Back to Work

Well, it was back to work today. I got up about 6:30 and got ready and did my morning computer stuff. I got Robbie up and dressed about 7:30 and we played until about 7:55. Then I brought him to daycare and he went right in. Of course, he turned around and came back to give me a hug and kiss and then went back in and turned and waved bye-bye. I headed to work and got many welcome back hugs. You’d think I was missed or something! LOL It was especially good to see Kristin and Phil again. I sat in on the concert band rehearsal this morning since one of the other guys was on pass and they were shorthanded. They’ve got a concert on Saturday, but I’m not playing on it.

After lunch I worked on getting my travel settlement paperwork done, and also all my stuff together to add promotion points. That took pretty much most of the afternoon, and then I ran to the Post Office to mail a few things and buy some stamps, and then back for details.

After I picked Robbie up, I came home and Ryan and I made supper together – Pigs N’ Cheese (pigs in a blanket and mac & cheese). It was nice cooking for my guys again.
Ryan had bowling tonight, so Robbie and I had some time alone together. We watched his new Bob the Builder DVD, played, and then he took a bath. That’s always a fun time! After he was in bed, I cleaned a little (brought some newspapers down to the recycle bins) and then sat down to stitch and watch Wheel and Jeopardy. I’m tired and I’m going to bed right shortly here. See you tomorrow!

Overnight low: 60
Today’s high: 81

Home Sweet Home!!

After getting up around 7 this morning, we got everything packed into the van and checked out. We drove out to/around Ft. Monroe and that was pretty neat. It’s one of the oldest forts in the U.S., and there’s an Army Band stationed there – the band hall is inside the moated area! It’s one of the bases slated for closure by BRAC, but it’s on the National Historic Register (I think), so it should stay open as a civilian historic place. Before we drove out there, we ate breakfast at McDonald’s. We finally got on the road around 10 and headed west. We stopped several times along the way – lunch at Cici’s Pizza, gas, a couple of rest stops, etc. It sure was good to get home and see my kitties and my house. We got the van unloaded and I got a little bit of stuff unpacked. I’ll finish up tomorrow and get laundry done and get the house cleaned up.

I’m off to sleep in my nice COMFY bed! That’ll be nice after the bed that I’ve been sleeping on for 8 weeks.

BNCOC Graduate!!

Our graduation ceremony was this morning. Ryan and Robbie came over a little early so they could meet all my friends and everyone. The ceremony was really good – 2 ANCOC students were promoted to SFC as well as all 22 of us graduating. We had 100% success rate for this class – started with 22 and didn’t lose anyone to anything! The ANCOC Distinguished Honor Grad was SFC Jim Freeman and the BNCOC Distinguished Honor Grad was SGT Chad Martin (one of my best friends through the course!). The other two Honor Grads for BNCOC were SGT Jeff Dudzienski and SGT Thomas Stowers.

After the ceremony and getting the rest of my stuff from the classroom, I headed back to my room to change and then we went to the bowling alley for lunch with everyone. It was nice being able to talk to our instructors and the cadre as bandsman to bandsman instead of student to cadre. Lots of people in the class (me included) have served with one or more cadre before, so it was nice to be able to talk like “back in the day” with them again.

I said my goodbyes since Robbie was starting to get sleepy-fussy and we made a quick trip to the exchange to get diapers for him. But of course they didn’t have his brand or size so we came home empty handed. Robbie went down for a nap and slept for a good couple of hours. About 4 we left to bring Chad to the airport, and then went to a nearby K-mart for diapers and Desitin and we also got Ryan a crossword puzzle book. Then we went and looked around A.C. Moore for a while, and Ryan found a really cute Army cross stitch kit. Then we went to Smokey Bones for supper, and it was really good (and really lots) food. Robbie had mac & cheese, Ryan had ribs, and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. None of us finished everything.

Now we’re back in our room, and after playing for a while, Robbie is sound asleep. I’m heading to my stitching charir for a little while and then off to bed. We’ll be heading home tomorrow.

Overnight low: 60
Today’s high: 75

They’re here!!

