Maureen's Marine

Maureen Valenzi posts daily blogs on her personal perspectives of life - and about her United States Marine, LCPL Ian M. Valenzi, currently serving at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

Maureen's Marine

US Marine Corps Blog/everyday life as a Marine mom

LCPL Valenzi, Ian M. - USMC

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marine Stone my one-star flag
keeps me company

when I sit on the
porch -

and sometimes I find
myself just staring
at it

always a reminder that
I have a Marine at war

and oh so far away

I found a Marine stone
for my garden . . .

another tribute to my
warrior as Memorial Day

and a way for me to feel
that Ian is still just
maybe - sorta

close to home Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 11:48 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, May 20, 2012

the mark of a successful man
is one who can spend

an entire day
on the river bank

and not feel
guilty about

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:14 PM 0 comments Links to this post Advice my wake up call today -

is the realization that
I am not managing my stress
well at the moment

in all sincerity, I believed
today was Monday

I began my Monday routines
I began my Monday laundry
I sent emails as though I had
completely missed Sunday

today - a promise and a prayer
that I settle myself down

breathe -
believe that all will be well

and follow my own advice

stop and smell the flowers Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:44 AM 0 comments Links to this post Pansies reporting for duty, sir!

Ian . . .look at my
garden today!

made sure the delicate
flowers get only morning

carefully selected my
garden imps

and placed the pathway
lighting just where you

a moment of respite
(I hope) for you

from the sun, sand
and severe wind storms

of Afghanistan

today - for me...

stop and smell the pansies Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:03 AM 0 comments Links to this post Military Blog Award Here's my "badge" for
being a finalist on

the Military Blogging site

have met lots of military
parents - and so my blog

has served as a networking
tool and a source of therapy

for me

thanks to everyone who takes
the time to read my musings

~maureen valenzi Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 7:38 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Springtime in Sewickley Spring evenings are

my porch entices me
to stop -

and read

or just listen
to the birds

everyone's grass
is lush this time
of year

flower petals are bursting-
the trees proudly show off
their leaves

our little Victorian
town is

simple and sweet

and sits on the
Mighty Ohio River

the water is
only a block from home

and where Ian learned
to fish
Sewickley invites read:

"come have a porch night"

which translates to...

let's relax together
as the sun sets

adult beverage in hand

stimulating conversation included Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 5:58 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Motto all by my lonesome
I trimmed the pines

Ian showed me how to
shape them just so

what he forgot to tell
me was . . .

one is left with quite
the mess to clean afterward!

took me just as long to
sweep away the shavings

as it did to re-shape
the trees

patience and
pride and
plenty of water

Ian's mantra when
he worked outdoors

he epitomizes that
motto to this very day Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:03 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gramps today is Gramps'
88th birthday !

we are having lunch
together...and then
he will visit Grammy

she has no idea it
is a special day...

Grammy does not even
realize it is the
beautiful month of May

she is lost in her
long-ago thoughts

mostly, Grammy thinks
she is back in nursing
school - and that a
"mother" runs the home
where she lives

she has a far-away look
in her blue eyes . . .

but she seems happy, content
and full of stories to share

none of them are true or
accurate - but any and
every audience listens patiently

gauze shrouds her
memory -

every once in a while
I see a glimmer of her

that rises like a Phoenix
then evaporates as quickly

as it pushed through
the fog

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:55 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Monday, May 14, 2012

a quiet Monday, Ian

dad is at a church meeting
(*they can be so tiresome
and yet...he is loyal and
without complaint)

tomorrow promises to be
a beautiful day

no humidity
no rain
nothing but sunshine


I will toil away
in the garden you
encouraged me to grow

I will say private
prayers as I pull
weeds on hands and knees

I will be thankful
my boys are

contributing to society
working from dusk till dawn

to own and acknowledge

that they are now adults

in this wonderful world

they are my son's'hines

and the blessings overwhelm Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 7:46 PM 0 comments Links to this post Variety surprises me how
one day in Spring

can bring such lovely
fresh air, a glistening
sun and a whisper of a breeze

and the next...

a grey sky - with no
glimpse of the sun at all
sopping wet earth
beneath my feet

Ian deals with the blistering
heat day in and day out

week after week
month after month

my mother's heart tells
me he would give just about
anything for a little
change in his weather

variety -
the new spice in his life
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:05 PM 0 comments Links to this post Toby Keith
Toby Keith

for the Marines
at Camp Leatherneck

April, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 12:06 PM 0 comments Links to this post Thank You S'more !

from home

full of marshmallows
and graham crackers...

and Hershey's chocolate

for home-made S'mores!

Lots of happy Marines
at the 1st MLG-FWD ! Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 12:04 PM 0 comments Links to this post Soap and Water 1st MLG-FWD shower
and laundry area

the toiletry supplies are
shared - from all the boxes

sent to the Marines
from home

photo taken in
May, 2012
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 11:56 AM 0 comments Links to this post Peonies I celebrated the blossoms
on my peony bush yesterday!

