Monday, July 25, 2011

Still Here

Well its getting closer to that magical Re~Deployment date!! Cant really give you any specifics but can't wait to be done with this place. Had breakfast this morning with a COL Mohammad ( I know real original ) but it is pretty nice to eat in the officers mess on the Iraqi base. Just a little reminder for those that haven't been following our family blog, my Battalion is currently located in Northern Iraq in partnership with the 2nd Iraqi Army. These guys are basically the equivalent to our special forces. (dont get too excited these guys still have a long way to go, but they're trying). For the past year we have been living on a little base located near them so as one of the perks we get to occasionally head over that way and visit. So during breakfast we were chit chatting about this and that and how the Iraqi's had recently rolled up this one terrorist cell that has really helped in calming things down. I wish I could give all the juicy details but cant right now but once I get home I got all sorts of stories. Anyway, enjoy the few pictures.

We try to relax in the evening time by hanging out, playing a few card games, and just trying to imagine we are somewhere else besides here!

This is SFC Klibert, he works in the S-2 shop (military intelligence) so he is already a little bit paranoid. I was beating him pretty bad at cards so he came to the conclusion I was reading his mind through his eye's! Sooooo...he decided to try to remedy the didn't help though...I took the rest of his chips on the next move!

So this is actually our bus and we actually parked next to the "No Parking" sign. I mean come on people this is a war zone...who is going to obey some random sign, in Iraq, when there are absolutely no consequences. I mean it looks like it was put together in someones garage...It makes me laugh!

...and of course everybody really enjoying a little BBQ!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh, where to start...?

Sometimes I really hate this blog. Seriously, I think I am all caught up, and then all of a sudden it is four weeks since the last decent post, and I find myself laying awake in the middle of the night thinking about all of the stuff that has happened that I have yet to blog about. So to relieve myself from this ridiculous anxiety, I am going to sit down and spend way too long making an entry about things that happened way too long ago.

Hang in there with me, or feel free to skip right over this whole thing. I don't really care. This is purely for me and my obsessive compulsive sanity.

Oh, where to start...? Here is a quick rundown of our basic week.

Monday I have Jace. The mornings are for Story Time, and Monday nights we have FHE with our FHE group, which I organized. Tuesday mornings I go to Zumba, because I joined a gym in June. It is approximately three minutes from my house, has fantastic child care, and makes me feel like I can still have some muscle tone even though I am a mom. Joining this gym also motivated me to finally throw away my gross high school cross country clothes and buy myself some "grown up" work out clothes and a yoga mat. I feel very adult when I go work out. Wednesday I have Jace and we have playgroup, which I organized. Sometimes we all go to the $1.00 movie with the rest of the toddlers in Copperas Cove. Thursdays are combat class (watch out, I can now take down a fully grown man in a dark ally without breaking a sweat. Stay on my good side.) And in the afternoons we will sometimes go to shows at the library. Like reptile shows, where Bennett has small fits of excitement and dramatic reenactments of the "nakes" and the "yizzards." Fridays I have Jace and Step class. Saturdays we do the yard. All. Day. Long. Sundays we cling to our sanity and go to church.

Also, every single morning I wake up to Bennett's face three inches from my own, telling me it is not nighttime anymore because now it is "rocket ship time"...except he puts a T at the end of the word "ship", which sort of makes me smile. So every single morning (except Sundays) we are joined for breakfast by the Little Einsteins. I have DVRd these episodes, so I know that we have watched approximately 81 episodes of this highly educational television show. Ugh. But Bennett loves it, and I get my hair done, so it works. Plus, Bennett can now tell me the difference between adagio, moderato, allegro, and presto, and he has developed a deep love of violins and trumpets. These are crucial skills in today's modern world.

So besides the basic, everyday stuff, there is the extra curricular, too.

In June, Bennett took swimming lessons every day for two weeks. He excelled at jumping in the water, going down the big slide, and kick-kick-kicking. Other than that, he still has no idea how to swim. If you ask him though, he will tell you he is just like the Alligator on Little Einsteins, and he doesn't need any help from Mommy (a direct quote from my confidant two-year-old). I am practicing my life-saving techniques... did his swimming instructors.

Bennett with his class. He was much younger than everybody else by several years, since most two-year-olds stay with their moms in a Mommy 'n Me class. Bennett, on the other hand, was ready to assert his independence. Honestly, he could care less who has him in the water, just as long as he gets to get wet.

Jumping to Miss Kat.

Doing "windmill arms" with Miss Megan and Miss Kat. He really did learn a few things.

