Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cowboy Up

On Thursday night Bennett and I were dusting the house (something that desperately needed to be done) when our friend Sarah called. She said that she was listening to the radio and had heard that it was Military appreciation night at the Killeen Rodeo. Translation: Free. Free parking, free dinner, free entrance. Sometimes being in the Army really does have its benefits. So Bennett and I threw aside our dusting (poor house) and headed to Killeen for the night.

The radio said that the dinner for military families would start at 5:00pm, so we made sure to get there exactly at that time. However, the dinner didn't actually start until 6:00pm, so we spent an hour waiting in line. It was a nice night though and Bennett had a fun time running around with all the other kids while we waited.

We finally did make it inside, at which point we were fed a delicious cowboy meal catered by Schoepf's, Matt's favorite BBQ joint here. Usually I don't really care for this kind of food, but for some reason I absolutely devoured everything on my plate, Bennett's plate, and the little boy's plate sitting next to us (he offered it to me). Living in Texas must be starting to rub off on me.

After our meal, we headed outside to see the cows and horses. Here's Bennett watching the 1st Cav Team gear up.

Inside the arena gates there were a ton of booths set up with lots of fun things to see and do. Mostly I just took this picture for Matt, so that he could see my cowboy boots, which I DO wear...when necessary.

The highlight of this night was when we passed a man selling pony rides. There was not even a hesitation on either mine or Bennett's parts. Unfortunately, the man said there was a weight limit, so Bennett had to have all the fun for us.

Needless to say, Bennett loved it. Afterwards he begged me to let him ride the cows, but I think we will hold off on that for a few more years.

This little face is my favorite.

Eventually we made it over to the bleachers to watch the actual rodeo. Bennett insisted he stand directly in front of the fence to see the horses better, and he never moved from this spot until I told him it was time to go home. If we could bring horses into sacrament meeting my life would be so much easier.

Watching the Cavalry perform. At one point these guys shot off a real cannon without warning and I almost jumped out of my skin. Bennett, on the other hand, never flinched. I can't decide if I am proud of this or slightly concerned...

We didn't stay at the rodeo very long once it started, but what we did see was very fun. We got home just in time to put Bennett in bed, finish cleaning the house, and welcome Griffin and Ashland who came for Memorial Day Weekend. But that is a different blog post. So until then.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear? Yee-haw!

Still Here

Well its been another glorious week here in beautiful sunny Iraq. We have had a few changes of command here and let me just say it is for the better. As we get closer to closing down shop here we, in true "Garry Owen" fashion have absolutely no idea when we will actually be closing down these wonderful check points on the northern border of Iraq. Which in turn means I have no idea when I can close down my 2 aid stations, and my 8 other locations that I have medics stationed at. Oh what a wonderful time to be in the Army. Anyway enjoy the pics.

So I walk out of my office after enjoying a mind stimulating x-box game of killing zombies and I see this sitting in my aid station. Apparently he had run into the back of a MRAP! I mean they are kinda hard to miss but apparently he didn't see it.

Of course we couldn't pass up a photo opportunity! Head injuries bleed alot.

3x staples to the scalp. Pretty stinkin cool if you ask me. We dont give any lidacaine or anything, we just pop them in...they dont really hurt...or that's what Doc says anyway. Just goes to show you never know whats gonna walk through the door.

So we just had or HHC change of command and of course the BDE COL flew in for it and of course we have to give out awards at this time. Now here is why this picture is important. All the people lined up were in the last 3x IED blasts that occurred last month. Now, that means they were all patients from the moment of the blast until the DOC releases them to full duty.

My job as the MEDO is to track them 24/7 until released. I dont like it when people get hurt. In other words its a good thing to have me bored out here. Some of these guys got their bell rung pretty bad so they were out for a bit, but all well now.

The Myth~The Man~The Legend
(I mean really, I make this look good!)

(Most people just call me the MEDO, I really think some of the guys I work with dont know my real name. I mean it is velcro'd to my shirt but hey, what'cha gonna do?!!!)

Ladies and Gentlemen this is the final picture of

1LT Matthew Hargrave

The next post will be that of

CPT Matthew Hargrave

Still here, live from Iraq!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Latest Going on's in Operation New Dawn

Well since I try to leave all the expert writing to my dear sweet wife I'll just talk about whats going on in my life through pictures. So enjoy the ride.

