Friday, August 31, 2007

the cards of August

I swear, it seems that I am a card-writing maniac sometimes. And just when do I manage to write all these cards? I steal time wherever I can. It takes me about 2-3 minutes to write one, and all I need is a flat surface. One set of cards I got early on came in a large box, which I can use as a writing surface if need be -- think airports, planes, pedicures, waiting rooms, car, etc. I carry that box with me and have cards in it ready to be written and several pens. When I need a break at work, I write a card or two. I show up early to an appointment, I write a card or two. I wait for my oil to be changed, I write about 10 cards. You get the picture.

It all adds up. So a few cards a day makes a difference. Just in case you were wondering how I managed to write so many cards.

That said, I did drop in the mail yesterday 18 cards of encouragement to Soldier's Angels Germany.

Running total: 352

Ahhhh. Sleep.

I have been insanely busy lately -- but then who hasn't been. I've let that cut into my sleep and that's not good. I get grouchy when I don't get enough sleep.

Last night I threw cuation to the wind and went to bed at 9:30 PM. I managed a full 7 hours of uninterrupted, peaceful, dream-filled bliss. Ahhhhhh.

And I am thinking that I might take a nap this afternoon. Now there's a thought to help get through the work day. :D

Good News from Iraq: 31 Aug 2007

From Iraq the Model, Crossing Anbar.

We've been getting some reports about the improvement in security in Anbar in the last few months but little was said about the highway that runs across the province. The several hundred kilometer western section of the international highway is technically Iraq's second "port" in a way as it connects Iraq with Syria and Jordan and was for years the only window to the world when all airports and the southern ports in Basra were closed to traffic in the 1990s. For most of the time between 2004 and 2007 taking this road was considered suicidal behavior as the chance someone would be robbed or killed was too high. But with the tribal awakening in Anbar that cleared large parts of the province from al-Qaeda the highway is expected to be safer, but how much safer? My family returned yesterday from a vacation in Syria and they have used this road twice in six weeks. I had tried hard to convince them not to do that and take a flight instead but now after hearing their story I'm convinced that my fear was not justified; the road is safe…

Continue reading here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Following in her father's footsteps

Now that Jack Bauer is an engineer, Moo seems to want to follow in her father's footsteps.

She is digging up the backyard looking for them insurgent mice.

Awww. Isn't that sweet?

(Until I have to try to sell the house, that is.)

Notes from Universe

Every morning I am greeted with a Note from Universe. Something encouraging, profound, clever, and most of simple to start my day. For me, they are winks from the universe. Kinda like, "Yeah, somebody up there is on my side. How cool is that?" ;-)

So you get a sense of what these notes are like, today, this note was in my inbox.

One thing I know for sure, Butterfly Wife, is that with time, everything becomes clear, all questions are answered, what's broken is restored, new trails are blazed, hearts are mended, love returns, and you will look over your shoulder, with a tear in your eye, at life's utter perfection.

And best of all, Butterfly Wife, time is one thing you have plenty of. Trust me.

The Universe
These philosophical notes are just one more thing that I use to help me get through this deployment. And honestly, I'll take all the help I can get. Especially when it is free, gets me thinking, and is funny.

Did I mention that it is free?

Good News from Iraq: 30 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Dragons found house rigged to explode, caches.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers found a house rigged to explode during clearing operations in the Rashid District of the Iraqi capital, Aug. 28.

In the early afternoon, Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, attached to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, responded to a call from Joint Security Station Doura that a house was possibly rigged with explosives.

Terrorists have been known to demolish homes with explosives in order to scare residents into moving.

At the scene, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team found the basement rigged with two sticks of TNT and detonated them safely.

Earlier that morning, “Black Lions” from Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div., found an intact explosively-formed penetrator device, five rocket-propelled grenades, two rocket propelled grenade launchers and an RPK machine gun with 500 rounds.

While cordoning the area off, the troops began taking small-arms fire and killed one insurgent and wounded another as they engaged the enemy.

In the late hours of the previous day, “Tomahawks,” of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, found a cache consisting of one set of body armor, U.S. Marine fatigues, a Coalition Forces certificate of achievement, an infrared strobe, and various identification cards and passports.

The contraband was taken to a Coalition Forces facility for more investigation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Moo:1. Stuffed Pup: -1

That would be the new stuffed puppy I got a few days ago ... minus one tail.

When I got up this morning, I left the stuffed animal curled up under the covers and Moo on top of the covers. Within minutes, Moo had taken the poor pup as her chew toy and removed the tail.

Note to self: MUST remember to take stuffed animals out of bed when getting up in the morning.

I just wanted to pick up the phone ...

and call Jack Bauer last night as I was driving home.

Someday I will be able to do that again.

BIG Package of Cards

It has been one week since I posted anything about cards to Soldiers' Angels Germany. But I have been busy, busy, busy. And I was out of town for four days (and you didn't even notice) and all my mailing stuff was back here in Middleville.

Excuses, excuses, I know. To make up for the apparently lack of action, I sent off a shipment of 28 cards yesterday. I've found I like to write cards on the plane. Who knew?

Running Total: 334

P.S. It is more expensive to mail 28 cards in a big envelope than to mail 2 shipments of 14 cards each in smaller envelopes. Interesting.

Good News from Iraq: 29 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi and Coalition forces capture a suspected distributor of Iranian weapons.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi and Coalition forces captured a highly-sought weapons facilitator before dawn Tuesday in Baghdad.

Iraqi and Coalition Forces conducted a raid to capture a suspected weapons distributor connected to the Special Groups network. The suspected senior weapons facilitator is responsible for distributing weapons and other forms of lethal aide smuggled from Iran into Iraq. The individual is also suspected of distributing explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs. The weapons distributor is also suspected of having direct ties to other senior commanders in militias operating in and around Baghdad.

Two others detained during the raid are also suspected of distributing weapons smuggled into Iraq from Iran. One of the buildings searched during the raid produced currency and identification documents confiscated for further analysis and evaluation. “We assess that this capture will degrade the weapons smuggling network,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson. “Coalition Forces will continue their focused operations to interdict Iranian supported terror groups operating in Iraq. We remain committed to dismantling terror networks that seek to kill innocent Iraqis, Iraqi Security Forces, and Coalition Forces.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Knock on the Door

Hi, my name is Butterfly Wife and I live in denial.

That's how I felt yesterday evening.

I came home from a pleasant Pilates mat class, fed the dogs, got my dinner out of the frig, and quickly checked my email before jumping in the shower. Pleasant and relaxing. Washed my hair, shaved my legs, and then the creeping thoughts sneaked in and spread their web across my brain. Before I knew it, I was thinking about the Knock on the Door.

Who would be the first person I would call? A couple of local girlfriends. Definitely.

Would I blog about it? After the phone calls , I would get on the computer and blog about it. (Why I thought this would be a good idea, I am not sure.)

After these two thoughts I recognized the cobweb for what it was (whatifland) and I plucked it up and washed down the drain.

I understand that we milspouses experience this type of anticipatory grief. And when great women like Andi share their experiences, it is a relief to know that I am not alone in this. I have experienced anticipatory grief and not solely in relation to the deployment. I suffered through it for months shortly after Jack Bauer left and before I put our baby doggie to sleep. (Still gathering the courage to discuss that - getting closer though.) I understand anticipatory grief.

Back to the denial thing. Sometimes, I think I am simply fooling myself about how well I am doing 95% of the time. Of course, that "sometimes" consists of the other 5% when I am not doing well. And even during the tough times, the times of doubt, I look back on who I used to be, how I was in that funk 1oo% of the time, and I think, "This ain't so bad." ;-)

Good News from Iraq: 28 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Concerned citizens, Coalition Forces destroy weapons cache, insurgent safe houses.

ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq — With help from the concerned citizens of Jurf as Sakhr, Iraqi and Coalition Forces identified and destroyed an enemy fighting position and safehouse Aug. 25 as part of Operation Gecko. Paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division acted on a lead from a concerned citizen on a known enemy fighting position suspected of containing a mortar tube with ammunition.

Once the location was identified, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters engaged the location with one missile, rendering the position useless to the enemy, and the Paratroopers of 1-501st Abn. destroyed the remains of the bunker.

Continuing to follow the lead of the concerned citizens, Paratroopers were then taken to an al-Qaeda safehouse where five armed terrorists were hiding. The location was marked and destroyed with a 1,000-pound bomb, killing the five al-Qaeda militants.

Operation Gecko is systematically cleaning up the area, removing deadly roadside bombs and capturing or killing the terrorists and militiamen responsible for the violence and chaos that had blanketed the region.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A new puppy!!!

I was out having breakfast with a girlfriend yesterday. She could see how tired I was so she dragged me out to run an errand with her.

And I came home with a new puppy. Jack Bauer will be so surprised that I made an addition to our family. But I need a nice soft puppy to snuggle with and Moo and Bear and just not cooperating. They have their own ideas about how to snuggle. I need some fresh puppy lovin' to mush and mold in my own way. And I came across the perfect specimen. I just hope Moo doesn't try to beat up (or eat up) this little one.

Meet my new snuggle bug ...

Good News from Iraq: 27 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, 1-15 Infantry finds, destroys large enemy cache.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq — Task Force Marne troops conducted a mission to disrupt terrorist activity and succeeded by destroying a large cache of munitions and improvised explosive device-making materials Aug. 23. “This should put a big dent in the IED cell operations,” said Capt. Richard Thompson, of West Palm Beach, Fla., commander, Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment. The cache contained 268 bomb-making items, including four tubes of C4, a powerful, military-grade explosive. Also found in the cache were two five-gallon jugs of homemade explosive material; two mortar charges; five mortar fuses; 20 blasting caps; five pressure activators, crush-wire detonator switches; and 50 microchip transistors and 30 circuit boards. Thompson said the discovery will adversely affect enemy operations in the Salman Pak area. “First, it takes the products out of their hands,” Thompson said. “Second, it sends a definitive message to the enemy that we are in the area.” ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm tired

I am so tired. I am tired of thinking about it all. The war, the worry, the wondering, the wandering thoughts.

Jack Bauer's unit is gearing up to come home. But he will remain. This transition is tougher than I anticipated. I feel like I have had to be extra strong for him, to help him through this transition, dealing with the fact that he (regardless of whether he stayed or returned) will be separating from these men that he has led for over a year.

However, being super strong has left me zapped. I look in the mirror and I look tired. Actually, I think I look tired and sad, even when I don't feel particularly either.

So today I am resting. Gathering my resources. Re-energizing. Showering myself with good for me attention. And making it my intention that whatever I do, it feeds my soul.

Good News from Iraq: 26 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Public Healthcare Clinic opens; one of five in Kirkuk.

KIRKUK — Local government officials, medical professionals and Soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, cut a ceremonial ribbon to mark the grand opening of the Hai Al Wasity Public Healthcare Clinic, Kirkuk, Aug. 23.

The clinic is one of five new public healthcare clinics in Kirkuk that will provide immediate medical care for local citizens and help reduce patient inflow at Kirkuk General Hospital for minor injuries and ailments, according to Capt. Ryan Nacin, battalion fire support and assistant plans officer, 2-35. The clinic is located in the ethnically-mixed southwest portion of the city and contains 16 medical examination rooms, dental examination capability, an x-ray room, a laboratory and a pharmacy.

“Healthcare is the backbone of a city. For that reason, it’s critical that Kirkuk have sound public healthcare which includes public healthcare centers,” said Maj. Robert Oh, battalion surgeon, 2-35. “Hospitals are really for those citizens that are severely injured or ill,” emphasized Oh. “Community clinics like this one have the capacity to treat minor injuries and illnesses and things like infections. This particular facility includes an impressive women’s and children’s care center,” he said.

According to Oh, most of the existing medical care in Kirkuk is acute hospital care or private care. For that reason, public healthcare centers like the one in the Hai Al Wasity area fill a critical healthcare void. Oh’s battalion commander agreed.

“Our mission here is to help establish a secure and stable Kirkuk Province,” said Lt. Col. Samuel Whitehurst, battalion commander, 2-35. “Security means many things. (Mentoring, training and advising) the Iraqi Army and your local police is a component of security. But security also means improving the lives of all the citizens of Kirkuk,” said Whitehurst. “Every time coalition forces along with your provincial government open a school or a water project or a Public Health Clinic like this one it marks another victory for the people of Kirkuk.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Can he sing?"

I was visiting with my parents recently, when my dad, known for asking random questions, came up with this one ...

Dad: Can Jack Bauer sing?

BW: Ummmm. Hmmmmm. Uhhhhhh. I forgot.

Sad, but true. There are many little things I am forgetting about the wonderful man I married. Those little things are so important to me. The endearing little bits, like the way he walks, hand gestures, all that. I cannot remember them right now. My mind needs a refresher course.

Oh, and the answer to question is "no." I asked.

Good News from Iraq: 25 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Commander says Iraqi citizens turning against insurgents.

BAGHDAD — Iraqis who once aligned themselves with militants are now taking up arms against al-Qaeda, a top commander in the Iraqi capital said during a conference call Friday.

Likening members of terrorist organizations to “street gangsters,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, commander of Multi-National Division-Baghdad and 1st Cavalry Division, said Iraqis are becoming tired of price gouging on staples such as gasoline and ice when militant groups move in and take over neighborhoods.

“We have found that throughout the city there is increasing distrust, fatigue and disillusionment by the population with al-Qaeda and Jaysh al-Mahdi (militia group),” he said. “There is a strong desire in the neighborhoods to turn away from them.”

Fil said Coalition troops are continuing to take away the enemy’s ability to control neighborhoods and to brutalize the population.

“Every day we’re working with Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi government to place power back in the legitimate hands of the average Iraqi civilian,” the general said.

Local citizens are more openly embracing Iraqi Security Forces and are beginning to respect and trust their fellow citizens in uniform, he added.

Now 10 months into their deployment, Fil said troops of the 1st Cavalry Division are fully integrated and “up to speed” with surge operations. “The division continues to excel in this campaign as we try to bring security and stability to the Iraqi capital,” he said, as he described that more than 50 percent of Baghdad is in the “control” or “retain” phase of the overall Baghdad security plan.

In a February briefing, Fil described the mission in Baghdad as “clear, control and retain.” In the “clear” phase of a mission, Iraqi and U.S. forces move into neighborhoods and clear out extremist elements. In the “control” phase, the combined forces maintain a full-time presence on the streets, Fil explained. The forces will man combined security stations, which are being built all over the city, and will work to establish conditions that allow Iraqi forces to take over operations completely.

The “retain” phase comes when Iraqi forces are responsible for day-to-day security operations and Coalition forces can move out of the neighborhoods and into areas where they can respond if assistance is needed.

Fil also said fewer innocent Iraqis are being murdered as a result of sectarian violence, and statistics show murders are at their lowest level since the beginning of surge operations.

“Markets that were once targets by indiscriminant killers are now safer and thriving,” the general said. “And more and more Iraqis are turning from the ‘rule of gun’ to the ‘rule of law.’”

The last several months have been challenging, Fil said. “And I don’t expect things to get any easier in the months ahead, but I do fully expect to see the same steady progress that we and the Iraqi Security Forces have made in bringing stability to neighborhood by neighborhood throughout Baghdad.”

