Life is EP is going well! I've had a busy schedule the past week or so, but amazingly, I have not subbed this week! I kept getting called for the two days I couldn't do it this week: Monday and Friday. Oh well. We'll call it my "spring break"-haha! Last week I completed my FRG (Family Readiness Group) Leader and Treasurer training. I'm not the treasurer, but they combine the training so that you have a knowledge of how you can/can't use your funds, ask for funds, and the like. I learned a lot through the training; the Army is really good about having lots of training for you to do to be prepared! In the month of April, I will have completed my FRG leader/treasurer course, a food handler's course, and a Care Team training course. The Care Team training deals with taking care of families after a casualty or serious injury occurs. I'm a little nervous about it, but I know it will be good to have the training so that I can be confident should something occur while the guys are deployed. All of this training does make you feel much more confident in what you're doing (or trying to do!).
Brian has been doing some training of his own; the guys are in the field this week working on ranges (Army-speak for shooting guns). In about a week and half he heads to New Mexico to complete some training that is supposed to mirror much of what they'll be facing in Afghanistan; they have and "OPFOR" (opposing force...enemies) which is made of Middle Eastern folks who speak in the native languages and really help them to simulate what the environment is going to be like over there. It's going to be a pretty busy and intense week for them but I'm excited to hear how it goes! By the time you've read all these blog posts I'm going to have you talking Army-style! Then you can surprise Brian or other servicemembers by your vast knowledge of acronyms and weird phrases :) Believe me, they'll think it's cool :)
In other exciting news, I will be at home this time next week! I can't believe it; it kind of snuck up on me! Which is probably good, because if I had been counting down for a long time I would be terribly antsy right now! Now I only have to count down from 6...shouldn't be too bad :) The schedule for home is already packed! I'm throwing Lindsay's bachelorette party in Birmingham and I'm so excited to see her and so many friends who are coming to it! Much needed girls night out! After B-ham I'm headed home to see my family, in-laws, and lots of friends! Clay and Linds have a shower on Saturday night which should be lots of fun--I can't wait! Their wedding is getting so close!!! I love weddings. I keep telling Brian I want to renew our vows so that we can have another wedding. He laughs and says "Never again. But we could have a party..." I think the wedding day (up until the ceremony) stressed him out. Too much going on :)
I am also excited about Easter coming up, but I am ready for it to pass as well...mainly because of the major temptation I get every time I go to the grocery store. The commissary has WALLS of candy built up right where you check out and it is so hard to say no. It's so difficult that I usually end up with a least a bag of Starburst jellybeans before I walk out the door...This is not helping my waistline and it totally defeats my working-out efforts! I swear, my sweet tooth has gotten worse with time!
Now, onto the title for this blog:
So this past Monday was Honors Orientation at Mississippi State. Reading my good friend AC's blog just makes me miss Starkville more and being a RoadRunner, which allowed me to be involved in all sorts of fun recruiting activities! But, Honors Orientation is a big "friend anniversary" for me! Mom and I went down to Starkville my senior year (6 years ago...ahhh!) so that I could attend the orientation and take some CLEP tests. Well, I tested out of a ton of Spanish classes and then I attempted my hand at the Calculus CLEP test...yeah right. I knew I wasn't going to pass that one after I got about 3 questions in! I took Calculus the fall of my senior year and while I studied for the CLEP test, I was not prepared for MSU's version of Calculus. Oh well! Me + math = lots of tears. And my Dad's green graph paper to help me try and understand...
Back to the story. So we took these tests in the Wise Center-MSU's Vet School building. There, the fabulous gal who recruited me, Courtney Jones, introduced me to Zach Greene, another new kid from Florida who happened to run cross country (I ran in high school; Zach was going to run for State). So we got to talking and lo and behold I had made my first friend at college. We took our tests, our moms became BFF's and went to things together, and then we met some more people...including Daniel Bray, and this girl named Stacey...So I was talking to Dan Coleman, a student recruiter from MSU about churches (don't know how we got on this topic). All of the sudden, this girl with a long swinging ponytail bounds up and says, "Church? I go to church!" Ah. The beginning of a friendship. Who knew where it would take us...
