Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 320

Mom – Day 320

The last day for 2009! This year consisted of a roller coaster of events and emotions. Last year on New Year’s Eve Zach was with his friends, Victoria and my sister were hanging out. Then in April, we all went to San Angelo, Texas to see Zach graduate from AIT and to see Shane. Galen and I went with our two exchange kids, Eline and Julie and then we met up with Victoria and my sister Julie and her kids. We had everything planned! We were going to take Zach to Dallas and take him to Six Flags and a Rodeo. BUT, military style, Zach had to literally run from his graduation and try and make his flight to Ft. Benning. I was sad that we didn’t have the opportunity to vacation together (I miss that) but I knew it wasn’t Zach’s fault. In May/June Zach came to Maine before he would go to ???(we didn’t know if it was going to be Italy, Germany or Ft. Bragg) It was so nice to have the house full of people again. Our host daughter, Mina, from Belgrade Serbia, came to visit her American family – the Dalrymples. What a wonderful time. Like military style, Zach finally found out he was headed to Germany and his stuff was in Italy. In the summer, I sent my daughter to Europe and she met up with Zach. Zach went with Victoria to Vienna to visit family and then Eline went to visit Zach. I was again happy that my kids were connecting with family and friends. ------ Okay, I am not sure if you followed everything and it is okay if you didn’t but I feel that I have to reflect on the year ---- Then came November and Zach came to visit us again because he was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. I remember I was so happy to see him and every time he wasn’t home or in another room I cried. I felt like a junky, trying to find a spot or a moment to cry – someplace where no one would see me. Finally, we planned an early Thanksgiving and Zach came home late. He thought I was mad at him, which I wasn’t, and then all of a sudden everything came out at the table. We were all hurting and it was time that we had to admit it. We all yelled and we all cried. We were all afraid. At the time I was so upset that we were spending precious time upset at one another but now looking back, it was good that we had that opportunity. The day at the terminal, I remember that I didn’t want to let him go board the plane. I knew that would be the last time I would see my little boy, I knew that the next time I would see him he would be different.

My life now is so much my son. I know that my son made the decision to join the military, but in truth we all did to some extent.

Happy New Year Zach, I love you – Be Safe

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 321

Mom – Day 321

Today I feel good. Not everything at this moment is perfect in my life – far from it. Sometimes when it rains it pours. But still I feel a sense of content, kind of normal. I spoke to Zach again today, only about 2-3 minutes but that was enough. He said everything was okay – he said a few other things but I will save it for another blog – . I cooked today some picadillo and mole and I did some yucky paperwork and I went to the movies. All in all, it was a good day. It is a bit scary to have this feeling because I am scared that I am not suppose to be allowed to feel content or normal while Zach is over there. Life is weird like that, I think we all have quirks.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 322

Mom – Day 322

Zach said he was happy that he had a piece of fresh fruit today. He had an orange and he said it was so good. He said he hasn’t been eating breakfast and for lunch he would have an MRE (meals ready to eat). Sometimes he would eat something real for dinner. He said he can’t wait to eat some food from home. Maybe some tamales and enchiladas or rice pudding – if he was talking to his Dad he might of said ribs, meatloaf or steak☺ I only spoke to him for a short time. This vacation has been nice because I have had the opportunity to speak to him on several occasions. I appreciate the time I spend talking to him, even if it is small talk because I know that this is a luxury.

I just finished reading the book The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. What a powerful book! There were many things that struck me in this book but one recurring thing was how even within the Muslims, there are so many prejudices. I mean I knew this, this is not unique within any religion, group, or people – prejudice does occur. I still have a hard time understanding how people can have so much hatred for other people just because they are different. You look different, You wear different clothes, You speak different, on and on. We all bleed the same color and bleed the same smell. This book did point out the Sunni and the Shi’a (the Hazara) and the prejudices that lie here. This book made me feel so sad for the children and the people caught in the middle of all this hatred in Afghanistan. It also gave glimpses of the good that one can find in that far away country where my boy is.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 323

Mom – Day 323

Today is my birthday and it was a good day. I don’t think that I could of done anything big so I am grateful that my family went low key. Last year was so different. I remember everyone here; the house was maxed to the limit. I cooked with my sister for two days. We made tamales, enchiladas, ponche, etc., etc. The tamales were work and everyone was helping out.

Today Zach did call me for a few minutes to wish me a happy birthday. He also had some Internet service where he posted something for me. It was nice to hear his voice. I have been lucky lately because I have had the opportunity to communicate with him. He did sound good☺

I did communicate with a lot of people today. I talked to my cousin whose husband (and his family) had experienced war and she told me how his mother physically changed due to the stress of war and having her sons fight. This conversation started when I told her that make-up could no longer cover up my eyes when I wake up in the morning. They just seem like they are exponentially getting older. I know some people may think I am exaggerating, maybe that is true, but my eyes always seem to be yucky. Well I am tired now. Good night Zach

I love you Zach – Be Safe

323 Dad

Well Christmas is past so one hurdle complete, it was nice we talked to Zach several times including with many family members present and he was able to say hi to a bunch of people. He was tired but I know he liked it. It is good for him to hear familiar voices from home. Now as we get further from Christmas and past New Year will come yet another challenge the long hard winter where more time is spent in doors and more time for thoughts to race through our minds. It will be a struggle to keep busy and keep busy I must. I have some projects to work on and I just have to get at them and do it. I have a lot of things I am going to have to do. This is how we at home have to approach this time by breaking it down into little mile stones and each time a mile stone is reached we are closer to Zach being home.

Times of crisis always seem to be exaggerated and compounded by other crisis our lives and there is no shortage of crisis in our household. While it is good to be busy sometimes it is a bit overwhelming and I feel that way a lot. My list of to do’s is far ahead of my ability to do them which keeps me busy but creates yet another crisis itself. Many things are up in the air and the degree of uncertainty is great so I must do my best to keep certainty remain strong and remember my promise to Zach. It always puts things into perspective when you consider any problem and then think about those deployed to foreign lands with no running water, no bathrooms and no hot meals. Life is pretty good!!

I wish all Americans knew how good life really is here rather than taking all we have for granted and then complaining about the rest. I guess my ability to deal with people is challenged by my feelings in that regard.

All I know is that Zach is a hero, he is superman and if little kids are looking for a role model, I cannot think of any one better. I know I am biased but he is a great kid and a wonderful son. I miss you Zach and I love you and look forward to going fishing with you again. All my love Zach! God Bless!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 324

Mom – Day 324

It is already past 11 pm – like Lisa, I am a procrastinator! Many times, today being one of them, I procrastinate on purpose. In my head I have so many things that I want to say that I am overwhelmed by it, and then I dread the decision making -> which direction do I want to go tonight, what should I say. As I am writing this I haven’t made up my mind yet. Should I talk about Barbara and how sad she looked this morning before her boy left to go back to Ft. Bragg; how I wish she wasn’t so sad. Or maybe I should talk about my new friend Mary and how fortunate I feel to have met her, with both of our boys being in Afghanistan. Then my mind is also thinking about my family that invited me to see them and share with them some of the Christmas spirit and I was “just there”. I am also thinking about my sister and her kids, constantly texting me because they want to speak to Zach and I have to say that they can’t right now – what a scrooge I am. Maybe I should talk about the pictures I just put on Facebook, they are of last Christmas when I had my kids here, my sister and her family and Eline (my girl from Holland). Or maybe I should write about that I am worried about the toll this is taking on everyone, to include my husband who looks so ………? Now I am just crying again. I guess I found what I wanted to write about, a smorgasbord of my thoughts and feelings.

I love you Zach, don't ever forget that - Be Safe
Love Mama

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 325

Mom – Day 325

Today I am reflecting on yesterday.
I had the opportunity to speak to Zach with our immediate family. It was so nice just to hear his voice. He was somewhere in Afghanistan on duty so it was a treat that we were able to get in touch with him. Later in the day Zach had the opportunity to hear from the rest of the family and even from some of his friends that stopped by the house. I think Zach was so happy to hear from his family and friends on Christmas day. With that said, I think he must of felt a little sad that he wasn’t with us and maybe even a little envious of us here, all together on Christmas day and he is over there by himself. – I am not originally from this area so I remember many times when we first moved here, getting phone calls from my family down south and I was a bit envious of them because they were all together. Not an evil envy but that natural envy that all of us have even when we don’t want it to pop out. - I felt sad that Christmas was like any other day for him. I hope he really knows that he is loved and that we were sad that he wasn’t with us.

