Well THAT Was Fun. Um... No, Not Really.

I had my first root canal today. My first experience with an endodontist. The first time I've needed work done on my teeth since I graduated college *umpteen* years ago. Okay... I did have two silver fillings removed last year and replaced with the ceramics ones, but that doesn't really count. That was elective. This surely wasn't.

When I had one of my fillings replaced last January, the dentist warned me that there was a chance I might have to have a root canal as the surface area she had to remove and fill was quite large. Though at the time all I heard was "wah wah ... wah wah ... future root canal ... wah wah ....", and saw the $80 price tag to change out the fillings. Inspite the costs being unbelievably low, the dental care really is top notch here.

For over a year my tooth seemed just fine. Until recently when it started bothering me a little when I drank cold drinks. So I waited to see if the pain would subside. Which it did for a few weeks ... and then started bothering me when I ate soup or drank my hot cappuccinos. And then it started bothering me whenever I ate... which is pretty much all the time.

I made an appointment for the Saturday that Matt left for D.C. (and left him with the 3 kids for a few hours while I went to the dentist and shopping... my little send off gift to him). The dentist did a few "tests", took an x-ray, and confirmed that the tooth needed a root canal. Oh. What. Fun.

So I went in today, armed and ready with my fairly high pain threshold and my iPod to block out the sounds. The shot of Novocaine seemed rather quick, but I instantly knew that my lips and tongue weren't getting as numb as they should have. Only when I attempt to rinse my mouth with water and can't feel my lips or the water pouring down my chin (a la Bill Cosby's stand up comedy routine from the early 80s), do I know I'm sufficiently numb. And I was right. The first minute or two of drilling didn't bother me, but as he started getting into it and bearing his weight down on my tooth did I start to wiggle... to squirm... to finally raise my arm and call, "Uncle!"

So I got another shot of Novocaine. Five minutes later we were ready to proceed, and all seemed to be fine ... until I started smelling the burning of my tooth. And then I got queasy. No matter how loud Coldplay, Simon & Garfunkel, or Miley Cyrus played (gotta love the shuffle selection on the iPod), my heart was pounding hard and I knew it was mere minutes before I was going to pass out. Of course, I attempted to tell the doctor that I needed a minute at the very same time he was telling me he only needed 10 seconds to finish up. See... he was just about to pull out the pulp. The part that had me seeing the entire milky way galaxy. Game over.

I started hyperventilating in the chair, and asked him to lean me back immediately. My face was flushed. I needed to control my breathing. I needed to calm down. He gave me about five minutes to lay there and relax. I needed six. Maybe seven.

We continued the process. Him drilling, cleaning, pressing, and suctioning. Me listening to Taylor Swift, Black Eyed Peas, Billy Joel, and Jack Johnson (don't laugh - you too would totally remember what you were listening if you were trying so hard to block everything else out so you didn't hurl...). Soon enough he was done, and minutes later took a quick x-ray to see if all looked well enough to fill my tooth. Aside from the delays, the process was quick and easy. Once the x-ray was sent from one room to the other (did I mention the technology here is a-may-zing?), the doctor determined he could finish filling my tooth. More yukky smells of burning, a slight bit of discomfort when he pushed into my tooth, and ten minutes later I was out the door.

Less than an hour of work from start to finish. And with today's exchange rate cost me ... only $136!! Even better, if I send it to my insurance provider, I'll probably get a majority of the money reimbursed.

Five hours post procedure and so far no pain. For that price maybe I should have a few more done before I leave. Though next time I'm totally taking a Valium. No I'm not kidding. About either...


Riding In A Tuk Tuk

I know I shouldn't have been surprised when while driving to the school today my car died. Completely died. Stopped working. In the middle of the road. The MIDDLE of the road.

But I was.

The car has been driving like a dream lately. Of course, in our household, all good things do eventually come to an end. True story.

So I'm sans car again while my car gets 'fixed'... though in all honesty, they could duct tape it and wrap it up with string as long as it lasts me for another 6 weeks 4 days.

