Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Few Good Models

We, or to be more accurate I, watch America's Next Top Model most every Sunday while they've got the cycle marathons running on Oxygen. Jack Bauer and the doggies do their best to tolerate the fights, tirades, and tears. I'm mean really, what do you expect when you get a bunch of 18-25-year-old beautiful, tall women together? It is sheer genius!!! Entertainment galore!!! I can't get enough!!!

There is NO talking during a current cycle, but I am slightly less stringent on Sundays. Heaven forbid I miss a single word of the show. The doggies MUST be non-woofy. Jack remains in the room so that he can instantly take care of any doggie needs.

Apparently this past Sunday, Jack was feeling, um, inspired by Cycle 8 with Jaslene, Renee, Natasha, Dionne, and especially Brittany and thier Aussie experience. Jack loved, yes, loved, Cycle 10 with Whitney and Anya in the final runway. Combine judging panel with JAG, stir in A Few Good Men, and poof! Just imagine Jack Nicholson as a judge on panel. The following is my husband's interpretation.

Girl, we live in a world that has catwalks and those catwalks need to be walked by women in beautiful clothes. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Nigel Barker?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Anya and curse Miss J; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Anya's loss, while tragic, probably saved fashion and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves fashion.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that catwalk, you need me on that catwalk.

We use words like fierce, fabulous, and supercute. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very fashion I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way.

Otherwise, I suggest that you put on a couture gown and walk a catwalk. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Oh, Jack, you are so amusing. And incredibly tolerant.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

You don't want to be an appliance in this house

We moved in to this house in early October. And since then it has been bad news for appliances. I just need to recap this for myself because it is an amazing string of unfortunate events. Let me start by saying this house was built about 4 years ago, occupied by the owners for about a year, then occupied by at least 2 other families.

October: Garbage disposal broken when we moved in. The disposal had a huge crack in it. And it was not the original disposal in this house. This should have been a sign of things to come.

November: Shower head has less than half the holes working.

December: Oven/stove is so off on temperature we have a service man come out to adjust the temp. That doesn't work, but he does convert the oven to work with propane instead of natural gas, even though it hadn't been done originally and had been burning improperly for 4 years. That was just 4 years of carbon monoxide leaking into the house. Oven/stove still sucks ass. There is no low setting on the burners and it cannot be adjusted. Now the broiler drawer is falling apart. :D

January: Dishwasher stops working while we have company. Takes landlord 10 days to get someone out here to replace it.

February: Refrigerator filter light comes on. We replace it with the exact same model and it leaks for about 3 weeks, but eventually works fine. The filter light never goes off. Latch breaks in the closed position on the largest windows in the house that provides great cross ventilation; landlord opted to do nothing; fortunately it was too cold most days to open.

March: Jack gives up on his computer. It won't stay on for more than a few minutes at a time. We make do with just one computer.

April: My Kitchen Aid blender dies. No replacement. New shower head becomes so clogged half of the holes aren't working, and the previously pleasant rain shower is turned into stingy darts; cleaned out with a bottle of CLR run through it; now works almost as good as new, but not. I thinking there is a hard water problem in this house.

May: Cuisinart coffeemaker self-clean light comes on. We clean it. It dies just over a year after it was purchased. Replaced immediately. Our cordless phone handsets start dying. Jack attempts to reformat his external hard drive to work with the Mac; he loses everything on it, meaning tons of stuff from Iraq that was only on that drive. Jack attempts to reformat his mega iPod as well; loses everything on it. Our only computer falls out of the back of the car after our last trip to SoCal. The base is cracked so the battery is popping out.

June: Found a tool to open latch on large window. Get great cool evening breeze again! Yesterday, the sliding adjuster on waffle iron received as Christmas gift less than 6 months ago breaks off, but it looks like it might still work, for awhile.

The TV and accessories seem to be working fine. The washer and dryer are sufficient. Water heater works very well. Heating and cooling systems are working. Oh, wait. We haven't yet turned on the AC this season. I'll let you know if that goes. I can't lose my cool!

It has been a difficult 8 months for things in this house. It is so ridiculous that at this point, we are taking bets on what will go next. And just for fun, we are planning on renewing the lease in October!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A new title???

First, thank you all for your words of sympathy and encouragement in regards to my last post. They really do help. In fact, finally writing it out was quite cathartic. Note to self: do it more often.

So I promised I would write something more positive. I have been thinking a lot about what what to write about, especially humorous and lighthearted things. Well, I think I've found it. Zumba.

A friend gave me a month pass to a local gym. Since I've gained probably 15 pounds since moving here in October (curse you Rachael Ray!), I figured I really needed to do something about it. Especially since I cannot afford to buy a new wardrobe. Of course, if I were to lose a ton of weight, you know I'd find a way to get some new threads.

The appeal of this gym, and why it is worth paying money over free gym on post, is Pilates classes in addition to a full gym. I love getting back to doing mat classes and feeling less stiff. And there is a morning mat class 3 days a week. Perfect! I can do Pilates and then a little cardio and really feel like I've worked out. Maybe I'll move up to doing some weights to help. Now all that sounds real good.

My free month ended and I went and got all signed up. I get 4 free shakes and 4 free training sessions. All that AND Pilates? Awesome! Except now the Pilates instructor has gone on vacation until after July 4, which means I need to find a replacement activity. And many people have recommended Zumba. Think Salsa meets Aerobics. Fortunately I was able to hide in the back of the crowded class filled with skinny young things. While I mostly felt ridiculous, I kept laughing, and when I couldn't keep up the steps, I just kept swaying my hips, figuring that it was some movement and that must be good. I mean, it is a dance/workout class, and sweat means something. Bottom line: learning Zumba is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as learning Pilates. Thus, it has presented a challenge. Challenge ON!!! I'm going to swish and sway and twist and girate into a smaller size!

Anyway, I'm thinking this blog may need to be retitled "Does this Army make my butt look big?" Because given the last 8 months, the answer is clearly and decidely YES! And not only do I look like a big butt complaining about everything, my butt has gotten bigger.

So here's to taking this butt back to a more normal size.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still here . . . kinda

There really isn't much going on that seems worthy of blogging about. Here are a few highlights of the past couple months.

Jack Bauer has been home for more than a year now.

