Sunday, January 31, 2010
Yesterday we took the opportunity to get and see some sites. We were able to get a cab from our building to the Al Kout mall in Fahaleel. It was about a 3.5 mile trip. We were looking to get a bite to eat and to see some sites. As you will see below, the pictures are all of the outside of the mall. I wanted to get some pictures of the inside, but there are some issues with taking pictures of the locals. They feel pictures capture their souls or something to that affect. Enough said on that. The first picture below is of the mall looking down from the tower. It is a very nice place and has a lot of neat shops.
This next picture is looking in the opposite direction out over the Persian Gulf. The water is pretty clear and has a neat color to it.
This picture is basically a shot of the direction in I live. You can not see my building, but to give you scale, that is about 3 miles away.
People pull up to the mall in boats. The walkway behind the boats leads to the mall.
This another shot looking towards where I live. Lots of big boats and notice that there is no trash floating in the water.
Well that is it for today, I will post more later.
Love you all!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I thought that I would give you a better look at were I am currently staying. The apartments are new construction and are pretty spacious. This first shot is looking through the front door of the apartment.
There is a 1/2 bath just inside the entry way and then it opens up in to the Living/Dining room. Here is a good shot of the Living Room.
To the right of the Living/Dining area, is the hallway to the bedrooms. My roommate is in the first bedroom on the left and mine is straight ahead.
In the picture above, the door on the right leads to the Kitchen/Laundry room. Here is a picture below.
It is pretty nice and has just about everything that you may need. The appliance are small by our standards so it takes some getting use to.
Love you all!
Friday, January 29, 2010
I am sorry that I am a day or so behind. Getting acclimated and trying to get settled in has been a real challenge. The hardest part is trying to figure out what you need to do to get yourself settled in. The first thing that I have tried to tackle is trying to make this a "home". By the time you account for the travel to and from work and the 12 and a half hours at work, you pretty much add up to a 14 hour day. I think that it will be important to come back to someplace nice to relax and get charged up for the next day.
Today was my first day at the base. It turned out to be an administrative day for the most part. Once again, we had to jump through hoops to prove that we were actually people. You have to have copies of your orders for this, your passport for that, etc. Today was the first day I actually encountered what we all consider to be the quintessential government employees. We needed to get our base access cards so we went to the security department. When we got there, we were told that the system was down and that we would have to come back in a couple of hours. We said okay, and then we went over to the shop where we will be working. About an hour later, one of the networks guys comes in and says that he just finished replacing the switch at the security department and that everything was back online. We thought cool, lets get over there and get done before the line builds back up. When we got over there, we were told that the system was still down. We told them that it was back up because the network guys verified it before they left. To this they replied, "Our supervisor told us that the system was down and we have to wait for our supervisor to come back to tell us that it is back up. Please come back in two hours when our supervisor will be back from a meeting." No joke.
Other than this little fiasco, everything went pretty well today. I like the people and I think that the job will be cool. See you tomorrow!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Today was pretty much a blur. I ended up going to sleep at about 1 AM and did not wake up until about 2:30 PM. I was one tired puppy and last night I was sleeping in a real bed for the first time in almost two weeks. Today I spent a lot of time cleaning up my room and bathroom. Everything is new (including the building) so it needs to cleaned. I also spent a lot of time sorting through my clothes and doing laundry. It is pretty much a jeans and polo shirt environment so I pretty much did not need to bring 2/3 of what I brought with me. I will be sending a lot of stuff home once I get situated a little bit better.
One big problem I encountered is money. I brought cash as instructed, but you really need only an ATM or Credit Card. Everything you do or want outside of the base is done in Kuwaiti Dollars. It seems that most people only shop off post for food and stuff. This appears to be mostly for convenience sake more than anything. I will do what I have to shop on base once I am granted access. That brings me to the one sore point in this whole adventure. I have filled out an access form 3 times so far, but I still do not have access to the base. This is apparently normal and should be resolved in the next day or so. I have tomorrow off as well and I hope that I do not sleep as long as I did today.
The big bright spot for today was that I was able to get my travel companions out of the bag completely. They have not been willing to come out since I got to Fort Benning. First it was because they didn't like being around all of the people in my room. Then they were scared because they were in a tent in the middle of the desert. Now that I have my own place with access to a kitchen, they are ready to start hanging out. The fact that I told them that I was no longer feeding them in the bag had very little to do with it I am sure.
They have taken up residency on my dresser and are glad to be getting some fresh air.
Internet has been flaky at best today and this post has taken me the better part of an hour and a half to complete. I am going to have to look in to other means of internet access.
