Phillip is a happy little guy

Phillip - taken at Holy Trinity
Phillip – taken at Holy Trinity

So Phillip has very occasionally gone to a Mother’s day out program when Märia was working there as a substitute, but he has never been to a real, all-day daycare.  Seporah and Felicity actually never went to an all-day daycare either, so this is all new ground for us.  It is pretty much just going to have to happen, as Märia will be going to work at Midland Memorial, and I will go to work somewhere as soon as my back heals enough that I am able to.  We are looking at three different programs, and hopefully he will be accepted at one of them at the turn of the year.

Phillip - taken at Holy Trinity
Phillip – taken at Holy Trinity

We were asked to bring baby pictures of little Phillip to church this coming Sunday, and it was a trip seeing them from way back when.  He has grown so much in the last nearly 3 years.  If only we could get him potty trained and to where he listens a little more.  He likes TV a lot more than Seporah and Felicity did at his age.  I really hope we can get him into books a little more like his sisters.

My broken back
My broken back

 

And now my promised MRI picture.  If you look at it, there is half of a vertebrae at the top of the picture, cut off, then a whole vertebrae, and then the broken one.  It may not look like much to you, but it isn’t pleasant.  I am in this TLSO brace until at least 24 January, and we will see from there.

I am still watching too much Arrow, and still working quite a bit on my CCNA studying.  I will probably watch UFC 181 this weekend, and Invicta 10 also.  Michelle Waterson is the Karate Hottie  =).  I scheduled my CCNA for 27 January at 9 am, so expect news about that then.

CCNA, Metric and a Broken Back

10603293_10152842149783917_4808279065670287141_nSo I broke my back. I will probably post pictures of my MRI showing the broken vertebrae later on. It isn’t pleasant. I am in pain pretty much always, although Motrin and Tylenol help. My wonderful wife has been her usual wonderful self. She takes care of me and the kids, and will start working at Midland Memorial Hospital the 15th of December.

I am studying for the CCNA which I hope to take in January.  I am hoping to snag a job with CoNetrix as soon as my back heals up enough that I can really work.  They offered me a job just after my back broke, but I did not yet know how bad it was, and when I found out and told them they thought it best for me wait for it to heal up before I get started.  I am not sure if the job will be waiting on me, but I certainly hope so.

I am listening to Metric and Anthem Lights recently.  Last book I read was Visitors by Orson Scott Card.  I finished it maybe 2 weeks ago, read it on my Kindle.  I have been watching too much Arrow and kept up with Castle and Brooklyn Nine Nine.  Most everything else has fallen by the wayside with my sleeping a lot while I heal and studying when I am awake.  Pray for me to heal and get back to providing for the family.

Wood 1

Jules curiously watched as the bald man in the bowler hat put down the crust of his sandwich, looked up at her, and winked. She knew that she shouldn’t be staring at strangers, but she also knew that strangers shouldn’t be winking at her, so she wasn’t sure whether she or the man would get into more trouble with mom. The man gave her a warm smile, placed his opened briefcase on the sidewalk next to the bench he had been resting on and lightly hopped into it. She looked up at her mom to see if she noticed, but she was busy paying the baker for some day-old sour dough that Jules knew she was going to have to eat with watered leak soup. The baker hadn’t noticed either. It was the most remarkable thing Jules had ever seen, and no one else had noticed.

Continue reading “Wood 1”

The Senselessness of Faithlessness

I have been blessed with an incredible number of spiritual experiences in my life, and yet I am utterly faithless. I don’t understand why. I truly want to believe. I have often said that if there were an “I believe” button next to me, one that would clear all doubts and grant me faith, even a blind faith, I would push it and push it and push it. I receive answers to prayers. I sometimes make choices based on promptings, and things go well, and I say it was a wise choice I came up with, and perhaps more often I ignore promptings and say my choice really didn’t change much if things go against me.

Today I took my truck into Midas. It had a serious oil leak, and I was putting a quart in it a week. Also, it shook and rattled until you wanted to cut out your own kidneys, and squealed enough to make you want to cut off your ears. The air conditioning was sporadic. It was just on its last legs. Midas told me that I had a couple options. I could leave it as is, and get another several thousand miles out of it, perhaps as many as twenty thousand on the high end. Or I could replace a specific part on the front. If I replaced that part, it would give me a fifty fifty chance of fixing the vehicle, but if it wasn’t that part, but a part behind it, that they couldn’t see, then I would require an engine replacement. That simply wouldn’t happen because the money just isn’t there for an engine replacement. Here is the kicker: if they took off part one on the front, they probably would never be able to get it back on if the problem was actually in the rear, and the truck would never move without a new engine.

I didn’t know what to do. I prayed for guidance, and received a very clear prompting to have the front piece removed and replaced, and not to worry about it might ruining the truck. Sure enough, the cheap and easy replacement fixed the vehicle, shaking, a/c and oil problems! And yet I wasn’t even home from Midas and was already doubting the inspiration. That was just myself, my brain, making the best of a horrible situation and gambling for the best result, or so I tell myself now. How can I remember as strong a prompting as I suspect happens shy only of visitation, and yet doubt so consistently?

Impending Anxiety

Hey everyone!  It’s been such a long time in coming, but we just found out that the court hearing has been scheduled.  For those of you who do not know,  Sarah and I have been fostering two beautiful, amazing girls.  Their mother’s parental rights are at stake at this court hearing.  If the judge denies her appeal then the girls will be available for adoption.  If they approve her appeal then the state goes back to trial.   Pray for us.. this could all be over really soon.

God Bless Texas :-)

Monday, Sarah and I took the girls out to go see the Belton 4th of July parade. I haven’t seen a parade in probably 2 years. The first thing I did was teach L how to sign parade in ASL. She picked it right up. It was incredibly hot outside, and I was really glad my wonderful wife had the forethought to bring a ton of liquids.

