I cannot take credit for this blog entry. My friend Bethany posted this question on her Facebook page.  After I answered the question I stole the question for my own page (of course I told her I was doing so...).  After that a couple of friends swiped it from my page....you know how Facebook works. Any-who, I got such great responses from the question I had to share with all of you!  These answers are from my friends and a few from friends of friends.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! 

You know you are an Army wife when....

.....even though your neighbor says she has a husband, you have never met him. - Trish
.....you hear mortar rounds in the distance and somehow feel comforted. - Jessica
.....you don't freak out when you see a man in full uniform, carrying a weapon, walking around the PX  (the Army
      version of  Wal-Mart) - Jessica
.....you carry birth certificates, Social Security cards, orders, and other various paperwork (known only by and  letters 
      and numbers) because you won't get turned away from the ID card counter more than once because you didn't  
      have the right form of ID!! - Jessica
.....your freakin air goes out one week after your soldier deploys! - Nancy
.....you understand that sometimes sisters come not from family. - Lisa
.....you hurry and wait. - Stacy
.....you have 4 or 5 different colored moving stickers on the back of most of your furniture. - LeAnn
.....when you run to the phone every time it rings even after your husband comes home from deployment. - Stacy
.....you get annoyed when your non-military friends are sad when their husbands are away for one week. -Anita
.....someone asks you where you are from and you really have to stop and think about it.  - Meredith
.....entries in your address book are always written in pencil, never pen.  - Samantha
.....you've been married for 6 years but have lived alone for 3 of them. - Crystal
.....you know your husband's SS# by heart but have to think REALLY HARD if someone EVER happens to ask for 
     yours.  - Tammy T.
.....you recall the dates of historical events, songs, movies, etc. based on where you lived at the time. - Tammy  T.
.....you can strike up friendships and form bonds within days/weeks rather than years and you can set up a house
     in the same timeline. - Tammy T.
.....you can listen to your husband form a complete sentence using acronyms and know exactly what he is talking
     about. - Tammy T.
.....you can't decide where to settle down because you have lived in SO MANY awesome places. - Tammy T.
.....you swell with pride and shed tears during any patriotic song, event or ceremony.  - Tammy T.
.....you realize that you are married to an honest-to-God, bona-fide HERO!! - Carrie
.....you sleep with a photo on the pillow next to you and the phone in your hand. - Carrie
.....you pull out your Military ID when going into Target.  - Cyndi
.....you can't help goading your NAVY sisters!!  (Goat....goading...Making myself laugh - she also made Trish laugh  
     on this one!!) - Jefanna
.....your nephew (or any of your military family members) calls and says he will be driving through the town you live in 
     at midnight and needs a place to crash and you are more than happy toaccommodate.- Clint
.....3 years rolls around and you are asking..."When are we moving?".  - Kelly
.....your kids have had more moves than years in school! - Beverly
.....someone ask your kids where they are from and they sound like a map. - Beverly
.....sending care packages with skivvies in them is something you don't giggle over. - Roxanne
.....pb&j, cereal & pizza are approved for dinner.  - Roxanne
.....a house fire makes you freak out for less than 24 hours and then it is business as usual.  - Roxanne
.....you 'get' the term 'moving season'. - Roxanne
.....you mark where your kids were born, milestones etc by where you were stationed - Lauren
.....you know how to handle every situation and can rig anything to work in a house because you know 
     you will only live there for a short time. - Lauren
.....when asked what date something happened you say during deployment number
     1,2, 3 or 4... - Kelly
.....even though you are married, you haven't had sex in a year. - Celeste
.....when you tell your kids to get their ID and get in the POV to head to the commissary. - Christie
.....when you write out invitations to your son's b-day party and indicate the party lasts from 1330 - 1530. - Vickie
.....you totally "get it" when you're friends say its time for their hubby to go TDY!! - Marta
.....when you do more by 9 am that most folks do in a day. - Lara
.....when your kids know more about cultures of different countries than most Ambassadors.  - Lara
.....when a 30 day training deployment isn't a long separation.. - Rose
.....when your husband comes home from work and asks, "Honey, where is (kids name)?" and you reply "TDY until
     tomorrow." instead of saying "At a sleep over." - Tina
.....you can buckle military gear onto yourself correct so your soldier can check to see if it is clean for CIF. - Colleen
.....your husband refers to you as a dependent.  - Jeff
.....your husband refers to you as Household 6. - Trish
.....you comfort your kids about bedroom allocations by saying "don't worry, when we move next time *you'll* get the
     bigger room. - Kristin
.....your husband is retired and 4 years later you still cry for the things you miss, like FRG', your Army neighbors, and
     day to day camaraderie. - Tammy S.
.....having total strangers around you that completely understand you without a word spoken. - Tammy S.
.....when driving onto an Army post and knowing you are home. Tammy S.

