Buzzed

I wonder if he’s remembering all the times I’ve clipped his hair. (Air Force photo)

I got my photo of Martin with no hair.

Well, mostly with no hair, since the photo was taken during the process of getting his hair clipped, but it works for me. There’s another photo of Martin standing in line, waiting to be clipped.

But this photo is now my computer screensaver.

Doesn’t he look so … so … serious?

The photos were taken by the public affairs staff at Lackland Air Force Base, as part of their usual workload. Each week, photographers go out and capture various events for the different flights and post them on the official USAF Basic Military Training Facebook page. Anyone with a loved one going through basic military training can get to the page and see if they can spot their trainee.

I showed the girls the photo at dinner last night, just a few hours after Miss C called me disappointed that the mailbox was empty yet again. I think seeing the photo made her feel better. So did watching an award-winning short documentary about Air Force basic training that was produced by the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron. (More public affairs people!)

She got a kick out of all the training instructors yelling and getting in faces.

“Dad’s getting punished for all the times he’s yelled at me,” she said.

I corrected her.

“No … Dad’s just reliving the early years of our marriage.”

I don’t think that dude is supposed to be looking at the camera. Can you see Martin in the blue shirt? (Air Force photo)

Okay, no.

I didn’t really say that.

But I did point out that none of it is personal, that the instructors aren’t really yelling at him, but at the whole group, and that Dad is probably not doing anything that would get him in serious trouble.

Except for the letter-writing. He’ll be in serious trouble with us if we don’t hear from him before too long.

And you know … his girls can be a lot scarier than those TIs.

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Here’s the documentary Miss C watched. It’s long, but pretty awesome.

GBS: So Who is Going to Help You Hide the Bodies?

Who is in your gaggle?


By Nick Choy of The Mad Hawaiian

Best friends. I read somewhere that while you may have a lot of acquaintances, true friends will help you hide the bodies.

But in this world of quickie friendships, and (to steal a coined phrase from the movie Fight Club) “single-serving” relationships ala social media, who are our TRUE friends?

I have 647 friends on Facebook, and umpteen “connections” on my LinkedIn page, but how many of these would bail me out of jail?

My parents? My wife? Maybe my brother. That makes four.

Well, my brother is iffy… he might want to seek revenge for all the horrible things I did to him when we were kids and leave me to rot in jail. But I digress.



The very nature of social media is to amass as many virtual relationships as possible. To do this you “friend” or “like” each other, and follow their online comings and goings. The hope is that they are as much a friend of yours to follow your online activities. Therein lies the basis for the social media relationship.

Simple enough.

Previously, in the not so distant past, friendships were a bit more complicated. You met someone, say at a restaurant, or through a mutual friend, and after some chit-chat about a sporting game, or about a shared interest such as wakeboarding or nude skydiving, or discussing the trials and tribulations of an ongoing construction project on your house, the friendship moved on to the next level. The invitation usually came next.

“Hey, maybe we should meet up some time and check out the new craft brews at Laurelwood Brewpub on NW 23rd,” one would say.

After a few porters, there would be a flurry of planning for further meet-ups which may or may not include other mutual friends. The circle grew slowly as more friends were invited to events, which invariable involved more libations, food, movies, or music. The great thing about these real-world friendships, which is seriously lacking in our online world is emotion. Think of the scenario of a group of friends getting together along with a table full of good food and drink.

Laughter, merriment, and the exchange of good will are the hallmarks of any group of people who like each other enough to go through the trouble of planning these outings. More importantly, human face-to-face interaction is the lynchpin of such an interaction.

On the other end of the spectrum, the online version of building friendships lacks any basic human interaction. Oh sure there’s laughter (LOL), and emotion (OMG!), and of course there’s virtual beer, movies (hulu.com), and music (more likely pirated MP3 files). But the request for a relationship via Facebook is much simpler, which involves clicking on the “Like” button. It’s nice to be liked.

But where is the human face-to-face interaction?

More importantly, where is the risk? In person, I have to be polite and follow established societal norms in order to have friends. I also have to shower, shave, and make myself presentable by wearing matching socks. In my virtual world, I can be a complete ass, avoid showers for months on end, and show up naked if I want. And I still have nearly 700 friends! 

