Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cell Phones for Soldiers

There is no greater mental challenge then trying to blot out the worry for a loved one overseas. Never knowing where your solider is at, if they are ok, and if they are safe can cause some serious headaches. Often times just hearing their voice on the phone is enough to ease the stress. If only for a few short minutes you can let your guard down, breath a little deeper, and a laugh a little longer know that you're soldier is still ok.

The Cell Phones for Soldiers program was started in April of 2004 by 13-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her 12-year-old brother Robbie of Norwell, Massachusetts. Their goal is to help our soldiers serving overseas call home by providing prepaid phone cards. They have raised over 1 million dollars and sent over 75,000 calling cards to our troops! Now with the help of AT&T we can all do a little bit to help Cell Phones for Soldiers. By July 4th all AT&T wireless stores nationwide will be collecting recycled cell phones to support the cause. Please help! A phone call means the world to all of our military families.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Writers Block

So often I find myself staring at this screen. A million stories to tell and no words appropriate to truly share my feelings. I would love nothing more than to tell the world what it's like to find out your soldier is injured and to talk about the first few moments I had with J.R. To explain frustrations that came early on in my time here at Walter Reed. Yet every time I sit down to write an instant block forms in my head. My brain is ready to push forward but a big part of my heart is still focused on December 19th.

Last night I held my husbands hand and I cried. I cried. (Yes Mom I said that.... it does happen once in a while but I'm never admitting that again so don't get use to it) It is not just the soldiers that are taken on a blind emotional roller-coaster never knowing when the crest of the hill has approached and the pit of the valley awaits. The anger and frustration that my husband feels everyday about his injuries I feel as well. For the first moment in our lives time is against us. Unsure of what the future will bring we are left to sit in our cracker box and wonder. Where will we be in two months, three months, or a year? Will the military really take care of us? What job will he find when we return home? When will we tumble into the next canyon and how on earth will we claw our way out?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hero Miles

If you have never heard of Hero Miles please take a minute this weekend to turn on CNN and immerse yourself in an amazing program that is helping our injured soldiers. Hero Miles provides free flights to military families of OIF/OEF injured soldiers. For families like ours who are miles away from home this program is a Godsend.

This weekend with the help of CNN your frequent flyer miles can really make a difference. All donations this Memorial Day weekend will be matched by the airlines. For more information please visit the Fisher House website.

Thank you all for your constant support not only for our family but for all of our troops.

**As a side note... You can see us and our other house members this weekend on CNN. They will be showing clips of us telling our stories and sharing what life is like inside the Fisher House. Clips will be played at random all weekend.**

Friday, May 11, 2007


There is no better feeling then walking into your very own apartment for the first time in almost three months. There is an instant calm that rushes through your body and I don't think anything at that moment could bring you down. Well, at least not until you attempt to start your car for the first time in three months. It is at that very instant when you realize it's going to be one very long week at home.

I'm well aware that when I purchased my car two years ago I bought a high mileage used car. At the time I didn't think this would be a big deal. I wasn't planning on having a job that was sixty miles round trip from my apartment. I was so hoping that I would be able to coast on this car for another four years before having to invest in a new car. Unfortunately sixty miles a day and five days a week really adds up on a car. Now add in the one thousand mile round trip visits to see my family in Michigan. It's no wonder my car hates me for all I've put it through. When J.R. and I were home in February we opened the garage door to find my car tilting to the right. I had more than just a flat tire. The coil spring had snapped in half and punctured the tire. Two new tires, one coil spring, and a visit from my father-in-law left my car in perfect working condition. That is until now. After three more months of sitting stagnant in my garage my car decided it was time to get back at me for not driving it. It started right up the first time I turned the key. Oh how excited I was to finally be able to drive my own car and not a rental vehicle. The first stop was fabulous Wal Mart for groceries. I finished my shopping and again my car started. Onwards to Macy's to see all of my friends. Four hours later I returned to my car. *click click click click click.* Ok car.. where is the VROOM that follows the click. Thinking that maybe it just needed a few words of encouragement I decided the best plan of action would be to yell profanities at it and kick it a few times. I don't suggest this as it did not make my car start and it left me with a very sore foot. Thank god the rent a cop was there and he was able to jump my car. Now off to dinner. One hour later I return to my car. *click click click click click.* Car 2:Josie 0. More profanities, one more jump, and a frustrated phone call to my father-in-law and I was on my way to Hayward to fix the problem once and for all. I made it as far as the interstate when more lights started to appear. Thinking it was a problem with the alternator I headed straight for home to allow my car a night with the battery charger.

