Fast & Slow

It’s funny how fast and slow I year goes by.  Just a year ago I was sitting in Qatar waiting to go forward to Afghanistan.  Now I’m sitting here waiting to go home.  It is still the hottest place I’ve ever been and it is still the same as I remember it being last year.  Although it does seem to be a lot windier, and wind in a desert means you get a good exfoliation everywhere you go.

flight to qatar
Flight from Bagram to Qatar

For dinner one of my evenings in Qatar, I met up with a Sailor who I deployed here with a year ago.  Throughout the year we were stationed at different locations in Afghanistan, so this was the first time we saw each other since Qatar, which seems like a quick year ago.  He was one of the Sailors who walked around the airport with me in Germany to get our steps in before we re-boarded the flight that eventually took us to Qatar the first time.

dinner with nate
Dinner a year later!

Well I was walking through a sand storm to the gym I started to really think about the year I just spent with the Army.  My entire time there I continually stated how much I disliked the Army.  Now, I am still very happy I picked the correct service and joined the Navy, but I really believe my distaste for the Army comes from one Army Officer and one Army Officer only.  The first Army Officer I worked for certainly made the time go slow.  We had a really tough time seeing things the same way. I struggled a lot to make our working relationship work.  He was one of those officers who walks around demanding respect for the rank he wears rather than earning his respect through being a leader and setting the example for his troops.  This style of leadership is VERY contrary to mine and it made for a difficult first half of the deployment.  After a few critical conversations with him that lead to no change I knew I needed to do something else. At the six month mark I had a long and fact filled conversation with his boss and we decided it was best I move somewhere else.  This move turned into a blessing and my remaining six months flew by much faster than the first six.

So to set the record straight, the Army really isn’t that bad.  My Sunday runs were full of great Army guys.  I ate breakfast with the Army and enjoyed it.  For movie nights and waffle nights I went with my Army brethren.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m on my way home, but my heart has most certainly softened to the Army and I will remember the majority of my time with them with fondness and I may even get a little nostalgic.

I want to give a thank you to my Life Fitness friends.  Back in October a group of them sent me a tent for my bed and it was seriously the best.  It gave me my own little sanctuary and I had a little space to call my own.  It almost made it seem like I was on a ship again.  On the ship we each have our own rack (bed) that has curtains you close and it gives you your own little space.  I enjoyed the tent so much that is was the last thing I packed to send home.  On my very last morning in Kabul I packed it up (after watching a YouTube video on how to do it) and sent it home.  I loved it so much I didn’t want to spend even one night there without it!  It certainly helped the time go by more quickly. Now I’m sure my kids will love it just as much as I did!

last time in bed
Last Night in My Tent

I’m not sure I shared, but I had a really hard time digesting the food the entire time I was in Afghanistan.  At the beginning I had terrible headaches and I just felt awful.  I started using Nuun water tablets multiple times a day and that helped a lot.  My salt and electrolyte levels were so off and I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed on a daily basis just to feel normal.  I never got used to the food there, but at least my stomach was hurting all the time.  I stayed away from many of the fresh vegetables, which helped, but I LOVE vegetables and I missed them so much.

Now I am working my way home.  In Qatar I saw cauliflower for the first time in a long time.  I don’t remember seeing it in Afghanistan at all.  I ate plenty of it.  I ate so many vegetables in Qatar, I don’t think my stomach was ready.  Although I was so excited to eat them again and they tasted so good.

last dinner
Last Meal in Qatar…and the Middle East

As I work my way home I have to start getting used to the way things were.  I’m sure the adjustment will be fast.  While in Qatar I swam in a pool that was a full 25 yards, verse the 17 meter pool I swam in, in Kabul.  The first few laps felt very strange and went by slow, but by my second swim there I was used to the length again and it felt like nothing changed.  As with everything the food, the people, my family, and work…I will get used to it again and it will all feel normal once more.