It was a long boring day with lots of wasted time. We had end of course counselings all day, and we also did a thorough cleaning of the classroom. My counseling was near the end of the morning, and it went well. My final academic average was 89.02%, 3% less than what I needed for Honor Grad, but still very respectable and I’m happy with it. We got released a little early (like 45 minutes early) for lunch, so I got some packing done before I ate and checked my e-mail and stuff. After lunch was a complete waste of time for some of us. Those of us that had been counseled already just sat and did nothing. Luckily I had a couple of magazines with me and I read those. Finally about 2:30 we were told that we could leave if we wanted, but we had to be back at 3:30 for graduation rehearsal. We only had to go through it twice, so not bad, but it took a while the first time working all the logistics out. We were finally done about 5, and I headed back to my room to change and leave for the airport.

Ryan & Robbie’s plane left Atlanta late – it was scheduled to land in Newport News at 6:40, but they finally got there about 7:45. When Robbie saw me, he came running to me with open arms!!! YAY!! Of course, Ryan was following right behind him. He did really well on the plane, so that’s a good thing. It sure was good to see them both again. Robbie’s getting sooooooooo big. After getting Ryan’s suitcase, we headed out and stopped at Waffle House for supper since we were all hungry. We got back to Little Creek about 9:30, and I took them up to the school house for a quick tour so they know where to go for my ceremony tomorrow.

I’m off to bed now. I’m TIRED.

Overnight low: 45
Today’s high: 69

Less than 24 to go!

No PT this morning! We had our End of Course After Action Review and talked about a lot of good things. And then we had an end of course discussion with the Commandant of the Army School of Music, and then a briefing by the guy that runs the Army Band websites, both our Intranet and the Army Bands Online website. I actually learned a few things from it, despite being an active user of our intranet. It was also nice putting a face with his name. After lunch we did our End of Course Critiques, and I had a lot to write (some good, some improvements). Then the we got to go change into civilian PT attire (of course, there were still some in uniform since they didn’t have any civilian stuff for PT) and we met at the PT field and could play either frisbee football or flag football. I played flag football, and my team won! I even got one interception for my team.

After a shower and phone call to Ryan, a bunch of us went to this seafood place for dinner. You got lots of good food for pretty cheap, and we all had a great time hanging out. There were about 17 of the 22 of us from ANCOC and BNCOC. After we had eaten our fill, we headed back to post and over to Jimmy’s for more good times. There weren’t quite as many there – some people skipped out so they could pack – but we all still had a good time.

I can’t wait for tomorrow evening -that’s when I get to go pick up my guys from the airport!!! I can’t wait to see them again, and to see how much Robbie has grown.

Overnight low: 32
Today’s high: 50

A face for a name

Today we just had 2 briefings in the morning – SFC Nicholson from Human Resources Command and SFC Chiara from Recruiting. SFC Nicholson is the guy that does ALL the assignments for the band field. He’s a one-man team, and I’ve dealt with him in my Reenlistment NCO job. It was nice to be able to put a face with his name. I served with SFC Chiara in Korea, so it was nice to see him again. He talked about the Band Liaison job and all that it entails. After they were done, we were pretty much released for the day – we could out-process, practice, whatever.

We also had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with SFC Nicholson and talk to him about where we’d like to go, ask questions, etc. Most everyone wanted out of current assignments and were looking to go other places. Not me. I’m happy with going to Ft. Drum (I should be since I reenlisted to go there), but I did have questions for him. I asked him how I could get his job someday down the road. It’s a job that requires a great amount of organization skills, you have to be able to work with no supervision, be highly motivated, etc. I think I would really enjoy doing it. I do have to get promoted – it’s an E-7 position and I’m only an E-5 (promotable), so I have a few years before I could even apply for it. But so far I’m on the right track as far as things that they’d be looking for in an applicant – variety of assignments (I’ve already got AG bands with Ft. Jackson & Gordon, a short overseas tour in Korea, and I’ve got Division coming up), a variety of extra duty assignments (I’ve worked in Operations, Admin, Training, Reenlistment, etc.), I work well without supervision, etc.

After I was done at the school, about 2, I went to the post office to mail some stuff, and Chad came with me. He mailed a huge box of uniforms and stuff back to himself in Germany. Less for him to take on the airplane that way.

I had a nice relaxing evening – got to watch Robbie on the webcam, called home & talked to my guys, stitched, and watched TV. Less than 48 hours now until I get to see them!!

Overnight low: 37
Today’s high: 42

The beginning of the end!!

