 to go! Hooah!) synthesizing all I would share about day-to-day life, our hopes and dreams, and how much I miss my other-half into a peppy little letter of encouragement has gotten quite natural.  But for me, it’s been a learning experience. 

After about two weeks without a response I began to feel as though I were writing into a void and I wondered if M did receive my letters, or if he was even alert enough to read them.  Let's be real here, it's hard to write "I love you! Stay strong!" a thousand and one different ways. 

Needless to say, as his only contact with the outside world, those letters and cards are far more important than I realized.  So I want to add a little letter writing, and specifically “love letter,” inspiration as well as come up with a bit of a letter writing resource for those with husbands just starting Ranger School. 

I came across this amazing movement the other day: "the world needs more love letters."  I cannot possibly explain it better than the site's creator, Hanna Brencher said herself: 
I’ve discovered that no matter how tough we act, we all still need a love letter from time to time. That even in a world crammed tight into 140 characters and constant status updates, there is a still a great craving for the handwritten note. But most of all, I learned with certainty that the world needs far more than just my own love letters.
Her site is a recipe for love-lettering, and when my creativity began to wane, this guide to The Art of love lettering revived it in a heartbeat! 

I’ve heard some really great ideas over the last month, like sending funny pick-up lines (was that you, Ashley?) and of course, sending the upcoming weather report, news articles, and jokes (right on, Courtney!)  Please contribute your brilliant ideas! Add an idea in the comments and I’ll update the list, to your credit of course. :)  Those of you who've been through deployments, I'm sure you're pro's at this!  What got you through it?  How did you stay positive in your communication?

I’ll try to backtrack a bit and make this list a resource for creative Ranger School letter writing: 
  • Addresses for each phase 
    • At the beginning of Ranger School when you don't know your guy's Company or Roster number, just put the class date (like Class 1-13) in and the letter should get to him. 
  • Gum: a stick or two of gum in each letter is usually allowed.  Some RI's may take it away, but to date I haven't heard of anyone getting in trouble for receiving a few sticks of gum in their letters. 
    • In the last bundle of letters I sent a feast: Spearmint ("Freshen up smelly!"), Mystery 5 (because life is a mystery as a Ranger Student), ("You're sweet as") Apple Pie, and good old Mint Chocolate Chip.  Carried away? Perhaps.   
  • Send Seasonal Cards 
  • Raid your mother's stash of old greeting cards.  
    • Is this normal?  My mom had a huge stack of cards.  Soo funny!  She pulled out a graduation card, and as I was saying some snarky remark about how that must have been one she forgot to give me when I graduated high school 5 years ago, she said "hmm. I think this was for a French Horn student" (when i was 3 yrs old!) Trumped.   Some of her 20 yr old cards are tacky as heck but M will certainly get a laugh. 
  • Perfume
  • Seal with a kiss
  • Sports Recaps & Scores
  • Photos
    • Laminate a wallet size photo or photos for wet & soggy Florida Phase
    • Print photos of fun memories together as a happy distraction
  • Isn't there some way to send a photo from your phone as a postcard? Sounds super relevant :) 
  • Number your letters 
    • So your guy can sort them out if/when they get delivered out of order or all at once
    • I'm totally not organized enough to do this consistently....but it makes sense!
  • Dream together. 
    • For us, it helps to write about our future and all that it may hold.  Our next PCS, trips we'd like to take, sitting by the fireplace at Christmas together...whatever it takes. 

  • {your advice here}

{As my Mom so helpfully pointed out, it's a little hard to comment on blogger. Just click on the title of the post and a happy little comment box will appear below!  I also just added a subscribe button, so if you'd like to stay in the loop and get notified when we have new posts, check that out!}

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Last Day of Mountain Phase

I really struggled with the title of this post. Maybe it's because I have zero information about what's going on over there, but I've become highly superstitious these past 40 days. Seriously, do you realize that God would have ended the flood in Noah's time by now? 40 days and 40 nights. Not saying that the Almighty-created flood compares to Ranger school, I'm just making a dramatic point.

I didn't want to call this post what I did -- I should put quotes around the word "last," but then that makes it sound like I don't have faith in B. So, imagine the quotes are there, but they're there because, inevitably, someone is in this class will have to repeat Mountain Phase all over again. I just pray it's not B. But, if it is, I will survive, because I've been gearing up for this school for nearly 3 years when B. and I started dating. Hooah.

I have a lot of questions running through my mind. Did he get my care package(s)? Are the RI's really as vindictive and psycho as I think they are? Do they take note of how much mail a Ranger candidate receives, and then withholds outgoing mail from the postal office? Or am I reading way too much into this? What is the morale like in B's platoon (since it's platoon-lead operations)? More importantly... Will I be able to say the right things if the call I might get tonight is not bearing good news? Will I be able to lift him up in a time where he will be so down, and so disappointed? I'm praying for strength and patience, and for God to work through my words, if that's the case. I know there's no way I can do it without His guidance, that's for sure. I have a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth, so, c'mon Big Guy, help a sister out, please... sir? Amen.

Moreover I think about B. What he's doing, how much he's had to eat, when he might have had his shot at getting his "Go," and a million other little things. If he was reading this right now, he'd tell me (like always) to stop worrying -- and (like always), I'd respond with:

"I'm not worrying, I'm just thinking..... intently."

