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Updated: Wednesday, August 9, 2006
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My HERO is HOME!!!!
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Tuesday, July 4th - Happy Independence Day

There won't be any photos included with this entry, because I just haven't had the time to download and resize all of the photographs I've taken since Diane FINALLY arrived at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon.

I can't even begin to tell you the fiasco she went through since leaving Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. I am now convinced that my friend's tongue in cheek joke that DELTA means "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport", is indeed true. Without going into too many details - because it will only anger me again - Diane (Dee) spent TWO days in Salt Lake City. She now knows the SLC airport like the back of her hand, and got to experience the hospitality of two SLC hotels. She swore she was in a remake of the movie "The Terminal". How does it happen that someone gets trapped in a city? Take one airport that only serves a portion of the US's larger cities, add in flights that are routinely overbooked by 10-14 people (especially over a holiday weekend), and a destination that most airlines forget is actually part of the United States of America, and this disaster was just waiting to happen.

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Tuesday, July 11th - From the City of Brotherly Love to The Last Frontier

I've finally managed to sort through the hundreds of photographs I took while Diane (Dee) was in town visiting. What a terrific time we had exploring Alaska! I am so grateful for the time we had together, and for the opportunity to show her the wonders of the state I have come to love so much.

I think the best way to present the photos taken over the past week would be to recount the entire adventure with more details. My last entry gave you the highlights, so bear with me if some of the information is repeated here. There are a lot of photos, so I think I'm going to split this entry into several parts to save my dial up readers from long download times.

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Saturday, July 15th - Extreme Makeover/Home Edition Comes to North Pole, AK

The following information was taken from the Press Release issued on July 7th

"EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION" TRAVELS TO NORTH POLE, ALASKA AND DELIVERS A LITTLE CHRISTMAS IN JULY TO A SINGLE MOTHER OF A THIRTEEN-MEMBER FAMILY

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Friday, July 21st - Out and about with camera in hand

The past week has been relatively uneventful. There's not much fun to be had when you're on the verge of constructing an ark and gathering up Alaska wildlife in pairs. Rainclouds seemed to park over Fairbanks and stay there - for days. We finally started seeing sunshine late on Tuesday afternoon and everyone's spirits lifted. Since then, the weather has been beautiful. While the rest of the country seems to be melting in some of the hottest temperatures on record, Alaska has been absolutely gorgeous.

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Monday, July 24th - Golden Days in Fairbanks

This past weekend, Steve and I stayed busy attending various activities in celebration of Golden Days. Golden Days began as a way of collectively honoring Fairbanks’ past, and Felix Pedro's discovery of gold on July 22, 1902. Historical and informative exhibits are at various locations throughout Golden Days. Many favorite events are held, including the Children’s Parade, Red Green River Regatta, a street fair, the Rubber Duckie Race, & the Grande Parade. This year, Steve and I (and Rachael) attended the Rubber Duckie Race and the Red Green River Regatta. Rachael and I attended the Governor's Annual Picnic at Pioneer Park, and Steve and I attended the WEIO (World Eskimo Indian Olympics). It was a very full weekend, and the weather was absolutely perfect! We're all sporting some color from being out in the sun.

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Thursday, July 27th - Stryker Brigade Extended

I can not begin to explain adequately, the total chaos, devastation, sadness and anger that has blanketed the 172nd Stryker Brigade family over the last 24 hours. Mere DAYS from homecoming, CNN made an announcement that our soldiers were being extended in Iraq for an unknown period of time. The media knew about this BEFORE THE FAMILIES DID!

A friend of mine was making a "Welcome Home" banner with her children when she saw the report on television. Can you even imagine finding out that your husband is not coming home in two days - as expected - and instead as been extended indefinitely?! Why in the world were we not told before the news media announced it to the world? The soldiers had no clue either; many were given the news by their WIVES via email or telephone! Some of those soldiers were assembled in Kuwait - waiting for the plane that would bring them home to their families.

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Saturday, July 29th - Taking a deep breath...

I'm keeping this entry short, because I'm spent. As expected, the past two days have been both mentally and spiritually challenging for the army families who have been impacted by this extension. I'm sure the soldiers who got this news so suddenly had to do a bit of regrouping too. But now that the news has settled in, and everyone has done their share of kicking and screaming, and cussing and crying, it's time to focus our sights on the days ahead.

I always knew that I had very strong military spouse friends, but the past few days have proven it a hundred fold. Sure, we all felt like the wind was knocked out of us, but we have no choice but to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move on. Some of my friends have already started assembling the first of what is sure to be many care packages. All we're waiting for is an address to ship them to. The children - especially those who are old enough to understand that mommy and daddy won't be here for their first day of school - have pulled out their crayons and paper and have started working on drawings and cards for their soldier parent.

We still don't know for sure if Steve will have to go back. If he does, he knows that he won't have to worry about me. If he doesn't have to go back, then I will give thanks to God for allowing him to stay with me.

Whatever happens, I plan to always be here for my friends who have to wait a few more months before they hold their soldier again.

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© 2006 Susan L Stevenson