We all know that deployments sucks and we also know that there really isn't much we can do other than stay positive, love our soldiers (from afar), dote on our children, send lots of care packages and just do the best we can to get through the year and if that means cereal for dinner, well so be it.   With a little help from my friends we have compiled a 'silver lining' deployment list.  Now sit back relax and don't take us too seriously!

Here are the top 30

30. Great opportunity to grow your relationship with your husband! (Really, I'm not joking, the phone calls and emails are treasured treats!)
29. No phone calls from your soldier saying "I'm going to be later than normal".... (Like we expect them home at normal time anyway!)
28. Not waking up to the 4:30AM to that PT alarm clock and then again at 4:45, 5:00 & 5:15!
27. Little or no breaking of wind in my presence. (I didn't submit this one...I have 3 other boys that live in my house and a band of teenage boys that think they live here....thank God for candles!!)
26. You can have get togethers with neighbors every night if you want! (Because everyone else in the neighborhood has a soldier that is deployed as well!)
25. Less laundry:)
24. Who cares what the garage looks like! 
23. The whole house becomes a Craft Room/Play Room and you don't have to clean up projects if you don’t’ want! 
22. You don’t have to do the 6PM scramble to get the house straightened up before Hubby gets home! 
21. NEW SHOES (need I say more?)
20.  You can put things on HIS side of the closet!
19. You don't have to hide shopping bags in the trunk!
18. You really are the center of your children’s universe. (All the more reason to have happy hour with your neighbors and gal pals!)
17. You don’t wake up to the sound of what you think is a freight train going through your bedroom only to find out it is your darling husband snoring.
16. You can stretch out on the whole bed and sleep right in the middle.
15. You own the remote! 
14. You can watch anything you want on TV.
13. He will actually listen to you when he calls to check in!
12. Not having to pull together spur of the moment dinners!
11. The kids summed it up once "When Daddy's deployed, it's like Christmas every payday!"... (Still ponder on if that's ok or not…)
10. Fun with your gal pals.
9.  You don’t’ have to shave!
8. You can wear the comfy underwear! (Wow, now we are all sounding like a bunch of nasty old women that don't care....)
7. Going out for dinner 5 times a week is just fine 
6. You don't have to listen to the government cell phone ringing all evening (and all night....)
5. Not even know who is playing on Sundays!
4. Cereal for dinner is OK!!
3. Cereal + wine for dinner is even better!
2. Reunions are AWESOME!
 and my personal #1 silver lining is that I get to drive the Jeep anytime I want!!
Last week the Battalion FRG (Family Readiness Group) went on a family camp out.   However this was not your typical camp out, this was a Cav-tastic, Cavalicious, freaking Cav of a good time!  A few months before this deployment started the FRG leaders and I got together and planned out events for the entire year of deployment.  The idea was to have a big event at Battalion level each month of deployment to help the deployment go by a little faster and so families would have something to look forward to.  The 'camp out' started as just that - a camp out at a state park, but then an idea sparked.....  I had been to the Buddy Walk out at Reunion Ranch in Georgetown several months earlier and fell in love with the place.  Granted I had been to Reunion Ranch before, way back in the early days - back '93 (you know, the day of the BIG A$$ cell phones and you were super cool if you had one) when we lived at Hood for the first time and I worked in Austin.  (That was the time way back when Hubby said to me "Honey, don't worry about learning anything about the military. I'm serving my 4 years and I'm getting out.  No, you don't need to go to those coffee things, don't worry about FSG - ((NOPE, that is not a typo - I remember when it was called FSG))....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.....") Any who...the company I worked for had our Christmas party out at Reunion Ranch back in '93 & that was my first meeting with Reunion Ranch.  After all these years, I'm glad Reunion Ranch has stayed on my radar because - let me tell you the families (our family included) of the HHBn benefited tremendously from this place!  Not only did the kids have fun, but moms were able to relax, talk with other mom's and just hang out.  Something that is MUCH needed 6+ weeks into deployment.  This is a time when the mom's start pulling their hair out and start needing a little 'adult' conversation.   We had 80+ people at the camp out, I was wishing for more, but the families that were there had so much fun I forgot about the number and just enjoyed the time and the families that were there. 