The girls and I had to take a tuk tuk home from the school today. Which totally made me the coolest mom on the planet. So regardless of how grumpy I was because it was 100 degrees and humid outside, and how all I wanted was a little air conditioning, my girls thought the ride home was THE greatest thing in the entire world.

And for those 25 minutes, all was completely right in our world.

Here are a few silly videos of our ride home.
Don't mind how 'good' the girls look... they had swimming earlier in the day!

And yes, this IS how loud it is outside...


The Delhi Trip That Almost Wasn't...

No more than five minutes after I pressed 'publish post' last Saturday, (at almost 10 pm), I received an e-mail from my girlfriend in Turkmenistan saying that she wasn't sure if she was going to be able to fly out... as her flight originated from London, and the volcanic ash had closed down the airports. Her expediter told her that she wouldn't know until she got to the airport, and if she couldn't fly that day, chances were the trip was going to be canceled. She said she'd e-mail me as soon as she knew, and we'd just go from there.

I called Matt and cried. I sent an e-mail to the folks in Delhi letting them know that there was a chance I may have to cancel everything. I didn't sleep more than a few winks that night. I was supposed to leave for the airport in just six hours, yet I didn't want to fly up to Delhi for the week by myself if they weren't going to make it. I was seeing stars as I had just made all the arrangements to pre-pay the hotel room for the week, I had the car reserved, and I had the train tickets to Agra.

I checked my iPhone all night, waiting for an e-mail letting me know either way.... which I got at 3:25 am, saying the flight was on and they were leaving. Woo hoo! So we rushed... we got ourselves dressed and ready and we were in the car by 4:15 am. The girls were beyond excited... and overtired... which led to Sheridan needing to use one of our handy dandy vomit bags mere minutes before we got to the airport. Ah... the sweet sounds of a Perlman family vacation!

We met up with our friends at the airport in Delhi and after a few phone calls and wandering the baggage claim area, we finally found our driver. He took us to our dumpy little hotel, where lo and behold, they had no record of our reservation (so much for all my worrying!) After an hour of waiting, heated discussions, and phone calls between the Embassy's travel department, we finally got our rooms. They were absolutely nothing to write home about... small, smelly, and old. And cheap by Delhi standards... though we got what we paid for.

The trip to Delhi was a much anticipated escape for both of our families. We all longed for the familiarity of friends, good American fare, a chance to shop, relative conveniences, and a week of relaxation. I'd say we got that and more. Every day we went to a different market, different mall, different area of town. We bargained at the outdoor markets on everything from jewelry and shoes, to skirts, dresses, ottoman covers, and spices. We saw the movie, 'How to Tame Your Dragon', we got Mehindi, we celebrated my friend's twin daughters' 7th birthday, we had dinner with another set of friends from Israel, we went to the Embassy swimming pool several times, ate lunch at the outdoor cafe and shopped in the Commissary (which is like shopping in a small Safeway and made me sad that we don't have that type of food available to us ... though that's an entirely different post for another time).

We had our fair share of frustrations as well, and my friend got a great opportunity to see what life is like in India. The weather was pretty darn hot, with temperatures averaging 107 degrees. We sweated through absolutely everything we wore, every...single...day. We went on a few wild goose chases due to our driver's limited English, one of which had us driving around for almost two hours in search of a grocery store, which we never did find. The head bob with no definitive answers, the hawkers, the begging, the photographs, and the constant touching of the kids also got to us, and my friend got to see what two years of this has done to me ... nicknaming my alter ego as "angry Jill". The name was apropos.

