+Thursday, June 30, 2005+
Another month down; another notch in the countdown to an undetermined (and to me, therefore, elusive) date, though I can't entirely deny that the year is moving along at a good pace. On July 5, Matt will have been away from home for 6 months, and though there's still about 8 to go after that, I no longer feel quite as devastated as I did, well, 6 months ago! Four months of his tour in Afghanistan are behind us; the depression we felt during his time at Ft. Sill is nothing more than a threadbare memory.

Christy made a post the other day about reaching the one year mark in her husband's deployment, and it brought tears to my eyes to read from her perspective (and from her husband's) about how much they've changed and grown in the last year. There's nothing else in the world quite like a deployment. Nothing can compare to coming home to a house that's too quiet and too empty, sleepless and worryful nights, the lump in the throat and knot in the stomach that accompany news stories that ring a little too close for comfort, the excitement of a ringing phone and the disappointment of a silent one.

But on the other hand, there's no comparison to the good things I've taken away from the last 6 months - the strength I've found within me to pull through times that aren't just hard but borderline impossible, the responsibilities I've had to add to my burden in Matt's absence and the tact with which I've come to handle those responsibilities; I've made new friends and lost old ones and learned so much about myself already it's only enabled my love for Matt to grow. I cry often, but not nearly as much as I used to, and there are actually times when everything about this deployment feels so....natural. I often wonder how different things would be if Matt hadn't gone overseas, where the course of the year would've taken us if we hadn't been separated. There's a reason for everything though; God has a greater plan for all of us, and I haven't yet fully come to a decision on whether or not the deployment is "worth it." Would I change it? I don't know. Ask me in 8 months.

I remember so vividly taking Matt to the base on January 5, how sad we were to have to spend such a long time apart (at the time we thought it was 18 months), but the most dominant emotion was fear, the fear of not knowing what the next months would hold, the fear of not being able to say everything would be okay as a fact. There was no bliss in this ignorance. I feel like an old pro now; I want to tell the girl from 6 months ago that everything will be okay, that she'll find strength and independence in herself that she never knew she possessed, that she'll just glow with pride at the opporunity to talk about her fiance, that though the house is empty and she'll experience the unfamiliar tug of deep loneliness, she'll never feel empty on the inside because though He is on the opposite side of the world, theirs truly is an unbreakable love of the deepest kind. She watched the bus drive away on that freezing cold January morning, felt the painful twist of devastation, and she cried because it seemed unbelievable that time could possibly move fast enough to get her love back to her.

Yet here we are, and it amazes me how fast these 6 months have gone by. There isn't a day I don't miss Matt and not a second I don't think about him, but I've learned that to dwell on the bad is to submit myself to an emotional torture no one should ever have to feel. Imagine how tough these 14-some months would be if the whole of them was devoted to misery. I can remember going home that morning after dropping him off at the base and literally feeling like the weight of the world was crushing me. I made my first "video letter" that morning, and of all the ones I've sent, that is the one I'd most like to see when Matt returns, to watch on the last day of the deployment my emotions on the first; a person's instinct to persevere is an amazing thing, and as much as I wanted nothing more than to rot away under the security of my comforter for the duration of the deloyment, I did not. I could not.

Next spring seems so close yet so far, but I know the 8 months in front of me will slip away like the last 6 did. I would've smirked 6 months ago at the person who assured me that it'll go by fast; half a year seemed like an eternity, but in reality, it's nothing: the end of winter, the beginning of summer, the snap of a finger. In some ways, I've enjoyed the time I've had to myself, the time I've had to get to know new people whom I never would've given a second thought before, the time I've had to devote to school, to "apply myself" like I always failed to do my first years of college, to quit being so helpless and start being more helpful. True, there are some days where I still feel as though I'm being crushed by the magnitude of a deployment, but most days, life is okay. I love Matt and somewhere on the otherside of the world, he loves me too.

