Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Eat, Sleep, Burp....Eat, Sleep, Burp....

We're all doing well in the Schwartz house. Everyone is eating and sleeping well. Surprisingly well for having a newborn in the house! During naps I've even managed to squeeze in some housework and some sewing.

Soph had her photos taken by the most wonderful photographer. Michele of Beautiful Babies and More took my pregnancy shots (which were going to be a surprise for Geo...but I just can't keep a secret!!!) which were spectacular. She came to the house and really made me feel comfortable. Pregnancy is such an amazing time and having the most beautiful photos to document that time is a blessing. So, last week Michelle came back to the house and took pics of the babe. There are two "sneak peak" pics on her blog. They look amazing! Much better than the 300 pictures that I've taken with my Nikon Coolpix 3100!

I just can't help myself. I don't want to be one of those crazy moms that can only talk about their child...and posts daily pics of them on the internet....but I think I'll work on that later :)
The Pea LOVES the car! As soon as the key hits the ignition she's off playing in dreamland. And now that I've rigged the seat so that it is reclined, she doesn't wake up with a sore neck. Yesterday was her very first bath. She seemed to enjoy it. No red face...no screaming. She just wiggled around a bit.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tea Anyone?

Dear Family & Friends,

It's pretty much been business as usual for the team in the east. The days have stayed warm and hazy, and in the late afternoons, the winds often pick-up and we have little dust storms, but not as bad as we have had in Kabul.

Those of us running back & forth or around Darulaman have had to put up with a lot of road
construction. There is an amazing amount of (US-funded) construction going on. Part of the US doctrine here is to build roads to help extend the reach of the government, and it is a successful strategy. People are grateful that they can get around so much easier, and government services can get to them more often too.

In the east, the US unit that we partner with is changing out. A brigade from the 10th Mountain Division (out of Fort Drum, NY, where we frequently go for Annual Training) is in the process of leaving, and a new unit from Europe, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, is relieving them. The whole process will be complete in a couple weeks; they will no doubt be looking to us and our ANA counterparts to help with continuity.

A little history about the Jalalabad compound where the temporary headquarters is now. We are staying in an old Afghan army fort, and before the war, it was a Taliban stronghold. The attached picture shows the old tea house that was the last known residence of Osama bin-Laden.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, and please take a moment to remember our fallen comrades,




1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Guess Who Is Two Weeks Old Already...

My how time flies.....

Our girl is already 14 days old! At our two week postpartum appointment she weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs 3 oz. She's been spending more time awake and alert.

Oh wait....she is demanding my attention right now....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pics of the Babe...

9 Days old and enjoying Dad's side of the bed.
Quality time with Nana on her 10th day
Doing some more snoozing on her 11th day
Posing in the most adorable lil' elephant pants that I've ever seen!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Army Offers More Protection

Well, this week has been rather eventful for Mom and Daughter. We attended our very first Mom's group at the Midwifery that I use. It was great to get to socialize (I've spend most of the week hanging out with Soph in bed while recovering). There were lots of other adorable munchkins there to oooh and aaah at.

Thursday was Soph's one week birthday. She has been outstanding in every way. Sleeping and eating well. She's so calm it amazes me. We're practicing the basic tenants of Attachment Parenting (see what happens when you choose a therapist as a mother!). This style of parenting encourages healthy and appropriate attachment through infant bonding, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, responding to cries and babywearing. It was developed by Dr. Jim Sears and is based on Bowlby's attachment theory.

I've already received a few strange looks from people in the grocery store when the see Soph tied to me in a Moby Wrap as opposed to being in a car seat or travel system. Even family members have said things like "Don't you ever put that kid down" or "You'll spoil her if you hold her while she sleeps." Mostly I find this an amusing difference in opinions and chalk it up to being the non-conformist in my family (a nickname my Grandfather, the original non-conformist, has given me).

We're doing great! Here is a pic from her one week birthday.Thanks to everyone who recently sent cards and gifts. We appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.

News from the Commander:

Dear Family & Friends,

Our Army email system (AKO) has been very troublesome lately, so I am using my work email here to send out this update through Nikki.

Those of us in Jalalabad are continuing to get established here. The weather has been interesting, hot (more than 100 degrees) and starting to get humid. In the evenings, we sometimes get these gusty winds as if it is about to storm, but there is no rain. Back in Kabul, it would be a dust storm, but this area is rather green, so there is not as much dust in the air. Those on our team who are staying back at Darulaman are experiencing better temperatures, highs in the 80's.

I wanted to let you know about some steps that the Army has been taking to improve our protection here too; all of these are to minimize the dangers presented by IEDs.

1. Modifications for the HMMWVs.
Before mid-summer, all of our HMMWVs will receive a new kit that improves the vehicle's armor protection. The boys are looking forward to it because it has a powered gun turret too. (We have to hand-crank the ones we have now.)