But the highlight of the trip for me was the journey to Agra and the Taj Mahal. As you all remember, I didn't get to see much of it last time as I spent the majority of the time reliving the previous day's dinner. We took a 6:15 am express train, and managed to make it to Agra in less than two hours. We hired a car for the day (non air conditioned I must add) and with the temperatures already starting to rise, we went straight to the Taj Mahal. We spent about two hours walking around, taking pictures, dodging the people and their grabby hands. After going into the white domed marble mausoleum (which I did NOT get to do the last time I was there), we snapped a few more photos, and were on our way. By 11:30 am the temperatures were nearing 114, and we needed to get inside. As our return train was not until 7 pm, we now had about seven hours to kill. So we went to the Oberoi Amarvillas and had a totally overpriced lunch. Our driver then took us to a few shops ... where we looked at carpets, textiles, and jewelry. We then made our way to the Agra Fort, where we were again accosted by the tourists, and listened to the girls whine and moan about the heat for another thirty minutes. Oh. the. joys. Just before heading back to the train station, we stopped for a quick ice cream and air conditioning break. The train ride back was somewhat uneventful... though it WAS an hour late, it was hotter than heck outside, and the kids all fell asleep on the train, which made it difficult to get everyone off when we finally did make it back to Delhi.

Despite the little bickering that went on with the kids, the never ending smell and sweat, the horrible driver, the dirty hotel, the ridiculous internet service, and the travel warnings, we were so glad that it all worked out. What a great way to end our travels in India... it was a lot of fun and a trip I hope the girls always remember...

Getting on the plane ...

Melica and the girls as we boarded the train to Agra.

The Taj Mahal ... and the girls posing for one of their many photo ops

Yes! I DID finally get a photo in front of the Taj...

Happy Happy Happy at the Agra Fort

Carpet and Marble shopping in Agra


Have Friends, Will Travel

For me, the most exciting and rewarding part of living overseas are the friendships I've made with the locals, the Embassy community, and other expats. Oftentimes friendships begin well in advance of moving to your new location; you get an e-mail from your sponsor, you leave a comment or two on a blog you found while researching your new country, or a friend of a friend once lived there and knows someone who you should meet. But usually it's the friendships that have slowly built over a one, two or three year time frame, where you've experienced the ups and downs, highs and lows of daily life, daily love, and living in a foreign country that really make their mark.

People who know us personally know how fiercely loyal we are, and how we hold on so dearly to the close friends and relationships we've made. We really have to. These are the people who are leading a similar life. They are experiencing the same things. They are seeing the same doctors, shopping at the same grocery stores, taking their kids to the same activities. They get it. And more importantly, they get us. But the exciting part is that the friendship doesn't just end the minute you leave a post... if it was a strong one, it will continue to build momentum, and you'll make efforts to get together again somewhere, someday.

Matt and I have been extremely lucky over the last seven years as we have cultivated and maintained some of the deepest and most meaningful friendships with people who now live all over the world. We've found common interests in outdoor activities, dining, kids and dogs, scuba diving, travel, shopping, and movies. We've gone camping with friends all over Oman and Israel, we've traveled with friends to Dubai, we visited friends in Hungary, and schlepped into Jerusalem many times to see friends who always wanted to come to Israel. We've gone on weekend retreats here in India. We try to fly through DC every R&R so we can see the friends who are no longer overseas. And thanks to Skype we can still see each other, and with Facebook we can write on each others walls as often as we used to text when we were all in the same country. We e-mail. Sometimes daily... though the true ones know that I either don't have internet or life sometimes takes over here and I don't get back to e-mails as quickly as I would like.

In the foreign service, the most important thing I have learned is that you can never say, "goodbye", rather it is always, "until we meet again."

Tomorrow I'm leaving the house at 4 am and taking the kids on a week long trip up to New Delhi, where we are meeting friends from Israel we haven't seen in two years. My girlfriend is flying in from Turkmenistan with her twin daughters who were together with Riley at the preschool in Tel Aviv. We have been talking about getting together for several months, and finally decided to just plan it, and throw it all together in less than two weeks. The original idea was to have them come here for the week, though due to a crazy airline schedule on Turkmen Air just to get to Delhi, along with the additional costs of then having to fly down to Chennai, I told her we'll make it easy and just meet somewhere in the middle.

As I've never been to Delhi (aside from flying there and driving down to Jaipur), we're winging the entire trip. All we have booked are the airline tickets, the car / driver, the hotel, and train tickets to Agra so I can finally see the Taj Mahal, since I didn't get to last time I was there. Remember?

I'm not sure if I'll have e-mail access this week, so just in case I don't, have a great week. You KNOW we will.