Yup, that's one of the little rituals that is missing while he's gone. I, the Type A personality with a penchant for over-analyzing; and he, the Type B personality who is gracious enough to put up with my neurosis, who has a constant guilt complex that he seemingly causes my over-analyzing (sweetie, if you ever end up reading this, it's not you... I'd over-analyze a million other things if you weren't Army, so RLTW).

So, on Friday, October 19th, 2012, Ranger School Day 40, with however many more days left until graduation (there's that fear of jinxing him again...), I sit at my computer at work, no appetite and phone attached to my hip.

Stay classy.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Care Package Time!

Ok, for those of you class 11-12 procrastinators like me, you just might have one day left to send a care package. Maybe. With priority mail from Texas, this box of goodies is supposed to arrive Wednesday and only cost me a small arm and a leg to ship. It was about the size of 2 large flat rate boxes ($15/each) so for $30 flat rate would have actually cost me 40 cents more! Ha. I'm clearly out of touch with shipping rates.

I just might have gotten a little carried away with the Christmas wrapping paper (surprise, surprise) and couldn't resist sending some sweets.  Home-made chocolate chip cookies and brownies, to be exact.  I have no idea if they'll be good 5 days old in spite of my excessive ziplocking, but as long as they haven't spoiled I think M will find them quite edible.

Ashley's Darby phase care package and Courtney's themed packages are the most brilliant inspiration!  If you haven't seen them yet, go check them out!

Since I live in Columbus/just outside Fort Benning I didn't send a care package for Darby phase, so I'll try not to repeat everything the girls already posted (which I used as my guides, thank you very much!) and hit the highlights:

  - Peanut Butter +bread/crackers/graham crackers/etc.
  - Jerky
  - Nutritious/protein granola bars
  - Extra gum.  Specifically, "Extra" brand watermelon gum is rumored to last the longest.
  - Enough sweets to make them feel loved and spoiled, and satisfy cravings without making
    them sick (esp. those who are airborne qualified)
  - Fresh fruit!
  - Gatorade (I never noticed their recovery series until now...a chocolate shake
     with 20g protein? bingo! I also threw in some "energy chews"...anyone know
     if they work? or taste ok?)

  - ziplocks
  - foot powder
  - pens & pencils
  - index cards (which i forgot, oops!)
  - hand sanitizer or wipes
  - bug spray
  - chapstick
  - a new supply of pre-addressed, stamped envelopes w/his Florida address.
  - shower shoes (My husband specifically requested these.  Though they're bizarrely hard
     to find out of season.  I hope he likes pink and purple flowers...)
  - Pictures of home & family.  Due to our family med. emergency, I also managed to get
    pictures of his whole family, including da Grandma! I love her. She just taught me how
    to knit socks, is that not awesome?

I've been trying to think of Florida-phase specific items he might need, like socks...oh if I'd thought of them sooner! Can you think of anything?

I really wanted to send him an extra supply of clean, dry Fox River socks, which are supposedly absolutely amazing (and better be at $12/pair) though he bought several extra pairs on his 8 hour pass so I don't know if he'd really need extra. Thoughts?  If I come up with a substantial list I may have Amazon Prime ship it faster than I can :)

Can y'all think of any other essentials or supplies that might be useful for the Florida phase?  I'm so anxious to get the call that he passed (positive thinking) and can't believe we've all made it this far!  What are y'all doing to keep busy?

**according to the infamous Ranger School Wives facebook page, anything not on page 4 (contraband list) of the packing list is ok to send. 
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ranger On

Hi Friends!

How are y'all hanging in there?
For those of us with guys in class 11-12, we've only got 23 days until the first graduation week pass! Yeah!!!

Sorry to be so absent lately, but we've had one hellofa week.  In short, my dad-in-law had a medical emergency, in fact, his heart completely stopped, and we had some tough choices to make in regards to Ranger School.  I'm not usually keen on divulging personal details like this, but if my mother-in-law herself wasn't a retired Army Captain with an older son just out of the military, I'm not sure that I would have had any clue what to do.  

In the midst of all this, I've had some time on my hands.
This is a card I drew for my hubby/superhero; our last name begins with S.

For the record, my dad-in-law made it through and is making a remarkably great recovery, but when M's mother called last week, she shocked me with the news that his dad was in critical condition and wasn't expected to make it through the night.  His heart had actually stopped beating several hours earlier, and it took them an hour and a half to find a pulse and bring him back (!!!) but she waited to call and potentially pull M out of Ranger School until every doctor and nurse there confirmed that his sons needed to come NOW.

At a previous FRG event, a senior spouse mentioned that she asks her husband some critical questions before every deployment, like if anyone is sick, do you want to know?  If anyone is dying do you want to know?  Will you want to leave?  As impossible as it might be to answer that, it's good to ask, apparently.  I wish we had discussed it earlier, but I simply couldn't keep that information from him. 

So in case of any situation like this that may require emergency leave 

(when your soldier's deployed or otherwise off the grid, like in Ranger School) 
contact the American Red Cross:
(877) 272-7337

Be sure to have the Hospital name & phone number, and ask family to give the nurses permission to release information to the Red Cross.  The Red Cross representatives were beyond helpful, kind, and compassionate.  I cannot thank them enough!  

In my case, I thought I knew my husband better than anyone until they asked questions like if he may need cadre support or to receive the message from a chaplain since it would come as a which I had to answer, maybe cadre support, but in that state of sleep deprivation he might punch the chaplain...

