Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ROUND 2! STILL HERE

All right everybody round 2! Still here so though I would give you a walk around. Lets start with a disclaimer. Per the next picture a lot of areas are off limits for taking pics. But I got a few. Here goes.



One of our many restricted area's. I mean we can go into these area's but no cameras and stuff



This is SGT Felix. One of my medics. This is pretty much what we doing cause we are on call for our flight. There are some pretty narly sand storms up north right now so the birds cant fly. So we wait!



We do have our own movie theatre though. They play all the new releases and show them from 0700 all the way until past midnight. Oh yeah and free popcorn! All you can it!



Kinda got in the way of this picture. Those are our temporary/permanent "houses".



Temporary/Permanent!!! Yeah figure that one out.



And of course the "BEAST" this is the heart of it all. I mean this creature has like a 100 hearts but this is one of the many generators that power everything out here. Its a massive CAT engine that produces masses amounts of energy. I wish someone was standing next to it. Try going to sleep with that thing humming in the background!



On the left is our tents on the right is the showers. Notice the waters tanks on the side. Every drop of water on this base is trucked in. When its gone its gone. And yes there have been a few times in the shower, standing there with soap in my eyes and the water just goes "poof" gone! Not fun.



This is me and MAJ Manson in our counter improvised explosive class. We spend a year training for deployment just to show up and get our years worth of training in 2 weeks. Thats the way to spend tax payer dollars. But don't stop the Baskin Robins. I really enjoy that and my white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for desert.



Counter IED training. the PT belts are my favorite ( the reflective belt for you non military types) We are supposed to wear them at night so people can see us! Can we say walking target. Just remember bob and weave, bob and weave.


video

Anyway just kinda bored here. We do have pool tables dart boards and I did learn the game of badgammon. Loads of fun. Just looking forward to actually moving on and doing my job. Hopefully the next blog will be from IRAQ. See ya'll then.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Boys and Bugs

An Excerpt

Dear Journal,

Life here is great. I am king in my world, and my world is good. My servant, I mean my mom, is especially proud of me this week. I have been a great helper and she really appreciates it.

For example, one morning this week I was super bored. Usually my buddy Jace comes over and we go on a walk and play all day long, but on this day that didn't happen. I think my mom told me it was for some unimportant reason like she had to go shopping for food to feed 350 Relief Society sisters during a broadcast thing she was on the committee for...I don't know, I wasn't really listening. I mean, she talks ALL the time. A guy can only listen for so long. I really miss my dad at times like this.

So anyway, she was super busy trying to get ready to go and I just thought I would help her out a little. First I tried to help her pick out which clothes she should wear, but she must not have liked any of the ten different shirts I pulled off the hangers and threw on the floor, because she just picked them back up. After that I noticed she was about to get in the shower and I thought she might get lonely in there all by herself. She didn't even have any bath toys to play with! So I tried to help by screaming, crying, yelling, and banging constantly on the door until it opened while she had shampoo in her eyes and couldn't see to close it. My mom was so happy about that she let me create my own indoor slip-'n-slide from all the water that got on the floor. It was pretty cool until I fell on my face really hard and mom had to cut her shower short to come help me.

Good thing I am a fast recoverer. My mom needed me! First we cleaned up the slip-'n-slide. My mom used a towel and I used an entire roll of toilet paper. Then I kept her company by whining incessantly as she dressed and did her hair and makeup. It was probably the best, most longest series of whining I have ever done. I was pretty proud. I also went the extra mile by re-organizing her bathroom drawers without even being asked. What would she do without me?

Breakfast is my favorite time of day. Actually, every meal is my favorite time of day because I get to show my mom what a great multitasker I am. I mean, how many eighteen-month-olds do you know who can simultaneously eat their food with one hand, and crush food and throw it with the other? That takes skill. Usually after I show this talent off to my mom she rewards me by playing a fun game she calls "Pick it up NOW!" and then putting me in these super great things she calls "timeouts." It's awesome! I love my crib! I love being with myself! That's the great thing about me. When it comes to discipline, I am a bowl of jelly. Do what you may, I will always go right back to my original form. My mom really appreciates the challenge this presents her. I wouldn't want her to get too bored.

