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Archive for March, 2008

Mar 31 2008

Counting Days

Posted by Dale @ 12:23 pm in Deployment,FOB Life

My R&R leave is slowly approaching. I have less than 2 weeks until I fly to Kuwait and then on to Dulles. People love to talk about how quickly the time passes during this deployment. Before I came over, some mentioned how I would be home before I knew it. It doesn’t seem that a single day can go by here without someone commenting on how the days are just flying by. I just don’t see it. Now as I approach R&R, the days seem to be dragging by even more slowly!

This morning, I went to the CSH for my 4th shot in the Anthrax vaccine program. The whole program consists of 6 shots administered over a period of 18 months. After that, the program continues with annual booster shots. My next shot, #5, is due 6 months from now. At that point, God willing, I’ll be home and assigned to the Pentagon.

Last night I noticed some weeds sprouting in the gravel outside my trailer. The leaves looked like dandelion leaves. This morning, I noticed that they had bloomed. So here’s a nice picture of my private flower bed.


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Mar 29 2008

Cherry Blossoms

Posted by Mugs @ 5:58 am in Family

We had a lovely morning in DC. I only made a few wrong turns. The trees were in peak bloom and stunning. We parked on Hains Point and walked up to the Tidal Basin. We arrived at 0930 and thankfully, the crowds had not yet descended. The festival officially kicks off tomorrow, so today wasn’t absolute madness. I am really glad we went. It is stunningly beautiful. I took 60 pictures and am hoping that there is at least one good one in the lot. Yes, my camera has film in it. It is not digital. I’m like my father and his polaroid. We visited the Jefferson memorial where the security guard lectured me for being two feet away from my stroller. My favorite bit of that memorial is the quote etched at the top about taking an oath on the altar of God. We then walked around the Tidal Basin, stopping every few inches so I could take another picture and make the kids pose under, next to, or behind some tree. We then came upon the FDR memorial which I had never seen before. I liked the waterfalls and the kids liked the bronze statues of his dog and the men in the soup line. It was unique and well done and I liked it. We then continued on toward Lincoln and passed a photo shoot where the mothers had brought a white table and chairs set up as a tea party under the cherry trees and dressed their toddlers in coordinating pastels. I commented to the kids that I wasn’t that bad. To which Abby pointed out that I had made them all dress alike in white shirts and jeans and, “At least those kids got cupcakes.” She had a point. I was only able to get away with it because Dale wasn’t there to defy me. I appear to be on a “all pictures in DC must be color coordinated” kick. The 4th of July photo is evidence. We arrived at Lincoln and as I walked up those marble steps to see him, I was reminded once again why he is my favorite monument in DC. When my 2 year old nephew Jadon went to see Lincoln, he told his Dad that he was bringing him a present. Howie asked him what kind of present and he replied, “a blue one.” When he arrived at Lincoln, he held out his hand and gave Lincoln his imaginary blue present. Jadon and I are both very fond of Lincoln. After Lincoln, we looked out over the reflecting pool, the mall, the Washington monument and I declared, “Look! There’s the Capitol!” After that, we did the most difficult walk in DC. The kids and I walked along the Vietnam Veterans memorial. That black wall of names never fails to fill me with overwhelming grief at the loss of life brought about by war. We then had lunch and started the walk back. During the ride home, Josiah read us the entire Declaration of Independence from the copy scroll he had bought in DC. It was a lovely day, but I must admit that the cherry blossoms I am most fond of are blooming in my front yard.