To make a long story short, M decided to stay in Ranger School (his Dad's wishes) and finish strong with the extra motivation. He asked that I go in his place and be there for his family, so I unpacked the bags I'd so hastily thrown together for both of us, threw together clothes for a wedding and a funeral, an AMAZING friend drove me to the Atlanta airport last minute, (Shannon, you're a lifesaver!!!) and I hopped the first plane I could get on back home.  

His dad shocked us all again by pulling through, then coming off the breathing machines  (please excuse my medical ineptitude) in a matter of days rather than weeks, and then getting up and walking about in less than a week!  He's not much of a fan of hospitals...or rehabilitation facilities (I would want to get the hell out of there too) and today I actually visited him at home!  Walking around! Climbing stairs!  You'd never know his heart's been there and back again a few times this week.  

M's been through the ringer dealing with all this while at Ranger School, especially the uncertainty of thinking his dad had passed for a whole day, but cadre has been really fantastic about allowing him to call intermittently for updates and even talk to his dad for about 15 minutes last night.  For those of you who saw my vague fb updates or heard the news, thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers!  I truly believe that made all the difference in his dad's recovery and M's peace of mind to Ranger on!  

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ranger Girl's Creed

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger girlfriend, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen life, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger-to-be. And to not burst into a sobbing wreck two days after the start of each phase.Yeah, that.
Acknowledging the fact that my Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea or air, I accept that fact that as a Ranger girlfriend my country expects me to know less, fly by the seat of my pants more, and consume more chocolate products than any other soldier’s girlfriend.
Never shall I fail my fellow Ranger SO’s. I will always bite my tongue when a sarcastic remark seems most fitting, extend sympathy, and compare my notes. I will shoulder more than my share of impatience and frustration, at whatever may be the current issue, one-hundred-percent, but no more, because anything more than a hundred percent is literally impossible.
Gallantly will I show the world that I have not been well-trained enough to deal with this crap. My constant letter writing to my soldier, insistence of wearing sweatpants at all times, and incessant baking of soothing cupcakes shall set the example for other women to follow.
Energetically will I anticipate the needs of my Ranger. I shall defeat his hunger with a slew of care packages, for I am a Ranger girlfriend with awesome Google skills. I will fight his starvation with all my might. “Modest care package” is not a Ranger girlfriend phrase. I will never leave my Ranger’s squad to fall into the clutches of hunger, and under most circumstances I will embarrass him with multiple care packages.
Readily will I display a countdown to Ranger graduation day, a tool required to fight on to the ultimate Ranger objective, and complete the Hell which is the 62 day course, though I be a lowly Ranger girlfriend.
Ranger SO’s Lead The Way!!!

Just a little something to help cheer everyone up! Happy Hump day everyone!

- Courtney 
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Class 11-12 Halfway Mark

I went back and forth between writing a post, and ignoring the halfway milestone of the class of 11-12. I don't want to jinx B. in particular, so I'm just going to say that his class is halfway through Ranger School. In 31 days, they will be lining up at Fort Benning to get their Ranger tab pinned on.

In a way, it has felt way, way longer than a month. Because I just got a new phone, all of my saved voice mails from him were wiped! I have 3 letters from him that I re-read every time I want to talk to him, and I've written at least 30 letters so far, sent 2 care packages, and will be sending another by the end of this week. But it feels like life can't be measured in 30 days, or hours or seconds. I feel very changed, like if I were to go back and meet myself 33 days ago, I'd have to hit myself over the head.

Back then, I just worried about this whole process. I don't think I slept a wink the night before he left because I was so nervous and worried. But you can't carry on like that, not without seriously pissing off the people around you. A couple days' moping time is understandable. Nothing past that, because you start to be "that girl" who nobody wants to be around. So I got to a new level -- wistful hoping. When I thought of him I felt/feel proud, and I know he's doing well. I can't think about anything past that. I can't control how his RI's are treating him, or how his squad is behaving on patrols. I can't even give him daily encouragement because his mail is withheld from him. I can't sneak him food, or take on his duties for him so he can go take a cat nap. There is literally nothing I can do. I'm in the dark.

Many women have said it's okay to call up to the Ranger Battalion for information. If that's your cup of tea, go for it. But, as a lowly girlfriend (haha, kidding! kind of.) I would never dare. Maybe that's my leftover fear/respect for the NCO's of his ROTC battalion. But then I translated it over to the civilian world (moreover, the oilfield world, something I grew up around).

My dad was on the oilfield rigs for weeks, even months at a time, with no communication with what would someday be his wife (but who, at the time, was just his new girlfriend). My mom worried my dad would go down in some fiery helicopter accident getting to the rig. That he'd be crushed by some of the massive machinery (incidents like that happen on a weekly basis). But she's never, ever, EVER call into his work to his superiors wanting to know if he got to the rig safely. Or if he'd be home by XXXX date. It would have exposed him to the highest amount of ridicule in an industry that is still a "man's world."