Friday, August 24, 2007

To blog or not to blog

Yesterday, I wrote about discussing the personal aspects of life on the blog, in particular intimacy issues. Many of you agreed with me and seem to appreciate me discussing the topic of sex and intimacy or lack their of. But I like to be challenged, and I actually like to see comments like this one A Soldier's Wife left.

Maybe it's discussing it opening on the internet. I'm not real big on putting this kind of thing online, more for the fact that I learned a long time ago how fast things get taken out of context and spread through the military via the web.
I have really good military friends and we talk very opening about this, about how past deployments have been, how it has changed how we view things. But I do think that the longer you do it, the more prepared for how you handle them later on. When you are young and are exposed early on to this, you make the choice to stay or flee, remain faithful or stray.

No one said loving a soldier is easy or stable, but it is a rewarding life. Being open about your feelings to your husband is always the first place to begin, and having good trustworthy friends the next.

And sharing it online, nothing wrong with it, as long as you are prepared for whatever fallout may happen.

Me, eh, I have a pretty tough skin now, but still, my regard for my families' privacy, my respect for my husband's position and the need to have some anonymity to do what I do within the Army is necessary, so I use the better part of discretion when I post about the more intimate parts of my life.

Infidelity within the ranks of the military is nothing new, but neither is infidelity itself. Our lives are just magnified because of who we are, what our spouses do for a living and how often we are separated....but people who take business trips cheat as well. Difference is they end up in B rated movies on Lifetime, we just end up in a TV show on Lifetime....which is over the top to begin with.
So here's my response:

I had a lengthy discussion with a friend yesterday morning about blogging on this topic and potential ramifications, and that friend's take was not all the dissimilar from yours. I truly appreciate your comments. I don't blog just to get people to agree with me. In fact I like to be challenged on my thinking. So your opinion means just that much more to me.

This is my first deployment. I am already almost 20 months into living apart from my husband, and another 11 months to go. (Granted I did get to spend some time -- 45 days total -- with him during those first 8 months.) I think that is an important distinction. If my husband had been gone for 15 months, this would have hardly been an issue for me. He would have been home by the time it came up.

I do not have any friends in the military in my daily offline life. My husband's current unit is 1000+ miles away from here; the next unit is almost as far. I am isolated in having someone to relate to about military life in general. And it is not just the lack of sex, the lack of intimacy, this also has to encompass the fact that my husband is off at war and in harm's way. So despite any local friends who may think they might be able to relate to some aspects of this, there is something inherently different about this. And I feel like I have no one who can relate to it.

I've been debating whether to blog or not to blog topic for at least a month now. And for me, this topic is not as difficult for me to discuss and does not seem to invade my comfort zone as much as talking about dealing with anxiety disorder and depression. My hesitancy to discuss this stems from a fear of violating our cultural taboo of not talking about intimacy issues in an open and frank manner. But I do need to check my motives for wanting to discuss this in a public format.

So what's the fallout that I see?

People will know that I have sex with my husband and that I like to snuggle with him and that I seriously miss him when he is gone. Who cannot relate to that?

Of course on the other side, people will see what they want to see, read into it their own agenda, spin it to be used against me or my husband.

I do want to know your thoughts on this. Tell me what you think. I would appreciate your comments and if you don't want to expand on this blog, please e-mail me (see sidebar).

Good News from Iraq: 24 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi Army, U.S. Special Forces detain three, destroy weapons cache.

TAJI – Iraqi Army soldiers, with U.S. Special Forces as advisers, detained three suspected terrorists in the village of Bulayj and destroyed a weapons cache near Mandali Aug. 22.

During the cordon and search operation in Bulayj, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, raided two structures local Iraqis identified as al Qaeda in Iraq safe houses. Three males were detained, one of which was identified as a terrorist cell leader responsible for attacking the Iraqi Army in April, killing six people.

In a second operation in the village of Khalaf al Hassun, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division uncovered a weapons cache during an intelligence driven raid to disrupt an al Qaeda in Iraq improvised explosive device making cell.

The weapons cache of high explosives, copper wire, pressure wire, blasting caps and electrical wire used for making improvised explosive devices was destroyed in place.

A truck and motorcycle from the cache house, along with two AK-47 assault rifles, four cases of AK-47 ammunition, and three cases of machine-gun ammunition were confiscated by the Iraqi Army.

No Iraqi or U.S. Forces were injured during these operations.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Discussing the uber-personal

The ever-wise Sarah posted at SpouseBuzz about discussing the personal on blogs. And she happened to post about it the same day I posted about s-e-x. And you are just going to have to trust me that Jack Bauer and I discuss me posting about this stuff long in advance.

Quite frankly, I don't want this to be a s-e-x blog. I am not here to relate those "lonely wife" stories. What I do want to discuss is intimacy issues. And while I jokingly wrote about it (mainly out of my own discomfort with discussing the subject), it is a serious issue.

Unfortunately, I don't see other milspouses talking about the lack of intimacy and intimate relations issue (maybe I just haven't come across it yet) and the serious implications that are tied up with long deployments, physical and emotional barriers, and natural, normal desires. It is one thing for us to talk about fidelity, but I don't hear us talking about the underlying emotional and physical needs and desires that motivate people to cheat. IMO, it is all tied together. Thus, I talked about the physical aspect of it.

Of course, recognizing my physical and emotional needs and desires in myself is the first step toward preventing infidelity from happening. And I've got another 11+ months to go.

Good News from Iraq: 23 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Karmah terrorist safe house destroyed following Iraqi Scout, U.S. Special Operations Forces raid.

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Iraqi Army Scouts, with U.S. Special Operations Forces as advisers, conducted an intelligence-driven helicopter assault in western Iraq Aug. 21, resulting in the elimination of a suspected weapons cache and the destruction of an insurgent safe house.

Forces conducted a targeted raid at a residence in the vicinity of Karmah suspected of being used by foreign fighters and al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists. While clearing the building, the assault team noticed that the floor in the main room of the structure had recently been dug up and fresh cement covered the floor with wire leading out of the house.

Further investigation revealed the presence of a command detonation wire and the area was immediately evacuated. After ensuring full accountability of all forces on target, close air support was called in to destroy the target and multiple secondary explosions were observed by the assault force.

Although no insurgents were on target at the time of the raid, intelligence sources reported that the former safe house was being occupied by foreign and Iraqi-born al Qaeda members. It was also a suspected storage location for weapons caches and believed to be the point of origin for launching mortars at the Iraqi Police Station in Karmah.

No civilians, Iraqi Scouts or U.S. Forces were injured during this operation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Perfectionism and Privacy

Well, after all this time in therapy (OK, so it really hasn't been all that long), it turns out a good deal of my problems stem from me being a perfectionist! Go figure! I've known this for years.

But week after this "major breakthrough," I am still thinking about what this really means for me. And this may sound really bizarre coming from someone who posted this yesterday, but ...

I am a very private person.

So yesterday at the post office while mailing my SAG cards, I was trying to reconcile my private tendencies, my blogginess, and my perfectionism. (Isn't this what you all do while waiting at the post office???)

I came up with this thought. The blogging is helping me recognize that I am not, do not have to be, and in fact would prefer not to be ... perfect. I think that my (old) desire to be a "private person" and not share with others was just so that I did not have to show anyone -- myself included, perhaps in particular -- that I was something less than perfect.

So I guess blogging is really helping me come out of my shell, or more accurately for a butterfly, my chrysalis. Who would have thought.

and the cards continue

Sent 14 more cards off to MaryAnn at Soldiers' Angels Germany yesterday. I even marked #300 on the back.

