Unfortunately, I have been unable to upload pictures recently. I will keep trying and let you know.
Hello again from Baghdad. I have been gone for the last few weeks - back home at last with Amy and the girls! It was great, and very much needed. It was starting to get really old over here. It took a few days to get there - the Army has to make everything as painful as possible. Over a day to travel 20 miles to the airport in Baghdad flying in the usual Blackhawks, another almost 2 days to travel 250 miles to Kuwait using Air Force C-17s (much more comfortable then the smaller turboprop C-130s), and then one more day back home via Ireland and Georgia (the state) using chartered commercial airlines. The delays going home were easy to deal with knowing what I was heading towards. However, the delays on the way back to Iraq were agonizing. My arrival back home in New Jerey was exactly what you would expect in Newark, but then I walked out to Amy and the girls in the car and it was one of the greatest moments in my life. When I approached the car in the pouring rain, Sara saw me and started screaming "It's Daddy, Daddy, Daddy..." waving her arms and feet at me. Naomi looked at me trying to place my face with someone she knew from long ago, but after about 20 minutes, followed Sara's lead and it was like I had never left. It was about as great a homecoming as you could hope for. Even Riley (the dog) recognized me right away when I walked in the house and started howling and running like I hadn't seen him do in about 5 years.
We spent most of my leave at home, going on day trip adventures with the girls - to the zoo, apple picking, Sesame Place, to meet up with more of the family. Met the new nephews in my family - Matthew and Caleb. Nothing too wild or crazy, but it was perfect. It was very easy to forget about this place and it was only on recalling that I was missing a year of memories with Amy and the girls, did I remember that I was gone at all. It is amazing to me how much Amy has done and how she has done it so well being essentially a single mother with two high energey kids. I would be exhausted at the end of each day - and that was with two adults! I also cannot thank enough our friends, neighbors, and family who have watched over the three of them while I have been here. It is an incredible relief knowing that you all are there for her. Thank you, thank you.
Then, all too soon, it was back on the airplane and back to Iraq. Surprise, surprise, nothing much had changed here. With one big exception... less than 3 months left. We had passed the one year mark in Iraq. The planning for our redeployment home were well on their way - even had some tentative dates for leaving.
Things here in Baghdad are nice and quiet. I have continued to try to get off of the hospital FOB as much as possible - including waking up at 4am to go running around the IZ. Don't have to worry about traffic at that time in the morning, and it is actually a comfortable temperature. My blood has definitly thinned out since coming over here as 80 degrees feels cool now.
Still have the occasional blips of intense activity, but for the most part we in the hospital are content to let the rest of our deployment fade out into the sunset. The next CSH to replace us will hopefully have a much different experience - and hopefully, they won't need a CSH to replace them after their 12 months here. (yes, I know they have a shorter deployment then us... actually the doctors and nurses only spend 6 months and then will rotate out). Either way, we only have one set of winter holidays left over here...
I hope you are all well. Please take care. Until next time...