The last job I applied for on post went to someone who worked in Jack's department. I was pissed. PISSED!!!! I didn't even get an interview. It uncovered some larger hurdles in the trying-to-get-a-job-on-post game. And it is clearly a game to those already in it. Haha. Joke's on me. Got it. Moving on.

I applied for another job on post. I was asked to apply for the job by the people I'd be working for. My hope level of even getting an interview are very close to zero. At least now I know it is a game and the joke's on me. (Not that I am bitter or anything. OK. Clearly I am.)

Finally got one of the banks to stop calling about when we are going to pay them for the house in Middleville. We had to write them, state that they were violating the Fair Credit Act (or whatever it is called). The house remains on the market, zero offers. The Housing Assistance Program, which was expanded to include military people in our situation, claimed to start funding the program mid-April, then mid-May, and now it is all a big mystery. As far as I am concerned it is just more lip service. Life moving at the speed of businessbeaurocracy.

I found out the reason my job last three weeks. It was because of not being able to make the January payment for the Middleville house. So if I had been able to make the January payment then I would have been able to keep the job and make the payments for February, March, April, May, etc. (Irony.)

Jack had his gym bag stolen from the on-post gym locker room. Cars keys. Wallet. Uniform. Military ID. Credit cards. Dog tags. We had to get new locks for the house, buy new keys and reprogram my keys for both cars. He filed a claim for $1300.

For having spent so much time apart with his deployments, we did very well financially. We got rid of over $55K in credit card debt and had more than $12K in savings. The savings is virtually gone. Cynicism and bitterness are creeping in everyday.

I do believe this is the SUCK I am supposed to be embracing. Cuz it sure does suck. Maybe more than deployment. And I mean the entire 28-month thing.

And one more thing. Jack's computer is on its last leg and mostly collects dust while it waits to be replaced. Somehow. With unknown extra money.

I will post something good at some point. Just not today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Employment issues

LAW emailed me letting me know about a series of blog posts on milspouse employment over at Left Face. I started writing a long comment over there and decided to just post it here and maybe get some of you to go over there and comment.


Here's my situation (and please pardon the oversimplification of somethings and the length). My husband was in the Army Reserves and deployed to Iraq. We didn't know what he was going to do when he came home since he'd given up his law practice when he moved 1500 miles away to get the unit ready to mobilize. He had no job to come home to and he was not interested in setting up his own practice again. He applied for AGR (Active Guard & Reserve). He was asked to stay in Iraq for a second deployment. With nothing from AGR, we agreed that he would stay on in Iraq and move to a different location. A few days after he made that commitment, AGR called to let us know he'd been accepted into the program. He honored his commitment and remained in Iraq. This still left us wondering what he'd do when he came home. He applied for and was accepted into the Active Duty JAG program. We knew that would mean moving every couple of years and more deployments in our future. We knew that would mean I would be leaving my job and finding new work every couple of years. We've been here at our first duty station since October and I have yet to solidify a job. We are very fortunate to be able to live off of his paycheck.

My education and work experience is diverse. I have a BSN and worked as an ER RN for three years. I have a JD and worked as a trial attorney for three years. I left law for a less stressful life as a technical writer while my husband was deployed. My last job I had for three years.

I am looking for a good paying job. I have applied for jobs with defense contractors and on post. The biggest challenge for me has been getting my foot in the door. Most of the jobs on post are not open to the public; they are for "status candidates," which is essentially someone who has previous worked for the federal government. I am not one of those people. My husband and I have heard directly from the person in charge of the Dept of Army civilian hiring that they prefer to make jobs available to status candidates because, get this, otherwise they would have to give these jobs to veterans due to the veterans preference. (Uh, that sounds a lot like discrimination of veterans.) So I cannot apply for the vast majority of positions on post. The jobs that are left are either MWR jobs or jobs that I am not remotely qualified for (I am not an electrical engineer or a computer scientist).

The second challenge is knowing how to play the game so I could get a secretarial job. I would, incorrectly, have assumed that a JD means I have graduated from high school. Not so. Since my Resumix resume didn't include that I was a high school graduate, I was rejected. Or else "you were not among the best qualified candidates" means that I am overqualified. Either way, my online resume was inadequate. I spent a looooong time with the right woman who told me that your Resumix resume needs to be packed with information. Find the job descriptions and use that to help build your resume. It is all about key words. The people doing the screening aren't thinking outside the box; we need to figure how to get in the box. (Of course, it helps to know how the game is played!)

Even though it has been 9 years since I last practiced nursing, I did apply for a nursing job on post. That requires only a license in any state. If I wanted to practice in town I would need to be licensed in this state. It would cost me about $1000 to do that. The same thing holds true for an attorney position; my current law licenses are sufficient for federal jobs. I would have to sit for another bar exam if I wanted to work in town, assuming that there was a position available. Licensing is an issue for milspouses since it is done at the state level and not all states grant reciprocity.

Since I have been here, I started doing direct sales with Tastefully Simple. It is something to help keep me busy and certainly presents new challenges for me. And it will present the same challenge of growing my business every time we move. But it is MINE, I can take it with me and grow it as much or as little as I'd like.

Last September, President Bush signed an Executive Order in an attempt to make it easier for military spouses to get jobs, or basically, become "status candidates." I have been told that will not go into effect until regulations are written to make that happen. It is April and I still haven't heard anything about this being in effect. Somewhere deep down inside, I am hoping that Mrs. Obama will do more than listen to military families and portray us as people who need the public's sympathy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just hanging

Not much going on here.

Last week was Spring Break and all regularly scheduled activities were canceled. Post was quiet. I would have never thought so many people in charge could take off at the same time.

This past weekend we went to visit Jack Bauer's uncle who lives about 3 hours from here. We hadn't seen him since our wedding 10 years ago. I met one of Jack's cousins for the first time. We got to hang by the pool, do a little hiking, and learn shuffleboard (not the Love Boat kind). Turns out that shuffleboard is way fun and I almost beat Jack's uncle who's been playing for a zillion years. We'll have to go back to play some more. (While I understand that shuffleboards are frequently found in bars out West, this shuffleboard was on their backyard patio. I'm not likely to take up bar hopping here in Cav Canyon just to play shuffleboard.)

Otherwise, just keeping busy with my Tastefully Simple business and getting some exercise and working on getting organized.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wanted: Carpet Steamer

You think I can rent a carpet steamer on post? We've had, um, a few accidents around here. (Poor poochies. Poor BW.)

