Sunday, December 30, 2007

Update on Rob

They are officially heading home! The ship made the transit through the Suez Canal yesterday and arrived in the Med. They left the Gulf a few days earlier than they had planned so that they could escort a sub through the canal. Rob said that made it a little more interesting than when they go through by themselves.

Today they pulled into Haifa, Israel. I'm not sure how long they will be there, but they will at least be there through New Year's. Much to their disappointment, though, the commodore has made that port visit completely dry on liberty - no alcohol! He is afraid of an incident happening and screwing up later visits by other ships so he has made the visit completely dry. Nothing like pulling into a place for new years and not even being able to have a beer. Needless to say, there are some unhappy campers! And not just on the ship. Apparently the embassy is really annoyed at the commodore for making the port dry because that hurts all the pubs who like the drinking sailors to bring in lots of money. If people are just going for dinner it cuts the pubs' and restaurants' profits by about 2/3 of what it would be with drinks. So the embassy says they will have to deal with it politically with various civic organizations. The Defense attaché reps said they were going to call 6th fleet and see if it won't get changed. If they could get the policy changed they would be heroes to the crew!

Tomorrow they'll be taking a tour to Jerusalem. Rob has been to Israel on a previous deployment, but he doesn't have any pictures or anything except a few postcards from that visit, so he's hoping to take lots of photographs and do a little shopping this time!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our 7th Wedding Anniversary

Yes, today - Dec. 29 - is our 7th anniversary!! Happy Anniversary to us! :-) It's certainly not fun to spend it apart, but at least we're less than a month from Rob returning home. I can't believe we've been married seven years, and together for eight and half. Sometimes I feel like we just met. I guess time really does fly by when you're having fun.

Rob sent some beautiful flowers to me at work on Friday. Thank you sweetie! :-)

Friday, December 28, 2007

The HORRORS of Christmas!

With Rob gone, I planned on going to Illlinois to visit my mom for Christmas. I didn't decide this until after Thanksgiving, so I was really screwed when it came to flight options and prices. I ended up booking a flight into Peoria, which is a little over two hours from where my mom lives in DeKalb. We thought it was worth the extra distance, however, to avoid the craziness that is O'Hare or Midway at any time of year, let alone at Christmas!

I left on Friday the 21st, and made it to my stopover in Atlanta with no problem. That's when the chaos began. It was incredibly foggy that day all over Illinois, so my flight to Peoria kept getting delayed. Eventually they announced that it was canceled...and that there wasn't another flight to Peoria until 9:00 the NEXT NIGHT. Well, that wasn't going to work for me, so I asked if they could get me into Chicago instead. Luckily they were able to put me on flight to O'Hare at 10:00 the next morning.

In the meantime, my poor mom had driven almost three hours to Peoria in this dense fog just to find out that I wouldn't be flying there after all! So she turned around and spent another three hours of tense driving to get back home.

Since the cancelation was weather-related, the airline wouldn't pay for a hotel for me in Atlanta. They also wouldn't retrieve my luggage for me, so I was stuck without a single thing I needed. I didn't bring a single thing in a carryon because I didn't dream that I would end up stranded halfway to my destination. Apparently the stress of the day had a rather bizarre effect on me...I broke out in the worst hives and rash that you've ever seen! I had huge welts on my face and upper body, plus a nasty red rash all over the rest of my body. And it itched like crazy!

My whole body looked like this! And this was taken after I soaked in a bath and put lots of cream on it; it looked much worse a couple hours earlier!

The airline at least made a reservation for me at a nearby hotel, so after I got checked in I took a cab to the nearest drugstore to stock up on everything I needed for the solution, makeup, a flat-iron (vain, I know...but you gotta do what you gotta do...), etc. And of course lots of stuff to try to get rid of this rash!

Luckily the rash was MOSTLY gone by the next day. I got to the airport at 7:30AM, but of course the flight to Chicago was delayed...more fog! We finally left in the early afternoon (and I was upgraded to first class, which definitely made it more bearable!) I got to Chicago, but that wasn't the end of my problems...

In Atlanta, I had been ASSURED by Delta that my luggage would be transferred to the flight to Chicago. Yeah, right. I knew that wouldn't happen, and it didn't! Neither of my bags made it to Chicago. So on Sunday, when it was incredibly windy, snowing, and cold (wind chill of 10 below zero), I didn't even have a coat or hat or scarf because they were all in my checked luggage! I really didn't think I would see my luggage until I returned to Virginia, but luckily it did show up Monday night...right in time for me to take it back with me when I left the next morning!

Despite all the hassles, we still had a good visit. Since I had no luggage for most of the weekend, I was FORCED to go shopping and buy lots of new clothes! We ate out way too much, drank a lot of wine, and shopped 'til we dropped!

I came home on Tuesday (Christmas Day). Luckily there were no flight delays that day and everything went smoothly! And now the true countdown begins...Rob will be home in less than a month!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas on the Ship

Well, it definitely doesn't sound like Christmas on the ship was very exciting! If they did anything special, Rob didn't mention it in any of his emails. Actually, I take that one point he mentioned that they had just announced over the PA that the "holiday 10k run will start at 1030. It only takes 80 laps around the main deck of the ship to make 10k. If that doesn't sound like a bunch of holiday cheer and fun I don't know what does." I think it's safe to say that Rob did not participate in the special holiday run!

They did get a mail delivery on Christmas Eve and he received many of the cards that people sent. Thank you again for thinking of him! They should get another delivery around New Year's, so hopefully any other cards will get to him then. Below is a picture of the helicopter arriving on the ship with all the holiday mail.

