Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Funday, Monday, Birthday!

Today the babies turned 9 months, and of course we celebrated! Although we had to wait to celebrate for the little sleepyheads to wake up. Yep, they decided to sleep in until 10:45! I guess there's a lot of growing to be done between 8 and 9 months so they needed lots of sleep.

Anyway, after waking up we hurried out the door and went straight to Moe's for some lunch. This is the first time they've sat in their highchairs the whole time and eaten their meals in a restaurant. They did great. We fed them their bananas and oatmeal first but then they got to have pinto beans and some puffs. They seemed to love the beans, even though they were a bit spicy. Nora's eyes were a bit watery but she loved it and kept wanting more.

Messy Face Holden Messy Face Nora

Eatin' beans with Auntie Jenn

Mommy and Holden
After Moe's the next stop was to the Humane Society. and NO it was not with the intent of getting another pet...that's all i need! But, the babies are really interested in animals and I had thought of taking them to the zoo, but that's such a long day--so instead, i thought they would enjoy the humane society. It's really nice, all outdoors, nice volunteers and you can get right up next to the animals and play and talk to them. The babies seemed to be really interested in all of the animals. Sometimes when the barking got a bit to loud they would reach up to us and want to be held close, but all in all it was a fun day.

Nora checking out the bunnies

Holden watching the Guinea Pig
there were a few puppies there, just the babies size!
one of my favorite shots ever with my Norabird--she's so beautiful and happy
who could ever resist this face?

more doggies

this dog was so sweet...actually pulled my heart strings a little--he liked us too, it's also the only dog that Nora reached out to touch and laughed at

see that sweet face?
Mommy that doggie is talking to me!
in the cat house...had to be careful here, the babies just love pulling our cats ears and tails!
learning "gentle"
this cat was so chill--stretching out so that HRB could rub his belly
look at the sweet kitten on the floor
that same kitten kept trying to hide under my legs
Mommy this cat is our size!

going in for the kill--i mean hug so excited!
pictures with my babies
we're trying to convince HRB to look up at the camera---nearly impossible and even Nora knows it

she finally throws in the flag..."mom, he's not gonna do it, can we leave now?"

Really, we had a great day. The babies woke up happy--full of smiles and laughter and they went to bed the same way. Days like this are what makes my world go round. The past 9 months have really been the best of my life, i truly am blessed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good Read

here's a good article, stamped with Mike's approval for the way things seem from the soldiers perspective.

this report is specifically about Mike's brigade and people he knows and works with.


Manoa Falls Hike

Yep. Hiking Again. This one wasn't too crazy--just a nice walk through a Hawaiian forest to a waterfall. Last Friday was Statehood Day...51 years since Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States of America. Its a state holiday of course, so the kids were out of school and most everyone was off of work. Our good friends Bryan and Marybeth called and invited us to go hiking with them and their girls and some other friends and I'm always up for that!

Here's Nora's ride for the day. I feel like i can watch her grow through pictures of her in this carrier. There was a time where you couldn't even see her head inside it and now look at her! Just like everything else, Nora and Holden are night and day when it comes to their carriers. Nora loves to face outward and watch everything. When we hike she stays alert almost the whole time and you have to turn her into your body and hold her close, almost forcing her to take a nap...there's just so much to look at she can't stand missing anything. Holden on the other hand, rides in my moby wrap curled up against my back and falls asleep about .5 seconds after i start walking. Who knows how with all the rough movements, but he basically sleeps the entire time.
Our Hiking Caravan...can you see HRB on my back? stopping at the cool trees/archway, yep HRB is already knocked out on my back

we made it to the falls...i know it doesn't look like much, its very tall, and the size of it depends on how much it has rained

the group again
the girls playing in the cool trees
After the hike, we all "tailgated" and had lunch. Holden had some "guy-time" with Uncle Bryan. The babies each ate a banana, some grapes, craisins, and puffs. These days you can't be eating in front of them and not give them something...but they aren't ready for the PB&J's quite yet!