Ian was always my gardening
cheerleader...and right on cue

a mother's day peony drooped
its heavey head in full beauty!

it was gift enough from my
Marine who is so far away

but -

early this morning

a short email from
Ian - full of regret

that he could not
get to the ONE and
only phone on
Camp Leatherneck

to call me on
Mother's Day

he felt so badly about it
he was frustrated about it
he could not control it

and so now . . .

perhaps it is clearer

why my position about
a holiday that causes

angst and sometimes
even pain

is not my favorite
day of the year

lest I forget it is
also a day of great
joy for so many

not sure it is
worth the hype

my Marine did not
need any added

pressure or worries
because the calendar
told us yesterday's
Sunday was Mother's Day

Ian has shared his gift of
gardening with me -

that trumps an obligatory
phone call any day of the year Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:33 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day The heart-wrenching grief for
mothers during the Civil War


the loss of their sons

and so, the original beginning
and meaning of the day

was established to find common ground for the
women whose sons died while
fighting for both the North
and the South

but now

Mother's Day is clearly
almost completely commercialized

the holiday has morphed into an opportunity
for big business to prey upon the
"guilt complex" or gratitude from children
that traditionally can only be expressed
with showering of gifts

I am truly glad for people who find
Mother's Day a wonderful opportunity
to gather with family - share a meal -
go to a ball game - or just enjoy a cup
of tea together

I still struggle with the entire notion
of a special day just for Mothers
and certainly being the center of attention
for an entire day is not something I look
forward to

my own mother has no idea we are in the
glorious Spring season - she believes the
month is October and Autumn is about to begin

maybe it is good she does not know today is
Mother's Day . . . we can have that cup of tea,
watch the birds - or smell freshly cut grass

just about any day we choose Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:26 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Onward A Marine - gives the
ok for Afghan
citizens to

pass by after an
inspection for

IED's - and other

photo taken
May, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 3:31 PM 0 comments Links to this post Lending a Hand A Marine -

sits on a patrol base
in Helmand Province,
Afghanistan . . .

the children have come
to love the United States
Marines -

because they give them treats

Ian tells me he stuffs his empty
pockets with gum, tic-tacs and
life savers for the children Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 3:23 PM 0 comments Links to this post Dawn's Early Light A lone United States Marine
greets the dawn

in Helmand Province,

he is 'on watch'

photo taken May 2, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 3:18 PM 0 comments Links to this post The Good Earth Ian is missing a
gorgeous Spring

in Southwestern

his work keeps him
occupied 24/7

his jobs keep changing
and Ian makes personal adjustments

the way you and I stroll
through our daily routines

Ian loves the outdoors --
good thing, I suppose

but the desert is new
territory - even for my

so I post refreshing posies
to remind him there still

is softness in the world

there still are aromas that
will always remind him of home

and that as Spring renews and
refreshes the good earth

there will always be a place
for him in the world Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 3:03 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother Nature the coolness of morning
gives me opportunity to wish

I could blow a puff
of its refreshment to Ian

already temperatures in
the Helmand Desert are
soaring over 100 degrees
before the sun hits its peak

Ian loves the sun - basks in
its ferocious presence

and I know he will never
complain about the heat

but there is no denying the
fact the Marines are not only
exposed to the sun's constant
and unrelenting sizzle -

they strap 50 pounds of
equipment to their backs
each and every day
as they embark on their

and not once - not even
a hint of complaint has
Ian uttered about the heat

so today, as I trim my
red Chinese Maple tree and
the breeze blows through my hair

I will secretly ask Mother Nature
to take her sweet breath of fresh
air to my Marine
in Afghanistan -

even if only for a moment's respite
from the blazing heat

a gift from his mother -
who believes in the enchantment
of Mother Nature

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 9:20 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Milblogging Nomination to all my faithful blog
readers . . .

Maureen's Marine

has been nominated as
"Best Military Parent Blog"

again this year.

