Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thanksgiving--I know I'm a little late!!

Well, I thought I ought to put Thanksgiving pictures up before Christmas. Thanks to my brother Lance and his wife Jess, for doing the slideshow. Anyways, we had a great Thanksgiving. Lance and Jess came into town from California with my adorable niece, Teagan. It was so fun to watch the kids together--this was the first time they had all met. We had tons of fun playing, eating too much and laying around--it was great and went by too fast. I do have to say that Ethan, Kailey, and Teagan are 3 of the cutest kids ever!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas from Iraq!

Eric sent us this video of him the other day. Ethan watched it probably 20 times and got so excited to see Daddy and "Claus"--that is what he calls Santa. I thought everyone might enjoy seeing Eric.

Okay, let's try this again. I've got a much better internet connection today, so I'm going to try uploading some photos. If I'm lucky, my internet connection will improve somewhat in the longterm. I scaled the T-wall barrier next to our trailer the other day, took down out internet transceiver, tweaked it a little bit, taped it with duct tape to a broomstick handle, scaled back up the T-wall, on top of the trailer, lept over to a different T-wall and strapped the transceiver down so it's facing what I think is the "right" direction. Since then, our internet speed hasn't gone up much, but we don't lose a signal nearly as often as we used too. I'm not sure why, but the photos are showing up in the reverse order that I uploaded them, so you may have to play a little bit of a game of figuring out which description goes with each photo.

This first one is from our training in Kuwait that I talked about below (I'm the last guy - in about two seconds I start shooting at targets).
The other photo is me with my ride in Kuwait. To give you some idea of how solid this thing is, the door I have there weighs more than me. They're on good hinges, but you definitely feel the heft everytime you get in or out. I was pretty much a backseat rider in Kuwait, which was fine with me. I had spent plenty of time as a Vehicle Commander, Gunner, and Driver during the weeks of training in South Carolina (see the photo of me driving the Humvee - you'll notice that I'm wearing a ski-mask like hood if you look closely - it was about 20 degrees outside and with the gunner's hatch open, the heater only does you so much good).
Okay, my internet connection is coming and going here a little bit, but I'll try a couple of other pics of me in South Carolina and Kuwait. These last two are of me eating my primary food source there (MREs) and catching some free time. It's been kind of nice. I think I've read more novels in the last two months than I have in the last three or four years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hi from Iraq

Okay. I feel thoroughly persuaded to post something given Heather's repeated hints. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it might sound. While I have decent internet in my office, the internet in my trailer is very 1994 (that might actually be a little generous - it took a little over 2 minutes to upload the photo at left). While I shouldn't have much problem writing about what's going on, uploading photos can be a little problematic sometimes.
The photo is of President Bush here at the palace. This is the rotunda and my office is about 40 yards outisde of the left-side of the photo. I'm standing at the left edge of the rotunda, but I think I'm about 5 feet outside of the photo. I was working when he came, so when I heard that he'd arrived I just walked outside of my office and joined everyone else who was already there. Although Pres. Bush isn't much of a public speaker, it was actually somewhat inspirational to have him there and a little bit thrilling. He is very genuine and you could feel how much he actually wanted to be there. He shook hands with a lot of people who were there, but I just went back to work (remember - I'm at war! There's no time for fun when you're at war!)
While we were in Kuwait we spent several days "acclimatizing" which basically meant that I slept a lot, hung out in the USO there, read books, and re-packed my gear 4 different ways until I was finally satisfied. After a few days of that, we went out into the desert where we lived in a giant tent and bonded with camels. I have some cool camel photos. But. Internet. Too. Slow.

Okay - I gave up after 15 minutes of trying to upload my last photo. Really, I promise I've got some good photos. There's this one of a camel trying to put his head into our humvee through the gunner's opening in the roof. If I manage to upload it, I also have some photos of us on one of the ranges. Included in those few days was some great combat training (the purpose for us being there). We did some tactical movement where we fired our handguns at targets while moving together. It was a little bit different than a lot of our training because you really need to trust that the person behind you won't accidentally shoot you. In that I didn't trust a portion of our crew and didn't want to risk having them behind me, I purposefully went very last so that nobody could get behind me.

After our few days of living the nomad lifestyle, we returned to base and promptly prepared to fly in to Baghdad. It's been a little surreal since getting here. My schedule has fluctuated so much in the last week that I'm not exactly sure what's normal. I enjoyed when I was up in the early mornings. You can hear them calling out the prayers over the loud speakers at the mosques in Baghdad. Now, I'm on a late night routine that has me getting back to my trailer a little after midnight, attempting to use the internet/read for a couple of hours, waking up late morning, going to lunch, working, and starting all over again.

