Thursday, February 26, 2009

26 Feb 09 - Ash Wednesday

Good evening,
I thought to myself during supper "Self you should post your Blog". Lately I have found myself talking to myself, thankfully not answering out loud. I'm sure those I'm with are thankful as well.

Last night we went to Ash Wednesday services, it wasn't bad. I'm sure most of us would have rather been at our own church back home. I guess the good news is that about 10 of the 30 guys in my section are Catholic. The better news is that we were all together to celebrate ash Wednesday. I'm not sure if it's Taboo or not to say what you gave up for lent. I'm going to tell you anyways, two of the three things I gave up are sex and beer. The other one is between me and the big guy. All kidding aside it was nice to be in church away from the madness of the office. I definitely need to start finding time in my schedule to attend regularly. The time during mass can be spent in quiet refection, remembering those we left behind, or the road ahead of us.

As far as cribbage goes the young pups were disciplined, last I checked they were back laying by their dishes. In fact the old dogs later went on to beat another cribbage want a be.

That is all for now,


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

24 Feb 09 - 23 Days done and counting

Good evening from Dave's world,
Today was like yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. The only exception is that I now have 8 classes to take online. One of the classes (Personnel recovery and Code of Conduct Training) has been transferred to a CD because it takes over two hours to finish. Lucky for me I will have a majority of the classes done tonight. I still miss home as much as my first day here. But I'm thinking that me and my wife are getting into the rhythm of being separated. I call her every night or chat with her on Skype. Understand it's not the same but it's the best I can do given my present situation. Believe me when I say there isn't a moment that goes by that I don't wish I was home.

I know that with the support of my family and friends, Susan and the kids will get through this. As for me I will make it home and cherish my time with my family and friends more than ever before.

My daughter Jacki posted in her blog recently that mail call was her favorite time of day. I have to agree with her that getting a letter or package is definitely a moral booster. I received a package today from my daughter Darcie with my valentines card and peanut butter hearts. It made me smile all the way back to my office. If your thinking of sending me a letter don't. I'm leaving here in the next 7-10 days for greener pastures (Desert). I will post my new address as soon as I am able.

As far as the cribbage scores go the old dogs and young dogs are still tied. Last night in order to break the cycle we played two cribbage want a Be's. (The young pups were tired) Not only did we skunk the want a Be's, we won the next two games. Talk about raising our self esteem. For those of you that know me I handled the win graciously (Happy dance), as for MAJ Howe he did the happy dance as well. His moves were a little bit of Shreik, and some from John Travolta in the movie Saturday night fever. Susan and Sheri, it might be a good idea to line us up with some dance lessons when we return.

That is all,


Monday, February 23, 2009

23 Feb 09 - Day 21 with out Mountain Dew

Good Morning from Ft Lewis WA,
I am now on day 22 of not drinking Mountain Dew. It was tough at first, but every day is better than the day before. I went from 2-3 pops a day to a diet Pepsi every other day at best. It was hard at first everywhere I looked there were Mountain Dew adds. On the radio commercials were being broad casted, my password contains Mountain Dew, so on and so on. I would find myself standing outside of the pop coolers with my hand on the glass thinking how good it would feel to drink a cold one. Thinking back on my decision to quit came easy. I keep telling myself that I have two goals on this deployment one was weight loss and the other was to get in better shape.

I have to admit the withdrawal from Mountain Dew was tough and it was a decision I made willingly. But the other things in my life I gave up were not voluntary. I gave up the right to hold my grand baby, kiss my wife, walk bare footed in the grass, and drink adult beverages. All those listed are a tip of the iceberg.

Again I'm not complaining, I made the choice to serve and I accept that. Just keep in mind that the things you take for granted are the things I miss the most. I have one trivial question for you concerning farts. Do you know why they smell? Answer: So deaf people can enjoy them too.

As far as the cribbage update goes the score now is 9 for the old dogs and 9 for the young pups. Between me and you the young pups were high fiveing it last night. But we all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. In the end the tortoise (old dogs) won because he had the stamina to complete what was started. The hare (young pups) lost because of a false confidence. Hopefully tonight the young pups will be back laying by their water dishes.

