Sunday, March 28, 2010

RIP Sean Michael Thomas

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of the death of a dear friend and comrade.  Sean was such a great person.  Anyone who ever met him instantly loved him.  He would never dream of hurting anyone, in fact he would do anything for any of his friends.  If I was having a bad day while we were deployed, I would just look forward to stopping in Sean's office on my way "home" for the evening and he would make the day better.  He just had such a calming way about him.  The day he was killed was such a shock.  We went to Baghdad as a small group of less than 70 soldiers so we were all pretty close.  Before we deployed we were told we were going over to work at the US Embassy and it was the best as far as deployments to Iraq went.  It was true...we were spoiled in that we worked a typical 8-5 work week with some of us even enjoying one day off per week.  We had a beautiful pool where we could enjoy soaking up some sun and relax or go swimming.  The entire compound was considered "safe" as far as military establishments in Iraq.  We were surrounded by security.  All vehicles coming and going were searched and sniffed out by bomb dogs.  Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done about the incoming rockets and mortars.  The insurgents would fire rounds in the general direction of the International Zone (commonly called the Green Zone) in hopes of hitting one of the many important buildings or dignitaries that were within the compound.  On March 27, 2007 they hit and killed two people just outside of the US Embassy building where most of the people in my unit worked.  Sean was a victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  He had just been playing ping pong (something he did almost every night) beside the embassy pool and he wanted to head out to call his wife before heading back to his room for the night.  That's when the rocket came in.  There's no way of knowing EXACTLY what happened.  They say the rocket hit a tree above his head and detonated.  Some say the reason for his death was falling and hitting his head as a result from the blast.  Others that were on the scene say he took shrapnel to his femoral artery and bled out.  I'll never know for sure, but that's ok.  All I know is that he died due to a random act of violence.  It's doesn't get easier to think gets harder when I think about his young family.  Sean had recently been married before our deployment and had been home on his 2 week R&R when his daughter was born in September.  It makes me sad to know this beautiful girl (who looks JUST LIKE HIM now) will never know her daddy. 

Here's a clip of the news article:

BAGHDAD - Two Americans, a contractor and a soldier, were killed in a rocket attack on the heavy guarded Green Zone on Tuesday, according to statements from the U.S. Embassy and the military.

Five other people were wounded, one contractor who was seriously hurt and three with slight wounds. A second soldier also was wounded in the attack, but the military did not give a condition.

Insurgents and militia fighters routinely fire rockets and mortars into the Green Zone, the nominally secure area in central Baghdad that is site of the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government and parliament. The attacks seldom cause casualties or damage because they are poorly aimed and the zone contains much open space.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of Sean from our deployment...

Here's Sean when we first landed in Baghdad.  We were all hopeful of making a difference on our deployment and were actually happy to finally be in Iraq (after months of training in the US and Kuwait)

This is some of the people lined up for the "angel flight".  The medical personnel said they had never seen such a large turnout to support one person. 

Another view of the line of people there to send of MSG Thomas and the female contractor that were killed.  This was one of the hardest days of my life.  I still remember it very vividly.

One of the two helicopters that flew in to transport the bodies of the deceased.  If you open up this picture you can see the piece of paper in the windshield of the helicopter that says "hero". 

The entire ceremony was handled very respectfully.  It was a very hard day knowing Sean's body was heading back to be buried.  We still had over three months until the rest of us would be returning home.

I HATE that this is the ONLY picture of me with Sean.  Why do I have to be such a retard?  Why couldn't I have posed for a nice picture with him? 

A picture from the memorial service.  Between the Angel Flight and the memorial service, I don't know which day was harder.  I still tear up when I hear "Amazing Grace" and have even had to walk out of church to regain my composure. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and for looking at the pictures of Sean.  Yesterday some members of my unit met up to go to Sean's gravesite.  It kills me that I wasn't there.  I was thinking about going home last week and decided against it.  When I found out they were getting together to honor Sean yesterday I was heartbroken that I didn't want to spend the money or deal with travelling with Maddie and I had to miss out on that opportunity.  Next year I hope to be able to go.  Even though next year I'll have two little ones to travel with.  It's worth it to be able to get together with come fellow comrades to honor a fallen one. 

Rest in peace, Sean.  Know that we think about you all the time and we remember all the good times we were blessed to spend with you.  My life is better because I had the opportunity to know you.  I treasure the memories with you and will carry them with me forever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Sweet Madeline

Some cuteness from Maddie over the past few days:

1.  She was coloring with markers, walked away from her picture for a few minutes and when she came back she put her hands up and said, "It's beautiful!".

2.  When I checked out at the grocery store this morning she was interested in Mommy "coloring" (on the credit card pad thing) and when I signed my name she said, "Good girl, Mommy".

3.  After dinner the other night Maddie was watching Dora while I was cleaning up the kitchen.  She yelled, "Mooommmmmmyyyyyy...I poo poo couch".  I asked her if she did poo poos in her diaper by the couch.  She said, "yes".  That's it.  Then she went back to watching Dora.

