Dear Family and Friends,
This letter is to let all of you know that Ian is being deployed to Iraq for the second time at the end of September. He is currently a Major in the Army Reserves, and he will be leaving with a Logistics Maintenance Assistance Team (LMAT) based in Madison. This mission is different from the one he participated in during his last deployment where he remained on an American base. This time he will be helping to train members of the Iraqi Army. Frankly, this new assignment has me more concerned than the previous one, but Ian feels prepared and ready to do his job, although he’s wishing he’d had time to learn some Arabic. Just like I informed everyone back in 2006, please do not approach Ian with the attitude that news of this deployment is like cancer. He is confident he can make a difference and wants to use his skills to create positive changes in a troubled area of the world. He will miss his life and his family here, but he promises me he will come back to it.
From my end, I’m anxious because we’ve done this before and I have some idea what sort of challenges lie ahead, but things are already easier than last time. First of all, I’m not pregnant, and that alone will make this deployment seem like a cakewalk compared to 2006. The kids are all older (currently 7, 5 and 2) and much more self-sufficient which should help. The girls will both be in school full time, and we know more families than we did when Aden was just starting half-day kindergarten before. Having months to prepare (compared to 6 days) has been useful, and Ian has helped me get many things in order, including getting me a GPS so I will still have a voice in the car telling me when to turn even if it can’t be his for awhile. Ian’s unit is based in Wisconsin this time, not Texas, so I have hopes that there might be a family readiness group to lend a hand for a change. (The Army was useless to us the last time, so I will admit they are not high hopes.)
We’ve hired a friend to take over Ian’s work at the violin store, but without Ian home to be with the kids I will have to cut back the store hours to overlap with school. We have a lead on a neighborhood grandma for hire who may be able to watch Quinn some mornings so I can get more work done, and I hope that works out. (Otherwise barnacle boy will be stuck to my knee for twelve straight months, and it’s very hard to work on violins that way.) We’ve really enjoyed running our own business, so I hope our customers are understanding enough about our circumstances to put up with my limited availability. I love my work, but of course my kids come first so I want to be with them as much as I can. One of the ways I’m planning to stay occupied while being at home is by writing a blog for Babble.com. I was going to put regular updates about our family on a blog during this deployment anyway, since it seemed like an easier way for people to check in on us, and I’m happy that Babble was interested in sponsoring it. The wars we are involved in are seldom in the news anymore, the soldiers tend to only be remembered on patriotic occasions, and the families of those soldiers are largely invisible to the public. I think putting our story out there as a reminder could help.
I am always touched by the fact that people genuinely want to help, but most of them aren’t sure how. Here are some ideas: It’s wonderful to have adults to talk to. Call, write, visit… Having Ian away is lonely and there are only so many conversations I can have with my kids about Webkinz or opening yogurt containers before I start to feel like a zombie. Any night I don’t have to cook and then clean the kitchen is good–invite us over and I promise to tell amusing stories about my brothers. (See guys? You’re helping already!) It’s nice once in awhile to get out alone to run errands instead of going as a group, so if you have a little time to hang out with my kids let me know. I am lousy at asking for help, but if you offer me an hour here or there I will take you up on it and be grateful forever. I may hire a lawn service in the spring, but anyone who wants to help fight back the grass in the fall after Ian leaves is more than welcome. I plan to tackle a lot of the shoveling myself this winter, but wouldn’t turn down help with that either. I could use a list of people willing to be specific kinds of contacts–people good with a computer crisis or plumbing disasters, and especially people who would forgive me if there is an emergency in the middle of the night and I need help at an inconvenient hour. I’m pretty sure I know whom I can call, but it helps me to have your permission in advance.
This time around I’m more worried about the kids. I don’t think Mona remembers the last deployment, and Quinn obviously doesn’t, but it was very difficult for Aden to not have her dad here. They’ve all enjoyed having Ian as the stay-at-home parent for the past couple of years and his absence will be deeply felt by all of them this time. Distractions would be welcome. Anyone from out of town who would like to see Milwaukee, this coming year would be a fine time to do it. Mail addressed directly to the kids would also make them happy. Play dates at other people’s houses always gets them excited, and we are happy to reciprocate.
Ian will know his mailing address after he arrives in Iraq, and I will share it once I know it myself. Until that’s available you can always send him a note through his Army email account.
If you want to “Support the Troops” in a more general way, Ian says to donate to the USO. The care packages they provided were the most useful, and he says any organization willing to send Stephen Colbert to Iraq to entertain soldiers is worth giving money to.
We will be fine. It will be difficult, and I’m not pretending I will handle everything as well as I’d like, but Aden, Mona and Quinn are creative, sweet and endlessly amusing. We will have each other, and in Ian’s absence I can’t wish for anything better.
Love to you all,
Kory, Ian, Aden, Mona and Quinn