Standing in line for the water slide. There is actually a 42'' height limit on this slide, which Bennett in no way reached. But since he was in the class he got to do it anyway. This picture cracks me up because Bennett is so short next to everybody else.

Bennett in his ducky towel. (P.S- you know how some kids will develop an attachment to a special blanket? Bennett has that kind of special bond with towels...not just one towel, but ALL towels in general...)

A post-swimming-ice-cream-cone-interview for Daddy...apparently...

On to July.

Bennett got a bike! I found this baby at Goodwill for six bucks. When I went to Wal Mart to get training wheels for it (which I installed myself, thank you) I saw the same bike for $48.00. Gotta love that Goodwill.

So obviously the fourth of July was a big day. We traveled down to Mary and Wayne's for the holiday and the next day as well, and had a great time hanging out with family, eating good food, swimming, and riding our bikes. However, because we live where one stray spark could send the entire state up in smoke, there was a fireworks ban in effect and nothing was celebrated with matches. :(

Before we ever left to San Antonio, I put our own flag out in our front yard. Bennett was fascinated with this concept, so I started talking about the flag a little bit, and what it means, and how we should treat it. I didn't really think Bennett was listening, but the next day we were walking out our front door and Bennett stopped and put his right hand over his heart. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, "My daddy flag. My daddy Iraq." It was one of those sweet, tender moments where your child teaches you more than you could ever teach them. I guess he really does listen to me...sometimes.

"My Daddy flag."

When we got to Maimie and Pop's house we were lucky enough to be present at the homecoming of Matt's brother, Joe, who had just graduated from Coast Guard boot camp. They are stationed in Florida now, and we can't wait to have family permanently on the coast to be able to visit! Yay Joe and Kim!

Grilling up some hamburgers and sausage

Sharing the ever popular corner of the kitchen. I was in charge of helping make the condiments tray...which is about as close to making a vegetable tray as you can get...which has been my job at almost every major event since I have married into this family. I am just that amazing at cutting vegetables. :)

We also celebrated Uncle Nathan's birthday, who was born in Boston on the Fourth of July. Can't get any more patriotic than that. Here is Bennett giving him his birthday card.

Bekah and the birthday boy.

After dinner we rode scooters and bikes

Bennett on Maimie's bike. He is a good bike-rider.

And we played on Pop's tractor. Just so you know, that is Bennett's microphone. He sings beautiful songs in that thing every time we come. I think when I took this picture he was singing a rendition of Justin Bieber's "Baby, Baby." Bennett sings a lot of cool songs like that, because he is with his mom a lot, who is also very cool.

And we ate fudgecicles

Something really bad must have been happening in this picture...

And we went swimming with Aunt Bea.

And we had a great time overall. The next day Mary and I went shopping for secret project number 72. Just so you know, my house is looking a-mazing right now. I love it. I really, really hope Matt loves it too, since I have done quite a bit to it since he has seen it last, and without his input. By the way, I repainted my kitchen from Caribbean blue'll just have to wait and see. But it is NOT brown...and I LOVE this house!!

Just a video clip of Bennett and Jace being buds. I really can't tell you what they were doing here, but it was pretty cute watching them.

The most recent even in our lives here is that Bennett just got to spend his first few days with his Maimie and Pop alone. That's right, Mary and Wayne very wonderfully offered to take Bennett for a few days so I could have some time to myself. And I readily agreed, although I will admit that watching Bennett drive off without me was harder than I thought it would be and I may have shed a few tears...but I got over it fast. First, I did my toes. Then I switched into "project mode" and accomplished more in a two day period than I have ever accomplished before. I got at least seven projects completed that I had wanted to get done for awhile, but just couldn't do with our overly involved little boy being so overly involved. So while my break wasn't very relaxing, it was so, SO wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bennett loved it to, since when I picked him up he talked my ear off about what they did and what they played and what they ate and where they went and who was was pretty cute. What a big boy we have!

OK, so there you go. That is a very basic run-down of our last month or so. There are a lot of little things I left out, and some things that I would have loved to expand on more but didn't for the sake of time. But that's about it in a nutshell. And I promise to try harder to not get so behind next time. But at least I can get some sleep now!

Whew! I feel so much better. Don't you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Love My Sister

Here is an excerpt from my sister Allison's blog. And because she is my sister, and because I love her, and because I hate feeling stressed about school and she is a really great photographer, maybe you can...


I am recruiting your help! As you know, I started a website this semester for I started it for a class and I am now being graded on how many people go to may site. You are mainly supposed to use google adwords to do this and we were given a budget at the beginning of the semester towards it. I started out doing awesome! In fact, I was doing so well that I couldn't afford it, so I had to drop my price. And then drop it again. And again. So now I can only spend a dollar a day, which is killing me!