One Man's Trash Is Another Man's ...Well... Trash

Today was the day I've been preparing for for the last three weeks. The afternoon I've been waiting for for seven long years. The moment I couldn't believe was finally here.

It was the time to finally sell all my baby stuff. We. are. officially. done. Not that having my tubes tied about 8 months ago didn't already say that ... but discarding all the stuff I purchased way back when Riley was born was a big step for me.

I spent the entire morning organizing the last bit of items for the sale, though I took a quick break to go pick up my iMac from the computer repair shop. Of course, I was so busy that I never got a chance to even check it out, as once we returned home, we had to start loading the car with all the stuff to the Consulate. My girlfriend's driver came over to help take a load of items with him, and I went there early to start setting up as I knew it would take me an hour to get everything ready. I asked a dear friend to help man my tables that afternoon as I knew I couldn't do it alone ... and thankfully another friend kindly offered to help too. And boy did I need it. In all, I took up five tables with my stuff, and still had baby clothes and items strewn about the lawn. Whew did we have a lot of cr*p.

The sale started at exactly 3 pm, and within mere seconds, my tables were surrounded with a swarm of local employees vying for every nick knack, every food item, every available deal. I priced everything to move, with all our personal goods selling for pennies on the dollar. However, despite how well I marked each and every item, all I heard for the next fifteen minutes was .... "madame, I'll give you __ for this", "madame what discount will you give me", "madame, hold this, maybe I'll buy it later"... blah blah blah... I didn't have enough sets of eyes to watch what everyone was touching, what everyone was looking at, what everyone was walking around with. But I did notice something out of the corner of my eye that looked rather odd. A swarm of insects looked to be surrounding the tables at the far end of the yard sale. Wait a minute, those aren't just insects.

They're Bees. Hundreds, if not, thousands of them. And they're heading towards us.

Within seconds, our end of the lawn was surrounded with this plague of flying four winged creatures. As my friend Sejal said, it was literally the swarm, after the swarm. People weren't quite sure what to do. Many ran when they realized the bees were coming a little too close to their faces. Some just stood there and continued to shop. Others, like me, began squealing like teenage girls and flailing their arms so that the bees stopped landing in their hair. In. my. hair. Nothing we could do persuaded these persistent buggers to leave. In fact, they were now getting worse. While we're still not sure what caused these bees to come out, whether the tables and chairs on the lawn somehow hit an underground hive, or if they were being smoked out of the lot next door to the Consulate, it really didn't matter. What did matter was that people were starting to get stung. Badly. Apparently, the bees really liked the oil the Indians wear in their hair, so they were targeting the scent, with as many as 50 - 100 bees swarming around, and no hint of going away. One of the drivers got stung all over his face. My driver attempted to help, and in the process got stung all over his face too. By this time, I was so crazy that I kept running around my table, trying to shoo the bees away, while still taking notice of who had what in their hands, because for whatever reason, people were still shopping. And then I got stung. And then Sejal got stung. And we were done.

As soon as all of the local employees went inside, the bees began to dissipate and we were able to pack everything up. The yard sale had found another venue inside the Consulate, so all we needed to do was take down our tables, move all our stuff inside, re-set up, and continue where we left off. Twenty minutes later, we were rushing to get everything thrown onto tables and chairs so we could continue to purge. Good thing I spent the last few weeks painstakingly organizing every single box down to each cr*ppy little item, only to literally chuck it in whatever box I could find in that moment, and then slap it wherever there was room in the new venue. I also had to pull new prices out of my a** because of course many as of the stickers came off in the hustle and bustle. Whatevah.

The mood in the room was quite ominous as none of us could believe what happened in the previous 50 minutes. Some people shook their heads. Some people smirked. Me... I couldn't stop cackling. Loudly. All I kept repeating to everyone was, "Seriously? Who is going to believe this?" And then I'd laugh a hearty giggle and shake my head in disbelief. In the meantime, my driver called me and told me he was chased by the bees all the way down the street, and asked if someone could pick him up and bring him to the health unit to tend to his multiple stings. So another friend's driver grabbed him and brought him back. His face was a tad swollen from the stings, and his eyes were red and swollen from crying. Clearly he was a tad shaken up. I felt awful for him.

