Monday, January 28, 2013

Light At The End Of The Tunnel: Graduation Week

My Ranger talks to his parents on the phone while soaking up the birthday love on pass! 

I can't believe this experience has finally come to a close, and I couldn't be more proud of my darling, brave husband for persevering through one of the toughest leadership courses in the world and successfully graduating Ranger School!

As a new military spouse, learning to find balance and flexibility in the midst of isolation (and a touch of chaos) has been a tremendous uphill learning experience.

Through countless letters, 5 care packages, 2 TA-50 packages, a family medical crisis, 2 recycled phases, a best friend's wedding, 6 8 weeks with my parents back in Texas, 1 visit to my sister at my alma mater, 2 changed flights, wisdom tooth removal, a new hair color, some awesome hang-outs with the best army friends I could ask for, enough time to learn to like running, an exhausted Netflix que, the best Christmas break/Exodus ever!!!! re-arranging the house 3 times, the most precious 5 minute phone calls, and the best reunion kisses a girl could ask for, my Ranger is finally home! hooray!!!!

It was a longer experience than we expected (4-5mo.) and I could definitely go on about why I think the recycles happened, but in the last few phases so many of his peers and friends have been dropped from the course that we've both learned to shift our perspective and expectations and be grateful that, in spite of a few rounds of "recycle roulette," he had the opportunity to tough it out, endure, and earn his tab! And boy did he earn it!

I'm incredibly grateful for the support of the lovely ladies who've shared their experiences through my new favorite blogs and especially the ladies of the Ranger School Wives facebook page (if you haven't found it yet, get invovled! It's a forum for all loved ones: girlfriends, wives, fiances, even mothers so don't shy away because of the name)

I don't know what I'd do without you ladies!  You have been my sanity and my saving grace through an incredibly trying journey, and your encouragement, friendship, and even snark are the best support a girl could have!  As thankful as I am that we are D-O-N-E with Ranger School...I'm gonna miss you guys!

Ok so, let's be honest, I know the rest of you have men graduating soon and are really just dying to know how this whole graduation thing goes down!

Phone Calls
The guys were able to call Sunday night to let us know if they were graduating.
They call by company, and by the time Charlie Co. got to call there were only 30 minutes of phone time left!  It's a game of roulette, really, and we didn't expect to get through C Co. but the guys were on top of it and took about 1-2 min. each and as far as I heard, most girls on the fb page got calls that night!

In Florida phase they're in a different time zone (Central) so the calls may be a bit later than usual.  I got my phone call at 10:49 EST, but a dear friend's husband who got to call in the very early evening from A Co. was kind enough to pass along news that M passed!!! Wooo!

He got to call back Tuesday night, for about 45 minutes!  Due to some fire alarm fiasco at the barracks there wasn't a line at the phones, so it may have been a fluke, but it sure was great to actually hear his voice!

The lovely ladies of the Ranger School Wives facebook page make a phone tree of sorts listing each guy's last name, Company and Platoon so we can ask about each other's loved one in case they don't all get a chance to call the first day.  I'd recommending listing your guy's info. and be sure to help a sister out! 

There he is, just out of the gate! "M" indeed! 
The Wednesday pass was set for an estimated 4-6pm release (it depends on when everyone finishes turning equipment in) and we had to return the men by 10pm.  They actually got out at 5pm, but I had a lovely time meeting and catching up with some sweet friends in the parking lot while we waited.

The Thursday pass was Noon-9pm.  For some reason I thought he just needed to be dropped off at 9 (if they're late they get sent back to Darby! Talk about the Fear of a lot of guys get back 30-60 min early!) This little miscommunication wasn't cleared up until..oh, about 8:30, at which point we jumped in the car and drove like hell to make the 30 min trip with time to spare!  It was memorable. We laughed. (after the fact) :)

From what I've gathered through watching a few phases graduate via the facebook group...there's traditionally a shorter pass on Thursday and longer pass on Friday, both in the evening once the day's tasks are completed.  Once that I've seen, however, the length of the passes were swapped.  Like anything related to the Army, it's subject to change!

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings 
When I picked M up for Christmas Exodus, he was in complete shock.  A little over 3 months of sleep deprivation, hunger deprivation, and following orders made the world of choice overwhelming!  Occasionally I'd ask him, say, what he'd like to eat, and he'd look at me like I asked him why the world spins!  Just treat me like a kid for a day or two, he asked, and I'll get used to all of this choice again. But please, can you drive? It was disorienting for me to see my strong hunk of a man grapple with a huge shift of reality in such an adorable way, but he snapped right back in a couple days.

I mention this because graduation passes were so smooth!  Only 3 weeks following Christmas Exodus, the graduation passes seemed a little silly, buy I could see how they'd be smart to gradually re-orient Ranger students who'd been in that environment 2+months.

We celebrated M's birthday on the first pass (which was a couple weeks earlier) with cupcake cones and streamers and confetti all over the house! I also made some of this awesome cupcake puppy chow, inspired by my sister's pinterest board! {sally's baking addiction} It's great.

Favorite Graduation-related Blog Posts:

*This post was brought to you by the number 3!
As in 3AM, courtesy of a 3:45 AM Airborne PT test. 
Acclimating back to Army Wife life is fun....! But really, it is. 

I'll post details and pictures from Graduation soon! 

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Friday, January 18, 2013

The New Normal

Funny enough, back in September I was just a little bit nervous about living alone for the first time ever (I'd had roommates for years) and laughed hysterically over this video with my mom and sister.  Scary true.  Not all of it, I mean, I'd never admit...
If this is all new for you too, how are you adjusting?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Saga Continues!

Super sketchy shot of Camp Rogers, where I picked M up for Christmas Exodus 
What started as our Ranger School story has turned into our Ranger School saga...

Nevertheless, I love and support my courageous hubby 110% and I feel like it's good to be one tiny voice of "(hey! not everyone sails through in 60 days! and that's ok! it's the nature of the beast.)"

I could go intro great detail on the nature of his experience and the challenges we've faced, but I'm learning very quickly that plans in the Army change, no matter what training or unit you're in.  And at least the harsh lesson in flexibility I've learned in this first year of our marriage has given me peace and confidence in facing our future, wherever the Army sends us.

I used to be TERRIFIED of deployments, and I'm sure I'll still be shaking in my shoes when the time arises, (mostly for the danger he'll be in!) but we've learned how to have a healthy relationship, if not strengthen it, through distance rather than let it break us.  So as much as Ranger School is a total drag on loved ones, it is possible to cherish the moments together enough that they outweigh the time apart...though Christmas Exodus was pretty much the best thing on earth, so if this doesn't resonate with you, chalk it up to being recharged with a couple weeks of bliss!

Random tip of the week though: On the last day of Christmas Exodus my darling husband hid little notes for me all over the house, which I'm still finding tucked away!  It's the most precious thing ever. But I started leaving the letters I got from him around the house too with the notes, not just on my desk or by the bed where I could mope before sleep. And as simple as it is, having those constant reminders where I run into them cheers me up a lot more than I'd expect!  Try it!
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