I did feel so much better that I was able to speak to Zach yesterday. I also felt a little guilty that I was able to speak to him when there were so many soldiers unable to speak to their loved ones. I hope they know that there are many people out here that think of all of them and their sacrafice.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Friday, December 25, 2009

326 Dad

Talked to Zach a couple of times and we got to call him with family and some of his friends. He was happy to hear from all. Not much else, I miss you superman I love you!

Day 326

Mom – Day 326

I don’t really feel like sharing myself today – Merry Christmas Zach
I love you – Be Safe

Thursday, December 24, 2009

327 Dad

I talked to Zach just a bit ago he was just getting up we wished him Merry Christmas and he said it first as it is Christmas morning there! He is going to get a hot breakfast then MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) for the remainder of the day! He is headed somewhere that we don't know always remembering operation security and will have no showers no bathrooms sounds like fun - camping he called it! He was standing outside while talking to us he said it was clear the sun was coming up "the strangest Christmas morning he ever had". They are outside the wire (Outside the FOB or fire base, like on a mission or patrol) and no time for fancy meals or gift giving - just a few moments for personal reflection and then to work! So odd tomorrow is here, and Zach is there in tomorrow like a sci fi movie but it is real and he has 325 days and a wake-up to go! He is superman, he is so strong and told us not to worry yeah right! I miss him so much - my boy!!!! I love you Zach!

Day 327

Mom – Day 327

Today was a great day because I had a chance to talk to Zach – I didn’t think I would!!!! Victoria Ashley, my daughter, stayed home and cleaned like a professional while I did my Christmas shopping. I actually went to the store and bought some of my traditional items like pate and cheeses. I bumped into a lot of people that I know and I was okay talking about Christmas and Zach. After some time shopping, the bit of a happy rush I had started to fade out. I realized that this Christmas, no matter what I do, or no matter what anyone else does, Zach will be somewhere I don’t know. I bought some Naan – knowing that Naan is now part of Zach’s diet; maybe I can feel a little closer to him. In reality I know that is not possible but my heart doesn’t know it and right now that is all that matters.

I received an email today from a lovely lady, Mary, whose son is in Afghanistan. Not only is he in Afghanistan but he is also part of the 173rd and stationed at FOB Shank. I don’t have the words to describe in letter my thoughts and feelings when she wrote me. It was so comforting to know – albeit via email and now Facebook – that someone else is going through what I am going through. I don’t feel like a stranger to my thoughts and feelings now, I know someone else may share them. Although, I am lucky to have a wonderful husband that I can depend on 24/7 – that is a blessing. In one of her emails she said that she was happy that I have my Christmas things up because she doesn’t, she couldn’t do it. My heart felt for her, tears ran down my face because I didn’t want her to feel that way – and yet I know exactly how she feels.

Merry Christmas Zach, I love you – Be Safe

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 328

Mom – Day 328

Okay, I have been waiting by the phone hoping Zach will call. I didn’t go to my hairdresser because I know she doesn’t have cell phone reception out there – I guess I have to think of another plan for my hair. In the meantime, I am craving for some news or info about Afghanistan. (I am reading online – there is a lot of information out there but it is difficult to decipher all the material and to verify the resources)

I received an email today from the wonderful lady that wrote the article in the paper (last Saturday in the Morning Sentinel) about Zach and our family. The email was from another mother whose son was also deployed to Afghanistan and is also part of the 173rd. It was so nice to hear from another mother. I don’t know this lady but I was so touched by this and I am anxious to communicate with her.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

329 Dad

One more day down. Many people around Madison have come up to wishing luck to Zach and thanking me for him and his service to our country! Sometimes I wonder if people know about the sacrifices being made by these men and women serving in our military! I often am torn between the feelings I have that Lisa and I raised such a special young man and the fact I would prefer he was in college now! I believe that people have opportunities to make their mark upon the world. I believe Zach will make great contributions to our world and this is laying the foundation of the man he will become! You are superman and I love you Zach!

Day 329

Mom – Day 329

I still haven’t heard from Zach. I am hoping that I will hear from him soon. Hopefully I will hear from tomorrow because I don’t think I will hear from him during the holidays.

I realize that there are times that I am always talking about Zach. Every time I see someone I give him / her updates about Zach assuming they want to hear it. I don’t do it intentionally, it just comes out. I have also noticed that there are people that don’t know what to say to me, I think they feel a bit uncomfortable. - I too have encountered those feelings in the past when you don’t know what are the right words to say to someone – It is weird for all of us. Sometimes I don’t know what to say when people come up to me and express their feelings – am I suppose to hug them, comfort them, tell them everything is going to be all right. I don’t know either.

Christmas is right around the corner, I am a little bit antsy about this. Today is Tuesday, tomorrow is Wednesday ……. Day by day is all I can do.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Monday, December 21, 2009

331 Dad

We talked to Zach a couple of times over the weekend. It will seem very strange not to have him here on Christmas morning as he has been for 19 years. I hope he gets the box with his presents in it before Christmas. He said time is going by fairly quickly it probably is if you’re as busy as he is on a daily basis. Perhaps there is a lesson there for all of us to help us get through this year. Stay busy and keep on keeping on, don’t dwell on what at this point you can’t change. I found it sad when Zach said that not all the soldiers are getting boxes and stuff from home, people are different and the situation they grow up in is different. I can’t imagine not sending Zach stuff or not hearing his voice once and a while. So we need to make it a point to include in the boxes stuff that Zach can share. He said that he has been getting a lot of stuff and he has a shelf that if someone needs something they can just take it from that shelf. What a good idea to help everyone but then that is Zach-man always looking out for others. He has always wanted to help others and I hope that it is the way that Lisa and I raised him that contributed to that, maybe it is why he is in Afghanistan now. It is sad in one way but very invigorating for the future of society when so many can only see the bad so many more are willing to put their lives on the line to defend all that is good. I love you Zach!

Day 330

Mom – Day 330

I started thinking that maybe something was wrong with me. Why can’t I get out of this “rut”. I know that my life will be different with Zach over there and me sitting by the phone – always waiting – but I have responsibilities. I have responsibilities to my children (plural), my husband, work and myself. I even started thinking, maybe I am not with it – maybe I need help because I have all of these depressing feelings. I was almost to the point that I didn’t know anymore. Then, as if God or my Mom in heaven was listening, my sister called. She asked me if it was okay to share my blog with her good friend in Sweden. I said yes but I wanted to make sure that she told her friend that the blog was raw. “Raw, what do you mean by this” was what my sister asked me and I told her, I write what I feel and it is so depressing. My sister didn’t even hesitate when she said, “What is wrong with that, maybe that is how the mother of a soldier in Afghanistan feels.” That one comment made me feel alive again, it is okay to own these feelings.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 331

Mom – Day 331

I woke up this morning at about 7:30 only to go downstairs and find that my daughter Ashley picked up the first floor. She was just finishing up the kitchen when I went downstairs. Ash said that we had to get the house ready for Christmas so things had to be put away and ready so that she could decorate. She then put together our list for the things we needed at the stores and then she was quick to put everything in its place. It was really nice to have her taking care of all these things. Today, the house was picked up, we went shopping, put up the tree and then had a chance to visit with friends, Skype with Eline (one of our host children from Holland) and SPEAK to Zach (and even go to the movies).

Zach finally received the first box I ever sent him – about a month ago. In the box I included some Whoppie Pies and he said they were a hit with the other soldiers. I didn’t think that they would last; I thought they would go bad but they didn’t. I sent some Whoppie Pies that were wrapped (I bought the ones that they have in Trenton’s Mkt). Zach said the other soldiers loved them and they were calling them Maine Pies. Zach did not realize that the Whoppie Pies were a Maine thing (I think they are regional to certain areas of the US??) He said that he was saving one Whoppie pie for Christmas. It is funny how some of these little things that we take for granted can mean so much.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 332

Mom – Day 332

Early today I spoke to Zach and then I had a chance to call him again. I ran out of money on my Skype account and by the time I could add minutes I knew it was very late to call him back. Zach did say that he would try and call us Sunday – (Afghan time). We probably won’t hear from him on Christmas so it would be nice to hear from him again. Zach did sound okay. Ash also had a chance to speak to him.