We had a recent change of command and of course that entails we lay out all the equipment that we brought with us that we never use and inventory it and then repack to send it back home to then just turn it in at Ft Hood and receive another couple $100,000 worth of medical equipment that we will probably never use. Your taxpayer dollars hard at work.

More and more layouts. The only good thing about this is we actually packed the container to ship it home. Just around 100 days left!

Now I recently moved back to Marez with the rest of the staff and I, unfortunately spend about 90% of my time with this view in front of me. Now let me remind you I am a "Medical Officer", but apparently it is important for me to attend the maintenance meeting, the morning XO meeting, the Commanders update brief, and of course the random little meetings that certain officers in our organization seem are so important.

So here is something funny. This is my new room at Marez (for those who have been following, I have been living on JSS India for the past 9 months) But a week after I moved in I moved back to JSS India. 2-7 BABY! Garry Owen!

So just when you think no one appreciates you I get this random phone call from an old medic of mine asking me if I would do his re-enlistment for him. I tell ya it sure meant alot. I had to call in a few favors to get myself a blackhawk ride back to Marez in time for it but it was sure worth it! I dont have many candid pictures of myself. I saw this picture and thought to myself, "who is that old man?", "Oh yeah, its me!" Kinda weird.

SSG Schmidt re-enlisting as a medic in the United States Army by CPT Matthew W. Hargrave, 2-7 CAV Medical Officer.

SSG Schmidt deployed with his wife. Pretty cool!

This is why we do it. Not just me out here but my dear sweet wife back home. It is defiantly a team effort, and you couldn't ask for a better partner. Tell me that boy doesn't just melt your heart!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rabbit Fest 2011

Two years ago I wrote about Rabbit Fest. Bekah and Nathan came up, it rained and rained until it was super muddy, and Bennett was about three months old. Well, this year we decided to attend the small town fair once again. And while some things were different--we went with our friends and Bennett was old enough to actually go on some of the rides--some things never change...

Here we are waiting out the torrential rains under a disassembled game booth. I am pretty sure there is some kind of natural law that it has to rain over Rabbit Fest weekend. In the end, we decided to go home and try again the next day. So after loading three very muddy strollers into the back of my car, and loading three very wet children into their car seats, and loading three very wet and muddy adults into their seats with one on the floor (hey, when you pay for parking by the car load you do what you have to) we drove back to our house through the rain and hail. But instead of ruining a perfectly good night, we decided to make the best of it by ordering pizza and watching a movie while the kids played in Bennett's room.

Our plan went off great, with everybody happy and the food being delicious, not to mention a lot cheaper than fair food at $4.00 a hotdog.

So there we were, hanging out at our house, when we looked out the window and realized that it wasn't raining anymore! In fact, it was a gorgeous night. Perfect for Rabbit-Festing. So two of the original four of us decided to throw our poor kids back in their seats and try it again.

When we arrived at the city park for the second time in two hours it was packed with people and cars and lots and lots of mud. But what would a fair be without people and cars and excessively dirty things? So we piled out and had ourselves a great time going from booth to booth and riding whatever rides our under 36-inch children were allowed to go on. Sadly, the kiddie roller coaster (or choo-choo train) was not included in the under 36-inch category, much to the dismay of our adrenaline seeking son who would love nothing better than to hold on for dear life and develop a severe case of whiplash. Maybe next year, Buddy.

We did, however, get to go on the Ferris Wheel (the big spinning spinning) and the Merry-Go-Round (the horsies), both of which Bennett loved and is still including in all meal and bedtime prayers.

The Ferris Wheel

I know he doesn't look very excited in this movie, but trust me, he hasn't stopped talking about it since we got off. That big spinning-spinning was just a lot to absorb...

Getting on the Merry-Go-Round. As soon as this ride started moving Bennett started throwing out the "diddy-ups" and the "yeeeee-haws." This kid has been around a horse or two...or maybe just his mom who spends a lot of time on her hands and knees giving out rodeo rides...

Besides rides, we also had a chance to walk around the vending booths and sample all the free stuff (we are cheap) and listen to a local garage band rock out after about fifteen minutes of tuning up and mic checks. Once they started they really were pretty good. And when Bennett took the dance floor by storm he provided an equally entertaining show for the masses. Well, for me, at least. But since I will always be Bennett's biggest fan, that's not really a surprise.