Try doing that in a local brewpub. Somewhere, somehow we’re losing the basic thing that makes us human. I worry that the younger generation is not learning these important social norms, and is failing to learn the precepts to deeper, emotional human ties. Friendships, and one-on-one interaction with one’s peers is practice for deeper relationships in our future; namely with coworkers, our spouse, and eventually the relationship which really matters; our children. Furthermore, human communication is more than emoticons and texting shorthand.

When I watch young people interact with adults, they lack the basic conversation skills necessary to make it in this world. This separation of humans from human emotion may be creating an alienation that society cannot correct. Perhaps the recent spate of school shootings might be a window into this developing phenomenon. Young people are finding themselves increasingly alienated from each other and from their own emotions.

Add to this mounting societal, financial, and personal pressures, high unemployment rates, and the inundation of negative news stories by an equally alienated media, and you have all the makings of a pressure cooker. And those who are out of touch with their emotions might just boil over.

Maybe we need a return to the things that make us human.

There’s something reassuring about a handshake, while looking another person in the eyes. A simple gesture like a pat on the back, the camaraderie of like-minded individuals enjoying each others’ company, or a great belly laugh following a good joke told just the right way is just what our collective souls need.

Last time I checked, I couldn’t get any of those things from Facebook or Twitter. I wonder what would happen if we as a society took a break from our “virtual selves” for a week. Can we wake up from our technological haze, and wean ourselves from the online opiate which has come to define us? Something along the line has convinced us we cannot go even a single day without “checking-in” with our network of virtual friends.

Unfortunately, a lot of times we tend to ignore our real-life friends in the process. We are, after all, so much more than a Facebook profile. Our very existence may depend on it. I love being human, and interacting with other humans.

There is nothing like experiencing a contagious smile, or watching someone’s eyes light up when the object of their affection enters the room. We exude a comforting warmth that is best experienced in person, over a wonderful meal, a beer or glass of wine, with eye contact and a great belly laugh as dessert.

Preferably with those who will bail you out of jail, or, if it came to it, would help you hide the bodies.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Nick Choy never lost touch with his roots, heading back to the motherland at least every year much like his ancestors did thousands of years ago in a double-hulled canoe to stock up on macadamia nuts and Kona coffee (to the delight of his mainland friends). From the halls of the Pentagon to the bathrooms at the Oregon Military Department, Nick’s pursuit of truth and entertainment knows no boundaries as the Social Media Manager and chief photographer and editor for the Oregon National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters. He makes his home in Vancouver, Wash., a sleepy bedroom community just north of Portland, Ore., and an arduous journey from his place of employment in Salem. Why he won’t move closer to work stymies his coworkers, and why he refuses to work closer to home mystifies his neighbors and delights most major fuel companies. However, the 1.5 to 2-hour drive certainly allows for many mental ruminations which usually results in half-witted and sometimes entertaining posts via his blog, The Mad Hawaiian.

Waiting for Word

We haven’t received a letter from Martin yet.

We heard from him last Monday, when he was able to make a 15-minute phone call because there was apparently some sort of scheduling mix-up between the military training instructors, so the trainees were given the time to make family phone calls as they waited for another MTI to arrive.

But that was the last we heard from him. Continue reading

Week Two

If you stare at this long enough, maybe you’ll see Martin. (Photo during one of his field exercises in 2001.)

Martin is now in Week Two of Air Force basic military training.

Among other things this week, he’ll be learning the Air Force way of weapon handling and maintenance, firing positions, tactical movement, defensive fighting positions, and cover and concealment.

All things he did in the Bundeswehr on a fairly regular basis, as his tank unit spent most of his final year in service training for a deployment to the Balkans. He spent a lot of time out in the field, living as if they were forward deployed.

I’m sure the experience of Week Two is bringing up some good memories for him.

Especially being around weapons again. 

Martin always did well when it came to the firing range. The walls in his dorm room had one or two photos of me, but about ten target posters he shot during training, the bullseye riddled with tiny, little holes evenly distributed on target.

One thing I’m bummed about is that while wearing his new uniform, Martin won’t be able to wear his German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship.

He earned it, and wore it, while he was enlisted, as a Gefreiter.

It’s a medal and braided rope that hangs from the shoulder to the jacket lapel. You have to qualify on a variety of weapons to get it, and there are three types: bronze, silver, and gold.

He got the gold.

The Germans also award it to Allied military forces, so it’s not uncommon to see American soldiers — such as former Command Sergeant Major William Gainey, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — wearing it, usually signifying that they served — and trained — in Germany alongside German forces.