Running Total: 306

Good News from Iraq: 22 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Four caches discovered in the Diyala River Valley during Operation Lightning Hammer.

BAQOUBA, Iraq – Soldiers assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, discovered four weapons caches in Qubbah and Mukeisha villages, in the Diyala River Valley, Iraq, during Operation Lightning Hammer, Aug 18. While conducting a clearance operation in the village of Qubbah, Soldiers discovered two caches consisting of small-arms ammunition and magazines, 20 sticks of dynamite, detonation cord, 78 blasting caps, one pistol, a suicide vest carrier, six DVDs of suicide bombers, land contracts to rent land to members of the Islamic State of Iraq, propaganda encouraging extremists to kill Coalition Forces and a Wahabbist handbook. Two other caches were discovered in the village of Mukeisha, which contained 14 Katusha rockets, 10 rocket-propelled grenades, 20-60mm mortar rounds, five 60mm mortar tubes, eight sticks of dynamite, and a DSHKA anti-aircraft weapon system. “The discovery of these caches will significantly degrade al-Qaida’s ability to conduct operations in the Diyala River Valley,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division commander. “Taking away their weapons systems further allows the local and provincial government to begin rebuilding the systems that provide essential services like food, water, and electricity to the citizens in this area.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Offensive Office Odors

OMG! I am about to suffocate in the overwhelming smell of someone's cologne. I should not be able to smell you from behind a wall.

My cubicle is next to a conference room. With the strength of the aroma wafting this way, you would think that the person must have walked by me. But no! The door to the conference room is at least 20 feet from me.

I may gag to death today.


There is just no getting around it ...

**for mature audiences only**

I miss my husband in more ways than one. And I am completely willing to admit that I am hitting my sexual prime just as he is gone for extended periods of time. And that is bad.

But I figure I know what it must be like to be inside the mind of an 18-year-old boy. My goodness, how do they ever getting anything accomplished? I haven't a clue.

So when Jack Bauer sent me this Fox News headline, I just about fell over.

Need Another Reason to Have Sex?

Um, no I don't need another reason! I have plenty of reasons and desires thank you very much. I just need the right someone to have sex with!!! Can't the universe give me a break here??? Ugggg!

Of course, Jack Bauer finds this all very amusing, and I've just set myself up here for some intense teasing by him.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall for a while.

Good News from Iraq: 21 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Concerned citizens lead Iraqi Army recruiting drive.

KALSU — As concerned citizens stand up and secure their homes and communities against terrorists and militias all across North Babil, they are also standing up and leading the push for legitimate security forces in the area.

Iraqi Army recruiting has reached a near record in the city of Iskandariyah and the surrounding areas thanks, in large part, to concerned citizens wanting to do more to help their families, friends and neighbors in the fight against militants.

“More than 1,400 people have made the decision to join the Iraqi Army during the five-day recruiting drive,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Mitchell, of Wasilla, Alaska. “Due to sectarian violence, this is the first recruiting drive we have had this year.”

The drop in sectarian violence can be attributed to an increased presence of Iraqi and Coalition Forces patrolling the area. With the increased patrols, ordinary citizens feel more secure and are willing to come forward and help the Security Forces, Mitchell said.

One major area of help has come from volunteers in the Concerned Citizens Program, providing security against the Sunni insurgents and Shia militias that have plagued the region.

“As the citizens began standing up and taking back control of their communities and villages, the Ministry of Defense said it was finally time to hold a recruiting drive,” Mitchell said. “Once the recruiting drive was OK’d, we started publicizing it pretty heavily.”

Using fliers and loud speaker announcements, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Divisioin and 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, spread the word throughout the area, and people turned out in droves. Not everyone was accepted because of age limitations, weight problems or illiteracy, but those not accepted were told about the Concerned Citizens Programs sprouting up across the region.

“If the men who were turned away by the initial recruiting drive are accepted into one of the Concerned Citizens Programs and prove their worth, hopefully that will lead to a contract in the Iraqi Security Forces,” Mitchell said.

“The men who signed up are the same men who have lived under the threat of murder and intimidation for nearly a year,” he continued. “They are tired of being scared and they want to be a part of something bigger. They want a change and they realize that the time is now.”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Half-iversary

Happy half-iversary Jack Bauer.

Eight and a half years ago we married. It was a wonderful day.

And I love you more today than ever before.

An eight years ago today we embarked on another adventure ... and look how well that turned out! =)

Hugs and kisses and such to you.

Good News from Iraq: 20 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Weapons cache found in Adhamiyah.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division – Baghdad troops uncovered a weapons cache in an eastern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Aug. 15.

Military operations in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District by Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment led to the cache. The Soldiers found the cache after searching an abandoned house.

The cache included five AK-47s, 10 magazines, dynamite, hand grenades, an 82mm mortar system with 38 rounds, improvised explosive device components, 17 rockets, a roll of detonation cord, 13 shotgun shells and one machine gun.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"You know what you are doing"

Finally, after 14 months of Introductory Yoga, I heard this compliment while doing a pose.

I took the yoga intensive and now starting Sept 10, I am moving up to Yoga I.

Gotta love the pace of Iyengar Yoga.

Good News from Iraq: 19 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Tip leads to largest cache uncovered in western Baghdad neighborhood.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division – Soldiers uncovered the largest weapons cache found to date in the Ameriya neighborhood Aug. 14.

Acting on a tip called in by a resident, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces conducted a search in the western Baghdad neighborhood, uncovering the cache in a woodworking shop. The Soldiers uncovered the cache, after finding a fake floor board in the shop.

The cache contained 265 mortar rounds of various sizes, 47 rockets of various sizes, 22 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, more than 50 land mines, 300 pounds of homemade explosive, more than 150 pounds of other explosive material and more than 70,000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

An explosive ordnance team was called in to evaluate the cache. EOD blew the ordnance and weapons on site.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some people get it, some don't

Yesterday, I went for a pedicure and mini-facial. A little me time. Relax, enjoy myself, self-indulgent me time.

I get to the spa for the pedicure with the same 50-something, Russian lady I had last time.

Lady: "I see you are still working on card, no?"

BW: "Yes, they never end."

Lady: "Ah."

BW: "Yes, they are cards for Soldiers."

Lady: (blank stare and silence)

Not another word was said during the hour-long pedicure. I wrote 10 cards.

Then I left and went to the Origins corner at Macy's for a free mini-facial. (Origins does these promotional events every so often. I would highly recommend checking it out for a little extra special free pampering.)

The young clerk was bubbly and politely curious. She complimented me on my grandmother-in-law's bracelet. So I told her about it. She noticed my husband's name on the deployment bracelet on my other wrist. So I told her about this one too. She started off by saying, "thank you for your husband's service." Then she paused, tilted her head, thinking for a moment. She got it. She said something like this:

"You know, we thank our servicemen all the time. We never thank the families. And the troops would not be able to do what they do without the support of their families at home. So thank you. I appreciate what you do too."

I started to cry. She started to cry. It was nice to meet a stranger, with no military connections, who actually gets it.

Oh, and the rest of the facial was relaxing, my make-up looked great, and made an appointment for the next one.

Good News from Iraq: 18 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Weapons recovered, suspect seized in raid.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — Soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and the 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division captured one suspected insurgent and recovered a weapons cache during a raid in eastern Baghdad Aug. 16.

During Operation Chesterfield in the New Baghdad District, Soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment based out of Fort Riley, Kan., and attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, joined with their Iraqi counterparts in capturing the suspected insurgent, recovering two AK-47s, two pistols and 900,000 Iraqi dinar.

The suspect is being held for further questioning.