Where do you think I should start my search? Jack Bauer said something about Self-Help and MWR Rents. Has anyone done this?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting into a groove

I'm getting back into a groove, having my days to myself. There are several areas I want my days to focus on: fitness, social networking, my Tastefully Simple business, and housekeeping. I've scheduled time in my day for each of these. What do those of you who aren't going off to work everyday schedule your days?

Fitness: I'm walking the dogs in the early morning, which is great because the sunrises here are just beautiful. (And there are no rattlesnakes out!) I'm increasing the distance a little each day. And I'm doing a little pilates and yoga on top. I know that if I don't start off slow, I'll either injure myself or get frustrated and quit. So it is slow going to start. I'll make it up to the level of these ladies: Sara (with crossfit), Wendy (with running), and ABW (with running). You gals are an inspiration! Who else is working the fitness?

Social Networking: Checking Facebook and reading more blogs. And, of course, posting here more.

Tastefully Simple: You all have been so supportive of me getting my business started. And I am so lovin' it! I had such a great time in San Diego at the conference. This is such a fantastic company: debt-free AND growing AND hiring! I've shared this opportunity with some of you, but unfortunately I don't have everyone's email address. So if you are looking for an income or just something fun to do, email me at AT I would LOVE to tell you more about how much FUN you could be having. :D

Housekeeping: With two dogs and a cat, there is always cleaning to be done! These beasties shed faster than I can vacuum it up. Beyond basic cleaning, I will be working on getting the one junk room turned into a working, resting, reading space for me!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Today this blog turns 2! Holy cow! It's hard to believe I've been here in the blogosphere that long. But here I am. I've met here and in person some great people. You all helped me more than you will ever know, especially while Jack Bauer was deployed. Thank you!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Free e-book giveaway!

One of our fellow milspouse bloggers, Sara Horn, wrote her first e-book. How totally cool is that?

Here is the link to Sara's blog post about the e-book, The Busy Book: 99 Ways to Stay Busy During Deployment.

Today she is giving away a free copy! Read her blog post to find out how you can score what will surely be a great read.

Monday, March 2, 2009

God must have other things in store for me

I am unemployed. Again. After three weeks of work, I am back home in the middle of the day. My employment was conditional and that condition was not met.

I took a long drive to clear my head. I drove out to the small border town where my father went to high school. Last time I was there was 30 years ago. Can't say that it seemed much different. It looked like many small towns I've seen across the country. Its heyday has past, but there is a spirit that is undying. Down, yes. Out, no. Like so many, the jobs may come and go, but the life goes on, struggling through the tough times. Waiting, hoping, praying, and slowing working to get back on its feet.

I called my dad while I was there. He had me drive by the old apartment house he lived in with his father and brother. Not much to look at. Weeds overgrowing the front. A fresh paint job within the last 5 years. But 50 years my dad slept there in a small room he shared with his brother.

And then I drove home. To this gorgeous 3-bedroom + den, 2-bath, 3-car garage house with gourmet kitchen, soaking tub, walk-in shower, and entire living/dining room that we don't know what to do with, all sitting on 1.5 acres with views on the mountains on three sides. I want for nothing.

So God must have another plan for me right now. I am thinking I need to take better care. Of myself, the housekeeping, my dogs, my husband (not necessarily in that order). I can work on all of that.

I do have another job I am applying for later this week. And we'll just go from there.

And while I have your attention, who wants to have a Tastefully Simple Catalog Party? Seriously. Email me if you want to earn free products and our host collection. I'm still going to have FUN.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's in a number

We start counting to 10 with fingers and toes.

We grow and hit the double digits with big fanfare. Being 10 was awesome.

We ascribe perfection to 10.

And of course there is the Jack Bauer 10-minute rule (i.e., Jack Bauer can get anywhere in LA in 10 minutes regardless of the time of day or how far he needs to travel).

But today 10 is how long my Jack Bauer and I have been married.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Active Duty First

So yesterday I had my first experience with military medicine.

Actually it wasn't bad at all. No forms to fill out even though I was seeing a new doctor. Just had to show my ID. That is pretty nice.

Polite receptionist, funny nurse, very interested doctor. And I was in and out very quickly. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Just a couple weeks ago, I posted on Facebook how much I was missing the snow that they were getting back in Middleville. And today it is snowing at my house in Cav Canyon. And actual decent flakes and it is sticking to the ground. Sounds like last year, they closed the post when they got an inch of snow. That is one single inch. Interesting to see if they do that again.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes yesterday. The first day of work went well. It was very nice that they had an assignment for me to work on. I love editing and learning new style guides so it made the afternoon fly by. The group I am training with right now is a great group of seven women editors. Fantastic!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Off to work

After an amazing experience with Tastefully Simple this weekend, I am off to work at a full-time day job this morning. Having been unemployed for 7 months, I am looking forward to this structure in my time and some added cash in my wallet.

Wish me luck as I will be tackling an entirely new subject matter. And I am not used to getting up this early.

Catch you later.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just the short of it

While I was busy making plans for my last two weeks before starting my job, the universe had other plans. I start next Monday. So in my last week of domestic-ness I got to get movin'. And I will be out of town Friday through Sunday. Maybe a list is in order.

  • Make list (Monday).
  • Finish painting bedroom (Monday & Tuesday; couldn't get it all done today). There is glue on the ceiling, btw. Itsdone!Itsdone!Itsdone!
  • Get clothes ready for first week of work, including ironing.
  • Download, print, and complete all the paperwork I need to take on Day 1.
  • Vacuum and clean floors.
  • Clean bathrooms.
  • Clean out and organize living room "organizational system" (i.e., the storage ottoman).
  • Straighten up second office.
  • Take care of Moo after her "procedure" to remove the owie on her lip (Tuesday). She seems to be recovering nicely. Suture line looks good. We'll get pathology results in a few days. No chewing on bones for two weeks (this will be a tough one for the champion chewer). Poor girl, had to have half her face shaved, whiskers and all.
  • Pack for trip (Thursday).
  • Go to Tastefully Simple on Tour in San Diego (Friday through Sunday).
  • Make menu for next week so Jack Bauer can go to the commissary on Sunday before I get home.
That seems like enough to keep me busy for a few minutes.

