Making friends. Girlfriends.

By , December 29, 2009 10:58 pm

Since leaving high school, I’ve moved every three to four years.  I started in Spokane, added a couple months in Idaho, a few years in El Paso, Texas then Colorado Springs, and finally, settled into my current home, Denver.  I’ve managed to make military friends in every place I’ve lived.  Good friends, no, awesome friends. Friends that entertained my 9-month old when I was too sick to stand up and friends that brought Hubby meals when I deployed.

I thank the Army for giving me the skills to make great friends fast.  I’ll admit, I was pretty bad at the whole girlfriend thing in high school (most of my friends were guys) and only got a little better in college.  In the Army, however, I found that I couldn’t be picky or apprehensive.  Friends were family, sometimes for only a few months before moving to another Army post.  I think my military girlfriends became like my sisters when I found myself so far from relatives.

I’ve quickly made a community of girlfriends in Denver this last year.  This time I’m not moving nor do I sense the temporary as none of my current friends are in the military.  I’ve never lived by my friends for more than three years and, honestly, I’m kinda hoping I don’t screw things up.  I mean, seriously, it was nice not worrying about my aggressive, errr, outgoing personality driving someone crazy with an Army move on the horizon.  Who knows how long these new friends will be willing to listen to my babble (poor, poor Hubby).

I told Hubby about my worries and he tried really hard to be sympathetic.  It’s different with guys.  As long as Hubby’s friends enjoy beer and some sort of man-game (poker and pool come to mind), then he’s content. After more than ten years around dudes, women tend to scare my camo pants right off.  I don’t like to shop and my sense of humor can be… well, not so lady-like.  I have flaky tendencies and don’t understand over-sensitivity.  The crazy thing is all of my new girlfriends seem to be O.K. with that.

Never thought getting out of the Army would lead me to learning how to be a better girlfriend, but here I am.  All of my new girlfriends are moms and I’m hoping our common efforts will be like that military bond I had with my Army friends.  Really, I’m just hoping this post doesn’t scared off the few friends that I’ve made so far.  So, for my friends, old and new, thanks for giving this Army girl a chance.  Girlfriends can be scary, but, I think they’re worth it.


Aarhaus Christmas Letter 2009

By , December 27, 2009 11:23 am

Well, sigh… no Christmas cards this year.  I had one weak moment on December 22nd and almost sent out “last-minute-oh-crap-gotta-send-something-out” cards, but Hubby literally pulled me away from the card stock.  He wanted our only vacation night without kiddos (Zeke went to bed super early and Bubba stayed the night with the in-laws) to be OUR night, not “Alyssa’s frantic card-making extravaganza.”  After returning from our mountain Christmas vacation (courtesy of the in-laws), I decided to write this letter. Drumroll, please, as this is a first edition Aarhaus Christmas letter…

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends-

We hope you enjoy these Aarhaus 2009 highlights with cheesy pics included!

January took us to Orlando for a week with Alyssa’s entire family and included a sweet visit to Mickey Mouse.  February 1st Alyssa officially left the active duty Army.  It would take more than this paragraph to explain why, but she hasn’t regretted her decision to leave for a second.  When not chasing the boys around the house, she enjoys her National Guard job one weekend a month.

Bubba is our dinosaur expert and has far too many preschool girlfriends.  He turned four in November and loves anything involving a super cape.  His favorite places are the Dinosaur Museum (Denver Museum of Nature and Science) and the Children’s Museum.

Zeke (or Zek-ee Benito as we like to call him) lost his baby face and became a little boy.  We celebrated his baptism in April and can’t believe he already turned one in August.  He loves his brother, which we hope lasts for awhile, and just started walking.

We hosted a couples bible study this year and celebrated the end of our first study by surprising Hubby for his 30th birthday in June.  Hubby’s still designing power plants and any other carpentry project Alyssa schemes.

In August, Alyssa celebrated her 30th birthday by hiking a 14,000 foot mountain with Hubby.  She’s recently returned to writing and thanks Hubby for wrestling with the boys so Mommy can update her new website,

This is the first year we don’t have an Army move pending and hope you can visit us in Colorado soon.  Thanks for remembering us with your beautiful Christmas cards.  We are thankful to have made such amazing friends throughout the years.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Love Hubby, Alyssa, Bubba, and Zek-ee


Update to DIA Welcome Home Christmas Celebration

By , December 23, 2009 8:53 am

So much fun at DIA yesterday.  If you are interested, the group will be at DIA all day today and Christmas Eve.  (Here’s my original post on the subject)  The best part about this project was that we had no idea if we would see one soldier or none coming out of arrivals.  We saw almost ten during the two hours we cheered and it was worth it to see their surprised and grateful smiles as they came off of the escalator.  One airport employee commented she had no idea that many soldiers came through the airport every day until she listened to how many times we cheered.