That night Zach, Stacey, Daniel and I looked through Daniel's pictures from a mission trip to Russia. As we left, we swapped numbers and decided to stay in touch (Facebook didn't exist to us yet!). So as I'm walking into the Hampton Inn with my mom, I see this girl with the swinging ponytail and purple ribbon in her hair...I'm pretty sure it's Stacey, but I'm not positive. So what do I do? Well, I had seen them getting out of their car in the parking lot, and I remembered that she was from Georgia. So yes, I marched myself out into the parking lot to get a look at their license plate! (Can you say stalker?!) And sure enough, it was confirmed: it was her!
Fast forward to Rush: Stacey and I reconnect throughout the week. We realize on Bid Day that we both pledged Chi O. (hootie hoo!) Friendship bond growing. We basically clung to each other the entire night because let's be honest; being from out-of-state, knowing NO ONE makes for a pretty awkward bid day. It didn't help that the older girl paired with me kept disappearing, so I really felt super awkward. And for basically the remainder of freshman year, Stace and I would go to the XO house together, or not at all for meals--we were too afraid we'd have no one to sit with for meals! Looking back on it is quite funny, but at the time it was extremely nervewracking!
Long story short: we ended up living together the majority of college (along with Karen and Krystina!), becoming great friends, did all sorts of things together (mission trips, scavenger hunts, wrote lots of silly poems, spring break trips, church, RoadRunner, the list goes on...) were in each others weddings, and oh, Stacey and Zach got married. And Daniel Bray (the other guy we met) was in Stacey's major, so we saw him often. Can you say small world? Isn't that just crazy? Who would've thought that could happen? Whenever Stace and I were RoadRunners we always told new students, especially those who were attending Honors Orientation, that we had met one of our best friends when we were at Honors Orientation. And they would ask who, and then we'd point to each other! haha! Good times :) And yes, we were referred to as "Stecca". Why? Because literally, we did just about everything together. It was just easier for people to combine our names. So yes, this week is our "friend-iversary".
I've been thinking a lot about college recently; I don't really know why, but I've been reminiscing. It was such a great time! Every year I got to know my friends better and made new friends too. It helped me to realize that, as long as you're open to it, you're never finished making friends. Some of the greatest friends I made in college I met in my last two years there! I think this was a good lesson to learn, especially now being with the military. It was so odd at first when you made friends in college because while you knew what dorm they lived in, what their major was, and where they liked to eat in Starkville, you didn't know about their life--did they have siblings? What sports did they play in high school? Where they were from?--all these questions you knew the answers to for your friends from home. It was quite weird. Eventually of course we learned about all of these things but it was a good lesson in getting to know people. And while the initial steps of a budding friendship can be awkward and have lots of silent pauses, it lays a foundation for a great friendship to be built upon. I've learned that even within the past year of being with the Army; I am constantly meeting new people. Really, I think just about every week that I've been here I've met at least one new person or gotten to know someone better who I had only previously been introduced to. It does take a little energy and effort, but I have been so blessed by the friendships that I've made and I hope I don't tire of getting to know other people--you never know how their friendship will bless, encourage, or challenge you! One of these days I'm going to dedicate a blog to all of my friends; old (some since I was 2 years old...), to new (like, met them 3 weeks ago). It could be lengthy--consider that your warning. They truly have all shaped me in some form or fashion and helped me to grow, be encouraged and changed for the better. I have the best friends a girl could ask for. Seriously, sometimes I think about how many people love and support me. I hope they feel that I do/feel the same for them! Being their friend makes me a better friend.
But it is nice to get a reprieve every once in awhile; where the facts are known and the people know you love double chocolate ice cream goodness and have a craving everyday for Mexican food :) Yes, I want to eat at Casa Blanca when I get home. I can't explain it, I know that I live in