Happy Birthday Pardo! He was called in front of formation given his birthday card and told to do one pushup per year. Some of us were smilling until the realization set in that if this was the standard we were screwed.

That is all,


Saturday, February 21, 2009

21 Feb 09 - Happy Birthday

Good Morning from Dave's world,
I just wanted to post my blog this morning and say Happy Birthday to my daughter Darcie. It's hard to believe my first born is 25 today. It seems like only yesterday that she called me Dad, and that I changed her diapers. I knew getting up this morning that I wouldn't be there for her today. But the reality of being a soldier is that there are more birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and family reunions that are missed because of Army training. Looking back over the 25 years of Darcie's life Ive tried to be there and I know she understands that this is what I do. She knows in her heart that I'm there with her. And that tonight when she is celebrating I will be there with her in spirit until at least 10:00. (I'm a grandpa now)

Darcie I'm proud of you and the woman that you have become. I'm glad that you have a mix of both mom and dad, (lucky for you) that you got the best of both. You have your mothers smile and some of your dads sense of humor (lucky for them). Keep up the great work and live your life to the fullest. You have used the tools in your tool box (referenced in an early post)and are better because of it.

There is a sign at the PX that says something like "There is no need to preserve my body, I want to slide into heaven yelling what a ride". If you want the actual quote let me know but I'm sure you get the intent.

Happy birthday Darcie, enjoy your day!

That is all,


Friday, February 20, 2009

20 Feb 09 - Flash back

Good morning from Dave's world. Another day in paradise I just wanted to share some pictures with you. I had a flash back yesterday all the way to Jun of 1980. I left a plane in Ft Leonard Wood Missouri and boarded my first ever cattle car. As you can imagine farm animal noises were made as we (young recruits) were taken to our home for 8 weeks. The cattle car doors opened we were thrust into the open arms of basic training.
Little did I know that 29 years later I would be reunited with my first ever army transportation. I was awed at first that this magnificent machine would have aged so well. I said to myself "Self you haven't aged either". Lucky for me this exchange of words was done inside my head not out loud. The doors of the cattle car opened yesterday and welcomed me back to a time where life was simpler.
It didn't take long for me to remember the suspension system or should I say the lack of. We left the garrison (Army term for black top) to go to our field sanitation course training. After being bounced around I realized that nothing changed, and I didn't really miss the good old cattle car of days gone by. Did I mention that there were still farm noises but without the crackle of puberty?

Our cribbage tournament was put on hold last night due to Army Training. Most of my group were involved in vehicle roll over training. Lucky for me I was able to accomplish this task back in October while I was out here. I'm sure the young pups were thankful for the brief reprieve.

To my family and friends reading this I thank you. Please keep my soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.

That is All


Monday, February 16, 2009

16 Feb 09 - Presidents Day

Good Evening from Ft Lewis, WA, The pictures on the left are from my trip to Seattle last weekend. It's obvious that the presidents plan to put the American people back to work is right on track. I'm just kidding, the people here in Seattle are nice. The weather here makes it seem like home. On a clear day you can see Mt Rainer. I'll have to post some pictures of the mountains in my upcoming Blog entries.
It's now day 15 for me here in Ft Lewis. The day to day routines are making it seem like ground hogs day here. The civilians in the mess halls are very kind. They seem to go the extra mile to make us feel at home. Granted the mess halls seat about 40 people tops, so you have to eat and move on. But while your there they seem to make the place lively. One of the cooks who is a retired Army guy says "good morning friend, would you like an omelet" to every fourth soldier. I know it's a small thing but you smile when you here him say it.

I would love to say it's getting easier but I dread going forward to Iraq where I won't have the luxury of calling home when I want. It's made it tolerable being able to text a message to the kids or to call home when I need to. We are using Skype and that might fill the void while I'm gone. Nothing compares to hearing and seeing the family back home.

I would love to give you an update on our cribbage tournament. It appears the stress of long hours and the deployment are taking it's toll. The old dogs are getting a little tired and the pups have pulled off a three game winning streak. Don't worry though the score is still old dogs 9 and the young pups 6.

