Christmas Eve!!

I got up to go running this morning.  I waited out in our meeting spot for 15 minutes and my running buddy CJ didn’t show up.  So I went back to bed.  I chatted with him later in the day and it turned out he had way overslept.  LOL  It’s ok.  It happens to the best of us.  The extra sleep was nice, but then I didn’t want to get out of my nice warm comfy bed.  So I finally get up and chat with Ryan while I got ready and I headed to the band hall – too late for breakfast.  I got to the band hall and it was awfully quiet and hardly anyone around.  Hmmm. . . .  I find out that we have the day off, except for gigs of which I have none.  Cool – an extra day off!!  I did do some work in my office before taking my boxes from Mom & Dad and Rick back to my room.  I dropped them off and headed to Battalion to bring some paperwork over there, and then it was home to clean.  I emptied out my tuff box, rearranged and repacked it, packed 2 boxes of stuff to send to myself at Mom & Dad’s for leave, and remade my bed.  I actually have a bed again – not just 3/4 of one.  Now to try and keep it this way. . .

Then I crocheted on a baby blanket for a while and when I finished the skein of yarn I was working from, it was about time to head to the Palace for Candle Light Service rehearsal.  I walked up there and the first run through, I got to "be" one of the Chaplains as he wasn’t there yet.  Then he showed up and got to go back and be myself.  I was one of the candle lighters.  The rehearsal was nice and short – about 20 minutes and then we were done for a while.  One of the other candle lighters had a vehicle and offered me a ride home so I took it.  Once home, I was able to stitch for about 45 minutes before heading to chow.  I met up with TD and we ate together and an Air Force Chaplain joined us.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had my family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner.  Nothing on the main line looked good, so I had pizza.  My family always has pizza on Christmas Eve!!  It’s funny how things work out sometimes.  Once we were done eating, TD and I headed to the Palace for the service.  He’s a Chaplain’s Assistant and they were the ushers for the service.  I got the candles for the 6 candle lighters and placed them on our chairs.  I got some pictures taken in front of the big Christmas tree.  I took lots of pictures for others.  

And then the service started.  Music was provided by the 10th Mountain Division Band Brass Quintet "Mountain Echoes".  It was pretty much a service of lessons and carols.   There were 5 readings and a responsive reading, with hymns after each.  The Gospel Choir provided special music.  The Chaplain that gave the message gave a really good one, and it made me cry a little bit, but not much.  And then we ended with the candles and Silent Night.  Us candle lighters received the light from the Chaplain, and we passed it to all in attendance.  It was absolutely beautiful in the Rotunda of the Palace with the lights out and close to 500 candles and everyone singing Silent Night.  I must have gotten my Silent Night tears out on Monday because I didn’t cry tonight.  But wow!!!  500+ voices accompanied by a brass quintet.  500+ people away from their families, but at least for tonight we were one big family.  500+ Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilians, and members of coalition forces all joined as one in song.  After the service was done, there was a sing-along for those who wanted to stay.  There were probably 50 that gathered around the quintet and sang some more Christmas songs.  It was an awesome evening.  What a way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!

Once I got home, I got some more stitching in and chatting with Ryan and Rick and Dad and some other friends.  Now I’m heading to bed.

Today’s High:  66
Current:  55

Some pictures

Here are some pictures of me with Soldiers from other countries.  This first one was taken at the Bulgarian End of Mission Ceremony, and shows me with Soldiers from Albania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.

And here is me with some Soldiers from Estonia while waiting for our flights.

And for my Secret Santa at work, this is what I crocheted for her:


 

Rainy Tuesday

I woke up to the sounds of rain on my roof this morning.  I had a nice chat with Ryan while I was getting ready, and I actually left in enough time to get breakfast this morning!!  The guards outside the chow hall told me they had missed me – when you’ve been deployed for 7 1/2 months, the guards get to know you.  One of them remembers my name and as I’m walking up I’ll hear "Hi Yearicks".  Another just calls me Staff Sergeant and I’ll get "Good morning Staff Sergeant."  

After breakfast, it was off to formation and then to my office for the morning.  I did an e-mail interview about collecting can tabs so that should be in the Mountain View soon.  Remember my friend DG?  Her daughter’s school is collecting can tabs and each gallon of can tabs pays for a cancer treatment for a child at a local (in El Paso, TX) hospital.  I finally got cans to collect the can tabs up in the 10th Mountain chow hall to keep collecting them for DG.  That actually took a good part of the morning e-mailing back and forth – the initial questions, and then some follow-up questions, and then some follow-ups to those.  Then I stitched through lunch.  After lunch I went and put a little over an hour in on my trombone – couldn’t do much more as I still had a bit of my headache from last night.  Then it was to my office for a bit to check e-mails and stuff, and then I went to Green Beans and got a quadruple white hot chocolate (2 actually) and I headed to the Chaplain’s office to bring TD one and chat with him for a little while.  Then it was back to work and we had an informational formation and I finished up some paperwork and then the day was done.

