Well, for everyone, this is late but a Merry Christmas to all and Happy Holidays.  It's December 27th, 2011 so I have to give a shout out to my dad.  Happy Birthday Dad!
Still working away over here in Iraq and while it's not an ideal place, it's not that bad.  I finally have somewhat of a decent place to live, my own room and share a bathroom and just keep trying to continue my knowledge, education and gain experience. 
While I was digging through a box with all my stuff, I discovered a Christmas card my Grandmother sent me last year.  It was sad because this was the first Christmas she's been gone but it also made me realize not to let life pass me by and live it to the fullest.  She was a wonderful woman and I love her very much and miss her and wish I could have spent one more day with her.  I've got memories of love and fun with her and will always cherish those.
This was also the second Christmas I missed with my son and it made me sad but it also brightened my day when I spoke to him very early Christmas morning and heard the excitement in his voice.  He was very happy with the presents he got and I was glad to hear that.  He means the world to me and I love him very much. 
So as we get to the end of 2011, I look back on a few things that happened in this past year that affected me and my family.
1.  My first time away from my son for his birthday.  However, I was able to send him on a cruise for his birthday.  Something he had always wanted to do.
2.  Mildred E. Bickford passed away July 22, 2011.  She was 95 years old.
3.  I returned to Florida after nearly 10 months of being away for the memorial service.
4.  I turned 43 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
5.  I left my previouos employer, ITT Services to join Five River Services In Iraq.
6.  My second Thanksgiving overseas.
7.  My second Christmas overseas.

So as this year ends and I reflect back, it was good and bad.  Happy and sad.  Yet all things combine to make the life we each experience and I hope that I take from this year and make 2012 a better year.  The sacrifice is tough but overall I have to believe it is worth it for I couldn't have done most of the things that I have.  I have a far better appreciation of life, the world and it's numerous cultures and my own self.