Friday, May 28, 2010

Update from Afghanistan...

For a while there, I would be lucky to hear from my husband for 10 minutes, once a week. He had moved to a new camp where communication was close to none. I would get a satellite call every once in a while, that if we were lucky, didn't get dropped or we could actually hear each other. Most times when I picked up, I could hear him but he couldn't hear me. The kicker was, that he only got 10 minutes for these phone calls and about 3-5 were spent calling me back. So when we finally were able to hear each other, we had to cram in as much as possible. There were no idle chit chats. We start out with 'I love you's', 'I miss you's', 'how are the kids'...move on to any pressing issues that needed to be dealt with and if we're lucky we could actually give each other a brief insight on what has been going on with our daily lives. The calls were always over way too soon and there just never seemed to be enough words that you could say to tell each other how much you truly love and miss each other.

The command over there have been dangling the 'wifi' carrot over their heads for weeks but finally, FINALLY they came through and Jon was able to get online again.

I have to tell you how awesome it is to see his pictures that he's posted. I have gone so long without being able to see his face or see what it's like for him over there that when I finally got to see what he looked like, I cried.

My silly husband had decided to shave all his hair off and go bald. I have to admit, it is not a bad look on him. Also, he's been really working on his fitness over there and he looks AMAZING in his pics. Of course, he's loaded up with tons of gear most of the time and you have all heard me say that I love a man in uniform, so it's no surprise that he is looking super yummy to me in these pictures.
But like he's told me a few times, that's pretty much all they do over there. Get up, eat, workout, eat, workout, maybe see a patient....rinse and repeat. Jon's in competition for the 'Most Improved Body' over there and he's been working hard at it. You can definitely see the results in his pictures. It's going to be so strange to see him again and I'm almost worried I won't recognize him.

We are a little past our half way point in this deployment and as much as that excites me, I can't let myself go to that happy place yet. There are still a few months left and if I start getting excited for his homecoming now, it'll never get here! So here I sit....biding my time and hungry for any information, pictures or emails I get from him.

I know most of you have already seen these pictures on my Facebook (or his) but to me, these are blog worthy and something that needs to be permanently recorded in the land of blog.

Jon getting ready for patient transport...

The STP (Shock Trauma Platoon) and Jon transporting a patient out to the landing zone for pick-up.

Just getting off the CH-53 in Delaram. When I showed this pic to the boys, Jack started yelling, "It's Black Out! It's Black Out!" (For all you non-geeks out there, Black Out is a Transformer...)

Jon getting thrown by a guy named Russ. He's been taking Martial Arts Training while there and I'm assuming this is part of it. Either that, or he really pissed this guy off and someone was there to take a pic of it.

Jon setting up some tents. According to Jon, "Actually, I'm just holding an extension cord. Everyone has their purpose, mine is to hold the cord."

Here is the view down Jon's "street" at FOB Delaram II.

The FRSS (Forward Resuscitative Surgical System) team, 4 surgeons, 2 anesthesia providers, 2 nurses, 1 PA, and 3 corpsman after setting up two tents and taking them down in an hour and a half.

So there's my husband's life in a nutshell right now. Please keep your fingers crossed that communication holds up and that all those men and women stay safe.

And Jon, if you're reading this - 'Je porte votre coeur..... I le porte mon coeur.'

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Carnie Rides are for the Strong of Stomach...

Every year, our base likes to hold a free carnival for all us military folks called Maynia.

It's pretty much like any other carnival you've been to. Expensive food, scary carnie's, rides that make you puke and pushy, rude people. Maynia is just the same. The only difference is, is that the rides are all free to go on.

Cassie had decided to go earlier with some friends of hers. The boys and I, along with Uncle Kurtiss headed up there a couple hours later. First thing we see as we're walking pass the 'Spinning Barrels' is some pour smuck, projectile vomiting all over all the unlucky joe's waiting in line for their turn. If that wasn't enough to turn our stomachs (and we've only been there a few minutes), we headed on over to the Musik Express. Which is a ride that's on a wavy, circle track. It starts off going forward, stops midway, the goes backward. Fast. Really fast.

The boys waiting in line....

Jack rides with me and Jason is riding with Kurtiss. As it starts, Jack is able to stay on his side of the seat. By the time the ride is over, I am so crammed into the side of car and Jack is literally pressed so up against me that we might as well have been one person. Of course, we're both laughing hysterically! I looked behind us and Jason looks like he doesn't know whether to laugh or cry and Kurt is just looking like he's glad that ride is finally over.

