On Sunday, March 30, 2008, Brian started his journey to Iraq. The day was wet, cold, and windy. They were to leave at 1000, so we got there a little after 0800 to unload and get ready for the luggage truck. Since he was leaving so early, we were all dressed for church, as we'd be able to make it to the morning service afterwards. Dressed for church means dressed nice, but doesn't mean it's the warmest ... as you can see!
Here, Brian Lee & Vincent are using these trees as a windbreaker, and Karah is huddled up in her blanket trying to keep her feet warm. (We went through and got rid of the things that were too small for her, so she doesn't have any warm church clothes or shoes now :-s )
The kids huddled around daddy and smiled for a picture. Notice the blue blanket Karah has now? One of the wives let her use it to stay warmer.
Me with Vincent in hand after he ran off - again. Yes, I know my coat is open and it's so cold out, but unfortunately, the zipper broke a few months ago and will not stay closed when zipped. brrrrr
We found out shortly before 1000 that the flight was pushed back so the truck & busses weren't going to be here until 1500 & 1600 respectively. After loading his stuff back in the vehicle, he helped get the other luggage put in a dry place (remember, it was wet and sprinkling). By the time we left it was almost 1100 so we went home and the first thing we did was change into some warm clothes! Sweats and long sleeved shirts kept us warm & comfy.
After eating, Brian finally decided to open his birthday presents. The first one he opened was the Transformers Monopoly. There he is with the board, then the children were looking intently as he was reading some of the special rules for this version.
The next thing opened was the Transformers chess.
The kids were very curious to see what the pieces looked like.
Decepticons (which I played)
Autobots (which Brian played)
Let the battle commence!
And the outcome of said battle? Stalemate. In this picture, it is Brian's turn to move. He's got a pawn and his king on the battlefield. The king is not currently in check, but any move he makes will put him in check as my queen and bishop(black) are guarding the area. It was a fun game.
Before anything was played, Brian gave the kids a choice: A) we can all play Transformers Monopoly for a little while or B) they can play Guitar Hero III while he & I play chess. They chose option B since they'd been begging us for some time and Brian had promised them he would let them play before he left. It wasn't my first choice for a game, but when we were at an MCCS warehouse "yard" sale, they had one for $10 (they retail for $90) - game & guitar. We were buying bedroom sets for the kids and figured why not. Brian had been wanting one and even if the guitar was broken it'd still be cheaper than buying the game by itself. Here's some pics of the kids playing.
After we were done playing, I traced Brian's hand on white cardstock and then outlined it in black marker. He then colored them in and wrote a little note for the kids. They had done the same thing on the back of the cards they made for him.
Here are the kids with their very own DaddyHand, so if they miss him, they can "hold his hand". We got sheet protectors to put them in so they'd stay nicer. See how Brian personalized each one? Karah's is a pink palm with purple fingers and a flower (very girly just like her), Vincen's is green fingers and a brown palm with hexagons (he's on the turtle team at school and is all about turtles), and Brian Lee's is a red palm w/black spider and blue fingers (a long time fan of Spiderman). The kids absolutely loved them!
Well, playtime was over, it was time to go back. A few minutes after we go there the luggage truck arrived.
While the bags were being loaded, our truck was being unloaded - of children. They climed over the back and got out via a daddy hug. It actually started with Vincent, but you know if one does it they all want to do it too. And they did!
Vincent with a nice smile and big hug for daddy
Brian Lee got to be taller than daddy!
Karah looking very cute with her arm around her daddy
Once the bags were loaded, it was time for formation to do roll call and find out what bus they'd be on. Now with all these guys in desert digis, how do we know which one is Brian/daddy? By the Mountain Dew bottle, of course!
While Daddy was in formation, I was able to get a good picture of the kids. Notice the hats? We were smart this time around and dressed much warmer (layers, hats, coats, gloves, closed-toe-shoes)
After the formation, Brian got bombarded with hugs (not that he was complaining). I was able to get the kids to turn around for a last smiling picture with daddy.
We were able to get one of his Marines to take a few pictures of us saying our goodbyes.
And the walk to the bus starts ...
One last quick hug before he gets on the bus (Vincent is on the other side of Karah)
There he is, getting on the bus (I know it's blurry, but it's all I have)
I took several, but this one turned out the best (with the least reflection of the trees in the window). He's waving goodbye
While waiting for them to leave, this lady from the USO was handing out stuffed animals to the children that were there.
Here they are with their gifts. When we got home, I sprayed them with Brian's cologne so they now have their snuggle buddy that smells like daddy.
The final wave as the bus pulls away ...
Yesterday (3-31-08), Brian was able to call us from a stop in Ireland. We were at walmart at the time, so the kids were able to talk to him too. There were some delays initially, but so far it seems that everything is going okay. This morning(4-1-08) he called from Kuwait and said they should only have one flight left to get to their final destination. That could always change, of course. His biggest complaint? - he'd really like to take a shower! He's always been one that likes to stay clean ... and he's been in the same clothes now since Sunday morning (minus a 3 1/2 hr break).
If you would like his address to send him anything, please feel free to email me and I will give you his mailing address.