Friday, October 31, 2008

Sam's Halloween Party

Sam went to the neighborhood Halloween party tonight. We left early to go take our bath and go to sleep, and when his friends asked him where he was going, he said, "I am tired, I need to take my bath and go to bed, aren't you all going to bed?" and then he got smart and said, "Mommy, what is trick or treating?" Maybe next year...

Tyler's First Halloween

Tyler just barely fit into Sam's first Halloween outfit, tough being a second child....he will likely miss most of the festivities this year, but wanted to show off his new/gently used outfit.

School Picture Day

Today was picture day at school. Even Tyler was able to get a picture taken at Sam's school, what big boys they are. They both looked great!

Today we left our compound/barracks and all our gear was moved to the staging area. We were bussed to what is called Freedom Hall on the airfield here at Ft. Benning. This place is a huge hanger sized room with 100 inch rear projection plasma tv's, and with hospital recliners,as you can see in the pictures. No one is telling us how long we have to be here, but the bathrooms are nice and they feed us, so nothing to complain about. Hopefully we will fly out today, otherwise we'll have to spend the night here. Ahh well.

Shooting Range

On Thursday morning the entire group here went down to the shooting range to qualify with the 9MM pistol. I did just ok, which is good, because I certainly don't plan on using my weapon, which is on me at all times. Anyways, we had a good time, and I'm glad that I qualified on the first round.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mike in full body armor

Today was a quiet day at Benning. And that's a good thing, because we did ordanance training, including IED familiarization, identification, and more importantly, how fast to run the opposite direction if we see any. The afternoon was First Aid, and so they let the docs out early, giving me plenty of time to pack my 2 duffels for the ultimate journey. I've included some pics including one with me in all the body armor. Each armor plate weighs like 20lbs or can imagine how heavy this gear is. Tomorrow we do livefire M9 training, but I don't know if I'll be able to take pictures or not...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ft. Benning, GA

Well, I enjoying sunny and beautiful Ft. Benning, GA. Well, may be just sunny. This is a humongous installation in Columbus, GA, on the border with Alabama, which is the home of the Army's infantry units. As part of my deployment to Iraq, we get to spend a week here to "inprocess" and become deployable. We go through medical/dental clearance, legal services, training, live fire weapons training, and lot's of paperwork. There are about 400 people here, of which 100 or so are military (mostly activated guard) and the rest are civilian contractors/DOD employees. We get issued 4 duffel bags worth of gear (each weighs 70 lbs.) and get ready for the flight on Friday.

The hardest part of course is being away from Liz, Sam and Tyler, but it helps to have Skype to be able to see each other, and not just talk on the phone. Here are a few pictures of the facility where I'm staying. As bleak and depressing as these seem, I'm told they are far better than the facilities in Kuwait or Iraq, so I have no complaints.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Festival Day Downtown

Well, it was a fun day downtown. Sam on a longhorn and in the bouncie house, Tyler just hanging out enjoying the weather.

Bouncing in Front of the Alamo

Well, you history buffs, Davie Crockett never had as much fun as Sam did today at the Alamo. As you can see, he is bouncing in a big bouncie house right in front of the Alamo. We decided to trek downtown today for a big festival, full of bouncing, dancing, balloons and longhorns (for those of you non-Texans, like myself, these are large bulls with really long horns, hence the name). We had a great time and came home exhausted.

Sam Hugging a ?Dog?

We went to the Houston Street Saturday Festival this afternoon and Sam found a big, yellow, dog, named Ruff Ruff Man, I guess it is a character on some PBS show. Usually Sam is very nervous around such big objects, but today, he went all out and gave it a hug, not once, but twice. Then he couldn't stop talking about it, what fun!

Just some October pictures of all of us (Mike being the photographer). The four of us have had such a great week together leading up to Mike's deployment. As you can tell by these shots, we are really enjoying ourselves.

Tyler Trying to Sit, Assuming Sam is Not Pushing Him Over

Tyler is doing a great job sitting these days, except when Sam is around and trying to "help" him. They are having a great time together now especially when Sam makes him laugh, very infectious.

Sam Getting into the Halloween Spirit

Sam has gotten into the Halloween spirit. Here he is, in true Russian style, dancing with a spider "hat" (really, it's a basket) on his head. This year Sam is excited to be a lion for Halloween and Tyler will hopefully be a Pumpkin, if I can find the costume.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sam Riding His New Bike

Sam got a big boy bike today and tried it out on our street. He has not mastered the concept of the backwards breaks yet, but seems to be very good at going down the hill and stopping if something gets in his way.

Sam Bringing the Horse to Water

Sam was really happy to help this horse find some sustainance. He almost got in the water himself, just to demonstrtate how it was done.

Day at the Pumpkin Patch

We all travelled to Medina today, about 1 hour north of San Antonio, deep into Hill Country, passing through the quaint town of Bandera, a true wild West town. We went to a pumpkin patch, where we went on a hayride, ran through a hay maze, fed the animals, sang country songs and ran around in a tee pee (not sure how that fit in...). Overall, we had a great time, but none of us loved the long car ride.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tyler just had his six month check-up and one of the questions was "does he verbalize consonants?" And, of course, I nervously had to reply that he does not. Then, low and behold, the following day, he starting saying, "Da Da". I am not sure what they gave him in the 5 vaccinations, but whatever it was, his speech has certainly benefited.

Sam on Rosh Hashanah

Sam really spiffed up for Rosh Hashanah services. He was such a good sport, wearing his yarmulke and his blazer for the entire service and even volunteering to wear it again for the second day. We think he just loves to put snacks and toys into his Tallit bag and then is surprised to see them in temple. Tyler stayed home this year have his own davening sessions with Martha but we are sure to take him with us next year.