To those of you that are keeping me and my family in their prayers I thanks you.

That is all,


Saturday, February 14, 2009

14 Feb 09 - Valentines Day

Good morning and Happy Valentines Day from Ft Lewis Wa!
Today I woke up like most days reaching for my wife to snuggle with. Again I was disappointed and realized where I was. Since my last posting I have moved from my open bay hammock bed to a single room with the traditional bed with no give to it. My mattress could be on a table for all the support the springs give me. I know I shouldn't complain but everything you do in your day to day routine reminds you of how much you miss your past life. Yesterday my wife dropped off Doug Pardo for his flight here to Ft Lewis. She called me on her way home and I could tell that she had been crying.

I know what I have to do and where I'm going to be in less than a month. But I can't hug my wife and comfort her like I wanted to do. Instead I sent her a few texted messages and called her back. I tried to give her comfort but I'm sure I fell well short of my intent. It's hard going from what you used to do, to this is the best I can do given the circumstances. I know we have all let our spouses down before but you feel really useless when you know it's all you can do and it's not good enough.

I'm not on a pity trip here, it is what it is. I will get through this and return to my wife when this is over. I'm sure like most I will deal with the guilt of being gone, the guilt of having a life without her, and the guilt of not being there when she needs me most.

On a happier note I took my mental health test today and passed. The mental health test gives the Army a starting point before and then again after the deployment to check your mental health. The testing is used for traumatic brain injury or other war zone related brain illness. I have to admit it was touch and go for a while. Part of the test is remembering symbols for example if you picture a domino the symbol on top might be a & and the number it corresponds to would be a six. There are 10 domino's and 10 different symbols. You have to remember the association after they show you multiple symbols. Not every six they show has the same symbol as the key. So you left click if it's right and right click your mouse if it's wrong. Then there were math problem like 4 + 6 - 3 = , if your answer was less then 5 you left clicked and greater then 5 you right clicked. Long story short my head hurts and my eyes are sore.

Take some time to call your loved ones to say Hi, Happy Valentines Day and that you love them. I (we) will be OK Susan and I both know that our love for each other and the support of our family and friends will get us through this.

That is all,


Thursday, February 12, 2009

12 Feb 09 - Calm before the Storm

Good evening from Dave's world, The picture on this post is from our lake cruise. We took a cruise on Sunday on our last day off for sometime. The cruise was interesting with everything from floating houses, houseboats, and homes on piers. We saw Bill Gates house that has rooms that read a computer chip on your ID given to you at the door. When you walk into a room the walls change color, the music might change, as well as the temperature all based on the individual. We ended the day at the Crab shack for some real fresh seafood.

Today soldiers from the main body arrived from Minnesota. Tomorrow the rest of the soldiers will arrive to their home away from home. I can only imagine what must be going through their minds right now as they carry their duffel bags into their new dwellings. I know my thoughts were not the happiest at first. Its a hard adjustment for most going from a king or queen size bed to the Army's state of the art bunk beds. I was being a little sarcastic when I said state of the art what I meant was top of the line in the 60's maybe. The good news is they are indoors and not in the tents that some of our soldiers are using in IRAQ.

My best moment so far was last night when I talked to my Grand baby and saw her through the web cam. I felt a lump in my throat and it made me realize how much I miss my family. My grand baby Aubrey has grown more since the last time I saw her. It won't be long and she will be two. It seems like just yesterday she was born. But then again my oldest baby is going to be 25. I can't believe how fast time goes by.

I also wanted to say that last night the old dogs won two of the three games of cribbage. I'm sure I speak for MAJ Howe when I say it was either let them win or face the possibility of the young pups never playing again. The cumulative score now is old dogs nine and young dogs three. I could go on to say a skunk was involved but then I would have to mention one of the young pups was pegging backwards again.