wishing matt was here @ 6:23 PM+

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+Monday, June 27, 2005+
I don't have too terribly much to post about, so I apologize in advance for this "posting for the joy of posting" post. Matt called early Friday morning and were it not for the fact that I was going to be late to work that morning anyway for a doctor's appointment, his call would've made me late. But I don't care. Matt's phone calls take priority to absolutely everything, no exception. He'd called to let me know he was going to be flying on Saturday (and also that it's 120 degrees and undoubtedly miserable because of it). I hate it when Matt flies. The fact that his is a CH-47 Chinook unit is mostly coincidence as his MOS has nothing to do with the helicopters, but as the commander so generously pointed out in his last letter to the families, "We are going to start to give moral flights to different sections within the Company. This will be an opportunity for all in the Company to go outside the wire and see the landscape of Afghanistan." As if, first of all, the families would be thrilled to know that their loved ones are flying more, and second of all, as if there's a whole hell of a lot of landscape to see in Afghanistan. I've seen the pictures - mudhuts, barren landscape, dirty rivers surrounded by surprisingly green crops. It looks like Nevada (except of course for the mudhuts. Here in Nevada we live in clay shacks).

I told Matt to call me on Saturday as soon as he was done flying. And he did, but it wasn't until then that he let me know he hadn't been flying in the company's Chinooks - he'd been out and about in a Black Hawk. Of course as soon as I hear the words "black hawk," I start thinking Black Hawk Down, and despite my vow to steer clear of any movies pertaining to war or the military (with the exception of Top Gun because I honestly don't think I could go a year without watching that movie), my mind automatically starts playing the worst scenes from the movie like a reel straight from the film: "We got a black hawk down...." UGH. Worrying seemed entirely irrelevant seeing as it was after the fact, but I did get a little whining in that he didn't tell me he was flying in a black hawk. And alright, I'll admit it, I really was glad he didn't tell me otherwise I probably would've spent the entire night staring at the ceiling, doing everything in my power to prevent my heart from leaping right out of my chest. I'm a worry wart by nature...he knows me so well. LOL.

I got my car back on Friday. Much to my dismay my warranty wasn't going to cover all the costs of repair. I nearly had a conniption on Thursday when I found out it was going to cost me over $600, and I was about ready to write off my warranty company as the biggest $#@ !#$%*& ever until I found out on Friday that it would've been over $1200 without the help of the warranty. There was a lot wrong with it, a lot more than I had even fathomed, so much so, in fact, I was actually embarrassed standing at the counter while the mechanic listed it all off to me (who takes such poor care of their car they have all these problems they don't know about??): one of my cylinders was misfiring, my coolant was leaking, the Serpentine belt was cracked and on the verge of breaking, my wheel bearings were all sorts of messed up and stripping away tread on my rear tires like it was its business to do so, the list goes on (I say this like I actually know what I'm talking about...). But I can't complain too much - the car runs like an absolute dream now, and I'm reminded why I bought it in the first place.

My friend H came into town on Friday; I had been planning to go visit her this weekend, but after tossing $600 into the apparent reconstruction of my car, I simply couldn't afford the trip (albeit a short one) - gas is just too expensive!! Since I couldn't go see her, she said she'd come to me, and we had a fun weekend mixing lounging around during the day with a fun nightlife. On Sunday we took our dogs to the park, and I was so happy to discover that mine and Matt's dog DOES swim. He hasn't for as long as we've owned him - he's always been perfectly happy frolicking in the water near the shore, causing ripples and barking at and biting said ripples. At the park he was having a ball swimming; I couldn't throw the damn tennis ball far enough out into the lake, and he'd be right back at my feet, sopping wet with his muddy, wet, and slobbery tennis ball in mouth, waiting for me to throw it again. I'm going to have to take him back to the park soon with the video camera so I can send Matt footage of what an avid little swimmer our pup has become!

We got an earthquake yesterday morning just before noon, and it took me a second to realize what exactly it was. I was still in bed (yes, I sleep late on the weekends) and couldn't understand right off the bat why my bed was shaking and my closet doors rattling (hey, what can I say, I'm not a morning person, "morning" being whatever time I wake up). It was somewhat exciting in a weird "the ground is shaking" kind of way. I grew up in Lake Tahoe which happens to be sitting on a few big ass faults so an earthquake was nothing out of the ordinary for me, but more often than not, any tremors we got came at night and I'm one of those people who could sleep through a freight train crashing into the side of the house, so needless to say, no measely earthquake would've ever jarred me awake. Up until yesterday, it must've been about 11 years since I'd last felt an earthquake, so I suppose in some ways it was like reliving a childhood memory.