Today was the first day of our last week here. We started off with a really fun PT session – a basketball game against the Sergeant Major and some of the cadre. There were about 8 of us rotating in and out, and everyone else either cheered us on or went and worked out on their own. It was a scrimmage game – SGM, et al. have been challenged to a game by the Navy/Marine Corps Element of the School, and this gave them an opportunity to practice. I was the only girl that played (go figure. . .), but I got kudos from the guys. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to sports, and there was more than once ocassion that I made them turn over the ball. I think the ANCOC/BNCOC team only made like 3 baskets, but we played really hard and had a lot of fun.

After morning formation, we had a class on Ethical Decision Making. SSG Clickner is the newest SGL at the School – she shadowed SSG Miller for our class, attended the Instructor Training Course, and this was her first time teaching in front of us students. She did really well, and will make an excellent SGL. We had a really good class discussion on the scenario that she gave us, and went through the EDM Process and came up with a solution. The rest of the morning we were allowed to begin outprocessing/relax/whatever, so I brought my etude book that I had checked out back to the library and then came back to my room for a while and just relaxed and had a nice leisurely lunch. We had our usual practice hour after lunch, and it was good to play again after being off my horn for a couple of days. Then the rest of the afternoon we conducted an After Action Review on the STX. There were lots of good things talked about during this, and lots of suggestions on how to make it better for the next class.

Once we were done, I came home and got into comfy clothes and just relaxed. I ended up taking like a 45 minute nap about 5:30 cuz I was so tired, and I’m on my way to bed now and it’s only 9:00. I did have good phone calls with both my grandparents and my parents tonight – it’s always nice to talk to family. Ryan had bowling tonight so I didn’t get to talk to my guys. Only 3 more days until I see them again!!

Overnight low: 35
Today’s high: 43

STX Day 3 (Final!)

Yesterday was the day for soldier stuff in the STX. We had formation at 6:45 and got accountability of our soldiers (once again, all 8 of my squad members were there) and then they went and got weapons. Not real ones, of course – can’t have that on a Navy Base. Their “rubber ducks” are bad enough apparently. Oh well. . . After they had their weapons, we formed up again and the squad leaders inspected the equipment (a rubber duck weapon, pistol belt, and canteen). That was exciting. . . The original plan was to have them in full gear plus a loaded rucksack, and somehow it got watered way down. Then we stacked the weapons, posted guards, and released them for breakfast. I went back to my room for a while. We formed back up at 8:20 and headed out on the roadmarch. The original plan was to roadmarch out to the beach, do the training there, and then roadmarch back. But since it was so cold and windy, and even moreso on the beach, we did both parts of the roadmarch (about 3 miles total) and then did the training in the backyard of the school house. I had three tasks to teach, and I think they went very well, and I got some compliments from the soldiers throughout the rest of the day. Of course, I got them up and involved instead of just reading to them from the training manual. Hmm. . . maybe that helped it be more fun? After our 3 hours of training (11 tasks total, but our platoon didn’t get through all of them – they had lots of questions about real-life situations and one of our squad leaders (all the squad leaders were BNCOC students) had been deployed so he was able to answer their questions), we headed upstairs to the large rehearsal room in the school house for lunch and a couple of presentations. Lunch was MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat), and we had a briefing on the Future of Army Bands. Those of us in ANCOC/BNCOC have seen it at least once before, some more than once, but it was still good to hear it again. And it made the students have tons of questions. Then several of the soldiers from ANCOC/BNCOC who have been deployed talked about what to expect if you get deployed, and showed a couple of videos that they had made from pictures and stuff from their deployments. The basic students had LOTS of questions for them, since quite a few of them are going to bands that could possible deploy.

We were done for the day about 3 in the afternoon, and we all headed “home”. I got on my computer to relax – chatted with Ryan and some other friends for a while, and then I went and took a shower. I had thought everyone was going out to Jimmy’s (the little bar attached to the bowling alley across the street), and I headed there about 7 to get some food for dinner. By about 8:15, there was no one else there, except my friend Dan. He said that he had heard some of the class was going out to eat just shortly before that (on his way over) and that they’d be over later. I went home and he said he’d give me a call when everyone else showed up. About 10 or so, I went to bed – I was tired. Dan sent me a text message about 11, saying he guessed no one was showing up. Oh well – I got some much needed sleep!

STX Day 2

We started off the day with PT again this morning. SGT Chad Martin conducted PT for our platoon this morning and we did pyramids of pushups and situps – from 1 to 11 and then back down to 1 again, so 121 of each. It was a really good workout!