I am very flattered, humbled
and was taken by complete surprise

the milblogging.com site has
over 2500 blogs and over 3700

Maureen's Marine is in the top
five finalists thanks to all of
you who read it

such an honor -

I search for grace and the
right words to simply say

thank you

(voting is closed - and winners
are announced at a national convention
this weekend in Virginia) Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 12:28 PM 1 comments Links to this post Impact I seem to have adopted
new rituals since Ian

left for Afghanistan

of course I check daily
for emails -

and when I receive one from my Marine
I hard copy it and paste
it into a hardcover scrapbook

I read an on-line Marine magazine
called THE CONVOY --

every article and message in The Convoy
is positive, encouraging and full of
current photographs

shopping, packing and mailing
goodie boxes is still therapeutic -
Ian never tires of tangible
love from home

quiet moments always bring my
thoughts to Ian and his missions

although I sometimes feel that he
keeps me in the dark about particulars

I know just enough for my mother's
heart to ache, worry and hope

The United States Marines has managed
to capture
our entire family --

and friends ask about Ian almost daily

he has no idea the impact he has made
on us all --

or the world Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 11:58 AM 1 comments Links to this post Combat Patrol
Tactical vehicles cross
an expanse of desert

this combat patrol supported
counter insurgency operations

in Helmand by providing
235 TONS of equipment


5,000 gallons of fuel

photo taken May 6, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 11:35 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dandelions I cursed the heaviness
of the dirt in my garden

the rains keep coming and
the weeds scoff at my
feeble attempt to outwit

but as I was on bended knee
engaged in a tug of war
with a spiny dandy-tiger

it occurred to me that
Ian has no refreshing rain
to cool his sunburned face


there is no mud in the desert
of Afghanistan

weeds choke-off from mere
lack of water

a personal tongue-lashing
was in order -

as I shifted my thinking
from complaints of a heavy
spade ladened with mud --

(acknowledged that Ian is in
a real war with no tugging involved) --

a prayer of thanksgiving
for blessed rainwater
seemed so much more appropriate

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 2:00 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Monday, May 7, 2012

Photo Op I would really love
a current / new

photo of Ian

been so very long
since I have laid
eyes on him

and the photos on the
blog . . .

seem so out-dated...
foreign --
and old

note to self:

when Ian comes home
for R & R . . .


of photos

no matter how much
he objects !!

View My Milblogging.com Profile
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:47 PM 2 comments Links to this post High Alert
Marines on patrol
in Helmand Province

insurgent activity has
increased over the past
ten days

photo taken May 4, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 2:08 PM 1 comments Links to this post Fog snatches of peace
keep us calm

pieces of history
give us roots

the rains are

losing hold of
the reins is devastating

sometimes life just
isn't fair

attending a fare
makes up for it

once upon a time
mother was a miss

and now - all her
world is amiss

her mind becomes prey
for dementia's appetite

we pray the rest of
her days are filled
with tranquility
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 9:51 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Breathing I check email
first thing every

this morning -
was no different

mostly what comes
in I delete

but the ritual of
sitting down at
the computer

with my morning coffee
is how I jump-start
my day

today my heart raced
on all cylinders -

because there was an
email from Ian

nothing but positive
energy from my Marine -

all good news with
a happy spirit

Mother's Day came
early for me this year

I feel like I can breathe
again Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 9:31 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blessed Shade

seeking shade

from the blistering
hot desert sun

Helmand Province,
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:09 PM 1 comments Links to this post Fraternizing United States Marines
inter-acting with

Afghans - near Camp Leatherneck
Helmand Province, Afghanistan

photo taken May 2, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 12:58 PM 0 comments Links to this post Forced Adjustment he must be very

and very far
from communications

and very much entrenched
in a Marine mission

weeks and weeks
have passed since

any word, text or
email from Ian

four months he has
been in Afghanistan

four months I have
been trying to adjust

forever he will be
a changed man Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:17 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mother winter comes to us
in Spring this year

mother is stuck
in a parallel universe

her dilemma brings both peace
and great angst

she seems completely

but her fractured
being is evident

even to strangers

our job:

is to accept
encourage and

we must keep her safe
secure - and special

the endeavor takes
its toll

and although the price
feels burdensome and heavy
at the start

we shall continue to

indulge -

and strive to
give her

safety, security

and solace Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:11 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baby Steps twenty one years ago
I was a young mother

with three very little
boys . . .

story time
and quiet time
and bed time

were predictable
events in our

nothing interrupted

and now...

there is no

my youngest musketeer
turned 21 years old
this week

it's a good thing
as Miss Martha says...

only problem is:

I, too...

am 21 years older !

but oh the joy in
knowing . . .

adult children bring
satisfaction Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:36 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Snowman I remember long ago
on the snowiest of days

my father built
the best snowmen ever

he fashioned them with
great care

Dad took his time - it was
clear he enjoyed
the task

after careful crafting and
every minute detail fashioned
to his liking -

he stepped back
and basked in his

I am older now
and know that even
crisp winter
skies are home to a
glowing sun

so I clearly see ...

the white snow has melted
right before our very eyes

diminished and dwindled -
and dissolved forever

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 12:46 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Once Upon a Time once upon a time

and about 75 pounds ago

this is a photo I found
of Ian . . .

fighting the mansion
fire in Edgeworth

two years ago . . .

this is the kind of
stuff - that makes
Ian's heart beat

he knew a very long
time ago

that the
United States Marines

was his calling
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 4:43 PM 1 comments Links to this post Bulbs my garden calls to

even in the spitting

just had to plant one
more peony

(or two!) . . .

refrained from planting
the begonias

but only because
I couldn't decide

where to plant them!

cheapest therapy
around --

a spade -

and flower bulbs

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 3:48 PM 1 comments Links to this post The Interpreter An Afghan man speaks to a Marine
serving in Helmand Province

(with the help of an interpreter)

The man told the Marines
he was on his way to bury his father

who was killed during an insurgent
suicide bomber attack.

