Saturday, February 23, 2013

"In My Honor."

I told y'all I was being honored with a crazy USO-Metro Award. Well, here's something else for ya- an invite to a reception in honor of the award I'm receiving. Meepies! I'm not going to lie- this is a little weird for me. I had the worst time writing my short biography the other night, too. This is about me, not Aaron. Which isn't exactly correct, because I wouldn't be who I am as a USO volunteer if not for him, but apparently that is neither here nor there. I knew there was a reception, but to see that it's in my honor just trips me up and gives me the biggest kick in my pants. Giggle. Me? Me? I just really want to ask if anyone involved knows who I really am, but I already know the answer- they do. They do, and they know what I say and feel and yet they still like me. Kinda nice. I hope it's the start of something wonderful, to be honest and not just a bright shining moment in this journey (it can be both). But no matter, I'll take it, and only because of what it represents. Just love your country, spend some time helping others, and love your soldier/sailor/airmen/Marine and all will be right in the world.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Plunging Love & Living Like Kings.

I'm currently out of town and spending time with family, so Aaron and I celebrated Valentine's Day last weekend.

Friday began the weekend with our arrival at the Park Hyatt DC. We had been gifted a weekend in the swanky hotel back in October by someone very special, and were finally able to get out and enjoy it.  Our room was upgraded to a suite, and we lived like kings for a few days. The living room had a very long (15 feet or so) sofa and balconies which looked over Georgetown. There was a separate office area, and then a divine bedroom. The lighting was very interesting in that it was behind blinds, so it felt like the sun was creeping through when we opened them. But the icing on the cake was the bathroom and dressing room. Yes, dressing room. Cabinets and shelves for each of us, a vanity for me, double sink with plenty of counter space, and slippers and robes (well, slippers for me- we know Aaron doesn't indulge in those anymore). The tub and shower were in the same room. A freestanding unit, there were two spigots for the tub: a regular faucet with a spray nozzle, and another waterfall faucet high up the wall. The shower was not separated, but far enough away that two people could do their business without interrupting each other. The shower had two heads: one normal, and a "rain" unit from the ceiling. The shelf for toiletries was also far enough away that nothing got wet, so in my case I could have my glass of wine within reach. There were bath salts and gel, so I took two baths a day. I could live in that bathroom. Dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern Friday night was one of the best meals of my life, and that was after we were met with delicious wine and apple pie  upon arrival in our room. After dinner, we relaxed in our robes and turned in, for Saturday was a busy day.

The Wounded EOD Warrior Annual Polar Bear Plunge took place early Saturday morning. A yearly fundraiser for the foundation, everyone goes all out with costumes and support. This year, we joined 400 other souls. I participated in our group costume, but did not plunge. I'm in some pretty intensive treatment for a myriad of back issues brought on by the events of the last 18 months and I didn't want to exacerbate anything. However, Aaron jumped. He was carried in on the back of our good friend Doug, with his friend Paul carrying another wounded warrior in beside them. It was incredibly touching moment. The most moving minute, though, came when we all sang The National Anthem together. Here are all these people in the most ridiculous costumes I had ever seen, wiping their eyes as they sung to themselves. It's probably my favorite moment from the two years we have participated in the plunge. We returned to the hotel after a group lunch. Aaron had ordered flowers for me, and I had booked a massage for him. It was a very relaxing afternoon. I am pretty sure I took another bath in the amazing tub.

Saturday night was date night. Aaron had made arrangements Cafe Milano. We had to wait a little while for our reservation, but it was completely worth it. The service was amazing as was every bit of amazing Italian food and sip of red wine. I received a beautiful necklace and earring set from the man, while I loaded him down with some interesting books. A bit unequal, but I had no idea he was getting me jewelry, anyway. He loved his books and I haven't stopped wearing my jewelry.

Sunday we had breakfast in the restaurant and left mid-afternoon to meet friends at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It was possibly one of the best weekends we have had in quite some time.

Aaron and I are pretty romantic on a regular basis, and I definitely think that Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday if there ever was one. But since Aaron was injured, every opportunity to celebrate something has been taken. In the beginning, we celebrated him using his thumb to hold a menu and eventually being able to eat a chicken finger on his own. I went all-out for his birthday that first year and planned a big party for his first Alive Day (and Ruth's Chris tried hard to ruin dinner but did not succeed). My 30th birthday was spent atop DC, literally on a balcony overlooking the monuments. Every moment matters so much more because we're are acutely aware how lucky we are to have the chance at all. There are plenty of lonely and broken hearts out there; a lot of that is because of the consequences of war. I'll take any excuse to celebrate what I have, greeting card expense or not. I hope you all had an equally wonderful Valentine's or Thursday, however you spent it!

Team Shark Attack- shark, bite victim, and manly lifeguards. I feel that we were robbed for funniest costume group, but everyone else laughed!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

USO Wounded Warrior Center Open At Belvoir!

I've known for awhile about the USO-Metro's goal to build two wounded warrior specific centers at Fort Belvoir and Walter Reed-Bethesda. Well, the Belvoir center opened today! I had the opportunity to go down yesterday and participate in a "media day" to offer my perspective as a spouse. Aaron wasn't clear for interviews, but he did stand in for a few photographs.

I have to be honest, I am so excited about this center. I think I could even make the drive every so often for special occasions. It is the most beautiful wounded warrior building I have ever seen. They thought of every little thing. I can't wait to head back down and see it bustling with people and activity. I know a place like that really would have eased more than a few anxious days in the first 6 months of Aaron's injury. So until I can get back down there, here are some links to the media I did. I'm really proud of all the hard work that has gone into this place, and I'm lucky to be a part of the USO family.

Washington Post Blog

AP Video

Washington Times

NBC Washington

MyFox DC

I am really proud of all of this! There is a lot more media out there, but this is just I managed to collect. And no... no one coaches me. I really do believe all those nice things about the USO and what it is doing for all troops, all over but in particular what I have experienced on the wounded warrior side of the fence. Enjoy!