Love you all!
and pigs, I have a collection of pigs, but instead of calling it a collection I call it a pig pen, in my pig pen I have seven pigs, two are piggy banks,one is a little pet shop,two are stuffed and two are robotic. And I have a real hamster! I have had five hamsters including the one I have right now,her name is Biscuit (I call her Bis-Quick) and she is a Syrian hamster. When I was two I got Bunny and he is an adorable little stuffed rabbit!!. So yup these are my FAVORITE!, but I still have so many other animals that I really like.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The days have been pretty much a blur over the last week. Jet lag and the constant grind being on the go is starting to wear on all of us. To add to the feeling, we had our hopes crushed earlier today when we were told that we probably would have to spend another night in the villa. All of us are ready to be at our final stop and unpack. Another night in the villa was not what we wanted to hear. things turned out,good things do happen and we go picked up to head south to our apartments.
Apparently at the end of summer, the company move everyone to a new complex about 1/2 miles away from the ocean. We are in the same area as the pictures that I originally found, but we are in a new development. We got in late and I started snapping pictures to share with you.
The first shot is from the outside. We got in kind of late, but you can get the idea of where we are.
The next shot is walking in to the building. Everything is still being unpacked in this lobby area, but you can get the idea.
The buildings are connected by a long hallway. Each area has its own pool/hot tub/gym.
Here are a few shots of my room:
That is all I have for right now. I am pretty wiped. Love you all!
Monday, January 25, 2010
I have to confess, I am struggling with being a long-distance wife. How do I share the banal details of my day over and over? Staying connected by Skype means all our communication is verbal and, yet, most days there is nothing particularly interesting to share about our days. I feel like I have nothing to share. We wake up, we do our thing, we go to sleep, day in and day out. How do I keep that fresh? How do I keep that exciting?
So far, I'm not very good at this.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
It is time for another catch up post. When I last posted, I was getting ready to fly out of Fort Benning and on to Kuwait. In typical military fashion, the process was a lot more than just pack your bags and get on a plane. From beginning to end, the process took us about 8 hours to wheels up. Along the way there were numerous bag checks to make sure that you were not trying to slip a bag in that was too big. If I had it to do over again, I would have just purchased a military style duffle bag and been done with it. The fact of the matter is that even though they give you guide lines for other bag types; they really have no intention of taking anything other than military duffel bags on the flight. One way or another they will find a problem with what you are trying to take. The screening was very thorough and included the use of Military Police dogs looking for contraband, explosives, etc. Everything was weighed including all personnel and their carry-on bags. Here is me before we boarded the flight.
No Bandwidth will post later!
No Bandwidth will post later!
The flight was aboard a DC-10 which is a wide body jet so there was ample space. This was a good thing considering that we would be living on it for the next 22 hours or so. We left at about 2:30 PM on Friday bound for Bangor, Maine. Along the way I was introduced to a person who has to be one of the foulest people on earth. Let paint a picture for you….This guy made one of three noises over and over again. The first noise was the nose loogie. This sound is the one that is made when you have a bunch of snot in your nose and snort it to spit it out. The second sound was the throat loogie. This sound is the one made when you are trying to get phlegm out of your throat and spit it out. The third sound is a loud grunting noise. Use your imagination on this one and you won’t be far off. I and the other passengers around this guy were treated to a symphony of these sounds for over 22 hours. About every 10 minutes, you would get one or a combination of sounds. This is even when he was sleeping. Thank fully he never spit anything out, but it begs the question of where it all was going. I was convinced he would be dead before we got there.
When we reached Maine, we were greeted by the “Maine Military Greeters”. This was a senior citizens group that wanted to shake the hand of everyone on the flight, including the civilians. I felt a little awkward with this as I did not feel deserving of the thanks. I do not see myself in harm’s way like the military folks. I am weird, I know. The stop in Maine was pretty uneventful and lasted only about 90 minutes. From there, we were headed for Germany. This was going to be the longest leg of the flight and I hoped to get some sleep, but the noise guy seemed to get even louder. I watched the movie being played which was the Surrogate with Bruce Willis. It was a Sci-Fi movie in which people lived their lives through the use robotic surrogates. Pretty good movie, but just a little predictable at times. The flight was overall fabulous. Great food and great service that included hot towels. It felt like first class.
It was pretty cold when we arrived in Germany and we unfortunately had to use stairs to exit the plane. I was on the second group exiting the plane when a guy near the bottom lost his balance and fell down the last five steps. He ended up with a pretty big knot on his knee and was kind of embarrassed as you can imagine. It did not help that he was a Special Forces soldier. Even tough guys fall down stairs I guess. We made our way to the terminal and by this time I was hungry again. So, for breakfast I had an All-American meal: A coke, a roll and a brat. Good stuff as you can see below.