I’m onto the next step of this journey home…I’m waiting for a very early morning flight to Germany!

I Was Surprised…..

packed
PACKED

I was so sad. I flew from Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul to Bagram Airbase yesterday. I was genuinely sad to leave. The emotions were real and strong. Please know that I am over the moon excited to go home, but something about being here has changed me and leaving Afghanistan after being here for a year was really hard.

boys and luggage
My Sherpas 

As I reflect on the sadness I think it’s because of two things. The first one is the friends I’ve made and the way we come and go from this deployment. In the past when I deployed with the ship, we all left together and came back together. We pulled in from the deployment and shared the moment of coming home together. Then we would go our separate ways, but it didn’t seem so much like an end but a happy start to the next chapter. With this deployment to Afghanistan we are all coming and going on our own schedules. As I leave I’m leaving behind good friends and there were friends who left before me. I am coming home from this deployment by myself. It all just seems so much more permanent and sticking. This deployment has a finiteness to it that hurts a little more than the end of others. There is something sad and unsettling knowing that many of these friends I made over this year I will probably never see again. And it hurts having to leave some in the fight while I go home!

navy
A small sample of the great Navy friends I’m leaving behind….DF JH for life!
crazy navy
Stole my phone…maybe I should rethink missing these fine Naval Officers!

The second part of my sadness is leaving the Afghans I got to know over this last year. I am sadden that there are such good people living in such an unsafe place. During my last week one of the Afghans, Amir, who owns a coffee shop on base invited me to Iftar. Iftar is the special dinner they eat to break the fast each day of Ramadan. The wife of one of his employees made the dinner and it was so delicious. I was honored to be included in this celebration and will miss these people.

This leads me to a long over due update on the Afghan Girls from Free to Run. First of all I want to thank everyone who to contributed to the GoFundMe campaign I created to raise money to buy the gear they need to participate in their races. All of you helped me raise $2300 and I was able to purchase everything needed plus a few extras. They were delighted and I am glad we were able to do something so simple yet so impactful for these women of Afghanistan.  I handed the runs over to two very capable and lovely women who will continue to bring the girls to the base to run every other Friday.  This program has been so important for both the women of Afghanistan and the military personnel.  For the women they are given a safe place to run while being supported by another group of runners that includes men who are bringing them up rather than bringing them down.  For the military members on the base we are able to see the goodness in Afghanistan rather than the negative we see otherwise.

last sunday run
Last Sunday Run

Without a doubt it’s time for me to go home and I know I am ready, but it can still be sad to leave something knowing it will be forever.  I rode my last ride on the Watt bikes and after that last ride I threw my shoes away.  I’ve had those shoes since I was 17 and over my time here they rotted away and there was basically nothing left of the back of the right shoe.  I’m sure if someone did a lab culture on the shoes they would come back with more bacteria than a truck stop bathroom.  I do have a new pair waiting for me at home along with my new bike I have yet to ride.

For the first half of my time here I would eat breakfast with group of watchstanders from the Joint Operations center.  Many of those personnel moved to a different base and my breakfast crew changed.  When I got back from my mid-deployment leave I flew back from Kuwait with an Army Lieutenant Colonel.  In general I am not a huge fan of the Army and especially Lieutenant Colonel’s (I might tell that story in an upcoming post), but this one didn’t seem so bad.  We started eating breakfast together back in March and it just became the daily routine.  He would eat his two hard-boiled eggs with fruit and I had my peanut butter english muffin with fruit.  We were also often joined by a few other Naval Officers and he always joked that the only friends he had on base were Navy.  He has six kids and one day he was going through their names and he couldn’t remember his youngest son’s middle name.  He said, “oh he’s the cute one, but I just can’t remember.”  Of course I had to say you probably have too many kids when you can’t remember all of their names.  He was a great friend and made the mornings better.

breakfast
The Last Breakfast

On my last Wednesday a Navy Commander I traveled to western Afghanistan with back in August was back at Resolute Support Headquarters filling a gap for a week.  Andy (the Commander) and Chris, a good friend of mine (hopefully new life friend), and I went out for lunch together.  I thought it was really nice to see someone I started this journey with the same week it was coming to an end.  It really made me appreciate how far I’ve come this year.

lunch with chris and
Lunch…A Year Later

To all my family and friends please know this journey home is going to be long.  I won’t be home for another month or so.  I have a lot of little stops a long the way before I finish.  Be patient with me as I transition back and let me do it on my own time.  It took me time to get used to being gone.  I’ll need time to get used to being home again!