Okay, I'm going to give up on this now. The last photo has been attempting upload for 27 minutes. I'll try to get these good ones uploaded at some point. No promises on how often I'll write, but I'm sure Heather will put up most of the interesting stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Update from Iraq

Well, I thought I would do a quick update on how Eric is doing. He made it to Baghdad safely and has been there for a little over a week now. After leaving South Carolina, where they were training, the flew to Ireland and had a stopover there and then to Kuwait. In Ireland, when they were stopped, he had a chance to meet the Secretary of the Navy, that is the picture above--Eric, another JAG officer that he knows and the Secretary of the Navy. That was really exciting. After getting to Kuwait, they spent a week there, and then he went to Baghdad and is at Camp Victory where he will spend the rest of his time. We have gotten the chance to talk several times, he can call me from work, and we have gotten to webcam twice. It was so great seeing him and so hard to believe that he was in Iraq! Also, other exciting news, he got to see President Bush this past weekend when he visited. Overall, he is doing wonderful and if you would like you can e-mail him or I have a mailing address for him. If anyone needs those, just e-mail me. Thanks for all your prayers and support as he is serving our country over there! Go USA and hopefully Eric will write on the blog one of these days--hint, hint!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sesame Place/Frying Pan Park/Great Falls

After we left Utah, we had a week left in Connecticut to pack up the rest of the house and get everything moved into storage before we moved--talk about a stressful week. We were lucky enough to have Eric's mom and brother come to help the last 2 days with moving the rest of the stuff into storage and I had a wonderful friend that helped me clean our house the day we moved out. Thank you so much Emily, I don't know what I would have done without you. Also, we were lucky enough to have another wonderful friend let us crash at her house-she was out of town--Thank you Jessica--you are the best. Even though the whole moving process was so stressful, we were so lucky to have such supportive family and friends to help us through. It also made it hard to leave Connecticut, because we did have so many great friends there. I have to admit that I really miss good 'ol "rotten Groton." The two years we lived there are filled with so many fond memories and happy times. Anyways, after we moved out, we headed down to Washington, D.C. On our way down, we stopped at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania for the day and had a blast. Personally, I never Sesame Place existed until we had friends that went. Apparently it has been around since the 80's. Ethan is such a huge Elmo lover and being military we could get in free, so it worked out perfectly. We had such a fun time, even though the weather was a little rainy. Ethan was just in heaven riding rides, seeing Elmo everywhere, etc. It was so fun to watch how excited he got about everything. One funny story, we were there the Saturday before Halloween, so a lot of the kids were dressed up in their costumes. Ethan saw one little boy dressed up as Elmo and kept following him around saying, "Elmo, Elmo" and trying to touch him. It was so funny. There were a lot of fun rides and as soon as the ride was over, Ethan would get off and want to ride it again, so we went on the rides over and over. We also went and had dinner with the Sesame Street characters which was so much fun. They had a great buffet dinner and then all the sesame characters walked around and would come sit at your table for awhile. Ernie took a real liking to Kailey and would not leave us alone and when he was holding her did not want to give her back to me--she is just so cute, so I don't really blame him. During dinner, the characters would periodically get together and sing a song and dance around; it was very entertaining and Ethan loved it. Overall, we had such a fun time and it is such a great place to take little kids. If you have a chance to go, I would highly recommend it!

After we left Sesame Place, we finished driving to Washington, D.C. The next day, we spent hiking around Great Falls, which is a national park with great whitewater rapids, in fact the U.S. Kayak team use to practice there a long time ago. Eric had never been there and it was one of my favorite places to visit growing up because it is so scenic and has some great hikes. After we hiked around there, we headed to one of my other childhood haunts--Frying Pan Park. When I was growing up, we would bike over to this park all the time as a family. It is only a couple of miles from my old house and has horses, pigs, sheep, rabbits, etc. On the weekends they use to have really fun horse shows we would ride over and watch. Needless to say, this was another hit with Ethan. He is such an animal lover that he was in heaven watching all the "moo-cows" and trying to feed the sheep, etc. His favorite part was riding on the tractors. He would not get off of the tractors and probably would have stayed there all day driving them if we had let him. It brought back so many memories being back in my old 'hood. I loved living in Northern Virginia and have so many wonderful memories. I am sure if we stay in the Navy, we will end up in D.C. for at least one or more tours. I would love for my kids to experience such a great area.

Anyways, after visiting D.C.--we had to drive through there so Eric could meet with his commanding officer, we headed out to St. Louis. We ended up splitting it up into 2 days and have to say that it was pretty uneventful and the kids did great. I have to say that a portable DVD player is a lifesaver!! Ethan loved watching "Curious George" and "Elmo" while we drove and it made the drive a lot more pleasant for Eric and I! We ended up arriving at my parents house earlier than we thought we would and had planned on surprising my mom, however, she surprised us by not being home!! Our neighbor had seen us pull into the driveway and knew that she was gone, so called her on her cell phone to tell her to hurry home!! When we pulled up to our house, it was so exciting to see this sign on the garage:

Can you tell my parents are SOOOOOO excited to have their grandkids living with them for awhile??