In some ways, my mom's experiences and mine are becoming sharply parallel. She's had to be the head of the household my whole life. Recently, she would tell me how hard it would be for my dad to come back from offshore because he'd want to jump right into parenting, and doing housework his way, when for months we had been doing it her way. How it would suck for her to know that my dad would be going to Pakistan to visit some of the sites he was managing, knowing that only one week ago there was a terrorist bombing on the hotel he was supposed to be staying in. How if my dad had left on a Friday, and she had the whole first weekend to herself, how hard that would be. And I realize how resilient this woman is. The argument often goes, "Well, at least your husband isn't getting shot at." To which she says "Oh, that's so true," and never tells them about the dangerous places my dad has had to go. How's that for strength?

B's not getting shot at. Yes, he's cold, he's tired, he's hungry, and he's absolutely miserable. But he's in the United States, no more than a helicopter ride away from some of the best medical care in the world.

I'd love to call up to the RTB and ask about B's progress, but I cannot. Perhaps it's because I know how the mentality of guy's works. How easy it is for us women to make them a target for ridicule, or just unwanted attention. I wish it wasn't that way, but hey, c'est la vie.

What gets me through this time is imagining the list of foods he's writing down in his journal for things he wants to eat when he comes home... And, of course, saving up for that massive grocery bill!

Halfway through, ladies. Here's to hoping you and your men stay strong.

Stay classy.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Themed Care Packages for Ranger School

Goooooood Wednesday morning, ladies and gents, it's a be-ee-ay-utiful day here in lovely Houston, where it's at 60 degrees with a high of 85. The trucks are revving and it's business as usual off of Beltway 8.

While it is still a while away, the [mental] deadline for sending care packages for the end of Mountain Phase is approaching (and none too swiftly, if ya feel me on this). I plan on mailing mine on the Saturday or Monday before the phase is done. A few things to consider before mailing, though.

  1. Airborne: B. is airborne certified. If he passes Mountain Phase, and the weather for take-off/jumping is good enough, he's gonna be jumping his exhausted butt into Florida. While that man has a stomach of steel (seriously, food poisoning does not happen to him), I seriously doubt that jumping out of an ever-living plane with a stomach full of sugar is what he really needs. Projectile vomiting while projecting yourself out of a plane can't be good.
  2. Time: Reports (::cough:: Facebook ::cough::) have brought back the info that he's only going to have 20-45 minutes to eat the food. So, while I would just love to send him 3 care packages with all of the stuff I want to send him, chances are he won't be able to gorge himself fast enough... Though, now that I think about it, 20 minutes is 4 times longer than he's had to eat for what, at that time, will be 6 weeks, and 45 minutes is 9 times longer than what he's had... so maybe he will have the time. Better to have too much in a care package than too little and have him licking the inside of the box... right? (Swear, that's what they do with the MRE packets... and instead of trading MRE's for flavor, they trade them for caloric content, the higher the better.)
  3. Collective Sweets: The thing I need to keep remembering is that every single wife/girlfriend/mother will be sending cookies/candy/brownies.... While I want him to have his favorites, more than likely he'll be able to poach the sweets off of his squad mates. That's not to say that I didn't include some sweets in these "themed" care packages... Just something I am trying desperately to keep in mind. The stuff he misses the most is fruit because I suppose MRE's don't have that kind of stuff (got the same feedback at LDAC, too.)

Now, without further blather, the themed care packages!

Tex-Mex in a Box:

  • Jar of chunky salsa
  • Jar of queso 
  • Tortilla chips
    • A good alternative to tortilla chips are soft tortillas if you're concerned with the chips breaking into a million little pieces
  • Fork/spoon 
    • This is especially good if you send the chips. B. has poured the chip fragments into a salsa container with a little bit of salsa in it, and eaten it like soup. I can see him doing this again...
  • Turkey jerky
  • Fruit twists (I found some at my local HEB... review from a mom's blog can be found here)
    • B. ate all of the ones I sent him in his Darby care package.... 18 of them. That's 18 servings of fruit. Well.... ok, he had 17. I had to try one. They're delicious.

Third Grade Lunch Box:

  •  Loaf of bread
    • you can put pieces of cardboard around it in the box so that it doesn't get smooshed... but, as B. always tells me, "It being smooshed doesn't affect the taste."
  • Jar of peanut butter
    • this is a stick-to-your-ribs staple. I swear, peanut butter is the only reason my picky-eater sister made it through childhood... well, that and pasta. Additionally, Rangers have frequently requested jars of peanut butter so they can dunk cookies in it... 
      • "Oreos and peanut buttah." <--- Parent Trap anyone?
  • Jar of jam
    • B's not a big jam eater, but I think if I got a type with enough hunks of fruit in it, he'll be all over it. His favorite fruit is cherry and strawberry, so I'll probably pick something like that. Y'all feel free to go crazy on this one.
  • Jar of marshmallow fluff
    • can be swapped out for the jam. Peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches are apparently a favorite of kids everywhere... I wouldn't know, Mom didn't let us have sweets as our main course. (SO DEPRIVED, Y'ALL!)
  • Jar of Nutella
    • ditto the subpoint of the marshmallow fluff.
  • Snack-size bags of chips
    • I'd say these are good candidates for shipping just because of all that air in each bag. They can also be easily passed around so that all those men are putting their dirty paws into one community bag.
  • Instant milk
    • "EEEWWW, Courtney, that is nasty!!!!" Hold your horses, ma'am/sir. Aside from fruit, the thing that B always headed for first is the gallon of milk. Which always makes me mad because no matter what cup I have set out for him, that man drinks FROM THE JUG. Thank you, sweetheart. Anyway, the powdered milk, while not necessarily the BEST alternative, still has all of the healthy essentials needed in milk. You can get the powdered milk in mostly the same variations of the liquid stuff -- I haven't done a ton of in-store research on this, but it's something for you to look at. After all... what's a healthy third grade lunch without milk?
      • I'm even considering putting a few tablespoons of chocolate milk mix into the powdered milk... so when B. mixes it with his water, he gets chocolate milk!!! He likes strawberry milk best, so if anyone reading this knows a powdered strawberry mix, please let me know in the comments. 
  • Cookies
    • need I explain even further? NO third grade lunch is complete without cookies.
  • Wet Wipes
    • sticky kid hands, dirty Ranger fingers, tomato, toe-mah-toe, right? These babies are like gold, especially if they're the kind with soothing aloe vera in them. 
  • Plastic knives
    • Something Rangers can get that third graders cannot -- CLEAN knives to spread the jam and peanut butter!

