Sunday, March 8, 2009

Say It's Not So!

Hey Everyone! I'm back. It's definitely been too long. Things have been pretty crazy around here. I've been a sloth at writing. What else can I say?

We've recently had a few moments of high adventure that would make for interesting dinner conversation, but other than that not much has transpired since my return from leave. Speaking of...leave was great. A lot of folks have asked how my daughter reacted to seeing me. It went as I suspected....I was a familiar stranger. At first, she didn't know what to think. Quite quickly after that, something clicked for her. She knew she knew me from somewhere, but wasn't quite sure how and why. The bond was still there but she wanted daddy for most everything. As much as I could have internalized that and let it get to me, I didn't. After all, it was to be expected. The first week and a half, when she was upset or tired, she turned to daddy who had comforted and cuddled her for the last 6 months. And, the last week and half, my daughter stuck to me like glue. It was wonderful. So, since my return from leave, I get on the webcam as much as I can. She'll sit for about 10 minutes - that's it. But, in that 10 minutes, she sees me, recognizes me, and waves. She blows kisses, she laughs, and she smiles. This just may work out....

Another joy while I was home on leave is the direct result of my overwhelmingly generous and wonderful family and friends. Because of you all, and through the small foundation that my husband put together, we were able to pass on a wonderful donation to the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. Part of the donation went to Katie's Helping Hand Fund which assists families of children with cancer who are admitted in the hospital. The fund provides meals and other items to families in need, free of charge. The other portion of the donation went to the Champ Dolls Program. A Champ Doll is provided to every child who is admitted to the Children's Hospital so they will never feel alone. Champ Dolls are meant to provide a friendly distraction to a child's anxiety of being in the hospital. These programs make a real difference in people's lives, especially the kids. To my wonderful family and friends, thank you all for your support. I thank you from my heart and I am humbled by your kindness.

For more information on the Champ Doll Program:
For more information on Katie's Helping Hand:

Something else that also went as I suspected....I didn't run at all when I got home. I "meant" to every day!!!! I thought about it but I didn't and let me tell you, I am paying the price. My well meaning friends kept reminding me, "Nobody runs on leave!". Thank goodness for friends. Good friends back you even when they know you just did something completely stupid!!! My scheduled marathon is definitely out of the question at this point. I just put myself back at least 2 months. One would think I'd have this down after 18 years.

For those of you who are interested in Nazia's progress. I am sad to report that when I returned from leave, Nazia was still here on Bagram. Something with the paperwork.....always something with the paperwork. I went to visit a couple days ago, and her brother assured me they are leaving soon. Cross your fingers.

It's quite late here and sleep is a must, but unfortunately, I am wide awake. We just had another Fallen Comrade Ceremony. sad. I just can't stress how horrible those ceremonies are. To imagine that right now someone's family is finding out their loved one is gone, it's just horrible. Such a loss... Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers as you go about your day today.

More to follow everyone.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Out Of The Loop

I'm posting a very short note to let you all know I will be gone for a little while. I may have a chance to post an entry, but most likely, I will not. I look forward to catching up mid-February. Until then.......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hello January! I am here, but here I come!

It has been a while, hasn't it! So much has transpired, yet I've written so little! I must get better at keeping up! I must get better at keeping up!

The first few weeks of January have been eventful but quiet considering I am the only one in the office right now. There has been work to do, which keeps me busy, but the office has been quite pleasant and peaceful; something I have enjoyed tremendously.

I've been working with a volunteer organization here on Bagram--as most of you know--and that has been quite fulfilling. It has also kept me busy. I've had several opportunities to "meet and greet" (if you will) many local nationals. We've been able to provide donated items to them, for which they are grateful. On the header of this post, I've included a picture of an Afghan man that was at our last event.

I am heading home quite soon for a bit of leave. I can't wait to see my family. My daughter is growing so fast and changing every day. She is such a marvel, such a wonder. From every picture to the next, I can always see slight changes and differences in her face, hair, teeth, smile, height, weight, etc. Her agility, dexterity, balance, and coordination improves drastically with every video I watch. One wouldn't normally think that 1-2 weeks make a difference, but it does--really. When they are this little, the difference is palpable. My husband has been outstanding, keeping me updated with frequent pictures and videos; thus, I am very thankful. I can't imagine what this would be like if I couldn't see pictures of her. Can you image how difficult it must have been prior to the age of technology? Although I truly feel as though I am missing so much, many have missed so much more than I ever will and so I am happy for what I do have. I guess that is how I look at the situation. So many Soldiers here are parents and it's very hard for everyone. I think I've touched on this before, but I constantly hear from well-intentioned friends that "I couldn't do that - I couldn't leave my kids!" I always chuckle at that comment because in most situations, it's rarely a choice. Soldiers don't love their kids any less and our jobs certainly don't mean more to us than our kids do. Now, some Soldiers don't want to place themselves in the position of having kids and then deploying; consequently, they honorably leave the military. Others put off having kids as long as possible until their clock starts ticking... Others need the financial support and stay in, while still others consider their service a gratifying and necessary sacrifice. While there is usually a myriad of overlapping reasons, one thing remains constant: We miss and love our kids just as you would. To answer the "How do you do it?" question I've been asked so many times, I think the key to getting through a deployment is coping strategies. Plain and simple: it stinks, it is cruddy, and it is difficult missing your children/family. A person has to realize it is going to stink every time he or she thinks about it and so one must discover and build the tools necessary to cope. It is a fact, it is hard, and it doesn’t get easier. A means of processing the sadness and coping must be found and nurtured. If a person can do that, they can get through anything. It is so simple, yet so hard, but not impossible for anyone.

Right now my focus is on going home. I keep trying to envisage how my daughter will react. She thinks I live in a box (the TV). Or worse, maybe she thinks I AM a box. I anxiously anticipate her reaction! I wonder what will cross her mind when she sees my head outside of a frame with attached arms and legs. My husband tells me she knows me--she kisses my picture every morning--but I still wonder. She does smile and try to kiss the computer when I am on the webcam, and she does indeed intently watch the TV when my husband plays the story book DVD I recorded before I left, but yet I wonder. I will be a familiar stranger to her, I suppose. But, from what I’m told, she doesn't know a stranger. So, there is hope for me!

Lately, I've been throwing myself into running; faster, harder, and longer. It's been great for my baby weight loss, if I can still call it that this many.......months later ("year" is just so negative). My marsupial is shrinking and I get in about 5 miles every day now. I'm toying with the thought of running a marathon when I get home. By the word "toying", I mean playing; by playing, I mean having fun with it; having fun with it means not really serious; and not really serious means I'm not obligated to anything! If that isn’t noncommittal, what is? Okay, in all seriousness, it is sort of a goal and for right now, just having my long term goal is satisfying enough. At this point, short term, I just hope I have the fortitude to work out when I am on leave. I can only imagine how painful my return to running will be if I stop for a couple weeks. Cross your fingers that I make it.

Good news alert, but with a caveat; that being, unfortunately, I cannot elaborate on any details. I heard today wonderful news for Nazia. Once I can, I will fill you all in completely. I am very excited for her.

Until then, and until next time, take care my friends! I’ll be in touch soon.