That’s because the US Army allows it’s soldiers to wear this particular foreign badge.

Unfortunately, the US Air Force generally does not. 

There are only a few specific foreign medals or decorations that are authorized for wear, and anything beyond the approved list is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Also, the Air Force doesn’t recognize Martin’s prior foreign military service or anything he accomplished during his years while serving. In fact, service in a foreign military is usually an automatic disqualifier, but Martin got a waiver. And since he doesn’t have American citizenship, he can’t be commissioned, all which are reasons why he’s beginning his second military career at the lowest enlisted rank.

Obviously, Martin doesn’t mind all that, or else he wouldn’t have joined.

And mostly, I don’t mind if Martin doesn’t mind, except when it comes to his marksmanship badge.

It’s just so cool looking, you know?

Yet I know with or without it on his shoulder, he’s still got the skills, and I’m excited for him to be able to go out and try for the Air Force-version.

And as for the Bundeswehr badge, I’ll just get it nicely framed to hang on our wall … with the words “Ask Me About This” inscribed over it, as a conversation piece for future young suitors when they call on our daughters.

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Buzzed Jr.

To show solidarity with his Dad, Jaz got his hair buzzed this evening.

While his toddler gut may bust the AF waist measurement standard at the moment, we think he totally looks like a little recruit, right?

Flashback Friday: Academic Airman

Of all the training and schools I ever attended throughout my military career, Martin was only able to attend one graduation: my graduation from Airman Leadership School in March 2004, which I’m sharing as today’s Flashback Friday post.

It was the only training/school I attended that didn’t require me to travel elsewhere.

We were stationed at Aviano Air Base in Italy, so I got to go home at the end of the day and Martin got to attend the graduation ceremony at the end of it.

Almost exactly nine years later, I’m preparing to attend his first Air Force graduation, and I feel just like he said he felt that evening so many years ago.

You can read the post HERE.

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Et tu, Patches?

Patches Der Hund

As expected, there have been some behavioral changes at the house since Martin left for Air Force basic military training. Some restlessness and regression, moodiness and testing of boundaries, as well as some earnest, if not slightly misguided, efforts to exert more leadership and responsibility around the house.

I expected some of these things from the kids.

Not so much from the pets.

But let it be known that Patches Der Hund misses Martin, and she’s revealed her lonliness by peeing all over the family room floor two nights in a row.

I haven’t been lavishing attention on the cats and dog so much lately. That’s not to say they’ve been overlooked. Our nanny Mary’s been excellent about having the kids follow the chore chart I’ve created for them, so the pets are getting all their meals and treats, their water dish is always full, and I know the kids play with them throughout the day.

And I’ve assumed the one chore I absolutely hate: cleaning the litter box for the cats. I clean it on a regular basis, gagging the whole time. But it gets done.

As for Patches, it’s not like she’s a forgotten pup in the corner either. The kids definitely don’t neglect her. Her favorite place to be is underneath where Jaz is eating, and just the other night, I was asking the girls to calm it down a little as they played tag with Patches around the first floor of our house.

She’s healthy. She gets let out for a bathroom break late at night before I go to bed. Yet, she’s now using our family room as her pit stop. So the only reason that makes sense is that she’s missing Martin.

As annoying as it is, I am also a bit amused because I can tell you that Martin isn’t exactly a dog person. At least, that’s what HE claims. He will be the first to tell you that he didn’t want to get a dog, that it took a long time to convince him to get a dog, and that he tends to be hands-off when it comes to caring for the dog.

But in her own way, Patches Der Hund is telling me … or rather, affirming what I already suspected … that she and Martin do have a bond and she’s feeling his absence.

Yeah, he can deny being a dog guy all he wants. Photo from 2010.

She’s missing him yelling at her to get off the couch. 

She’s missing him telling her to stop whining for food.

She’s missing him grumbling about vacuuming all the dog hair.

She’s probably also missing sitting at his feet as he folds socks, or seeing him patiently wait at the back door for her to take care of her business before locking up for the night. And I know she misses going out with him on his runs as he prepared for Air Force basic training.

Plus I haven’t been scratching her belly, rubbing her ears, or letting her snuggle with me on the couch as much as before.

So as Miss C begrudgingly grabbed the paper towels and cleaned up the mess this morning (as part of her efforts to be more responsible — win for me!), I made a note to pay better attention to Patches der Hund from here on out.

Partly because I don’t want her peeing all over the house now.