BBQ, Baby!

  • Beef jerky
    • I recently made a trip to Sam's Club... got a 1 pound bag of beef jerky. Can't remember how much it cost, but Sam's Club is the best.
  • Summer Sausage
    • You can sub this out for the beef jerky, but be sure to provide a knife for slicing
  • Jar of pickles
    • Seriously, what's BBQ without pickles?
  • BBQ sauce 
    • For dipping?
    • on that thought, maybe provide some little canisters for them to pour it into so they don't have to pass the whole bottle around? I assume sharing on all of this stuff.
  • Sweet tea mix
    • You can pack the Mio tea squirty thing, the Crystal Light powder, or whatever, but I firmly, FIRMLY believe that sweet tea is a requirement for barbeque.
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Fruit Twists
  • Wet Wipes

Phew. Okay, all, I'm about done with typing. I've got a call with Canada that's going on right now, and I have a sneaking suspicion they're going to start asking me questions about my work (I know, right, the nerve of them to interrupt my blogging to ask me about WORK!). 

I hope to carry on the rest of my ideas in the next post. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments and I'll post them on my next posting!

Stay classy.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 3 of Mountain Phase

Howdy from Texas, y'all! (Please tell me you heard Paula Deen's voice in your head when you read that.)

So it is the first of October (and my littlest sister's 19th birthday, happy birthday, Cheeser-Squeezer), and the third day of Mountain Phase up in Dahlonega, Georgia. According to my Accuweather app, our men are currently being pelted with about an inch of rain, in 63 degree weather. Sounds great, huh?

However, assuming they're still working (safe assumption), they'll be on day 2 of 4 of mountaineering. Yesterday they would have learned basic knot tying, belays, anchors, and rappels. I think yesterday they were privy to those famous blueberry pancakes -- apparently they're the best Army food ever. Today they're going to be tested on those components. If they fail, they get one retest, and maybe two, but never any more than that. I think it's all contingent on timing... and your RI. "It's a crap shoot with who you get," B said. "Some grade one way, the others grade another. The worst is not knowing how you did until days later, because you get 3 'sustains' and 3 'improves.'" (Civilian lingo: you get 3 things you did well, and 3 things you need to work on.)

These tests are especially important because they're learning the components that they're going to be expected to use during patrols.

Interesting notes:
  • apparently Camp Merrill has a lot of washers and dryers for the guys to use. Encouraging! I hope B. packed laundry detergent.... although even if he didn't, he'd probably just do without.
  • the best piece of advice I've read is that the guys ought to request "smart" care packages, despite the fact that they'll have a sweet tooth to put Hershey's out of business. My guess is that this advice means to request things that will fill them up and help to fill them out again. I'm compiling a list of "themed care packages" that might help with this information, and I can post it if anyone is interested. 

For the record:
  • In this post I am counting Saturday, typically "Day Zero" as "Day 1". So--
    • Day 1 = Saturday, Sept. 29
    • Day 2 = Sunday, Sept. 30
    • Day 3 = Monday, Oct. 1
    • Day 4 = Tuesday, Oct 2
    • Day 5 = Wednesday, Oct 3
    • Day 6 = Thursday, Oct 4
    • Day 7 = Friday, Oct 5
    • Day 8 = Saturday, Oct 6
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Infamous 8 Hour Pass

I am still reeling from the emotional roller coaster that was the infamous 8 hour pass.

A blissful moment to break up the monotony of missing my to-be Ranger, a happy re-union between phases, an opportunity for me to shower him with love and nourishment and for him to catch up on some much needed rest...

I woke up at 3 in the morning a FULL WEEK before the pass panicking that I only have one opportunity to re-fuel my other half, to give him enough energy to make it through the next 40 days, to relay all the wisdom I can find on what he should focus on to get a Go through mountains and swamp phase... and not show him just how much I've been missing him.  It was more stressful than finals!  Also, I read up enough not to be shocked that he had so much to get done on his pass that he had could afford very little time to sleep.

So I approached it as a pit-stop.  A very quick opportunity to replace all the tires, tighten the bolts (or whatever they actually do at a pit-stop) and give him the momentum to get through as a first-time go, God-willing.  I knew his priorities would be food, sleep, shower, sleep, food, reassurance, love, in that order, somewhat reminiscent of Maslow's hierarchy of needs!