Merry Christmas!  I’m remembering my Dad in Baghdad without family this Christmas and counting down the days till his airport coming!


From Army to Mommy: My Story Part III

By , December 21, 2009 11:30 pm

Missed the first part of the story?  Start here.

It only took a week or two before the novelty of college FREEEEDOOOMM (said with Mel Gibson gusto) wore off.  After playing ping pong until 3 a.m. several nights in a row with my newfound friends, I started to wonder why I was the only one getting up two hours later to exercise.  I learned quickly that Army physical fitness was not a “how about a few sit-ups and jokes around the weight set?” kind of deal either.  I came to the Gonzaga ROTC program barely able to complete 15 “knee” push-ups and within two months could easily knock out 40 real ones.  I froze my rear end off running along the Spokane River Walk, began my lifetime loathing of flutter kicks (an evil, EVIL ab exercise), and kind-a started to feel tough.

I launched into my leadership education about the time my skinny arms developed muscle and I discovered the art of calling cadence (One, Two, Three, and a Quarter… Somebody, Anybody, Get me some water!).   Along with attending my other academic classes, I drove to Gonzaga three times a week for ROTC classes and outdoor lab.  Quite a switch in thinking to study core theology concepts in the morning and react to an ambush in the afternoon.

I wish I could say that education was the only thing on my mind those first few months of college, but my journal tells a different story.  To be honest, my journal is a little embarrassing.  I recently thumbed through the pages of September 1997 to March 1998 and prayed two things today: 1. Please don’t let my sons ever find this boy-crazy-nonsense  2. If I ever have a daughter, please remind me of these journal entries when she goes through her boy-crazy-nonsense.  No kidding, every other entry in my diary detailed some new dude I’d met and fallen for.

After sifting through too many pages of nauseating twitter-pation, I did find one or two heart felt entries. One on Valentine’s Day, February 1998, read: “I miss home, but where is home?  I stress about school and ROTC and grades and money.  I guess this is what real life is like.  I’m so lonely.”  At that point in my life I wanted to belong so much and unfortunately equated belonging to having a boyfriend.  To make matters worse, a pattern emerged with every new boy I met.  Initial attraction became clumsy friendship and then, boy learned that girl was more than girl, girl was ARMY girl, POOF, boy chased other girl. Almost every male interest I met my freshman year viewed me as not just a girl, but an Army girl.  In my experience, those nineteen-year-old boys thought my combat boots were intriguing from far away, but intimidating within reach.  I had just broken up with the only boy I thought would understand my military call with no replacement in sight.

I decided not to date anyone within the ROTC program, despite a crush or two I kept on some of them.  Early on, I joked that there was enough Army in me for whoever I dated and kind of stuck to that thought.  In April 1998, however, I became a desperate.  I needed a date to my first military ball and couldn’t think of anyone that would be up for it.  The annual Gonzaga ROTC gala was a tough sell. Hey Whitworth guy, wanna go to a fancy dinner and dance where you won’t know anyone except me and all the other guys will be in tough Army greens?  No wonder men weren’t lining my dorm hallway begging to be my date.

I was just about to break my “no-Army-dating” rule and ask another cadet, when I met him.  Tall, dark, and handsome, a Whitworth football player, and fellow Army brat, he seemed to good to be true.

To be continued…


Denver Christmas Service Project- Support the Troops

By , December 20, 2009 7:21 pm

Join me Tuesday to support troops coming home!  Bring your flags, patriotic (please not political) signs, and cheer our soldiers flying into the Denver International Airport.  I know it’s almost Christmas and there are a million reasons not to drive out to the airport, but forget about the checklist.  I’m meeting friends Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. in the middle of the airport next to the fountain to cheer for any soldiers that come up the arrival escalators.  Contact me if you need additional information.  Not local?  Start your own service project at your airport!  Imagine the support these troops will feel if this celebration spread across the states Christmas week.  I will never forget my last airport welcome home celebration.  Hope to see you there!

P.S.  Thanks to the Cherry Hills Community Church Support the Troops Ministry and Ken Whatmore for having the idea and starting this movement!


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