It must've been a good-sized earthquake where it occurred on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, measured between a 4.8 and 5.0 on the Richter scale, and though I haven't a clue what that means or how to gauge a "big" earthquake (a lá San Francisco circa 1989), the fact that we felt it in Reno and it was felt as far as Sacramento (about 120 miles away) makes it seem pretty damn decent to me.

I started a new book on Friday after finishing "The Notebook." After seeing the movie, I absolutely had to read the book, and since I wouldn't shut up about it while we were visiting with Matt's family during his leave, his mom went ahead and bought the book for me. It was a good book, but personally I prefer a little more challenging read; I was turned off by the simplicity of it, but beyond that, it was good. It ends differently than the movie, though; at the end of the book they get a little kinky (though it didn't say so in so many words, it was most certainly implied).

The book I started on Friday is called "The House of the Spirits" and comes highly recommended from my brother's very quirky (and very intelligent) wife. I'm only a couple pages into the second chapter (the book is by no means lacking in looong chapters), and already I'm having separation anxiety from the damn thing. I used to read all the time; given the choice between picking up a TV remote and a book, I'd always choose the book. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and a good writer is a good reader, but lately, since Matt left, the TV has given itself the facade of being "easier." One doesn't have to think much when they're watching television. When I saw Matt for his leave, I was actually a little envious when he told me how many books he's gotten through in his time there - the book I'd started before he left was sitting on my nightstand collecting dust, marked where I'd last stopped, but the pages before my bookmark were long since forgotten. What a waste! :-( I've since decided to get back into reading - I'm sure it'll especially benefit me when school starts again in August. Reading nothing but school material can become so overwhelming, it's helpful to have something to read for the sheer joy of reading (am I starting to sound like the host of "Reading Rainbow" yet?).

If I don't post again before then, Happy 4th of July to my fellow patriots! Please remember our troops especially on this holiday that marks our independence and freedom and everything our men and women of the military are fighting for at this very moment. :-)

wishing matt was here @ 4:40 PM+

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+Tuesday, June 21, 2005+
Do not ever ever EVER buy a Jetta. To the people in the midst of car-shopping to whom I've suggested a Volkswagen Jetta, I vehemently revoke my vote. Before I bought the car last February, my sister-in-law (a previous Jetta owner) and a girlfriend (a current Jetta owner) were very adamant that I don't buy one. "Don't buy it," they said. "I've never had so many problems with a car!" But did I listen? No, of course not. I never do. Just because they had problems with their Jettas didn't mean I would have problems with mine (and for my sake, I won't even mention the handful of others who warned me against the evils of the Jetta). Oh how naive I was. Low end German car, INDEED.

On the outside the car is a sight for sore eyes. That's why I bought it, because she is one sexy bitch - sleek black exterior, black leather interior, moon roof, automatic everything, and gorgeous blue console lights, but as we all had branded into our brains from very early on, it's not what's on the outside that matters. I was appalled when I couldn't get financed for a Jetta at one dealership, and they told me they could get me into a Ford Taurus. A FORD TAURUS?!? Pssh. I was so insistent on a Jetta, the thought of a Ford Taurus actually offended me. I didn't want a Jetta for its performance. No, I fell right into the stereotype women have been fighting for years - I wanted one because they were "cute" (I admit this with some reluctancy. I know nothing about cars. Zip. Zilch. Nada).

The day after I put down my down payment and took my Jetta home, the check engine light came on. I took it back to the dealership. They turned the light off. They said it was WIRING. For the next year I drove the car, the check engine light would come on in intervals - it would come on for a day, and then go away for weeks, sometimes even months, before blinking its ugly little yellow light at me again; I truly didn't think much of it. If it was serious, I figured the light would stick around. If it had been "wiring" the first time, who was to say it wasn't this time?

The stone cold fact of the matter is, the car is a piece of shit. Oh it may look like a low-end luxury car, but deep down, it's just a broken down hoopty. The spring on the cup holder broke, part of it fell off, and I can't even close the thing anymore because the last time I did, I had to use pliers to get it back out. The door to the glove compartment falls off when I open it. On our trip to L.A., part of the door handle on the inside of the passenger side door fell off when I closed the door. This is a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta!! It's not OLD! Matt's truck is pushing 11 years old (and 130,000+ miles) and the worst thing that's ever happened to it is Matt underestimated his strength and ripped out the emergency brake.