First thing this morning was a class on audition procedures and things to look for (both positive and negative) for each instrument. It was very informative, but REALLY needed to go way more in-depth. Hopefully for future classes, they’ll be able to spend way more time on it. Then we had some small group time, and the Brass Quintet got together to warm up and run through a couple of tunes. Meanwhile, the Woodwind Quintet headed over to the Child Care center for their performance. Around 10:40 or so, the BQ headed over to the exchange for our lunchtime performance. We played from 11 to about 11:40, and I think it went really well. All of our classmates and most instructors were there as well, so it was nice having some applause after we played. There was an older lady there, and she was talking to us afterwards and saying how much she enjoyed listening and everything. We talked for a while and then headed to various places for lunch. Pretty soon one of the Advanced Course students was coming up to each of the five of us with money for our lunch. That lady had paid for all of our lunches! I think that was awfully sweet of her. I had Subway – turkey and provolone on wheat with a bunch of veggies.

The afternoon was our recital. BNCOC had the first half hour, and my small group started it off. We opened with my MIDI project (Fun, Fun, Fun), had Chad’s Motel 6 in the middle, and then Jason’s Time Warp. Everyone really enjoyed all of them, but we had some fun stuff to add. At the end of Motel 6, after everyone had hit the final chord (except me – I didn’t play the last chord), I reached behind me and turned on a lamp that had been prepositioned. You know – “We’ll leave the light on for you.” That elicited a good laugh from the audience (all the basic students as well as some of the faculty and staff from the School of Music. The last piece, SSG Miller, our SGL, got up and taught everyone the steps to the Time Warp dance, and really got everyone involved in dancing and singing throughout the piece. The ANCOC class had put together a rock band for the 2nd half hour, and that was very entertaining.

After a short break for dinner, we headed back to the school house for a Show Band (by ANCOC) gig. All the basic students were there, and it was a lot of fun. This is the heart of our job as Army musicians – entertaining the troops! The basic students LOVED it, and we’ve heard comments from more than one of them to more than one of us that this is by far the best STX they’ve had (for some, this is their 3rd). It’s nice hearing good comments like that!

After we got done with the show band gig and were dismissed for the evening, a large group of us headed across the street to Jimmy’s to just relax and have a good time. It was karaoke night too, so that was fun to listen to, and maybe perform.

I’m off to bed now. 0530 is going to come awfully early tomorrow.

Overnight low: 35
Today’s high: 45

STX Day 1

Situational Training Exercise. STX. Today it all began. We started off with PT – with the basic students, broken down into our STX Platoons. I conducted PT for 2nd Platoon, and from what I’ve heard through the rest of the day from the basic students, my peers, and the cadre, it was a good PT session and fun besides. We did relay races – crab walk, all-fours walk (walking like a bear), inchworm, and then just a spint. The 2 squads to finish last each time did 10 pushups, but the winning squad always seemed to join in. That’s some good platoon integrity if you ask me!

Our morning was spent in the BNCOC classroom and several of the ANCOC students gave classes on various subjects. There was a lot of good information put out, and I learned a thing or three. The ANCOC students were very well prepared with their presentations and very knowledgable on their subject areas.

After lunch was ceremony time! We got the field set up, did a walk-through with key personnel (the band commander and Drum Major, A Company Commander, Color Guard, and B Company Commander, as well as the Commander of Troops, etc.). Then the basic students showed up and they became A & B Companies, minus those that were a part of the band. It was a great experience for them to be able to march side-by-side with more advanced players/marchers. I was a part of the Color Guard – I carried a rifle and was to the right of the National Colors. It was pretty easy until the actual ceremony started. We were at attention for about 1/2 hour or so, with very little moving other than a few present arms, marching forward for the Anthem and speeches, and then marching back. And then of course the Pass in Review. “Rubber Duck” rifles aren’t light, and by the time we were done, my right bicep was pretty sore. But it was a good experience, and one that I’ve always wanted to do. The whole ceremony went really well.

We had one more class after the ceremony, and it was pretty interesting. Lots of good class discussion on it. We were finally done about 5:10 or so – long day since PT was at 0500. I’m going to eat some dinner, call my guys (I can’t wait to go home – I sure miss them), and then relax and stitch and watch Survivor. I plan on going to bed pretty early again tonight, since we have PT tomorrow again, and I’m TIRED.

Overnight low: 41
Today’s high: 77 (perfect day for a ceremony, but VERY windy)