That night Bennett got to bed way too late and I spent about four hours the next day involved in the "Rabbit Recovery Program" wherein I had to pressure-wash the car mats, Bennett's stroller and our shoes, and thoroughly clean out the mud from the inside of our car. But it was worth it. Here's to another great year of Rabbit Fest. My umbrella and I will see you next year.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dinner Conversation

And the best part is, I totally understand 98% of what he's saying.

The Zoo (finally...)

I am terrible at this blog thing lately, but like, two weeks ago (May 4th) a few of my mommy friends and I decided to take our kids to the Waco Zoo. I've never taken Bennett to the zoo before so I was excited to see his reaction to the animals, and he did not disappoint. Bennett is at the perfect age for the zoo and he loved every minute of it. Of course, Jace came along for the ride, too and loved it as well. Sometimes I forget I only have one child...

Here we are at the entrance to the zoo. We decided to go in the early Spring because school was still in session and the weather wasn't too hot yet. We are so smart. However, because it was early spring almost half of the zoo was closed due to summer prep time construction. It worked out in the end though, because in the amount of time it took us to walk through what we could our kids had had their fill of fun and were ready for lunch and naps. I love when stuff works out just right.

Before we left I jokingly put this dorky hat and these sunglasses on Bennett. Little did I know he would grow an immediate strong attachment to the hat. So our little boy went the entire day looking like a creepy bag lady. At least he didn't get a sunburn.

Our buddy Aspen and Bennett, looking for the orangutangs. They were busy sleeping in this morning (lucky orangutangs).

Bennett has become a pretty good walker and has started striking out on his own away from the confines of the stroller (under close adult supervision). I am happy about this, although I do wish he would slow down a little. Bennett only has one speed--run.

Bennett and Jace watching the "elf-anauts" (elephants).

This guy was so cool. He put on a little show for us drinking with his trunk.

The giraffes.

Along the way there were little play stations set up for the kids to get out and stretch their legs. This is Bennett and his friend Camden playing inside a teepee near the bison exhibit. Teepees are excellent for running in circles and screaming with joy when you are two years old.

I tried to get a good picture of me and Bennett all day long, but this is all I ended up with. But just so you know, I am still alive and doing well.

Here's Jace, making his fishy face. Because so much of the zoo was closed we saw a lot of aquarium animals (snakes, lizzards (dinosaurs), spiders, birds, fish...)

When we made it to the otter exhibit, the otters were nowhere to be seen. There was, however, a giant clear slide going right through their home that we all found very entertaining.

Right before we left we stopped in the last of the aquariums to let our kids cool off a little. And cool off they did, because there was a stream of water running through the exhibit. Here's Bennett's girly-friend, Brielle, cooling off her feet.

And here's Bennett, cooling off his entire body. Bennett can always find a way to make me do extra laundry. We drove home that afternoon tired and happy. But we can't wait until Matt gets home so we can all go back together to see the other half. We love the zoo!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bennett Boy

I feel like I am way behind, but here are some pictures of Bennett and some stories to go with them.

Story Number One: I am blow drying my hair. Bennett is standing literally two feet away from me watching me use the "Ahhh!" (that is what we call my blow dryer.) I flip my hair over my head to get the underneath half, and when I flip my head back up, this is what I see.

Very expensive blue gel, all over Bennett's own hair, face, and hands. This kid is fast.

Story Number Two: I am folding laundry. Bennett is "helping" me fold laundry. (Bennett "helps" me do almost everything now days.) Halfway through, Bennett finds his choo-choo underwear, which is something I bought while in an experimental mood, and was washing after the experiment obviously failed. Bennett really, really wants to put on his choo-choo underwear, but I really, really don't want to take off his diaper at the moment. So the next thing I see is this...

Matt's socks (sent home from Iraq after the winter months were over), the infamous choo-choo underwear, and Bennett's "hat" which is actually an Easter bucket that spends an incredible amount of time on Bennett's head. Bennett wears this outfit until bedtime. We have one classy dresser.