The capture comes as insurgents have stepped up their activity against Iraqi civilians and police officers. U.S. and Iraqi forces have responded by driving into insurgent strongholds and setting up combat outposts and joint security stations as part of the Baghdad Security Plan to secure the capital.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Fun Fact

You have probably already figured this one out about me.

I like to be a wee bit naughty from time to time.

Here is a naughty and outrageous stunt from my long ago high school days.

One Friday night while I was a junior in high school, my friend (I'll call her Shelly) and were sitting around her bedroom bored and wanted to see how far we'd go. You know, double dog dare and all. We devised a plan to take place in public that would make people stare at me and wonder if I was for real. Shelly didn't think I would go through with it.

The look had to be just right. Big hair (it was the late 80s), heavy black eye make-up, super short skirt (I could pull that off then), shredded black nylons, and the highest heels we could find. And no super slutty look would have been complete without some dark sunglasses.

Next, we had to have the right car. Shelly's mom drove a 1988 Nissan 350Z, white with red interior. Perfect.

As we got in the Z and drove to the chosen location, my heart started to race. "Will I actually be able to pull this off?" I wondered, anxiety beginning to set it. Within a few minutes, we pulled into the shopping center. Game time.

Shelly peeled into the lot of the 7-11 and slammed on the breaks and we screeched to a halt intentionally crooked taking up at least 2 spots. I could see heads were turning already in the store. I exited from the passenger seat, calmly, strutted into the convenient store with a list of 3 items to buy.

There were about 10 customers inside and I was hoping my interaction with them would be minimal as I gathered the requisite trove. First up, gum. Easy enough. I spotted some Big Red, my favorite.

Next, condoms. Having never purchased condoms before (let alone had a need for them) I strolled through the aisles looking for them. On my second pass, I found them and picked up Trojans (what else).

Lastly, cigarettes. As if the condoms weren't bad enough, I know had to ask for cigarettes and get the order right. Being a nonsmoker at the time, I had never bought cigarettes.

"Marlboro Lights 100, please," I requested in my most confident adult-like voice.

"Excuse me?" replied the 20-something clerk behind the counter.

"Marlboro Lights 100," I repeated slightly indignant hoping that would lend a more confident air about me.

The clerk grabbed a pack from rack and asked if there was anything else. "Just these," I said as I laid down the gum and condoms. He rang the purchase up, I paid, and strutted out the same way I came in. Heads were still turning. I got back in the Z and Shelly peeled out.

We laughed the whole way back to her house. We threw away the condoms, gave the cigarettes to some smoker friends, and enjoyed our Big Red.

And more on cards: Bauer Cards

So today is the last day I am mailing a card to Jack Bauer. I will resume in 2 weeks and will start sending them to the new address. (I guess this really means this current deployment is almost over.)

Like I said the other day, I will continue to write the cards and then send them all at once to the new address. Then I am doing my writing for me and Jack Bauer will get the benefit of a bunch of pretty cards.

But I had an even better idea ...




Another shipment of cards

I sent off another package to Soldiers' Angels Germany with 14 cards of encouragement for our wounded warriors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

When I started this a couple months back, I would never have thought I would have enjoyed writing these cards so much. I never expect to hear from any of them, but I imagine that a pleasant butterfly card with nice note will help bring a moment of relief, of smiling, of not grimacing in pain, of lightness of heart. That makes it is all worth the effort.

Running total: 292

Good News from Iraq: 17 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Concerned citizens hand over weapons cache to coalition forces.

AL-OWESAT— A group of concerned citizens recently found a weapons cache along the Euphrates River and later brought it to coalition forces.

Soldiers of Company D, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., were at Iraqi Army Patrol Base Samir, near the village of al-Taqa, when a group of local citizens brought the cache to them.

The cache contained 220 pounds of homemade explosives, seven 155 mm rounds, seven 120 mm rounds, 12 14.5 mm heavy machine-gun rounds, two steel-pipe directional charges packed with homemade explosive, 60 57mm mortar fuses, one 82 mm mortar tube, three homemade hand grenades, nine rocket-propelled grenades, two 88 mm rocket fuses and nearly 1,300 feet of detonation cord.

The weapons turn-in occurred within a mile of the site where Spc. Alex R. Jimenez and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty were captured on May 12. Search efforts continue for the missing Soldiers.

The cache was secured for disposal by an explosive ordnance disposal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Voice on Voice Contact???

What was that?!? Did Butterfly Wife actually hear dear sweet Jack Bauer's real voice yesterday or was that an auditory hallucination?

Nope it was real. Of course, I cannot prove it. But I know. It was the first voice on voice conversation we had since May 7 when we did a phone interview together, during which he constantly broke up and eventually we lost him. But otherwise I have not heard his voice since he said good-bye at the airport March 6.

He sounded exactly the same. But it was sooooo nice to actually hear this voice. When Bauer and I IM, I hear his voice in my head, so in my mind it is as though we are always talking. (Insert obvious crazy girl hearing voices joke here.)

Within a few minutes though, we were already frustrated by the delay and so hung up to IM some more.

I hate to think that we'll never be able to communicate other than by IMing. But that would be a funny sight to see! :D

Another note to a doggie daddy

Moo and Bear sat down long enough yesterday to write a little note to their daddy. They asked me to post it here so that Jack Bauer could get the note that much sooner.

It is a postcard with a garden reflecting pool on the front.

Dear Daddy,

We want a pool in our yard. And no matter how much we dig we just cannot seem to get the water to remain in the holes. You'll make us a nice pool when you get home. Mommy says she's too busy. We love you daddy. Thank you for keeping us safe! =)

Moo & Bear & cat too

Good News from Iraq: 16 Aug 2007

BAGHDAD — Local citizens fed tips to Soldiers from the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which led to the finding of four weapons caches and the detaining of two suspects in multiple operations north of Baghdad, Aug. 8 and 9.

Troops from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 1st BCT, acting on a tip from a neighborhood watch volunteer, uncovered an improvised explosive devices cache near the town of Sab Al Bor, Aug 8.

The cache included five complete IEDs and 12 incomplete IEDs. The cache also included 20 munitions of varying sizes, 100 pounds of homemade explosive, one can of nitric acid, some command wire as well as the tools necessary to manufacture IEDs.

The same day acting on a tip from a volunteer, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, also of 1st BCT, found a 100 millimeter projectile, 10 80mm mortars, six IED timers, two rocket-propelled grenades and an accompanying booster.

In two separate incidents also involving information garnered from volunteer sources, Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, working with their Iraqi counterparts from the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), unearthed two caches and detained two suspects.

In the first, while draining a canal, engineers from 2-8 Cavalry's Sapper Company found three 60mm mortar rounds, two 82mm mortar rounds, one 120mm mortar round and one 122mm projectile Aug. 9 near Kem.

In the second find, during a cordon and search, 2-8 Cavalry troops and Iraqi troops found 1 sniper rifle with two scopes, one AK-47 assault rifle with five magazines, a 9mm Glock pistol, a hand grenade and detained two suspects in connection with the cache near Al Dhabtiya, also on Aug. 9.

All of the finds were further evidence of Ironhorse Soldiers' success in working with Iraqi communities and volunteers to root out insurgents and extremists alike, said Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, 1st Brigade Combat Team's deputy commanding officer.

"Cooperation by citizens and their volunteer security roles is what will turn the tide in securing Iraq," said the Austin native. "We have the largest reconciliation and volunteer movement in Multi-National Division-Baghdad. We fully support Iraqis taking an active role in securing their neighborhoods, towns and villages to stop the violence which hinders the government's delivery of essential services and an environment that enables small business opportunities and growth."

Local Iraqis have grown tired of the al-Qaeda stranglehold and they are taking back their communities and their lives, according to Andrysiak.