The only sad thing was that there was a T-shirt I wanted to get for Buttercup that I had to put back. I could not bring myself to spend $42 dollars for a t-shirt. It was pink and said Berlin on it. Sorry Buttercup, I will find you something else along the way. After a two hour wait, we were on our way again. By this time, I was really tired. Thanks to the ear plugs I purchased in Germany, I managed to fall asleep for most of the trip to Kuwait. I woke up about 45 minutes before landing and got a pretty good view from the air. The coast line is heavily populated and looks like any other coastal city from the air. The only real difference is that it appears more subdued. There is not tons of gaudy neon and flashing signs everywhere. Once you cross the coastline it can best be described as the approach to Ontario airport. You are flying over non-descript buildings with kind of a high desert landscape.
After we landed, we boarded buses for the trip to Ali Al Salem air base and hour or so away. With all of the military protocol inserted for fun the trip took us almost 3 ½. Along the way, you would swear that you were driving to Palm Springs if it were not for the Arabic road signs. By the way, all of the road signs also had English so getting around won’t be too hard. We finally got to the base and started processing at about 10 PM. By the time we got done and assigned a tent it was about mid-night. Most people went off to explore, but a few of us stayed back to get organized and to get some sleep. We need to start getting on Kuwait time as soon as possible. Staying out all night is not going to get it done. No, I am not a party pooper, but on Tuesday we will be spending 10 hours watching more Powerpoint presentations. It will take a lot of rest to make it through another one of those things. Overall, this really rocks so far!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Game Night without the men has turned into Craft Night...it is weird to have all the men gone. Mr. R is probably going to be gone three weeks. It is very, very strange to be a neighborhood of women and children.
I went to have our taxes done today...for the first time in 21 years, I did the taxes without you. Very, very odd. (I did them very well, don't worry...)
Valiant is still swollen from his wisdom teeth extraction. Bruising is clearly coming through to the outside of his face. I can't believe how difficult this has turned out to be for him. We head back for his check-up on Monday.
I met up with Charming yesterday and I'm happy to say that he's doing well. You'd be pleased to see him these days.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday was the day that all deficiencies had to be completed or you would not fly on Friday. I had taken care of shots on Wednesday and only had to pick up my gas mask insert. The big drama came when the transport people would not approve my bag for the flight. I had to repack everything down in to a duffel bag. After I squished everything down, I had to head off to the UPS store to mail my hockey bag home. It took me over 3 hours to get done with UPS. (you think Christmas is bad!)
Friday is flight day and I am here at Freedom Hall and Fort Benning waiting for our flight. It is amazing that no one can say when the plane will actually depart. I am assuming that this is a security precaution as photography is not allowed here as well. Our current plan is to fly from here to Ireland and then from Ireland to Kuwait. Once we get there, we will be in a "tent-city" for 2-3 days.
After all of the emotions and constant rushing from here to there, I can honestly say that I am now pretty wiped out. After speaking to my family yesterday, I guess they hit the wall on Thursday. I am sure that once I get to Kuwait and get on a schedule that will help everyone settle down.
Even though I am pretty tired, I am really excited about getting to Kuwait and getting started at my new job. I know that I am on a really good path right now and that this is just the beginning of the next phase in our lives.
Talk to you all again when I have internet access again.
Love you all!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The drawing of the TA-50 gear was a true Army Charlie Foxtrot. At the peak of the issuing, people went to lunch. You mean you are really going to hold up everyone for lunch? Stupid me, yes you are. The people that work there are overpaid and a little to jaded by the repetitive nature of handing out helmets all day. Excuse me, I know you what an IBA is and you know what the nomenclature is, but we do not. Besides, I am really Superman so this stuff is kind of useless. (They didn't seem to buy it) I exercised my right to comment and filled out a form suggesting that they issue everyone a piece of paper depicting each item. Hey, if McDonald's can do it on menu's, the Army can do it for supply. The fun part is assembling it all. So far, all I have done is the helmet. Does anyone have a manual for assembling an individual ballistic assembly? If so, you know where I am.....
I received three more shot today. I got smallpox, anthrax, and hepatitis. So far, I am not having any issues with them. The smallpox shot is supposedly going to leave a nasty little wound for the next two weeks or so. I was given a twenty-one day supply of band-aids to keep it clean. Wish me luck on this one...
