Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I have done a lot of contemplating this month. It has now been one year since I left my family and job and moved across the world to Germany with Jared as he pursues his career with the US ARMY. During this time, I have experienced many FIRSTS!
  • FIRST time living with Jared! After our honeymoon to Park City, Utah, Jared had to go back to Jerome, Idaho, and work for Schwan's for three more weeks. Then he came to Blackfoot and we lived with my parents for three weeks until he left for the ARMY'S Warrior Transition Course and AIT. We have had a blast together! It has been an adjustment at times, but we have loved every minute of our time together. We love to travel, go camping and fishing, go out to eat, play games, and spend time with family and friends. I can't wait to move forward with our life after deployment.

  • FIRST experience in Europe! We love the Italian and euro ice cafes! This says a lot coming from a husband that used to sell Schwan’s! One interesting tidbit is that the roads in every market platz (city center) are cobble stone!! It’s kind of weird to drive on. Also, there is some type of FEST going on every weekend in a nearby town. It’s just one more reason to eat yummy food and drink! There is so much to do and see that we already have to start picking and choosing what we will see in the time we have left here.
  • FIRST job in a school system. I was very lucky and found a job within the first month of living in Vilseck, Germany. For most people, it takes months. I started working 40 minutes away at Netzaberg Elementary School as a secretary and then transferred to Vilseck Elementary School during Christmas break. It was a great move. Not only do I live less than 5 minutes from work but I no longer have to worry about driving in the ice and snow.
  • FIRST time to drive on the autobahn! I'm not sure how much I like it because I'm not a fast driver. It kind of makes me nervous to get into the fast lane to pass others because of how fast some of the cars are going.
  • FIRST time seeing an ORANGE frog. Yes, an orange frog! I was out gardening one afternoon and was caught off guard when I saw an orange frog in my flower garden. I had one of my neighbors who had lived in the area for a while come and look at it, and he was just as surprised as I was. I have also never driven down a country road during a rain storm and had frogs jumping across the road. You want to yell at them and tell them to watch before they cross, but they don’t listen. So you just keep driving and hope that you don’t kill too many of them in the process.
  • FIRST deployment. Jared left on June 15, 2010, to serve his country in Afghanistan. He's my hero. I love him to death and miss him dearly!! I'm so excited to see him at R&R!
  • FIRST time to ever get locked out of my house. I was taking out the trash one hot sunny afternoon after church and the only wind that came up the whole day decided to shut my door. Since our doors automatically lock every time they are shut, I was instantly locked out! Luckily, my neighbor was home and let me borrow her car to go to the Fire department to get a key from them to let me back in my home. However, the Fire department didn't want to give me a key because I didn't have any ID on me. I tried to explain to them that I if I had my ID, I'd also have my keys. They agreed to give me a key as long as I came right back with my ID.
  • FIRST time sleeping with my Jared PILLOW! Every night before going to sleep, I always insist on cuddle time with Jared. Cuddling is not something that he thinks must happen every night, but gives me a few minutes to make me happy. During this time, he always asks how I ever slept before he came along. Who knows how I did it, but now my temporary buddy is my Jared PILLOW. I either have the option of holding his hand or turning him over and having his hand on my back!! If you look real close, you will notice that he even has a belly button. Thanks to my good friend Dee Green, she gave me this as a gift when I was struggling and Jared was at AIT. Little did she know, I would use it every night during Jared’s deployment.
    I know that there have probably been many more FIRSTS that I haven’t written about, but it was interesting to see that after 32 years of life on earth, there are tons of things that I still haven’t experienced!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Salzburg, Austria

Last weekend I went on a MWR trip to Salzburg, Austria. According to the brochure, we were going to
  • Ride in a horse-drawn carriage down the historic alleys
  • Stop at a cafe and try "Sacher Torte, " Austria's famous chocolate cake.
  • Go on The Sound of Music tour and
  • Visit Mozart's birth-house

I was so excited to go and do all these fun activities. However, once we arrived, our bus driver, Allen, dropped us off on a side street to begin our adventure in the heavy RAIN, explained to us how to get to the zentrum, and then said he would be back to pick us up at 4 p.m. There was no tour or anything!! When we asked about the Sound of Music tour, we were told that it had already started and would not return in time for our departure. GRRRRR! That was the main reason that I signed up for the trip.

