This is the time of year when I usually start looking for Hearty things. Growing up in Pennsylvania and Colorado this was the time of year when the skies clouded over, the wind blew hard and the snow fell freely.

Naturally I find myself craving those Hearty things. Soups that coat your insides and radiate heat from deep in your belly. Sweaters that envelope you in soft and cozy comfort. Mittens that shield your delicate phalanges from the icy steering wheel. Bear hugs from loved ones that recharge your soul. Late evenings of cuddling on the couch with your toes tucked under your husbands legs for warmth.

So as the days here in Yuma get "colder", dropping so low as to reach the 40's at night, that old familiar craving for all things Hearty comes creeping in. Since I cannot bring myself to stand over a soup pot as the 70 degree sunshine streams in my kitchen windows I will tell you, instead, about a Hearty day I had recently.

Being married to a Marine comes with certain negative aspects....long hours, deployments, really stinky laundry... But it also has a much longer list of positives, one of which is called
Jane Wayne Day.
This is essentially take-your-wife-to-work-day on steroids. Since one
of the negatives aspects of Marine Corps life had popped up that week (Chris was sent to San Diego all week for training) I went to Jane Wayne Day all by my lonesome.

First we divided off into smaller groups of wives and headed out to different stations. My group's first station was MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program). In a pit of ground up tire pieces they taught us some different self-defense maneuvers which we got to practice on each other. Next it was on to the Obstacle Course. I have heard about this course ever since Chris decided to join the Marines. They make the Marines run it a lot and they have to complete it in a certain time frame. I was feeling a tad nervous looking at all the objects that I was supposed to hurtle myself over and I was wishing I had my cheering section (Chris) with me instead of having to go at it all alone. Of course they had Marines stationed along the course helping us with each stop but there is nothing quite the same as having your husband as the one making sure you don't fall on your butt. In the end I made it up, over and around every obstacle save the rope climb at the end (my shoulder injury would not allow for it). I was very proud!

Next they gave us a taste of part of the CFT (Combat Fitness Test). We sprinted, low crawled, baby crawled, dragged a "casualty", fireman carried the "casualty", carried ammo cans, and threw a fake grenade into a target zone. It was exhausting and I didn't even get to the end before it was time to rotate stations.

Next, video gamers prepare yourselves, we went to the virtual shooting range. We learned how to load a pistol and an M-16 and got to practice shooting them at the large wall of screen. They were hooked up the computers so they recorded our shots without any bullets being fired. It was ok but the Marines there gave horrible explanations (Chris is pro at explaining things) and I was ready for the real thing.

Luckily, after a quick lunch we got on a bus and headed out to the real shooting range! My group shot the pistol first. It was only the second time in my life I have fired a weapon and I LOVED it. We got to shoot 12 rounds and I managed to get 10 on the target, impressing myself with 2 in the head and 4 in the chest. Yea, I dare you to come after me! Next was the M-16 which I had fired at TBS family day in May. This was more fun because there was something more than an open field to shoot into. I did ok but the dang thing weighs a ton! Lastly we were treated to the shotgun. Wowza, that thing has some power behind it! I got to load and fire 10 rounds and it was a blast (literally). I could have spent all day there but alas bullets do not grow on trees....

We headed back to base and took a seat in the Nite Lab were we learned how Night Vision Goggles operate. Then we went into their dark room and got to try them out. It is amazing how much you can see with the smallest amount of light! They showed us different chemicals that are visable to the NVG's but not the naked eye and we also got to see how an Infared Camera works. We had a quiz at the end and I won a chem light stick for explaining the difference between how NVG's (night vision goggles ) and FLIR (forward looking infared) operate.

Lastly, I got to fly in the flight simulator. It is a trippy experience and made me a little dizzy, you sit in the pilots seat and are surrounded by video screens that simulate the area and react to your controls. It was cool to use the same controls they use when actually flying and the Marine helping me even showed me how to do a loop-di-loop (technical term...).

After all this I headed home confidant that even though my husband was unable to witness my amazingness (another technical term) I had done well! It was a Hearty day to be sure.

As you head off into your Turkey induced coma this week please add the men and women of our armed forces to your list of things to be thankful for. It is because of their Hearty nature and resilient attitude that we can enjoy our feast in peace.