Right away Ash wanted to know when we were going to put up the tree. She was quick to say we need to pick up and get everything ready. Galen and I told her that we will get a tree tomorrow. It was good!!!

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 333

Mom – Day 333

Today was a better day. I had a few students wish me Merry Christmas and one student’s mom made me homemade bread. I really don’t know why she did this for me but it was really sweet. Overall the students were really great and that did brighten my day. A couple of my girlfriends made it a point to touch base with me and a just in case they don’t see me “Merry Christmas”. It is also a better day because I know I will get to see my daughter today. I am not really a touchy-feely sort of person but I think my daughter senses that I could use her help. Two weeks without work, I am not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing. At least my daughter will keep me busy.

Zach, I love you – Be Safe

Thursday, December 17, 2009

334 Dad

Long day and week, I talked to a couple of Vietnam vets today sometimes it is hard to listen to other Vets who have been in combat! While I faced danger on several occasions in the military I was never engaged in direct combat! It is hard to hear them tell stories and imagine what Zach is going through now! He is only 19 it is hard to imagine what he is seeing and experiencing now as many of his friends finish up the semester in college! It will be nice to see some of them when they are home. It will be nice to see Shane as he is coming home for Christmas. He thinks he is deploying next year I hope not! Zach will be fine I know as he is superman! I pray that God will grant him the strength and the courage to do his duty and to come home safe and sound. Also that he can forget what he might see there! I love you Zach with all my heart!

Day 334

Mom – Day 334

The holidays!! Cheer!!! Today was our little Christmas get together at work and I thought about going. After all I always go – good food and its free – and a time to catch up with people. No, I couldn’t do it. I don’t think anyone really noticed, which is really okay but I thought for a second that maybe I could get out there and mingle. I stayed in my office and did some work. I spoke to Galen and he said HE put together the Christmas menu. I was so happy that he did and I have a very small part to do. He knew that I just don’t want to do it (Christmas) and he also knows that I have to (Christmas). So I appreciate that he did this for me. I left school and drove to the Post Office to mail a Christmas gift, again I cried.

Victoria called today and she is excited about being home tomorrow. She lifted my spirits. I am so happy to have her here.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 335

Mom – Day 335

I was ready to go to bed; I was so tired when all of a sudden we got a call from Zach. He asked us to call him right back so that we could talk to him before he was to take off. It was so nice to hear from him!!!! Last night I slept and Galen slept, in fact we over slept and we were rushing in the morning.

Today in school during lunch I opened up my emails and there were two of them that made me cry on the spot (the worst part of this was that I was wearing purple mascara, not waterproof – imagine the sight, purple eyes). One email quoted excerpts from my blog and it was hard to read. It was surreal. Those words came from me, my thoughts! The other email was from a friend that “spoke” to me. She is concerned about me. Believe me, when I read my blog I am also concerned – I don’t often go back and read it. My mind knows that I have to “live” but my heart and soul doesn’t know it yet. I am NOT ready to deal with my mind. Honestly, I may not be ready because maybe in some ways I don’t want to be ready yet – or maybe I am in survivor mode – I don’t know. I just know that I am scared every single day.

I thought I would go to the website of the 173rd today, maybe I would read news, but instead I noticed the tab for the fallen soldiers. I clicked on it and looked at their pictures and looked into their eyes. I was wondering what they were thinking when the picture was taken and then I thought of the words “fallen soldiers”. I also felt that their families must have some, be it small, comfort in knowing that there are people, people they may not know, looking at the picture or the bio of their son, brother, husband, grandfather, or friend. They are remembered.

I love you Zach – Be Safe
Love Mama

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 336

Mom – Day 336

Going through the motions. I wake up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, get ready for school, go to work, teach, put together my to do list, tackle priority items, do minimal chores, pick-up, write my blog and then go to bed – and tired all day long. 336 more days seem so long. Weekends are a bit better. Friends or family usually find a reason for us to go out. It is nice when I am really distracted and I can laugh or forget for a few moments the weight I feel in my heart or the nervousness I feel in my hands and fingers. I hate the feeling of being helpless and not in control. Sometimes I am almost embarrassed of this blog because it is ALWAYS so depressing. A teacher at the school lent me a book that I started reading, Stolen Voices, which chronicles diaries from people that went through wars. These are people that literally went through hell and yet in many of their entries they write about good things, nice things, things that made them smile. I need to learn from their spirit.

I love you Zach – Be Safe

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 337

Mom – Day 337

I am so tired because I am having trouble sleeping. Christmas is almost here and Victoria is coming home but it doesn’t feel like the holiday season. I will enjoy some vacation time but I don’t feel like doing the holiday thing. I am not in the Christmas mood. In fact, I would prefer not doing it at all. Galen and Zach are usually the Christmas fanatics and I think Ash secretly enjoys it all as well. I usually have my pouts but in the end it always turns out nice. Usually by now I know what we are going to cook, and my lists are all in action. It is so easy to ignore Christmas; it is difficult to keep on going. Sometimes I wish I could just do what I want to do – nothing.

I love you Zach – Be Safe.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 338

Mom – Day 338

Today was a great day because I spoke to Zach (and all seemed okay with Ash – sorry I missed Eline today). Hearing his voice today was like the feeling you get when you go up for air after holding your breath under water for as long as you can. I felt like I was holding my breath all week! He talked about the snow there and some of the comments his Southern buddies had to say about it and how some of the soldiers were playing around with the snow. He also talked a lot about all of the kids that he saw (actually he just talked about the boys). He really was taken back how they were all over the place and he said how they should be in school. I guess suppressing education is a way of control, a way that the Taliban tried to control the people. It is so sad to think about this because we take so many things for granted, including our right to a decent education. When I hear these stories, I just want to go over there and educate them. I also think that if you don’t have any goals, or purpose then you can get in trouble. Not going to school or doing something can easily domino for the kids to get into trouble.

Well, I should be going to bed and I am sure Zach is up now with more snow his way.
Good night, good morning. I love you Zach – Be safe

338 Dad

Talked to Zach today and that culminated a fairly decent weekend. Zach said that while out on a patrol they came in to a little town and the said all the Afghan boys were out being boys albeit he said they were rough with each other. He said the boys actually appeared to look up to the soldiers and they gave them candy. Zach said he just didn't understand no school nothing going on just hang out every day! He said that many appreciate the Americans there but you always have to be on guard every moment. Life is so different here most cannot even fathom what it is like in a place like that. Helped Victoria make dinner from 1700 miles away, but missed Eline's call. Sorry kiddo. I miss all my kids and wish they were here. Be strong superman, I love you and miss you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 339

Mom – Day 339

I do know Zach is okay, I didn’t hear from him but he did leave a message with Shane who in turn shared this info with me. I am so glad to hear that he is okay.

Every time that I start writing for the blog I spend half of my time looking up information about Afghanistan. I am most intrigued about the plight of the woman and children. Since I don’t know a lot about this part of the world, everything seems to be new and interesting. Today I looked up the weather, right now it is -3C and it will get up to about -7C and on Monday it may snow. Then I was also curious to know how many FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and other military post there are in Afghanistan. I didn’t find the answer but I was amazed at how many there are. There are so many FOBs, PRTs, FBs, Camps, I never really paid attention to how many facilities we have there.

Tonight I watched the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This is my favorite Christmas movie. It is my favorite movie because it makes us all step back and realize how one person can touch so many lives. I only wish I had my children here to watch this movie with me.

I love you Zach – Be safe

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 340

Mom – Day 340

Friday night in Maine and it is already Saturday in Afghanistan. I am hoping that we get an opportunity to speak to Zach sometime this weekend. I really would like to hear from him so that I know he is okay.

Tonight Galen and I went out with our friends – a double date. We went out for dinner and a movie. It was nice time out. I think we would of stayed home if our friend Carol wasn’t so insistent that we go. It was a good thing.

