Monday, August 20, 2012

A visit to the Commandant's House

Last week was Mark's first official week of strictly classroom study.  The girls had British soccer camp, Hope in the mornings and Julia in the afternoons.  While Hope was playing soccer, Mark was in class, deep in discussion.  While Julia was at soccer, many, many pages were being read either in the classroom or in the library.  There is a great thing about the AWC can eat and drink in there, devouring food makes devouring the written word a bit easier.  About the time the girls and I were coming home from soccer, Mark was done with most all that needed to be done for class the next day.  One day he came home and said, "I think I understood everything today!"  It made me giggle, but what a great feeling for Mark, a feeling that lasted for about one day.


Julia & Coach Jimmy
We had some awesome company this week.  Jesse, Laura and Hunter Breau came to visit on the way home from a trip to Maine.  Jesse flies F16s in the Air Force, we don't hold that against him (hehe), and has been stationed in Japan for the past 3 years.  Mark coached him in high school basketball and had the honor of commissioning Jesse at the Air Force Academy in May of 2004.  It was so good to see them and kiss that baby!! 

Julia & Hunter.  Isn't he sweet?!

Friday afternoon Mark's sister, Dawn, and family came.  It's been so much fun having them around.  The boys headed to Philly on Saturday and us girls went to Lancaster for lots of shopping, food and farmland!  It was fun to have them with us for services at the Chapel and today has been lots of laying around.  Except for Mark.  He headed off to school this morning, dutifully completed his reading before heading home to all the noise around here.  The girls have so enjoyed having "their boys" around.  The giggles have been abundant around here.

Tonight Mark and I headed to Quarters 1.  It's where the Commandant of the AWC lives.  It is such a beautiful home with a rich history, including a hidden room that Ray, the finance guy, found for us.  The room is tiny and signed by people who have entered, including George W. Bush and General Petraeus.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I took this picture as we were leaving...isn't it beautiful?

Quarters 1
So, we get all showered up and changed into our Carlisle Casual, but casual kicked up a notch, we are going to the Commandant's, after all.  The reason we headed over there is Mark is the student leader of his seminar and I, by default, am the student spouse representative.  I supposed I could have deferred that to some one else, but it seems like a great way to be involved and get to know all the spouses of the seminar better.  We enjoyed the stroll from the car up to the house, it's so much cooler today that it has been for the past month we have been here.  As we get closer, we are admiring the house, enjoying a quazi date night, and walking under this beech tree....

The very large and tall beech tree
...a beech nut drops out of the tree and onto my head!!!  What are the chances?  Have you ever wondered walking under a tree if a nut was going to fall out and hit you on the head?  Nope, neither have I!  Maybe it's because in Maine we don't have trees that grow nuts this big.  Well, we have apple trees, but it's never crossed my mind that an apple would fall out and hit me in the head.  Maybe that's because an apple tree is more like a big shrub.  You don't necessarily have to walk under apple trees.  Unless they are some crazy, unpruned tree, I suppose.  Anyway, there I was, walking hand in hand with my beloved, and THUNK!  It made a really weird noise.  Mark turned to look at me, in shock at what had happened.  What could we do but laugh?  I couldn't cry, my mascara would run and one would never want to meet the general and his wife with runny mascara.  Other than a tiny bump and a minor headache, I recovered quickly.  We had a wonderful time, got to see some friends and meet some new friends.  When we left Quarters 1, I told Mark I had to get a picture of the tree.  He laughed and agreed.  Then for some reason I felt the need to try to find that beech nut.  I decided that it wouldn't have a flat, falling to the asphalt, spot.  And it had to be pretty green, because it had just fallen.  So, I decided it was this one...

My beech nut and me.  Suppose I should try to plant it?
I'm thinking that I'll walk around beech trees from here on out.  And that I might just need a neck massage to get rid of this headache tonight....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Week of Class

Monday morning, my handsome student headed out the door with his bag, books and a new outlook on life.  I think he was ready to hit the class room and start this journey.  It's been such a great 3 weeks of settling in and we have had some great family time, but I think he was ready to go see what this is all about.  A few days before class started, we check out his classroom.  Here's some pics so you can see where he'll be spending many hours this year.

Lining the walls of the hall outside these classrooms are pictures and bios of strategic leaders.  Check out the strategic leader that is right outside of the classroom of Seminar 10!
Joshua Chamberlain, strategic leader of the 20th Maine at the battle of Gettysburg who ended up being Governor of the great state of Maine and one of Mark's favorite Civil War characters.