"Their efforts, along with that of the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, may prove to be the turning point," he added.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Something must be wrong with me

I ironed a pair of pants today.

Crossing the day off

On my MLB schedule at work, I have today highlighted. It has been highlighted for the last 5 months.

Today was supposed to be the last day I was going to send mail to Jack Bauer.

But life had other plans for us. So I am sending a card today, keeping with my normal routine. A few more cards this week, then a 2-week hiatus. Although I am thinking I will continue to write them, just not mail them. Then put them all in a big envelope and ship them off to the new address.

Good News from Iraq: 15 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Troops uncover cache, capture two suspects.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYA, Iraq — Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers uncovered a weapons cache and captured two suspected insurgents during raids in eastern Baghdad Aug. 14.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, based out of Fort Riley, Kan., and part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, detained two suspects and recovered two large civilian trucks, six rifles, one homemade silencer, .308 sniper rounds, two bolts and one bandoleer of ammunition in an operation in the New Baghdad District of the Iraqi capital.

The two suspects are being held for further questioning.

The captures and cache discovery came as a result from a tip received from a resident of the area. Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces continue to reach out to Baghdad residents, encouraging them to turn in insurgents. These tips, together with other intelligence-driven efforts, have led to a steady increase in captures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hello South Dakota!

Now I have had visitors to the blog from all 50 states.



Got plenty to say. Just not enough time.

Been SUPER busy. Which of course is a good thing during a deployment.

Here is the quick run-down of what's on my mind.

Got a massage yesterday. Very intense, hard massage. By a man. Many issues to discuss there regarding men - let your imagination run wild until I gather up the courage to discuss s-e-x here.

Today is the last day of class with one of my favorite Pilates instructors. I am giving her a butterfly card. She is the chair Pilates instructor and is wonderful. She has a great personality, is very encouraging and kind and engaging. And she is running of to grad school about 4 hours away. One more person in my support system GONE.

And speaking of gone ... I have an appointment with my therapist today and then only 2 more before she moves off the mainland. I should get some referrals today. Hmmm.

And I am feeling really, really tired of explaining to people my situation and listening to their advice about what I need to do to connect to people ... in person. Well, let's see, I have yet to encounter any milspouses in Middleville. And not for a lack of trying either. As I was telling another blogging milspouse yesterday ...

People [person may be more accurate] in my real life have expressed concern that I don't interact with enough real people. But these are people who are not able to understand military life and certainly don't understand how insanely isolated I am in this deployment. I could talk to 100 people today and I would still be isolated. So, yes, I spend a considerable amount of time physically alone, online developing relationships with people I hope to meet someday, people that understand what deployment means, who don't try to pass judgment on my military life, and not with people who attempt to justify their lack of understanding me, deployment, and the war in Iraq.

... So finding a new therapist ... well, I will need therapy for that process alone. I think I just might have to pray that I am led to the right one first. I don't know if I have the energy to "shop" for one. Same thing with "friends." Sometimes I wonder why I would even try to make new friends/relationships here when I have no intention of remaining here. I can move all over the world and my online friends will be right there with me. I don't know. I am just feeling tired and discouraged to look for new here. Develope and maintain old, fine. I love it. Just got an invite to dinner with some girlfriends. I cannot wait! New, it is exhausting thinking about it. Stumbling into it, fine.

I'll just end there because I am rambling now.

Good News from Iraq: 14 Aug 2007

It's a two-fer!

From MNF-I, Desert Rogues uncover two cache sites.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers uncovered two
weapon caches in the western Baghdad neighborhoods of Adl and Khadra
Aug. 10.

Acting on tips, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment “Desert
Rogues,” attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, raided
a home in the Adl neighborhood and discovered the first of two cache sites. The
abandoned home contained 51 artillery rounds and 30 pounds of homemade
explosive material.

The second cache site, located in Khadra, consisted of 27 pounds of
homemade explosive material and a pre-fabricated improvised explosive device.
An assortment of other bomb-making materials was also found at the second
abandoned home.

An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the caches with controlled detonations.

Fifty-one artillery rounds are lined up for inventory and destruction in a controlled
detonation by an explosive ordnance disposal team Aug. 10. The artillery rounds
were found in an abandoned house in the western Baghdad Adl neighborhood
following a targeted raid by Coalition troops. This munitions cache discovery was
the first of two caches uncovered by the “Desert Rogues” from the 1st Battalion,
64th Armor Regiment.

From MNF-I, Volunteers reveal multiple weapons caches north of Baghdad.
BAGHDAD — Volunteers fed tips to Soldiers from the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division which led to the finding of four weapons caches and the detaining of two suspects in multiple operations north of Baghdad Aug. 8-9.

Troops from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 1st BCT, acting on a tip from a neighborhood watch volunteer, uncovered an IED cache near the town of Sab Al Bor Aug. 8.

The cache included five complete IEDs and 12 incomplete IEDs. The cache also included 20 munitions of varying sizes, 100 pounds of homemade explosive, one can of nitric acid, some command wire as well as the tools necessary to manufacture IEDs.

The same day acting on a tip from a volunteer, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, also of 1st BCT, found a 100 millimeter projectile, ten 80 mm mortars, six IED timers, two rocket-propelled grenades and an accompanying booster.

In two separate incidents also involving information garnered from volunteer sources, Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment working with their Iraqi counterparts from the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) unearthed two caches and detained two suspects.

In the first, while draining a canal, engineers from 2-8 Cav’s Sapper company found three 60 millimeter mortar rounds, two 82 millimeter mortar rounds, one 120 millimeter mortar round and one 122 millimeter projectile Aug. 9 near Kem, Iraq.

In the second find, during a cordon and search, 2-8 Cav. troops and Iraqi troops found 1 sniper rifle with two scopes, one AK-47 assault rifle with five magazines, a 9 millimeter Glock pistol, a hand grenade and detained two suspects in connection with the cache near Al Dhabtiya also on Aug. 9.

All of the finds were further evidence of Ironhorse Soldiers’ success in working with Iraqi communities and volunteers to root out insurgents and extremists alike, said Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, 1st BCT’s deputy commanding officer.

“Cooperation by citizens and their volunteer security roles is what will turn the tide in securing Iraq,” said the Austin native. “We have the largest reconciliation and volunteer movement in Multi-National Division-Baghdad. We fully support Iraqis taking an active role in securing their neighborhoods, towns and villages to stop the violence which hinders the government’s delivery of essential services and an environment that enables small business opportunities and growth.”

Local Iraqis have grown tired of the Al Qaeda stranglehold and they are taking back their communities and their lives, according to Andrysiak.

“Their efforts, along with that of the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, may prove to be the turning point,” he added.Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment working with their Iraqi Army counterparts in the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) uncovered two weapons caches and detained two suspects near the villages of Kem and Al Dhabtiya, Iraq Aug. 9. Pictured above are several of the weapons found by the battalion’s troopers. The weapons were found thanks to information provided by local volunteers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

One last package to Anbar

I am about to send the last care package to Jack Bauer of this deployment.

We've got 3 pounds of Kaldi's Highlander Grogg.

Trader Joe's Just a Handful of Dry Roasted Unsalted Almonds. Nice handy snack packs of nuts. Would have probably been great to take on missions. Too bad I didn't think of that before now. Oh well.

More shampoo. Avalon Organics Scalp Treatment Shampoo x2. I think he asked for 4, but Whole Foods didn't have 4. So what other organic hair products does the modern warrior get??? How about Avalon Organics Awapuhi Mango Moisturinzing Shampoo and Nature's Gate Organics Moisturizing Shampoo in Chamomile & Lemon Verbena. (And yes, I flat out lie to the USPS about shipping liquids. Hey, but I double-ziploc the bottles. Doesn't that count for something?)