It was sooo wonderful to meet some of the other wives/fiances/girlfriends the morning we picked them up and relay our crazy stories of preparation, anxiety, and excitement.  There's so much we can learn from each other, so I'll share our experience for whatever it's worth!

His particular class was released just after 9am.  I got there at 8:30 (didn't want food to get cold) but many wives had been there since 8 or before.  Oh, and there=the parking lot that you have to turn at the Ranger sign to get to, where many dropped their guys off at.  (Anyone have better directions?)

1. Food! 
I expected him to be SO HUNGRY. Which he was, but over 3 weeks of semi-starvation he got full very quickly.  A lot of the guys sent food wish-lists in their letters (how nice!) but I got to guess.  As much as I wanted to make all of his favorite foods (enough to feed an army!) I tried to balance out the sweets/delicious foods (red velvet donuts, fried chicken, barbecue chips...) with stuff that would sneakily boost his immune system and "stick to the ribs" (thanks for all the advice Courtney!) like whole wheat banana nutella bread, french spinach, oranges, and Emergen-C drinks.

I was concerned about the foods he craved being a shock to his body after 3 weeks of MRE's, and since some of the guys seemed to get a bit sick by the end of the pass, this is something to keep in mind!  I'm seriously hoping the probiotics and vitamin C I semi-force-fed him will help counteract that...

We went straight to Commando's as soon as I picked him up to make sure we wouldn't run out of time later.  It was so hard to see him fade in and out of focus trying to stay awake and remember what he needed!  I heard he might need to re-stock 550 cord, a fleece watch cap, gum, t-shirts, socks and whatnot. He also needed foot powder, a new headlamp, and an extra bite valve for his camelback.  It would have been so nice to have some idea what things they usually run out of so he wouldn't have to guess!  Anyone have suggestions for the guys going through next month?

3. Laundry
This might seem really obvious, but I've seriously googled it before.  Cleaning infamous red Georgia clay out of ACU's is ridiculous.  Fortunately, stains don't matter in Ranger School like they do in IBOLC.   But his laundry REEKED of a bizarre potent chemical smell he casually explained as decaying muscle.  My best solution so far is two cycles on hot with laundry soap, OxiClean and a few cups of Borax.  Start early.

4. Haircut
Do you have any idea how hard it is to shave a man's head when he's literally nodding off?  It's a funny balancing act of holding his head with one hand and shaving it with the other.  Just don't forget a haircut!

5. TLC
Yay! The happy un-stressful part of our precious time together!  And something I finally did Not need to read up on.

5. Sleeeeep. 
He sweetly insisted from the moment I picked him up that he didn't need sleep, he'd rather spend time with me.  Aww...but in the same breath of saying this at least four times he nodded off and started snoring. Cute.  He was rather upset when I was finally able to wake him up 3 hours later, but let's face it, if I couldn't wake him up 4 times, he needed the sleep!

In fact, on the way back to Ranger School (after naps!) he and B and I were having a conversation in the car... a lively conversation...and suddenly I looked around and they were both passed out sitting up. God bless.  I cannot imagine.

My awesome dad-in-law sent me an article not too long ago (i'll find it again eventually) about the power we have in sending our guys off rather than the natural inclination of "please don't leave me!!"
Instead of leaving them guilty or sad about going it's an opportunity to strengthen them, validate their journey, and, in a way, send them off with all our strength.

As simple as this concept might be, to someone as new to the military as I am, I've had to cling to the idea of using my role as his help-mate and other half to send him off to succeed!

Sorry this post ended up as a short novel!  I've learned SO much in the past few weeks, I just hope this is useful if your guy's pass is coming up, and if you just went through this too please share your experience and tips!

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Day of Phone Calls and Visits

Ladies, I am absolutely green with envy for those of you who were able to see your men today. I wish Texas was much closer to Georgia than it was... but if wishes were kisses, I'd be diabetic. So, for those of you who got to see your strapping lads in uniform, good on you! I hope you got plenty of hugs and smiles.

To say this was an emotional day would be like saying that Hurricane Katrina had a little bit of wind and rain. Work was hectic -- of course the excrement hits the oscillating blades on the day that they get their pass. We're go-live critical, and all the things on my plate are being requested... "needed them yesterday." Well, sorry, chief, that ain't gonna happen when the components I needed for my deliverables were given to me yesterday. *big cheesy smile that disarms men because it's both terrifying and unusual*

Then I get a 1 minute call from B. Oh my gosh I had forgotten how much I missed his voice. And, with my luck, I coughed (didn't want him to know I'm sick), and he instantly hones in on it. "Are you sick? What's wrong? Flu?" Yeah, okay, you just spent 3 weeks in the field getting your ass handed to you, let's talk about my sniffles. Gah. That man.

Then again, I get a call, and managed to scurry out to the hallway to take it, it's from his cell. Meaning he's home! We catch up as quickly as we ever have, and 20 minutes later, I'm getting back to work and he's going to regroup. Looking forward to a potential FaceTime later today before he reports back.

He tells me how miserable it is. This guy never complains about anything -- ANYTHING. And if he does he just laughs and says "Gotta embrace the suck." And he gave me the stats -- somewhere around 400 people started in his company.... like 170 are making it to the next round. That's both drops and recycles. That is a 42% "pass to the next phase" rate. In. Sane. I don't even want to know what the Mountain Phase is going to bring, statistic-wise. I'm just proud of his attitude.