But mostly because I know how she feels.

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GBS: An American Family in Germany

Mandy and her family while traveling in Europe

By Mandy of We Three Mothers

When Julie posted the opportunity to be featured on her blog, I was more than excited to try. I love her posts and feel like I can relate in many ways.

You see, I’m a full time working mother as well, and just a year ago, my husband Frank and I were in Lexington, Kentucky and he was a stay at home dad. 

When he got an offer to come work in Grafenwoehr, Germany, it truly was a hard decision to make. Our families both live in Kentucky. We had a house, friends, climbing, and most importantly Frank was raising our son in Lexington. Life was great. But, finances were tougher than we had anticipated.

I think we weighed the pros and cons a hundred times.

Sleepless nights.

Such a tough decision.


We had lived in Germany before, even Grafenwoehr, so we knew what we would be getting in to. We loved Germany. Had the time of our lives in Grafenwoehr back in 2005 to 2009 travelling every holiday, climbing 5 times a week.

However, one of the primary reasons we moved back in 2009 was to be closer to family, especially after having a son. Here we are in Germany, a year to the date. Was it the right decision? I really don’t know for sure. I don’t think there is ever a way to know for sure if you made the right decision. You make things work and try your best no matter what.

And that is what we’ve done.

I love Germany, I love my job, Frank loves his job.

I don’t love dropping my children off to be taken care of by others over 40 hours of the week. I don’t love being over 12 hours away from loved ones in the states. Actually, I’ll be honest. I HATE not raising my children. So quit right? I wish it were that easy. We’re locked into a three year contract, each signing one when we came over here. We would owe the government back $35000+ in transportation costs. We’d also lose our housing allowance (the government pays our rent and utilities). It would be plain stupid to quit.

We’re making it work.

Doing laundry in Sicily

We’re also being smart this time and making some wise financial decisions so we will be set when we move back in just a few years. Life in Germany has its benefits for sure. Personally, I would stay here forever if I could uproot my family and bring them all here. Greenways are abundant and every city is walkable (each with a pedestrian only shopping area). Each town is unique and beautiful and has so much history.

Prague is less than 3 hours away, Munich 2, Vienna 5, Italy is just a little further.

I feel safe. Much safer than I did in Kentucky. There is so little crime. Germans are so clean and organized and really care about the environment, all HUGE pluses. No large chains dominating the landscape, suburbia does not exist like it does all over the entire US. Every weekend there is a festival in some town. The beer is amazing and cheap. Dangerous combination. Food is awesome. It is very easy to eat healthy and buy organic. They have awesome indoor pools in just about every city (spas, thermal heated warm water, slides).

In the states, you can barely find and indoor pool, and when you do (think YMCA) you have to have a membership! The German kindergartens (preschools) are wonderful. Our son’s is amazing. They take field trips, hike every Friday, cook, clean, sing, dance, learn German and so much more. And the price tag? You won’t believe me. Seventy Euros a month for him to go full time. A month! You ready to pack your bags yet?

Well, there are the downsides I must mention. Customer service barely exists here. Stores close at 6, nothing, not even a grocery store, is open on Sunday. Getting Internet and telephone service takes over a month. Air conditioning does not exist practically anywhere in the country. Germans are not the friendliest people until you get to know them, stern and cold. Worst of all, the weather. At least over here in Grafenwoehr. Winter starts in October and stays until May. I’d say that over 85% of the days are foggy and gray and rain/snow/ice take turns during the winter. The snow comes, and rain makes it a slushy mess a day later. Horrible.

That’s why they paint the houses bright funny colors over here. Have to cheer up the landscape somehow. Daycare for babies is SO hard to find. You can’t mow on Sundays (not such a huge deal, but when you only have 2 free days a week, it is a pain). No preheating your car to let it warm up for the kid. Seriously? I hate that law. We don’t have a garage so I have to scrape all the time. Oh, and we can’t have weeds getting too long along our outer fence line adjacent to the road. So many crazy laws! 

Pottenstein, Germany — a family favorite destination

However, the positives really do outweigh the negatives. Most of all, I’m excited for my children to have this experience. My dad was in the military, so I too, like my children, was born in Germany and lived in Belgium during grade school. I just hope they will remember living here.

Perhaps we’ll have to move back again when they are older and can appreciate all these cultures/sights/languages right at our doorstep. We’ll see.

