Aaron Forbes was 24, from a little town in North Carolina.
We've not heard anything more from Jamie. We're hoping Audrey can get in touch with him.
We came home from a pleasant day out (haircut by Cindy! tour of the old neighborhood! lunch at Yen Ching!) to find a sad email from Jamie. One of his soldiers was killed this week. I know he's struggling with this. Beyond losing someone he knows well, he's lost someone he felt responsible for. We don't know exactly what happened, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that another family like ours is grieving tonight. Another family who saw their soldier off with waves and hugs and pride. Despite the daily news reports we all cling to the belief that our soldier will be safe.
They caught the people who did it and the Army has sent a psychologist and chaplain to help Jamie and his men work through it. But it won't bring him back. Jamie's pretty focused on doing his job and what he really wanted to do was get through his year safely and bring all his guys home again.
I wish that were still possible.
Otto likes pizza! And chicken nuggets!
Don't worry, the nuggets were homemade and baked, not fried. And he ate just a few bites of cheese off my pizza slice tonight, so it's not like we're feeding him pepperoni straight from the bag or anything.
But he kills me. All of a sudden he wants to eat big people food. Last weekend he had a couple of bites of fish. Cantalope is another new favorite. Food that he can feed himself is a guaranteed hit, except for raisins. He disliked raisins so much he threw them on the floor rather than let them contaminate his Cheerios. Heaven forbid!
The ear checkup today didn't bring the good news we were hoping for. Instead it brought a new antibiotic prescription. This one is a big bomb of a drug, Zithromax. I'm going to call the office tomorrow to see if I can talk to Dr. Stone before we give it. I think this is what I gave him last summer and it upset his tummy horribly. That dose was stretched over 5 days, so I don't think one big tummy-upsetting dose is a good idea. He's also acting like he feels better, so I'm wondering if we might be able to give him a few days off the drugs and see how things look next week.
It all depends on how bad his ears are, I guess. Dr. Stone said she waits about 3 months and tries various remedies before we start talking tubes. I'm happy with that. From what I've read tubes don't always cure things. Both Jon and I had lots of ear infections, neither of us had tubes, and we outgrew it all without lasting damage.
That is unless you count Jon's inability to hear me sometimes. And my penchant for listening to rock music really loud in the car. But I don't suppose those things are due to long-gone ear troubles.
We hit the road for Iowa tomorrow. I'm a little nervous because Jake is making the trip with us, which should make things interesting. Dog and baby in back seat. Mom and dad in front. I'm hoping Jake entertains Otto, but fear that they'll just annoy each other like all siblings do on long car trips.
If Jake puts his head on my shoulder and woofs "mom, Otto's touching me!" we're turning around and going straight home.
And I mean it! So you two behave back there!
To all the spouses and family of the Eliminators:
I would just like to say that we have been adjusting to life here in the FOB and the high tempo of operations in the Eliminator AO. We will soon have our people living in four tents from the current 2 and 1SG has found new beds and mattresses for everybody. Also 1SG has procured wood for small projects around the tents for the soldiers. Our company will receive our own internet cafe with 24 lines, but I don't have a date for that, and our contracted DFAC has arrived and will be in operation in 3 weeks.
The soldiers have been working hard to meet our local citizens, our partner units in the Iraqi Army. We have been very safe here in Iraq and the company is settling into a work rhythm. Our schedule will be very hard for the first month, and then we will adjust based on activity.
Also the postal unit has changed our APO Zip Code. Any packages sent to the old address will still arrive as the old zip will be valid until the end of January.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
CPT James Sturm
(if you'd like to send a care package, email me for more info)
We had an email from Jamie that he's finally at his camp. He said it's not quite as bad as he thought it would be -- he has a real bed! Instead of a camp cot! He also said it's quiet and he's going to keep it that way so that the local farmers and families he's meeting can go on doing what they need to do.
I mailed his Christmas box earlier this week and got heckled by the postal worker. Why? Because (and Jamie, do NOT read this until after you've rec'd your box because it's a spoiler), I wrote sausage/cheese package on the customs slip.
First the postal guy asks me if anything's perishable, whatever. I always say no, regardless of what's actually in the box. I live dangerously. But he pipes up, "you wrote cheese and sausage. That's perishable."
I say "it's Hickory Farms, so no, not really. They send this stuff all the time, it'll be ok."
Then the postal guy says "you're not supposed to send pork products to Muslim countries."
I say "Huh? He's in the Army and they don't care." Thinking to myself, "It goes from the post office to the Army*, and the Army doesn't disapprove of pork. Pork chops are as American as Iowa, where Jamie is from..."