I love you Zach

340 Dad

Just another day, it was a long day but was a somewhat good day. Had a great evening with friends (thanks Carol and RA) and saw a funny movie. It is a movie I know Zach would like - Pirate Radio. I miss you Zach I love you. You are superman and wherever you are know that I am thinking of you and love you!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 341

Mom – Day 341

Okay, I know that when it rains it pours but we have to keep on looking for the rainbow. I do depend on Galen a lot because he is my husband and he has always protected me and made me feel safe. I hope that in turn, he knows that I am here for him and as the mother of our children. Alright, alright, enough with the mushy stuff, this will start sounding like a soap opera.

Today I did buy Zach’s Christmas gift. I am not going to say what it is just to make sure that word won’t get back to him. It is already boxed and ready to be mailed yesterday –oops, I mean today, oops again, I mean tomorrow. I know he won’t get it before Christmas but at least I know he will get it soon. The Post Office does not have a date or know when 093.. zip codes packages will arrive – of course this is Zach.

I need to sleep – Good night Zach, I hope that you are someplace, somewhat safe.
I love you – Be Safe

341 Dad

Wow I watched the start of the Bruin's game and all I could think about was the time Zach and I went with Mike and Chris Gross to the Bruin's game. What a blast it was so much fun. I can't wait to experience those times again. As hard as I try my mind is always somewhere else. Lisa needs me, Victoria needs me and all of our extended family needs me to be strong and I love you all you are so important to me - time to cowboy up! It just seems like nothing is going right lately. Everything that goes wrong seems to be amplified. Days just seem to run on, and perhaps my hardest effort is to be cheery and festive for the Christmas season. I cannot lie I do not feel cheery or festive, and sometimes do not feel very social. It is getting harder to hide that fact. I have been so busy at work and we are operating 2 and sometimes three people down. I feel like I am so far behind not matter what I do to catch up. At every turn I feel like those who are supposed to be helping are becoming the biggest obstacles. I actually feel like for the first time I am one of those people who are always in a world of hurt and the blame is on everyone else. That pretty much sums up my past few weeks. I am hoping that things will get better as my frustration is starting to max out. Somehow I have to accentuate the positive, I've got to work out my aggressions and feelings in the gym or walking. I know that Zach is out who knows where now conducting unknown missions and operations. He is superman and I have to be like superman as hard as it is! I miss you Zach and I love you with all my heart.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 342

Mom – Day 342

This is only day 342, I can’t imagine the rest of this blog, at least 341 more entries! For the reader, this is a Prozac blog. Everyday reading about someone’s agony must be depressing. I hope the reader has invested in some good wine or a nice cup of tea.

I find myself not watching, reading or listening to the news as much. I say it is because I am just busy but in reality, I am avoiding it a bit. I just need a little less right now. A little bit of ignorance is bliss.

Today, one of Zach’s friends stopped by the house. He helped shovel the deck and the front – today was a snow day. He stayed most of the day to include dinner. It was nice to hear everyone talking around the dinner table. It was also nice for this young man to stop by the house. I miss having all of the kids over and I hope my kids knew that I did enjoy them and their friends.

I don’t know exactly where Zach is. I am worried about him. I don’t think he got his knee pads just yet and I know that he is going to be needing them. I will feel so much better when I actually get the opportunity to speak to him. Say an extra prayer for him.

Zach, I love you – be safe

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 343

Mom – Day 343

I have been so busy today with so many things on my mind that I forgot to take my medicine until the late afternoon when I finally put two and two together. I finally realized why I was feeling so bad – you see that is my problem, I forget things and then a domino effect happens. Yesterday I was so nervous about Zach, today I feel different. Today I feel like I don’t want to breath to hard because I don’t want to jinx anything. I don’t know why the change in feelings but that is how I feel. He is so young.

If you didn’t get to watch the Youtube movie Remember Me , check it out.

Take care Zach – Be Safe

Monday, December 7, 2009

343 and a wake-up Dad

Thought about Zach a great deal today even though I talked to him yesterday. Words he said yesterday keep resonating in my mind, lockdowns of communications to prevent word of casualties from getting released before official notifications. This is real it is not a game, I hope all the young men and women realize that! Lisa was upset today because she could not buy Zach a PEZ dispenser for his box, because if it was lost it could be used to make a bomb by the bad guys! Again today Lisa is worried about Christmas, I told her we have to do a regular Christmas for our family and Victoria as well as Marjo! She is really stressed about numerous things and I am worried. We have to remain strong. Zach you are superman, we will be fine and strong. This is all going to go by quickly and you will have stories to tell your grandchildren Zachman! I love you and miss you!

Day 344

Mom – Day 344

Pez – that is what did it! Today I went to Rite-Aide to pick up some things for Zach and then I went to the candy and holiday section. I was grabbing things to fill up one of Zach’s boxes when I went to grab a Pez dispenser. I always give – or should I say Santa always gives the kids a Pez dispenser for Christmas. (There are certain “musts” during certain holidays, like Kinder eggs for Easter). I went to pick out which Pez I wanted and I picked up a reindeer one (I do have Marjo from Finland living with us and she eats reindeer so I thought this would be cute) and then I thought about the container. I thought, “Oh my God” what if this Pez container could be used for something against the soldiers. I know that the Taliban goes through the garbage of the soldiers and they use their rubbish to hide bombs and other horrible things. All these things went through my head and I started to cry because I couldn’t buy his Pez dispenser. I hate it! (it – I don’t know what “it” is but I can’t erase that sentence because that is what I feel) I came home and told Galen, all in tears and then he told me “Lisa go ahead and buy it, afterwards Zach can just crush it and no one will have to worry about the container”. I know it sounds stupid but I didn’t think it through - but now I do feel better knowing that I can buy him his Christmas Pez dispenser!

I love you Zach
Be Safe

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 345

Mom – Day 345

Well I saw Dal’s blog and he already said we had an opportunity to talk to Zach. We managed calling him via a Skype call. It was so nice to talk to him and since we were using our computer, both Galen and I could hear him without a problem. Of course, we got cut off several times but it was still worth it. So far he has only received two boxes. He did say that he was doing okay because people send care packages for the soldiers – people that don’t know these soldiers but want to do something for them. That was really nice to hear.

Please keep Zach in your prayers and for the family that will get that dreadful news. This week will be long; I already can’t wait to hear from him.

Zach I love you – Be Safe

344 and a wake-up Dad

Talked to Zach and felt better. Though we were concerned when he said one of his friends was wounded and another soldier who he didn't know was killed. My heart just sank a family somewhere unknown to us right now is going to be finding out that their loved one will not be coming home! It is almost too much to take! Zach did not seem too shocked. I think they are too much on edge to think about things like that! I pray for his and his units safety. I suppose you have to become a little desensitized to keep on going! We talked to him and for us right now that is huge! I felt even better when he had me go on to set his fantasy team. He is still our little boy. I love and miss you Zach. You are superman, and I will give you the biggest hug when you see me next! I love you son, I love you, God bless you and keep you safe! Your Dad!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 346

Mom – Day 346

Today is Chester Greenwood day – the guy that invented the earmuffs – and Galen put his deer chili in the chili contest and he won first place. That was so nice to see him smile and everyone commenting on his cooking skills. In fact, he ran out of the chili before our family came around to try it. Our exchange girl Marjo was in the parade along with our nephew Derek. The day was beautiful and it even started to snow. It was a good day.

It was also a sad day because for the first time it felt like the Christmas season was upon us. I feel bad because I had a dispute with my daughter and because Zach is not here. He is not here to have a chili ‘throw down’ with his Dad. He is not here for his favorite holiday. Last night I was watching “Home Alone” on TV, Zach’s favorite Christmas movie and he wasn’t here to share in it. I can’t wait for my daughter to come home so that I have at least one of my kids home. I just wish Zach would be here too. I will worry about him everyday until I know he is safe. I was hoping that I would hear from him but I haven’t. I think Christmas and the Christmas season is an important time for me to have my family. One day at a time – that is all I can do.

I Love you Zach and Ash.
Zach Be Safe

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 347

Mom – Day 347

Isn’t it weird how one event in someone’s life can completely consume so many lives?