And to sweet the box, I topped it all off with some more Jolly Ranchers and a special note from me.

Good News from Iraq: 13 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, 30 suspects detained in raids targeting al-Qaeda and bombing networks.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces detained 30 suspected terrorists during operations around Iraq Sunday targeting bombing networks and senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Coalition Forces raided a series of buildings north of Karmah targeting terrorist operatives working for the al-Qaeda in Iraq emir of the area. The emir’s network is responsible for car bombings, including attacks using chlorine. Ground forces detained 17 suspected terrorists for their alleged ties to the network.

During an operation south of Tarmiyah, Coalition Forces detained five suspected terrorists while targeting an explosives expert believed to be part of the Baghdad car bombing network. In a nearby operation, Coalition Forces detained one suspected terrorist involved in weapons trafficking for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Coalition Forces targeted close associates of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s senior leaders during operations in western Baghdad and Mosul. The ground forces detained two suspected terrorists in the two raids.

Northeast of Samarra, ground forces raided several buildings associated with the al-Qaeda in Iraq emir of Samarra. Two men were discovered outside the buildings and were detained. Coalition Forces targeted the al-Qaeda in Iraq network in Tikrit with an operation there that netted three suspected terrorists.

“Our operations continue to target those who associate with and work for al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leaders,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson. “The pressure is on, and we are keeping them on the run.”

Sunday, August 12, 2007

At what temperature do Jolly Ranchers melt?

I have no idea hot it must get for Jolly Ranchers to melt to the inside of a flat-rate box.

But apparently that is what happened the last time I mailed a package to Jack Bauer.

14 is the new 13

So for a while there I kept sending 13 cards at a time, but I am on to a new phase of my life: 14.

I sent out 14 cards of encouragement to Soldiers' Angels Germany on Friday.

Running total: 278

Good News from Iraq: 12 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Concerned citizens bring cache to patrol base.

PATROL BASE INCHON, Iraq — Citizens tired of terrorism in their communities brought 185 cans of ammunition to Coalition Forces Aug. 9.

Two men from the town of al Taqa delivered the ammunition to Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) working at Patrol Base Inchon, located along the Euphrates River.

The ammunition was for use in Soviet-made DShKa heavy machine guns, and each ammunition can was estimated to contain 40 rounds, for a total of 7,400 machine-gun rounds.

An explosive ordnance team disposed of the cache in a controlled detonation.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Insurgent Mice Attack Camp Toenges

Early Saturday morning, a rogue faction of the insurgent mouse group Miki al-Meese invaded the grounds of Camp Toenges. The rogue faction dug in deep in an effort to evade Camp Toenges security forces, but to no avail.

CPT Moo Dog, the ground force commander, was able to smell the insurgents immediately. "They smell bad," CPT Moo said through the use of a translator. "They are outside all the time and don't clean themselves, so they are easy to pick up on."

Once spotted, CPT Moo rooted out the vermin from their position and had them on the run. They holed up under the cement sidewalk. CPT Moo had them cornered.

Unfortunately, CPT Moo failed to utilize unit standard operating procedures by not calling in the RDT, rodent disposal team. Fortunately, HH6 Butterfly Wife was also in the AO and spotted this infraction. HH6 BW, as she prefers to be called, counseled CPT Moo to cease and desist as her action were on the verge on violating Article 92 (failure to obey a lawful order) of the UCMJ-D, the code as it applies to dogs.

CPT Moo, dedicated in her efforts, had to be forcibly removed by HH6 BW. Once returned to the TOC, HH6 BW further counseled CPT Moo, who persisted in her efforts to return to finish off the insurgent mice. HH6 BW reminded CPT Moo who was in charge and that she was being insubordinate. CPT Moo finally gave up her efforts, and crashed defeated on the TOC floor.

Throughout the mission SGT Bear remained asleep in quarters.

Warning signs

I really think my life needs these following warning signs ...





The walls seem to be coming at me awfully fast and out of nowhere. Ugggg!!! I am exhausted. Maybe it is the heat. Maybe it is the challenge of finishing up this current deployment and starting the next one. Maybe it is a combination of the two. There are so many big and little changes going on around me I think I must be some kind of wall magnet. All I know is that these walls hurt and keep putting me on my butt.

But I will just keep rolling with the punches. Punch back in my own way. Move like a butterfly, sting like a bee. ;-)

Good News from Iraq: 11 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Soldiers apprehend bicycle bomber.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers apprehended a suspected terrorist transporting bomb-making materials by bicycle during an operation in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District Aug. 9. The suspect was carrying approximately 30 pounds of homemade explosives in his bicycle basket when he was detained at approximately 8 p.m. Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, detained the suspect after being tipped off by concerned residents.

A platoon from Troop B, 3-7 Cavalry was on patrol when they received information that a bomb was being transported by bicycle to a local mosque.

“We set up a screen around the area where we knew he would be, so that any direction he took off in we could grab him,” said Pittsburgh native 2nd Lt. Kyle Graham, who led the patrol.

Once they spotted the bicycle, the Soldiers gave chase in their humvees and cut the suspect off near a market. Graham, a former football player, was halfway out of his vehicle before it had stopped. He exited the truck and wrestled the startled suspect to the ground.

The man was immediately detained, and is being held for further questioning.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Fun Fact

So last week I told you that I cannot keep a secret. Well, here's another thing I cannot do.

I cannot tell a joke.

Sad, pathetic, I know. But I simply cannot do it! If my life depended on it, I would die.

Of course, Jack Bauer finds this terribly amusing, and busts out laughing every time I even try. Hmmm.

What's with these meme thingies???

I have decided I must not be much fun. I'm not a big fan of doing these meme thingies. So when tagged by Mel several days ago to do this middle name one, I've been hemming and hawing about how I could do it in my own butterfly way.

Here is the original rule: Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name.

But as you might have figured out by now, I don't necessarily like to follow the rules. So in keeping with the spirit of the meme, I am going forward with it. First, I had to decide what would a butterfly's middle name be. I decided on three that are appropriate to me and I might have said at some point, "Oh, that's my middle name." Second, I had to do something different from listing one fact for each letter. So here you go. You figure out what my middle names are. :D

Simple and sensual, so young

Teasingly rough (oops!) under bare-laid emotion

Not an underdeveloped girl; how thoughtful, yes?
And of course, I am not tagging anyone. But if you want to borrow/steal this, be my guest.

Good News from Iraq: 10 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Raid uncovers large cache in southern Baghdad.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division-Baghdad troops discovered a large weapons cache during a raid in the West Rashid District of Baghdad Aug. 8.

Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, raided a house in the Aamel neighborhood where they found a cache hidden behind a false door blocked by a refrigerator.

The Soldiers found an 82mm mortar tube, a 60mm mortar tube, 16 60mm mortar rounds, 53 82mm mortar rounds, seven AK-47s, three Type- 85 sniper rifles, a PKC machine gun, 18 cans of ammunition, 14 AK magazines and a pair of binoculars.

The unit also found two 107mm rockets and a launcher at the site.

The munitions were taken to a Coalition Forces base for disposal.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's Official

Jack Bauer got his next set of orders.

But on the bright side, we've got less than 12 months to go. Which is 12 months for more "me time."

More time to focus on Pilates and yoga and being physically and mentally healthy.

More time to do things around Middleville.

More time to get the house ready to sell before a probable first PCS.

More time to get our finances in very tight order.

More time to _______.

Help me fill in the blank. What other positive things come from this second deployment?

Good News from Iraq: 9 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Puppets help U.S. troops reach out to children in Baqubah.

BAQUBAH — During a recent mission with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Soldiers in Stryker vehicles entered Buhriz, near Baqubah, prepared for a firefight.

