Thursday, March 3, 2005


Today, Gabriel reached two new milestones. That fourth tooth finally broke through! Maybe now we can stop pumping him full of Tylenol and he won't be so out of sorts. He's already used it to bite his mother's finger, but that's what she gets for feeling around in there.

He also, while playing on the bed with Mommy, pulled up to a standing position using her legs as leverage! It wasn't too surprising, since he's been acting like a little monkey lately. We'll be holding him, and he'll squirm around so that he's behind us. We don't know how he does it, but he's good at it.

In more serious news, we received a phone call on Monday while we were on vacation that Matt had to reserve all of his vacation time for the next few months because the union may be striking beginning next week. Given the fact that the government wants to cut back on funding for the F/A-22 and C-130 programs, a slowdown in production could possibly put the jobs of everyone at LMAS at risk. Even the union leaders advised the workers to accept Lockheed's offer, but they still voted to strike. The strike is expected to begin, if at all, next Monday or Tuesday.

We're Baa-ack!

We spent last weekend in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune, because Jack is going to leave for Iraq on Sunday. He's going to be stationed at Ar Rutbah for 7 months. We're going to miss him, but we're grateful that he doesn't have a longer tour, and we think that those months will pass pretty quickly. Anyway, he got us a lodge and a cabana on the beach. Both were very nice. Even the germ-obsessed, hotel-phobic Patty was very comfortable - that says a lot. Those Marines really know how to wash a sheet!

Here is what we did:

Friday: Arrived at 8pm after only 8 hours of driving. Gabe was a champ the whole drive. Laura had gotten in by plane earlier in the day, and Mom and Dad arrived about an hour or two after we did. We all sat around the lodge that night.

Saturday: Ran on the beach. Weather was beautiful - sunny all day. Gabriel got to touch the ocean for the first time. He liked playing with the sand and didn't try to eat any! We went shopping at the MCX and got some Girl Scouts cookies. Those Marines are looking younger and younger, but the uniforms are getting cuter... We ate dinner at the Marina, right on the water. It was a cool place, and it would probably be a fun place to go for a drink on a Friday night. Gabriel made friends with a parrot who kept squawking at him and saying something that we couldn't understand. He was also fascinated by all of the birds that were flying around outside, especially the pelicans. We're amazed at how observant he is. We played foosball (tie game) and Bahamian ring toss (no one could get that stupid ring on the hook but we had fun trying) and had some good eats. Mom fed Gabriel solid food for the first time and made us jealous - he hardly had a spot of food on his bib and none on his clothes!

Sunday: Ran on the beach, and then went to Wilmington. Dad did his first geocache and found an historic bell that rang to announce the departing train in the old station. We then explored Battleship North Carolina, which was enormous and so interesting. Dad got a good workout carrying the little one around. We ate dinner at the Front Street Brewery, and it was great. We really liked their beer, and their food was creative. Any place that has hot pretzels as appetizers has got to be good.

Sunday night we had "the perfect stahm" - one of the strongest rainstorms in our lives. There was no thunder nor lightning, only rain. It was scary for us because our room had three walls to the outside and only one bordering on the rest of the lodge. The wind was so strong and the rain fell so hard, it felt like the ocean had risen right up over our heads. The storm gave the impression that we were being washed away at sea and knocked around by the undertow. We almost called Mom and Dad to see if they were okay in their cabana on the beach.

Monday: Mom and Dad left for Michigan, and Jack had to work, so we spent the day with Laura. Patty ran on the beach with Laura, and then we picked up Jack for lunch at Subway. Longest line ever, but with military efficiency, it went quickly. One of the highlights of our trip was watching Gabe-Luke fall asleep in Jack's arms. He is so fascinated with Uncle Jack - he stared at him all the time, and whenever Jack picked him up, he calmed right down. That night, Laura's friend Melissa and a bunch of Marines who had friends staying next door came over for some drinks. We rented Old School, and it was pretty funny. We're going to rent it again and actually watch it next time. We went down to the beach with Melissa, who had borrowed a red flashlight and showed us how to find sharks' teeth. We found a lot of small black ones.

We turned up the heat so that we could leave the windows open. Since the Marines had to work the next day, there were no partiers outside to disturb us. We slept to the sound of the surf. It was heavenly.

Tuesday: The place where we stayed required us to clean, sweep, mop, empty garbage, and fold all linens before we checked out. We liked the organization of that and thought it's a great idea. Besides, it probably means cleaner rooms because the cleaning crew doesn't get frustrated by people's messes and they probably do a better job because they're happier.

After we checked out, we went to see where Jack works. It's a spacious office with a few desks and a bunch of filing cabinets, no mess and not much ornamentation. It looked like there are probably about 5 people who work there, and they all have a ton of room to move around. He was yawning when we got there, so he was obviously working very hard. Laura had to catch a plane back to Michigan, so we only stayed a minute or two.

When we got to the airport, we were about one minute late and there was no one at the U.S. Airways counter. We found a TSA person, who went back and told them that Laura and another passenger, a Marine on leave before he ships to Iraq, were ready and had no baggage to check. They said that they'd have to get on a later flight because they were about to close the door of the plane. "About to close"! The airport was so small that the plane was just on the other side of the wall. It was ridiculous, but since they didn't charge change fees, Laura and the guy decided not to complain too much. She got on a flight 3 hours later and was back in Detroit by 9 pm.

Our drive back to Atlanta took about 9 hours and was a little tough, because Gabriel cried a good portion of that time. His fourth tooth was coming in and was giving him a good deal of grief. We quickly took out our baggage, returned the rental car an hour and 5 minutes late but weren't charged thankfully, and were back at the apartment around midnight. Gabriel ate dinner at 12:30 am and we were in bed around 2 am. It was a really great trip, and we're looking forward to going back in September to welcome Jack back home.

Here are some more links you might want to check out: Our digital photos from the trip 2nd LAR Battalion, H&S Company (Jack's Company) Map of Iraq - Ar Rutbah is in the west

Coming soon...

We're back from our big trip and are hard at work on our blog. We should have it finished by tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture from our trip. This was after a big storm, and the waves were outrageous. We were standing on the steps outside our cabana. There were surfers behind us getting ready to jump in.