This is insignia is embedded in the tile at the entrance of Root Hall, the building with the classrooms.
 Monday was the only "normal" day of the week.  Mark met with his seminar and introductions were made.  There is a vast array of experience represented in this group of 16 students.  All branches of the military are represented as well as a civilian.  The rest of the week was more geared toward orientation, several of which I got to join him in.  Tuesday we went to a Dress for Success briefing.  Did you know that the width of the lapel on a suit is supposed to be the same width as the widest part of your tie?  Yeah, me neither, but I do know now, as do you.  Or that if you have pleats in your dress pants, you should also have cuffs?  Therefore the opposite is pleats, no cuffs.  Good stuff, huh?  Wednesday and Thursday were more briefings with follow up reading in the afternoon.  During the day on Wednesday Carlisle Barracks held the annual County Fair.  Business from all over Carlisle as well and surrounding areas came and had all kinds of information to share.  There was also lots of info on things that are available on post for us and for the kiddos.  I think we have targeted several restaurants that we need to try and we signed up for Ballroom Dancing lessons!!! Wednesday we had our seminar meet and greet with all the families.  It was a fun night of getting to know those that we will be spending quite a bit of time with this year.  I'm so thankful that our seminar is filled with some wonderful spouses who are just as excited as I am of this opportunity.  I had to giggle because to me, Carlisle is quite a big place filled with things to do.  Talking to a wife who is from Houston, TX, I believe, she was talking about Carlisle as small town.  It's amazing the difference in perspective.  It was great to meet the International Fellows and their families.  I downloaded Google Translator, so hopefully when I meet up again with the the wife of the student from Senegal, we can have a better conversation.  Friday was opening ceremonies.  Now, it's been hot and humid here.  I don't think that it has been any less than 90 every afternoon since we have arrived.  But Friday, the day that Old Guard is here and lots of neat, outdoor things are planned, it rains.  Hard.  The convocation was moved inside and the outdoor activities for the early afternoon, canceled.  But Friday night the Boatyard Wars went on as scheduled.  We dodged a few raindrops, but it was such a fun time.  After a fun supper of burgers and dogs, each seminar got cardboard and duct tape to make a boat that two of them would commandeer across the pool.  Seminar 10 came in 2nd place out of 25.  It was a proud moment.  Here's a few pics and even a video of the boat in action.

The Marine took command of this operation.

That's Mark on the left in the baseball cap, working the duct tape.

Seminar 10 with "The Little Mermaid" completed.

There was a beautiful rainbow overhead at the beginning of the race.

Getting into the boat.

Yesterday we hit Macy's with dutiful notes taken from the Dress for Success brief.  I think we did good and I have successfully integrated some business attire into my mommy wardrobe.  Today as we sat in the adult Sunday school class taught by Don Snider, who has come to the AWC from West Point where he and Mark had previously met up, he says, "When I was working in the White House, Colin Powell said to me...."  I honestly can't remember what followed those words, but I remember thinking that there wasn't many places that I would ever be that I'd hear those words.

Next week starts the official first week of academics complete with a first paper that is due!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Adventures of Charlie & Lois

Mark & I were sitting on the front porch yesterday morning, sipping coffee.  We have a neighbor, Charlie, two doors down, who we have met a few other mornings sitting out there with our coffee.  We have yet to meet Lois, but feel like we know her rather well from the stories.  This morning he stopped to chat for a while.  My sides were aching after so much laughter when he left a while later.  They have been married for 45 years and I have to assume that they have a great relationship to last for all that time, but he is a hoot when he talks about her.

Mark says, "Charlie, after all those years of marriage, that qualifies you to write a book!"  With out skipping a beat, Charlie replies, "Yes, and it would be called Naked and Dead."

He says that he hates to ride with her.  Riding to her doctor's appointment 7 miles away, he says he has to pull the carpet down from under neath the dash because she is pushing on her "breaks" so hard.  He says that she is always saying, "Watch out, he's not going to stop!" or "There's a bottle neck up ahead, I can just see it" or "You need to turn here!".  The funny part about all this, she doesn't have her driver's license.  He said he has encouraged her many times to get it, "It would be easier to just let her drive," he says, "But if she did have her license, she'd be in prison for road rage."  And in his Lois voice he says, "Charlie, why didn't you blow your horn at that car, I would have!" and "Charlie, why did you let him cut you off, I wouldn't do that!"  And then he adds, "Well, if she was in prison, I'd have that other car that I wanted that she wouldn't let me have!"

They have a beautiful lawn with pretty flowers and shrubs, all well groomed.  He says that he likes to work outside with her, as long as she is in the back and he is in the front.  He says that when she comes out front, he goes out back.  Then he uses a high pitched voice, obviously mimicking Lois, "Cut this shorter, but not short like that one over there!"  "You put those flowers over here, they were supposed to go over there!" "Water those flowers more, they aren't getting enough water!".

At this point, Mark and I are laughing so hard, the tears start to come.  I think Charlie is enjoying this a bit too much.  He finishes his monologue by saying, "That is why I go to work, retirement is nice, but 24 hours a day with that woman is too much!"

I'm thinking I need to bake cookies and take them over to her just so I can meet this lady that has put up with this comedian for the past 45 years.

One thing I know for sure is that there will be more Charlie and Lois stories to share in the following months.