Additionally, he said they had withheld mail the whole time. Figured as much. And a few of my letters had smooch marks on them (ha, sorry sweetie), and he got "teased".... as in the guys saw it and went "oooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh". Whatever, so long as he didn't get punished with push ups. I had included in the package Extra dessert gum in Root Beer and Apple Pie... and as he was opening it (on the phone) he gets so excited and goes "Oh, man, these are so good, have you tried them?!" Hahaha no, sweetie, those are all yours. I'll try them later...

Such a great day to hear from my to-be Ranger. I could easily be labeled the happiest girl alive right now.... But y'all will probably put that claim to the test, huh?

Stay classy.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ranger School Gets a Facelift

On the IBOLC Dagger Co Facebook page, one of the leaders (cadre) posted this article: Army Revamps Ranger School, Leadership Courses. For those of you who notoriously read the Clif Notes version of the great American novels in school (shame on you!), I'll give some backstory and summarize.

In the past, when men when out on patrol, they'd have a pretty set objective. "Knock out a bunker," and "set up an ambush" and "respond to an ambush" were the ones I heard the most from B's time in ROTC. I heard about them so often I sometimes think I could participate in one and know what I'm doing. I exaggerate, of course.

However, this article explains that if the men get their orders to go, say, raid a bunker, and they get there and they realize the orders have been formulated on bad intelligence, they have to change mid-patrol, and adjust their strategies. This forces them to anticipate the unexpected, to think on their toes, and to respond appropriately. This is excellent news, and bad news at the same time.

Bad news: those men who are used to the standard of operating procedures, or SOP, will probably find it hard to switch things around in the thick of it. This could lead to more recycles, or perhaps even more "drops" from the course. Who knows? It's been implemented since May, so only time will tell.

Excellent news: this is emulates what real battle is like. Men won't simply go into a small village in Afghanistan (or whatever corner of the world we'll be engaging in next...) and just execute a mission, and be back to the FOB for dinner. Plans change, people change, orders change. Having Rangers who are able to think on their toes and respond appropriately could result in fewer casualties due to the inability to respond appropriately. It will also help the men take calculated risks when they cannot necessarily reach their superiors for further instruction.

I'm praying that B maintains the wits I know he possesses, and manages to keep his men together when he is in charge. He's going to do well, I have absolute faith in him, but a little extra guidance from the Lord never is a bad thing.

Stay classy.

Trivial fact of the day: An acronym is when you pronounce the letters together like a word (i.e. NASA, POG, etc). However, if you only say the letters, it's called an initialism (FBI, CIA, NYPD...).

Boom. Your life has just been enriched.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Okay ladies, I messed up big time. I ordered some caffeine gum to stick in letters for B to help stay awake... MAJOR NO-NO. The Ranger packing list specifically says "nothing with caffeine." Awesome. So that last post about the caffeine gum is moot -- do not buy it! I will have to return the stuff I was planning on sending to B.

Just worried about those Arnold Palmer drinks I sent him... Anyone know when they get their care packages? I'm praying hard that it's not when they can get into trouble for having caffeine....

Moral of the story: Read the packing list for unauthorized items!!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

If You Give a Ranger a Cookie...

He's going to ask for a glass of milk! Or he's just going to take it, wolf it down, and run to the next Ranger game.

I got B's letter yesterday after coming home from Ft. Worth/Dallas (had an awesome time, too, but that's another story). Aside from telling me what he was doing, he said it was amazing how tired and hungry he had gotten in a couple of days. And how it was hard to focus on the page when he was writing (I winced at that).

But he also said that in their sleep deprived state, they are taught class after class after class, and that Rangers were literally falling off of bleachers because they were asleep. In order to keep themselves awake, they'd go and stand up so they wouldn't fall asleep as easily. Lovely, right?

So I was wracking my brain thinking on how to possibly help him stay awake during fire watch, patrols, classes... and all of the above. Then I remembered a product I had heard grad students using to study cram for the GRE's.

It was caffeine gum, and while I can't remember the brand, I did find this product which got fairly good reviews. Only problem is that it comes only in the "fresh breath" flavors, not the dessert/fruity flavors that B specifically asked for me to send in all of my letters. You know it's bad if he's making special requests. He's the lowest maintenance guy ever.

Has anyone ever used this? I'm thinking if finicky civilians are giving it a good review, and it's manufactured by Wrigley's, it has to be fairly reputable. Right? I think I will purchase some and send them Brian's way, with a mix of those and the fruity gum.

Stay classy, my friends.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Some Ideas

Hello ladies,

I first want to thank you for letting me be apart of this blog. Communication is the biggest element in my life, and this blog will help me while D is away. Now, I want to share with you ladies what I have done for D that he said it was a great way to lift his spirit. I read about Ranger School before hand and saw that RI’s like to make the soldiers feel unloved, unwanted, and isolated for their love ones by holding their letters. I don’t know if that is true, but I did not want that to happen if it is. In D's mini notebook pads I put around 30 posted notes about how much I love him and cute pick-up lines that I got off this website Here. I just picked what I knew would make D laugh. There is so many off that website that I am sure you could find ones that fit you and your man.

Thanks to Katy, I learned that we can send care-packages. I went to Walmart for the items and let me tell you it wasn’t easy walking out of that store without everything in it. I know what D’s favorite foods are, but I don’t think spending a juicy hamburger from Indiana, or any state in that matter, would work to well. The picture below is what I ended up getting for him. I also got my whole family to write words of encouragement. D’s mother is sending a care-package too with his families words of encouragement.