Two Stryker vehicles blocked the street. Soldiers scanned the vicinity, checked roof tops for signs of the enemy, and cleared the building before entering.

Inside, eight-year-old Iraqi school children looked on in shock, as the U.S. Soldiers went through their school with weapons at the ready.

Two terrified little girls attempted to exit the classroom as the Soldiers made their way through the school.

This reaction was something 1st Sgt. Bruce Reges, first sergeant for Company C, 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, from Little Rock, Ark., was not accustomed to.

The National Guardsman and part-time college professor from Big Rapids, Mich., was accustomed to walking into a classroom to find students eager to learn, not run away from him.

“They see us as extremely (good) at what we do – finding the enemy and destroying their ability to fight,” said the 55-year-old. “Innocents get caught in the crossfire. The bad guys tell the kids we will kill them if we catch them.”

Reges came up with a way to help ease their fears when dealing with Soldiers.

“We needed some way to let them know we are human too – fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers,” Reges said. “So, I thought two small puppets in my cargo pocket would be helpful in bridging the gap.”

He said that if the children could see U.S. troops as human beings, they would be less afraid to see Soldiers in their town.

And that is how the pocket puppets idea was born. With the help of his 80-year-old mother, Jean Reges-Burn, the idea has sparked a movement to supply puppets to other civil affairs and medical Soldiers working in Baqubah. They call the outreach program “Peace Through Puppets”.

Reges initially distributed two-dozen stuffed animal hand puppets to Soldiers in his unit. He said the puppets have helped Soldiers build hope, extend compassion and overcome the language barrier.

“When I see a child, I stop and reach into my cargo pocket. I pull out a small puppet. The reaction is immediate,” Reges said.

He said the response has been nothing but positive from children and the adults that are with them at the time they receive the small gesture of peace.

So far, Regis estimates he has given out about 200 pocket puppets.

“I feel small things will make the difference here. This is a small thing, but you never know where it will end.”

“Peace Through Puppets” is a volunteer, non-profit organization staffed by mothers, wives and friends of Soldiers serving in Iraq. For additional information, log on to or e-mail Peacethrupuppets@aol.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Random thoughts

I am sitting here trying to figure out what to write about when there are so many things popping around in my head.

First, this weather here in the middle is oppressive. I hate these dog days of summer because I cannot walk my dogs in this heat. I live in the city and we get a nice heat island effect. This morning at 0430 at Camp Toenges it was 85 degrees. Ugggg!

Second, I "confessed" to my blogginess to my super secret boss. (See, I said I was bad at keeping secrets.) I told him that it was like having someone look through my underwear drawer. So, welcome super secret boss. I suppose you can choose your own identity if you want to post comments. But you cannot take "Bauer," that belongs to my husband. And remember that Bauer reads this blog so watch your mouth. ;-)

Third, last night I had a crazy thing happen, which was accompanied by a crazy thought. I have for the most part been feeling fabulous. But last night, I was in the middle of a phone call with a guy friend when the power went out, call dropped. Now, usually in the summer we'll have little power surges, but this was a full, all power off, blackout. After I suddenly needed the flashlight and could not remember where it was, I had a crazy thought: "OMG! Someone cut the power and is breaking in!" Luckily, I remembered that I am a person who does well in a crisis and went into crisis mode. But by the time I stood up and stepped over Moo, the power came back on. Phew! But I hadn't had a moment of fear of my personal safety in I don't know how long, even though I have lived alone for some time now. And I called the friend back and all was well.

Good News from Iraq: 8 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist captured during Marne Avalanche.

KALSU, Iraq — Iraqi Security Forces and Paratroopers captured a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist wanted for a string of attacks against the security forces and citizens in North Babil during Operation Marne Avalanche, August 5.

The Iraqi Army, police and Paratroopers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division conducted an early morning raid in Snadeej near Jurf As Sukhr to capture the suspected insurgent.

“More than 50 IPs, 20 IA soldiers and 50 paratroopers participated in the operation,” said Capt. Henry Moltz, commander of Company A and Midlothian, Texas native. “The populace was very receptive to the ISF-led operation and a local source pointed the man out to us.”

Thanks to joint operations like this one, the Jurf As Sukhr area is on the road to security and stability, Moltz said

“This operation marks 50 days in Jurf As Sukhr with no attacks, as compared to six months ago when there was at least one attack every day,” Moltz said. “The drop in violence is a testament to the Paratroopers and Iraqi Security Forces who have embraced the Joint Security Station concept and who have trained and fought side by side.”

The JSS isn’t the only key to success in the area. According to the soldiers and Paratroopers who work in the region, citizens are a big factor in their success.

“The people in Snadeej and Jurf are tired of violence,” said Moltz. “They are tired of being scared. They want a better life.”

During Operation Marne Avalanche, the Paratroopers of the 4th Brigade have killed 16 insurgents, conducted numerous precision raids, captured more than 110 insurgents including eight cell leaders and other high value individuals.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I met my first milblogger

I must actually exist because I met another blogging milspouse this morning. Sarah at Trying to Grok was in town and we met for coffee. Super nice and down to earth, we had a great chat.

Now I want to meet the rest of you!

See you all soon. :D

More on cards

Yeah. These posts about cards are getting a tad bit repetitive, aren't they? But too bad. :P

Yesterday, I shipped off another 14 cards of encouragement for Soldiers' Angels Germany.

Running total: 264

Good News from Iraq: 7 Aug 2007

From MNF-I, Citizens oust terrorists from mosque, help uncover weapons cache.

BAGHDAD — Fed up with violent and indiscriminate terror tactics, a group of more than 80 residents of the Adhamiyah district, on the east side of the Iraqi capital, banded together Sunday to oust suspected terrorists from a local mosque.

The uprising led to a string of events over the next 12 hours that ultimately resulted in the arrest of 44 suspected terrorists and the capture of three weapons caches.

The initial takeover of the Abu Hanifa Mosque occurred at about 2 p.m., apparently triggered by news that terrorists had murdered two relatives of a prominent local sheik. As the news spread, angry residents joined the sheik to storm the mosque, long believed to be a sanctuary for terrorists operating in the area, and ousted the suspected terrorists inside from the building.

Iraqi Army troops from 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 11th Infantry Division, responded quickly to control the situation and secure the area around the mosque. Residents led them to several individuals among those ousted from the mosque who were suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. Thirteen suspects eventually were detained.

After order was restored, the Iraqi Army received a tip about a weapons cache hidden near the mosque. At about 7 p.m., Iraqi forces returned to the Abu Hanifa Mosque and uncovered a massive illegal weapons cache in an outside courtyard. The cache contained several already-assembled improvised explosive devices, dynamite, mortars, rockets, landmines, bomb-making materials, and various weapons.

Shortly after midnight, acting on information volunteered by Adhamiyah residents, Iraqi and U.S. Army forces from 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, mounted a combined cordon-and-search operation of the Al Assaf Mosque, in the nearby Maghrib neighborhood. Iraqi Soldiers entered and cleared the mosque and who took three suspects into custody.

Immediately afterward, Iraqi and U.S. forces returned to the Abu Hanifa Mosque area to investigate reports of additional weapons caches. Iraqi Soldiers again entered the building to search the mosque compound and the cemetery behind it.

They discovered two more weapons caches, which contained two IEDs, 16 mortars, two hand grenades, a sniper rifle, remote detonation devices, radios and more than a dozen weapons. Twenty-eight suspects were taken into custody.

"I think this was a turning point," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeff Broadwater, commander of 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry. "The people of Adhamiyah have made their stand, and they've showed by their actions that terrorists are not going to be able to come into their backyard and engage in violent acts any longer."