During our trip to L.A., the check engine light started blinking insistently at me. The car putt-putted its way up the Grapevine (a long uphill climb on a freeway for those unfamiliar with it). I couldn't get it above a whopping 50 mph and waved empathetically to the drivers flying past me and casting me curious glances. I'd wonder too why such a nice looking car was very visibly and very literally dragging ass up this hill. I think it was out of sheer luck we made it back to Nevada at all.

I drove the car all last week in hopes that the problem would go away on its own. Oh, I knew it wouldn't, but a girl can hope, can't she? From a stop, I could go from 0 to 5 in 10 seconds. And it shuddered the entire time. It especially hated stop lights on an incline - that was when I felt sorriest for whoever the poor sucker in the car behind me was. After a week of denial, I finally came to terms with the fact that my car has a serious problem, and I took it into the mechanic today (they can't check it out till Friday, but the truth of the matter is, I probably shouldn't have even been driving it last week). Thankfully, I still have a warranty on it, so it should be entirely covered by that - I got the highest amount of protection under the warranty that I possibly could. At least I did something right. I suppose theoretically the warranty would've been a waste of money if nothing had gone wrong with the car....In the interim I get to drive my parent's Jeep Grand Cherokee (don't get too excited, it's a 94), which is at least better than Matt's truck in that it has a stereo and air conditioning. Plus Matt's truck isn't insured while he's overseas, and driving an uninsured car in Nevada is a hefty little ticket.

Yesterday I had a fun little adventure hunting for halogen light bulbs for Matt, and by "fun," I mean "very time consuming, aggravating, and the ultimate test of patience." His first day in Afghanistan, he called with a long list of things he needed - sheets, alarm clock, lamp, etc. I bought him a nice little halogen lamp from Target because it wasn't too girly (the ruffled pink one was looking pretty good, though), and the life span of halogen lights is supposedly so far beyond those measely "regular" bulbs. I don't think he'd even been there for a month before the damn thing burnt out, and while we had every intention of getting some halogen bulbs during Matt's leave, we, of course, did not.

On Friday night Matt called me and said he was at a loss without his lamp and badly needed me to send him some halogen bulbs since we so inconveniently forgot to get them while he was still here. I had to go grocery shopping on Saturday anyway at the Super K, so I figured I'd just pick some up then - if only it had been that easy! I spent a good 20 minutes in the light bulb aisle before grabbing up some light bulbs that looked right. I toted them around in my cart for the duration of my shopping, pondering nonstop over these damn light bulbs, before returning to the light bulb aisle for an additional 10 minutes. The package said "Landscape Lighting," they were only 7 watts, and there was no mention of them being halogen, so I put them back, realizing that even if Super K did have halogen bulbs (which they didn't), I didn't have the slightest idea what size or wattage Matt needed. I had no idea when he'd be calling again in order for me to ask him, I had no way to get a hold of him to ask him, and the urgency of the bulbs sounded like it was at about an 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being extremely urgent). Oh, the dilemmas of being a military fiance :-P

So I did what any girl in this situation would do - I went to Target on my lunch yesterday, praying to God that they still sold that lamp. They did!! It required a size G8 halogen bulb. In fact, ALL of the halogen lamps at Target require this size, but strangely enough, they only sold size G4 halogen bulbs. Stupid, stupid, stupid irony!! Damn you Target and your ridiculous G4 halogen light bulbs!! I huffed and sighed loudly and impatiently in the lamp aisle contemplating how it was possible that they wouldn't sell the correct size bulb for the lamps they carry before putting all my hope in WalMart - I'd blow a gasket if WalMart didn't have these freaking lights. You'd think these dumb little halogen lights were a rare commodity or something, and had I known the damn thing was going to burn out a mere month into Matt's tour, I would've saved myself the headache and just gotten him a lamp with those horrific "regular" bulbs. At least then he probably could've gotten replacement bulbs at the PX.

