Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Favorite Things

Big thanks to my family for sending most of this. It has made my time out here so, so much better!

Pictures and letters from home.
I have a bunch of pictures hanging on my closet that make me happy as I'm getting ready to head out. Kelly sends me videos of her boys, and Pat sent me an awesome collage on WhatsApp of Jordyn, Hans, and CosCos that never fails to put a big smile on my face.

Ear Plugs
Before deploying I hadn't used earplugs. I would usually fall asleep to the sound of a fan. Since being out here, and on night-shift, the quiet sound of a fan does nothing to cover all the ambient noise. I had to learn how to use these, but now they are invaluable in getting at least a few hours of solid sleep. My parents sent this, and other brands, and these worked out the best for me.

Magnesium Lotion
It is hot and dry out here, so I've been going through all sorts of lotion. I ordered this on a whim after reading the magnesium deficiency can lead to insomnia. I really like it. The reviews have it doing everything from relieving migraines to curing ADHD. I'm not sure if it does much to help me sleep, but I think it does help relieve muscle tension (I haven't been sore from workouts since being out here) and I like the smell. It's suppppper sweet, like a vanilla cupcake, so definitely not for everyone!

Market Pantry Strawberry Lemonade
I drink a lot of water out here, and sometimes when I'm staring down another bottle of Aqua Gulf I find myself reaching for anything to add some flavor. My mom sent this brand/flavor in the last package she sent, and it's the best one yet!

Peppermint Luna Bars
Luna bars are a great snack. The fiber, vitamins, and protein make it feel like not a complete waste and they have a lot of great flavors. Peppermint has been, and I think always will be, my favorite.

Rich and Sandra sent me a bunch of bags of these delicious little guys. Not only are they my current favorite nut, having to shell them means I don't mindlessly eat a lb. 😉

ThinkThin Bars
My parents sent me these after there was a salmonella scare in both the chicken and the eggs out here. Needed a way to get protein, and these are really good for high protein bars. They sent four flavors: lemon delight, chocolate fudge, chunky peanut butter, and brownie crunch. And that is the order I'd rank them! In a surprise twist (for me) the chocolates were beat out by the lemon, which is light, sweet, and refreshing. Totally weird for a protein bar.

PB2 and Rice Krispy Treats
My mom sent Rice Krispy treats at the same time that Steve sent me some PB2... and they are a match made in heaven. The soft krispy treats can be dunked or smothered in the PB2. It's become a bit of an addiction.

Yoga with Adriene
I had started doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene before, and stalled out before getting very far. I think I got to day 7. This time around, I feel like I am connecting with the videos more, able to focus on my breathing, and really benefiting physically and mentally. I linked to the day I just completed, Day 20, and I think it's a good day to start with if you want to try out some yoga.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life lately

I've been out here for over three months now. I haven't written about it, I haven't taken very many pictures. I've been trying to embrace the differences, see the beauty, enjoy the journey, etc. etc. For the most part, I've failed.

It started with the arrival and drive out here. We were in a tandem of four buses and several pickup trucks with armed, plain-clothes security forces members. We drove the hour or so from the International Airport to base.  We had to keep the curtains drawn, but I was sitting up-front and could see out the driver's window. The roads are in poor conditions. Some areas didn't have lines separating the lanes. Broken down cars and trash lined the highway close to any civilization. Imagine if everyone threw their garbage out the window of their car, and no one picked it up. That's what it's like over here. There are piles and piles of trash lining the highway, and collecting in the median strips.

The landscape is flat. Growing up in the Midwest you think you know flat. Roadtrips through fields upon fields of corn and soybeans were interminably dull. You didn't notice, though, the billowing clouds. The creeks you pass. The pastures with slight hills and cows. Those variations in view and grade; you don't notice them until they're gone. Until you're here. The only variations are man-made. The only changes in terrain are from defensive sand-berms.

The pale and cloudless sky is constantly hazy with dust. Everything is dust. Not sand. Dust. The only vegetation is scrub brush - brambles, small shrubs.

On base some opportunistic weeds that crop up from the water that drips from the A.C. units.

Desert, symbolic of emptiness and aridity, leaves you thirsting for home.  The scales fall from your eyes when you're in a situation like this. You realize how rich your life was, and how precious. How have I not appreciated the amazing people in my life until now? I've taken everything for granted. From being able to talk with the people I care about, to being able to wear or eat what I want, to being able to sleep in a comfortable bed. (Or sleep at all!).

I've been trying to take it a day at a time, and that is continuing. I focus on doing my job well and the light at the end of the tunnel: going home. There are good things about being out here...
1) Some of the people.
2) Ready-made free food.
3) Being within walking distance of the places I need to be.
4) Being unable to sleep has led to a lot of reading. I've read more so far this year than I usually read in an entire year when left to my own devices.
5) The wildlife. I've been unlucky in most of my pictures, but have seen lizards, varied birds, and a fox!

6) The sunsets. While most of them look like this:

Occasionally, they look like this:

Or this:

The flat terrain let the colors take over the entire sky.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Maryland, Day 3

One of Jack's favorite things is to go for walks. He's perfectly quiet the whole time. Sometimes I would check on him and he'd be wide awake, just soaking in the great outdoors. At other times, he'd be like this:

For lunch we headed to Potbelly Subs. Jack loved sitting next to his brother. During this car ride Gabe was flexing at Jack, and he thought that was just hilarious.

Jack was ready for lunch!


We stopped at Barnes and Noble to check out some books, and Jack discovered the toy trains.

Gabriel was very skeptical of a Batman book. "The Scarecrow doesn't look like that!"

Dad joined in on the fun.

Jack enjoyed afternoon tea.

Followed by an early birthday celebration! As Kelly predicted, Maya enjoyed her cupcake. :)

Mommy cleaned him off and then they danced around the kitchen.

That night we went to the new Star Trek movie. Gabe is so fun to attend movies with. He has such an infectious laugh!

Gabe and I read a chapter of the book he's reading. Michelle got him into the Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. I was really impressed with his reading skills!