For now, we’re making each weekend at home with the kids count by packing in family time and getting out showing them the amazing world around us.

Tschuess!

**********************

Mandy is married to an amazing husband and stays incredibly busy having a wonderful time with her toddler son and infant daughter while working full time as a cost analyst for the Army.

Her family lives in Germany and enjoys travelling around Europe as much as possible and climbing whenever they get the chance. She also stays busy lately in the evenings crafting, and recently started a blog — We Three Mothers — with her mom and sister to share ideas on parenting, recipes, and crafts.

PS – We Miss You

It only took three days before the deployment curse hit.

In the military lifestyle, the curse is a known fact: within days of your loved one leaving, something is going to break. Usually an appliance. Maybe a vehicle. It’s a variation of Murphy’s Law.

Of course, Martin isn’t gone on a deployment, but the curse still applies. He left, and three days later, one of our toilets clogged. After consulting with my Facebook posse, I used dish soap, let it sit for awhile, and sporadically attacked it with the plunger.

Dirty work.

But who else is going to do it now?

Fortunately, the rest of our weekend was pretty good.

The best thing to happen, of course, was Martin calling us Monday evening. I was putting new sheets on the girls’ beds, yelling at them to get their pajamas on and the phone rang. Usually, the only person to call our house that late is my sister and if I’m in the middle of doing something, I ignore it until I can call her back later. But something told me to answer, and sure enough, it was Martin.

The girls got to talk to him for about five minutes, which was awesome. They huddled over the speaker phone, telling him all about their weekend and asking him a few questions. The call couldn’t have come at a better time. I could sense the both of them were really feeling his absence in the last day or so.

I also got to talk with him for awhile.

He said that over the weekend, the TI (Training Instructor) pulled him into a room and said, “Hey, I know about you.”

Martin was given the choice, and he agreed to be an element leader. There are four element leaders, each responsible for about 10 guys, and they report to the dorm chief. At the moment, only the TI and the other element leaders/dorm chief know about his background. A dorm chief was already selected by the time Martin arrived, and Martin’s hoping he (the young man) steps up his game a little bit so there’s no swapping positions later.

Martin has no interest being dorm chief. He’s already experienced a ton of push-ups, flutter kicks, and jumping jacks thanks to those who make mistakes within in his element. Such as spitting on the track during physical training.

Martin also didn’t realize it was a holiday on Monday, and he wanted to know what happened in Russia, as he only heard tidbits.

Out of the 55 guys in his flight, only 10 are considered fast runners: he is one of them.

He sounded incredibly upbeat and normal. I told him if he’s having such a great time down there, I am more than happy to send three children his way. He laughed and said he’s written me a few letters already.

I look forward to getting them.

As for the rest of our weekend, I had enough leftovers that I didn’t really need to cook very much, and when we did venture out on Saturday, it was to IHOP for pancakes. The kids were remarkably well-behaved while in public, enough so that I also ventured to a home-improvement store for a few items, too.

We ran more errands on Monday, and once again, the kids were awesome and I congratulated myself on such success. However, as soon as we got home, it seemed like I was constantly on my feet, moving from child to child, room to room, yelling after the girls, trying to be in two places at once, making sure the girls weren’t teasing each other or the boy digging into something he shouldn’t.

The only activity that ever got them to sit down and be quiet was writing to their father. I’ve set aside cards, paper, envelopes, and stamps for them to use whenever they feel like it. Martin honestly has about 10 letters on their way to him already.

After the kids went to bed, I spent most of the evenings and early morning hours painting our bathroom and bedroom. They are the only two rooms Martin absolutely refused to paint the entire four — almost five — years we lived here.

Previous owners painted the walls — and ceiling — this awful brown color.

No, no, no, I would have not chosen that brown color myself.

The rest of the house was covered in pretty atrocious paint color, too, so our priority was to get the “public” spaces — hallways, living room, dining room, kitchen — repainted first.

But by the time all those areas were painted, Martin was completely burned out by the process.

So it just never got done.

But now it is getting done. Why? Because I’m doing it my way.

You’ll noticed that I said Martin did all the painting. It wasn’t because I’m a slacker. I would be happy to help Martin paint, but it’s one of those household jobs we simply can not do together. It’s because he and I have drastically different ways of painting. And it drives Martin nuts. And when Martin’s going nuts, I go nuts.

His way of doing it involves  removing all furniture from the room or area, taping off all the corners, putting newspaper or plastic on the floor, painting one wall at a time, one coat at a time. It’s no wonder the guy burned out.