Mar 28 2008

Capitol Views

Posted by Mugs @ 5:21 am in Family

Before Spring Break started, my ninny self was at war with my brave soul over driving into DC to visit sights with the kids. Everyone around here tells me, “Drive to the Springfield station and take the Metro.” We did take the Metro on the 4th of July and with the cousins at Christmas, but the thought of going alone with 4 kids and one of them not getting on or off the train was too much for me worry about. So, my brave soul declared that I had driven in a country where they drive on the left, I had driven in countries where I couldn’t read the street signs. I certainly could drive into DC. I researched to find parking garages available and printed out my google map. Monday morning we set forth. I made good time driving to the city because I was able to take the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane. I’ve had a HOV for years and just never knew it. I managed to cross the Potomac safely and then promptly missed my turn. The problem with following a google map printout is that if you do something wrong, you’re out of luck. There are no directions on how to get back to where I had been previously. So began our DC scenic tour. The advantage with this tour is that you see the Capitol from all sides. I’d drive around awhile, take a few turns and then “Look! There’s the Capitol!” I’d drive around some more, take a few turns and then “Look! There’s the Capitol” I’d drive around again, take a few turns and then “Look! There’s the Capitol” The kids soon lost interest and I soon lost all concept of NE, NW, SE, and SW. Somehow I eventually managed to find the parking garage (car park) (Just for you Juliet) and I let out a yell of triumph until I read the sign that said it was for monthly parking only. No worries, I had written down the location of another one. It also said monthly parking only. At this point I started to pray. Thankfully, a few blocks down, I found a daily parking garage and pulled in with a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks. We had an enjoyable time at the Smithsonian museum of Natural History looking at dinosaur bones, stuffed mammals, and the hope diamond. I made the drive home without any mistakes and went to bed feeling quite confident. So, I woke up thinking…I’ve driven to the Smithsonian, I can drive to the zoo. Once again I had my google map and once again I started out at the tail end of morning traffic. I should have turned around when I saw I95 at a standstill. There had been an accident two exits north and everything was backed up. I’ll take the alternate route, I decided. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to consider that option. It took me twice as long to get into DC and when I finally crossed the Potomac, I promptly took a wrong turn at the Lincoln Memorial. We then got to see the Washington Monument from all sides. It is inevitable that I have to make the wrong turn several times until I can convince myself that it is the wrong turn. Connecticut Ave just ended and I was on 17th street. I didn’t want to be on 17th street, the zoo is on Connecticut Ave. “I’ll make 4 rights and Connecticut Ave will not stop at the statue of the guy on the horse,” I said. As Connecticut Ave ended again and I was once again driving down 17th street, my brain finally worked out that I was going the wrong way. If I am at 1000 Connecticut and I need to go to 3000 Connecticut, it might be best to drive in the other direction. I arrived at the zoo two hours after I had started out. The drive was only twice as long as it should have been. Parking at the zoo is extremely limited and they warn you that if you don’t arrive early enough, you won’t get a spot. I drove past several lots that were full and came upon a lot with available spaces. There was a woman about 9 cars ahead of me arguing with the attendant. He got mad at her and sent her and the next 5 cars away. He then listened to something on his walkie talkie and then let the car two ahead of me drive in the lot. At this point, he was busy talking on the walkie talkie and the guy ahead of me and I decided it was best not to make eye contact and drive ahead and hope for the best. We got a spot. The kids liked the Amazonia building, the gorillas climbing on the cables strung over the zoo, and the panda. I took one wrong turn on the way home, but we once again arrived home safely. Tomorrow we are going to attempt the Cherry Blossom Festival. I am quite certain that at some point tomorrow I will declare, “Hey Look! There’s the Capitol!”

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Mar 25 2008

Easter on FOB Marez

Posted by Dale @ 9:00 pm in Deployment,FOB Life

On Easter morning, I went to the sunrise service on FOB Marez. It was held in the Community Activities Center (CAC) which is a large tent-like structure erected on a concrete pad. The basic structure is a steel frame with a canvas cover stretched on the exterior. Inside the CAC are miscellaneous activities dedicated to the morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) for the deployed soldiers. There is even a theater. I guess I don’t get out much since all of this was a surprise to me.

The service was led by the Chaplain for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the main US Army unit on FOB Marez. The Chaplain’s assistant was having a tough time getting the soldiers to sing the worship chorus “Celebrate”. Very shortly, everyone was wide awake after the blast from an IED shook the entire tent. The Chaplain had us all go out to the bunkers until we had more information. Within about 2 minutes of going to the bunkers, we received the “All Clear” and went back inside. The rest of the service proceeded without incident.

After the service, I went to the DFAC and had a big breakfast of an omelet, hashbrowns, and a biscuit with gravy. Later in the day, I found out that the blast was from an SVBIED (truck bomb) attack against an Iraqi Army compound on the west side on Mosul. In a previous post, I described my visit to that compound. Reports put the death toll at 12 Iraqi soldiers KIA with another 42 seriously injured.

Some days, it’s hard to envision the solution in Iraq. But as Jesus said himself, “with God, all things are possible.”

Mar 25 2008

Basket Hunt

Posted by Mugs @ 6:16 am in Family

The kids searched for their baskets Easter morning. Gabe had told me that he wanted his basket to be harder to find than Josiahs. I took him at his word.  In previous years I had taken great pains to make Josiah’s basket hunt difficult, but last year I went too far.  I hid it in a bean bag.  The mess that resulted convinced me that I needed to exercise a little prudence in my basket hiding.  Zeke found his basket in under a minute, promptly opened up his chocolate bunny and ate the ears. It took Josiah 30 minutes to find his basket. I hid it at the other end of the room and hoped it would take him longer knowing he would methodically check everything on the way. Abby took 45 minutes to find her basket which was hidden quite easily. As she and Gabe were looking on the shelves, one of them knocked Dale’s motorcycle bag onto the floor. Neither bothered to check it and they spent thirty minutes walking around it. I finally had to give her a significant hint to help her find a basket that she had been tripping over. I don’t think Gabe would have ever found his if I hadn’t given him multiple hints. It was in a camping bag inside a box with an old prom dress underneath stacks of Christmas decorations. He searched for 50 minutes before he uncovered it. Gabe had asked to hide my basket this year since Dale wasn’t here to hide it. I found it without looking. I had tied up the bag of rubbish, but had not taken it out. In the morning, I remembered that I needed to take it out and lifted it up to discover my Easter basket underneath. He hid my Easter basket in the garbage can. This will be the last year Gabe is allowed to hide my basket.  He needs to learn some prudence in basket hiding.