2. New Body Armor.
Again, sometime this summer, we will all receive new body armor that will offer more protection (particularly on the sides), weigh less, and fit better. This armor will ride more on the waist that just on the shoulders as ours do now. We are all looking forward to this better protection, and a new set of armor that won't smell as bad as what we have now!

3. Fireproof Uniforms.
As an additional measure of protection, sometime this year we will be receiving fireproof uniforms to wear during our mounted operations. Our current uniform already provide great protection from flash burns, but these new uniforms will increase our protection.

For those of us here in Jalalabad, tomorrow is the official Transfer of Authority between the two ANA brigades. It is a big deal for them with various speakers and food. The rest of the week is just normal operations.

The newest member of our family support group is doing well. I have been very fortunate to get pictures of Sophia every day. Thank you everyone who has sent a congratulatory note so far, and sorry that I have not been able to respond to everyone.




Commander/Senior Mentor

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

News from the Field

Dear Family & Friends,

First of all, Nikki and I are happy to announce a new addition to the
Schwartz family: Sophia Elizabeth was born on 10 May at 1h09 PM EDT. She has apparently inherited her Dad's size because she came in at 9 lbs and 22 inches. Both Mom and daughter are doing great! I am anxiously looking forward to meeting her when I come home on leave in August. I got to hear her a little bit and she got to hear me as well, when I called home yesterday.

Things remain busy here. Our ANA brigade continues its movement to the Eastern Zone, with the last elements moving down tomorrow. Everyone who is down there is doing great, even though temperatures have reached 108 degrees F already. The 80's in Kabul seem very comfortable by comparison.

Those guys from our team who are going to the Police Mentoring mission are still waiting on assignments and instructions. The French ETT is continuing to get established in the FOBs that will remain under brigade control back in the west, and are doing well.

Next week, those of us in the East will continue to consolidate at our new locations, and start our new phase of operations with the ANA there.


1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Our Visual Birth Story

10 May 2007

The day was beautiful!
And I mean BEAUTIFUL....
The AquaDoula (birthing tub) was filled just right...
The emergency contact numbers were posted ...The most amazing women I've ever met, and the world's best support team, was in place...
And we were well on our way to meeting Ms. Sophia...Comfort and support were endless...guidance and the wisdom of those around me was priceless...At 1:09pm, she entered into the world with a bang (but it was a peaceful bang)9 lbs. + 22 inches long. Ms. Sophia Elizabeth Schwartz
The love of our life.

***I have to add a very, very special, heartfelt thanks to the best birth photographer, Kate "The Deputy Doula". You have a special spirit and an eye for the shot. You made Sophia's birth a piece of art and George +I will be forever in your debt.***

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Pea Has Sprouted!

I wanted to let everyone know that Sophia Elizabeth Schwartz was born
happily in our home on 10 May 2007 at 1:09pm. She is a healthy 9 lbs
and is 22 inches long (Which I hear beat both her Mom and Dad's birth
weight and length!!)

We're both recovering well and George received the news shortly after
Soph was born. I have been restricted to the second floor of the house
because of some sutures, but being waited on isn't so bad :) My
friend Kate was here to coach me on throughout the entire journey and
we will be forever in her, and my amazing midwives debt. It was a
life changing experience for all of us.

We took lots of pictures and I'll send some out after a few hours of
rest. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers along the way. We
couldn't have asked for a more easeful, peaceful delivery.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Watching the Clock

George is anxiously waiting to receive "The" Call. He told me today in an email that when the baby arrives, he's responsible for handing out sweets to the ANA and they'll host a dinner in his honor.

I'm still feeling great. A bit heavier, but no physical complaints. No signs of labor thus far....but George is hoping that the Pea is "on time" just like her Dadder always is.

My friends Kate and Calder arrived at the house on Friday. It has been absolutely wonderful to have other people around the house. Even when we spend hours in silence (Kate on her computer hard at work on her final project in her final class for her PhD. program...and me diligently working on various craft projects) the company is great! She will most likely be the one making the first posting about the Pea after the delivery.

Thanks to everyone who has called or emailed with their words of encouragement and support!

Dear Family & Friends,

It has been another great week here at Darulaman. The weather has been warm and nice. We have been doing quite a bit of training ourselves this week, including some time on the range which you know our group loves to do.

During the week, some of us went down east to do another reconnaissance and more coordination with the unit there that our ANA brigade will be replacing. It is really beautiful country down there, but it got is very hot down there -- already having highs up to 100 degrees F.

Our first units started moving to Jalalabad. It is about a 3-4 hour drive from here, so they are getting an early start.

Otherwise, we continue to work on getting the French integrated into our organization. We had a visit from their senior ranking officer in Afghanistan this past week, and he was pleased with how things are going.

As most of us get settled in our new environment, we'll have a busy couple of weeks I am sure, and more to report.

Best Regards,

1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)