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Archive for November, 2007

Nov 30 2007

Family Issues

Posted by Mugs @ 1:56 am in Family

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Meloches outnumbered the Manrys in our house nine to five.  There was also one Wiita thrown in for good luck.  Dale would claim that if any of my family members are present, I transform from a Manry back into a Meloch for the duration.  I do admit to being thrilled about eating traditional stuffing instead of cornbread stuffing, to liking pecan pie better than apple pie, and to enjoying board games instead of fireball.  The weekend was fun and filled with laughter, but I couldn’t stop myself from creating a few difficult situations.  For a month, I had known I needed two port-a-cribs.  My Mom, who wanted the house ready well prior to arrival day was not too thrilled with her daughter’s usual procrastination.  Two days prior to arrival, I borrowed a port-a-crib from a friend and two hours prior to arrival, I went into the basement to get my port-a crib.  It was at this point that I realized there was no port-a-crib in sight.  After I move, I can not be held responsible for the things I have gotten rid of.  I am in throw out, donate mode, and although I have no memory of donating my port-a-crib, I must have.  I looked everywhere: in the basement, in the garage, in the closets.  So, there I stood in the basement with the dawning realization that I had to go upstairs and face my Mother who was standing at the ready with a crib sheet.  After the news of the missing port-a-crib was delivered, I made the command decision to build the wooden crib instead.  We still had all the pieces for that.  So, Gabe, the crosstip screwdriver, Grandma, and I set to work.  I, of course, had never built the crib before.  The construction process followed my usual pattern: putting brackets the wrong way, getting things jammed, attaching and detaching various crib parts, and banging something in place.  When it was finally complete, there were high fives all around.  That crises was not observed by all, so I decided I needed to do something to make everyone uncomfortable.  Dale likes the house cold when he sleeps, so I always turn the heat down at night.  He told me that the temperature had dropped to 42 degrees fahrenheit in the desert the other night, and he slept so well, he didn’t want to get out of bed.  Meanwhile, back in Virginia, everyone went to bed and I turned down the heat.  It happened to be the first night of frost.  Rob, who lives in California, came down in a winter cap.  His wife, Michelle came downstairs wrapped in 2 blankets, and Howie’s baby, Ean looked like he had been visited by Jack Frost.  “It’s my house now!” (reference the children’s book “Bear Dance”)  I had froze them all.  Except for my Dad, of course, who slept like a log.  He likes to sleep where it is so cold that the inside of the windows and walls are covered with ice.  I can’t say I remember those days with fondness.  On the coldest days of the year, you might get the wool quilt thrown on you which would keep you warm, but was so heavy, you could barely roll to your side.  We would jump out of the basement shower and dry off next to the wood stove to keep from freezing to death.  Anyway, the next night I left the heat up.  They all slept well, but my Dad started complaining.  He threatened to sleep naked.  We are all thankful that we didn’t have to see that.  When I picked up the kids from school after everyone’s departure, I announced that it was just us Manrys again.  Gabe said he was sad and missed them all already, Abby informed me that we had less than a month until the next company arrived, and Josiah said emphatically, “Yes!  I’ve got my room to myself again!”  Dale has a similar reaction when my family departs.  That night I slept in my bed for the first time in almost 2 months.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to sleep in.  I woke up at 0755, 10 minutes after we were supposed to leave for school.  I looked at the alarm clock in confusion.  I had set it the night before to 0600.  I then realized that the clock read 7:55 pm.  The power had gone out a few days before and my parents must have forgotten to set the am/pm.  We arrived at school late and went into the office to get tardy slips for the kids.  The secretary asked if there was a reason that we were late and I replied “family issues.”  Gabe piped up behind me, “Can’t we tell her the real reason?”  Never bring a 7 year old with you when you oversleep. 

Nov 22 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 at FOB Diamondback

Posted by Dale @ 9:40 pm in Deployment,FOB Life

Thanksgiving Day this year was a much different experience than Thanksgiving 2006. Last year we celebrated the holiday in Jerrabomberra, New South Wales, Australia, with our great friends from church. I think we had about 30 people over that day. Everyone pitched in bringing unimaginable amounts of food, drinks, and desserts. It was a blast! Fortunately, there was no blast here for Thanksgiving today.

I won’t bore you with the details of my day, but I will skip right to the highlight – lunch. The DFAC pulled out all stops for the Thanksgiving meal. We were able to get some photos of the feast, so I’ll just post a few here. I hope you enjoy these creations as much as we did!