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 2:07 PM 1 comments Links to this post The Search Outside Camp Leatherneck in
Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Marines stop a motor cyclist
so they can inspect his bags

along with everything he is carrying

they are looking for insurgent
activity - and IED's

photo was taken April 26, 2012 Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 2:02 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Monologue things are still
very quiet

no word from Afghanistan

no text
no email
no phone call

the mantra

no news is good news

is comforting enough

because it has to be.

I continue to send
Ian motomail

and email and

it's therapeutic
for me to feel a
connection to him

even though

for now,

there is no dialogue

just a monologue

that I hope Ian hears Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:50 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nature's Gift again

once more

and as usual -

I spent the morning
hours weeding my garden

time on my hands and
knees is humbling

the quiet of my thoughts
gives me the opportunity

to reflect -
remember and

I know the bones
of my garden well

every stone and statue
gives me solace

but today was
extra special

while sweeping the
tree droppings from
the dirt . . .

I found

a perfectly formed
beautiful blue robin's egg

nestled between
the pines

so, although I didn't exactly
'stop and smell the roses'

I did take the time to fully
appreciate the wonder of that
bird egg -

and prayed the mother bird
trusts the universe to

treasure her life's work

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:47 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Home Away from Home This is Ian's
welcome sign
in Helmand Province

A photo from inside
the Camp Leatherneck

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 1:13 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Quiet am back in the

no news-good news mode

been weeks since we
heard from Ian

I'm no better at
this than I was

months ago

maybe that's the

until I learn to

and trust
and believe

I will have


not mastered
the worry monster

quite yet

Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 7:10 PM 0 comments Links to this post Vote April 24, 2012

election day
in the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania

the weather has settled
the sun is shining
the polls are open

this privilege of
casting a vote is
just one of the many

the Marines and all our
troops protect

our knee-jerk reaction
should be to run to the
polls --

a tangible thank you
to them all
Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 10:53 AM 0 comments Links to this post Thank You Moment
Football fans -
thanking our troops

before a game at
Lambeau Field in

the networks chose to
air a commercial -

in lieu of this patriotic
moment ...

which took all of
ten seconds Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 7:47 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Monday, April 23, 2012

Comfort Food severe weather is
a fascination
I can't seem to resist

the air changes (literally)
when extreme conditions
are predicted

I become fixated on
the sky and in my own
amateur fashion

I try to "read" the clouds
or watch how far the trees
bend in the wind to determine
what might fall from the sky

the process mesmerizes
and is so irresistible that

I find myself standing on
the porch - hoping Mother
Nature will work her magic
before my very eyes

when the birds stop flying
and I can no longer hear
their secret chirping cadence

a change in the weather
is imminent - my purpose
for the day takes an
immediate u-turn . . .

to the kitchen!
a pot of home made
soup - comfort food
to celebrate

an unexpected snowy
day near April's end Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:08 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hello? my history reveals that
I have never dashed

to answer a telephone

everyone knows:

I don't like to
chat on the telephone

email me if you need
to address just about

(however, Lou's reputation
is even worse!...at least I
return calls!)

point is --

my how things have

when the phone rings
and especially
if we do not recognize
the number

Lou and I make a mad
dash to answer

because --

it could be Ian
it might be Afghanistan
it may be our Marine


the phone calls are
simply political -
considering it's April
in Pennsylvania

but we just
never know

when it might be
Ian on the other
end of the telephone

hello? Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 2:06 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spice of Life the house smells of
cinnamon tonight

it is Ian's favorite

I lit apple-jack
candles and put
pure cinnamon oil

in my light
bulb rings

there is a special
welcome about
the aroma of cinnamon

it does not have
to be

Christmas or
Thanksgiving or
any holiday

it's just

home Posted by Maureen Valenzi at 8:17 PM 0 comments Links to this post Older Posts Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)

Lcpl Valenzi, Ian, M.

Afghanistan - 2012

Ian's Address:

(use this address for pkgs.)

LCPL Valenzi, Ian M. 2555
1st MLG FWD ( H & S Co. )
Unit 42170
FPO AP 96427-2170

To send Ian a LETTER:

Access: www.motomail.us
and set up an account
(make a note of Ian's address)

email: ianvalenzi@gmail.com

Graduation Uniform
Casual Uniform
Family Day Uniform
Dress Alpha Charlies


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