I still haven’t heard anything new.

Gelukkige sinterklaas! Happy Sinter Klass.

Take care Zach, I love you
Be safe

Dad 347

Friday a work week down and another day down. For the most part it was a good day, very busy at work lots going on. Tried to stay busy and today it was easy. Still I take moments to think about Zach it is hard not to throughout any day. Spent the evening making chili for the Chester Greenwood Contest. I think my chili is good we'll see. It was fun working on it as I know if Zach were here he would be competing against me. We once had a meatloaf throwdown at a family reunion, it was close I think I won and of course he felt he was the winner! Another day closer I miss you Zach, you are Superman! I love you!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 348

Mom – Day 348

Oh my – I didn’t know if I was going to survive today. Not only was it a rough day in what was happening at work, I didn’t feel well. I realize that I am forgetting to take my medication on time; I am forgetting some of my meals and to drink water. No wonder I am not feeling well – and my exercise level decreased. I can’t seem to focus and I need to do it soon.

I received a quick line on Facebook today from Zach so I do know that he is okay. I also found out that one of Zach’s classmates who is in the Marines is going to Afghanistan and seems excited. I am thinking that he is mentally getting himself ready but I am worried about him. Afghanistan and being in a war zone is real and scary. I need to pray for all of our military men and women.

Love you Zach – Be safe

Dad 348

348 days left considering the start number was 365 we are making progress! Each day is a day closer to 1 then home or at least out of Afghanistan! Lisa was happy this morning she at least got message from Zach on facebook. Every little positive makes a difference. I again need to be careful as I find myself getting short with people, I just have a hard time being patient with what I perceive as arrogance, ignorance, stupidity, and those who I feel are hindering and not helping. Normally I am patient and understanding and I don't know if it is the situation or I have just reached max acceptance. The problem is that it is at work for the most part! It is not like me to be that way, luckily I have controlled it thus far but it is getting harder. I wonder what other parents, spouses or children of those deployed feel, what about siblings how does Victoria feel, or Mina, Eline or Julie? Emptiness is creeping but it won't win I must be strong for Superman! I love you Zach and think about you every day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 349

Mom – Day 349

Today was a long and hard day. I just read Galen’s blog and I guess we are both feeling it. I am so exhausted and I am starting to feel overwhelmed. I am usually very confident in what I do at work but I am starting to second-guess myself. I feel like I am not pulling my weight.

I haven’t heard anything from Zach. Every time the phone rings I jump but so far nothing. I am sure they all heard the news about the President’s speech. 30,000 more troops (x) 2 parents and at least one loved one = 90,000 people + 30,000 soldiers = 120,000 people (at a minimal) will be affected by this decision. I am just one thought in the field of thoughts. Okay, I am just rambling now. I do know that I have really mixed thoughts on the President’s decision but I am glad that he did make a decision and that our soldiers are not in limbo. I also know that I really feel for the women and children that are still in fear of the Taliban (and the men that are ‘made’ to control the women).

I am going to try and get some sleep.
Good night Zach (and Ash if you are reading this good-night, I love you and you better study)
Be Safe Zach

Dad 349

Another day down! I don't really have a lot to say, just absorbing the information from the President's speech last night. More soldiers and Marines heading to Afghanistan and more families are going to spend months worrying now! I have so many feelings and emotions that are just so hard to come to terms with. I have to be strong for Lisa and the family, but at times it is a struggle. I struggle daily getting things done staying focused sometimes I just catch myself staring into the distance just wondering what Zach is up to! My job, things to finish and to work on at the house, cooking, cleaning, daily type chores keep my mind occupied,I get frustrated with things not getting done and I have to be more patient as people handle stress differently. I just seem to want - want this that or the other things done, more exercise, get my health in order, the bathroom done, and on and on..... I just need to take deep breaths and drive on! I know that Superman is keeping on keeping on and we can do the same! I love you Zach!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 350

Mom – Day 350

I spoke to someone today that served time in Iraq and it was nice to hear some of his perspectives. He told me how lonely Thanksgiving was for him and in some way that did console me because I knew Zach was so down on that day. He spoke about how he felt physically, emotionally, and physiologically in Iraq. He gave me some advice, some advice easier said than done – like don’t listen/read the news all the time. It was very comforting to hear what he had to say. – a thank you

Zach, I love you – Be Safe

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 351

Mom – Day 351

Everyone is waiting for President Obama’s speech tomorrow and I am optimistic that he will provide our military with the guidance needed. I know I will disagree with some or maybe even all he has to say but at least I can say I disagree or agree with him – I want to be able to do that. I also want to be optimistic – I need to think in the positive – send out positive signals. I really don’t know if there is such a thing but it doesn’t hurt to try.

I know that I haven’t spoken to Zach since Thanksgiving but I think he is okay. I need to learn to be okay with not having news about him for a time being. I have a few friends that always touch base with me just to let me know that they are there if I need them.

Today is a short message but I am waiting for tomorrow to hear the President’s speech. I don’t feel like doing any research at the moment. I want to let my family know to hang in there. Galen, everything will be okay.

Love you Zach – Be safe

Dad 351

One more down, had a very hard day the evening has not been much better! In a funk, don't even feel like watching the Patriots. I like to watch them with my bud and he is not here! I miss him! Tomorrow is a new day and a day closer! I love you Zach, you are Superman!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

352 Dad

Another day down 351 and a wake-up, or by now for Zach it is already 350 and a wake-up. It matters as we are one day closer to Zach being home safe and sound. I wish we could have talked to him, but we have to understand there may be many days we can't talk to him. So I must salute my flag and say my prayer and tell him hello and keep the faith. I am sure that he hears it and knows that mom and dad along with his family, friends and many others are praying for him and wishing him well! Shane is going back today his family unsure of what will happen with his unit! The disaster that is the Obama Administration will conduct its political dog and pony show for the lame stream media, Shane and many other young men and women could be deployed. I pray that this bunch of bumblers decide weather they are going to fish or cut bait! I can only hope they understand the magnitude of their decisions and care as much for the troops as the troops care for their country. I love you Zach, you are Superman, I miss you!

Day 352

Mom - Day 352

I was hoping to hear from Zach today but I didn’t. Today Zach’s friend Shane left to go back to Ft. Bragg and I am secretly praying he doesn’t go to Afghanistan. I know if he gets called to go, he will not hesitate. The reason for my secret prayers is because I don’t want his family to go to bed every night wondering how their son is. I am proud of our kids and I know they are proud serving our country but I am still a mom.

Today I focused on getting a box ready to go out in the mail tomorrow. I felt good because I felt productive. I did have to go into town to pick up something for Zach at one of the local shops. I left that shop knowing that I will never shop there again. The shopkeeper knew that my son is in Afghanistan and I think he thought I wanted to hear his take on the military and how people in the military feel, his views on President Bush, President Obama, and he just didn’t stop. I was a bit embarrassed because by now people were in the shop. I think he thought he “figured me out”, he thought he knew me, my views, my morals so he kept on talking, thinking he was going to cure me of something. I finally had to say a few choice words – not the ones I really wanted to say. This reminded me of a comment one of my girlfriends said – “regardless of what peoples views are, people support the troops” and I agreed with her at the time she made this comment. Now, I know that this is not always the case.

For the most part, I do believe that as Americans we are proud of our soldiers and we do support them. I feel in my heart that most people put aside their political views and value the service our military men and women do on behalf of our country. Thank you.

Love you Zach – Be safe
Love your Mama

Saturday, November 28, 2009

353 Dad

Breakfast for a bunch of kids laughing and poking fun! Almost normal except that some of the conversation revolved around Zach and his mission in Afghanistan! Freedom is a funny word it is funny because everyone wants it and so few are willing to fight for it! Even fewer are willing to fight for the freedom of others! So many who don't support Christians or Christianity choose to invoke the name of Jesus or God to prove a point about why America is bad or why America is wrong! Interestingly I think it doing what Jesus would want to defend those who cannot defend themselves and to fight for freedom for all! The cause of freedom must always be defended and never be taken for granted! Thank you Zach for serving and God Bless you and keep you safe! You are Superman! I love you!

