Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Few, the Proud, the Father in him

Jason sent us these pictures of his trip outside the base in Afghanistan. He says there is a community outside the post and these are the children of the Afgans hoping to make a living from profits of selling things to soldiers on the post. Knowing these children are very poor, he stopped at the shoppette and purchased some soda and candy to distribute to them. His contact did some of the translating and some of it was self explanatory. The children were dressed colorfully and the older ones took care of the younger ones. One of the older girls even knew some English. Jason particularly bonded with a boy about Jackson’s age. Here, he is seen teaching him “the respect fist”. Something all children should learn, right?

In his past deployments, he has had little contact with the locals and this time, he works with them to obtain materials for improving their workplace. It was sweet to see how having children suddenly makes you have a soft place in your heart for other children. One of the many great things about becoming a father! Jason misses the boys so much. I know his days are spent dreaming of when he can be home to play with them again. It is beyond me to imagine not yet meeting my youngest son. Lincoln will be 4 months old when he finally meets his daddy. Jackson in some way talks about his dad every single day. He is never far from his mind. He is a great dad, that’s why I liked seeing him as a role model for the children in that war burdened country. The father in him knew exactly how to reach out to those children (CANDY) even beyond the language and cultural barriers.

The Kid with Two Left Feet

Tuesday morning we embarked on yet another adventure in the fun life of the deFoors (at least the ones NOT in Afghanistan). We went to visit the “National Zoo” (Nashville Zoo) as Jackson calls it. We made a speedy exit getting out the door by 1030. That might not sound hard to some but those of you know getting 2 kids (especially a newborn) out of the house at that time is somewhat of an accomplishment. Jackson did his part by choosing his own clothes and dressing himself. Out the door and in the car 20 miles from home, mom notices Jackson has his shoes on the wrong feet…no make that two LEFT shoes. He had chosen his Stride Rite fisherman sandals which we have in both sizes 8 and 9.5 and he found and donned both left ones in his unsupervised attempt at dressing. What do you do?

Then as we arrive in Nashville, Lincoln blesses us with a five-alarm diaper complete with car seat saturation! After a minor rescue attempt and wardrobe change we’re back on the road and finally make our debut at the zoo slightly after lunchtime. But the fun wasn’t over yet, oh no. Lincoln continues his string of dirty diapers until we have exhausted the entire supply in the diaper bag! So I humbly had to ask another parent for a diaper for my child.

Then in another attempt to keep Linc happy I dance around while holding him and my foot slips off the side of the pavement and snaps the strap of my flip-flops. This renders the shoes completely useless. Are you kidding me? So now I have to tramp through the rest of the zoo barefoot. Luckily, mom is at an appointment and on her way back, she is able to pick me up a replacement pair. You never know to appreciate shoes until you don’t have them. Ah, the things we take for granted.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. The Zoo was nice, natural habitat style zoo. On the way home we stopped and had a VERY large California burrito and hit the road. Jackson was asleep before we left the city limits. Lincoln didn’t let us forget that he was there and would prefer to be asleep in his bed!

On a better note, Jason is now the proud owner of a football signed by legendary Alabama football coach Gene Stallings, courtesy of the physician mom sees there. His father-in-law is Gene Stallings!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

One year ago today, my most earnest 15 month prayer was answered. One year ago today, we got our daddy and husband back. One year ago today, Jason safely arrived home from Iraq with along with 3000 other soldiers from the 504th infantry parachute regiment. It was early in the morning but I’ve never been so happy to be awake before the sun was up. I fondly describe this day as the second best day of my life. The first being his 1st return from Iraq (which was a more hostile environment and he was FLYING). This is the day I could finally stop worrying constantly about his safety and well being. I could also stop doing all those deployment wifely things like tripping over the sofa to get to my cell phone, taking out the trash, being constantly connected to the computer and end those weekly trips to the post office. I wondered if they would suffer financially from my absence. Well, they wouldn’t have to suffer for very long.
After planning the newest addition to our family, we discovered our promised “year at home” would be cut short and he would deploy exactly 9 months from his homecoming.