So off Gina, Veronica, and I go strolling down the streets of Salzburg. Our first stop was to H&M to find a new outfit for Veronica as she was already soaken wet. Then I went to tour Mozart's birth-house alone since the home had a ton of stairs and Gina had a stroller where Veronica was sleeping. We planned a place to meet up after I was done with the tour, but we ended up losing each other. After 45 minutes, I had decided to just go off on my own. But then we found each other! For the rest of the afternoon, we walked around the city, went into the Cathedral, walked by the castle, bought the original Sacher torte (which cost 10 euro), visited the US embassy (McDonald's) and then came home. I was so excited to come home and try a piece of the Chocolate torte! But to my dismay, it was nasty!! It was chocolate cake with cherry filling in it. Needless to say, it was a wasted 10 euro. However, I gave it away to a friend who really liked it. McDonald's is known as the US embassy because that's where all the Americans must visit sometime during a trip! Overall, the trip was okay, but I will surely do more investigating before I book another MWR trip.

As for an update on Jared...he is doing well. He past his PT test this week, went for a run with the First Sargent, and always looks forward to resting on Sundays!! Here are a few excerpts from Face book:

July 18, 2010
Can't wait until tomorrow, got my first day off in over a week. Not sure what I will accomplish but i do know i will get plenty of sleep.

July 19, 2010
Ever had the day off and felt lost. I had the day off and could not figure out what to do with my day off. I guess the fact that I am in Afghanistan might have something to do with not knowing what to do with a little free time. My biggest accomplishment of the day was a 3 hour nap. Letter writing seems out dated but maybe I should write home.

July 24, 2010
Looking forward to having tomorrow off. Church, laundry, and maybe a little shopping.
Finally did it. I officially reached 20 pounds lost this week. I hope the weight will keep coming off.

July 25, 2010
Just spent almost an hour trying to upload some photos to post out here in Afghanistan, but Internet must be too slow today. guess i can hope for better luck next time.

July 26, 2010
I went running with the First Sargent today. He is in really good shape and runs long distances, and he was a little shocked when I told him I would run with him and I kept up with home for most of the run. He didn't know someone my size could keep up with him. Love it when ya shock and surprise people.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Relief Society Temple Trip

Last weekend was wonderful. I was able to take a break from my normal schedule and go with several wonderful sisters from the Grafenwoehr ward to the Freiberg Temple! It is a much smaller temple than I am used to, nevertheless, the SPIRIT is just as great. I miss not being able to go more often to feel of the peace that is there. I think that one of my deployment goals will be to attend the temple at least every other month!!

On a sad note, Jared's regiment experienced their first casualty this past week. When I hear of news like this, I'm always reminded how special each day is and truly a gift from above. Jared is doing well, although he was very sick one day this week and was put on sick quarters. No worries, he's okay now. In fact, tomorrow he is taking his first PT test in Afghanistan!! Good Luck SPC Jackson!

Good night!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deployment - One Month Anniversary!

It was one month ago today that Jared left for Afghanistan. Oh, how I miss him!!! I seems like it's been forever since I have last had a hug and a kiss. I remember dropping him off, saying goodbye, and then coming home to an empty house and bursting out in tears until I fell asleep. Then one of my friends, Gina, called me and invited me over for dinner that night after work so I wouldn't have to spend my first night home alone.

As I have contemplated all of the changes that have occurred in the last few weeks, I feel so blessed to have a full-time job. Not only does it give me a reason to get up every day, but it also provides me with a daily routine to keep me busy and focused on other things so I don't sit at home and become depressed. Nights and weekends are the worst for me. So I am trying to become involved in inexpensive activities to pass the time away. Since Jared left, I have kept myself fairly busy every weekend. The first weekend Alicia Ellis and I went to Nachtman's Crystal Factory, the second weekend I went to lunch and the Amberg pool with Jenni and Teresa, the 4th of July weekend was spent at Mega Play, Eshenbach Lake, and Bamberg (it's known as little Vienna) with Gina, and last weekend I went to Berlin on an MWR trip with Liz.

I have been very fortunate to be able to communicate in some form or another (Face Book, texting, or phone calls) with Jared every day but one since he left. He only gets to use the internet once a week until an internet box becomes available to him (should he decide to pay $180 per month). Prepaid phone cards are quite expensive, but the peace of mind that comes to me from hearing his voice each night (for 3 minutes or 20 minutes) and knowing that he is safe is worth every penny!!