That is all!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

11 Feb 09 Poked and probed

Morning this is Dave from glorious Ft Lewis Wa,
Yesterday the soldiers here from Minnesota became official members of the Army. At 4:30 AM we lined up to pee into little cups so we could be checked for illegal drugs. We then went through improccesing which included being poked and probed. The poked part was getting your shots updated. In my case I got shots for Measles, typhoid and Anthrax. The probed part you can only imagine my doctor had fingers the size of small sausages. Lucky from for me I was able to produce documentation that another man (Dr)from Minnesota had already probed me. Did that sound bad or is it just me?

After reviewing all of the finance records, legal issues, dental records, and my medical history I still need to go in for mental assessment. The testing has something to do with giving the Army a measure of your mental state before and after the deployment. I'm kind of scared. The last time I did a test like that I was shown ink blots of elephants having whoopee in different positions. I think both me and the shrink were embarrassed that they would show that set of ink blots to a man like me.

All kidding aside you can imagine that I might be a little nervous about testing my current mental state. In fact some of the guys here seem to think I'm a little off balance. Thinking back I'm sure Susan told me on more than one occasion that I'm nuts or that I'm crazy.

Today I had another missing home experience. I was standing in front of the sink looking at the two faucets and two handles. One faucet is hot the other is cold. Meaning there is no warm water. Its either burn yourself or freeze your whiskers off. In fact I think some state worker ran short on some water lines so one sink has the faucets reversed. I'm sure if you asked the folks here at Ft Lewis they would tell you this was done on purpose to keep us on our toes.

As my friend Bill Murray would say "Its Army training"

Miss you guys, think of us tonight while your sleeping in your beds. I just want to add that the gang (Jeff Howe, Jeff Ulmen, Cheryl Townsend)here at Ft Lewis are looking out for each other. It's important to know that we need you back home to look out for our spouses in our absence.

The official score is 2- young pups), 7+ (Old Dogs) for the cribbage championships. The + and - symbolizes a game gone bad for the young pups. The young pups felt overwhelmed and started pegging back wards to save face. The game was called after the old dogs were on the way to skunking the young pups. Each night the old dogs (Crotteau/Howe) play the pups (Ulmen/Townsend) three games of some friendly cribbage. It's not that the old dogs are whooping them, we think of it as teaching them how to win gracefully. Cribbage should not be a contact sport unlike those that play from Northern Minnesota.

That is all (Quote from Radar Oreilly MASH)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feb. 10 too many days to go to keep track

Well I haven't posted since the day Dave left, he does such a good job, I feel I pale in comparison. But as I said in my original post my goal is to stay too busy to think about him being gone. I am staying busy, but it still hits me that he is gone. I am dealing with it better then I thought I would. This blog helps, and talking to him nightly. I wish he could have his cell phone in Iraq.

Today I am going to the departure ceremony and dinner for the soldiers going on this deployment. Friday is when I will have to say see you later to the newest member of our family. Doug has really wormed his way into our hearts, and I feel as if I am sending one of my own off. It will be as difficult as sending Dave and Jacki off.

If you are reading this blog, please post, it Dave has asked several times for me to tell people to post, so here I am telling everyone that reads POST A COMMENT.

Well gotta go please remember the soldiers deploying in your prayers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

9 Feb 09

Good Afternoon,
I just wanted to make a brief entry to say that the soldiers have a difficult job to do during the next year. However our job is easy when we compare our selves to our spouses who are left behind. Our spouses have to be both the Mom and the Dad, good cop and bad cop, and to keep the family on track. Our spouses are every thing from chief bottle washer, financial planner, and most importantly the light at the end of the tunnel.

I thank my lucky stars that when this is over my wife and family will be there when I get home. Never take what you have together for granted and never miss an opportunity to say I love you!

I love you Susan, and thanks for being by my side through the thick and thin.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

8 Feb 09 How did I get here?

Another morning in Dave's world. My barracks has about 40 male soldiers living together under one roof. It's not always easy with 4 shower heads, 1 washer, and 1 dryer but you just do the best you can and move on. Last night some of the guys came in about 2:00 am lite up like a Christmas tree. They were loud, obnoxious and enjoying life to its fullest. This morning MAJ Howe and I talked about this on our morning walk. As much as I wanted to come unglued on them last night I opted to look the other way.

