As I mentioned in my last post, I check that instant messaging screen when I turn my pc on in the mornings. Sure enough, I look at the list and my soldier is online from the middle east!
After a quick exchange, I pick up the phone, dial his brothers and my sister (his godmother) because I know they all have IM and in a minute we are chatting away in a chat room! It was wonderful to have people ask questions and all of us could see the answer! Fabulous! The only drawback to instant messaging and chat rooms is that the conversation isn't "recorded" and (as far as I know) can't be printed. I usually summarize what was said immediately while it's fresh in my head and send an email to the "news group" we have for staying in touch about our soldier.
So here's what I remember from this morning's exchange:
Dad: Have you seen any camel spiders or scorpions"
Son: Not yet and I hope not to.
Mom: How's the food?
Son: The food is very good and we eat 4 times a day. Chow times are 3-4 hours long and we usually go back for seconds. Gained 6 pounds since deploying. [He needs the weight!]
Brother: Are you working out?
Son (brother): Yes, almost every day in the gym... working weights and the boxing bag.
Aunt: Are you doing training?
Son (Nephew): Yes, some every day. Ambush and IED response mostly.
Mom: So what's it like there?
Son: Just like Fort ______ only with LOTS of sand (LOL)
Since they are not yet at their permanent operating base, his unit's commander has asked that no one send mail until next week...
Dad: What should we send you first?
Son: FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. Snack food. We watch movies at night and it's hard without the popcorn (LOL). And toilet paper. And laundry detergent.
Mom: Toilet paper? Laundry detergent?
Son: Yeah, they run out of tp regularly. And I'm doing laundry in a bucket next to my cot.
Aunt: Don't they have a laundry service?
Son: Yes, but this is just socks and small stuff which have a habit of disappearing in the laundry. The washing machine eats socks here, too. LOL
Mom: How are my other sons [R, L, M]?
Son: They're good. R is here and says he sends kisses and hugs. Wants to know if you're sending brownies :-)
Mom: Yup in second or third package.
Son: Not the 1st?????
Mom: No, want to be sure the kinks are out of the mail service so that the brownies are still fresh. I'll send Oreos in the 1st mail.
Brother: Anything else you need?
Son: Non-drowsy cold medicine... almost everyone has a cold (back to the boot camp crud) and the PX is always out of medicines.
Brother: You have it?
Son: Not yet. I'm good.
There was some general family info exchanged (including that my niece's significant other (Air Force) may be heading back to Iraq in the Spring), there was an exchange about the elections and the most recent violence, the brothers "chatted" for a while, and then he had to go.
So we are off the dark side. They move soon, so I know communication may be intermittent for a while. He says he'll try to email before they go. And again when they're settled at the FOB. If he can, he says once they are in a routine at the FOB, he might be able to set a day and time to do the chat thing regularly (as regular as you can be in a war zone where there are no days off and hours are 24/7) and we'll invite more people to join us.
Now the word in the family has spread... the uncle has IM'd this morning with his screen name, and the other aunts are quickly installing the IM program and promising to come up with "kewl" screen names... the cousins are already there and I'll spend the rest of the weekend adding screen names. Don't mind. Don't mind at all.