March 26, 2012

Playing Army

I spent my weekend in a sea of this:
It's not often the military wife gets to tag along for drill weekend, but this month was a little special: Dan's unit had their first Yellow Ribbon Redeployment ceremony, so we hit the road together this time for two days of PTSD seminars, financial planning speakers, (un)employment coaching, and the perk to making it through all of those: some much needed time with great friends.
Friday afternoon, our wonderful friends T and N came into our hometown for a concert and we had the privilege of watching their adorable 11 month old for the evening. It was just the pick-me-up I needed after a long week at work and a day of two spectacularly bad runs: baby giggles, big grins, and some cuddling before bedtime. She is such a happy, easygoing little one, and we had a fantastic time with her.

I snapped this little slice of adorable after laying baby girl down to sleep, when hubby (who knew he had to drive into the night) decided that a nap on the floor looked like a pretty good idea. Go ahead, melt my heart.
When our friends made it back from the concert, we packed up our cars and "convoyed it" (welcome to the Army) down to VA Beach, finally rolling into our hotel at about 3 AM. We had to be ready to go the next morning by 6:30, of course... nothing like less than 3 hours of sleep to start off a long weekend, right?
Saturday involved quite a lot of sitting around and waiting, about 6 hours of speakers (ranging from mildly entertaining to tortuously soporific), and more cups of coffee than I care to count. It was a seriously long day, but thankfully T and N's little girl gave us a good excuse to get up and walk around every once in a while. We were released around 4 and headed back to our hotel to get in a quick workout (me) and take a nap (everyone else), and then met up with T and N and a few other couples to visit the Mecca of seafood:
We stuffed ourselves with crab legs (or maybe that was just me?) and got to enjoy some well-deserved down time. It was really great to spend some time with the guys Dan deployed with, getting to know a few of them and their wives outside of the military atmosphere. It is always so fun to watch Dan interact with his army buddies. After dinner we stopped at the hotel bar for a couple drinks with some of his guys before heading up to make it a relatively early night. I'm pretty sure that between the long two days, the approximate metric ton of seafood I consumed, and the two cherry cosmos, I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.
Sunday we didn't have to be anywhere until 8, so I lucked out and had time to run before we checked out of the hotel. The morning was blissfully brief and we were done before noon, so the five of us (Dan, myself, T, N, and their little one) drove the hour or so to Williamsburg for lunch and a little shopping. 
visiting with good old TJ
It had been several weeks since I'd seen them, so I was so excited for an excuse to spend the weekend with these wonderful friends. It's hard to believe that we've only known each other since the last Yellow Ribbon ceremony in May, just before the guys left for mobilization -- they have quickly become some of our closest friends and have served as an incredible support system throughout the deployment and reintegration for both Dan and myself. 
I sometimes get a little jealous when I read the blogs of other military wives, who all seem to have a huge group of fellow wives that are really more like sisters. These are girls that they can call in the middle of the night during a deployment, no questions asked. Girls that they see several times a week and talk to almost every day. Girls that would drop everything for them in a minute if they needed it. While their husbands watch each others' backs in the sandbox, these ladies develop a bond like no other here at home as they depend on each other for strength and assistance and love. Unfortunately, since fact that Dan is National Guard and we don't live on or even close to a post, I've never really had the chance to forge these kind of relationships. I've always been ok with being independent, but I would be lying if I said I didn't sometimes crave that kind of friendship with other women who know what the military life is like. I am so incredibly grateful to have one close friend like that in N, and to have weekends like this where I at least get to meet other wives, share stories, and feel like I really belong.
I can tell that Dan, also, really needed this weekend. I know that it was tough on him to go from living with and relying on these guys every day to now communicating through texts and seeing most of them just once a month. I loved getting to watch him in his element, with friends who understand him so well and clearly care about him so much. I hate that a lot of these guys and their families live so far from us (spread throughout the state), but I'm already looking forward to the second Yellow Ribbon event in April. While it was a long and exhausting weekend, I certainly came home with a renewed appreciation for the soldiers in Dan's unit and the army in general, as well as for great friends like T and N.
In the ultimate transition from military to civilian, though, I got to wake my hubby up bright and early this morning for his first day of work at the new job! I am so excited for him and am crossing my fingers that he ends up loving it.


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