Whale Cake





Nov 22 2007

Great Wolf Lodge

Posted by Mugs @ 9:49 am in Family

Josiah turned 13 on November 1st and wanted to go to the Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate his birthday. Thinking how much less work it would be for me compared to hosting a party for his friends, I readily agreed. Then, I looked at the cost of the place and was reminded that it is always beneficial to have all the information prior to committing to something. You would think I would learn that eventually. After coming to grips with the price, Grandma, Grandpa, and Zeke’s participation in the event was eliminated in cost cutting efforts. They stayed home and had an exciting water adventure of their own. Mom dropped the phone in the pond. Zeke was thrilled with that turn of events, and told me about it in great detail when I arrived home. Grandma wanted it hushed up because of concern for my Dad’s blood pressure. One of the problems with having me, my Mom, and Abby in the same house is that nothing stays hushed up for long. Anyway, Josiah, Abby, Gabe, and I set off for the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. It is located approximately 2 hours away. Halfway there, we stopped at the Barnes and Noble in Richmond, and they were finally able to get the books they wanted with their gift card. I guess it’s true that the third time’s the charm. When we arrived, we stared in utter amazement at the place. It is a giant hotel with a giant indoor waterpark. After four years in Hawaii and Australia, supersized America still occasionally shocks me. Upon arrival, we received an unexpected blessing. We were given a free upgrade on our room. We stayed in a loft suite which was huge. I had to change our initial reservations when my Dad was ill and the woman was very understanding. I’m not sure if she put us in for the free upgrade, but it was very appreciated. We then went into the waterpark and the fun began. I am quite certain that Gabe would have been content to play the entire time in the massive climbing tree fort: dumping buckets of water on people’s heads, turning on water funnels, and pulling chains that squirted water at people. He really loved the gigantic bucket on top which was filled with thousands of gallons of water and would drench everyone every five minutes. If you needed to get down in a hurry, you could ride a water slide down. My favorite rides were the tube slides that were a bit like the bobsled track in Australia without the danger of flying off and breaking your leg. Josiah had the most fun at night, when the tube slide was competely dark. He thought it most enjoyable to ride the tube backwards on that occasion. We were all quite challenged on the boogie board wave. It was a rush of water soaring upward at a 45 degree angle. You stood at the top, holding a boogie board and jumped down onto the wave. You would ride down the wave and then push back up and ride down and push back up for as long as you could control your board. There were teenagers releasing and catching their boards, performing rolls, and going from laying down to kneeling on their boards. Josiah did finally accomplish kneeling on his board, but one time he decided to land on the wave with his knees already on the board. The wave rolled him and his board up and out the top. It was a spectacular wipeout. I congratualted him and said, “if your going to wipe out, you might as well wipe out with style.” Soon after, I didn’t follow that advice, I wiped out without any style at all. I lost my board and almost lost my swim top. The guy had to cut the power on the wave so I could stagger out. The next day, when I was standing in line to give it another go, the woman behind me was asking if I had done it before, so I told her about my less than stellar performance. She said that she couldn’t believe I was taking it so well. I told her it gave the kids a good laugh and a knock to my pride is occasionally needed. Thankfully, I had a successful run that go and so did she. As we stood in line watching everyone’s attempt, I was thinking that Martyn and Alex should build one of these things in their back yard. We also spent some time in the giant wave pool catching the waves with our tubes and in the lazy river where you just float along on your tube. The two biggest rides were a river rapids ride and one called the tornado. You sat in 4 person rafts and really got a thrill. Gabe went on both once. Josiah and Abby went several times. When you start on the tornado, your raft drops over the edge into a giant funnel and then your raft goes back and forth across the sides until you finally drop through to the slide. When we all rode together, Abby was facing backwards when we went over the drop. She was holding on for dear life. It was quite a ride. She and Josiah rode it again, but because they were so light, they didn’t achieve the break neck speed that you get from a weighted raft. Josiah and I got to experience that break neck speed to a level of fright quite unexpected. Abby and Gabe were back in the tree fort and Josiah and I decided to ride the tornado one more time. When we got to the front of the line, there was a big fat guy who was trying to convince the lifeguard to let him go down alone. The lifeguard told him that you had to have at least 2 people on the raft. So, Josiah and I got on the raft with him. Here is where my knowledge of balanced weight loads went out the window. Thinking that Josiah wouldn’t want to sit next to the guy, I told Josiah to sit opposite the guy. Josiah went over the edge and my knowledge of balanced weight loads returned to me. He was as light as a feather and with the weight load coming behind, I though for sure we were going to flip that raft. The next several moments were sheer terror and hilarity as we barrelled back and forth across that funnel on the edge of disaster. We were flying. When we landed in the pool at the end, the guy looked completely dazed and Josiah and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t stop. So, if ever you’re inside the tornado, take the fat guy with you.

Nov 18 2007

Flat Stanley in Iraq

Posted by Dale @ 8:17 pm in Deployment,Outside the Wire

I recently hosted the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) at MAO. As it says in his bio, Mr. John Paul Woodley, Jr is responsible for the supervision of the Army’s Civil Works programs, including programs for conservation and development of the nation’s water and wetland resources, flood control, navigation, and shore protection. While in Mosul, I took Mr. Woodley on a helicopter tour of the Mosul Dam, the Badoosh Dam, and the Aski Mosul Drinking Water Treatment Plant. Additionally, he had the opportunity to tour the Mosul Airport Passenger Terminal which we recently renovated for the upcoming Hajj flights to Mecca. CNN recently ran a short report on this project. You can see the online video at CNN.

We also flew to Erbil and visited several other projects, including the ongoing construction at the Erbil Police Academy. This project is a joint effort between USACE and the Kurdistan Regional Government. One of the other dignitaries on the visit was Mr. Bruce Smith, the Assistant for Interagency International Affairs. Mr. Smith brought with him Flat Stanley. This Flat Stanley belongs to the great-grandchild of one of the administrative assistants in his office at the Pentagon. In the picture below, Mr. Smith is explaining Flat Stanley to one of my Project Engineers, Mo Dadkhah.

Flat Stanley in Iraq

Mugs will be very happy to know that I received a coin from Mr. Woodley to add to the collection!

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Nov 14 2007

Egypt Day

Posted by Mugs @ 6:26 am in Family

All the children in Abby’s class had to make a presentation on Egypt. Abby and her friend made a display board and performed a skit on the job of the queen. My Mom helped Abby with her costume. It’s amazing what my Mom can do with a goodwill dress, gold Christmas garland and gold pipe cleaners. We attempted to straighten Abby’s hair, but it was raining and by the time she got to school her curls were at war with the pipe cleaners. Children from the other classes came to listen and if they answered questions correctly, they received a piece of candy. Gabe blurted out as many answers as possible and came home with a pocket full of lollies (couldn’t resist, Juliet). When I picked them up from school, Abby asked why other kids had lost their voices from talking all day while she was just fine. When the answer is glaringly obvious, do you say it?

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