After a lot of bargaining, a whole lot of saying, "no, you can't have that for that price", and a bit of just giving in, the sale finally ended. After re-packing the unsold items, we were back in the car and ready to head home by 5:30 pm. And by then even Velan was able to laugh about it. Sort of.

In the end, after all was said, stung, and done, I made over $500. And have less than 1/3 of the amount I started with. Thankfully one man's trash...

Stuff I was selling

My five tables at the yard sale

My friend's driver John who was stung multiple times
along with my driver Velan who was trying to help him.
He has 'medicine' on his face to help ease the pain from the stings.

This is all I have left.


Operation DC Daddy

went into effect five days ago, and so far, so good. Matt and his two large suitcases are living at The Oakwoods, an older and somewhat run down long term stay apartment complex that he's deemed, "the projects for foreign service folks." He's enjoying his time so far in DC with training, seeing friends, and eating good food.

We, on the other hand, are having FUN... with a capital F ... which coincidentally, is the first letter of the word I'd use to describe the authorized service providers working on my iMac. Without frustrating myself even further (see another 'f' word), let's just say that the service is not quite up to standards. Due to the unbelievable rules, paperwork, approvals, miscommunication, and uncompromising service people, I am still sans iMac. And getting angry. All I asked them to do last Friday was to replace the hard drive ... but before they send the old hard drive back, let me take my computer home and ensure that I am able to upload all of the data from my Time Capsule back onto my computer. I asked them to wait a few measly hours. That's it. No budging, they outright refused. No matter how many different ways of begging, they would not order the hard drive until I agreed to let them send my old one back. They truly missed the point of Apple's customer service. And then they changed their story as to when the new hard drive would be in and when the computer would be ready. After a week of this, I am livid.

I spoke with Apple Care in the U.S., and they assured me that what they're doing here is NOT how they'd handle it if this happened in the States. So, I filed a formal complaint about the service provider. It's not that I'm upset with how long it's taking for me to get my computer back, what's a few more days at this point. It's that they're enforcing rules that Apple said are unwarranted. Rules for rules sake. Because they can. See, they don't bother to follow any other rules around here... they urinate where they want, they don't wear helmets, they drive down the wrong side of a one way road, they drive without licenses... apparently, these rules don't matter. But to give me a few hours to ensure my data is saved ... that's asking WAY too much.

Another FUN thing going on here is that Sheridan finally decided to stop wearing pull ups to bed and start wearing underwear. We're on night our sixth night, and so far, only two accidents. Which of course are always at 4 am, and so big that I truly have to wonder how a) she has THAT much urine in her, and b) how she's able to soak the sheets, comforter, and mosquito netting on and around her bed.

Adding more FUN to our week, I was told that I need to have a root canal. Insert big sigh here. My back tooth has been throbbing whenever I eat or drink, so I called the dentist's office, told them I thought a filling came loose, and luckily got in the next day. After an examination and hot/cold testing, an x-ray confirmed the diagnosis. I made the appointment for the root canal, paid my whopping $4 for the two x-rays, and the receptionist gave me the bill estimate for the root canal. In shock, I asked if it was correct. The total... $136 for the root canal. And ... $180 for the porcelain crown. Woo hoo! Thankfully, dental care in Chennai is fantastic ... one of the saving graces.

Tomorrow is the big garage sale at the Consulate, where I've reserved four tables and a friend to help me sell stuff, some of which I've been schlepping around for seven years. Of course, I still don't know if that's enough. I've spent the last few weeks going through every cabinet, drawer, closet, and storage area to decide what we're keeping, what we're selling, what we're donating, and what we're throwing away. After tomorrow I'll have a few weeks to relax before I gear up for our pack-out.

Let me end with our current total of my FUNdraising efforts for my Faces of Poverty project ... We have raised about $1150. AND there's STILL time to donate. If you've been forgetting or just putting it off, you can still send your check or donate via Pay Pal. Click here to walk through the process. Thanks so much to all of you who've sent money, good wishes, and a helping hand. I truly appreciate it!