Story Number Three (which actually started almost a month ago and ended a few weeks ago, but I am just now getting around to writing about it): Bennett is throwing a spectacular tantrum over (I can only guess) me shaking his chocolate milk when he wanted to do that himself. After a minute of this, I decide it is ridiculous that he is acting this way over chocolate milk, and I put him in his crib until he can calm down enough to act civilized. I put him in his crib. Bennett is screaming. I close the door. Bennett is screaming. I walk down the hall to call Matt on Skype so he can better appreciate what I deal with on a sometimes hourly basis. Bennett is screaming. I sit down with the computer and...silence. Good. I guess he finally calmed down enough to talk. I get up to retrieve our opinionated son when my heart stops as I hear the sound of Bennett's doorknob turning. Is there somebody in the house?! Call the police! I make my way to the hall just in time to see Bennett walk out of his room.

I stand there, in shock. How did this happen? I look at Bennett. He looks at me. I look at Bennett. He looks at me. It is a long moment. Bennett starts smiling. I start panicking.

So Bennett moves to his big-boy bed that very night, April 19th, 2011. Here is how that went.

Night one: I lay by Bennett in his bed for over an hour until he falls asleep.
Nights and nap times two and three: I lay by Bennett on the floor, and we "bajio (ba-GI-oo)" which means "hold hands" in whatever language Bennett is speaking, until he falls asleep.
Nights and nap times four and five: I lay in the hall where Bennett can still see me. I feel extreme guilt as my baby boy continuously cries "I tuttle wi Mommy!" (I cuddle with Mommy!) but I don't give in. He eventually falls asleep. We cuddle first thing in the morning.
Nights and nap times six and seven: I close Bennett's door almost all the way. I do my thing in the kitchen and living room, making lots of noise so he can hear me. Bennett tries to sneak out. I put an abrupt stop that quickly and swiftly. Bennett never tries to get out again. He eventually falls asleep.
Night eight: I put Bennett in his room, close the door, and don't hear from him again until 8:00 in the morning, at which point he yells, "Mommy! Mommy!" until I come into the room (this is not something I enforced, but I like it.) When I get to his room, Bennett hands me his puppy and he keeps his bear and we cuddle until Micky Mouse Clubhouse starts.
Night nine: I am one proud mommy.

It is so crazy seeing our little boy sleeping in a bed like a big person. He does so well, I have never had to fight him since the last day of our intensive training program (it really wasn't that hard). Bennett loves it, I love it, and he has only fallen out of it once. What a big boy!

Story Number Four: We are eating breakfast on Sunday (Mother's Day, which was just like any other day around here) when I hear a loud banging/scratching sound on our living room window. I go to see what it was, and find two squirrels desperately lunging at our window. I have to idea why, but I think it's pretty cool. I call Bennett over to witness the miracle of nature. I hold him close and talk quietly about the squirrels, as Bennett appears fascinated by them. Suddenly, Bennett gets more excited than I have seen him be in a long time, and he breaks free of my grasp. He runs to his toy basket and begins desperately searching through them. Upon finding what he was looking for he runs back to the window, waving his toy gun and yelling, "I shoot da squalls! I shoot da squalls!"

I am totally blaming his father's DNA for this one.

Story Number Five: It is raining cats and dogs (and buckets of water and hail) so we go outside to watch it and end up in it. And Bennett loves it. That's pretty much the whole story, but it's a good one.

Oh, what would I do without my mess-making, underwear-wearing, patience-trying, big-boy-sleeping, squirrel shooting, Bennett Boy?

I am one lucky girl.
I love you, Bennett.

The Yard

I will tell this story through pictures.

This was the yard in March, only days before we left for Rexburg.

Spring was in full bloom. It was beautiful.

This was the yard one month later, upon our return from Rexburg. Only this (not exaggerating) was a not-so-bad section. The rest was worse.

This is the leftover pile of weeds I hand pulled, one by one, gathered just from the side yard.
I gave those weeds the what-for.
Thank you very much.

These are the side bushes I put in after excavating an entire wheelbarrow of rock from the holes they were planted in. Dirt is a foreign substance here.
(Notice my neighbors yard? That's what ours used to look like.)

But it was all worth it.

Because this...

...this is my yard as of yesterday, after I spent literally hours prepping, planting, and keeping Bennett out of the Miracle Grow. (Just as a side note, Bennett now has the potential to be extremely tall...)

It brings a small tear to my eye that after almost an entire month, our yard has officially been weeded, fertilized, watered, mowed, weedeated, edged, swept, and planted.

Hours of labor. More money than I care to remember. A sunburn to high heaven.
And this is what I have to show for it.

or had.

Because this...

Is what our yard looks like right now.

Pretty sure I love this weather.
Thank you, rain.

I am going to bed.