The heat was well worth putting up with when car 122 came around. About 90% of the cars in the parade brought forth a cheer and clapping; the other 10% didn’t deserve them. Some Civic theatre had reproduced the famous V-J kiss moment. That was definitely one of my favorites. The 10% that didn’t deserve it was a group of thugs that had souped up cars blaring incredibly inappropriate sexually explicit music.   There was one more falling into this category.. and the events that unfolded around it were AWESOME. 

Car 122 was a van with words written in big letter on the side.  “Bell County Democrats”  *cricket* *cricket*

Seriously.. silence fell over the entire crowd as they passed by.   There were even a few ‘boos’ from the crowd.  The floats were so close together that I was still hearing the boos of the next group about 10 feet away to the left of us when the crowd erupted in cheering.

What was everyone cheering about?

Someone had put them back to back.. the next float was “Central Texas Tea Party”   

God Bless Texas… It’s great to be home

New address, no new news

So nothing much has changed here. I have settled into my 9-to-5 except it is 6-to-6, day shift, 7 days a week. Some days nothing much happens, some days it is 12 hours in the incredible sun of desert Afghanistan. My lovely wife packed 5 bottles of sunscreen for me and several hats, and so far I have not gotten a sun burn.

I do have a new address. The unit that I am attached to is headed home, so I have to use the “general purpose” address for the camp, which is somewhat slower, but that is ok.

Steven Rushing
TCS
Camp Dwyer
APO, AE 09373

Easy enough?

I totally owe you guys an entry, Let’s call it “FOB Hopping”

Below: Me in one of the helicopters sitting next to an Afghani interpreter. I think this was the 53.

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Here are my travels so far:

7 June to 22 June:
Commercial from Norfolk to Dulles
Commercial from Dulles to Doha
Commercial from Doha to Kuwait City
C-17 from Kuwait to Kandahar, Afghanistan

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C-130 from Kandahar to Bastian

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53 from Bastian to Dwyer

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53 from Dwyer to Delhi
Osprey from Delhi to Geronimo

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Osprey from Geronimo to Dwyer

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53 from Dwyer to Marjeh
53 from Marjeh to Bastian
C-130 from Bastian to Dwyer

That is some traveling! The 53 helicopter spits out hydraulic oil like crazy. I totally ruined a pair of pants from all the oil. All of this traveling after the commercial flights had to be done in full battle rattle, including flak vest with plates and kevlar helmet. It is far from comfortable. And talk about LOUD! Even with properly inserted ear plugs, the helicopters are deafening! The crews really know their job though and are incredibly professional.

So I was traveling with a buddy the whole way along. He is the WPPL expert (wireless point to point link – a big line of sight radio) and I was to soak up everything I could as he taught marines. His name is Rob and he is just the nicest guy you can imagine. He was born in Texas but has lived in Georgia most of his life and totally has the southern charm down, distinctly different than the south-west charm you see in Texas.

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This is Rob and I am pretty sure we are in an Osprey in this picture.

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This was at one of the smaller FOBs (Forward Operating Base). They had the cutest little Afghani kittens. We would be in the middle of a lesson and the class would screech to a halt because they would be doing something cute and demand attention. I have never been a cat person, but you just had to fall in love with such gentle creatures in such a harsh environment far from home.

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This is looking out the back end of one of the birds. They all fly with the back end and side doors open and manned with gunners. If you look closely, you will see a square compound of some sort on the ground. There are hundreds of these out in the desert, the vast vast majority of which are deserted. I don’t know their story, but imagine them to be amazing. Probably more interesting in my mind than in reality.

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Here is a picture of Rob “reading”. He totally posed and asked me to take this picture for him.

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I am not posing at all, just reading my book, waiting for a chopper and clueless to the world around me. He said he got 5 shots before I noticed.

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You may not know what that is just by looking at it, but it is the “piss wall”, the only place to “go number one” on one of the smaller FOBs I visited. You “go number two” in a bag and burn it, seriously. I had the particular displeasure of walking by the “wall” when a female was utilizing it. It was actually more modest than a male using it, as she had an “extender” of sorts, but it was still disconcerting. It was very uncomfortable using it out in the open. There were only 5-7 females on this FOB of fewer than 200 dudes. They walked around convoy style, never leaving each other alone. If you look close enough, you will see bottles of hand sanitizer on the sand bag walls.

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This particular day they sent a whole flight just for me and Rob. Seriously, just me and him on the whole bird, besides crew. Talk about making us feel important!

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This is the sign you see as you exit the flight line and enter Camp Dwyer, the place I live. I used the stock pictures of the planes and helicopters above because there are strict rules against taking pictures of the flight line. Anything else is fair game though, including pictures while you are actually on the birds.

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And this is the tent I live in with 10 other guys. I get a bunk to myself, and a 5 x 8 foot area next to it, enclosed in blanket walls. It is plenty comfortable, more than I expected.

Thanks to the several of you who have left me messages on the number I left for you to call. In case you missed it, it is under the address a couple of posts ago. I really appreciate the messages! Sorry I haven’t answered the phone much though. I actually am working 12 hours a day, every day. No days off, probably for a long time. We just don’t have enough people for a better schedule.

I am somewhat miserable, missing my most wonderful wife and adorable little girls. I am managing though. Until next time!

Well, I thought I was at my final destination…

But alas, it was not to be. I arrived here at Camp Dwyer two days ago and got a little training but am now off on a ten day jaunt to see three different forward operating bases.

For those interested in exactly where I am, here is the readout of my gps/Google Maps:

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I flew in on a Blackhawk and today get to fly on an Osprey, a lifelong dream since reading Hammerheads as a teenager. Will update when I can!