He Walks ... He Talks ...

... as only an eleven month old can do. Eleven. Months. Old. Did time pass by as quickly for you as it did for me?

Here are a few gratuitous Grady videos ...

Chatting away during dinner ...

Grady will do anything for a laugh ... especially from his sisters.

He can stand on his own, balance for 30 - 40 seconds,
but he can only take 1 step before he falls back down...


A New Way Of Tattling...

The girls know that we don't tolerate them using any bad language (despite me having a semi-foul mouth). They don't say fart, they say toot. A bottom is referred to as a tushy. And to them, the "S" word is still stupid, the "SH" word is *gasp* ... shut up.

So I got quite a chuckle when I came downstairs yesterday morning to see this sign on my desk. Riley knew she couldn't couldn't tattle on her sister unless there was property damage or blood, nor could she say the *ahem* bad word aloud. So she found another way to tell me...

I never did get the full story behind the note.
Though to be fair, I was giggling to hard to ask...


We're Having Technical Difficulties

My iMac crashed on Sunday. With the girls finally heading back to school on Monday, and my maid taking a few personal days off, I didn't get a chance to call the Apple Care support line until Tuesday. After they opened at 8 am. Which was 8:30 pm in Chennai. And I was on my cell phone (because my Magicjack didn't work on the laptop and we don't have a home phone) with them for over two hours.

After finally diagnosing that it was an issue with the hard drive, we attempted to reinstall the operating system back on the computer, and hope that it would be a quick fix and last until I could take the computer in to an Apple store once we returned to the States.

It worked. That is, until I had to do a software update to bring the operating system back up to where it was before the computer crashed. And then it crashed again.

So on Wednesday, I called Apple Support back, gave them my case numbers, and we walked through figuring out where we went wrong on Tuesday. And re-installed the operating system.

And it worked. That is, until I had to do a software update to bring the operating system back up to where it was before the computer crashed. See a pattern here?

Guess what happened today? Want to guess how long I was on the phone tonight? Care to guess how much the total five hours of calls to the U.S. over the last three days is going to cost?

Apple Care can't fix this one. I have to take my iMac to an authorized service center here. Where I can only hope that they can fix my hard drive without losing all of the information on there. Which probably won't happen. Ok, I know it's gonna be a goner. Luckily, I invested in the Time Capsule, so when I get my computer back from the service center, I know that I can reinstall 'my life' back on there. Though I'm pretty sure I'll be holding my breath for a few seconds as I hope and pray that everything really did back up like they said it would...

But of course the fun didn't just stop there. Not only did the iMac crash, but so did the laptop. Well, the wireless internet crashed. And then the LAN connection conked out. And then my e-mails stopped going out.

And so did my car. Not crash, but cr*p out. It needed a new starter. Yes, Bridget you were right... it was the starter. Or maybe it was the alternator. Could have even been the battery. Not that the mechanic really knew what he was doing, but since I casually mentioned that it could be the starter, he went with it and said that it was definitely the starter... Whatevah. The car now starts. Which is somewhat key to driving it.

The irony of all of this is that for once my internet is working. Quite well I might add. I just don't have a computer that works to enjoy it's 'fast' (ok, decent) speed. So if you haven't heard from us in awhile, haven't seen us on Skype, can't reach us on Magicjack, can't figure out why I don't return e-mails... well... you know...

And if you're wondering how I'm doing on my fundraising goal for my "Faces of Poverty" project, we've so far collected $990... just shy of my original goal of $1000. Woo Hoo!

Since I've been asked for my address from many people, I know that there's a lot more money coming in. So now it's time to up my goal to $1500.

Click here to see how to donate via PayPal.
Or contact me via e-mail to let me know your check is on its way!


Between Iraq and a Hard Place....

As I continue to blink my eyes, I'm noticing the days are passing just as quickly as they started. I need to be careful because I'm afraid that if I blink too fast, we'll miss these next nine weeks five days ... not that I'm counting or anything.