Good News from Iraq: 2 Feb 2009

From WSJ, Iraqi Election Officials Begin Vote Tally. Check out the slideshow here.

BAGHDAD -- Election officials here turned to the daunting task of counting millions of ballots after Iraqis voted Saturday in provincial elections that saw little violence but less-than-expected turnout.

While the election itself went fairly smoothly, observers say it's critical that the polling--and now, the counting of ballots--be perceived as free and fair. A successful election would provide a shot of confidence for the Iraqi government as U.S. forces begin to pull back combat troops from cities at the end of June.

That pullback is based on a timetable set out by a security pact agreed between Washington and Baghdad last year that would see a complete withdrawal from the country by the end of 2011. The Obama administration is seeking ways to speed that up. A relatively corruption- and violence-free election could provide more ammunition for both U.S. and Iraqi officials to accelerate the drawdown.

Iraqi security forces had braced for widespread violence, but no major incidents were reported. Elections officials said there were no serious technical problems during voting on Saturday, which was the first time Iraqis administered elections on their own in the post-Saddam Hussein era. The last local elections in January 2005 were largely run by the international community.

"These elections mark a significant milestone for the people of Iraq, and are a major step forward in Iraq's democratic development," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and U.S. General Ray Odierno, the top military commander in Iraq, said in a joint statement on Saturday.

But authorities are still concerned that those who lost the elections may not peacefully accept the elections results. Some 14,000 candidates ran for 440 provincial council seats.

Unofficial results should be known by the end of this week, but it will take two to three weeks for official results to be announced. Elections officials asked Iraqis to be patient as they went through the complicated counting process.

Read the rest here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My inner domestic diva

With just a couple of weeks left until I return to working full-time, the domestic goddess in me is showing her head. I have completely resisted being a housewife. Really. I don't enjoy housework. The tediousness of ordinary cleaning and maintenance don't interest me much. Sure we could couch it in terms of taking care of my family, but that doesn't really make it any more interesting for me.

We've had a few areas where stuff from moving has sat mostly untouched since it was dropped off more than three months ago. Even having company over didn't inspire me to do anything with it. Yet, the idea of staring at it for the next two years while I am working seemed to kick my butt into gear. The two boxes in the bedroom are now gone. The miscellaneous kitchen items in the room for which we have no plans (aka the formal living) held the items for which we had no plans. Yesterday, in a fit of domestica goddessia (a very rare condition), I made some snap decisions about what stays and what goes.

But that is not the half of it. I did laundry yesterday as well. That, in addition to patching the bigger nail holes and getting rid of all the gold paint in the bedroom (two coats of Kilz) and putting up one coat of pretty blue paint and then changing my mind about where the paint is going to go. Oh, and I made dinner from scratch.

If I can muster a few more domestic fits, this house will great shape by the time I start work.

Back to work now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The MOST difficult paint job EVER!

I am declaring the job done. For anyone considering repainting a 3x5' room with a 12-foot high ceiling with two different colors of paint on opposing walls and the ceiling needs to be painted as well and there is a large immovable object in the room (e.g., a toilet), you might want to seriously think about whether you can live with what is already there.

This was by far the most difficult paint job I have undertaken. But it is done. And worth it. The entire room, ceiling included, was bright purple. And a poor paint job to boot. (It looks like purple paint was spilled while doing the job as there is paint smeared on the baseboards.) The closest color I can describe it as is the color used in the title of the latest Military Spouse Magazine. The. Entire. Room. That's a lotta color for such a small space. I even cleaned up the purple off of the toilet itself.

Now while I am relieving myself I can look at a nice sage colored wall in front of me with cottage white to my sides.

With the worst of the paint situation corrected, I can now move onto getting rid of the gold paint in the bedroom. The entry cove, including the outlet covers, and the archway into the bathroom (not the same on both sides mind you) are gold. Then there are the three foot-wide gold stripes of gold painted along one wall. It must have been painted by the same incompetent painter as the commode. It is sooooo uneven and that which is supposed to go to the baseboards and ceiling does not make it all the way. (It's called tape and an edger, people!)

Have a mentioned the sponge painting in the formal living room that doesn't go all the way to the ceiling? As in there are about four feet of wall above where the sponging stops. Who does this in a rental house?

OK. I'll stop my bitching. Maybe I'll take some before and after pics of the bedroom project.

Good News from Iraq: 27 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Government of Iraq signs for Camp Ramadi. (Jack used to hang at Camp Ramadi. And two-plus years after he got there, it is hard to imagine the incredible progress that occurred.)

CAMP RAMADI, Iraq – Official documents finalizing the transfer of ownership of Camp Ramadi to the Iraqi government were signed on Camp Ali, Iraq today.

The documents were signed by Maj. Gen. Martin Post, the deputy commanding general of Multinational Force-West, and Ali Al Yasiri, the director general for the Council of Ministers Operations, Government of Iraq. Representatives from the Iraqi army, Government of Iraq and Coalition forces witnessed the signing, which officially gave Camp Ramadi back over to the Iraqi government. A memorandum of agreement was signed last week outlining the areas that will continue to be used by Coalition forces.

The memorandum of agreement, which was signed Jan. 20 by Staff Brig. Gen. Adel, the commander of the First Quick Reaction Force Brigade, Iraqi army, headquartered at Camp Ali, and U.S. Army Col. Ronald Kapral, the commander of Camp Ramadi and the 81st Brigade Combat Team, Washington Army National Guard, acts as a tenant agreement for the Coalition forces who are scheduled to remain on Camp Ramadi through 2011.

Signing over Camp Ramadi is a step toward Coalition forces pulling out and handing complete responsibility and control back over to the Iraqis.

“This is very important for Coalition forces because we are handing the land back over to the Iraqis,” said Post.

“It shows that the U.S. military and the Coalition forces are starting to prepare to turn over and demilitarize the bases that we have been using for the past five years,” said Kapral who took part in both signings. “If you look at what has been done in the past five years, the Iraqi army has started taking responsibility for their actions. They’re starting to support themselves. They are proving training we have given them over the past three years is starting to pay off. The Iraqi army wants to take charge of their country, wants their bases and wants to provide the security for the people of Iraq that they have been lacking up until we came in and started a democracy in Iraq.”

Ar Ramadi was a center of Sunni insurgent resistance in the years following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The area is now better known as one of Iraq’s biggest success stories.