365+ Elephant Pieces

one-bite-at-a-time-001

June 4th marked the 365 day mark of Uncle Sam’s Vacation! When I started this journey, June 4th of 2018 felt like an eternity coming.

As I approach my last week in Afghanistan I’m finishing up last minute work and tying up all my loose ends. The part that is surprising me the most is I am having a hard time giving up my responsibilities. I find myself still caring too much about my work and not turning it over, which is not good for anyone. Each day I try to spend less and less time in the office just to ensure I don’t do more than I should and allow my replacement the time he needs to learn while I’m still here to answer questions. My replacement and I have had a strange turnover. He came here to replace someone else, but my actual replacement didn’t seem to have what it takes to do this job, so they sent him somewhere else. This means the person taking my job has been here for a month and we’ve had a turnover much longer than necessary. Now I am just waiting for our NATO Civilian to come back from leave, and then I. CAN. LEAVE! I was asked to stay until his return to make sure there was some continuity in the office.

I’ve taken this deployment in stages and broken it up in small pieces. I did the best I could to always count up and never down. #countingnotcounting Before I did my first marathon my dad told me never count down. When you’re approaching mile marker 26 the following point two miles can feel over whelming. Instead he told me to think about the 26 miles I just ran not the less than a quarter mile remaining. This is good advice for this deployment as well.  As of today I’ve made it well over 365 days, yet the month I have left until I get home seems so long even though it’s such a small portion of this entire journey. Before my I left my dad said don’t forget about the elephant. You can’t eat such a large animal in one giant bite; it takes many small bites and lots of little elephant pieces.

me and food
YUMMY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best part of this deployment has been spending time with the Navy again and wearing a uniform proudly.  Most days I was in an Army uniform, but having my Navy friends here made even wearing an Army uniform bearable.  Most Saturdays we, the Navy,  would get together for dinner and enjoy our fellow sailor’s company.  For my last Saturday we did my favorite, Afghan food and Cards Against Humanity.

Our “rug guy” Arian “smuggled” food in for us.  Since it is Ramadan there are a lot of religious rules around when food can be prepared and eaten.  I’m not sure how he managed it, but he brought in some super delicious food.  We were even honored to have him stay and break his fast with us.  It was really special and meant a lot!navy night

 

 

We had a few extras for this Navy night since it was my last Saturday here.  I may have had to apologize to them since they were all new to Card Against Humanity.  Although they were all good sports and had fun with the these dirt Sailors!

 

So just a few more small bites and this deployment elephant will be gone. Then onto the next one! #ironman2018  I was honored to be presented with a patch from my Navy friends saying Death Before DNF.  I decided I’m bringing this patch with me and will have it on my person during the entire Ironman!  Afghanistan is where I did the majority of my training.  Afghanistan certainly represents a Death Before DNF time in my life.  If I was able to get through this year, there is no reason I can’t finish my Ironman….There is no DNF in my future!dnf.jpg

555-6792

 If anyone other my sister can tell me where 555-6792 comes from I will be fully impressed. Any takers?? This is a phone number that was sung on an episode of Cheers. For years afterwards my sister would repeat it. Last year I watched all of Cheers and I heard it again. Neither of us knew the context of which the phone number was sung, but she always remembered it. When I finally got to that episode I remembered instantly Charlsie singing the phone number. I called her that same day and gave her in the context of the phone number.  In season 10 episode 16 Frasier and Lilith take Frederick to see Nanny G, a children’s performer, for his second birthday. Nanny G ends up being Frasier’s ex-wife and an ex-wife Lilith knows nothing about. At the end of the episode Nanny G sends a jack in the box clown to Cheers and when Frasier winds it, it sings 555-6792 which is Nanny G’s phone number.