So then things got even more fun. After we played the game "Howl Like a Demon in the Tub" and had a good old-fashioned wrestling match as my mom tried to get me dressed, the phone rang and she said she had to answer it. I guess it was somebody important because she was on the phone for-eve-ver!!! I mean, at least five minutes. I was super bored, so I decided to conduct my own experiment. The water on the bathroom floor was pretty cool, I thought. So what would happen if I climbed up on the kitchen table and then poured out an entire water bottle onto the freshly mopped kitchen floor?

Genius! My mom was so ecstatic by this point in the morning that when she came running in to see my performance, instead of a standing ovation at the end she gave me something even better. My mom very calmly walked into our pantry, shut the door, and then all I heard was a loud series of screaming and banging. I mean, she was going nuts in there! It was easily my proudest moment. When she came out she let me spend a lot of time in my crib, just how I like it, while she got everything else ready to go.

Later that day I would interrupt several stake leaders during important meetings, run like a crazy person through Sam's Club, and play the church piano with my feet.

What a great day!

Tonight I think I will surprise my mom by getting eight new molars at two o' clock in the morning. Maybe we will even have a party and stay up all night long celebrating this new accomplishment. I mean, she really deserves it.

And the best news is, I'm not even two yet! My mom is so lucky.

Well, time to climb into the bathroom sink and turn the hot water on my new shoes until I scream bloody murder. See you tomorrow, Journal!

-Bennett

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HOSTILE TAKEOVER!!!

OPERATION NEW DAWN 2010-2011

All right everybody check it out. I'm gonna do my best to do a weekly/monthly account of my time over here in the sandbox. Haley and I have alot of people that love and care about us and we want you all to be part of this with us. Now for obvious reason I will not be able to disclose certain locations and exact time frames but hey it works. So there will be a lot of pictures, and this will also kinda serve as a little journal for our family in that Haley gets our blogs printed for us. So a little genealogy for us. With that I do need to put in a little disclosure or whatever warning its called. My plan is to be very blunt with things. My feelings on the matter on what I see and I will try to be true to those that are here with me in that some might find items or words they disagree with or might even find harsh and inappropriate. I cannot apologize for the truth on what emotions maybe felt and portrayed here. But I hope whoever follows or blog and goes on this little adventure with my family and I will receive these things in the spirit they are given in.

Let me first say I have wanted to be a Soldier ever since I was a little boy. Not only cause I get to play with some really cool "toys" but deeper than that. I love my country! I love fighting for my country! I love fighting for you! Those that know me understand the depth of those statements. My loved ones my family and friends. It is a terrible thing being so far away from those you love. But the sacrifice is worth it. Every night I pray and give thanks to our Father in Heaven for the safety of the day. For the safety of my Soldiers and for the safety of my family. I have had many experiences in my life well the Lord has shielded me from harm. I know he will continue to do so. All right enough of that lets get to the pics.




Of course my best friend in the whole wide world, my inspiration for breathing, my angel, Haley!



As Haley stated earlier Nate (my Bro-in law) came down the day I left. Nate sure is a great guy! Meant alot that he could come.



Of course Mom and Dad came down always good to have them. The joke is that Wayne is gonna miss me the most!!



Of course prior to leaving there is alot of waiting. This is me showing up my little sexed up M-4. It pays to be friends with the armorer. Hey just because I'm a medic doesn't mean I cant fight like an infantry guy.


MY FAMILY!!! This is why I do it. Don't really need to say much more than that!



Thats right baby got me a good one before heading out!



Now Haley didnt know it but I left some very specific instructions to Bennett cause he was gonna be the man of house while I'm away. According to his mom he is doing a smashing job!




All right so this is our layover in Germany. I just thought this was funny. If you look in the shadows to the left of the sign you will see all the smokers.



This is me in Germany. I believe we had been up for about 28 hrs by this point. Still rockin' baby!



Now this is pretty cool at all the layover points Soldiers, since the beginning of the war have left patches and name-tapes in different airports. Somebody pointed this one out to me. Some guy named "Hargrave" must have put this patch here back in like 2005-2006. I don't know who. Must have been one heck of a guy. :)



Okay so first view of Kuwait outside the airport. Yes that is all trash. And there is miles and miles of it. Trash and sand! Thats it! Nothing else! DO NOT PLAN YOUR NEXT VACATION HERE!



Oh yes the tallest structures in the whole country. Power lines that run to the oil processing plants. And yes those are houses behind them.