The girls started back at school today after a completely uneventful two-week spring break. While it was great to have a few minutes of alone time, I was quite saddened to actually have to set my alarm clock. I was just getting into the groove of sleeping until 7 am.

We have spent endless hours organizing, photographing, e-mailing, and selling as many household items as we possibly could in the last few days. My fear was that with Matt out of town for the next six weeks that I'd be going through stuff that he hadn't decided to keep or donate, sell or throw away, and I'd be a frazzled mess by the time he returned... mere days before our pack-out. So we've been through the entire house. We've made lists. We've mentally labeled what we want. Where we want things to go... UAB to LA, HHE to Elso, Storage in MD to LA, Storage in Elso to LA, UAB from LA to DC and then onto Iraq. The acronyms in the U.S.G. never E.N.D. What we think we'll need in the next year, and what we know we don't want to see again. If ever. Surprisingly, almost all of our large items have sold. Though it isn't the money we're excited about. It's the weight we now have available. For the good ole' US Government ships 7200 pounds of our 'stuff' on them ... and every additional pound we send back to the States costs us $3.25. That ends up being a whole lot of money for stuff we just don't need. Or want.

Matt received several e-mails today regarding his deployment to Iraq, and for the first time in all of this, I had an "ah-ha" moment, that wasn't so pretty. See, Matt forwards on a majority of e-mails to me so that I can read over the information to ensure he's not missing anything. Of course, sometimes it really means, "Read this and tell me what I need to do, and if possible, can you just do it for me because I trust that you'll take care of it..blah blah blah." And usually I do. But today was different. Because the e-mails he sent me were detailing the insane amount of steps that he needs to take in order to get to next posting. Things that his mother would absolutely freak out reading. And for the first time, a very small part of me did too.

I have to remain strong and believe in my heart of hearts that this next assignment is just a small bump in our personal road. That career-wise it will put Matt in good standing. That the money is too good to pass up. That it helps us move forward ... in the right direction... and takes me and the kids back to the States. But the reality is that it's still Iraq. It's still a war zone. Despite him doing as much as he can to stay safe, that sometimes things are entirely out of his control. And with his proposed assignment, he won't be snug as a bug in a rug in the Green Zone... he'll be out and about. Exposed. (insert shudder and hair standing on arms here). Like his mother, I'm not entirely sure I want to hear everything he's going to be doing. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. Sometimes.

The first e-mail I opened caught me by surprise. It was fourteen pages on the complex travel policies and procedures. Complex my a**. More like a convoluted, administrative quagmire. The next document was the welcome to post cable. Another seven page document that tells me my husband is going to be living in a blast-resistant building, sharing a two-bedroom 'apartment' with a flat-mate. They have a 27 inch LCD TV, a US telephone line, wireless internet, and 70 channels on the cable TV. What is this... a college fraternity? Are they also providing adult entertainment, a la the ladies from Scores or the Bunny Ranch in Vegas?

But what brought me a tear, maybe two, was the last of the documents. The Iraq Deployment Guide. Which in the second paragraph states that in each person's preparation for deployment they should get all their affairs in order; bank accounts, health insurance, power of attorney, and of course, their wills.


If Matt does his job correctly, he should be visiting us three times over the next year, and returning to us in one piece next July. Maybe with a few more gray hairs. Probably with a little less sensitivity. Definitely ready to move back into his life as a married father of three, vice a bachelor living in a blast-resistant hovel. I can't think of the alternative. Aside from signing a few official papers prior to his deployment, I don't want to let the thoughts enter my mind. But they do.

We're thankful that he's going with a handful of his friends who he's know through training, through previous posts, or who he's heard about through the grapevine. I'm thankful that I have a few friends who I can commiserate with. Who understand what feelings and emotions I have (and will have in the future) about this every single step of the way.

For now we just read and re-read the e-mails. And think of all the things we need to get him ... like a new laptop (PC or Macbook), a new digital point and shoot camera, new sheets for his twin bed (so he can reminisce he's back in junior high...), and a few extra $1 bills... for who.. knows... what. *wink*

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