Hammond Family

Moving forward, one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emily's Halloweens

Okay, we were poor college students, Emily was on oxygen so we couldn't take her anywhere, and we had no costume. So I took an orange fleece that I had, we pulled the arms in and stuffed it with newspaper, put the face on it, and the paper bag on her head for the stem and took pictures. I think it's still my favorite costume. She was a great sport, and we got to take pictures of her as a pumpkin, and then get her out of there!Oh, I'm sad this is sideways. Emily had open heart surgery a few days before Halloween, so my mom made her a Love-a-lot care bear costume.

When she was 2 she was Raggedy Ann. She kind of slept through this Halloween!
When Emily was 3 she was a Mariner's cheerleader. She'd had the costume since she was a baby and could finally wear it. She went trick or treating this year.

Last year Em was a witch. She and Lily had great fun together.
This month's been kind of a tough one, because it marks the beginning of the holiday season, and is the only season that I had with my two babies. Halloween was always fun with Emily because she could participate in it-she could feel the pumpkins and see them lit up, she always did fun things and learned fun songs at school, and best of all, we got to play dress up! And she was always very cooperative. Isn't she cute!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lily walking and laughing


Today before church. She actually left her hair in for most of it, though she wouldn't let a bow stay in.
Lily at the zoo last week.

I just love this outfit! Lily is a very busy girl. I think her job in life is to make people happy and make people laugh. She's pretty good at it! Here's a few videos so that her grandma's and grandpa's can see her in action!

video


video

She's watching the bears in this one.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Mom and Dad's Blog

My mom has her blog up and running with updates on what's going on in Afghanistan, so I will probably not post too much anymore about what's going on with my dad and let her do it. If you want to look at it, there's a link to the right, (Mom and Dad) and the address is daveandjilladventures.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Afghanistan (from Dad)

I thought I'd post some of my dad's emails, because i don't think my mom has yet, and I know some of our relatives don't get Mom's updates. Here's some pictures of Afghanistan from yesterterday. I like the first 2 pages with pictures of the children. http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Afghanistan/ss/events/wl/08072001afghanistan/im:/091008/481/8b944e67dd054029a3851b8aeeb396c1/

I know this is long-I tried to divide it by his emails. It starts with earlier this week, ending with his email from this morning about church today. (he's 9 1/2 hours ahead, so he does everything while we're sleeping!)