Entrance to Camp Beuhring. We have to start here to acclimatize and process before heading into theater. Haley asked me how it was. I said ( and I'm serious about this) get a blow dryer turn it on directly in front of your face and enjoy.



Outer perimeter. Security guards. All out resourced. Makes you sleep real comfortable at night! Yeah right! I don't like it at all. I would rather have some good ole American boys on that fence guarding my back!



For obvious reasons cant really show you pics of our HQ. But that is our BN XO and the S-3 both very high-speed Rangers. The BN XO on the left was actually with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan when they took massive casualties a few years back. He really likes medics.



So here is our temporary/permanent shelters where we sleep while in Kuwait. Not much as you can see but at least the A/C works.



Thats Me!

All right that's it for now stayed tuned for next time. Adios!!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Racing Time

I ran cross country for four years in High School. About once a week we would have a meet with another school in our area. Coach would gather us together before a practice on Monday and tell us who we would be racing that Friday. The rest of the week was spent preparing for the upcoming race. If there were going to be a lot of hills on the course, we would run a lot of hills in practice. If there was a long finish line at the end, we would practice sprinting and doing intervals. I hated intervals.

Every Friday I would wake up with butterflies in my stomach. The entire day, as I was acting normal on the outside, I would be all jumpy and nervous on the inside. What would the race be like? Could I improve my time? Who would be my lead? Would stupid Riley Butters be there? (Riley Butters was from a different school and insanely fast. I think she won every meet we ever had. No fair.) Friday afternoon the school secretary would come on the intercom and announce that it was time for the cross country team to load the buses. And then I would really start to panic.

Once we got to the race site, we would split into our separate Boy/Girl, JV/Varsity teams and "walk the course." We would get to see first hand what was in store for us, and picture ourselves running the required distance in the fastest possible time. Our team captains would give us pointers, since they were usually older and had run the course in previous years. And then, because I grew up in predominately LDS Rexburg, Idaho, we would all fold our arms and link pinkies with the girl next to us as somebody offered a prayer. "The Pinky Prayer." And for some reason just knowing that I would be running alongside some of my best friends, that they would be in pain and throwing up at the end, too, made me feel a lot better. Like I wasn't alone in this thing. We were all in it together.

Lining up was the hardest part. I always thought my butterflies, which were the size of large birds by this point, were going to beat out of my chest and I would die of a heart attack before the man with his tiny fake gun could even pull the trigger. Seriously, it has been over five years since my last race, and my legs feel like jelly right now just remembering these moments. The thought, "Why am I doing this?" usually found its way into my head, but before I could back out a single shot would sound, and we were off.

And I was fine.

Always after the race began, I was fine. My nervousness died, and I would simply focus on my goal, put my head down, and try to make it one more step. The race itself would vary in difficulty. Some had sand, some had mud. Some were out in the middle of a dessert and all you could see was sagebrush and the person in front of you. There were hills and there were rocks and there was usually either a burning hot sun or a freezing wind because Idaho weather could never make up its mind during the Fall. I will admit right now that there were a lot of times I seriously considered just laying down on the side of the road and quitting. But when things got hard I would try think positive stuff like, "You got this, Haley," or "At least you're not doing as bad as that girl." (yes, I refer to myself in the third person when I think in my head.) And it didn't seem so bad anymore.

There were also a lot of people on the sidelines cheering for me. My coaches, teammates, friends, and always, always my parents who never missed a meet/game/program/recital/concert in my entire life. They would stand at the hardest parts and cheer so loud I sometimes started laughing instead of thinking about how horrible what I was doing was. They helped me get through the hard parts and keep going. To the next tree, to the next girl, to the end.

And then I would see the finish line and know it was almost over. And that was the second hardest part for me. To be so close and so tired was torture. But I always made it, and suddenly it would all be over. All the training, all the practice. All the nervousness and anticipation and sweat and pain. Over. And I'm being patted on the back by the girl behind me and panting out "Good job" to the girls in front of me. And I'm just done.

And I feel good. Like I accomplished something.

I've thought about this a lot in the last week. About all the little things I've learned from running. Mostly about how sometimes hard things end up being really good things, even though they are really hard. Which brings me to my point (because I'm sure you were wondering if I even had one until now).