Coalition forces took possession of Camp Ramadi, formerly known as Camp Junction City, in 2003 shortly after the ground offensive. Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ar Ramadi has had a handful of bases occupied by Coalition forces returned to the Iraq government. Camp Ramadi is now one of the last Coalition-only bases left in the Ar Ramadi area.

Although the signing marks a big step for the Iraqi government and leaders of Coalition forces, the majority of the troops stationed on Camp Ramadi will notice little change, if any.

“For those of us who physically live on Camp Ramadi, it really doesn’t change the normal day-to-day operations. What it does mean, from a long-term perspective, is that Coalition forces are giving back the bases and land to the Iraqis, due to their sovereignty,” said Lt. Col. Kevin McMahan, Camp Ramadi operations officer, who was present for both signings.

Force protection measures will not be changed. All camp improvement projects will continue. Iraqis will take a look at the buildings on Camp Ramadi to see if it is something they want to keep. The physical structures built on camp Ramadi will either be prepared to be handed over in 2011 or torn down. Part of the agreement is for Coalition forces to put the base back to the way they found it.

The Iraqi army and the Iraqi Police have been taking control much more, as Coalition forces have been stepping into the background.

“From my personal opinion, it is the beginning of the end. We are posturing to give back bases to the Iraqis. It will allow us to take a more supportive role,” said McMahan.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yeah, that's my husband

Remember the "I don't wear belts" situation this summer? Well, Jack, being the dedicated officer, continues to correct uniform mishaps. Wherever and whenever he sees it. The off-post grocery store on a Sunday. The airport. Since we've been here in Cav Canyon, this happens every week or two.

The latest encounter was so egregious that even I could spot it from 30 feet away. We were at the commissary for our weekend grocery shopping. Across the produce section I saw Jack talking to a petite, young female wearing winter PTs and brightly colored ballet slippers.

No telling why she thought that was somehow appropriate.

So if you ever encounter Army fashion police, it could be my dearest Jack Bauer.

Good News from Iraq: 26 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Iraqi, U.S. Forces Support Basrah Schools.

BASRAH — An Iraqi Army (IA) civil military operations team along with support from a Dallas based Army Reserve unit provided humanitarian assistance to some public schools here, Jan 15.

IA Soldiers from the 14th Division along with Soldiers of the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, traveled to the Al Zubair and Karowaan kindergartens in the Zubair district to deliver school supplies and make further refurbishment assessments.

The Zubair school, with 140 students and a teaching faculty of 18, was the first school the IA Soldiers visited.

The head master, Aroba Daod Salman, said the students and teachers were excited and happy to welcome the Soldiers to their school.

"These visits will make the children want to help the Iraqi Army and Police,” said Salman.

Salman helped Col. Mohammed Taher Mahee, 14th IA division chief of civil military operations, hand out backpacks, pencils and writing tablets to the students.

"Iraqi public schools are a meeting place for many ethnic, religious and social statuses of children and there are no better people to get education that will help better the country," Mahee said.

Mahee said he and his Soldiers have visited 16 schools and determined them to be in need of refurbishment. Several of the schools had students who were in need of school supplies.

After the assessments, recommendations were forwarded to the Iraqi Government’s Department of Education.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Evidence

In case you were wondering why I haven't been posting as many pictures lately, it is because the pictures for the most part seem to want to be only one size -- super big -- and I am not sufficiently code savvy to know how to fix it.

That said, here is the evidence of me shooting Jack Bauer's AR-15. You might need to click on it to get the full effect. But definitely the most awesomest weapon I've fired.

Good News from Iraq: 25 Jan 2008

From MNF-I, Iraqi-American Engineers Return, Rebuild.

BAGHDAD — Since security has improved in northwest Baghdad, the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment has developed many engineering projects to advance the citizens’ quality of life. Over the past year, two bilingual and bicultural advisors made sure those projects were done right.

In areas such as Ameriyah, Khandra, Adl, Jamiya, Washhash and Mansour, Iraqi-American civil engineers Nima Alsaiegh and Sami Bello worked with contractors to refurbish schools, medical clinics and much more to improve northwest Baghdad.

“Nima and Sami provide a skill set that is hard to replicate internally within the squadron. As civilian engineers, they have the capability to create scopes of work and provide quality checks of the ongoing projects,” said Lt. Col. Monty Willoughby, 4th Sqdn. 10th Cav. Regt. commander. “As Iraqi-Americans, they are able to communicate directly with Iraqi contractors and have a based knowledge of their capabilities that Soldiers don't inherently understand. We would not be able to have the same level of success without their contributions.”

Capt. Andrew Graziano, Iraqi Security Forces coordinator, 4th Sqdn. 10th Cav. Regt., said his unit did not have the engineering know-how to repave roads and build structures in his first deployment here.

“We’d go out there and look at asphalt roads and we wouldn’t know what to look for. We wouldn’t know what the composition was or the layers of asphalt looked like because we were not engineers and we were not qualified. So, the projects we were doing were JV work,” said Graziano. “Now we have these Iraqi-Americans coming here, and they have engineering backgrounds; they know what the projects are actually going to entail, and they make sure the projects are on budget, on time and to standard. What that translates to is we are at varsity-level projects.”

Among the details in many projects was the repair and replacement of tiles, roofs, doors, windows, repainted walls, sewage repair and the additions of running water and electricity.

Some of the renovated schools didn’t have bathrooms installed before they were worked on.

“Before (renovations), the children were going to schools with broken windows, no lights and no ceiling fans; some of them didn’t have bathrooms. They were so very unhappy,” said Alsaiegh. “Now, these children go to refurbished schools; there are bathrooms with water; there are places to play; there are basketball courts; there is air conditioning in the principal and assistant principal’s offices; there are complete computer labs; it is outstanding, and now they are very happy.”

Alsaiegh added that because of other projects like solar-powered street lights, public works substations, sewage pump stations, sports centers and the Ameriyah swimming pool, the people of northwest Baghdad are gaining hope for a sustainable future.

“We have done a lot here; I’ve been here almost 14 months working with the troops, and there is change in the mentality of the Iraqi people,” he said. “We have served them, and they believe in us.”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gone Shooting!!!

After my hot date last night, I could hardly sleep I was so excited about going shooting this morning. Kinda like Christmas morning. Who can sleep the night before???