WalMart had them. Luckily. I could see the headlines now, "LOCAL GIRL HAS ANEURYSM OVER HALOGEN BULBS." Yeesh. Had it been for anyone other than Matt, I probably would've given up after Super K, and regardless, I wrote him a letter complete with my woes of light bulb hunting. It seems almost inconsiderate of me, to send a letter complaining about light bulbs to my darling fiance who's in a war zone and has much better things to worry about than my hunt for the elusive G8 halogen light bulb, but those are the letters that make him laugh, and to know that my trials and tribulations will bring a smile to his face makes it all worthwhile. Man, I sure do love him!!! I guess the moral of the story is don't buy halogen lamps for our troops overseas. :-)

wishing matt was here @ 1:49 PM+

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+Sunday, June 19, 2005+
It's been life per usual this week since Matt's left. After dropping him off at the airport a week ago today, I was surprised at how quickly I got back into "the way things were." I was down in the dumps on Sunday, periodically crying on Monday, and pretty well back into routine by Tuesday. We had a great time and I already miss him like hell, and I suppose I can attribute my quick bounce back to this being the third goodbye of this kind, not to mention there's a lot of solace in knowing this was the last one.

Between the time I got off work on the Friday Matt was due to come in and the time I went to the airport to pick him up, I spent a tortured few hours counting down time by half hour sitcoms and chewing my nails to the cuticle. I must have called American Airline's hotline about a dozen times to make sure his flight would be arriving on time - it was 3 minutes early! When it was finally time to go, I opted out of asking for a gate pass because at that point, I honestly considered myself incapable of conversing I was so excited. Instead I burned a hole in the carpet pacing back and forth in front of the security check point.

I knew what he would be wearing as it was the one set of civilian clothing I had left him with when I last saw him in Ft. Sill, but he still almost walked right past me even after I saw the familiar black shirt. It was just too surreal to register right away - that was Matt walking by me, 20 feet away, not on the other side of the world - but as soon as it did and my brain started screaming, "MOVE YOU IDIOT!," I nearly plowed him over sprinting into his arms. And I cried. It had been a while since the reason I was crying was because I was so happy.

Our first evening back together was mainly blubbering to each other about how unbelievable it was that we were actually there together; we relaxed for a while on Saturday, took our dog for a walk before dropping him off with my friend H who would be watching him while we were on our vacation in California, and had a couple drinks at "our" bar that night - a bar neither of us had stepped foot in in 5 months (I absolutely refuse to go there without him). We spent most of the day Sunday visiting with my parents. I got to show Matt where we'll be having our wedding reception, and there was an indescribable joy that filled me every time I got to introduce Matt as my fiance (an opportunity I never really got since he was deployed a couple weeks after proposing).

Early Monday morning we were off to Sacramento to spend a couple days with Matt's family; we wouldn't be heading to Southern Cal till Wednesday. Our time in Sacramento was mainly visiting with family and a couple home-cooked meals. Monday night we all drove the couple hours to Oakland to see the A's beat the Devil Rays (one of their FEW wins this year), we spent Tuesday mostly with Matt's grandma, and Wednesday morning we were off to Los Angeles for 9 days of nothing but Matt and Erika time (I was glad he got to see his family, but when it comes right down to it, I'm very selfish).

Our time in Los Angeles was a blast. I'll spare writing out every single detail of the things we did (otherwise this would probably have to be a 2 part post!), but I can highlight most of it... Our first hotel was right in the heart of downtown, and we stayed there for 3 nights. We saw Hollywood, Rodeo Drive (of Pretty Woman fame), Universal Studios, mastered the L.A. subway, ate like royalty 2 nights, and indulged in delicious Chinese food in Chinatown on the third. We got really dressed up for dinner at one of the nice restaurants we went to (you can see us in our fancy attire in the pictures from the post below), and had, in my opinion, the ultimate downtown L.A. experience (though we didn't get mugged, so I suppose it wasn't necessarily the "ultimate" experience...LOL).

We headed to Costa Mesa on Saturday (about 45 minutes away from downtown) for the next 5 nights of our vacation. We got some shopping in at the awe-inspiring mall across the street from our hotel (I bought an Armani jacket!!! I've never owned such a brand name, it's gorgeous!). Our time in Costa Mesa consisted of beaches, an awesome aquarium and boat tour in Long Beach, a couple movies (Madagascar and Cinderella Man - both EXCELLENT movies), and of course, Disneyland. We were like a couple of little kids at Disneyland! Despite the fact that Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, AND Thunder Mountain were closed (and as a result there was an 85 minute wait for Splash Mountain, which we didn't go on either), we had a blast. Thunder Mountain opened up at the end of the day, so we at least got to go on that, and though I was greatly disappointed that Space Mountain was closed, I can't say our time at Disneyland was at all affected by it. We spent minimal time at the other theme park - Disney's California Adventure - mostly for the roller coaster. There's not too terribly much to do on that side of Disney; in some ways it seemed as though they'd made rides just to make rides....Oh, look honey, a ferris wheel that they tried to disguise as something other than a ferris wheel.....