Matt deployed to Iraq yesterday. He will be gone for a year, (although we keep telling ourselves six months, since he can come home for two weeks half way though.) I'm not going to lie, sending him off was one of the hardest things I have had to do. Matt is my best friend. He is my husband and my confidant. He is the daddy of our little boy (who will be two and a half when he sees him again). He was the last person I saw at night and the first person I saw in the morning, and I love him more than my heart can express.

But Matt is also a soldier. We signed up for this job. We love this job. It provides us with a great life and so many opportunities we would never have had without it. Yes, it's hard sometimes, like yesterday and probably a lot more times coming in the next year, but it's worth it to us. Like running a race.

Instead of my coach telling us about our next meet one week before, Matt and I have known about this deployment for a long time. We have had countless meetings concerning the upcoming deployment with the Family Readiness Group, the Red Cross, The Battalion leadership, the Company leadership, and the Family Assistance Center. And instead of practicing for one week, we have been practicing for over a year. Talking about the deployment, preparing for the deployment, dreaming about the deployment. And the whole time we were practicing for what I knew was going to happen, I never really let myself stop to think about it. It was too far in the future for me to comprehend.

"Walking the Course" of the deployment happened within the last couple of weeks. Final preparations on the house, the bills, the car, the packing. I watched two of my good friends here send their husbands off one week before Matt was to leave. It was during this time that things got a little more real to me, because I could actually see the course we were about to run. I could mentally visualize myself sending him off and then going home to our house without him. And you know what? I was OK.

I'm not sure why I was OK, but I was. Maybe it's denial, or maybe it's because I know that what we are doing is for the best. Maybe it's because I am surrounded by "Team Captains" who have done this before. Who are doing it now. Friends who have more children than I do, or much younger children than I do. Friends who have had their husbands leave only weeks after moving to a new state, and were completely alone for extended tours upwards of 15 months. Friends who love me and understand exactly what I am going though. And being with these wonderful, strong women makes me feel like maybe I can be wonderful and strong, too.

Maybe I'm OK with the idea of Matt leaving because of the fantastic support system I have within my family, cheering me on the sidelines. My mom and dad, who have so graciously taken Bennett and me in for over a month during the holidays. Matt's parents, who were there with me when he left, and who I know are only a short drive away if I need them. Brothers and sisters from both sides who called before and after Matt left to make sure I was fine. And extended family who have called, emailed, facebooked, and texted their concerns for us. We are so lucky. We are so blessed.

With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can do this. He has always taken such good care of us. Always. Even with this deployment there are so many blessings. The fact the Matt was here for all of Bennett's firsts, but that he is still young enough he won't remember his daddy being gone. The fact that we will be able to pay off huge amounts of debt with the extra income we will be making. The fact that the war in Iraq is basically over, so the risk level is much lower. The fact that Matt can be promoted to Captain faster because deployments look good on his "Love Me" report. The fact that Bennett and I are in such a great place, with great friends, a great home, a great ward, and close to family. The fact that we will be together again soon.

Of course, when we took Matt to actually drop him off, it was super hard. It was the moment with the man and his little fake gun, and I'm holding my breath waiting for it to go off, thinking "Why am I doing this?" But before I could convince Matt to go A-Wall with me, the buses started to pull up and Matt's name was called. So after a tearful goodbye, and one final wave to the bus as it pulled out, I turned around, gathered up our little boy, and drove home.

And we are fine.

My nervousness died, and I am simply focused on my goal, putting my head down, and trying to make it one more step. I can't write about the actual race, yet. I'm only at the beginning. I am sure that there will be some parts in the future that I will just have to push through. Some hills and some sand. At some points I may feel like just laying down on the side of the road and giving up. But I am also sure that I am going to make it. That all those people cheering for me, and all those people running with me, will help me remember that I am not alone. That when it is all over I will be better for it. And when things get hard I will try to think positive stuff like, "You can do this, Haley. You are strong." And guess what?

I really am. :)

Matt and Bennett's last picture at our home before heading to the base. Bennett has become quite the hat guy lately. He put this on all by himself.

Between drawing your weapon and actually getting on the bus there is a five-hour wait where you are not allowed to leave the base. This is pretty much what we did the entire five hours. SO exciting. I think the Army does this on purpose, because it was almost a relief to see the buses come after sitting for so long...almost. (That's me laying on the floor with Bennett sitting on me in the background. Longest day ever.)

There was a pool table in the lobby of the barracks we were waiting in, so Matt taught Bennett how to play a little. Bennett loved it.