We walked around a bit, found Cassie, got ourselves some Funnel Cake and lemonade. I paid $5 so Jack could pick up some stupid rubber duckie and win a 25 cent blow up machine gun.....

On our travels around the carnival, we decided that the Spinning Barrels were definitely off limits, but right on the other side of them was the kiddie version of it. Spinning Dragons! How bad could it be? They're cute little dragons that little kids were laughing on. So we decided to try it out. We all sit inside, the big wheel in the center and Kurtiss and Jason take hold of it and start spinning us.

Kurtiss and Jason sitting inside the dragon...

A few things I learned....
1. It wasn't laughing. It was screaming.
2. Your head will slap against the side of the 'dragon' as you spin out of control.
3. Always place your focus on a stationary subject. Don't keep your eyes on the doorway, praying for escape as you watch the world spin out of your reach.
4. My brother is evil.

After that fun, fun time we decided that our stomachs were all feeling a little queasy. We then opted for the 'fun house'. In carnie land, there is nothing 'fun' about a fun house. As we entered the trailer, my brother being ever the brave soul he is, forced me to lead the way. Putting the small children ahead of him, leaving enough room for him to make a quick exit out the back if need be. Everything was pitch black and it took me the longest time to figure out which way to head first. It was hot. It was smelly. And I was scared that Freddy Kureger was going to jump out at any second and stab me with his steely knife hands. Thankfully, it turned out to be some lame attempt to be scary and I ended up outside before I knew it. Relieved to be out of that hot trailer.

But the icing on the cake came when we decided to ride the pirate boat ride. You know the one. It's a boat that swings from bow to stern, and as you go higher you get that feeling of weightlessness. Jason was hesitant to get on it but Jack was gun-ho! As we start moving, Jason starts getting more and more upset. Culminating with him screaming, "Stop the boat! Stop the boat! Get me off of this! I'm going to die!!!!!!!!!" Which in turned, freaked Jack out. His eyes were big as saucers and he starts on the path to freakoutville. Finally, the ride ends. Kurtiss and I are trying to calm the kids. Jason is balling and Jack is saying, 'I don't think that was a very good idea."

At that point, we decided to call it a day. Not only were we all complaining of queasy stomachs, but the boys refused to go on any other rides after that. It was time to go home.

Lessons learned:
1. Carnival food is good but it's not worth the price of admission.
2. When Maynia comes next year - we're skipping it.
3. Rides that spin are bad.

And finally....

4. My brother is evil.

Tooth Fairy

My son Jason, being 8 years old, is probably the oldest kid in his class that hasn't lost any of his baby teeth (Now, this isn't a *true* statement, as a year or two ago he had to have a molar tooth removed because of an infection in it. But we don't count that!).
That being said, this kid has a ton of teeth that are loose. It's just that his permanent teeth don't like to push those baby teeth out. For instance, it's fitting that he is on the 'Shark Team' at school because he has a nice second row of teeth behind his bottom teeth.
Sadly, this kid is going to be having dental issues for most of his childhood, if not, adult life. It all stems back to when I was pregnant with him.

While in Michigan, Jon and I and a few friends went to the local beach for a few hours. Little did we know that the water had high levels of e-coli that day. Everyone else was fine. Me, I ended up in the hospital for a few days on heavy amounts of IV meds. Obviously, I ended up just fine. But the side effect was that Jason was affected by the meds. I honestly believe that its these meds that he has had issues with some of his bones (he had a horrible case of 'nurses elbow' as a toddler/preschooler) and teeth. Pretty much, when Jason was around 2-3 the dentist that we were seeing told me that Jason had a lot of weak spots on his teeth. In fact, she had never seen that many in a small child. After some investigation, we decided it was due to the meds that I received. It weakened the bone strength of his teeth. At that time, he had to have quite a bit of dental work done to repair these weak spots in his baby teeth so they would make it until he was older.

Fast forward to about a year or so ago. Jason developed some weird abscess on one of his back molars that required it to be pulled. Unfortunately, that was his first official lost tooth. But because it was never 'loose' and he didn't pull it out himself, it didn't count. Now, don't get me wrong, the Tooth Fairy did visit to retrieve that tooth. But it wasn't an 'official' visit. More like a 'pity' visit.