Some of the things we enjoyed were:  swimming, paddle boats, canoes, miniature golf, Cavalicious contest, basketball, tetherball, volleyball, horseshoes, washers, zip lines, team games, tug-o-war, dancing, movie under the stars, hanging on a 'beach', 3 HUGE play areas, sleeping under the stars and more!
Upon arrival, we set up tent city. 
Then we had the Cavalicous Contest!  Who do you think should have won? 
And everyone had a great time just hanging out at the ranch -
I've intentionally been VERY busy over the past 6.5  weeks. I've had FRG commitments, kids sleep overs, wine on the porch with neighbors, shopping, anything just to keep my mind off if.  Tonight was the first night - really, the first night in 6.5 weeks that I have had nothing to do. Nothing, nada, ZIP!  My friends are MIA. They must be sick of me asking them to hang.  They have all disappeared. The neighborhood is bare.  Even Boy 1's girlfriend is gone...that's weird, she is always here.  I was WAY excited when Boy 1 wanted to rearrange his room and I was TOTALLY on board, BUT THEN he told me he wanted to do it BY HIMSELF.  I thought I gave one of the best sales pitches of my life, telling him how good I was at it...."I've done this a million times, I can help, I'm REALLY good at this!"  He said to me...."I know you are Mom, but how am I ever going to learn if you always do it for me"?   REALLY.......he learns this lesson NOW, of all days, he learns it NOW?!?! 

Bah-humbug.....here I am sitting in my house alone....all the kid are asleep....I'm reconsidering bedtime, maybe they shouldn't go to be so early...... 
Today I feel like I should say something profound.  I'm not profound. I'm just a 'from the heart' type of girl.  I probably share a little too much on any given day and wear my heart on my sleeve a little too much.  People always know if I'm in a good or bad mood, I just can't hide it.   Today I feel somber as my heart aches for the many men, women, and children that have lost loved ones to war over the years.  I am so thankful to them and to their soldiers; the ones have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. My heart aches for every one of these families as I know this weekend for them isn't about the BBQ's, the shopping or the start of summer.  It is about remembering a life they once had and visiting the grave of their soldier.  This weekend my heart has ached for so many, including my own husband who is fighting as we speak, he has lost so many comrades and friends over the years - I feel guilty that I have been having a 'fun' weekend, hanging out at the pool with friends and going to parties while he and so many others have been engaged in battle.  They aren't having BBQ's and hanging out in the sun - well, maybe they are hanging out in the sand and sun, but not in the way they would like to be.  My heart aches for my military sisters that have lost their husbands, and for all the sweet babies I know that will never know their Daddies or Mommies.  My hope is that each of you reading this sets aside a little time today to remember these great heroes.   Memorial day -  it is not about the BBQ.
Just a portion of the names on the memorial at the USS Arizona in Hawaii.
So it's just a normal day, things are going along just fine. You make Beignets for breakfast (don't hate, it was a mix). You invite a friend over for coffee (from the coffee machine you thought blew up the day before)....she's waiting for her hubby to come home on R&R. You are excited for her. You KNOW what she is feeling. She is hoping the day passes fast and she gets that call saying her hubby is here. Life is good kids are playing. Hubby calls on Skype. Life is better! All the kids talk first. They are in heaven & you are THRILLED for them - they miss him so much! It is finally your turn. You love talking to him and seeing him even though he is blurry and looks blind (as Boy 3 points out).You are just happy you can (kind of) see him. But then out of the blue, as you are saying good-bye you get choked up. You can't talk. Tears start streaming down your face. You don't really know what is happening. Why are you crying now when you have been fine for 3 weeks? Bottom line - you miss him desperately.
Technology is amazing!  I just love the fact that theTransfer of Authority took place and hours later the families of the HHBn were looking at the pictures of their soldiers.  It is so awesome to see our guys in pictures so soon after an event.   I can't imagine what families of soldiers in previous wars went through - they would go months without hearing from their soldier's much less seeing pictures of them.  I feel extremely blessed.

Here is a note from my husband to the families back here at Hood:

Hello from Afghanistan! Task Force Maverick assumed authority for the mission in Regional Command East today from Task Force Gladiator, 101st Airborne (Air Assault). The transfer of authority ceremony included the cavalry flair of the
First Team Band who played the 'Yellow of Rose of Texas' in honor of our families at Fort Hood. Standing in formation were troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division Signal Company and Intelligence & Sustainment Company, as well as
the 101st Intelligence & Sustainment Company. The transfer of authority comes after a year of hard training and nearly a month of learning the ropes  from the outgoing unit. We're confident and ready! Mavericks!

