Top Ten Reasons I Love Living at Carlisle Barracks
10. The Weather
Do you know that in Maine there are multiple feet of snow on the ground? Okay, that's an exaggeration, but there is over a foot and a half on snow on the ground in Houlton, Maine. Yup, I'm not missing the snow yet. The forecast says that we should have a white Christmas in Carlisle, but I'm not holding my breath. I just about froze yesterday going from the car to the commissary and back again. I looked at my temp gauge in the Jeep, 38 degrees. I'm growing wimpy. I love the hotness (is that a word) of the summer and standing on the porch in short sleeves on December 19th seeing Mark off to class.
9. Baggers at the Commissary
When I get my groceries at the commissary, which I LOVE to do, prices are great and it's a manageable size compared to Giant grocery store, seriously, it's called Giant for a reason! But my favorite part of the commissary is the ladies who take my groceries and load them in my car. Really, they do!! It's so fun to chat with them as we walk across the parking lot. The first time I shopped there, I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I tipped a couple dollars, then asked my neighbor what I was supposed to do and was encouraged to know that I wasn't a total dunce. I'm so going to miss those ladies when I go back to real life.
8. Close Proximity to History
Gettysburg is 45 minutes away. Antietam, 1 1/2 hours, which we haven't made it to yet. Washington, DC, is a less than 2 hours, on a good day with no traffic, that is. And the list goes on and on. We visited Philadelphia last weekend, my niece graduated from college outside of Philly, so we took the short drive to downtown to take in the sights. The girls are official Junior Rangers at Independence Park. So cool!! Lancaster isn't quite history, but shopping and local food is wonderful, a very fun place to visit.
7. All Roads Lead to Carlisle
We have had so many visitors come and stay with us. It's been a blast to see everyone passing though. I'm going to make a list and hope that it is inclusive.
Tim & Amy Witmer...Malachi & Logan too!
Dad & Mom Whiteman
Pastor Dave Michaud & Josh Snowman
Jesse, Laura and Hunter Breau
Randy & Dawn Butler, dragging Kyle & Jacob with them.
Dad & Mom Brooks
Justin & Meredith Fowlie with Andrew, Avery and Kameron
Uncle Dave & Aunt Debbie Verzoni
Troopers Jason Satler, Seth Edwards and their buddy Mike
I'm thankful that we are on the main drag to every where!!! It's been nice to see the familiar faces from home.
6. Quick Runs to the Store
Yup, quick. In Houlton a "quick run" to Target was an hour and a half (more or less depending on who is driving) ONE way. Here a quick run to Target means that you can go and come back before 30 minutes has passed. There is so much stuff around here from multiple stores to grocery shop (one has better meat prices and another has fresher veggies) to Target and Walmart with in a 5 minute drive to any kind of restaurant that you can dream of with in 15 minutes. This includes Chick Fil A!!! My favorite! I'm so happy to live so close to one!
5. Miss Lindsey
Miss Lindsey is my kids' favorite person at Carlisle Barracks. She does a homeschool PE and health class with the kids and is full of fun and energy and patience and kindness. All 4 Brooks's are thankful for her. She also coordinates soccer and basketball on post, some of the best memories that the kids have here will involve Miss Lindsey.
4. The Retirees in Chapel
We have really enjoyed the Chapel on post. CH Mallard is a man who loves God completely and knows how to preach God's word. We have loved the Sunday School that we have been able to be a part of also. Sunday School is taught by retirees. Guys who have been there, done that in the Army, and have amazing testimonies to go with it. Families that have stood along side of them the whole way are so encouraging to me and my life as an Army Wife. I think that I could listen to Don Snider teach Sunday School all morning. Mark had ran across Dr. Snider when he was teaching Military Intersession at West Point 10+ years ago. He made a huge impression on Mark then and it has been such a blessing sitting under his teaching and leadership these past few months. Mark has a Bible study on Thursdays with Larry Sherbondy and raves about the time there and the wisdom that has been imparted. We are thankful people to have all these to look up to. We have a Bible study Tuesday nights with another retiree, Al Shine and his wife, Sandra. Amazing with incredible testimonies. One of our first visitors when we got here was Ray Porter, coming to let us borrow an air mattress and brought us tomatoes from his garden. These people have put a permanent impression on my life.