So why this long story about a random phone number on some TV show from the 80’s? Well this little jingle of seven numbers jumped into my head on Friday. As I was setting up for a four hour and fifteen minutes ride on the bike my phone fell off the bike and turned off for its last time. I want to give you a little history on this phone. My phone is four years old and the screen has been severely cracked for eight months. Every time I turned it on I was thankful it actually turned on. When I call home it often switches on and off. Although what I found was this phone has become my security blanket….as I’m sure this is probably true for at least 80% of the people reading this right now.

I started my four and fifteen minute ride with no phone. It was just a steady state endurance ride. I didn’t need my app to tell me how hard to ride, I knew, but I just kept thinking how will this ride count if it doesn’t register on the app? Reality is the ride counts and it still happened weather my phone told me it did or not. I struggled through the entire ride. The first ninety minutes there was a spin class in the room so they kind of distracted me. Then I asked a fellow Naval Officer if she could stop by my room and grab my surface pro so I could as least have music. She brought it back, but I could not get it to connect to the WiFi, so no music, but I did have some TV shows downloaded so I watched Big Bang Theory for the last two hours. Although TV is not nearly as motivating as music.

I learned a lot on that ride. I was shocked with myself at how easily I fell apart. Without my workout app and music you would think someone cut my legs off and I was not capable of riding at all. I even just gave up with less than a minute left of the ride. I got off at four hours, fourteen minutes and two seconds. I never do that. Usually I ride longer than I need to, NEVER shorter. I know at some point while I’m racing I will remember how hard it was to finish (well almost finish) that ride. I won’t have my phone or music while I’m racing so I really needed this.

In the days that followed the loss of my phone I had to get comfortable without it. I had all kinds of issues syncing my Garmin to my surface pro. I don’t think I actually ever did and it messed up the time terribly. For a while it was a week off, but when I turned on the GPS to run it fixed its self. Without going on and on about the loss of my phone this gave me a moment to really evaluate my training and I really needed to. How in this last year did I get so addicted to workout technology? I sat down and looked at my Ironman training plan and figured out how to make it work, and convinced myself my workouts all still count! I found some peace in it all while 555-6792 kept going through my head.

ready for parade
Pre-Parade Enthusiasm

 

To put things in perspective this last week we celebrated Memorial Day. This makes my phone “drama” seem very silly. We all celebrated, but we in Afghanistan celebrated by doing what we do every day here. Go to work. We are working for what you are celebrating. My parents took the kids to a Memorial Day parade. We never missed the Memorial Day parade growing up. If only I had a picture from high school in my marching band uniform! This year I’m wearing a uniform, just an Army one! Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone took the time to enjoy a long weekend, but also took a few minutes to remember those who wore a uniform and worked so you could rest in freedom!

Cultural Syncretism

This week I was introduced to a social concept that hit home for me and I am committing to fully utilizing this phenomenon for my last few weeks here in Afghanistan. The idea is called cultural syncretism. One of my Italian friends mentioned it and it stuck. This is the definition of which I’m embracing: Syncretism is a combination of separate concepts into one new, unique idea. Cultural syncretism is when an aspect of two or more distinct cultures blend together to create a new custom, idea, practice, or philosophy.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been escorting a few Italians over to the pool twice a week to swim. The pool is at the U.S. Embassy and the only way our international partners can enjoy it is if one of the U.S citizens escorts them. I was honored to be asked by a Two Star Italian General if he could join me twice a week while I swam.  So now Tuesdays and Thursdays we go over to the pool. I swim for an hour, they swim for 40 minutes and then catch some sun while I finish my workout. The Italians are enjoying the American culture with the ability to swim here in Afghanistan, but then they blend it with their cultural norm by also resting and enjoying the sun.

general swimming
Proof of a Two Star Swim!