As for Jared, he says that time has gone faster than he thought it would go. He actually arrived in country two days after leaving Vilseck, Germany. Since then, his unit has spent every day setting up shop and preparing for work to be brought in. After work, he can be found running out in the DUST and blistering hot 120 degree heat and then training with the Sergeant Major. In the one month that he has been there, he has lost about 20 pounds on the "Afghanistan weight loss program!"

Jared has been selected to be part of the RAMP Ceremony. In the event of a fatality within his regiment of 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers, a special ceremony is performed on behalf of the fallen soldier where the color guard is present, the taps are played, scriptures are read, and then the casket is carried from the vehicle to the airplane that will take the body to DOVER Air Force Base. Jared is going to be one of the pall bearers. He feels very honored to be a part of this special ceremony, especially being able pay tribute to his comrades. A couple of weeks ago, he actually participated in his first ceremony. He said that it was heart wrenching as the soldier's name and age was read and whether or not they had a wife and children that won't ever see him come home. However, he said there was also a great peace felt as the Chaplain shared a few scriptures with the group.

Here are a few Face Book posts that Jared has provided since being in Afghanistan:

June 26, 2010
Blistering heat in afghanistan lost almost 10 pounds already and counting.

July 3, 2010

Afghanistan weighty loss plan is now 15 pounds and counting. Lots of dust and heat and walking everywhere. Finally had sometime to get on the internet. A little over two weeks have gone by and it seems to be moving a little slow, but i am sure it will pick up. Looking forward to going to church in the afternoon for ...a few minutes of peace to step away from everything.

July 9, 2010
Made my weekly trip to the mwr tent to use the computers. I hope i can get regular internet soon. This week has flown by fast I just wish every week would fly by. Cant wait to get away from the dust every where and gravelly roads. I could be in worst situations so should not complain. Glad its the weekend so I can... go to church on sunday, that is the main thing I look forward to during deployment.

July 13, 2010

Almost a month into deployment. I really did not think a month would go by so fast. I hope by the end of the week I can drop 2 pounds so I can call it an even twenty pounds lost in the first month. Having something to work towards seems to make time go a little faster.

I am so proud of Jared for serving his country so we can be free.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Better Late Than Never

OK. So it's been a year ago this week that Jared and I moved to Vilseck, Germany, where Jared is working for the US Army. Before leaving the states, I promised many family and friends that I would start a blog so they could be kept up-to-date on what is going on in our lives. As you can see, I wasn't very fast in getting my blog up and running. However, I have kept my promise and will do my best to write often.

Here's a quick or not so quick update on our lives---
Upon arriving in Vilseck, Germany, on a cold and rainy day on July 7, 2009, Jared's sponsor took us to our tiny hotel room on base where we would call home for the next eight days. It was literally walking room only around the bed to the door. I think Sargent Aponte could sense my uneasiness of being in a new country and desire to call home, so he went to his dorm and brought me one of his old laptops to use to call and talk to my parents. He even logged into his Skype account so I could make all of the calls I needed!!!

After day one of Jared coming home and finding me asleep at lunch and dinner time due to jet lag, he decided that it was time for me to start the job hunt. So after lunch, I went and met my new best friend, Marie McElligot. Marie is the employment specialist on base that helped me apply for what seemed like a thousand jobs. The job market and salary on this base is horrible! However, after coming to terms that I would be working for at least $10,000 to $15,000 less than I was making at the INL, I was hired as a secretary at Netzaberg Elementary School. I felt very fortunate to find a job within 5 weeks of arriving in Germany because it takes many people a lot longer! Netzaberg is about a 40 minute commute from Vilseck on windy country roads. It reminds me of driving through Island Park. The teachers and staff were great in welcoming me to Germany and were willing to help me get accustomed to my new home in Deutschland!

After a few months, I learned that the secretary at Vilseck Elementary School, the school that is a three minute drive from my home, was going to be PCSing soon. So I went and visited with the principal and let her know of my interest in transferring to Vilseck. Not only would I be close to home, but I would save a lot of money on gas, spend my lunch hours with Jared, and not have to worry about driving the windy, icy roads in the winter (we all know how I hate the icy roads)! After a lot of work on Ms. Hammack's behalf, I was able to make the move to Vilseck Elementary School in January 2010! Although I miss the friends that I made at Netzaberg ES, what a blessing it as been to be so close to home.