Our last day in Southern California, we decided we'd head to the NBC Studios in Burbank in hopes of seeing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was a bit of a trip as Burbank is about an hour from where we were staying in Costa Mesa (slightly more with traffic), and we arrived at the box office the moment it opened only to find out they were completely out of tickets. Why? Because the guest that day was Tom Cruise and people had been waiting in line since about 4 that morning. Go figure. The cashier in the ticket office all but laughed at me when I asked for tickets to the Jay Leno show. We took a tour of the NBC Studios anyway, but we'd been planning on going to see the Dodgers later that evening and since we didn't get tickets to Jay Leno, had nothing to do in the interim. We ended up nixing the Dodgers game and spent the day lounging around the hotel pool, got some champagne a little later and made a toast to us and our incredible time together.

We stopped for a night in Sacramento on our way home so Matt could say one last goodbye to his family, and then it was just 2 nights and a day left before I would have to take him to the airport for the long trek back to Afghanistan. The two weeks slipped through my fingers like they hadn't even existed; it seemed like I'd just picked him up at the airport and already it was nearly time for me to take him back. Nonetheless, we got the most out of every single second we spent together, so though it flew by, it was everything I needed to get through the next 9 months or so.

On Sunday morning when I took Matt to the airport, I got a gate pass so I could wait with him and was surprised to find that I was the only wife/fiance who had. The couple other guys Matt had traveled home with were sitting in the waiting area alone. Unlike when he had flown in, he was flying out in his DCUs, so there was a certain amount of pride that flowed through my veins everytime someone thanked Matt. How glad I was to be the girl holding his hand! When the time came for him to board, I couldn't bear to let him go. We held on for as long as we could, crying and hurting in a way that should never have to be familiar but that I know all too well. After I finally let loose my iron grip on his hand, complete strangers put their arms around me, comforted me, told me they felt for me even though they could never really understand unless they'd been through it; regardless, it was a kind gesture.

Going back to work on Monday was tough, and I even debated not going, but I'm glad I did. The sooner I got back to work, the sooner I got back into the swing of things. It truly does make 9 months seem like it's really not that long. And it's not! In the grand scheme of things, what's three-quarters of a year? When Matt left on Sunday, the foundation of our relationship was stronger than ever as was our unconditional love for one another, a reaffirmation that nothing could tear us apart, not even 9 months and thousands of miles.

On a happier note, as I mentioned before, there is a fabulous new little girl in my life. When Matt told me I could get a kitten to keep me occupied till he gets home, I wasted absolutely no time. I got her on Wednesday (even though I'd just gone to "look"...hahaha). Thinking up a name for her proved to be challenging as Matt's stipulations were that it should be military related, and even though he won't be meeting her for, well, 9 months, it was he who came up with the perfect name for her: Freedom. She's a little princess, a calico/tabby mix (I'm guessing), and adjusting quickly to her royalty status (in other words, I've already spoiled her rotten). So without further ado, here's some irresistably adorable shots of Freedom the deployment kitty (click photos to enlarge)....

To see more glamour shots of my cute little diva, click here. I'm not a proud new mommy or anything LOL. My other kids are adjusting to their new little sister - the dog, Tommy, adores her, and the cat, Ashes, is slowly but surely warming up to her (he's a little hurt over not being the only cat anymore, but he's at least stopped hissing at her).

I'm too lazy to repost a link to pictures from my trip, so if you haven't yet seem them, the link is in the post below! :-)

wishing matt was here @ 5:53 PM+

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+Thursday, June 16, 2005+
It's been a few days since Matt's R&R ended and the army reclaimed him for another 9 months, and I don't really have an excuse for not posting an update other than sheer laziness :-) We had an unbelievable time together - undoubtedly the best 15 days of my life - but I'm not especially up for writing right now, so I figured I'd at least buy myself some time and post the pictures!! Check them out here, and I plan on updating with stories from the trip in the next couple days (but don't hold me to it! There's a new little girl who's currently captivated most of my attention...but more on that later - or you could read the comments from my last post and probably figure it out LOL).

wishing matt was here @ 8:58 PM+

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