So FINALLY Jason's teeth started to become loose. For a while there, his top two teeth were pretty wiggly. I had made a deal with Jason that I would give him $5, if he could get that first front tooth out in a week. He worked so hard on it, but alas....he couldn't do it. BUT two days later, after the boys came home from school, Jason was getting a snack and standing at the sink messing with his tooth. When all of a sudden we all heard this SNAP and CRACK and Jason yells out in AMAZEMENT and SHOCK - 'I LOST MY TOOTH!!!!!'

Now, if you know Jason at all, you know that my 2nd child is...well...he's emotionally sensitive. So we were all waiting with baited breath for the tears and drama to start. But to our amazement, he pulled himself together and actually was excited and proud of himself. As were we all!!

Here's my brave guy with his missing tooth...
Can you believe that this kid got $5 for this tooth?!

Okay, so you remember me mentioning that he is going to be having dental issues? Well, we also found out that Jason's two teeth next to his front two teeth never developed.  So, he's always kinda had these gaps on either side of his front two teeth. But with this one tooth missing, the kid was really starting to look like snaggle tooth.

Luckily, the other front tooth was just as loose as the first one. But this tooth got a little extra help by his brother.
The boys have gotten in the habit to try and beat each other into the van by being the 'First One' in. (Of course, EVERYTHING is  a competition with these two.) Only on this day, the boys collided and Jack ended up knocking Jason's loose tooth almost completely out of his head! I mean, this thing was just hanging there. Juicy pulp and all. So NASTY! Not to mention the amount of blood that was gushing out from it!
After mopping up blood, drying tears and giving the boys a stern talking to, we headed to Mynia (a carnival on base).  After we got home and I had made dinner, we were waiting for Jason to start eating. He kept complaining that he wouldn't be able to eat because it hurt to bite down. We told him that he should head to the bathroom and try and get that tooth out. Luckily, we had Uncle Kurtiss visiting and he actually went to the bathroom with Jason and after lots of encouragement, Jason was able to yank that puppy out! I had two very proud guys in my house that night. Jason was proud that he pulled another tooth, Uncle Kurt was proud that he got to be here and help one of his nephews with such a moment.

That night, the Tooth Fairy delivered more money to Jason. This time, it was only $2. I told Jason that the Tooth Fairy always starts big but ends small. He'll be lucky to get a quarter after he loses a few more.

Here's our guy, missing his two front teeth. Hopefully, he'll have those in before Christmas or else he'll be able to sing his very own song!

PS - See that second row of Shark teeth back there? afraid. Very afraid!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's the Cam-Man's big One-Oh!

My oldest nephew Cameron, finally reached the double digits on Saturday. He turned the big 1-0! Woohoo! To celebrate, my sister Nicole threw him a birthday bash at Recreation Station to play a little Lazer Tag and arcade games. But to surprise him even more, we kept the fact that my brother was flying down for a vacation a secret from him.

Let's just say, he was extremely happy to see his Uncle.

This is the best....

After everyone for the party arrived, the party helper ushered us into a staging area to get ready to play Lazer Tag. There he went over the rules of the game and handed out our vests and weapons of mass destruction.

Cassie striking a pose with her weapon. Someone thinks they're hard core!

Cameron showing us what he's got.
Justin getting ready for some laser tag action...
Did I mention this was 'glow in the dark' laser tag? A fun picture of my bro and I. Don't you love my flower?
Hmmm....I'm not sure I like how these jeans make my booty look. But here I am, on the prowl for some poor unsuspecting little kid.
Uncle Kurtiss and Peyton...
I surprised the birthday boy....
The 'Green Team'. Of course, there's my daughter striking a pose. Too much like her Mama...
This is known as 'bad ass' Kurtiss. Of course, that's what he says but if you tickle his belly he'll laugh like a little girl so I'm not afraid.

Jason on the hunt...
Cassie getting ready to surprise her next victim.

After a few fun rounds of laser tag, it was time for pizza, cake and presents!

Cameron's thinking that he's turning into an old man. Look at all those candles on that cake!

Part of the kids goodie bag included vampire teeth and of course the kids went ape over them. 

Vampire Pey....but by the look of him, I'd say he's more a lover than a fighter!
My two oldest. I'm so proud.
I don't know about any of you, but this scares the ever lovi'n bejeezus out of me. I'm stocking up on rosary's, garlic and crosses.....
Looks like Justin is enjoying a stogy.