This last week while they were sun bathing the General asked the Major, Francesco, how old he thought I was. So when I got out of the pool the General asked me how old I am and I answered thirty five. Well the General took this as an opportunity to say Francesco thinks I’m old, he thought I was forty. I was instantly slightly offended. Francesco did his best back pedal and said he calculated my age by taking into account how many children I have and my rank in the Navy. Based on those two facts, and those two facts alone, he says he figured I had to be forty. I probably will give Francesco a hard time about this until I leave!

chesco and I swimming
Right After Being Called OLD

As we about to leave the pool the General made a comment about speedos.  So all the Italians swim in speedos and then put shorts on afterwards to sun bath.  His comment was he doesn’t understand the American’s aversion to them, they still wear swimsuits which show just as much anatomy.  He was referring to a speedo style swimsuit, but long, like bike shorts.  I believe this maybe a topic in which Americans will not synchronize with the Europeans.  Although the Americans do blend a speedo with a more traditional swimsuit, so that is still Cultural Syncretism.

Since I started swimming with the Italians, I’ve certainly started to embrace cultural syncretism. Francesco is actually the person who introduced me to the concept. When I was done swimming I used to go back to the office and eat lunch there. Now I do my afternoons Italian style. I go to lunch with Francesco, the first time I went I ate quickly and left early to get back, but I quickly realized what was I getting back for? Nothing was the right answer. So now I enjoy my lunch with them and I’ve even started accompanying them to the Italian NSE (national support element), the building they lounge in, and having an afternoon Italian coffee before I head back to the office. So far I have missed nothing at work and I’m enjoying my time that much more. I like Italian syncretism!

This last weekend I received my NATO medal at the monthly NATO medal parade. Each month everyone, and I mean everyone, who has been here more than a month receives the non-article five NATO medal. This medal doesn’t really speak to any true accomplishment other than breathing, but it has become a rite of passage.   I am close enough to leaving that I was given a medal. I now have a medal proving I survived the NATO environment of Kabul, Afghanistan. I was fortunate enough to get a picture with my Italian Two Star General and swimming partner, Major General Bettelli.

general and award
My Italian General after I received my award!
russ and award
A Running Friend, Russ, we’re out of here soon!

 

 

While I was home my dad mentioned something that stuck with me.  He said you know you are the one that is changing.  The people at home will be relatively the same when you come home.  I believe, for the most part, he is right.  When I get home I will have to sensitive to the fact that I will need to reintroduce myself to my family.  I will have to learn where I fit and culturally synchronize myself with them.  This experience certainly has changed me and opened my eyes to a world I can’t truly explain.  Afghanistan, like many things in life, unless you’ve been there you can’t describe it, it’s an experience.  However much I’m ready to go home and be with my family I will have to be aware that I’ve changed and they managed without me for over a year.  Although I have no doubt, that with a little time we’ll be back culturally synced blending ourselves back together creating a family that is wiser and stronger and ready to take on anything!

Wilted Roses

As I reflect on this last week the image of a wilted rose continues to run through my mind. At one point this rose was growing on the branches of a rose-bush. Then someone picked the rose and this rose was given to someone as a gesture of love. Inevitably as that rose sits in a vase on the table it begins to wilt. The rose is still beautiful and represents something special, but it’s losing its luster and is beginning to die.

The world celebrated mother’s day this last Sunday. Prior to being here, in such an international environment, I had no idea that the entire world, or at least the troop contributing nations here in Afghanistan, celebrate mother’s day. I really did have a sad day. It’s funny how most mother’s days you just want to be by yourself and do something for you. Well this one all I wanted was to be with my babies; after all they are the ones who made me a mother. I ended up going for a long run, like every Sunday and then went into work. However, I did spend the afternoon using the money you all so generously donated and purchased the gear the Afghan running girls so desperately need.