Quick Report: 10/5/09
Now that I have been on the ground in Kabul City for two days--just beginning my third--I thought I would give you some impressions of their circumstances here--not from a military aspect, but from a civilian aspect--from the perspective of the local Afghani.
When looking at the mountains, which are approximately 15 kilometers from the city, it is at first remarkable that there are no trees. I learned yesterday that the mountains were once covered with beautiful forests--and that much of Afghanistan was forested. Though it is mostly arid here--it is no more so than Utah or Colorado or Idaho. The reason that there are no trees here and in many other parts of Afghanistan is because the Taliban burned them all--they destroyed them. The hatred of the Taliban by most Afghans is very deep. My assistant, Naween, is a young father of three who has a good university education. The University of Kabul has been in the past and is again becoming a very good university. While the Taliban were in power, he was in his late teens. One day while returning from school he was stopped by four Talibani policemen. The primary reason he was stopped was because his hair was too long. They searched him and found on his person a CD with some western music on it--not American music, but music that they didn't approve of. He was beaten and thrown into jail. His head was shaved and though he was only 17 he was treated like a menacing criminal for a couple of weeks. He was finally released. He is typical of many Afghans' experience with the Taliban. The Taliban are mostly in the remote, poor, uneducated sections of the country--and they haven't changed their perspective on how women should be treated---very poorly---or on how they must enforce strict adherence to their neo-conservative fundamentalist brand of Islam. It is Islam with no love nor kindness, only dread, fear, intimidation, and subjection to their power that they claim due to religious superiority. Most Afghans are deeply religious--but they follow the moderate Islam beliefs that are adhered to by many in the East--more like the Islam that is practiced in Turkey or Jordan. The people who work at the channel are all moderate. The women (we have perhaps 33-38 female employees) were headscarfs but not burkas. Even the expat women wear headscarfs while in public--but not while they are working.
Definitely things are betternow in Afghanistan--before there was nothing remotely resembling an upwardly mobile economic system--now people are able to earn a living, go shopping in regular markets and shopping malls, eat at restaurants, enjoy family life, and live without fear of abuse of women and intimidation from the Taliban. Had Bush not brought us to Afghanistan, the region would be so completely unstable that Pakistan would have fallen and Al Qaida would be holding the world--especially the US--for unimaginable blackmail--after destroying a few cities as a demonstration of their power. Pakistan has very sophisticated nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them anywhere on earth. They also have a fleet of deep water submarines deployed from their base on the Red Sea--with immediate access to the Indian Ocean. That's why Afghanistan is so vital--it is the lynch pin of security. If we weren't here, Al Qaida's operatives would also be inclined to start a war with India--and you can only imagine the chain of events--with China and Russia at risk of being brought into the nuclear war as well because Al Qaida doesn't like any of them and couldn't be trusted if they did. So we're here not because of the people of Afghanistan--though they certainly need us and would suffer greatly without us. We're here because we really have no other choice. The safety of the free and not-so-free world is at stake.
Children in Afghanistan 10/7/09
Yesterday I had several encounters with Afghani children. Just like they do in Istanbul, the children in Afghanistan attend school in shifts. I was in our armored car for a visit to our owner's compound which is right behind the UN compound (you should see the fortifications--this place is secure, with the guards armed to the teeth--bullet-proof jackets, ammunition belts criss-crossing their chests, two pistols each, and then each carrying either Uzi's or AK-47's...and these guards were INSIDE the compound) In the midst of this visible show of defensive power--with machine guns on the corners of the building, we passed several noisy, chattering, obviously happy school children--aged approximately 6 through 8. They each had regular backpacks, were carrying books, were dressed in clothes much like those worn by American kids. They were oblivious to the guns and the barbed wire--just dodging the traffic on their way home from another day at school. They were beautiful children--with their dark eyes shining, handsome dark hair and high cheekbones. The Afghan children are the biggeset reason I am in Kabul.
10/8/09 Bomb Blast
We had a bomb blast at the Interior Ministry, across from the Indian Embassy. I was in the news room, when we heard a whooshing sound and then a low thud--all the walls, floors, and ceilings shook, and the windows vibrated, but nobody at our facility was hurt. The ministry building is 500 meters from our facility. Our people were immediately outbound to cover the blast--and everyone else resumed their work like nothing had happened. You'll read more about it in a few minutes, I'm sure. Anyway, I'm OK and still feel secure in my location--I'm just glad I wasn't on that road today.
Security:
I live in a compound that is surrounded by steel and concrete walls, on a fairly quiet street that is 200 meters from the m ain road and any buildings used by government agencies. Our compound has two or three guards on the premises at all times. I feel very safe here.
The ride to the office each day does not pass any dangerous locations--such as the one that suffered the bombing today. I am in a car for three minutes to and from the office. One guard plus an armed driver take me to work and home. I travel in an unmarked, very unremarkable Hyundai van--and there are hundreds just like it all over Kabul.
Our offices are behind blast walls and the security guards are very attentive. They won't even allow people to bring in a laptop computer without authorization and inspection.
The blast today though carried out by the Taliban (they have claimed credit) was probably triggered by agents of Pakistan--though not necessarily with any knowledge or encouragement from the ruling Pakistani government.
Church 10/9/09
Church was great. I'll tell you about it. To get onto the Eggers U.S. Army base, my driver took me past the checkpoint to the entrance, which is 300 meters down a narrow road, past the German Embassy, surrounded by blast walls and razor wire. Then, I went through three checkpoints where I met Brother Lee. He is here training Afghans in police techiques and methods. (Here, the police are pretty-much the same as military in the US.) He has been in Afghanistan for five years. He is a very popular man on base--it seemed that almost everyone knew him. He is a civilian, which is why he has been here so long. He took me on a tour of the base--which is like a large village. (Thai restaurant, coffe cafe, barber shop, large bazaar filled with Afghan merchandise and Afghan merchants who pass security checks each Friday to give the US soldiers a place to buy souveniers and carpets and Afghan marble statuary and metal works without being in danger.) They have a big mess-hall and on Friday's, they grill authentic US hamburgers. (The line was 150 soldiers long.) We went to church in a building that serves as the chapel for Jews, Protestants, and LDS servicemen and their guests. There were eight to ten civilian contractors, and about a dozen uniformed personnel, two professors (husband and wife) from Kabul University (teaching engineering--he's a retired professor from Purdue, and they looked like a missionary couple...at least 73 years old--perhaps 75-76.) He is teaching engineering because he believes in the advancement of Afghan society--and there is no better way than high-quality university education.
We started with Priesthood/RS combined (we had four sisters in attendance: two humanitarian aid volunteers from a charity formed by a lady from Mesa, AZ; the professor's wife, and a combat soldier (this sister was from the south, obvious from her accent, and she was dressed with all the combat gear--including bullet-proof vest and helmet and pistols.) All the soldiers had side-arms on their person. The civilians were dressed in either suit, coat and tie, or casual shirts. The lesson was on conference teachings--what we had learned. The sunday school lesson was on the Plan of Salvation. Sacrament meeting was wonderful--the Holy Ghost bore powerful witness of Heavenly Father's love and protection to all of us. After the meeting, we learned more about the bombing. There were two suicide bombers in the same car. They made it past two checkpoints because they were wearing Afghan military uniforms. When they were stopped a third time, they realized they were about to be discovered, so they detonated the bomb. Apparently, that is why they were still some distance from the Indian Embassy

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dad/Lily

My dad made it to Afghanestan. He lives in a compound with 4 bedrooms upstairs, (for 4 different ex-pats) and a common living area/dining room downstairs. We haven't seen any pictures. He said it's like being in a war movie, with guards everywhere, the cars have bulletproof glass, etc. It's not anything like Turkey. The food is very spicy, but luckily he likes spicy food. He'll be able to attend church on Friday. My mom has a blog: daveandjilladventures.blogspot.com. But she still has to get stuff figured out with it, so there's not much on it yet.
My friend took these pictures of Lily on Monday. It was a lot of fun. This dog is Harry, named after our friend's dog who Lily loves, and Emily did, too. The little puppy looks just like Harry does in real life, hence the name.
Lily loves to play Ring around the Rosies. She thinks its very funny when you fall.