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