As a tribute to the handful of mother’s here, the dining facility served a special dinner and gave us all roses. I proudly displayed my roses in a plastic water bottle at my desk, but by the following morning they were already wilted. These roses represented a special moment of remembrance of mother’s day, but they quickly earned their spot in the trash can. Although even as I threw them away I could see their beauty.

wilted roses
Wilty Mother’s Day Roses

My heart is heavy this week. My family had to say good-bye to a very close family friend. There are those friends who you forget are friends and forever believe them to be family. The entire Nackers family are those kind of friends.  Greg Nackers was fighting ALS, a disease of which there is no cure. He fought bravely and passed away with his family in dignity. My dad and Greg were high school friends, but their friendship reached beyond high school and spanned a lifetime. In their younger years, my dad and his high school friends were known for their long bike rides together. A century ride was just another Saturday morning for them.

As a child, each summer we would go camping with the Nackers. Both families would pack up and drive north. Greg, Judy, and their two boys Steven and Chris, who were close in age to my sister and me, would spend the week enjoying the outdoors and the company of friends we call family. As we kids grew and left home, my dad and Greg continued their annual camping trips. They added another high school friend Gary and my dad’s brother, Uncle Dean. The four of them continued these camping trips even after Greg was diagnosed with ALS. The picture below shows the four of them on their last visit together.

greg
You Are Missed!

I will always remember Greg with love. Unfortunately ALS turned him into the rose that had been picked. He lived a life loving and caring for those around him, but the time came for him to wilt. His beauty always shown through and it showed right up to his very last breath. He never became the ALS, he fought with pride until the last moment and showed his family and friends his true beauty until the very end. I know God lifted you up, removed your pain, and you are now riding your bike through heaven keeping us safe while we wait to join you!

The same day that Greg took his last breath Timyra celebrated her First Communion. I love the contrast of these two moments. Timyra was taking the Body of Christ and strengthening herself in her Catholic Faith while a dear friend was joining Christ in Heaven. Timyra’s rose strengthened its self. This reminds me of the day Timothy was born. The day he was born was the same day we buried my Grandma Rueden. A newborn baby entered the world the day my Grandmother entered the earth for eternity.

baby buddy
Newborn Buddy

 

 

Grandma's grave 2
Grandma’s Grave

My family and close friends helped to make Timyra’s First Communion special and the blessed event it should be. TJ and my mom took her to all her preparation classes and helped her prepare spiritually. My sister was so generous in doing both the girl’s hair. They looked amazing. I have to mention that 26 years ago my mom made my First Communion dress. Timyra, with a few alterations, wore the same dress. I know I wasn’t there, but with all the support she received, my prayers were enough. Timyra’s rose is full.

first communion family
My Handsome Family

 

same dress 1st communion
Picture of Me in the Dress Too!

 

 

 

hair dresser 1st communion
The Expert Hair Stylist

 

As I look around Afghanistan, I can’t help but see it as a wilted rose. There is so much good amongst all the bad. The good people of Afghanistan are losing because of the bad. There is beauty here, but its life is being sucked away and the roses are wilted. I hope someday Afghanistan will find the water it needs to stop wilting and stand on its own.

roses at RS
A Random Rose-Bush on the Base

Renewal

As you read last week, it was a tough week for me. Although through the amazing outpouring of support I received last week, I know I can make it through this last little part of my deployment. All of you renewed my outlook on humanity. You reset me for the rest of this journey.