Auntie Bibi with Norabird

What a fun day!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Twin Friends

Today we had a playdate with some friends I met from the multiples meeting. The parents are Kim and Justin and they have 5 month old boy/girl twins, Stella and Ben. Even better is, they live up a mountain in the outskirts of Honolulu that offers some amazing view of the island. We had a great day playing and talking and also got to enjoy a part of the island that I do not often get to see.

Ben was napping at the time, but here are my twins with little Stella. Stella focusing in i think she wanted a hug
or what about your paci instead?
Jenn playing pattycake with HRB
Ben woke up! Check out HRB's new smile!
and here is a view of Diamond Head and Honlulu from a lookout,
it was a really pretty and clear day! Jenn and Nora
Me and HRB--i wonder if the ground will always be more interesting to him
the nose scrunch...now showing in both babies many times each day

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In my heart and on my mind

Although this blog is absolutely NOT an avenue for politics and such, it IS a place used to reflect what is happening and directly affecting my family's everyday life.

With all the media's recent focus on the war in Iraq and its shift in operations come Sept 1st, I fear, after reading articles, talking to some of you and listening to others comments, many of us feel that we can breathe a sigh of relief for our country and our soldiers. While granted, the reduction in the amount of our troops in Iraq is something to be thankful for, lets not forget the thousands still there, still working hard, still in danger everyday, and in my own opinion growing more and more vulnerable as the reduction will continue into the next year and a half.

Contrary to what many news reports are claiming, the last "combat" brigades are not ALL leaving Iraq. Our own 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division will have been in country on a combat mission for almost 3 months when Sept 1 rolls around and the mission changes to "advise and assist". But it's not like things are magically going to resolve as the calendar switches to September. Our soldiers will still be doing the same jobs they were doing on August 31st. A new name doesn't instantly change everything for the better.

So all I'm saying is... Lets not celebrate quite yet--be hopeful sure, but let's wait till our last soldier steps back on American soil to breathe our sigh of relief and until then continue on offering up prayers to our Lord that he will lay his safe hands over our loved ones still fighting, still serving our country.

If you are interested, I am attaching a letter from our Brigade Commander with his view on what Operation New Dawn means for our soldiers.

Warrior Brigade Families, Friends, and Supporters,

What does 01 September 2010 and Operation New Dawn (OND) mean?

2-25 Advise and Assist Brigade is still the same organization that deployed from Hawaii as the 2/25 SBCT (AAB). We have the same Soldiers, same leaders, and same equipment. We are trained, capable, and ready. However, our mission is what has changed from previous deployments. Instead of being focused on combat operations, our primary mission now is to conduct stability operations and specifically civil security. This involves providing for the safety of the host nation (Iraq) and its population, including protection from internal and external threats. How? We support, advise, assist, train, and equip the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) who have full responsibility for security in Iraq. Additionally, as the U.S. military takes the back seat to diplomatic efforts, we also support the U.S. Department of State Provincial Reconstruction Teams as they advise and work with local and regional Iraqi governments in the areas of civil capacity, economics, and governance.

Sept 1, 2010, does not mean a light switched on or off in Iraq. It is not a black and white change from 31 August to 01 September. Iraq can still be a dangerous place at certain places for very short periods. U.S. forces and your Warriors still possess the same capabilities to defend themselves during OND as they did during OIF. The rules of engagement have not changed. We still move around Iraq fully protected in armored Strykers and other armored vehicles, wearing full body armor, and fully loaded with ammunition to deal with the enemy if/when they raise their head in anger against us. We are not simply riding around in support of the ISF blindly, unable to defend ourselves or unable to conduct operations to protect ourselves. To the contrary, if we find a threat against us that the ISF either cannot or will not handle, we have every right, in accordance with the security agreement, to deal with that threat with the full weight of American military power in our formations. We will not ever simply sit back in a passive stance and allow extremists to take shots at us without cost to them. If necessary, we will actively pursue these threats, predominantly in a partnered or combined manner with the ISF. If the ISF are not available or willing to pursue, we will in a unilateral fashion in order to defend ourselves. In fact, we do this fairly routinely against specific threats in specific areas. Unfortunately, every once in awhile a devious enemy who avoids confrontation and prefers to “Hit and Run” gets lucky, and this has happened twice to the Warriors. And no doubt, there will be more casualties in the future - - it is simply the nature of this environment right now. Every U.S. Soldier wounding and death is tragic, difficult to understand, and impossible to put into perspective, particularly if you are a loved one, but this is the nature of our service to the nation.

