Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Gold Star Sister

I decided to link up with Kelly's Korner for her show us your life: Military Families.  
I, myself, am not married to a member of our armed forces, but I am a Gold Star sister.  Anyone with any military background at all knows what this means.  

My only brother, SSG Justin Michael 'Dutch' Estes, was Killed in Action on March 5, 2007 in Samarra, Iraq.  He was 25 years old.  He and I were very close, being only a year and 10 months (to the day) apart in age.

Justin was a soldier in every sense of the word; he loved his job and was really good at it.  He was a natural leader, and at 6'5", he was easy to find.  He was really quick-witted and ready with a smile for anyone.  He is missed by anyone who had the great fortune of meeting him.  

March 5, 2007 is a day I will never forget about for as long as I live.  I was at work at the Cheesecake Factory when a call came through for me.  It was my Mom, and she called to tell me that Justin was gone.
He had been in the third vehicle of a convoy that was patrolling the berm outside of Samarra.  The first hum-vee ran over a pressure switch that detonated the buried IED.  The vehicle was literally blown in half and 4 of the 5 occupants were killed instantly.  One of the soldiers was still alive, but badly injured and on fire.  Justin saw this, and left the safety of his vehicle with a fire blanket at the same time as the commander of the 2nd hum-vee brought forward a fire extinguisher.  Together, they administered first-aid to their injured comrade and called forward the evacuation team.  Just as the evac team got close, the Iraqi insurgents remotely detonated a secondary buried IED that Justin was standing directly over.  He was killed instantly, as well as the commander of the second vehicle, and the soldier they were trying to save.  The medic died later of his injuries, but he made it back to US soil.  Justin was awarded the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action.  It is the third highest Honor the ARMY gives out. 

I wanted to link in today to talk not only about him, and how he died, but also about what the school in our very small town in Arkansas is doing.  Oden High School is the school where both Justin & I graduated.  It has a club called the Fellowship of Christian Students.  They decided to have a fundraiser this year to raise money for a memorial for Justin.  They are dedicating our school's flagpole to Justin's service and memory.  They paid for a granite slab to be engraved with his credentials and service information, as well as lights for the flagpole so the flag can be flown around the clock.  It's such a blessing to be from a small town where everyone remembers him, because all we have left of him are our memories.  The presentation will be on Sunday, March 4, 2012.  March 5th will mark 5 years since he was killed.  There is never a day that goes by that I don't think about him.  Just remember that Freedom most certainly is not free. 

I attached a video that shares about these brave men who gave their lives so that we may continue to live free, please take the time to check it out.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend. " John 15:13

Rest in Peace to the Samarra 7: You will be forever in our hearts and minds.

SSG Justin Estes
SGT Andrew Perkins
SPC Justin Rollins
PFC Cory Kosters
SSG Robert Stanley
SPC Ryan Bell
SGT Josh Boyd 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A fun game of "tag" and some catch up!

So, I was tagged by one of my readers to do a fun little q & a game. Nathan at Life & Everything Else In Between found this game and I thought it would be fun to play along! Beware, 11 of you will be tagged in the comments on your own blog to take part also! It's a fun way to learn more about your friends.  Your 11 questions will be at the bottom of this blog, so copy and paste them to your new post if you choose to participate.  Just be sure to go to the comments section of the bloggers you tag to tell them they've been tagged for the question game, include a link to your blog so it's easier for them to find their questions!  I hope you will!

The following are the questions that I answered. Yours will be different.

1. What was your favorite old Nickelodean tv show? Why?

I never really got into nickelodeon.  When I was growing up, we didn't have cable out in the boonies where I lived, and honestly, I didn't miss it. I did wish we had MTV (back when they had music videos) or CMT.

2. What was your favorite part of the 90's?

Hmm...The 90's brought a lot of change to my life, but it was all good.  I have to say sports in high school were the best part of the 90's for me.  Playing basketball and softball with my friends are definitely my best memories of that particular decade.

3. Why did you start blogging?

I read several blogs and it's a fun way to sort of virtually scrapbook what's going on in our lives right now.  It's a place to document travels and food and to keep up with family far away.

4. If you had your choice of any vacation destination at this very moment, where would it be?

If I could go anywhere right this moment, it would definitely be Europe.  I've been to a few places there, and have loved every second of it..."There's such a lot of world to see..." (Moonriver, Henry Mancini) More specifically than just Europe though, I'd love to go to Prague, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, The UK, Egypt, Tahiti, Australia, Russia, Spain, The Islands in Greece...This list could go on for days, so I'll stop for now; I'm sure you get the picture...