I headed to dinner and was home and in the shower before 1800!!  I got some crocheting done on the baby blanket I’m working on, and then I headed up to the MWR to help teach the line dancing.  We only did a few dances this week, but we did them more to help people learn them better.  We show the steps slowly, breaking it down into smaller groups of steps.  Then the whole thing.  Then to the music 2 or 3 times.  We did 3 or 4 line dances, and then we also taught waltz and cha-cha.  It’s a lot of fun, but boy was I tired by the end.  It ‘s a good tired though!  It did try to rain a little, but it wasn’t too bad.

Now I’m home and heading to bed so I can get up and run in the morning.

Today’s high:  66
Current:  59

Shopping and Church

This morning I chatted with Ryan for a while before heading to work.  They made it safely to Mom & Dad’s house after 2 days of driving in the snow and bad roads.  I’m glad they made it safely, and it was a nice way to start my day chatting with Ryan.  Then it was off to work, and after formation, we headed out – we being me, SFC E, SSG N, SPC B, and PFC M.  SFC E is the Field Ordering Officer (FOO) for our unit and I’m the Paying Agent.  We get money and go shopping to buy stuff that the unit needs to function – office supplies, furniture, etc.  We got a lot of stuff today and were gone most of the day.  We shopped the morning away, and then SFC E and I bought the guys pizza for lunch.  They appreciated that, and the 5 of us had a good time chatting over our pizza.  Then it was off to the band hall to unload the 2 vehicles and go back out for more.  But it turned out we didn’t need the big truck the second trip as the furniture store delivers.  We bought wall lockers for the band hall, so everyone has a place to store their backpacks and cold weather jackets and stuff during the day.

Once we got back from our shopping trip, we had a formation with lots of information put out – this is the first time the whole unit has been together for like a week.  Then we had our Secret Santa gift exchange.  I gave my person some vanilla body wash, a crochet face/wash cloth, and some chocolates.  She (JH) really liked everything.  My friend GG had me, and he got me a really pretty pillow cover from the Iraqi Bazaar here.  He did something typical of my family and made me feel like I was at home – he wrapped the gift in a box, and then wrapped that box in a slightly larger box, and then wrapped that box in yet another box.  Everyone else had opened their’s and found out who their SS was, and I was still trying to get into mine.  Thanks GG for making me smile!!

Then it was off to the chapel for a Christmas Service that one of the units did.  Their Chaplain asked Joyful Noez to come and provide music.  We had 3 vocalists and our guitar and piano players there, and it was really nice.  We ended with Silent Night like last night, but we all had chem lights in lieu of candles.  We sang the 3 verses of Silent Night and then went back to verse 1 accapella.   They turned off the last bank of lights for that verse, and that’s when the tears started.  I had to put my microphone down cuz my voice was cracking a little, but I kept on singing.  And then I cried through the last prayer and the benediction.  And then the lights came back up and the JN guys all asked me if I was ok.  I was, but tonight it really hit me for the first time that I won’t be home for Christmas this year, singing Silent Night next to my mom and being with my family.  (Ok mom, get a kleenex – I know you need one.)

After the service, we headed to the chow hall for dinner, and then I headed home.  I’ve been chatting with Ryan and my dad and a few other friends, and now I’m going to bed to try and get rid of this headache.

Today’s high:  66
Current:  61 – and WAY windy

Christmas Jazz

I slept until about 0930 or so this morning and that sure was nice.  My roommate was still sleeping when I got up.  I spent the morning doing stuff on my computer and I even stitched for an hour.  And then I had to head to the stage for 1330 sound check.  I got there and helped finish setting up some and got my horn out and warmed up.  It was WINDY today.  We had our Jazz Band Christmas Concert at 1430.  It went really well despite the wind.  Only about 25 in the audience, but that’s ok.  Everyone else just missed out.  After the concert, we got everything torn down and loaded on the truck and then unloaded at the band hall and we were done for the day.  Sunday is our day off, afterall.  I stopped at the laundry point on my way home and picked up my two bags of laundry so I had my Joyful Noez shirt for tonight.  I got to my room and got changed and headed back to the chapel for warmups and the service.  The service went really well with all the Christmas hymns.  We ended with Silent Night and the Chaplain Assistant turned out most of the lights in the chapel.  It was really cool.  Then it was off to dinner at the chow hall after.  Everyone had other stuff to do tonight, so no fellowship at Green Beans, but I still went.  TD had office duty at the chapel office today and I met him over there and we went to Green Beans for our (what seems like daily now) white hot chocolates.  I tried to pay, but he got his money into the hands of the cashier before I could.  LOL  It’s all good.  I’ll just have to go visit him in his office this week and bring him one.  We sat and talked for a while and drank our white hot chocolates and then he walked me home.  I’m actually going to bed early tonight.