"Well, it says right here, no pork products." He points at the screen and yep, lo and behold, it says "no pork products."
"But it's going to an Army base. Not a Muslim country." To my way of thinking Army bases are little chunks of America. They're self-contained with their own housing, food, stores, Humvees, etc. It's doubtful there will be anyone around to be offended.
A guy in line behind me says "what if she's sending venison sausage, is that ok?"
"Well sure," says the postal worker. Male chuckling echoes around the room. I think fast.
I say "It's beef sausage." And then I look at the postal worker in the next cubby, the one who's actually got a sense of humor. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it."
I got home and Jon said "actually, it was turkey."
So I think we're safe.
*Or to an Army-hired logistical group like Brown and Root. Don't give me a hard time about supply chain. I know more than I ever wanted to. I also know that vegetarian package handlers don't get to refuse to touch Hickory Farms sausage boxes. Not to be totally insensitive to Muslim beliefs, but if American vegetarians can't refuse Hickory Farms packages, than Iraqi package handlers shouldn't be able to either.
I think Otto's feeling better. We're back to his normal bedtime routine of story, nurse, brush teeth, go to bed and go to sleep alone without crying -- instead of the sick-boy routine of story, nurse, rock to sleep, hold 15 minutes before cautiously deposting in bed and tiptoeing silently from the room.
He woke up around 2 last night crying. I went in to get him and took him back to bed with me, where he promptly fell back asleep. The rest of the night he was fine. So I think the ear thing might be clearing up. Keep your fingers crossed! Jon will take him in on the 27th for a recheck.
Last night was Project Runway. I am sooooo addicted. The challenge last night was lingerie, and an uglier collection of undies has never been seen. The most annoying, egotistical (and probably talented) of the designers was nearly booted off. I was hoping! But they kicked off another guy instead. Rats-ola.
Today we work. Tomorrow my library is closed, so Otto and I will be running all those last-minute Christmas errands. I want to put together little gift bags for his teachers at day care, I need to pick up Jon's last gift, and we have to wrap things. Wrap wrap wrap! Otto so far has ignored wrapping, although he loves to play with the cardboard tubes. I'm going to wrap all his presents so we can teach him how to tear off wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Heh!
Any ideas for his day care teachers? I'm thinking maybe a Subway gift card (there's one near the day care, handy for lunch breaks) and a nice big Christmas cookie from the Manchester bakery.
If I really had my act together I'd have knitted them mittens or something. Hah!
Maybe I'll be able to make some peppermint bark this evening, though. That'd be a nice little goodie.
We're on round 3 of antibiotics for Otto's ear infection.
Jon's doped up all the time on Mucinex to clear his chest and subdue his cough.
And I'm now finally sick! (after avoiding it for a month)
Someone send a shipment of chicken soup - stat!
Otherwise we're fine, tidying up the Christmas shopping, shoveling mounds and mounds of snow (we got 6 inches last Thursday), partying. Jon and I spent our first night away from the little man last Friday night. Everyone did fine. My mom came to stay with Otto, who didn't mind in the least when he woke up at 4 a.m. and saw her instead of me. He just patted her face all over, as if asking "where did your glasses go?"
I bought carwash pants for our party. Carwash pants and a sparkly, stretchy, slightly riske top. It was barely appropriate for the holiday bash -- I forget year to year how dressed up some of these women get. My favorite outfit was a woman in black gaucho pants, high-heeled boots, and this big furry jacket thing that looked like a critter had crawled over her shoulders and gone to sleep.
Of course, I wore carwash pants. So who am I to talk?
Well, in MY entire universe.
Otto turned 11 months on Saturday. 11 months! Can you believe it? I can't.
He's such a sweet boy. Have I mentioned how much he likes American cheese? Yes, the boy I've nursed and fed organic food, cooked sweet-potato risotto and made whole-milk-plain yogurt with mashed banana for, that boy -- he LOVES American cheese. Salty, oily, plasticky American cheese. With saltines.
It's just additional proof that he's related to me. I've managed to educate myself a bit re: food, but if I had no other influences in life I'd probably be eating that dip made with velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes every day of the week. I'd scrub with it in the shower. Use it as hair gel. Pour it in a Ziploc bag and put it under the covers to warm me at night. Well, that might be an exaggeration.
Back to Otto. Notice how he likes to pose for the camera. I think we need a 1-year-birthday photo session. Couldn't I be winning some contests with these photos?