Upon arrival to Vilseck, Germany, Jared immediately started working. The first two weeks were spent in processing. We were lucky and had a home on base to move into within 8 days. We were able to borrow a bed, table, and couch from the military while we patiently awaited for our belongings to arrive. On our first day of living in our townhouse, Jared went to take a shower and them came downstairs to find the ceiling dripping. So we called the Fired department, but they didn't want to come over, so they sent someone else over to investigate the problem 4 hours later!! Talk about slow. Then later that day, Jared set out for work only to have to call his boss an hour later letting him know that he was lost. I love to harass him about it because he's always teasing me about being the "Blondie" in the family.

Jared is an electronics technician for RSS. His unit works on night vision goggles and many other pieces of equipment that the infantry soldiers use in combat. He enjoys learning about his job and is very well liked by his coworkers. This past year has been spent in preparing for a year long deployment to Afghanistan. If fact, on June 15, 2010, his deployment began. I dropped him off at 3 a.m. where we enjoyed each other's company for the last few hours before embracing each other for the last time. That was a day that I don't ever want to relive. It's hard to explain the feelings of coming home to what feels like an empty home and knowing that it won't change for a long time. I am trying to keep myself busy and out of the house to avoid the loneliness that often occurs in the evening and weekends. Some weeks have been better than others, but I am trying to stay positive as I count down the weeks until we meet for R&R.

Moving to Germany has been a very hard transition for me. Although I love to travel abroad, I am always grateful for the trip to end and come back home to American soil, family and friends, and normal food. It was hard to leave all my family and friends behind, especially our aged grandparents. After a month and a half of being in Germany, I received a dreaded phone call from my dad in the middle of the night informing me that my Grandma Wiser had just past away. Although I knew that she was in a better place, free from pain, and reunited with Grandpa and her three children, I wasn't ready for her to go. She was my cheerleader and always looked on the bright side of things. She always had a smile on her face and would tell you that she was doing fine even though you knew she was in a lot of pain. As much as I wanted to go home for the funeral, I knew that I needed to stay and attend to my job and new life in Germany. The funeral home was amazing and streamed the whole viewing over the Internet so Jared and I could be part of it from halfway across the world.

The one thing that was not hard adjusting to was going to church. I love that fact that it does not matter where in the world you live, the gospel teachings are always the same. Our Grafenwoehr Ward consists of around 200 members, only 5 of them are German. The majority of the members are military; however, there are some civilian members too. Because it is a military ward, it is ever changing. It seems like every time we make a friend, we find out they are getting ready to PCS to their next duty station. Jared was immediately called to be the 2nd counselor in the Young Men's program and I was called to be a nursery leader. Then about a month ago, I was released and called to be the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society. I'm excited to get to serve the sisters in my ward!

In December, my parents flew out to Germany for a quick visit. During their visit, Jared and I were able to be sealed for time and all eternity in the Bern, Switzerland temple on December 10, 2009!! This has been a goal that we have worked very hard to accomplish since we were married on November 8, 2008. Words cannot express the feelings I felt when we were sealed. I'll just say that there is no better feeling than knowing that if we both live our lives the best that we can, we will be able to be together forever. Jared is my best friend, and I love him very much. I am far from perfect, yet he accepts me for who I am and encourages me daily to move forward and to be the best I can be.

In February, Jared left for a three week training to Hoenfels, Germany, with his Regiment to prove to themselves that they were ready to go to Afghanistan and do the things that they had spent the last couple of years training to do. Upon his return, he learned that he had been promoted from PFC to SPECIALIST Jackson. I was invited to attend the ceremony where I tore off the old rank and very firmly punched the new rank on him. Way to go SPC Jackson!

Prior to Jared leaving for deployment, we decided to make a quick trip home. We had a great time seeing our family, friends, and coworkers. We love them and appreciate their constant love and support.

Since moving to Germany, we are trying to see all we can. Thus far, we have been able to tour parts of Germany, Switzerland, Prague, and the Netherlands. Europe is a beautiful country, full of history.

Well, that's about all for now. Have a great day!!