In between running around I did laundry today. I had a lot of stuff just lying around and I didn't want it to smell up the place. The other reason is that my new towels kept leaving blue fuzz all over me. I dried my face off and all the fuzz stuck to my stubble. I looked kind of like a blue wolfman and it proved to be hard to get back off. I am hoping for better luck with the newly washed towels. I can actually say that I got worn out from all of the running around today. I am hoping that I am tired enough to sleep through my bunk mates snoring. Oh please, oh please! There is no couch to run to!
Well, that is it for today's exciting adventure. I am going to hop on Skype in a little bit to see how my little chipmunk is doing.
Monday, January 18, 2010
I guess I'm happier to have only internet than I would be to have only home phone. Still, I'd be happiest of all to have them all. I hope we can get it all fixed before you head overseas.
Valiant had his wisdom teeth out today. No, I didn't know it was a holiday when I scheduled the appointment for today. We're homeschoolers! I never know when it is a holiday. I can tell he's feeling better than he did earlier, because he came downstairs to share with me details of the move Ice Age 3. Frankly, I'm glad this is all done for him and it won't be hanging over our heads when he's a little older.
In other exciting news, Mr. R. got his call to go up to Alaska for work and he's so excited. Last I heard, he's flying out at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, so by the time you read this, he'll be gone. Do you realize that we have almost no men left in the neighborhood? Maybe he's right and I did scare them all off!
It was an amazingly beautiful day today--I think it was in the 50s. I know I actually had to go turn the heater off in the greenhouse because the temp in the greenhouse hit the mid-90s! Buttercup and I headed out to wash the car and, yes, we used the hose hooked up to the utility sink, so it was super easy. I even paid her $2 to do the interior windows. It is supposed to snow tomorrow, but I doubt it will. Snow when the forecast is 43? I don't think so.
School starts for us tomorrow and even the kids are excited to get back into the swing of things. This limbo has made them all crazy. I'm even going to start exercising again.
Thanks for sharing the pictures of Ft. Benning. We loved seeing them.
Both of these items were supposed to take all day, but we got through the processing in about 5 hours. Now mind you, that means that they had over 200 people go through each of these processes in that time. For the military/government, that ain't so bad! We have one more formation at 1700 for a JAG briefing. Not sure how long this will take, but hopefully it will not go on to late.
I got done early enough to come back and get the camera out so I could take some pictures. Getting back early and the fact that the sun was finally out was a golden opportunity.
This first picture is of what happens to all of this great clay soil when it rains a lot. MUD. Lots of mushy red mud that stains everything. It brings back vivid memories of Fort McClellan in Alabama.
This next picture is of the main meeting area here at the CRC. Depending on your status and what day it is, your groups will form up under the pavillion and be led off to whatever task needs to be completed.
This next photo is a shot looking down the "main street" here at the CRC. Each of the buildings can house about 40 people at one time. Yes, they are really small buildings. The barracks in which I am staying is the third one from the far end of the picture on the left hand side.
This last picture is of the room I am staying in. It is pretty hard to take a shot of it because it is so small. My only real space is the top of the bunk. It is not as hard to deal with as you might expect. I realize that this is only for a short time, so I just take a deep breath. See you tomorrow!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Okay, so it helped that we had something to do this morning. You might remember that Mrs. R brought over the flyer for the Children's Matinee series at the local theatre. Well, we decided to go to the 12:00 noon showings each Sundays. At $5 for the series of 10 movies, we couldn't resist. I woke the kids and we headed out. We ran the errands we didn't run yesterday: banking and a quick trip to the Cash and Carry for flour. After that, we headed to the theatre to watch Where the Wild Things Are. It was really bad (but they did do a good job on the monsters). I thought it was just me, but even the kids said it was bad. It was so bad that we all got nauseated by the cinematography. It felt like I was watching an Imax movie, even thought it wasn't one. Weird, isn't it?
Anyway, after the movie, the kids and I came home, then I headed to Costco to return the camera we bought for me, replacing the one you took with you. I just couldn't get used to it. I had no problems returning it, thank goodness.
The big drama of the day? We couldn't get on the internet and it took until you called us at 5:30 your time before we could get on the computers. Valiant tried "valiantly" to troubleshoot the problem, but he couldn't fix it. I couldn't do so many things: blogging, renewing library books, online banking, emails...even watching movies on Netflix. It was a reminder of how much we depend on all the wonderful things you've provided for our family. I'm glad this happened while you were still in-country to help us solve it. We're spoiled and we're going to learn a lot about doing without you before this year is up.
I love you and miss you, but I'm glad you're already enjoying yourself. This year can be good for all of us as long as we stay determined to make it so.