Face it coming unglued would have been fun but for many this is the last opportunity to drink and move about freely. Soon when the main body gets here we will be under General Order 1 which means no drinking. My rational was let them have their fun it's the weekend and it will be a year before it happens again. There are many last times on our lists but each day brings us closer to coming home again.

I want to thank my family and friends for standing by me through my military career. It hasn't been all that and a bag of chips but I wouldn't change my life for the world. I asked myself this morning how did I get here? Thank god I didn't answer myself out loud. I got here because of me, my family and a decision that we made together. I'm here today because I raised my right hand and said I do, I will, and do with me what you will. After all with my youngest being a junior in school it was to soon to retire. We knew by extending the chances were there that I would deploy. But as I said earlier life is about choices. I've always taught my kids that there are two things you have in this world, your name and your word. If you give your word you need to do the right thing. And that when people hear your name they associate it with your reputation and who you are. Break your word or discredit your name and your faced with the consequences of your actions.

So why am I here? I'm here because of my father, his father and his father before him. I'm here because I gave my word to my wife when I said "I do" that I would take care of her and protect her. I'm here because I believe in what we are doing and that together we can make a difference. I'm here because I gave my word and that those I work with daily need me as much as I need them. We (deployed soldiers) have an unspoken word to take care of each other until we return.

May God bless you and yours and say a prayer tonight for a soldier while you lie in your bed in your own home.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

7 Feb 09 - No one to knock

Another morning in Dave's world,
This morning after a vigorous morning walk I enjoyed a ham and cheese omelet and some chocolate milk. The guys in my section ate together and talked about our upcoming day. Breakfast here in the mess hall isn't as bad as I originally thought. The mess hall is old like our barracks but they do have eggs to order. This is a highlight for me, on my last deployment all meals were heat and serve like a TV dinner. You haven't lived until you've had the same heat and serve meal three months in a roll. Don't get me wrong at least we had hot meals at Ft Stewart GA.

More about the title of today's blog entry "No one to knock". At home when the urge to go to the bathroom happens I like to grab a book and settle in for a few minutes. Sooner or later one of the kids or my wife will knock on the door and ask if I'm OK. I realized this morning that there was no one here to knock and ask if I'm OK. Talk about depressing, as sad as it is no one will be knocking for a long time. At home it was an annoyance because I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It's funny the things that you miss when your gone.

Today we are assisting the unit with weighing and measuring equipment for onward movement to IRAQ. We have three sets of equipment that we are tracking. We have a set of equipment that will be used while we are here, and returned to MN after we leave. We have a set of equipment that will be used here and then sent by military airplane to IRAQ. Last but not least is a set of equipment that needs to go to IRAQ in the next few week by boat. I know the questions are obvious like why the three sets. For one thing the set being used here and returned to Mn is because the equipment is already stationed in IRAQ waiting for us. The equipment set that we are using here then flying over is not available for us to use here in Ft Lewis WA but we have to have it to train. The last set going by boat is mission essential equipment that is not in IRAQ but we need to do our mission.

Hope that answers your questions.

Remember life is about choices. Have a great day and decide Early if your glass is half empty or half full!


Friday, February 6, 2009

6 Feb 09 Another Day

First off I just want to say that without family and friends I would be lost. Most importantly without the support of my wife and family I would not be able to make it through the deployment. My wife and family have always been my strongest supporters and stand behind me no matter what. No matter what happens they are there to give me encouragement or the occasional kick in the _ _ _ that is sometimes required.

With that being said I'm working here in Ft Lewis Wa to improve my tool box. Chaplain Morris was the first man to talk to me about the tool box of life. As kids our parents, teachers and friends teach us lessons of life. Each lesson you learn goes into your tool box to be used later during life. Sometimes we forget the tools that we have been given and we kick the old tool box under the bed. Later on, if we are lucky we pull the tool box back out and grab a tool to use in our life. As a child I said on more than one occasion that I wasn't going to be the kind of parents that my parents were. Years latter I find that I actually used some of the tools given to me by my parents on being a parent. However I might have dusted the tool off or brought it into Sears for a free upgrade. You know from parent 101 to parent 103.5. Those of us who use our tools regularly know that one tool can be used in an emergency when the actual tool you were looking for was misplaced.