I had a hard time sleeping Christmas Eve night, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was awake to hear my phone beep with an email at a little after 2:00AM. It was from Rob, and in it he said that he was really pissed at himself because he didn't think he'd have a chance to call on Christmas day due to his watch schedule, my flight times, etc. He hadn't thought about that sooner, otherwise he would have tried calling on Christmas Eve. So I wrote him back and said, "I'm awake!! You can try calling now if you want!" It took a few tries for him to get through, but we finally connected at about 3:00 and talked for over an hour. It was great to talk to him, despite the hour! When it comes time to finally hang up, it's always so hard because you don't know when you'll have a chance to talk again and of course there's still so much to say! But luckily he will be home in a month and then we can talk all the time!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poor Rob!

Remember what I said about how Rob was going to buckle down and do some shopping on their last day in Dubai? Well, he didn't even get to the leave the ship! At about 2:45 yesterday afternoon he was told by a couple of the other officers to hurry up and change because they were getting ready to leave. Rob still had about 30 minutes of work to do, and they wouldn't wait for him! Since they have to have a 'buddy' when they leave the ship, he was totally screwed because there were no other officers left on the ship who weren't on duty. So he couldn't leave the ship; he could just sit there and stew. Now he has nothing to show for their time in Dubai. No pictures, no Christmas gifts for me! Horrors! (I jest!) But I feel horrible for him. They have so little to look forward to when they're on deployment, and getting to go explore Dubai is a great reward for all the long hours at sea. His only consolation (and mine) is that we'll definitely go there sometime TOGETHER...which is better than him going there with a bunch of Navy guys anyway!

They left Dubai today and started some big inspection. I only got one short email from him today, but he said that it's going surprisingly well. It's nice to have something going right for him!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rob in Dubai

Today was a great day for me...Rob called AND his email started working again! It was great talking to him, but unfortunately the line went dead in the middle of the conversation and he wasn't able to call me back. :-( But I can't complain!

As I mentioned previously, they're in Dubai. He had duty today and wasn't able to leave the ship, but he did get to go out the first two nights they were there. He says Dubai is like Bahrain on steriods! It sounds like a fascinating mix of cultures and ridiculous wealth.

The first night out they went to the Seafarer's Club, which is right outside the port. Apparently Bo (aka CHENG, the Chief Engineering Officer) treated the Engineering Department to a little party at the club, including an open bar for them. the time they left at 9:00 (still early!), his tab was $1546!! I told Rob not to get any ideas about doing something similar for his guys!

Yesterday he and Bo went to the Mall of the Emirates (the one with the indoor ski slope...although they decided not to disappointing). As a sign of how international Dubai is, the mall was decorated for Christmas and even had a group of carolers dressed in Victorian clothing singing Christmas songs...definitely not something you would expect in a Muslim country! We both moaned about how much we wished we were there together, and decided we must take a vacation there sometime.

They're still there for a few more days, so he says he's going to buckle down and actually do some shopping tomorrow! I told him to take some pictures, too, so I can share them here.

Hope everyone is surviving the holiday rush...I know I barely am! :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007

No News from Rob

You may have noticed I haven't posted anything lately about Rob! The ship email is down so I haven't had an email from him in about a week. He was able to call on Wednesday and we talked for about half an hour. He said that whatever the problem is with the email, it's not likely to be fixed for at least a week. They pulled into Dubai yesterday, but I haven't heard from him yet. I do know that they made it there, though, as there was an ATM withdrawal when I checked the banking account this morning!

They have a big inspection starting next week right after they leave Dubai, so Rob said that they'd be working a lot while they're in port. Then they'll start heading home! I can honestly say that I can't believe how quickly this deployment has gone. I guess it's because I've been so busy, and it helps that we've usually been able to communicate via email a couple times a day.

I sent an email to many friends and family members this week asking them to send Christmas cards to Rob on the ship. I got a really good response and several people said they would. If you need his mailing address, please send me an email and I'll give it to you (I'm not supposed to post in on the blog). I'm sure he would love to hear from everyone during the holidays!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Granny's 90th Birthday

I just got home from an exhausting was my Granny's 90th birthday celebration! My mother organized an open house in Granny's hometown of Martinsville, Illinois, and I flew in late Friday night to attend the festivities.

My mom, her brother Larry, Granny, and me at the reception (I'm definitely the giant of the family!). Larry flew in from Orlando to attend.

Martinsville is a small town (less than 1000 people), so I truly thought that the whole town might show up. After all, they all know Granny! Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. It was right around 32 degrees and raining, with weather warnings for sleet and freezing rain. I think that kept many people away, but we still had at least 70 people attend. The reception was held at the American Legion, into which my mother put tons of work into decorating. She set up a table with many pictures of Granny over the years, along with other family members. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed looking at the pictures and reminiscing about the "good old days."

Part of the picture display.

We had THREE cakes, which was probably way too much...but you can never have too much cake!! Granny and Don ended up taking much of it home and freezing it. Knowing Granny's sweet tooth, it will all get eaten eventually! :-)

Granny enjoying some of her birthday cake!

We had been worried that she might get worn out from all the excitement, but she outlasted just about everyone! We had to keep sitting down to take a breather, but Granny was on her feet for practically the entire three hour timeframe, graciously greeting everyone who came. If you didn't know better, you would never guess that she was turning 90...she looked fabulous and had so much energy! What's even more amazing is that she fell a week ago, cracking a rib and hurting her wrist and arm. But she didn't let it slow her down. She's incredible.

Friends and family enjoying the reception.

After the open house, we went to dinner with our immediate family and Don's three sons and their wives. I think Granny enjoyed every minute of her birthday. I'm so glad that I was able to go to Illinois for the weekend to help her celebrate!

Dinner at Richard's Farm after the reception.