Day 353

Mom – Day 353

Some of Zach’s friends came by last night, visiting with our host daughter, and they spent the night. In the morning, it felt normal with Galen making breakfast for everyone in the house. Everyone was around the table talking, catching up on news and making discussion. Of course, one of the topics of discussion was around Zach, Afghanistan, Muslims ……

Now, with everyone gone, I just wanted to go back to bed and just sleep. I tried going to sleep but I started thinking about all these things that I am unfamiliar with. I started thinking about Hajji, the word Zach kept on using (I eventually asked him who is Hajji and he told me it refers to someone who made the journey to Mecca). Then I starting thinking about words the words / jargon that surround my son. These are words that I am very unfamiliar with because I grew up surrounded by very different religious views, or should I say political views, or should I say a different way of life. You see, in many ways I grew up with certain religious views, certain political views, and certain views of being an appropriate citizen. Many times these overlap but I still can categorize these in my head. When speaking about the culture, faith, political make-up, or the definition of what an appropriate citizen’s view is for the make-up of most of the Middle East and North Africa, I have difficulty categorizing this.

I have so many things going on in my head but I think I need to get out of bed. I wish I could just tell my brain to stop or slow down for just a bit – and I wish I could tell my body to get motivated. I just can’t help it, in reality I don’t want to do anything I want to sit in a corner and cry and for all of this to just go away. I want to understand the whys of this war – and whose war is it??? I hope my daughter understands that I love her and I apologize for being so consumed with all of this. I think some of this will subside when I write “ Mom – Day 1 and then Mom - Day 0”.

I love you Zach – Be safe

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 354

Mom – Day 354

Today is another day without my children but it was great to see Shane. Shane is Zach’s dear friend that entered the Army the exact time as Zach and they both went into the same MOS. Shane is currently serving at Ft. Bragg. With the uncertainty of our mission in Afghanistan, we are not sure if he is going to be deployed. I know that Shane is not my biological child but I am super attached to him. His Mom is always there for me and she also shares my pain. As she told me today, “we can only take one day at a time, that is all we can do” and she is right. I can count down but I can only do it a day at a time.

I survived Thanksgiving even though I didn’t want to, now the holiday season has begun. The holiday season can be a real wonderful time or a very difficult time. I am so glad my daughter will be here for Christmas because she will keep me moving forward.

I love you Zach – Be safe

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 355

Mom – Day 355

So today is Thanksgiving. Yesterday for some reason I was having a real hard time coping with the fact that I wasn’t going to have my kids with me here for Thanksgiving and in Zach’s case he will be completely without his family. Galen tried to cheer me up but I couldn’t get myself together. I stayed in the parking lot in downtown for a long time trying to get my composer and then I just didn’t care anymore. When Galen got home he brought me roses, a red rose for me, two yellow ones for my kids and orange roses for my extended kids. In the evening we went to the movies and finally I laughed and it felt good.

Today, I spoke with Zach and I could tell in his voice that he really misses home and eating my turkey and being with family. He told me that this was his first Thanksgiving without family, with people trying to kill him (they had a mortar attack) and with a rifle in his hand. When he told me this, it really didn’t register because it was almost surreal. I couldn’t imagine what was going on, why did this happen??? When I heard Zach describing his day, I felt like I was watching a silent black and white in slow motion. I wish I could do something but I couldn’t, all I could do was listen.

I also spoke to my daughter today. She said that she was jealous that Zach has a whole blog dedicated to him. I smiled because she is not one to be jealous (Zach is always jealous of his sister or his host sisters) but Victoria is always nonchalant about everything. I told her it was nice to hear that she was jealous because now I know she is still my little girl.

What is Thanksgiving for???? I didn’t want to have Thanksgiving! I didn’t want to do the turkey thing or anything, but I did. Today ended up being a good day. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have two really great kids that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have family and friends and host daughters that worry and care about my family. The phone didn’t stop ringing and Skype didn’t slow down today. I felt guilty because everyone is doing this for us and I haven’t been able to focus on other people. People continue living and things happen that I should acknowledge – like a new child – but I am so wrapped up in what I do that I forget. I don’t do this intentionally. Somehow, people seem to always understand – thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I love you Ash and Zach – Be safe Zach.
Love your Mama

355 Dad

Thanksgiving a day of thanks yet for me a day for a wish and a prayer! It was odd to eat today as we had Thanksgiving with Zach only three weeks ago! The conversation with Zach brought it back around. I am truly blessed and have so much to be thankful for! My lovely wife, my kids Victoria and Zach, and my extended kids: Mina, Eline, Julie, Marjo, Yackeline, Nestor and Cuauhtemoc. All have had a wonderful impact on my life and each is special to me! I have a good job and a good life. Thankful but wishful; was very pleased to talk to Zach today, but stressed to learn Zach spent part of his day in a bunker as his outpost was under attack! That makes me focus on the important things. I want to be there to protect him but have faith in him and his comrades! I know he will be ok not just thinking positive but he is superman! I say it over and over but I believe it! My head spins sometimes but I can't let the stress of this win and I won't because what ever I feel, is nothing compared to what Zach is enduring and we have to be strong for him and each other! God bless you Zach and keep you safe! I love you bud!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

356 Dad

Thanksgiving tomorrow, with all the stress of the preparing a beautiful dinner I thought it would be nice to have an evening out. It was a nice dinner at the granary - beating Marjo 7-0 in air hockey and then a movie. "Old Dogs" with John Travolta and Robin Williams, Lisa was laughing so hard she was making all of us laugh. It was nice to hear, she needs that! I thought about the movies Zach is missing I have to remember to send this one to him when it comes out on DVD or rent it when he comes home next Christmas! Zach you are in my thoughts every moment I am awake and in my prayers with every breath! You are Superman! I miss you and I love you with all that is in within me!

Day 356

Mom – Day 356

It is funny to date this blog backwards, always having to count backwards. With this said it is somewhat rewarding like when you workout and you are on that stair-master. I always want to know how much time I have left, never the other way around. When I am on the stair-master and I look at the time going down I know that I can endure the time on clock so I keep moving. This blog is like that stair-master, I know how many days I have to endure and at the end I know I did it!

This morning was great because Zach called me and we got to speak for about an hour and a half. When I finished speaking to him, I really felt good – I felt relieved that I spoke to him. He is very limited with Internet access but at least I know. I know how he is doing and something about his life now. I thought that hearing his voice would calm my emotions but I am still like a faucet – on, off, on, off. Tomorrow will be Zach’s first Thanksgiving without his family.

I Love you Zach – Be safe
Love Mama

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 357

Mom – Day 357

I am so tired today and I don’t want to be sad. I can’t stop worrying but I need to keep thinking positive. I need to … I don’t know?

I don’t understand how people can hate people (that they don’t know) so much that they would prefer that he/she would be killed. I don’t understand hatred and the lack for the value of life. With all this said, there are so many people with love, compassion and courage in this world. For example, imagine the courage of the women who lived under the Taliban rule that wanted to continue their education. These women risked their lives under the “Golden Needle Sewing School” where they would secretly continue their studies. People still believe in humanity, they still love, and they still feel compassion.

I want to thank everyone who still keeps my family and me in mind. I want to thank my girlfriend that always leaves me a note or something that lets me know she is there with me - my son’s friend that wrote me an email that brought tears to my eyes – the hugs, emails, calls, cards from my family, friends, colleagues, host family, and strangers. I especially want to thank you for letting me vent and listening.

I love you Zach – be safe
Love your Mama

Day 357 Dad

Another day passes the sun came up and it set much like it has done for 10000 plus years! It means another day has passed and a day closer to Zach coming home safe and sound! I hear that the President has finally made a decision on Afghanistan, but it has to wait until a press conference next Tuesday - why hurry! I wrote Zach a letter I hope that we can talk to him soon! In my own way I talk to him every day, when I go out and look at the flag on our lawn and the yellow ribbons on our trees! I always say hello and wonder how his day has gone as it is almost night time by the time I go outside with Jack our dog! The way I get by - my morning hello and my little prayer, I love you son, I love you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 358

Mom – Day 358

Today I woke up with the news on and my heart fell. I heard that 4 more American soldiers were killed Sunday, YESTERDAY ☹ I believe three of the soldiers were killed in the Helmand Province, in the district of Musa Qala – this is north of Kábul. I think all the families with their loved ones fighting in our wars are always tuned into the news. I still don’t know why we are out there and I am still praying that President Obama knows what he is doing. I pray every night for strength and strength for our leaders. I get frustrated hearing that it has been 86 days since Gen. McChrystal let our President know what his needs were for our troops. The new deadline that I am now hearing is that the President will make a decision before the year ends. I hope our President prays every night for our military and our fallen men and women.