Hubby  (OK, no he didn't really sign it that way! ;o)
 Commander, CJTF-1 HQ BN

Uncasing the colors
DSC soldiers
My handsome husband
The band playing 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' in honor of the families they left behind.
I can't believe it has been almost a week since Hubby deployed. A whole 6 days - wow. I hope the whole deployment goes by this fast!

Many of my civilian friends have told me they can't imagine how we do it. Quite honestly I don't know how we do it either. Many of the young spouses or first time spouses with deploying soldiers that I have talked to over the past few weeks and month feel alone in their feelings. Once we have sat down, talked and shared how 'we' feel these first timers (and sometimes second timers) realize they are not alone – what they are experiencing is normal.  So today I want to share with you my latest experience with the dreaded "D-day" (deployment day) in hopes that it will help some spouse out there struggling with what she/he is going through. On D-day, Hubby didn't actually leave post until 10:30PM - most of you would think this is a good thing. It was not.

Have you ever sat at a death bed and watched someone die a slow death? I have. I compare D-day to that day. (Hard analogy, I know!)  Even though you are with that person, holding that persons hand, feeling that persons love, your heart is breaking the entire time because you know you only have a few hours left. You don't know what to say, you don't know what to do.  You have said it all and now all you can do is hope and pray that you have said and done enough to let that person know how much you love and care for that person.

It started off as any normal day. My alarm went off. I started breakfast. Hubby got up with me (not so normal). I woke Boy 1 up early because he wanted to spend some time with his dad before he went to school - he had TAKS testing. (Nice huh- 9th grade - can't miss TAKS.) We let the little kids sleep in because we were going to let them go to school late. It was a rough morning for Boy 1, this young boy that is turning into a man right before our eyes. (Just the week before Hubby gave him his first driving lesson, as he will be a driver when Hubby returns next year.) Boy 1 had to go to school and take the most important test of the school year on this day, the day his father deployed. I don't know how Boy 1 did it. That morning seemed to drag on and on. We all sat staring at each other not knowing what to say. The little kids were awake and getting weepie. I turned on the Wii and ordered some fun in our house - DANCE COMPETITION!! Let's Dance people! ;o) This worked for a while, at least until it came time for Boy 1 to go to school. I won't go into details about the good-bye between father and son, just know I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I type this.

After Boy 1 left for school we continued to TRY and have fun. It didn't work out so well. Every few minutes someone was crying over something silly - but we knew they were crying over something much more painful than not getting to pick the next song to dance to. After about an hour of trying to have fun Hubby and I realized the best thing to do was to send them to school to help get their minds off of the day’s events and just carry on with their 'normal' day. We had the kids start getting dressed. We took a few pictures - gave lots of hugs and kisses - and I took them to school. This will be the last time they see their daddy for a very long time. You can only imagine the tears going on in this house. I don't know how my husband did it. When we got to school I sat outside with the kids for a little while just giving them hugs and kisses and letting them know we were all going to be OK. I made sure they knew what was going to happen after school. They all had play dates and each were going home with different friends. When I left them only one was still crying - that's right, it was Girl. It is a good thing Girl has an amazing teacher -Mrs. L is the "Grandma" type who gave her lots of attention at first but then expected her to pull it together and get on with her day. (Army Strong.) To some of you this may seem harsh; to us it is the way we cope. Continue with your day as normal - get busy and get your mind off your sadness.

When I got back to the house there was a dead silence even though the radio was on. The air was so thick you could have sliced it with a knife. We cleaned up a little, made small talk, sat on the couch and held hands. Tears kept welling up in my eyes, but I would push them back - we still had a full day ahead of us, we should enjoy it. Right?!?! Hubby and I decided to get out of the house - we went to Lowe's and Home Depot - had lunch and saw a movie. Lunch seemed like it took HOURS and to boot we had a HORRIBLE waiter....it took him 15 minutes to even notice we were sitting at his table, another 5 to come back and take our drink order. I swear it felt like we were there for 3 hours. This was the never ending day. Typically when Hubby and I go out we talk, we laugh we have fun - when out to eat we always look at couples around us and try to figure out their story. I think someone looking us trying to figure out our story would think - blind date, not going well. After lunch we headed out to see the movie 'Hannah'. Not as good as we had hoped for and again, it seemed like the longest movie in history!! After the movie it was finally time to drop Hubby off at the battalion for bag drop. For those of you non-military folks, this is when we drop our soldier off say good-bye for a few hours while the soldier checks in, turns in his bags and draws his weapons (typically for us this is our final good-bye as I don't normally go to the pre-manifest site). Now granted it is only 4PM, his flight doesn't leave for another 6.5 hours. At 6PM families are able to meet up with their soldier at the pre-manifest sight. In our case it was a gym. After dropping hubby off, I checked on the kids (all doing great on their play dates), went shopping for a little while then headed over to the gym to do a little decorating and getting ready for our soldiers to arrive. 

