AbelGraffamStrange Family Pic 2012

This past weekend, we headed up to Nashville to meet up with the rest of my family to say goodbye to my brother Kevin who is headed to Afghanistan with his ARMY unit, the 101st Airborne out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.  Kevin went to Iraq back in 2006 for a long tour.  This tour will be a bit shorter, but it won’t include a mid-tour leave making his time away around 9 months long.

Kevin is the middle child in our family between me and our little sister Katie.  The three of us have always been extremely close…especially giving each other headlocks and whatnot as kids!  Our mom sacrificed a ton while we were growing up to make sure that we had all that we needed and a lot of what we wanted.  As a result of that, the Abel 4 have always been a tight bunch.  That hasn’t changed even when I got married, Katie got married, and well, Kevin is still weighing his options in that department!  My husband and Katie’s husband and Kevin get along like three crazy brothers.  Our family always looks forward to getting together…especially now that Mom, Katie, and JD are in Memphis, Kevin is in Nashville, and we are in Georgia.

We spent Friday evening at a great hibachi place near Vanderbilt called Kobe Steaks.  It was a little interesting to take our shoes off to eat, especially because the floor was very sticky!  I told the waiter it was Kevin’s birthday and Kev seemed to get over his initial confusion about the birthday (his is in April) and he enjoyed the ice cream with Emma.  After dinner, we all hung out at the hotel, talked about Kevin’s deployment, watched the Olympics and called it a night.

Saturday we got up early and went to the Tomato Art Festival in East Nashville.  It was a cool festival with lots of arts, crafts, food, and tons of people-watching.  We ate pizza on the patio at Mafiaoza’s in the 12 South area of Nashville.  The guys went to see the new Bourne movie while the girls took naps at the hotel.  The evening was spent at Opryland Hotel walking around before we ate dinner at Solario.  Our time back at the hotel was spent with more Olympics and hanging out.

We got up Sunday morning and took some family pictures.  Our last family picture was shortly after Emma turned 1…almost 3 years ago.  It was time for some updating!  We headed over to Dave and Buster’s to bowl.  In the first five minutes we arrived, one of the D&B workers accidentally crashed into Kevin with a tray full of sodas.  Kevin was soaked, but he was a good sport about it.  We got free nachos out of it and Kevin got a sweet D&B shirt that he said he wouldn’t be wearing anywhere else…ever.

The last stop for the Strange’s was Sakura for a sushi lunch on our way out of town.  At that point, we said goodbye to Kevin and had some great hugs.  Mom, Katie, and JD stayed over until Monday because Kevin’s unit was delayed in their departure.  I had to be back to start school on Monday…and it was good to not have the whole crowd at the base.

We know that Kevin arrived safely in Germany and will make his way to Afghanistan in the next couple of days.  We covet your prayers for his safety and the work that he will be doing.  Kevin feels very strongly about what they are doing and is eager to get on the ground to get started.  We can’t wait for May to get here so that we can have our Kevin back!

I also managed to get a quick picture of Emma with my sister Katie and me.  Emma absolutely adores Aunt Katie and her awesome uncles Kevin and JD!

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