4.  Maddie has the biggest sweet tooth ever!  Ever since her first taste of cake and ice cream she's been obsessed!  She's always asking for cake, ice cream, cookies, chocolate and candy.  I try to give her one sweet treat a day but I think it might be making her want more...

5.  Maddie LOVES to smell things.  She loves it when her snuggly and pink blanket are freshly washed so she can smell it.  She breaths it in and says, "mmmm".  I'm glad she enjoys that clean, fresh smell.  She's just like me with that!

6.  The other day Maddie and I went to Panera bread with some friends for lunch.  I got Maddie a chocolate milk to go with her lunch.  She had never had milk from a cardboard box, similar to a juice box, so she thought it was juice.  There was a picture of a cow on it so when she got thirsty she asked, "have some cow juice, please".  It was the sweetest thing.

7.  One of our neighbors had a 50th birthday party on Saturday.  For some reason Maddie is obsessed with lemons and when she saw a plate of lemons at the party she HAD to have one.  She played with it and squeezed it, licked it and said how sour it was, etc. etc.  Then it fell on the floor and I threw it away.  No big deal, I think it had lost it's appeal after 10 minutes.  But what I didn't think about was the leftover lemon on her hands!  She fell down at one point and I picked her up and she started to suck her thumb.  The thumb IMMEDIATELY came back out and she said, "Sour...lemon sour".  It made me laugh but I felt bad!  I took her in a washed her hands and she was fine!

8. When we took Maddie to Seaworld a few weeks ago she was calling Shamu "shampoo".  I guess because that's the closest word she's heard so it just came naturally.  We worked with her to get her to say Shamu and now that we're home she calls shampoo "Shamu"...we just can't win!

9.  While playing with wooden blocks, Maddie and I were each building our own tall towers.  When mine fell over Maddie said, "It's ok Mommy.  Try again, Mommy".  Then she started singing the Yo Gabba Gabba song "Keep Trying".  It goes "keep trying, keep trying, don't give up, don't give up". 

10.  Maddie is the most polite 21 month old I know.  Ok, maybe that's just because she's MY 21 month old...but seriously she really is polite.  I'd say about 95% of the time she says "please" and "thank you" for things.  We're starting to work on saying "you're welcome".  And every time I sneeze she says "bless you".

11.  She has already started blaming others for her "toots".  She's watching the Backyardigans and she just came running into the kitchen and said "toot".  I asked if she tooted and she said, "No, Backyardigans".  Uhhhh...last time I sat and watched this show they didn't have that kind of humor!!

This was a fun post :)  Look for more of these in the future!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Smarta Smarta!

Today I let Maddie color with markers for the first time.  She seemed to really enjoy herself...and tomorrow I'll be buying WASHABLE markers so she can enjoy them again :)  Anyway, I put a piece of paper up on the fridge with magnets like an easel so she could color there (when she was sitting she was getting markers all over her shirt).  I went about making dinner and the next thing I know Maddie says, "M.  I make a M".  I started to praise her for doing a good job when I looked at saw THIS...
She was really making M's!!  I am just so proud of my baby girl!  She also drew a cat (it looked nothing like a cat, but I applauded her imagination!)

Another thing I'm super proud of her for...every night before her bath I sit her on the potty and tell her to pee before she gets in the bathtub.  Three bath nights in a row she's done it!!  We're still not working on actual potty training, it's much too early to be successful, but we're taking baby steps :)  She's getting comfortable sitting on the potty and I'm so proud of her!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

5 Days Down, 49 To Go

Eric left just 5 days ago and it already feels like it's been weeks.  I wish it would get easier and easier to have him gone but it seems to be getting harder and harder.  Maddie's finally at the age where she KNOWS Daddy's away and that he'll be gone for a long time (of course a weekend is a long time to a toddler).  She's been asking for him every day and saying things like "Daddy home" and "See Daddy again".  She says, "Daddy...where are you?" then quietly says to herself "Daddy airport".  She misses him.  She's already been talking about going for bike rides and holding Daddy's hand so I tell her that she can do all those things with Daddy next time he comes home :) 

As for me, I miss him terribly too.  I'll admit that sometimes by the end of THREE SOLID WEEKS of having him home, I'm talking 24/7 here...I get a little anxious to get back to the routine Maddie and I have when he's not here.  I'm ready for him to leave so we can be "normal" again. By the time we get to the airport I'm already rethinking that!  By the time Maddie and I get back to the car in the parking garage the tears are rolling down my face.  8 weeks is a long time to not have him home.  8 weeks of being the sole provider and care taker for Maddie stare at me as I walk back to the car.  It's exhausting just thinking about it, I don't want to face it when I get home.  Eric was a HUGE help with Maddie this time.  He gave her more baths than he usually does, put her to bed more than he usually does, he cooked dinner a few times (which is A LOT more than he usually does) and just helped me out around the house so much!  I was looking forward to a break and I did get a lot of time to rest and take a nap while he was home.  It was so nice.  I hate to give that up.  (Did that just make me sound really selfish?)  It's also nice to have him home so my evenings aren't so quiet.  When Eric was home after Maddie was put to bed we had time with each other. We watched some movies, or just hung out watching tv and talking.  My evenings weren't boring and lonely.  It was so nice.  I miss that already. 