As difficult as it may be, I ask for your patience and understanding in this regard. For many who are experiencing Iraq with a Soldier for the first time it may be difficult to see Iraq as I do, through the lens of 2006-7 which included the deadliest months for Americans since the Vietnam War. You Veteran Family members remember the dark, dire, early days of The Surge. Well, today, attacks are down more than 90% and the Iraqis are responsible for and managing their own security. Attacks are down over 50% here in the north of Iraq in the last year alone and the overwhelming majority of them are ineffective. These facts of today were the stuff dreams were made of just a few short years ago. Yet again, September 1 does not mean that the threats to democracy or Iraqi progress simply fade away and that 100% of attacks cease.

Truthfully, this next month is a test for all of us. If we are not careful, we could allow media reports to color the perception of the current state of progress in Iraq. We cannot allow one attack or a series of attacks to define the last 7 years of effort in Iraq. The next month will be tough because every spectacular attack the media covers could unwittingly provide fuel to insurgents who are trying to gain a name for themselves, engender support through volunteers and funding, and promote their extremist causes. As Americans we cannot indirectly fuel this effort by allowing ourselves to consume these reports and incidents without first putting them in context. Yes, a successful attack can be horrific, tragic, and sometimes costly to our Soldiers and their Families. However, I ask you to allow yourself to step back for a moment to see the truth in the context of staggering progress, reduction in threats, and great successes that have occurred through the efforts of your Soldiers and the ISF.

I know the next month and period of the Warrior deployment will continue to be tense for everyone. We are still and will remain in harm’s way. Yet my hope is you can rest assured that we are not just capable of defending ourselves, but are actively defending ourselves and protecting each other at all times. We know better than anyone else evil does not just fade away because the mission has changed or we hope it will do so. This is why our task here continues to be so important. We must continue to support the Iraqis as they close the aperture on the insurgent’s hopes and capabilities. We must do all we can to advise, train, assist, and equip the ISF to ensure they can manage the insurgency beyond 2011 when we are no longer by their side. This is our current civil security mission in support of stability operations for Iraq. The weight of responsibility upon our shoulders is great, because we must follow through to the very finish. We must close the U.S. military mission with honor and dignity for ourselves and all of our predecessors, and we must do all we can to ensure a strategic partnership between the U.S. and Iraq endures for decades to come. To do so is in the interest of our nation and the interest of peace in the heart of the Middle East.

Very Respectfully,
Col. Malcolm B. Frost


I posted a few pictures from this photo shoot right after Mike deployed in a previous post, here, but only this week did I receive the CD with all of our shots. It was a spur of the moment decision to get some family shots before Mike left, and I'm so glad we did. It's become so clear how short a time we are given with our children and my heart breaks for all that my sweet, wonderful and caring husband is missing.

It would most definitely come out better from Mike himself, but I do feel the need to say that Yes, we have as a family, made a commitment to serve our country and No, we do not always like what that means we must do--in all seriousness the reality of our constant separation is just plain hard to stomach. BUT... we are ALL called to do something...and for us this is it. Mike finds pride in the work that he does, and I will forever be proud of him for the sacrifices he makes every day in order to serve our country. I will also raise our children to be proud of and respect their father. While he is away, I will make sure that they know what's in heart--His love of the Lord, our Maker, his devotion to our family and the immense love he has for each one of us. From his example in service I hope they will one day inherit his sense of duty, strong commitment, work ethic, and loyalty. From his presence in our lives I hope they inherit his determination, sound-mindedness, caring heart, patience, and fun-loving nature.

All of this said, we handle our time apart as best we can. I do everything I can to make sure my kids never feel like they were missing out on anything. Years from now they are not going to remember the first few years of their lives and all the times Mike wasn't able to be with them, but thankfully they will have pictures like these to look back on and they will know that the times they DID share with their father were precious and wonderful.

And in the mean time, I will be looking at these pictures and looking forward with excitement to the time when we can all be together again.