Hubby and I decided the best thing for our family was to say good-bye in the morning as it would be too hard to send the children to school and then to see them for only an hour after school.  We never have and most likely never will take our children to the pre-manifest site.  It is just too hard for our family.  There are too many tears and too much pain at the pre-manifest sites, as I have witnessed over and over during this deployment season.  I once had a chaplian sugguest against taking children to the pre-manifest site  - he pointed out that this is the last image and memory your child will have of their soldier for a long time, and if you say goodbye from a happy place, (like home) other memories will overlap the 'last good-bye'.  I am hoping that is the case and thing our children remember is that their dad rocks at 'Just Dance' on the Wii!  ;o)

This time I wanted to go to the pre-manifest site. To date I had been to all the flights, I had seen off all the soldiers in the battalion and I didn’t want to not be there. I needed and wanted to shake hands, take pictures, and hug spouses or child in need of a hug. I needed and wanted to be there even though I wasn't sure how long I would be able to stay. I wanted to see my husband off.

The soldiers finally started arriving at the gym (a little late) at around 6:30PM. I did my thing. I took pictures, passed out candy, shook hands, hugged people, and kept one eye on my husband at all times. I occasionally went over to him for a quick hug and smooch. At 8:45 the announcement was made stating that our soldiers would be called into formation in 10 minutes & after this10 minute warning families would no longer have contact with your soldier.  As soon as I heard this announcement I found Hubby, give him a few good hugs and kisses that will have to last a very long time and headed for the door. I couldn't stay for that final formation. As I walked out of that gym I bowed my head and walked out so no one could see the tears streaming down my face.

Army Family, Army Strong.  That is how we do it. 

Porch parties are a way of life on my street here in the Hood.  Typically if you walk the loop on a Friday or Saturday night, you will find a few people gathered on a porch somewhere sippin' cocktails and watching our kids play in the street. Yes, you read that correctly. We let our kids play in the street.  Army wives- go figure.  Most of the time these porch parties are low key, and most people are welcoming if you are walking the streets (wow - that sounds bad) in search of a porch to crash.  The Friday night after hubby left I have a rather large gathering on my porch.  No I wasn't celebrating Hubby departing; instead I was sipping my sorrows away with a few of my friends that totally get it.  You see at any giving time half of the men on the men on our street are deployed or are getting ready to deploy. We have a saying in the military - "you know you are a military wife if your friends have never met your husband!"  We are constantly joking about how if Lifetime wants to see real Army wives in action then they should hang out on our loop and follow us around for a week - Lifetime would never be the same.  ;o)
Always a camera in hand.
Made by an Army wife.
Just beautiful isn't it?!
No worries...we had a kid table too!
I get by with a little help from my friends...
The casing of the colors is an Army tradition that symbolizes the movement of the division to a new theater of operation.
What that means for civilian folk - rolling up the flags (colors) packing them away and taking them to be unpacked and unrolled once the soldiers in theater - aka Afghanistan for this deployment.  What that means to me - pride, reality, heartbreak and more pride. What I didn't realize about this day was that I hadn't explained was going on to my children.  At one point Boy 2 started getting very upset and that is when Hubby realized that Boy 2 thought this meant Daddy was leaving RIGHT after the ceremony.  Thankfully we were able to put that fire out for a little bit longer.

Yesterday The HHBn (Headquarter and Headquarters Battalion) honored that Army tradition on Copper Field at Fort Hood, Texas. It was a beautiful but windy day here at Fort Hood yesterday - at one point I thought some of the flags might snap right off and take out the front row opposite of me - I was thankful to be sitting on the left, not the right! My other fear was that with the winds as strong as they were we might just see a soldier taking flight!  I was feeling super bad for the soldiers holding those flags, as they had to stand at attention for over 45 minutes before they got any relief!  They were all amazing and stood CAV strong the entire time, even though I'm sure they all have some very sore muscles today!

To see the pictures larger and to see the text that goes along with them just double click on the first one, then just arrow through.