But here I am miles from home looking at my tools in my tool box. I started out with the approach what tools do I need to make it through the deployment. Some of the most important tools were spiritual, mental, and physical. Each of those have sub categories like mental has stability, stamina, and more than likely a lot of guts. Where the spiritual side might have family, commitment, beliefs, honor, and personal integrity. I'm thinking that of the three; spiritual, mental, and physical I'm lacking on one more than the rest. I believe I have the mental part down regardless of the smirks some of you may have right now. The spiritual part I'm OK with as well, I know that without God and the support of my family in my life I would be lost. But the physical side is a different story. Our Body armor and accessories can weigh 60-100 lbs depending on what you opt to carry. Imagine carrying 5 20lb sacks of potatoes for an hour or more. Could you do it, I might have too and I know it's going to be rough at first.

So here is what I'm doing to improve on my physical side. Since last Friday I have been without my beloved Mountain Dew. Granted while I'm out to eat I might have a diet Pepsi but it's a start. When I'm thirsty in the office I now have water. The other thing is I'm working out. Every morning at 530 we (Howe, Ulmen, Townsend and myself) walk to the gym to work out. Round trip is probably 1 mile but we are there for 30-45 minuets. Last but not least I want to get my weight under 200 to feel better about myself. All of the above to include my families support will help me to become better physically.

So I'm asking you what are you doing with the tools in your tool box? Have you looked at them lately?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

5 Feb 09 - Another day

Good morning from Dave's world,
I wanted to share my feelings with you this morning. I woke this morning like most others in my life. I shut off the alarm and wanted to snuggle with my wife. Unfortunately me and my twin vinyl covered mattress both know that she isn't there. In fact she won't be there for some time and I just have to deal with it. I miss the smell, and the noises that she makes while she is sleeping. If your reading this enjoy each and every opportunity to snuggle, kiss and say that you love her. I know that there won't be a morning that I will wake that I won't miss her. The most depressing thought is it will be a year before I can hold her in my arms again. Oh well life sucks and you deal with it, I guess.

On a happier note day one of fitted sheets went well. The sheet stayed on, the vinyl underneath will have to wait for the next victim. I know Mr. Vinyl Mattress is a far cry from my select number bed at home. I am starting to like the lack of support and the hammock like sleep that I'm getting. I should translate my sarcasm and say there is little if no support. Your bed gives in the middle so what your left with is your feet and head are above the rest of your body like your in a hammock.

I'm attaching some pictures of my new digs. Just promise me you won't rush off to the travel agent and book a flight here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4th 364 days plus

Good Evening everyone,
I just wanted to tell you that I have time during the past few night where I think of home. I will be posting pictures of my barracks in the next few days. I just want you right now to close your eyes and picture this. Picture a building that was built for soldiers back in world war II. The building has gone pretty much untouched with the exception of years of paint and layers of wax that has been applied through the years. There is a note on the bulletin board that talks about the care and maintenance of the building. For example you cannot strip the wax off the floor due to the lead tiles underneath. Do not peal the paint off the wall because of the lead underneath. I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the picture or due you?

When I mentioned I have time during the night its because of the lime green vinyl mattress covers and the too small sheets. I was issued two sheets neither one is fitted. (My pillow is also covered in plastic that crinkles under the pillow case) If I were a betting man sometime ago the folks here (penny pincher's) at Ft Lewis said why replace the mattresses and pillows lets cover them in vinyl instead. So every mattress now has a vinyl mattress cover that reminds me of the plastic my mom used too cover her couch with. The reason I'm awake off and on through the night is because no matter what I do the vinyl mattress bad seems to come uncovered. I've tried everything short of duct tape to secure my sheets but so far nothing works. I know your thinking so what big deal, suck it up. In my defense would you want your skin to touch a place where 100's of soldiers have slept before? This morning I almost drowned in my pool of drool that had formed where the mattress was exposed.