I thought we would be graded on the whole semester (silly me), but apparently we just get graded on this week and obviously since I have no budget, I'm kind of failing miserably. So I have to get my views from other places, aka YOU! You should feel so honored that you are being called to this important work :)

So, here is what you do: Go to my website! Every day. Click through some pages. Then, tell your friends! Tell your roommates! Tell your neighbor! Tell the stranger on the street! Post it on your blog! Do it! Then you can mark it off as your good deed for the day and you will feel good inside. And I will love you.

Here, I'll help get you started:

and in case you skipped it, here it is again:

and in case you ignored both of those, here it is one more time:

ok, I think you get the message.

Thank you for your generous help. You are the best :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

News Flash

Well not really much going on here. We did finally start the whole retrograde process here. Not much really going on but we did turn in all our track vehicles. Its been pretty weird out here. For those used to deployments what is the "norm" is you show up to Iraq you co-locate with the unit you are replacing, you sign for all there equipment, they leave, you take over, the cycle continues when we leave. Now that's why this one is so weird. There is no unit coming to replace us. We have started to systematically close down areas from North to South. We have to retrograde mass amounts of equipment. The below picture really says it all. We are in a massive rush to sit around and do nothing.

Hanging out on the back of the tracks. Waiting! Like usual. Not really sure why we brought the tracks to Iraq. We have literally moved them twice. Once for services and once to fill them up with fuel. I have come to the conclusion that its not the "Army" that's the problem its the certain individuals that are in charge is the problem. They come up with some wonderful ideas that make absolutely no sense and then we execute said plan! Got to love it.

Just some more of the track layout. So to continue the above story I kinda run through a scenario in my head when I hear of something we have to do that makes no sense whatsoever. I picture it something like this. The chain of command sitting around with 5 course of actions in front of them. They start to ask a few questions like, which one makes the most sense? They throw that one at. Then there is, okay which one is the craziest? They put that one in the we might use it pile. Then I image the next question is something like which one is the craziest, takes us the most time to complete and makes us look like miracle workers like we pulled something amazing off? Now once they decide which course of action to take they then decide to pigeon hole the plan until just a few days prior so we have to jump through our rear to get the job done. Got to love it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shock and Awe

We have lots and lots to share. Swimming lessons, the fourth of July, potty training breakthroughs, new gym memberships, house redecoration...

...and one day I will blog about these things.

But today, I am simply going to revel in the fact that it was a Sunday
and it was a good day.

I never thought I would utter those words all together in the same sentence like that. Ever. But it happened, and I am happy.

This morning I was awoken by Bennett's nose three inches from my face, informing me that it wasn't nighttime anymore. It was 6:45am. That is still nighttime in my book. So Bennett went back to bed until 7:04, at which time I was again awakened by a cheerful voice telling me there was sunshine in Bennett's room. We really need to invest in some blackout curtains for that boy.

So we sat in my bed and read books.
And then we ate waffles for breakfast.
Bennett took a bath, and went down for his early Sunday nap, during which he actually slept.
I took a long shower and shaved my legs.
By the time we left for church, I had dinner ready to go in the crock pot, the house was clean, Bennett was well rested, and both of us were looking our Sunday best.

And I didn't even feel like crying.

On our ride to church Bennett and I had the following conversation

Bennett: "I go to see Oma today."
Me: "Yes you are. We see Oma at church."
Bennett: "Bennett get candy, in his mouth."
Me: "Yep, you probably will."
Bennett: "Bennett go to play with toys today."
Me: "Man Bennett, do you even know why we go to church? Do you know who Jesus is?"
Bennett: (dramatic gasp) "Jesus for a sunbeam!!!"
Me: "Ya, you love that song!"
Bennett: (another dramatic gasp) "Mommy!!!"
Me: "What?"
Bennett: "Mommy!!! Jesus love Bennett!!"
Me: "Yes he does!"
Bennett: "Mommy!!!"
Me: "What?"
Bennett: "Mommy!!! Jesus love Mommy!"
Me: "Yes he does."

I guess Bennett is learning a thing or two at church after all :)

When we got home, I didn't want to huddle in the fetal position and rock back and forth (a rare occurrence here).
We ate our delicious dinner.
We watched Cars.
We made cookies and gave some to our neighbors.
We took a bath.
We went to bed.

And I am still in shock.

I just had to write this down, because usually our Sunday's represent something from an Alfred Hitchcock film instead of a quiet day of rest.

But I am not complaining.
I must have done something really good this week...