Jack's going to be taking pictures for sure.

Have a nice day!

Yeah, no. Jack's AR isn't pink and doesn't have Hello Kitty on it. Although I did ask him if he could assemble it faster than Forrest Gump or if we could get butterfly charms to hang from the rail guard. He said no. :(

Good News from Iraq: 24 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Medical Assistance Solidifies Relationships.

WALID — Shaykh Sa’ad, Walid tribe leader in Anbar province, sponsored a Coalition forces medical assistance visit for the citizens here and the nearby Palestinian camp, Jan. 16.

“The 179 patients we saw during this visit ranged from newborn to geriatrics,” said a Coalition forces member. “It’s rewarding to do visits like these; they help provide a valuable service to the community as well as solidify the positive relationships we’ve established in this region.”

Visits like these provide access to basic health care. With no functioning medical facility in the village, the Coalition forces converted several rooms of an available school into examination rooms.

Some concerns were easy to address, such as how and when certain medicines should be taken, progress checks on recovery, treatment effectiveness and recommendations for the best way to treat symptoms indicative of the cold-and-flu season.

“Typically you see a lot of the same things – muscle skeletal injuries, cold-like symptoms, et cetera,” said the civil affairs noncommissioned officer who has participated in about 20 medical visits to areas in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I’m glad we were able to provide services that were inaccessible to these members of the Iraqi population.

“By helping the community stay healthier, the medical assistance visit enables them to further reconstruction efforts and maintain the safety and security of their community,” said the civil affairs NCO.

An example of this was in response to a request from a desperate father at the Palestinian camp, struggling to get a referral for specialized care for his son.

“Every month or month and a half we have doctor come; he see other children, they go to hospital for surgery, treatment,” said the father of an 8-year-old boy with bladder exstrophy (a malformation where a child is born with the bladder on the outside of the lower abdomen). “My boy, Mo’amen, not get to see doctor yet; he not get chance to go to hospital, to be better. Can you write me something so he see doctor too? Maybe go hospital. Maybe be better.”

The Coalition forces team answered his plea to the best of their ability by cleaning and bandaging the site. The father was given supplies to keep the site as clean as possible and to help alleviate some of Mo’amen’s pain and discomfort. The father also received a referral annotating to the camp’s doctor that Mo’amen needs further medical attention and surgery.

“By being here and doing work like this, you are reminded of our common humanity and you hope that what we’re doing here makes a difference. If nothing else, it offers hope,” said a member of the Coalition forces team who has participated in four MedAvs prior to this one. “Seeing the kids is especially sobering; they are just beautiful and remind me of my own children.”

Medical assistance visits help protect the future of these children and their parents by bridging a gap and meeting a need. The forward-thinking nature of these visits aim to arm Iraqis with the basic know-how to treat their own citizens with national support.

“Medicines and treatments are obtained through the United Nations clinic in the local Palestinian camp to treat common medical complaints,” said the Coalition forces spokesperson.

“Government of Iraq assistance could lead to first-responder capability among the local IPs and up to paramedic-level providers to treat common illnesses and minimize the impact of medical trauma injuries on the village infrastructure.”

A steady flow of patients for more than three hours were helped during this medical assistance visit; 81 children, 59 women and 39 men all received care. It was a team effort, evidenced by the commitment of the Iraqis and Coalition forces to bring their skill and expertise to the people of Walid.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A hot Friday night date

What more could a girl want for a Friday night date with her husband than instruction on how to handle and fire an AR-15.

At least he's taking me to the shooting range tomorrow so I can fire the thing for real.

I bet Jack will take some pics of me to post here, well, cuz I want to be as cool as Sarah. :D

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Mil-finance made it to HOLLYWOOD, Baby!

Jack Bauer and I enjoy watching American Idol. Uh, let me clarify, we enjoy watching the auditions for American Idol. By the time the regular episodes of the competition comes around, we've usually moved on to other things.

Last night at the auditions in Kentucky, a petite, young woman, engaged to a Soldier off training, auditioned with a big booming voice. She made it to Hollywood.

We wish she made find what she is dreaming of.

Good News from Iraq: 22 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Iraqi, Coalition Soldiers Conduct Humanitarian Food Delivery.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers handed out humanitarian aid packages to children attending Al Karama School for girls in the Suleikh district here, Jan. 19.

The patrol left early in the morning from Forward Operating Base War Eagle to link up with their IA counterparts in Suleikh to conduct their first joint-HA drop during the span of their 15-month tour.

“Our mission today was to receive assistance drop packages and assist the Iraqi Army in handing them out in the Suleikh area as needed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Obermuller, a platoon sergeant with MND-B.

“It was our first HA drop but I knew that the IA leadership that we had over there are real good at what they do. They have been getting on the ground and becoming more proactive,” said Obermuller.

The IA and Coalition forces arrived to a school filled with curious students, but all it took was the voice of Staff Sgt Zachary Walker saying: “We come bearing gifts. Do not worry. No problem,” in broken Arabic to ease the tension of the crowd.

Minutes later, teachers began to line up the now relaxed schoolgirls in an orderly fashion while the IA and Coalition Soldiers distributed 100 humanitarian aid packages to the students. Each package contains noodles, peas, canned meat, rice, beans and tea – enough to feed a family one full meal.

While the students grabbed their large bag of goods and carried them to class, Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Ibrahim, 11th IA Div., addressed the children to ensure they understood why they had visited the school.

“We are here for you. This is part of our job. We are here to serve you and protect you and provide anything that you may need to keep you and your families happy,” he said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In awe

I'm sitting here this morning watching FOX News Channel's coverage of the inauguration and thinking about what a great country this truly is. Remember back a few months, during the election, rhetoric and vitriol being spewed from every corner. But today, like this country has done after all highly contested elections, we've put that behind us. Today we will have a peaceful change of power. And, for me, that it is definitely something to celebrate.

I may not agree with his policies, but like other presidents I have not voted for, I wish him incredible and unexpected success. To do otherwise is to root against the success of this country.

So I hope you, too, are celebrating this day in one fashion or another.

Good News from Iraq: 20 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Abu Ghraib Hospital Symbol of Success.

ABU GHRAIB — The once war-ravished Abu Ghraib Hospital, west of Baghdad, is slowly but surely gaining new life. What was once one crumbling building is now a sprawling complex, boasting new equipment to better care for the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the city.