This evening I met up with one of my old girlfriends. It was nice to see her but more than that I knew she knew how I felt. I knew she felt my pain. Somehow this was so comforting. Yesterday I spoke to my Tía, and she reminds me over and over to always think positive, we are in God’s hands. Today, I received an email from my brother that says he thinks about Zach every single day. ----- What I am trying to say, all these small acts are comforting. There are many more gestures from my friends and family that helps me cope everyday. I think it is sometimes hard for people around me to know what to say but I feel this way also. I am sometimes so consumed with my thoughts on Afghanistan, the war and my son that I think everyone must be concerned with these issues as well. I zone out the fact that everyone has a life and things are happening around me.

Think positive, pray and remember our service men and women.

I love you Zach and my family.
Be safe.

358 (Dad)

It is now 86 days since General McChrystal requested more troops and to see pictures of the President playing golf which ordinarily would not bother me just hits like a knife. I know he has to relax and unwind, but then I think of Lisa and her inability to concentrate and focus and realize for the men and women on the ground in harms way and their families there is no relaxing. It is just the constant struggle to cope with feelings of fear, frustration and helplessness. Four soldiers died in Afghanistan today, and I checked to find out where, hoping it is not where Zach is. It isn’t which on one hand makes me feel better and on the other anguishes me as somewhere a child of parents or the parent of a child(ren) or a spouse will not be coming home. With relief you sigh and thank God that it is not your son as well as pray for our son’s continued safety all this while the president is playing golf!!!! I am trying to stay positive and be there for Lisa, she is strong and I know that while her feelings are going to be the same until he returns safe and sound, time will hopefully make daily living a little easier for her. Zach will be ok I know this – I don’t know why – but I do. I remember him saying to his mother not long ago, “don’t worry mom, I am Zach Dalrymple, I am indestructible.” He is superman! To prove it he dressed as Superman one year for Halloween, it would not surprise me if that suit made for a 10 year old is not somewhere in his room. Sometimes I have longed for him to be a little boy again but really can't wait for him to be out of the army so that we can go fishing, hunting and camping! I miss my bud! I love you Zach!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mom – Day 359

It is already late and I should be getting ready for bed but I can’t seem to stop reading about the horror the women of Afghanistan and Western Pakistan had / have to endure under the Taliban. I can’t believe that God or Allah, condones the treatment of women in such a degrading manner. Regardless of how I may or may not feel about the war in Afghanistan, I do think that it is shameful how the Taliban have treated these HUMAN BEINGS. The Burqa is just one small aspect of how they wanted full control of “their” women. The women and girls that happened to be born in this part of the world were stripped of everything. They were stripped of their education, social life, education, medical attention and being productive citizens. Imagine one day waking up and everything was taken away from you, no more schools, doctors, beauty salons, even your laughter. I encourage all women to read Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. A girlfriend of mine told me to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and the other book, which I am about to read, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Well, I am upset that I missed Zach’s call twice yesterday. Can you believe that, I can’t. I have been glued to my phone all day yesterday except for the ½ hour that I left to go out to eat at the Truck Stop and then when I went to the bathroom (I didn’t feel the vibrate of my phone). I do know that he made some contact with one of my nephews today so that makes me feel a bit better. I need to try and be more positive so I can be focused on positive vibes instead of negative ones – Easier said than done, right! I didn’t hear from him today either but I know that I can’t control this (again this is what I am saying now – tomorrow I might be a basket case)

Thank you all for reading this – did you know you were going to be my Therapist? It is nice to know that people care.

I love you Zach, be safe.
Xoxoxo - Mama

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 360

Mom - Day 360

I finally slept. I have been so exhausted that it is so so nice to finally be able to sleep. Galen got up early in the morning and he got a deer. I am sure he wishes Zach were here to be with him. Waking up feeling better, my mind is going a mile a minute.

Today I want my readers to respond, to comment. I want to tell you that I might be Zach’s mom but I don’t know what I am suppose to be doing! I need help. I am sure that some of you must know someone that has a son or daughter, friend, cousin or someone that has been there! I need to know things. I am asking for help. I started a list of things that I think he might need, but I got that list by asking my girlfriends and family. You might have some suggestions. Tell me what you think he might need and this way I can share this information. What are things that they may need or want, are there certain things that are not a good idea to send, maybe you have some additional packing ideas. I also need to know little things like what is normal, what is a normal wait time of not hearing anything from him. I don’t know where or if there is a “Unit” for all of us Moms out here throughout the US with their children out fighting. I don’t have that support team telling me what to do or how to cope. I know people are trying to help but this is a way you can help me. I’ll start putting together lists of what is needed and when. Sometimes it sounds so stupid but I don’t know or I am not sure (like I guess it makes sense that they use US postage to mail us a letter because they are on a US post?) Remember as Moms, we worry about all these little goofy things like, how can we send cookies, what is the best packaging, what type of moisturizing cream do they need, can we send them razors? And you guys are not off the hook either because you think different. I don’t know really what you think but I know that Galen thinks about things that never enter my mind and visa versa. So today’s blog is for your help.

Zach, be safe. I love you
Xoxoxo – your Mama

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 361

Mom – Day 361
I am so antsy today. My head seems full of cobwebs; I couldn’t seem to remember how to say common words in Spanish today. My students were very understanding and by the next class I seemed better. Then I did get a call from my husband that said Zach called him and spoke to him for about 10 minutes. Wow, that was so nice to hear. Zach asked his Dad to send him a few things. He is near Kábul now and he would soon leave for FOB Shank. FOB stands for Forward Operation Base and is located (I believe) south of Kábul, near the town of Pul-i-Alam in the Loghar province (just north of the Wardak province). At the end of the day, I figure I really don’t know where he is but it feels good to think I do. Just like I don’t know why he is there but I have to have faith. I did read an article (I didn’t have the energy to verify the reliability of this site) but I found it interesting.
I do encourage everyone to watch the movie, “The Way We Get By”, here is some more information on it
This movie makes you feel good and proud to be an American with good old fashion American values.

Okay, I have to let out my sad part, after all that is part of the reason as to why I started this blog. How many times did I cry today, I ask myself, and I respond, I haven’t stopped. I have cried so much today, on and off that I can’t count. I think I have trained my emotions to spill over when I have any moment alone – in the bathroom, in between classes,….) and then stop when I have to be composed, ready for what I have to do. It seems like everything triggers that sad piece of me.

I pray that I will always be strong for Zach and that he knows that I am super proud of him. He has a good head on his shoulders and a great heart. I also pray that with all this weight sitting on my heart, that my daughter and my husband don’t feel neglected (other than the usual). Now holding true to my nature – I don’t want them to get these big heads thinking I am turning into a softy – remember I am not all that touchy, feely!

I love you Zach – Be Safe
Love your Mama

PS I love you too Ash, Mina (our middle child), Ju Ju, Eline (our baby girl – can’t take Baby of the family status away from Zach because he will get jealous), Temoc …..oops and now there is Marjo.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 362

Mom – Day 362

Today I am still at work, “Parent teacher conferences” so I decided to start writing while I have my dinner break.
This morning was nice because I met a former student that brought me back to my memories when my kids were still in school and I was worrying about if I had the time to chauffeur them everywhere. My problems then seemed so stressful and I was always running around. My kids are so different that they didn’t have any common activities. I was always running and I painfully have to admit that there were times I would forget them. (Sorry Zach for leaving you at the ski slope ☹ and sorry Ash for making you wait for me over and over) Now all of this seems so trivial. I was never ready to be an empty nester and I can’t stand to have a house that is not in a dynamic state. I soon realized that I must love chaos even if it comes with stress, as long as I can have a family, my family. I figured out quickly that I needed to extend my family so I opened my house to other family members and to wonderful “International Exchange students” .
Then this evening, I met so many community members that were coming to meet their children’s teachers. Many of them that knew my son or me asked how he was doing. Some people gave me hugs and some just reiterated how commendable it is for Zach to be serving his country. It was nice to feel the support that is out there.
I got home late and went upstairs to kick off my shoes and change when once again I couldn’t help but cry. I cried because I am scared, I cried for the soldiers’ families that just lost their child today and I cried just because. Sometimes I am amazed that tears can still flow out of me, I don’t know where they even come from – don’t our tear ducts just stop? Gosh, I am starting to depress myself reading what I am writing; I hope you don’t think I should be advertising for a Prozac commercial.
I thank God for a wonderful family and a great community that I live in. I also thank God for Galen, a great father and my soul mate.