Happy 10th Birthday Cameron!! It's all downhill from here. ;)

~ Love, your Aunt Stacy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shark Team Beach Field Trip

As the school year gets closer to ending, the Shark Team at the boys school decided to fit in one last field trip. Originally, they were trying to take a trip to a zoo or aquarium 3 hrs away. But due to school funding and some new rules about not taking a field trip more than 50 miles away, they had to scrap that idea and opted to head to our beach here on base, Onslow Beach. Which is a great choice considering they are the 'Shark' team and what better way to celebrate that then heading to the ocean to collect sea shells and shark teeth?

Of course, the day of the field trip we wake up to POURING rain! Ever the optimist, I still packed the kids up in their beach gear, made their lunch in a brown paper lunch bag and took 'em to school. Once we got there, the rain had stopped and the teachers had decided to still make a go of it. They figured if they were just there for 15 minutes, it'd be worth it. So, being the good mommy I am, I helped get the buses loaded up with coolers and off to the beach we went!

The ominous looking clouds that greeted us at the ocean...

All of us parents and teachers were hoping that rain in the distance would stay there. Fortunately for us, it mostly stayed off shore. Everyone once in a while we felt a few light sprinkles but we told the worried kids it was just 'mist' from the ocean waves.

For the kids field day, the teachers had set up various 'stations' for the kids to play at. The first station was the 'Toy' station. There it had beach balls, frisbee's, kites, and other fun little beach type toys for the kids to fool around with.

Here's Jason waiting at one of their stations...

The second station was the 'Build your Sandcastle City" station. Each class was designated a circle and inside that circle, they were to build a city of sand with different buckets and such. At the end of the day, the teachers would vote for which city was the best.

Jack at his sand castle station....

At the sand castle station, working on a master piece....

Jason at the Sand Castle station...

All the kids were looking up to Jason. He is a GREAT leader for them!


Jason with one of his sand tunnels....

The third station was the "Relay" station. Here the kids played race-type games. Who could do the fastest sand crab walk, which pair could race the fastest with each one having a leg tied to the other, who can carry and egg on a spoon with out dropping it the fastest...those types of games.


Partner leg race! Gotta work together to win!

Finally, the last thing the teachers had the kids do was head on back to the big playground and let them burn off any ounce of energy they may have left.

In the middle of it all, we all headed to the beach pavilion and ate our bagged lunch and chit chatted with other parents and kids.

It was a fantastic day and we were lucky the weather held off. Although it lead to a bit of a sinus headache and a nap later on, I can't complain!

Some in the kids from J's class, trying to impress me....

Jack and a couple of his friends...

Jack and a buddy...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JPS Volunteer Luncheon

On Tuesday, the teachers and staff invited all the parents who volunteered at the school to the 'JPS Volunteer Brunch" held in the media center/cafeteria of the school. It was a day to celebrate all of us parents and volunteers that come in all the time and help out the school, the kids, the teachers out of the goodness of our hearts (doesn't hurt that we got to eat freshly popped popcorn though...).

When we got there, there were tables set up with brightly colored crape paper as table clothes and there were tables with gobs of food, which if you know me, was the best way to say THANK YOU ever!

Mrs. Perry (the Principal) started off the festivities by giving a little speech about how us volunteers are the bomb diggity.

Erin and I.

Me getting my certificate and thank you gift for being the best popcorn popper in the whole wide world.

Another shot of me accepting some cool pencils...

Mrs. Perry even made it a point to mention my husband and how she could find him in there with us girls every Friday, popping the corn. Of course, we all know it's because Jon loved to make his 'special' batch of popcorn. Extra oil, extra salt = Extra good! But she has always been impressed with the fact that he was there, helping us out. 

Jon's certificate for being an awesome guy volunteer!
Another shot, this time with his cup that had 'tear drops' that various kids throughout the school wrote thank you notes on.

While I was up there getting both my award and Jon's, Mrs. Perry made mention of the fact that the only thing that could make this better was to have Jon home to accept his award himself. I couldn't of agreed with her more and told her to use her powers as school principal to see what she could do about that. 

Erin receiving her award....
And Jilly hers.....
All of us cool volunteer chicks.....

All in all, it was a wonderful brunch and it was nice to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication us volunteers offer.