Approximately $3 million was spent by five different sources for approximately 20 different refurbishment and building projects.

“The most difficult part of this whole operation was getting the different funding organizations together to synchronize their efforts,” said Keith Parker, senior public health advisor for the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.

Projects were funded by the International Relief and Development Organization, Commander’s Emergency Response Program, Iraq-CERP, Quick Response Fund and the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Health.

Parker said the MoH now funds more than half of the projects.

The man behind the coordination of all the organizations was Dr. Naja Nouri, the hospital’s director. Since the beginning of the projects, Nouri has overseen the progress to ensure each was completed in a timely manner and with the quality he said he expects from a hospital.

“How can I not know what is going on here?” he asked. “It is important for me, as the hospital director, to make sure each project is done right so we can give the best care possible.”

Parker stressed the importance of Nouri’s oversight as well as regular inspections by the MoH engineers.

“The MoH engineers are really great,” he said. “They increase the quality of work and really ensure the work is done to proper standards.”

Parker said he hopes this hospital’s success is a model for other hospitals in the area.

“Change is difficult,” he said, “but the process is slowly shifting to the right people at the right levels of government. This is what needs to happen to slowly take the U.S. out of the picture. This is their time to shine.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Got an offer!

Woohoo! I got a job offer today for full-time work with a well respected company. I should start in about a month.

Until then, it is painting, temp work when I can get it, and finishing stuff up around the house.

Spa Day! Or how to help a hand.

With no job and living in a remote location, spa day has a different meaning here in Cav Canyon. One of the fabulous ladies I met here -- the one introduced me to Tastefully Simple, actually -- is a consultant for BeautiControl, a direct sales company specializing in beauty care products. Last night we had a spa party at my house!

It is so dry here that some items, like good lotion, have gone from being a luxury item to being a more economical way to spend money on a necessity, simple because they are more effective. One area in particular is in need of help: the hands. I must wash my hands at least 20 times a day, and if I don't put on lotion after a couple of washings, my hands get rough and begin to crack.

One item that has definitely helped has been BeautiControl's Instant Manicure. When family was visiting over the holidays, my mother-in-law, my mother, and my sister all tried it. Their reaction was the same as mine. "Oh, wow." In fact, Jack Bauer tried it last night. Same reaction. The instant manicure is a scrub with Dead Sea Salts to get rid of the dead skin and natural oils to moisturize. To further the manicure effect, you may also enjoy the Show of Hands Cuticle Buffing Creme or the Cuticle Oil Pen. Finish off the, try the Paraffin Treatment. Check out the entire line of hand products in addition to the many other spa treatments.

At my spa party last night, I got the Cuticle Buffing Creme, the Paraffin Treatment, Cuticle Salve (for Jack), and Age Defying Hand Treatment.

If you are interested in adding an order to my party, let me know ( AT and I will give the name of my consultant so you can order online.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A bit of work and a bite at some more

Got a temp job. Transcribing a 2.5-hour hearing from a CD. They think it will take 8 hours. I think it will take maybe twice that. They need it by Tuesday. It is a 4-day weekend. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend. Of course, I have virtually no experience transcribing. But I can type fairly fast.

Got a call from the HR person at the clinic on post about an RN position. Not sure how much she read of my resume. She didn't seem to understand that I hadn't practiced in almost 10 years. Nonetheless, she wants to interview on Friday, yes, on the training holiday. Interesting to see what happens with that.

1230: Uh, yeah. I drove 20 miles to pick up the assignment and sat in their offices for an hour while they figured out what they really wanted to do. I left empty handed and drove straight to the temp agency, 35 miles. I am not a happy camper 3.5 hours after this began. At the agency they were somewhat sympathetic and offered me a job paying $9/h this Saturday. Should be simple enough.

I guess it is back to painting the smallest room with the tallest ceiling.

Good News from Iraq: 15 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Arab Jabour Opens New Police Station.

BAGHDAD — The citizens of Arab Jabour may notice more Iraqi Security Forces on the roads and in the community than normal, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Iraq and its dedication to the security of its people.

Community leaders, ISF commanders and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers gathered in the rural farming community in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district for the grand opening of a new Iraqi Police station, Jan. 11.

“There was a big turnout of all the local leaders and ISF members,” said Capt. Kip Kowalski, a company commander with the 4th Infantry Division. “They all showed up to commemorate this great event, which is a good feeling because they are all working together toward security improvements.”

The new IP station greatly increases the number of security forces in the area by providing more uniformed Policemen, explained Kowalski.

Kowalski said Coalition Soldiers partnered with the local ISF before the ceremony to provide security and to minimize the U.S. presence inside the Police station.

To memorialize the station, the Provincial Directorate of Police in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Kadhum Hameed Al-Mihimidawy, cut the ribbon on the station and blessed the event.

Since the Government of Iraq implemented the Security Agreement Jan. 1, all Coalition patrols require an ISF presence, which accommodates Kowalski’s mission by providing access to more ISF patrols.

“Everything we do is with the IP, and this increased security allows us to move around with them more often,” Kowalski said.

The added security in the neighborhood gives more responsibility to the ISF, said Kowalski.

Salam Saleh Muhammed, a former Sons of Iraq security member, recently graduated from the Furat IP Academy in northwest Rashid and began working at the Arab Jabour station.

“My feelings are like any decent person,” stated Muhammed, a 30-year resident of Arab Jabour. “I like to serve my country and people.”

Muhammed said he feels safer since the major security improvements in the Rashid district, Baghdad and Iraq occurred.

Muhammed also said he is proud to serve as an IP because many of his family members served in the Iraqi Army.

“I want to continue to provide services to civilians and spread security in the community,” he added.

Kowalski and the Soldiers of the 1st Bn., 505th PIR recently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Fort Bragg, N.C., and assumed control of eastern Rashid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Keeping Busy

So I am hoping that one sure-fire way for me to get a job is to plan my life as though I will not have one.

I've been going to the local spouses' club luncheons since I arrive in October. I figured I wouldn't be able to go to those monthly gatherings every month once I got a job. Apparently that was not enough.

I started my own business with Tastefully Simple. While this should be a mostly evening activity, I am planning on going to conference, including one next month, requiring time off of any job. Still not enough.