I just freakin’ paint the walls. I gather everything I need, I shove the furniture into an opposite corner, and I flippin’ paint. I just do it. I pay enough attention that I don’t drip — and when I do, it’s cleaned up fast — and I free-hand the corners and any other area that needs a paintbrush versus the roller.

The bathroom is completely done and it looks awesome.

I’m still not done with the bedroom, though. The ceiling threw me for a loop. I assumed the ceiling was white and was just reflecting the awful brown walls, but nope — they painted it a lighter shade of the walls, but still brown. Blech.

No wonder I’ve had insomnia all this time. (Ha. Ha.)

**********************

PS – Martin, we miss you.

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You can write a letter (or note) to Martin. Just leave your comment below and it will get printed and sent to him. 🙂

Week One

Just look at those hospital corners. My bed at BMT in February 2000.

Martin now officially begins Week One of his Air Force basic military training today.

Back when I went through basic, the whole thing lasted six weeks. In 2006, the Air Force extended basic training by two and a half weeks, which was officially announced via an Air Force article written by Yours Truly.

Obviously, I would expect that the curriculum and order of things changed a bit.

For example, today’s BMT information says Martin and the others will receive weapons training this week. This makes sense, as today’s trainees (as they are called, since they aren’t officially Airmen until graduation) carry an M-16 rifle at all times.

When I went through, we didn’t get weapons training until closer to the end, and it was a class about assembling and cleaning the M-16, and all done just hours before we went to the gun range. We didn’t carry a weapon at any point in BMT.

Now, trainees must keep and maintain their weapon at all times.

For the most part, Week One was just a continuation of the chaos from Zero Week for me.

The Training Instructors are still mad and screaming all the time. Most people are sort of confused. Assignments are made regarding the various household duties one performs during basic training, such as latrine duty (bathroom cleaning), entry control (hall monitor), kitchen patrol (washing dishes), etc.

I had several assignments: road guard (marching behind our formation with a neon safety wristband that I held up in intersections to stop traffic), hallway cleaner (making sure all the chrome — water fountain, vents, picture frames, bottom of the doors — was polished), and an education monitor who helped others study the big book of Air Force instructions everyone had to carry around and read all the time.

At the end of basic training, everyone takes a written test covering all kinds of Air Force/military-related topics. That was a job I volunteered for, actually, because having spent a high percentage of my childhood within the walls of the US Air Force Museum in Ohio, I knew I could make the Air Force history and culture part of those books more interesting for the others.

That was a fun job. And I couldn’t help but feel pretty stoked when everyone in my flight passed the test with flying colors.

I also remember I had a few “battle buddies” already during Week One, a few other girls who shared a good attitude and provided help — and a laugh — when needed.

One of my battle buddies, Jenny. Our TI confused the two of us often as we were both short with short brown hair and were both road guards. (And this photo wasn’t taken during Week One, but during Week Six, which was the final week of BMT for me. I was able to buy a disposable camera that week and take these photos.)

I remember standing in line a lot as we did more in-processing for medical records and such. I also remember some of those classroom sessions where it was so difficult to stay awake, given the crazy hours we were all experiencing.

I do remember keeping peppermint mouth spray in my pocket at all times. A few spritzes helped perk things up. Not as good as a cup of joe, but a good alternative.

Week One is also when we were taught things such as how to make our beds, how to line up our shoes, how to wear the uniform, in addition to Air Force rank structure and history, finances, and how to march and perform drill maneuvers/facing movements.

All things that may be a little familiar to Martin.

Can you find Martin? This was taken at his very first Bundeswehr basic training in late 2000.

We haven’t received a letter or a phone call from Martin yet, which is to be expected. I know that he filled out an address form during his first day there, which should arrive on Tuesday.

It can’t come soon enough.

The girls are asking about letters, and though I try to explain Martin just doesn’t have the opportunity right now, they still just want some contact with their Dad. I don’t blame them. The videos he made reading bedtime stories help, but I know a letter will really lift their spirits.

I told them that he’ll probably have more opportunity to call or write later next week. Fingers crossed.

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Save a stamp and write to Martin here on the blog!
I am printing off my blog posts each day that I post, and this includes any comments that are left for us. I know he’ll get a kick out of reading whatever you leave for him, just as people did for him during his online farewell party. 
All you have to do is leave a note down in our comment section.