So as we arrive in the present, we mark 3 months down on our 3rd deployment. Hopefully we’re only looking at 9 more months. I recently said how I feel conflicted about wishing my life away to have him home while not wanting our children to grow up so quickly. It’s a fine line to walk. Although it still feels like one step forward and two steps back, we can only take it one day at a time. So that means about 272 of those days left…

One Carpet Closer

Recently, Jason sent us a rug from Afghanistan, a really nice handmade silk rug. Jackson’s first question was “Mommy, why did daddy send you a carpet?” He liked how soft it was. Then Sunday morning before church, I walk in to find Jackson laying on “daddy’s carpet.” He’s been asking for him a lot lately. He has whined about his “daddy doll” which we incidentally left in NC. During a rather difficult bedtime recently, Jackson even told me, “I don’t like you, I want my daddy.” I know, everyone gets told that sometime. I love how Jackson fondly recalls the bath he and his dad took together before he left. They sang the 82nd song while I videoed it. Jason (for the video) wore his swimsuit and that concerned Jackson and he kept telling him to take his pants off!

Jason has also bought us several other things yet to be mailed. He got Jackson a local Afghani child outfit to wear, a carved elephant statue, me some sandals and a bracelet. His local contact acquired him a TV which he was very proud of. Now he says he can get cable and watch ESPN and more importantly SEC football. He has also moved into a room with only 3-4 other people and shares a bathroom with 30 or so others. This is a vast improvement over the 400 man tent he started out in 3 months ago. And finally, Jason has internet in his room! This means we can occasionally see and talk to him on the computer. On those days Jackson can talk to him directly. I guess on the days in between we can all be one “carpet” closer to our daddy!

Oh, and Jason also received a special package from us recently containing FRESH garden grown tomatoes ripe for eating! He has missed the last 3 summers due to deployments so this is just another comfort of home in a land far far away.

Spiderman regularly makes an appearance in my room to "save me" from the bad guys. He throws webs on me that I'm supposed to pretend to break free of. He's really looking forward to when his brother is old enough to play along.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I never knew I was a pickup girl

As my Moutaineer approaches it's 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, it goes into the shop for a little repair. Included in the warranty is a rental for me and what does the dealership give me to drive but a 4-door F150 Supercab truck in RED! Did they KNOW that red was my favorite color? The last time I had a rental car, it was dull with NO power anything and barely a radio. This is a pretty nice truck and BIG for a girl like me. My mom, dad and both kids fit comfortably in it. It's one of the many things I've come to appreciate here in Alabama for the summer, BIG gas guzzling trucks are the standard rentals around here. So, I guess I just never knew I was a pickup girl!

This is before my race on Thursday night with Jason via satellite. The braids are also a tribute to him. He loves my hair like that! His time was a rockin' 21 minutes while we were a cool 32:04 for 3.1 miles. I'm working hard to shave my time down to 30 minutes or less...I can DO it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A 3 hour tour on the Tenessee River

On Friday My Mom, Dad, Jackson, Lincoln and I took a little ride on the Pickwick Belle River Boat. I had scheduled us to go on a "lock and cruise." Jackson had his picture made with the Captains and was quick to tell them his daddy was in Afghanistan and he was also a Captain.

PawPaw and Jackson loved looking off into the river. They looked for fish jumping and Dad got to answer all Jackson's questions as we entered the lock and began our decent.

Lincoln really just loves being outside. He is spending more time awake and has finally began to smile at us! He is taking well to his feeding schedule and is practicing falling asleep on his own most days. He's also flexible when we need to adjust him for our busy lifestyle. How I wish his daddy could see him now!