I was hesitant to join the Protestant Women of the Chapel group on post because they meet weekly at 9 AM. To me and my working mind set, that is an odd time for a group. But what the heck, I am a protestant woman, I am not doing anything more productive most Tuesday mornings, and my relationship with God can always be strengthened. And I want to meet more people.

Not yet enough.

OK. I decided to through myself into a series of painting projects around the house. Surely, a job offer would come my way while I was up to my elbows in Kilz.

Yeah. No job offers yet. And I am still peeling Kilz off my forearms and will be for a while.

Let's see if this will work. There is a Wednesday morning Bible study group on post that I am going to check out this morning.

If this doesn't work, at least I am doing something productive and constructive and that brings in some income.

In the meantime, I am soooo happy that this great woman found her job!!

Good News from Iraq: 14 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Iraqi Police Gather Donated Items for School Children.

BAGHDAD — As bags and boxes were rolled into the courtyard by carts and wheelbarrows at Al Musqdad Primary School last week, smiling students peered through the windows of their classrooms to find Iraqi Police, along with some Coalition Soldiers, making the delivery.

“Today we are here to bring you some gifts,” said Iraqi Police Col. Laftaa Mahdy, commander of Al Jadida police station, through an interpreter. “You are all being rewarded for all of the good things you have been doing.”

During the visit, IPs distributed school supplies, clothing and sporting equipment to the children to further develop the positive relationship between the IPs and the citizens of the muhalla. All of the items were donated by the Soldiers of the 340th MP Co.

“Our platoon leader came up with this idea in August 2008, so that the Iraqi children would gain trust in their IPs as well as in Coalition forces,” said Spc. Lauren DeYoung, a Soldier of 340th MP Co., Multi-National Division - Baghdad. “I told my parents what we were trying to do so they began collecting stuff in my hometown for about a month. At the same time, it gave people back home the opportunity to help these children in any way that they could.”

DeYoung along with two other Soldiers, Sgt. Aaron Grechko and Pfc. John Lachioma assisted in reaching out to their hometowns.

Mahdy, along with an element of IPs from Al Jadida, went into each classroom and spoke with the students of the school. The IPs then distributed bags of school supplies to each child. Each bag consisted of pencils, calculators, notebooks, glue sticks, and protractors, among other supplies.

After all of the bags were distributed, students formed a line and were presented clothes and a game or toy.

“I am happy to have this and I thank them for these gifts,” said Emad, a student at the school, through a translator.

The IPs of Al Jadida, continue to flourish their relationship with their community by providing time and resources to further improve the public perception of the police.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lost Claim

The 60 days to review our moving claim has come and gone. So last evening, while watching 24, I remembered to ask Jack about the status.

Butterfly Wife: So Jack, what's going on with our moving claim? (asked all super casual)

Jack Bauer: Oh, on the 5th it had been 60 days. So I followed-up with the moving company.

BW: And?

JB: They lost our claim. (said all calm and nonchalantly)

BW: WHAT?!?!?! LOST?!?!?!? Now what?

JB: I sent the claim again along with all the email conversations.

BW: AND???? They don't think they get another 60 days, do they?? (steam is visibly coming out of my ears and nose at this point)

JB: (continuing to remain calm and collected) No. The woman at the moving company has it on top of her list to do.

BW: (head spinning, eyes shooting out red lasers, steam billowing from every crevice on my head) AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! (and a whole host of other gutteral sounds seemingly emanating from my vocal cords)

JB: (still looking forward and calm)

BW: Well, she just be better be glad she's dealing with Jack Bauer and NOT me! Because if she has to DEAL with me, she'll be begging for Jack Bauer when I get done with her!

OK. So then I busted up laughing. I mean really, that is one bad-ass comment, but you know me, I'm 99% about diplomacy and the art of the subtle persuasion.

But this is the first time we've PCS'd and the first time we've watched 24 together.

Good News from Iraq: 13 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Hundreds Graduate Iraqi Military Academy.

BAGHDAD — The Basic Officers Commissioning Course at Ar Rustamiyah Military Academy graduated 241 Iraqi Army and 134 Iraqi Air Force cadets, Jan 12.

The 12-month commissioning course paid special attention to leadership and ethics training while instilling the values and standards required of the future leaders of the Iraqi military.

Additionally, the course syllabus covered tactics, weapons training, physical fitness, first aid, current affairs and geography. Along with those completing the 12-month curriculum, cadets holding university degrees graduated after completing six months of intensive training.

Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Furayji, senior advisor to the Minister of Defense, and Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of Multi National Security Transition Command – Iraq and NATO Training Mission – Iraq, presided over the ceremony.

The next Basic Officers Course starts in March, and in light of lessons learned from the current curriculum, will be nine months in duration and specifically designed for officer cadets who hold university degrees.

The Iraqi Military Academy of Ar Rustamiyah, or IMAR, was founded in 1924 by British forces. The academy, based on the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, graduated its first class of Iraqi officers in 1927.

NATO Training Mission – Iraq has supported IMAR since 2005. During the past three years, more than 2,000 officer cadets have graduated from the academy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Vet and Another Interview

The doggies and I are off to visit the vet on post this morning. Both are overdue for a couple of vaccinations and Moo has a been growing this lump on her lip for a couple months. And a princess doggie shouldn't have a lump on her face. This is the first new vet for the doggies, but I've told them to be on their best military child behavior. They are already dressed up with their ACU bandanas on. :D

Then this afternoon I've got another interview with the last company I interviewed with, but for a different position. Sounds like it should be a good fit.

Tastefully Simple business is going well. Thank you readers who helped get me off to a good start. Now I need to work the parties and meet more people here. But I really am having a blast with it.

(No change on the status of the house in Middleville. Except that we can't pay the mortgage now.)

Catch ya later!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hellllooooo??? Anyone Home?

Yeah. Sometimes it takes someone to point out the obvious to get me off my butt. Except that I am still sitting on my butt, but at least I'm posting something.

Yesterday marked Jack Bauer being home eight months.

The most profound thing I have to say is this: Christmas and the rest of the holidays are so much more special with my Jack home. The difference is immeasurable. There is nothing to compare it to. Sure, we've had holidays with the family before. But all that was before. We are both so different, our experience changed us. I am having trouble articulating the difference and thus part of my reason for being absent from here.

More later.

In the meantime, go here. Perhaps the funniest (sorry, Sara) homecoming story I've heard. :D