Today’s high:  64
Current:  59

Stupid internet again

Yesterday morning started off with ceremonial band rehearsal and then off to the ceremony.  We played for another Transfer of Authority Ceremony, for Signal Brigades.  This was kind of a sad one as this is my friend CH’s unit.  He was part of the Color Guard and the whole color guard did an outstanding job.  They’re many hours of rehearsals that CH complained to me about definitely paid off.  We were getting on the bus to get ready to leave after the job, and CH appeared in the doorway.  MB (also a member of Joyful Noez) and I got off the bus to go say goodbye to C.

By the time we got back it was almost lunch time.  I did some e-mails and then went to the PX to get my Secret Santa gift and I got a few other things as well, and then I stitched during lunch.  After lunch was some office time and I got caught up on ADO stuff for now.  Then we had a run through of the stage band music for our concert.  It went pretty well – a few glitches, but better today than during the concert.  Then it was back to my office to take care of the ADO that came in during mail call, and then it was time to go home.

I went to dinner and after dinner went back to the band hall to get some of my stuff that’s been accumulating in my office and I headed home.  I had a nice relaxing evening crocheting on another part of my Secret Santa gift.  My internet was being really dumb and I couldn’t do anything in hotmail except see the long list of e-mails I had.  And those included text messages from Ryan during his trip from NY to MI.  I couldn’t answer them and it was really frustrating.  I was chatting with a friend on Yahoo IM, and he suggested we go to Green Beans for a bit, so I said sure.  I got dressed and put my hair up and headed over to meet TD at Green Beans.  He bought me a white hot chocolate and we sat and talked for a little while.  Then he walked me home and my internet was still being dumb – couldn’t do e-mail, couldn’t post a blog.  So I went to bed and boy did I sleep good.

FOB Kalsu and my first slung ceremony

Wednesday evening we flew out of here to FOB Kalsu.  It was quite an interesting evening again.  We got to the flight line when we were supposed to, only to find out we were on weather hold.  Go figure.  LOL  Well, we brought all our equipment to the ready area and then someone had to stay with it.  That someone was me – yes, I volunteered.  I got a picture with some Estonian Soldiers, so that was cool.  Another to add to my country collection.  I stood out on the flight line for over an hour and a half before the rest of the band came back so we could finally fly out.  Our flight was uneventful and short and we got to the FOB and got our billets for the night.  Some of us went to the chow hall for midnight chow, so I had breakfast at midnight.

Thursday we were up and headed over to the ceremony site.  It was cold – probably about 45 degrees and the ceremony was outside.  Brrrrrr.  I had a nice little surprise before the ceremony though.  I was in a little group chatting with some of my band friends, and I sensed someone coming up behind me.  I turned around and it was my friend CJ!  He was there as part of a security detail for a high-up person that was attending the ceremony.  So that was a nice way to start off my day.  The ceremony went ok and wasn’t too long.  There wasn’t a place to stack our weapons, so we "wore" them for the ceremony.  This is the first time during my 2 deployments that I’ve had my weapon slung during a ceremony.  After the ceremony was done, it was back to our rooms and we were off for a while.  I headed to the chow hall with a few friends and then after we ate, we went and wandered around the bazaar and checked out the PX.  Then back to the room, and I took about a 30 minute nap before our next formation.  Next formation we got our flight info and then I went back to my room and got packed and then I took another 45 minute nap. 

Then it was time to turn in our linens and head over to the flight line with everything for roll call and our briefing.  Once that was done, we were released to chow and had our time to be back.  I stopped at the PX as well and bought a blue lens flashlight so I could read my book.  It’s DARK on the flight line, and the only colors of flashlights authorized out there were blue or green.  I also bought another fleece hat (uniform type).  I have 2 already, but they were both in my room back here at Victory.  So I bought another one, and boy am I glad I did.  It was chilly out there, and I’m glad I was able to have my ears covered.

We finally left on our flight after being on the flight line for 4 hours waiting (there were 2 groups before us) and we got back to Victory and got our equipment loaded on the truck and then back to the band hall and unloaded and inside.  We got our instructions and were released.  I headed up to the MWR for the tail end of Country Night.  I got to see some of my friends as we got everything put away (the speakers and stuff).  Then I came home and got unpacked enough to get me through the night and after a little bit on my computer, I went to bed.

I slept until almost 1100 this morning and then got up and ready for the day.  I did some stuff on my computer and got laundry ready to turn in – TWO bags again.  Geez.  I need to turn in laundry more often.  Then it was off to work.  We had stage band from 1300-1500 and then I had to go draw funds for our purchasing stuff.  That took up pretty much the rest of the afternoon, so it was a really quick day.

I had Joyful Noez rehearsal this evening, and since we hadn’t gotten an e-mail with a set list for tonight, and our leader wasn’t there, I took charge and picked out some Christmas music for Sunday.  Rehearsal went really well, and we went through all 7 songs twice plus a little bit of just jamming and we were done just after 2000!  We headed to the chow hall for dinner and then JM gave me a ride home as he had his truck there.  That was nice – I don’t mind walking, but now that it’s gotten chilly out, I’ll take a ride once in a while.

Now I’m chatting with Ryan and typing up the music for JN and then I’ll be heading to bed.  

Today’s high:  59
Current:  45