Monday, November 26, 2012

All Kinds of Thankfulness

I meant to update this forever ago and list all the things I was thankful for after attending AUSA Family Forums.  Now that it's after Thanksgiving, I guess a post about thankfulness is in order.

Back up to October 23rd.  As the seminar spouse rep, I was invited to participate in AUSA (Association of the United States Army) Family Forums that were being simulcast at Carlisle Barracks or have someone else from the seminar attend in my stead.  After unsuccessfully trying to find someone to step in, our MFP Coordinator suggested I come and bring the girls with me.  Homeschooling is a wonderful thing, but sometimes does not fit into normal schedules.  So here's my first thing I'm thankful for - an awesome, understanding MFP (Military Family Programs) Coordinator.  I'm beyond thankful that I was able to attend these forums.  The first forum that I attended was entitled Transitions and New Beginnings.  The women that were on the panel discussed their new life, either without their brave soldiers or with soldiers who came home totally different than when they went over there.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the room as these ladies were telling their stories.  If you have anytime and would like some true inspiration check out this link:  AUSA Family Forums Video scroll down to "Family Forum III" and there are 4 parts.  Make sure that you have a large box of tissues near by.

That brings me to my list of things I'm thankful for: I'm thankful my husband came home from Iraq.  I'm thankful that he came home whole, in body and mind.  I'm thankful that he is here to raise our kids together.  I'm thankful for the father that he is.  I'm thankful that he loves me.  I'm thankful for our marriage.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to be in Carlisle, PA.  Shall I go on? 

We had the opportunity to go to New York City, November 14-17.  It's a big field trip for the students of the War College and the spouses are able to tag along.  It was such a great experience!  We were able to visit the 9-11 memorial, see Phantom of the Opera, have lots of laughs with friends at Times Square and the Top of the Rock.  We also were privileged to be able to go to the UN Missions of the International Fellows of Mark's seminar, Finland, Bangladesh and Senegal.  One of the highlights of my trip was being able to work  side by side with other War College wives with Team Rubicon in Far Rockaway, NY, helping a Hurricane Sandy survivor, get her house back to normal.  The list of things to be thankful for driving through Rockaway is long.  Being in New York was so fun.  There is something about the hustle and bustle of the city that is intriguing and exciting.  On the second night we were there, we went to see Phantom on Broadway.  After the show we were standing in Times Square and it is so bright, if you haven't been there, I just can't explain it to you.  There were so many people around, I had no concept of time and was so surprised when I looked at my watch and saw it was 11:00 pm.  Back home the streets are completely empty at 11 and everything is dark.  Our hotel was sandwiched between Grand Central Terminal (so beautiful!!) and the Chrysler Building.  This put us in walking distance of all the fun stuff....the Empire State Building, Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, 5th Avenue, all the good stuff in Midtown.  The last day we were there we visited the UN Missions.  It was so neat to see point of views from the different countries.  (BTW...the chocolates at the Finland mission...super yummy!)  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the 9-11 Memorial.  The last time I was in lower Manhattan, the towers were still smoking.  It was November 2011, right after Thanksgiving.  Mark had a friend who was an FBI Field Agent down there who took Mark down to see the devastation.  I was not able to get close, but close enough to see the make-shift memorials made by those left behind.  This visit was filled with reflection, the park surrounding the fountains were very similar to what was there before the towers came down.  The last time I was there before 2001 was about 15+ years prior.  We went to the top of the south tower with my cousins.  I remember eating at the park at the foot of the towers and from what I remember there were trees and concrete and a few benches.  Very much like what is there today.  There is a survivor tree.  Can you believe that?  A tree survived the heat and debris laying all around it and over it for months. 

My mom was able to come and hang out with the girlies to free me up to go with Mark.  I'm so grateful for her willingness to come and fill in for me!  Dad finished his work week and caught the train to Harrisburg on Friday and was able to spend the weekend with us. 

Thanksgiving here in PA was quiet and peaceful.  Mark and I cooked a turkey together and all the fixin's.  Mmm!  Turkey sandwiches galore!  The day after Thanksgiving was Hope's birthday, she chose to celebrate at Hershey Park.  What a blast!  It was all deck out for Christmas with Christmas music piped all over the park.  So fun. 

So here's the pics....It's probably a lot more fun looking at the pics than reading all that....

Mark & most of Seminar 10 at the 9-11 Memorial under the Survivor Tree

9-11 Memorial Fountain

Us in front of the new World Trade Tower 1

I LOVE this!  This woman was pregnant when she was killed in the attack and her unborn child was given honor with his/her mother. 

The boys with the Bull on Wall Street

Outside the Stock Exchange

Times Square at about 10pm

The HUGE Toys R Us store in Times Square

Seminar 10  in Times Square

Seminar 10 in front of the UN

The spouses of Seminar 10

Rockefeller Center

Top of the Rock looking at the NYC skyline, the Empire State Building is that very impressive building that is so prominent.

In Grand Central Terminal on our last morning in the city

The USAWC Wives who volunteer with Team Rubicon in the Rockaways.  That's me all the way to the right in the back with the black hat.  FYI, that hat has a Maine State Police embroidered patch, yup, representing in PA!

This was the group of wonderful ladies that I worked with for the afternoon.  The homeowner is the lady in the middle in the red coat.  What a blessing to be there!


I'm thankful for this girl!!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Birthday breakfast!

She's 8 and checking out her cake.