After sleeping in my own bed for the first night I awoke cheerful and refreshed. I took a shower, got ready, and went out to start the car. After disconnecting the battery charger I eagerly turned the key. *click click click click click.* We now stand at Car 3:Josie 0. Time for a new battery. After locating a friend who was nearby and wasn't taking a final exam I was able to run to get a new battery. I walked up to an employee and stated the obvious... I need a new car battery. Who knew they came in sizes?! We finally got that figured out and after a long conversation on how to actually CHANGE a battery I returned home ready to beat my car at it's own game. Twenty minutes later and the new battery is installed. I didn't even have to call anyone to walk me through how to do it. Very proud moment for me. I turn the key and *click click VROOM.* Car 3:Josie 1. Two hours later I arrive at my father-in-laws shop. I'm happy to report that the alternator is in perfect working condition. However the serpentine belt... not so good. One new belt, a new pulley, and a few hours later my car is back to golden status. Thankfully I have family that can fix such problems at a much lower cost as money is tight.

Unfortunately, J.R. sold his vehicle before leaving for Iraq and we cannot keep coming home to a broken car. We also can't afford two new cars. My alero is on the way out and I'm realizing that whether I am ready or not it is time to start looking for a new cars. One more stress to add to the pile.

To add to the fun times I am having at home, I can't remember the password to my personal computer here. My cable and internet (which I continue to pay monthly because I never know when I will be able to fly home for any period of time) were not working the first day I was back. T-mobile messed up my voicemail and in the process of fixing it they deleted every saved message I had. If you've called me in the last two weeks and left a message I HIGHLY suggest trying me again. And to top everything off my parents had to put my childhood dog down due to old age and kidney failure. Not cool.

I do not want to end this post on a negative note so I saved the good news for last. The company we rent from (Peter's Rentals based in Eau Claire, Wi) has been so amazing since J.R.'s injury. In order to help us financially they have dropped our rent down significantly. They are also allowing us to have a therapy dog!! I am very anxious to apply for a dog when I return to Washington. Peter's Rentals is also changing all the door knobs to levers so J.R. can get in and out easily and have offered everything they can to help. I am so glad we rent from such an understanding company who is willing to go the extra mile to help us.

I can only hope that the rest of my visit home is relaxing and quiet. The time away from J.R. is nice but I must admit I'm anxious to return to D.C. and hear all about the fishing trip he is currently on. The green streak in me has been trying to stay quiet as I am wishing I could have attended the trip out to the Smith River. I'm trying to tell myself that I have the better deal since I get to sleep in our own bed and enjoy the privacy of living alone but that hasn't suppressed my jealousy much. I will be heading to Michigan on Sunday to spend time with my family and then back to the Cracker Box on Wednesday. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Alone Time

Today has been such a typical Walter Reed day. I awoke this morning to the high-pitched clangor of my cell phone. As usual it rang before my alarm could even think about going off. I laid in bed staring at the caller id wishing it was a family member that I could quietly ignore for the time being and drift back off to sleep. Instead it was... as it always seems to be... a number that I had never seen before in my life. Reluctantly I took the call hoping it would be someone I could quickly escape from. No luck. Thus a new day dawned at Walter Reed and it was time to roll out of bed, glue on my everything is fine face, and meet the world with ceaseless "enthusiasm."

It's now 11:51 am and already my phone has rang ten times. In between phone calls I was able to sneak in a shower. I gave up on trying to dry my hair and curl it. I didn't even put makeup on today. I just ran out the door and met J.R. in occupational therapy. I arrived just in time to see my husband run off on a field trip with fellow soldiers to Home Depot. I can only pray that the therapist taking J.R. into that store knows what he is in for. Many times have I been suckered into a "quick" run to Home Depot only to follow my husband as he continues his quest to own every tool known to man kind. This often takes a short eternity leaving me tired, crabby, and poor. But today I can sit back and enjoy some time alone as he bonds with men wearing orange aprons.

Thinking that I could escape to the solitude of my room for a while I hurried back to the Fisher House for a few hours of peace and quiet. I poured my bowl of cheerios, grabbed some yogurt, and sat down for what I was hoping would be an uneventful lunch. No such luck. I was no more than two bites into my cereal when the back door opened and in walked a middle aged couple. Having never seen them before I paid very little attention as they walked into the house. And then I heard it... the words I dread the most.... "You must be Josie." I looked them up and down trying to figure out if I had met them before. With a mouth full of cheerios I said hello and did my best to make conversation. Apparently they heard about me from a woman I met over two weeks ago. This woman told them all about J.R. and our "amazing" story of recovery. I was trapped. A full bowl of cereal to go and two strange people sitting at the table with me. Longing for alone time in my room I quickly answered questions. After finishing my bowl of cereal I excused myself to my room.

I've now had almost one whole hour to sit by myself in my cracker box with my computer and think about absolutely nothing. My phone is on silent and the pile of paperwork to finish is still sitting untouched on my desk. Later this afternoon I will deal with the headache of finance and orders but until then I'm going to relax and take some time for me.