Jackson and I have discussed many times what the lock is at the local Dam. I told him that the lock is the boat "elevator" that lifts it from the low side to the high side. I have referenced the Dam before being our local hydro power source. This particular one is Pickwick Dam located in south western TN. We actually drove through 3 states during our trip. We hit the Mississippi side on the way home. You can see here where we enter the lock and then the doors close and the water is let up or down for us to get through the lock. The drop on this lock is about 45 feet. You can see the chamber that we drive into and tie the boat off to get back up.

We had a fun little trip on the Pickwick Belle. We were accompanied by about 50 senior citizens that thought the boys were just the cutest things! They were very patriotic on the boat and in the spirit of the deep south, also very religious. We prayed for the troops, including Jason, before we left the dock!

On a side note, I had wanted to title this blog, "only in Alabama" because I don't know of many places that you can actually get on a old fashioned paddle boat. I didn't because we were actually in Tennessee but then I found a new reason to talk about living in Alabama. On a walk to a wedding in a small downtown area I passed the towns local library. There in the window was a flyer for storytime next Friday. It read: "Mobile Dairy" Learn to Milk a Cow! Hands on experience! Sheffield Public Library Friday July 17th. Now that you can do...ONLY in Alabama!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

British Cancer Research 5K via satellite

Tonight at 8:30pm, my new running partner and I will embark on a 5K run through the well lit streets of Muscle Shoals, AL. At the same time, in Kandahar Providence, Afghanistan, my husband will be participating in a 5K for British Cancer Research. The post he is stationed on is a NATO post consisting of forces from all over the world. While my run will be a cool 78-80 degrees, his will be in upwards of 110-120 by sunrise. It will be 6am there. I've always heard of these satellite races that they guys over there run and when he told me about this one, I knew I wanted to run it with him. When he is home, we don't actually run that much together. He could smoke me, but I thought this would be a good way to do something "together" in a way we otherwise couldn't. He and I will both know for at least the first 25 minutes (his expected time) we'll be running at the very same time, the very same distance but on 2 different days (Friday there)and on 2 different continents. Also, the conditions are quite different, temperatures and safety concerns won't be a problem here in the deep south. Everyone going through this type of deployment has little ways to stay close to the one they love, this is just one way I can be a little closer to my soldier living in a land far far away!

View from the Top

Every time we cross the bridge to the river, Jackson comments on the Marriott and the "big city." He is referring to the tower we know as the Renaissance Tower. When I was in college, it was a middle class restaurant that most people could enjoy. Now, however, it is an upscale, "too expensive to take a 3 year old" restaurant. Mom and Dad had dinner there and Mom scored us a chance to go and check out the view without the drop in the bucket meal. We rode the elevator and for 15 minutes, enjoyed the view from the top! Jackson immediately recognized the playground below and the spash pad which we frequent. We talked about seeing the dam and bridges that we drive over. When we got back to the bottom, he looked up and said, "that's where we just were." You don't get anything over on that kid!

Oh, Linc managed to sleep the entire trip. I wouldn't expect any less from a 6 week old but seriously why can't he sleep that soundly at NIGHT?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mission accomplished but the race is STILL on!

I am proud to say I accomplished my goal. What seemed unthinkable 5 weeks ago is now complete. I ran the Helen Keller 5 mile race and I completed it in a record time (for me) of 57 minutes. I jokingly said I won in the "I just had a baby and I'm breastfeeding" category. I had a small cheering team of mostly family but it always feels good to cross the finish line and see a familiar face. I think Jackson was really proud! He said "mommy, why are you so wet?"
Running in June and July in the Alabama humidity can be trying but I'm not done here. There are at least 2 more races around here that I fully intend on running. They are 5Ks and I hope to work on improving my time there. I have heard road racing is addictive and I think that may be true. Just keep in mind, when I say I'm racing, I'm ONLY racing against myself. I'm never going to rock a 7 or 8 minute mile. I'd be happy to just be able to keep up with Jason when he gets back home.
And lastly, I think all this running shows the boys that it's fun and cool to be active and stay fit.
Pictured with me are my cousins Kelly and Drew. We're considering a 13.1 sometime in the fall/spring...anyone want to join us?