On a brighter note...Maddie continues to flourish every day.  She started speaking in full sentences while Eric was home.  Every day I'll hear her narrating her day, saying things like, "I hold snuggly couch", which means she's holding snuggly ON the couch.  She also says what she hears and what she sees.  She started telling me what she likes.  She had a nectarine for the first time the other day and she told me "I like a nectarine" with  big smile on her face.  She's just so sweet!!  Also she told me "I love you" the other day without me saying it first :)  I just wanted to start made me so happy.  I told her "I love you, too" and she replied with "I love you SO MUCH".  That was the best conversation I've ever had in my life!

In pregnancy news...I'm now 15 weeks and 2 days along.  I felt baby moving a lot last Sunday but haven't felt it much since.  I know it's still quite early so that doesn't concern me.  Sunday we were in the car just about all day (or at least it felt like it) so I had a lot of time to relax and could feel every little move baby made.  It was so sweet to be able to feel it, just knowing there's a new little life in there continues to amaze me!!  After Sunday my life got hectic again and I don't have a lot of time to just sit and relax to feel the baby moving.  I'm always doing something or taking a nap :)  I have felt it once or twice in the evenings, but not nearly as much movement as I felt last Sunday.

Well, I'm going to leave with that.  Please keep our family in your prayers.  I know as hard as this situation is on me and Maddie is just as hard, if not harder, on Eric.  I can't imagine how he goes so long without seeing his baby girl.  It must be so hard for him to listen to me tell him cute stories about Maddie and not be here to see it in person!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What a Slacker

I have REALLY been slacking on the updates...sorry!  Eric's been home so my routine has been thrown off!  I'll just give some randome updates and maybe a few pictures since I haven't posted pictures in FOREVER!

1.  We had our second prenatal appointment today.  We got to hear baby's heartbeat for the first time today which was so exciting.  I didn't think it would be that big of a deal since I've experienced it before, but I was just as emotional this time as I was with Maddie!  It was also pretty cool to be able to share that experience with Maddie.  I'm sure she didn't know what was going on and thought the baby sounded strange when we told her "Maddie, that's your baby brother or sister!".  She's probably expecting an alien or something...

2.  We went shopping for Maddie's big sister furniture today!  We bought her a toddler bed that she's been sleeping in with no issues for the past week and a half.  But we want to get her a nice bedroom set that will be hers as long as she lives here (and she can take it with her when she leaves home if it's not falling apart by then).  We're in no hurry, just had time to waste today so we thought we'd go see what was available.  Here's what we found at Ashley Furniture today...
Again, we're in no hurry and this is the first one we've liked but we're going out to look around again later in the week.

3.  We went to San Antonio last weekend!!!  It was our 6th anniversary and I LOVE San Antonio so I asked Eric if we could go there for the weekend.  Of course weekend getaways aren't the same when you have a toddler in tow...instead of romantic dinners on the Riverwalk or drinks out on the town, or carriage rides through the city our weekend was filled with swimming at the indoor pool at the hotel and Sea World!  :)  We did have dinner on Friday night at Landry's Seafood house and that was really nice.  It's definitely my favorite seafood restaurant so it's always nice when I get to eat there.  We had an awesome time at Sea World.  Maddie seemed to remember being there last summer and was super excited to see Shamu.  Speaking of was so sad watching the video in rememberance of the trainer who was recently killed in Orlando.  I didn't think it would be so emotional...I'll blame the pregnancy hormones :)  I had to try REALLY hard to not bawl like a baby!  I just find it so sad that these trainers love these animals so much and trust them completely and then for this terrible tragedy to happen.  It just breaks my heart.  The Shamu show wasn't nearly as good as it used to be now that they aren't letting the trainers in the water. It was actually quite boring...but we did get to see a baby orca swimming around the tank with it's parents!  That was super sweet :)  The baby was born at 350 pounds...can you imagine?  And people thought Maddie was a big baby at 8 lbs 3 oz!  :)

4.  My mind is blank...I'll leave you with some pictures and then I'm going to head to bed early tonight.

The cutest baby bathtub picture EVER. She's thinking ahead to her future when I embarrass her with these bathtub pictures... 

Maddie NEVER falls asleep anywhere but her bed or her carseat.  Until this day...then another day after she sprained her ankle she fell asleep on the couch.

Maddie couldn't stop talking about Shamu and waved to him from a distance but didn't want to look at him too closely for a picture.

She would've stayed at the dolphin tank all day if we had let her.  She just loved them so much!

And Daddy got to touch one!!

Maddie and I chillin', waiting for the sea lion show to start.

Being silly with our sunglasses :)