I love you Zach, be safe. I also love Ash and all of my other “kids”

Dad's first November 19, 2009

By now my son has been in Afghanistan for two days My heart aches for him. I now know how my father felt as he told me "the Army will just send you to war that is what they do", I still entered the army after college. My son and I are very close and when he first said he was going in the military and not to college part of me was very happy as he was not sure of what he wanted to do the army would allow him time to mature and save money for college. But another part of me realized that the possibility of Zach going to either Afghanistan or Iraq was very real. Now that he has deployed part of me second guess's my support of him and the army not because I don't support the military or our struggle to live free and let others do the same, but because he is my son! What makes me different than any other parent whose child has been called to duty? The answer is nothing I love my child and will worry and pray for his safe return. I know he will do his duty. To me he is already a hero, he joined in a time of war and went airborne, even though he is afraid of heights! The courage and strength it took to go through that demonstrates how special he is. I have been hesitant to write because I don't want this to be political but I can't hide my anger over our weak president who chooses to wait while boots are on the ground to make a decision on his "new" strategy. I think he is in over his head! On the other hand I know Zach volunteered and I applaud him for making that decision. I get my strength from my family my - lovely wife, my quiet daughter who sometimes holds things inside, my extended family kids who are so very special to me! Eline thank you so much for the email. And Zach is so strong but still my little boy, he made me make promise to him that I will do my best to keep because it will be my way to keep him always near me! We will climb that mountain together! I know it has only been days but I miss him. He is my bud. I love you Zach with all my heart!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mom – Day 363

Today is Wednesday here in Maine. I have been thinking about Zach today and one of my girlfriends genuinely made me cry by crying. I am trying to be tough. I don’t know how people see me but I know that it is hard for me to display my emotions to the public. I worry that if I do break down in public then I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I do realize that I also need to be okay with the fact that there are many people that care and love my boy and they too are hurting.

I worry about my son and I feel a weight that is just sitting on me, and my stomach actually feels like I want to throw up. My instincts kick in and I know that I have to be busy. Then I feel guilty that I am not worrying about him, someone needs to think about him, and pray for him.

Switching -→ Did you know: The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul and the country is divided into 34 provinces. I think Zach will be in the Wardak province. The literacy rate for the total population is about 28% with females at 12 ½ %., in the U.S. it is 99%. Right now it is almost 10 pm, Wednesday but in Kabul it is almost 7:30 am, Thursday.

Well, I got distracted with Skype so I ma tired now and I should try and sleep.
Good night

I love you Zach and you too Victoria (if you do read this)
Xoxoxoxoxox love your mama

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 364

Mom – Day 364
Well, no news from Zach but I thought I would share some things I am curious about. Yesterday, after I spoke to Zach, and he told me how cold he was, I realized that I needed to educate myself on that region of the world. I am not claiming to be an expert by any means, but if you are reading this you might find these tid-bits of information interesting.

Did you know?????: Afghanistan is a bit smaller than the size of Texas. Afghanistan and Pakistan are in South Asia. Afghan. boarders six countries: (starting North) Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Winters are cold and summers are hot. It is also the world’s largest opium producer ☹ The life expectancy is 44 ½ - approximately the same for both male and female. The official languages are Afghan Persian (Dari) and Pashto.

Well, while I was writing this my friend Barbara Skyped me and asked me to check out Facebook, she thought Zach was on-line. She was right and I had a few moments to chat with him. He will be leaving soon – right now it is 9pm here but it is 8 am over there – next day.

I am blessed to have great kids, a great husband, a strong family, wonderful friends and an extended family (all of my wonderful “other” children)

Zach, I love you. Be safe and remember your Mama and Papa love you, and and and (sister …)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mom – Okay, I think today is actually day 365 so I think I will start again---→ Welcome to day 365. I had the opportunity to Skype with Zach today for some time. It was nice to hear from him even with our connection being lost every couple of minutes. He’s in Kyrgzstan right now and he said that he was cold. I looked it up and it is currently 18 degrees F there. He asked for some L.L. Bean socks and some good mittens. He said he likes the cold if he had the proper clothing. He doesn’t know how long he will be in K but he thinks he will be there maybe another day.

It is funny how a phone call or Skyping can make a world of difference. I can’t imagine a time before all of our gadgets. Unfortunately, I know that I have to appreciate the times I can communicate because the reality is I will not always have that luxury. After speaking to Zach (I had to hang up because our connection was bad), my daughter called. I am blessed to have some great kids. As you can tell, I am in better spirits.
The support from the community has been great. I had a phone call from someone in the community telling me that their church members have Zach in their list of prayers. This was so touching because it isn’t even the church I belong to. I have had so many people hug me, and just share with me their warmth.

Well Good-night.
Love you Zach

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009

Day 365
Mom - Is today DAY 365? I am not even sure. When does the count down start? I looked at his orders again and I can’t tell. I think the countdown starts when he actually arrives in Afghanistan but I hope it starts today. I am going to start today because I need to start counting down – I had to say good-bye, until the next time I hear his voice or maybe I will be lucky enough to see his face via Skype.

Today we tied yellow ribbons around the trees that are aligned with the road. We had him be with us to tie one ribbon around one tree before he left and I will wait for him to take that ribbon down.

I am thinking about my son because I know he is filled with all sorts of emotions. I know that he didn’t say everything to me that was in his head and heart because he doesn’t want me to worry. He is leaving on a journey that is new to him and unknown so I know that must be worrisome. I am comforted (and I think he is as well) for the fact that he will be going with soldiers who are experienced and who are strong both mentally and with their training.

I wonder how his sister is feeling, our oldest? She is not one to express her feelings and she always portrays her strength. I think politically we are all frustrated with what feels like limbo with respect to Afghanistan. I think we wonder why some people don’t understand how we feel. I know that my emotions are strong but I also know that my boy is out there, as a volunteer, so that all of our sons and daughters don’t have to. I sometimes wonder if our military was not volunteer would our leaders, my neighbors that are content with how things are moving, would have their son or daughter fight under the same conditions.

As for now, I don’t know --- it is what it is----

I love you Zach

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Title - 365 days

I am a mom of a soldier that is leaving for Afghanistan on Sunday, November 15th, 2009. He has orders for deployment to Afghanistan for 365 days. I decided to start writing a blog (with my husband) so that I can have a venue to express what I am feeling. Although I am so proud of my son for doing what he feels is right to do for his country, I personally have mixed feelings. I have so many thoughts running through my head that I know I can't express it all - here - in written form.

I sometimes don't know if I should keep up with the news because it is so depressing and frustrating. I don't know what our mission is, what is our interest there - I just don't know. I sometimes think about the history of our presence in Afghanistan and our relationship with Pakistan or the injustice posed on the young women and children of Afghanistan and then I realize that "I" just justified our mission there. Then I snap out of it, and let my mind stop wondering and I am back to reality - I don't know what our mission is and why we are sending our young men and women out to fight. I need something to grab onto, to believe, to justify, to pacify my mind and heart. I wonder sometimes if I am "bad" for thinking this way, after all I am proud of my son and his choice to serve his country and I cannot feel what my son feels or his fellow peers in the military. I do know that I LOVE HIM with all of my heart and soul. I do know that I will try my best to send forward my positive thoughts and my prayers. And I pray that our Commander and Chief, Mr. President, remembers that my boy is out there fighting for us (one day it might be one of his children fighting for our country).

I love you Zach.