Well, I still have tons to update, but will work on it later!! Just keep anticipating what is to come--just kidding--it is not that exciting!

Utah trip!

Okay, I am back from my hiatus and ready to catch up my blog--at this point it is already overwhelming how much I need to blog about. The first thing I need to blog about is our trip to Utah that we took the beginning of October. We went out to see Eric's parents and had a great time. Ethan and Kailey had so much fun with their grandparents--Ethan especially loved feeding the llamas with grandpa. The most exciting thing that happened while we were there was that we blessed Kailey and had so many family members come to share that with us. It was so nice to have both of Eric's grandparents, two of his brothers, my brother and his wife, my sister, my cousin-Kelli and several aunts and uncles of Eric's.

We also got to go introduce Kailey to her great-grandpa Tolman and Ethan had a great time dressing up like Grandpa.

Another fun thing we did was to go to Thanksgiving Point to a fun fall festival. We had so much fun playing on slides, riding a cow train, bouncing on a trampoline thing, watching pig races, etc. We had a blast. Here are some pictures of all the fun we had!

We had such a great time out in Utah and look forward to our next visit!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

21 Questions!!

My friend Jessica tagged me and it was so fun to read her answers, that I decided to go ahead and do it!

1. What is your husband's name? Eric Scott Nelson
2. Who eats more? Eric, of course--I have to watch my figure!!
3. Who said "I love you" first? Eric
4. Who is taller? Eric, of course, like 10 inches taller
5. Who is smarter? Eric-he is a genius
6. Who is more sensitive? It depends on the situation, but I would probably say Eric
7. Who does the laundry? Eric thinks it is the laundry fairy, but it is me!
8. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Eric
9. Who pays the bills? He does usually, but since he is gone, I am--scary!
10. Who cooks more? Me, I love cooking
11. Who is more stubborn? I am
12. Who is the first to admit they are wrong? We both are pretty good to admit when we are wrong
13. Who has more siblings? I do
14. Who wears the pants in the relationship? Eric, however, when he is gone, I do
15. What do you like to do together? Travel, watch movies, play games, sports
16. Who eats more sweets? I do
17. How did you meet? At church-I walked in and saw this good-looking guy (Eric) and thought I need to get to know him better. He saw me and thought the same thing, however, it took awhile to convince me!
18. Who asked whom out first? Eric asked me out.
19. Who kissed who first? Eric kissed me first-it kind of caught me off guard
20. Who proposed? Eric
21. His best features and qualities? He is funny, interesting, makes me happy all the time, cares more about our family them himself, is the best dad to our kids, intelligent, so good-looking, and the list could go on and on--he is just the best and I miss him so much!

Okay, I would love to see what other people have to say about their spouses and marriage!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Preview of what's to come!

So, as most of you know, we had a very busy October. We started the month out by going out to Utah to visit Eric's parents and had such a wonderful time. After Utah, we went back to Connecticut and had a week to finish up packing and move all our stuff out. We then spent 5 days driving to St. Louis. We spent a day at Sesame Place (yes, Sesame Street has a theme park--I had no idea), two days in Washington, D.C. and then finished up the drive to St. Louis.
We had a couple days in St. Louis with Eric before he left and we had some nice family time. He is now in South Carolina doing combat training and will be leaving for Iraq on Thanksgiving. We are here in St. Louis with my parents until his return in end of June/July. I was so shocked earlier this week to see that he posted on the blog--I think that is the first time he has ever contributed!! Anyways, like he said, saying goodbye was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt like a part of me was leaving and it just made me so sad to think of all that Eric is going to miss. It was especially hard to watch him say goodbye to Ethan and Kailey. They will be two different children when he comes back and he is missing out on such fun stages. I just have such a wonderful husband and I miss him so much and hope the next 8 months flies by and SUPPORT YOUR TROOPS!! Okay, enough with the depressing talk, so I am way behind in the blog, but I will start posting pictures and catching up soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eric leaving on a business trip

I left on Sunday for some training in Norfolk. I'll have some more training along the way and will be in Iraq sometime in late November or early December. By the time I was actually on the plane it wasn't too bad, but Sunday afternoon just before leaving for the airport and the drive there was not easy. From now on out, I feel like everything is going to be easy because Sunday afternoon was the hardest thing I have ever done.