I believe I have my problem solved I bought fitted sheets to day at the post exchange. They were on sale for 8.99. If you ask me it was money well spent.

Just for the record I'm not complaining. As most soldiers will tell you we always rationalize our accommodations by saying this isn't as bad as the time I was at Ft Stewart, GA, or at Ft Dix, NJ. We soldiers can and have had it worse and are thankful for hot water, a roof over our heads, and a warm place to sleep at night.

Life is a matter of choices I say if your given lemons you need to make lemonade, others say if your given lemons .......

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3 365 days plus

I just read Susan's posting from yesterday. Trust me when I say nothing prepares you for saying good bye to your loved ones at an Airport knowing you won't see them again for a year. I have known I was leaving for a year but saying good bye to your wife (who is your best friend), and your son at the airport was the second hardest thing I have ever done. The first hardest thing I ever did was saying good bye last time I deployed (2003). Granted my family is older now, the kids are more responsible, and our marriage is better than ever before. (Did I mention that this time I have a grand baby?) This past year we have laughed, cried, shared our innermost feelings, had our wills done, and worked together to build our home/cabin for the next leg of our life's journey together. If you can build a home together working side by side, share your ideas verbally, make your ideas come to life, compromise, and do it again if it's wrong, you can survive anything.

After my wife and son left I watched a family with a new born child say good bye. I know my own send off was rough but saying good bye to a new born child.... (the words to express this escape me)

My family has been through the deployment thing before but on the airplane ride here I was able to see the good bye through other eyes. The couple I was seated by on the airplane talked to me about the scene they had witnessed at the airport. The couple was in their 70's, had four grown children, and had never been exposed to the deployment of a soldier close hand. They were in the terminal waiting to board the plane with the 40 soldiers on their way to Fort Lewis Wa. (FLWA Army acronym). The wife kept me awake for most of the flight (3 hours) asking questions. She said her and her husband were both well educated but witnessed a life they knew nothing about. I told her that most of these soldiers were putting their lives on hold to serve their country. Some of the soldiers I'm deploying with are teachers, homemakers, students, lawyers, mechanics, cops, nurses, firemen, and school crossing cards. All of those deploying knew that in today's world it wasn't a matter of if you were going to deploy but a question of when and where.

I also told her that the best way I could explain it to her was though an experience I had at church recently. The mass was dedicated to the soldiers of the 34th Infantry Division. The mass talked about the soldiers of God that followed Jesus. The soldiers of God left their jobs, families and life's to follow Jesus with no thought of what in it for them. The soldiers did it because they believed in what they were doing and that it was right. The father transitioned this into the modern day soldier. He said that the soldiers of the 34th ID are doing this because they were called to serve. Whether its right or wrong that we are in Iraq, the soldiers are serving because they believe it's the right thing to do.

The lady opened her Bible and was writing down some information. I was nodding off when she asked me if her church could pray for my family, the soldiers, and their families. I told her that we need all the help we can get to get through this. I know in my own life I have asked God to look out for my family, my friends and to help me make it through this ordeal. Please add the soldier and his family to your prayer list.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 1 Monday Feb. 2,2009

Today Dave left for Fort Lewis Washington. He will be there until the middle of March then he heads to Iraq. Needless to say it was very difficult to see him go. We have known for a year that this day was coming, but there is no way to prepare yourself when you have to walk away from your partner in life for a year. I just remember what my Aunt Irene told me, her husband passed away before Dave deployed to Kosovo, "at least he is able to come home" It sure put it in perspective for me. I just keep reminding myself of that. Thankfully we are and will be able to talk on the phone.

Got home from taking him to the airport, and started painting the downstairs bathroom that Dave redid before he left. Then took Bella to puppy agility. My goal is to stay so busy the time will fly before he's back.

Dave called on the way home, and we both said, we didn't realize how difficult this would be. It will get better as we adjust. All my kids have called to check in, and I have assured them that all is OK.

Thank you to all our friends and family for your support. It means so much. Till later.