5. Does anybody remember the Pizza Hut clock? You know, the one that would go really really fast that said, "it's always pizza time". 24 hours would go by in five minutes. If you could apply that clock to any part of your life, i.e. work, church, school, etc. what would you apply it to? Why?

I would definitely apply that clock to work. We spend so much time working that we forget to enjoy our lives outside of work.  Life is way too short to worry about the almighty dollar, and who wouldn't love more time to just be with friends and family...I would, of course, like to be paid for the time like it was moving like a normal clock.....Just saying! HA!

6. If you could change a few things about yourself what would they be?

Definitely my weight, which I have been working on since November.  I am going to the gym three times a week and working out with a trainer.  I just got sick of feeling blah all the time.  The image I saw in the mirror just wasn't the way I saw myself in my head...It's a process, but I'll get there.

7. I love life, life is good is not just a trademark for me, it's a fact. What are you most thankful for in your life?

Family and friends, foremost.  Then my health and puppy. Everything else is just stuff, life is way too short to sweat the small stuff. I'm not a worrier by nature. I like nice things just as much as the next person, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, they're just not that important.

8. What does the car you drive say about you? Does it say anything at all, or is it just a car?

It says that it's big enough for my very tall husband to fit into without hitting his head on the roof.

9. What annoys you the most?

Rude people. There is NEVER an excuse to be rude to people, and the world would be a lot better place if people would just take a moment and think about how what they say affects the people around them.  You can get your point across and still be polite. 
That, and I'm a grammar & spelling Nazi.  I can't help it; it comes completely natural to me.  I can spot errors a mile away.  The biggest offenders are people who don't know the difference between  "YOUR" and "YOU'RE". (Your is possessive, you're means YOU ARE).  Also, "THERE" (a place) "THEIR" (belongs to someone) "and "THEY'RE" (THEY ARE) and "TO" (a place) vs "TOO" (ALSO)...Sorry if it appears that I am yelling, these make my skin crawl when used incorrectly!

10. Do you have any pets? If so, what do you have and why?

We have a Bullmastiff named Maximus. He's 4 months old and we just adore him.  We wanted a puppy for a while and were finally able to get one.  He's spoiled but so, so sweet! We love big dogs and as a bullmastiff, he's going to grow to be about 150 pounds.

11. As we begin another year, do you have anything special you're looking forward to?

Getting back into shape, a few trips here and there throughout the year, cooking and enjoying this life.  You only get one ride on this roller-coaster, you might as well enjoy it to the best of your ability!

Whew! That was harder than I thought! Here are the 11 questions for you!

1.) What was your greatest accomplishment of the past year? 

2.) Do you have a bucket list? What is on it?

3.) What is your favorite holiday or time of year?

4.) Where have your travels taken you?

5.) Do you like to cook? Why or why not?

6.) Do you prefer professional or college sports, or do you not follow any?

7.) Do you love your job? So few people do what they love, do you?

8.) What is your favorite food? 

9.) Do you like wine? Which do you prefer?

10.) If you had to eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

11.) Do you like to fly or are you afraid of it?

If you participate, copy and paste the above questions to your blog!

Now, some catch up!
Christmas and the New Year have come and gone.  We both worked New Year's Eve.  It was a great shift for me, and Marc got some Overtime, so that's always a plus!  We got the house put back together and all of the decorations put away last Sunday.  Max got his Rabies shot (finally) so he can now play with other dogs! 
I took him to the dog park on Wednesday.  It was empty because it was freaking freezing!  He played for a while by himself, then another man and his dog came for a while and they played together. Max is so social, he loves people and seems to play well with other dogs too, so that's good for us.

We had some friends over to watch the Cotton Bowl last night, as my Arkansas Razorbacks took on the Kansas State Wildcats.  We won the game 29-16. It was fun to watch, I only wish I could have been at the game!  I went to 2 Cotton Bowls while I was in college and always had SO much fun!!  I am so proud of my hogs for an 11-2 season.  The only teams we lost to all year are #1 LSU (who I can't stand) and #2 Alabama.  They will play this coming Monday and I will be SCREAMING ROLL TIDE all night long!  

I hope to get back to blogging regularly.  We have a fun little tradition coming up soon called wild game weekend, which I can't wait for.  Good times with good friends.  

Here are a couple of pics of Max, just for good measure.  Hope y'all have a great weekend and stay warm!

He was crawling onto Marc's shoulder

That's Max drinking his coffee.  He LOVES it and won't leave Marc alone until he shares. We checked with the Vet to make sure it won't hurt him.

Yummy, coffee.  Strange puppy!