A couple of observations I have made over the last couple of days. The first one is the number of women deploying. I would estimate that there are about 25 women in the group of 235 contractors. I am not sure what that says as it is just an observation. The second thing is the fact that there are a wide variety of people here in the contractor pool. I think that you could find one of every possible type of person here. I am not sure what I expected, but the make up kind of surprises me.
I am going to try and take some photos tomorrow so stay tuned.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I missed you last night. I missed you as our day wound down and our children headed off to bed. I missed you as our little girl climbed into bed with me with all her stuffed animals.
Saturday morning without you was weird, too. We're used to you being gone during the day, but weekends are family time. Saturday morning without you was so strange. The kids and I didn't quite know how to act. As the day progressed, we never really quite got into the rhythm of things. We had some errands to run, but we didn't really do them.
Joy came over with the kids and Valiant and Buttercup were happy to be distracted. We decided to call it Game Night, even though it was just the 9 of us. With you gone, Mr. M gone, and Mr. N needing to study, we can't see how Game Night will go forward. Now even Mr. R is leaving next week. Maybe we'll be on hiatus for another 337 days.
I was happy to Skype with you. It made me feel more normal, right up until we had to say good-bye. A quick trip to Jack to buy all the kids dinner and we came back for the evening. The girls played Rock Band, the boys watched a movie, and Joy and I chatted. 10 o'clock and we were done and it was bedtime again and we missed you, again.
I saw that Erin has already posted about the "bag adventure". Let me tell you, I can heft around 80 lb bags of cement, but the awkward shape of my duffel bag made it next to impossible to carry in any reasonable manner. I had to laugh when the lady at the counter asked my how many people was I hiding in there.
For the most part my flights were uneventful with only a couple of hiccups. I had to deal with a rude counter person in Seattle that didn't really seem to understand what time it was. I was not able to getting a boarding pass for my connecting flight while in Spokane, so I had to get one in Seattle. The lady was inpatient and kept saying that she wasn't going to be able to get her stuff done if we kept asking her questions. So sorry, my flight leaves in 25 minutes and I need a boarding pass!
The flight to Atlanta was incredibly bumpy. We went side to side and up and down most of the way. On the inside of the plane it feels like you are going all over the place, but in reality the plane is only moving a few inches in any direction. Weird. One of the funniest things that I have seen recently was in the airport terminal. They had this room for smoking and it was packed. All you could see was this haze and people walking around in it. Has anyone heard of ventilation? When the door opened smoke poured out in to the concourse like when Jeff Spicoli opened the door to the van in Fast Times.
Once we got to Atlanta, I was able to retrieve my humongous bag and then begin another 3+ hour trip in a commuter van. I sat next to a guy that is on his way to Afghanistan. He has been deployed in Iraq for the last four years and is taking this new assignment. All and all he is a nice guy, but a little loose on details and facts. As I remember from my military days, there are always guys who "know" everything. He was trying to convince me that I was missing vital documents and would not be able to get on base when we got there. He was flabbergasted that I did not pick up and call my recruiter at midnight. I had to chuckle when he forgot his jacket at the depot and we had to turn the van around.
We finally got to Fort Benning CRC at about 1:30 AM. By the time we processed in and got to our rooms it was about 2:30 AM. As I quietly dragged my huge bag to the room I was assigned, I was greeted with the loudest snoring I have ever heard in my life. Is that irony or what? We had to be started early Saturday so it meant very little sleep as you can imagine. It was easier to deal with since the party posse had been keeping me up all night for the last week or so.
On to tomorrow!
Friday, January 15, 2010
We left the airport and stopped for breakfast in downtown before heading home. We went to that train car restaurant. The food was actually quite good and we think we'll give that restaurant another try. (The location by us was so disappointing when we went there that we never wanted to go back.) Still, it was expensive and it will be a while before we do it again.
Everyone chilled at home for some time and we headed out to "linner" at Red Robin, as I'd promised the kids last week. As you might have guessed, the order went something like this: "I'll have the macaroni and cheese." "I'll have the Clucks and Fries." "I'll have the Chicken Caesar Wraps." Best you can't guess who had what? A quick trip to Goodwill to keep my other promise and we're home for the evening.
I hope your flights were uneventful and that you haven't forgotten anything you'll need in the next two weeks.
P.S. Did I mention we rearranged furniture?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Superman is leaving. He's going half way around the world to work for a year. This blog will help him stay connected to us and help us share life here at home with him. Pictures, thoughts, smiles, tears, hopes and dreams...they'll all be here. We hope you'll follow along with us as we all learn new things about each other and ourselves.