Monday, June 26, 2006

Today starts the first day my husband (Mark) is gone. I'm still relatively new as a military wife, so I am not sure if this is the first day of deployment. I think it is, but not altogether sure. This is, however, my second time having him deployed to "the sandbox".

We were married October 2003. His third deployment, in his military career, was my first. It started in January 2004. with him leaving US soil in late February 2004. He returned home in March 2005.

It was a very hairy experience, that deployment. The unit he was in, then, was an HET unit (Heavy equipment transport). The BIG trucks, as I call it. Marks truck was the biggest of them all. It was also the slowest. It seemed like it was the size of a mobile home trailer. It was really high off the ground, too. Like climbing into a fort on wheels. He has been through attacks/ambushes, and even had shrapnel embedded in his truck. It was really very crazy, and hard to imagine, now.

Mark was promoted up and over into a different company. He is no longer a truck driver. He's in an engineering company, now. I'm sensitive to the fact that I have to be careful about how much I speak of, on here, about him and what he does, where he's at. Quite frankly, however, I don't know if I could explain it, anyhow. I had only just gotten a handle on his last job/unit. Now it's a whole different situation. I do know that this will not be as dangerous a deployment as the last one, purely because he's not going to be in a truck, exposed daily to roadside bombs, and insurgents set on breaking up the convoy. This deployment should (I hope) fall way short of the excitement of the last deployment.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter what you are doing in Iraq. If you are in Iraq, you are in danger. I don't mean to imply that Soldiers over there who are doing guard duty, aren't in danger, or that Soldiers who never leave the base are not in danger. They are. There are just some jobs that are more dangerous than others, aren't there? The different news channels show us in reports, daily, that it's still a dangerous place to be.

Mark has two children from a previous marriage, as do I. He has a 12 year old boy, and a 10 year old girl. I have an 11 year old girl, and a 9 year old girl. Mark and I are expecting our first and last child together. She is due in October of this year. I will not see my step children while Mark is away. I did not see them, but for "leave", the whole deployment last time, either. It is a shame, but some things cannot be helped. My girls will be involved with speaking to Mark, and sending him packages while he is gone. He was kept in their minds and hearts, while he was deployed. They saw him on web cam, and wrote him short letters or colored pictures for him. The same will be done this time.

We have two dogs and a cat. During the last deployment, Marks dog of 16 years passed away. Sheba was a cockapoo-schnauzer. She was a salt n pepper bundle of dynamite. I felt sick when I realized that she was not going to make it until his return home. I brought my dog (Timber)from my mothers, after that. (Sheba and Timber-my dog- would not have...could not have gotten along. They were both Alpha females, and Sheba was fearless and less than half Timbers size. Besides, who wants to see two geriatric female dogs fight?) Timber was actually as old as Sheba, funny enough. She was half Chow Chow, half Coyote. Not really, we just do not know for sure what her father was.

Circumstances became such, while Mark was in the Iraq, that I no longer felt safe. Poor Timber was half blind, half deaf, and just didn't give a hoot, anymore. Mark and I decided to get another dog. After a few months of researching and talking about it, we decided that a boxer mix would be the best for our family and situation. The bottom line was, I needed a dog who commanded respect. I did not want a dog that struck pure terror in people, though. I am not a Pitt Bull, Doberman, Rottweiler type of person. The stigma is too much for me (personally) to bare. Boxers are big enough, strong enough, and fierce enough to be great watch dogs. Boxers are also social enough and sweet enough to be great family dogs with all size children. We rescued a BMC/Boxer mix from a High Kill animal shelter. He was barely 5 weeks old. He was/is completely sure of himself. I named him Little Soldier. His name has since been shortened to Soldier, as he grew to twice the size I thought. To put it into perspective, Boxers are meant to be no taller than 25 inches to the shoulder. Labrador retrievers are meant to be no taller than 24 1/2. German Shepherds no taller than 26. Soldier is 26 1/2. I thought he would be around 22 inches. I was wrong.

I named him "Soldier" for a few reasons. I wanted a name that commanded respect without fear. Fang or Killer was NOT going to go over well with neighbors or children. But at the same time, I wanted a strong name. A name that, when someone knocked on the door unexpectedly, and they heard me yell out "Calm down Soldier" they knew there was a dog with a job inside. Soldier is everything I want him to be. He adores children MOST. He lets his presence be known in and around our home. Out in public, he's sociable. There has only been a few times that he's been suspicious of strangers out in public. One time was when He and I were waiting outside a Grocery Store, at the beach. A man, who by all actions and appearances, was on Crack or some other hard drug, came over to us. Soldier was immediately on guard, but not over reacting. Just letting it be known he would take care of me, if needed. He, also, doesn't like dogs to get too rowdy around me at the doggy park. But again, he doesn't really over react. He's a Soldier, through and through. He's our rear detachment. He takes care of home base while daddy is gone.

When Soldier was around a year old, we decided he needed a wife. We adopted Amber (Airedale terrier mix) from a local low-kill animal shelter. I thought Amber would be a lap dog. Again, she didn't seem to stop growing. She's now 23 inches to the shoulder. The height of an average Labrador. Her body is very slender and slight. She has the body style of a poodle. Skinny legs, tiny tiny waist. But tall. She looks like a deranged cross between Wile E. Coyote and Tramp from "Lady and the Tramp". Amber has no real job. She is a companion to us all. She fills the position very well. Her and Soldier have a perfect marriage. She has a BIG bark, and she's proven that she's not scared or intimidated by any other dogs at the doggy park. But she's not aggressive, either. She prefers to get along with everyone, great and small.

Timber passed away. She was 16. She wasn't actually diagnosed with anything. I just kept watching her. I always said I would not let her suffer. When her quality of life did not outweigh her old age aches and pains any longer, I would put her to sleep. That day came early this year.

We have an apple face Siamese cat named Sprout. He's 5 years old. People say he's a "BIG" cat. I don't see it. He is beautiful to look at, but has the personality of Garfield. He is such a Butt, that I often tell him, that were he not so beautiful to look at, I would have skinned him ages ago.

I love my husband. I know it's cliche' to say, but he is my best friend. I'm not going to say it's Harder on ME than other military wives. But I keep to myself. I don't have a large circle of friends. I am not interested in that. My husband, children, mother and father, mother and father in law, and other extended family fill my needs. With Mark being deployed, it means that my husband, step-father to my girls and father to be to our first child together, best friend, sports partner and confidant have all left. He wears many many hats. I will be missing all roles he fills.

It will be an interesting thing, this blog. Maybe not for others...but for me. Someday for our baby. I don't know what it will contain. Facts, thoughts, diary entries, dreams, nightmares...I just don't know. I do know that I will not conform to any style. My goal will just be to make it all easy to read and understand.

If I should have to edit anything, it will be for the sole purpose of safety. I know there are rules and guidelines to posting information on the web. I just don't know them inside and out.

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