My handsome guy, all geared up and ready to go. Really, I think Matt was ready to go a long time before yesterday. His brain has been in Iraq for a few days now. I'm glad his body is finally catching up.

One last family picture

Waiting to load the buses. (Matt's the one with the black backpack on)

One last goodbye from Daddy

Bye, Sweetheart. See you soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

THE HARGRAVE HOME

All right everybody try to control yourself. After long anticipation we have the updated pictures of our house. We have been living in our first home for well over a year now and as some of you know I am days from leaving on a wonderful year vacation in tropical Iraq!! So we have done a few improvements we have been saving up for and some little conveniences that will help Haley out during my "vacation". So enjoy the show!!



So we have a small home and the laundry room is in the garage. So one day we got the bright idea to continue the tile from the entry hall into the garage to kinda give Haley something better to walk on instead of cold, dirty concrete!
(FYI, it was like 110 degrees the day I laid tile!!)




View from the entry hall.



These are some of our first improvements. This is the dining area painted for those that havent seen.



This one is to show the box light in the kitchen. The house came with this florescent light fixture that belonged in a garage. I added another one and built a box around it so Haley would have more light to make all that yummy food that makes me get fat!!



This is our new and improved living room. We were sitting around with our neighbors and we decided the old mantel was ugly so we ripped it down and then thought, hey whats behind this wall so being a college grad. I took a hammer and knocked a hole in the wall and then built the new mantel and mounted our TV over the fire place which opened up little room to make it a little more cozier. Also the mantel holds a secret.



So here we have a closeup. Nothing really to write home about just a simple colonial inspired design. But wait..........where is the rest of the entertainment center????




BAM!!! The front of the mantel flips down to reveal a surprise inside. DVD player on the right and Dish Reciever on the right. This was actually pretty tricky and took some wiring talent. I'm not a big fan of electricity. (ask Haley sometime about me, the fan, and stopping my heart! Great story, but yeah it hurt! A LOT!!!) Any way we really like it cause now our entertainment center is not the focal point the fireplace is and we can actually hook pictures to the TV and it just looks like one of those rotating picture frames over our mantel.



Again did a little more painting. But I also installed a drop lamp over the tub that is on a dimmer switch. The fixture actually came from my Mom's house. It's pretty special to her. When she visits she always checks to make sure its still there. Haley likes it and its worth the hurt, pain, electrocution it took to install it. Anything for my girl!!



Of course this is "My room" very Texas. Believe it or not Haley actually really likes this room. I quote, "I like this room better then the master bedroom".




Our guest bathroom, nothing to different.



I am very big (and yes sometimes a little paranoid) about the safety of my family. So for my "vacation" we had an alarm system installed. Its actually very cool. I wont go into to much detail on the system but lets say "bad guys bring it on" and if you make it past the first line of defense my wife will execute her second ammendment rights with extreme prejudice.



Also no more opening that garage door by hand we have entered the 21st century, and yes, Haley will be able to park the car in the garage.
(notice the tennis ball hanging from the ceiling? That's so Haley knows how far to park in the garage)




As Haley said on the last post these are the infamous bags that have packed, I believe going on 8 times now. I'm betting an even 10 before I get on a plane.




This is the best back porch ever! We installed a screen door so haley can hear Bennet breaking something when she is inside. Also Haley and I decided we could lay concrete by ourselves. Notice the grill on the right side. Yeah we did that. I estimated we would need 4 bags of concrete, and 14 bags later and 3 trips to the hardware store we were done! I was a little off, but Haley was pretty patient with me. She is the best!





So Haley could park in the garage we had to move a lot of items to a shed we built in the back yard. Bennett loves this place. Its like his little hangout. Just him and his mower. Life just doesn't get much better.




And of course the front all finished. No dead spots and the garden is finished. Haley and Mom did a great job. Somebody actually stopped and asked Haley what company we used for our landscaping! Yeah my girls rock!



Of course to finish it off here is my little flower next to her flower's. She sure does a great job taking care of our home. I just love leaving work to hang out with the two best people in the world! So there it is our first home. It has been fantastic and quite the journey. Thank you to all that have helped us make it so and of course to Haley for all the hard work she does in making it beautiful and for putting up with my million and one projects that I always seem to come up with, no really all the time, always a project. She must love me!