I saw on Pinterest a cute way to count down the days of a pregnancies. I reinvented the idea to work in this situation. Everyday I have been taking a picture of myself with how many days we have left to go. My idea is that I am going to put the picture into a poster with the last picture really big and all of our family holding a sign saying  “ZERO” .  I will post it up after  Ranger School so you can see it.

Side note: I have been spraying my perfume on every letter and kissing it with red lip stick. My internship involves working with children, so I have sent him some of their colorings as well as mine.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Voting in the Woods

Ready to totally nerd out with me?

Today I suddenly realized that our guys will be gone for the entirety of this year's voting process. (Unless they have a break in Ranger School to vote....HA! dream on.)
As the political science nerds that my husband and I are, whether our votes statistically count worth a darn or not, being part of the process is still pretty important.

As long as I've known him, I don't think he's ever gone a day without checking to "see what's going on in the world," as he puts it, so I've been sending little news summaries with my letters every now and then.  Making the news upbeat and chirpy is a challenge!  But satire and ridiculous quotes from the upcoming election help. :)

That being said, as comical as sending my guy a ballot out in the field seems, the odds are that it might be important to him, so I found out about absentee voting for the military in a pretty easy format here:

Deadlines: (TX)
Voter Registration: Oct. 9
Absentee Ballot Application: Oct. 30

The link above makes the process incredibly simple, I just have a form printed out for M to sign on his leave pass, and I'll send him the ballot at Ranger School.

It makes me wonder, were I to be isolated in the woods for a few months, what part of the real world (besides basic needs and relationships!) would I miss the most?  Do your guys have a niche they can't live without?
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7 Weeks to Go!

That's right! In exactly 7 weeks, we will be heading to Ft. Benning to see our men graduate (knock on wood). And, in 1 week, they will be getting their 8 hour pass!

Really, if you look at this time as 3 separate 3 week chunks, it's much easier to digest than "oh my gosh, 9 weeks?!"

Does anyone have any plans for this weekend to take their mind off of the lonely time? I'm planning on going to Fort Worth/Dallas to hang out with some old college girlfriends, and I am so excited about it! I haven't seen these ladies in nearly 4 months, and that is just simply too long.

49 days until graduation... 7 days until their pass!
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hello! Here is what I know. All of it.

Hey all!

I’m loving the direction this little community is taking.  Thanks for taking the lead, Courtney!
I’m Katy, a newlywed army wife lost here in the piney woods of Fort Benning.  My husband M and I met in college (through Model United Nations, no joke!) and got married right after graduation in December.  In fact, we were crazy enough to graduate, have his commissioning ceremony and have a wedding all in one weekend! It was fun.

I’m a traveler at heart.  My blog, The Rambling Nomad, has held that title long before I even met my army/nomad husband, and I swore I’d go on adventures with him around the world and back in a heartbeat!  But all the adventures I’d been on, and that we’d been on, were ours.  Following the army and learning to be a “dependent” is a straight uphill learning curve, but I’m determined to make the most of it!

He’s currently in Ranger School on day 10, and to make these next 51 days fly by I’m working part time, studying for the LSAT, and balancing all that out with some fun, when possible. :) Even if, without my other half, that involves pinterest projects, eating "soul food,"exploring Georgia, and more tv than I’ve watched in my entire life. (hgtv and cnn in the background 24/7 make the house a lot less empty!) 

So while M was in IBOLC, I supported him where I could, but mostly in the form of TLC.  It wasn’t until he had 2 1/2 days to pack for Ranger School that it really took all the effort both of us could muster to get him ready to go, and that gave me a little leeway on interfering in his job by researching the living daylights out of everything he might need or might come across in the months ahead!  Looking back, I probably tackled Ranger School packing like a full fledged college research paper, just because I finally had a chance to truly help him out. 

Sorry to digress, but I’ll start with the basics, simply because so many of the awesome ladies I’ve met here at Benning are about to experience this magic in another month, and these links might save a lot of time and headaches! 

The Basics: Schedule, Maps and Mail

  • Particularly useful are the “Ranger School Brief” PDF that includes a day-by-day schedule, 
  • “Student Mail” tab at the top - you can send letters without Co. or Platoon info and it will still reach your man until you get a letter from him with the info. Just make sure to include what class they're in (like Class 2-13)
  • “Graduation,” which includes a map not only of graduation, but where to drop them off for Day 0.  
Directions might seem basic, but as M and his buddy piled into our car the morning of and I asked, “Ok, where to?” I was met by silence.  I typed in “Hourglass Road” on my iphone maps and discovered a part of post I never knew was there, but this would be good to know ahead of time:

Preparation & Packing:  

Wisdom from Experience: Ranger School Support Blogs

Thanks a million to these wonderful Ranger School wives and girlfriends for writing a guide to what we’re all wondering from home!  They’re definitely getting me through this time with a lot more comfort and sanity.  In fact, Lindsey’s blog was the inspiration for all this! 

Day By Day Journals:

For all the gorey details of what they're going through right now.  I'm so stinking proud of them!  

Please add on to this!  It’s just a start, but probably a lot more effective than manically googling “ranger school letters”! Just saying. 
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