3. The Cannon & Bugle
Most every day at 6:30 I hear the cannon and bugle sounding Revelry. Even though we are not on post, the speaker for the bugle is near by and is clearly heard at our house. The bugle sounds again at 1, 4:30, cannon and bugle sound at 5 for Retreat, another bugle at 9 and Taps at 11. I've turned into quite the sap recently. It doesn't take much to bring tears to my eyes these days. Retreat is one of those things. I was thankful that the first time I heard Retreat I was with another wife and her kids. It's easy to follow the crowd but it's also nice to get a heads up. At 1700 hours Retreat is sounded and the flag is lowered. If you are on post in a car, you pull over, get out of your vehicle, face the flag. Mid way though the cannon sounds and you at that point place your hand over your heart. If you are outdoors at 5, you turn and face the flag also. If you are inside, you do not have to participate. The thing that brings the tears is to think of all those who have gone before, in this tradition of Retreat, who have participated in this ceremony day in and day out, what they have done, what they have seen, their love and duty to this beloved country. Some have given the last full measure, families have paid the price, enduring long periods apart, generations have seen their own style of fighting, and for every one of those people, I am eternally grateful. This is why I get all sappy and teary when I hear the bugle and the cannon. So if you see me, don't make too much fun of me, okay?
It's amazing to look at the friendships that we all have made here and think that we have only been here for 5 months. I'm thankful for each of these friendships we have made. The people in Mark's seminar are the ones that we send the most time with. We have been blessed to be with these people. The wives who are here in Carlisle are wonderful and I have enjoyed getting to know them. Going to New York City with the majority of the local spouses made bonds even closer. A night in Times Square and Top of the Rock hanging out with the Hasemans will be a life long memory and a life long friendship. The moms who I have gotten to know through the homeschool group are such special ladies and special friends. The international students have been a joy to get to know. Where else do you live where your across the street neighbors are from Malaysia and the back yard neighbors are from Jordan? It's been wonderful to be in their homes getting to know them and their culture and making relationships that are unforgettable. Our sweet Malaysian neighbors had us into their home for a Malaysian feast! Unforgettable! And last, but so not least, the sweet friendship that we have made with the Grants, our next door neighbors, is something that I treasure. To see the four kids playing together and hearing their giggles are the sweetest sounds that a mom could hear. I have enjoyed afternoons sitting across the table with Jean and lots of laughs with Scott and wonderful times of fellowship on Tuesday nights at their house studying God's word. We have been blessed with friends!
And the #1 Thing That I Love About Being in Carlisle is (drum roll, please)
1. Family Time!!
I hope that wasn't too anti-climatic, but it is what I am loving. Real life involves Mark on call 24-7. Hours at the office ranged from 10-12 hours a day, not to mention commanding the Maine State Police Crisis Negotiation Team and being an assistant commander of the MSP Incident Management Assistance Team that are deployed anytime, day or night. Oh, yeah, and don't forget the whole second job of being a Birgade Deputy Commander in the Army Reserve. This job involved most nights having a phone attached to his ear and fingers on a keyboard, dealing with what ever issue has arisen in the day. Army War College life is Mark leaving the house at 8am and returning home by 4 at the latest. Sometimes he has softball games or basketball games or volleyball games that would take place in the evening, but we'd all go, enjoying time together. Mark has been working hard on his Strategic Research Paper, the big one due at the end of the year. His goal all along has been to have it finished before Christmas break. So this past week he's put in long hours (and has it done!!!!) but nothing compared to life as a Trooper. Mark mentioned that this is the first time in 19 years that he has not had some kind of responsibility on Christmas Day. That is something that I won't forget Tuesday. I'm extremely thankful for the Troopers who will have to leave their families on Christmas day, both in Maine and in Pennsylvania, to keep all of the rest of us safe. But this year, I'm going to enjoy our Christmas off. Family time this year does not go unnoticed by any of us in the Brooks family. We are all so grateful to have this time to just be us.
That wraps up my top 10 list.
Merry Christmas from the Brooks Family! We hope that you all have a wonderful day celebrating the birth of our Savior!