The picture is at Heather's parents house right before we left for the airport. Just the idea of taking a family photo on the last day we would be together for a long time was pretty sad. Once we got to the airport the very nice lady behind the counter offered to let Heather and the kids through security to see me off at the gate. The security lines were quick and we had about 45 minutes in the terminal to talk and play. Ethan practiced taking pictures with the camera (representative sample shown at right). He also managed to take a couple of short videos and several other photos of his finger
over the lens. As always, Kailey was a doll the entire time. One of the few photos that I took was of a new skill that Ethan has developed over the last few weeks. He lays down on the ground when he doesn't want to participate in whatever is going on or he doesn't want to do what you want him to do. He used to occasionally lie down when he was REALLY tired, but this, unfortunately, is happening a little more often. One of the problems we've encountered is that he typically likes to do this in the middle of street when we're crossing from the side he wants to be on to the side of the street that mom or dad wants to be on (i.e., where we need to be most of the time).

I miss and love you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adorable kids!

This is Ethan's Halloween costume--he just loves monkeys. When I put it on him he walked around the house for over an hour saying, "eee, eee" like a monkey and did not want to take his costume off.

Ethan sees me carrying Kailey around in the baby bjorn and always wants to imitate me--it is so cute!

Ethan has been such a great big brother to Kailey and just loves her so much--it is wonderful. He always wants to hold her and help her--I hope it stays this way!

This adorable outfit was sent by some of Eric's aunts and uncles and she wore it to church two weeks ago and just looked SOOOOO cute. This picture doesn't even do justice to how cute she was!!

Kailey is just so cute and such a happy baby and we just love her so much!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ben & Jerry's here we come!!

So, as we are preparing to move, the last thing we wanted to do while we were here was to go to Vermont. Eric has never been there and we needed to make our pilgrimage to Mecca (otherwise known as Ben & Jerry's). For those of you who don't know, Eric is a diehard addict-he consumes one pint of Chunky Monkey a week, in fact one of my wifely duties is to buy him a pint every week when I grocery shop. We started our trip out by going to the Joseph Smith Memorial in Sharon, Vermont. They have the hearthstone of his original home where he was born. They also have this great granite memorial that is 38 1/2 feet tall--one foot for every year he lived. There is a great story about how they got that there, but it is too long to tell on here. Next we went to a cider mill for lunch--it wasn't nearly as good as the one in Massachusetts we went to with Brent and Darcee, but we did eat a cider donut for Brent. Finally, the reason for the trip--BEN & JERRY'S!! We went and visited the factory where it started. I have to admit, the factory was a little bit of a let down, I was expecting more, but we got a free taste test of a new flavor, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Saturday night we spent in Burlington, Vermont, where I swear every other person drives a Subaru Outback or some station wagon-what a bunch of hippies up there! Sunday morning we went to this fun aquarium on Lake Champlain that had a ton of interactive exhibits that Ethan just loved! One fun thing you could do was make a shadow movie of yourself. Check out:http://video.snibbeinteractive.com/video/c771b354-6733-44d7-80d9-716d24dcbf05 to see Ethan and Eric's movie. Ethan is playing with one of those noodles in the movie. Enjoy our pictures--we had such a fun time and are sad to be leaving New England. It is just such a beautiful area with so many things to do!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mom and Dad we are moving home!!

Well, I hate to say it, but my husband is leaving me for 8 months vacation in the sand and sun, so I am taking the kids and moving home. Dad and Mom, I hope you are ready for Ethan, Kailey and I. We found out two weeks ago that Eric is going to Iraq. He leaves November 3rd for training in South Carolina and then heads to Iraq the end of the month and won't be back until the end of June. Sorry, I can't say too much about what he is doing--it is top secret Navy stuff, but don't worry he will not be in a combat zone and should be relatively safe. We are not looking forward to being apart, but on the other hand this is a great opportunity and experience for him and my parents are so excited to have their grandchildren closer. For those of you wondering what exactly Eric will be doing, here is an idea!!

Thank you Brooke!!

Brooke, thank you for being the best intern/aunt/sister/babysitter/etc of the summer!! We can't thank you enough for all your help and surviving the summer with us. We enjoyed having you so much and are sorry if we traumatized you!! We miss you lots and hope you have a great school year!!

Busy Month

Well, I have been very remiss in updating our blog. We have had a fun, but busy month. Eric left the beginning of August for 2 weeks to go backpacking with the scouts in New Mexico at a scout camp called Philmont. He had an interesting time, but was glad to get back. He took a bunch of pictures, but I would be surprised if they ever end up on here--I seem to be the only one that blogs--I will have to work with him! While he was gone, my mom came out to see her new granddaughter and spend some quality time with Ethan, my sister Brooke and I. I have never seen 2 weeks go by so fast. We had so many projects that we worked on, she helped organize my house a little better (it had fallen into disarray after Kailey came), we went and played and just had a great time. My dad ended up having a meeting in Boston, so he came down for a couple of days to see Ethan and Kailey. It was so great having them here. Here is a slide show of some of the fun things we did.