First of all I sincerely need to thank all those who donated to the Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for the Afghan women of Free to Run. I had high school cross country friends, college friends, fellow service members (past and present), family members, neighbors, co-workers, and people I don’t even know who gave generously. Social media most certainly helped me reach such a broad audience. This money will be used to purchase gear these women desperately need to make their dreams a reality.  If you were considering donating, and have not yet, please do so at: https://www.gofundme.com/manage/afghan-women039s-running

The one of the biggest hurdles Taylor, the US citizen here in Afghanistan who trains the women, faces is her inability to receive mail. I obviously don’t have that problem. So this is why it is so important to raise this money. With the money I can order the gear and have it shipped directly to me. Then I can make sure it gets to the girls. I am honored to be able to help!

The start of last week was awful, but the end of the week renewed me. We were able to host 18 more of the Free to Run Women for an afternoon training run. This time they ranged in age from 14 to mid-thirty. We offered a 5k, 10k, and 21k distance. All the volunteers naturally spread out with all the girls for the various distances and ran with them at their pace. We hosted the 5k and 10k runners for Gatorade and snacks while they waited for the runners who were going for 21k. Some of the volunteers even walked them around and they watched a volleyball game that was underway. The girls loved it. Once again we were able to give them positive interactions with men who also believe in their dreams and want to help them come true. One of the volunteers, Matt Gill, spoke extensively about his family and children and showed them many pictures. These are the moments that go beyond a run and reach to the hearts and minds of the good people of Afghanistan. It also helps the deployed service members here remember why we are here and who we are helping.

our last run
Sunday run group, our volunteers!

This week I also had to say good bye to a women who was many things to me during this deployment. Although good bye is not correct, this is truly a see you later and soon moment. I was honored to serve with and work for the first female US Marine Corps pilot. Although I had no idea what her history was until we had already been working together for over five months. She would say this was her favorite deployment, because she could just do her job and she wasn’t known for her history making efforts. She was more than just my colleague.  She was my running partner, confidant, and most importantly she was and is a new life friend.  I will miss her dearly, but her leaving brings me one person closer to my departure.  This was a moment of sadness and renewal.  Sarah and I have already planned to meet up for the Monster Dash Half Marathon in October in Chicago. She lives in Michigan just over the border from Indiana. Chicago makes for a great meeting place! Sarah thank you for being there for me this entire deployment and I can’t wait until we meet again in the civilian world outside of Afghanistan!

recreation picture
Last run selfie…recreating our first selfie after the half marathon last October….MISS YOU!

I’ve been distracted these last few weeks and I missed a few milestones at home. First and probably the saddest for me was Taylyn turning 3. It was sad for two reasons, I wasn’t there and my baby turned 3! She still had a really special day. They took her to Chuck E. Cheeses for dinner and games. My sister brought my niece Quinn. Another part of this deployment that I will treasure forever is how close my children have gotten with their cousin. My mom watches Quinn every Wednesday so Taylyn gets to play with her at least once a week. They have turned into two little peas in a pod. They drive my mother crazy with their screaming, but they have bonded in a way they never would have had I been home.

Tay and Quinn
#troubleforlife

When I was home on leave Taylyn would play with an imaginary baby  she called her Ceesa. When we were at Disney she would push her imaginary Ceesa around in the stroller. I thought  an actual Ceesa doll would be the perfect birthday gift. I found a website that would embroider rag dolls. I wanted Ceesa to be a doll she could take everywhere with her, since the imaginary one went everywhere. I called the morning of her birthday and was able to watch her open the present from me. She was excited and from my understanding Ceesa does go everywhere with her.

ceesa
Tay’s Ceesa

 

Tay with Cesaw
Nap time with Ceesa

Timothy has started spring soccer and is enjoying practice and games.  He maybe small, but he’s fast and is certainly the team’s number one scorer.  Timyra dove right into the swim team.  She’s already had her first meet and it went well.  She took first in 2 events and, well last in the other.  You can’t win them all and if she hadn’t done two flips turns to turn around in the 100 free the outcome may have been different.  Although she loves going to practice and I’m really excited to see where this goes for her.soccer gameswim team meet

Thank you everyone for the support these last couple months.  I believe I have what I need now to finish this.  We are all in the home stretch!