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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Good news from Iraq

This is a blog I read daily.....too good not to share.

Hearts and Minds
Some of the top commanders and colonels in the area toured Charlie Medical yesterday. RK, our head surgeon and detachment commander, gave them a tour of the OR and our capabilities. While discussing area topics and patient care for the local populous and Iraqi Forces, the colonel had some genuinely positive encouragement regarding the care we are rending in Ramadi. (read more)

And because 'the boy' is supposed to be with Engineers I thought this was something I should share....I found it on Butterfly Wifes blog.

MNF-I. Engineers clear way for new school. Damaged outpost in Baqubah demolished. Army guys do like to blow stuff up. And the author of the article must too cause that's the focus.

I did get the last shipment of cards to MSgt Jason today so hopefully almost 300 Dad's will hear from their kidlets on the special day. I hear I am getting more cards coming so those will get out too! Have a good Friday everyone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hello from Iraq 30 May 2007-From Victor

Hello Everyone:

We have been very busy as usual. I am still waiting to see an empty OR board. There are a couple of children in the hospital. I was able to give them a few items. They seemed to be doing good.I've finally found a couple of people willing to get up at 0500 hrs in the morning to go running. The first week is always the roughest ...after that, getting up and running starts to feel more routine. Hopefully, they don't quit on me. I don't mind the heat so much during the day; it is the sun I don't like. You can feel it burning you up when it is unhindered. I'm getting pretty good with the forklift (5K). It is so much easier to drop my own supplies from the truck then having to wait for someone with a license to assist. I have got a descent amount of cookies for the Iraqi Girl scouts. I will drop them off on the 7th. I'll try to get a bunch of pictures on this day and at the clean-up on the following day at the scout site. My children are out of school and are eagerly awaiting the Florida trip at the end of this week. My daughter is going to be able to take a couple of her friends. I'm sure they will have a great time. Well, I have got to get back to work. Thanks again for all the support. May God keep you safe and in good spirits.

Thank You,

The Cards are in the Mail!

Thanks to all my helpers I was able to send out Father's Day cards to 2 hospitals & MSgt Mike's replacement, MSgt is their first deployment & he emailed me when I sent a card for Armed Forces Day to let me know that our support is making it easier for them to do their job over there. Lets keep it up. I am so honored to have 'met' you all & hope to make a lot more friends along the way in coordinating this project. I want to say again how much this is helping me in dealing with my son's upcoming deployment. Please keep me busy!! I have pictures to post later of some of the cards I have been receiving.

Monday, May 28, 2007

We spent the day as it should be....honoring those who have died for our country. The Memorial Day ceremony was very well done. Steve was very honored to present colors for Operation Mom with a Marine who had recently returned from Iraq. Operation Mom had a booth to sell product (tshirts, pins, etc) & take donations for "Wounded Hero Fund"...I will post when I hear how much was made. Chapel of the Chimes, which is where this was held, will match funds for this dollar for dollar. We met alot of wonderful people this day....many of them Vets from past & present wars as well as other family members. A very thoughtful day. Here are some of the photo's I took.

New Flag Pole!

Well it's up & looking good. Steve had to do 3 holes to get it right (1st one hit irrigation lines, 2nd one we realized pole would be too close to the house & as with my marrying him the 3rd time was the charm!). Got it up for Memorial Day too. What do you think?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Eve

We just finished watching the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. It was very moving. If you have had someone you know die go to the website, write a eulogy & share their story. One of our Gold Star Mom's is in Washington D.C. this weekend to be in the National Memorial Day Parade tomorrow. She was so pleased to be asked .....such an honor for her. I checked the Directv guide to see if the parade would be televised so we could tivo it as we wouldn't be home but didn't find a listing. I know she will share her photo's & tell us all about it at the next meeting.

Steve & I went to the Memorial Day service where Spc Michael Balsley's family goes to church this morning. The church put up a plaque in Michael's memory inside the church. It was a very nice service & we feel very honored to be able to participate in it.

Tomorrow we will go to the Memorial Day (different site) ceremony so will be gone most of the day. I have a special letter to post for the day.....written by a RN who works in a military hospital. Please read it all. Copied with her permission........

Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 5/25/07
Stationed in: a military hospital in the U.S.
It is Memorial Day Weekend and I have suddenly realized a lot of things I never even thought about before. Years ago I was a sheltered Midwest kid whose only contact with the military was an uncle in the Air Force who I saw maybe once every five years. I’m ashamed to say the military never really meant much to me in those days. I simply never gave any thought to the people who fought, were injured and sometimes killed in serving me. As I write that it sounds incredibly harsh, and for that I apologize.
Somewhere along life’s path I started making friends with people “in the military”. Things truly changed for me on September 11, 2001; a day I will remember clearly for the rest of my life. I lost friends that day, and I looked down at the faces of their beautiful children, who would never know their parents, lost to acts of indescribable evil and cowardice.
Soon after, a friend deployed to OEF, then another to OIF, and I gradually became more aware of the struggles and hardships they faced in serving. Cards, letters, toiletries, chocolates, meals in a can, little luxuries of home I packed in boxes and mailed off. Somehow at some point the military folks began to take up residence in my heart. They became, to me, the ones who fought to prevent future acts of terrorism. The ones who preserved my freedoms. And it was and still is my hope that because of what they did and continue to do I will never again have to experience the kinds of things I saw and lived through on September 11, 2001 and in the days that followed.
Tired and burned out from working trauma and flying medevacs I began to look at other nursing opportunities, and one in particular caught my eye. After many long months (we all know government jobs!) I was on my way to being indoctrinated into the military way of healthcare. They tell me I had to “in process” or “check in”, which really involved wandering around like a lost soul at various installations trying to get signatures on a single piece of paper. I learned quickly to bring a book, find a chair and settle in until they called my name. I learned when they ask “Last four?” they mean the final four digits of your social security number. An enlisted person took pity on me and began drawing a diagram of the rank structure so I’d have an idea of who was what. In the end the easiest solution was to call them all "Ma’am" and "Sir". Can’t go wrong there!
Later I would sit, mouth hanging open, bemusement etched across my face, as those around me discussed topics in what sounded like a foreign language. “Remember Janice? She used to be at USHS? Well she’s PCS’ing to BAMC. She finally got O6." "Smith, oh yeah, he’s TDY at MIEMSO." I still have days were I cannot even begin to understand what they are saying; too bad there’s not a dictionary that translates military acronyms into English.
When I began patient care, at least that was something I knew; familiar ground! In doing patient care I looked around and saw that these patients were respectful, they were polite and they actually said “Thank you”. Whoa! What a concept! From an inner city trauma center where I had begun to think my name was “Bitch” to a hospital where I have patients who call me "Ma’am" and say, “Thanks for taking care of me." Awesome!
As Memorial Day is a time of reflection, I sit here and reflect on many things. I reflect and remember:
-- My trip to Arlington National Cemetery, section 64, where my friends, victims of the September 11th attack are buried. A trip to lay flowers at the graves and remember.
-- My wounded triple-amputee who told me I was the first woman (other than his mom and sister) to hug him without hesitation.
-- My OIF, who with his wife brought me small trinkets for my birthday and Christmas. Never, ever, ever had a patient do that before!
-- My wounded special ops guy who hugged me so hard I literally couldn’t breath until he let go. Thank goodness he didn’t hold on long!
-- The angel quilt that sits on my chair, made by the mother of one of my wounded. The box showed up totally unexpected and made me cry so hard the cosmetics ceased to exist. I hate it when the mascara runs!
-- The ones who leave and never say good-bye.
-- The ones we work feverishly on for hours and hours, praying "Please let this work..." but it doesn’t and our hearts are broken.
-- The amputees I ran the Army 10-miler with, all nine of them, and how proud I was to see each and every one of them cross the finish line!
-- The parents I spent hours with educating them on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) helping them to understand their son could not control some of the responses he was having.
-- The ones I watch struggle to stay in the military, but who are no longer able to do what they once did and so they grieve.
-- The courage, perseverance, and fortitude displayed by every single one of wounded.
-- The ones I watched get married.
-- All the ones who I’ve cradled in my arms and allowed to soak the shoulder on my scrub top, and the ones whose hands I’ve simply held. Sometimes looking in the opposite direction.
-- All the ones I laugh with, pray with and for, and some who decide to hang around and become my friends.
-- All the new friends I have made, many still in harm's way, simply by posting my stories.
There are so many things to remember and reflect on this Memorial Day; three years of working as a civilian nurse in a military hospital have provided a plethora. Let me close by saying to all of you who have served, are currently serving, or will serve -- you have my deepest, most sincere gratitude and appreciation. You will always have a special place in my heart and in my prayers, and I will never again forget or take for granted your service and sacrifices.

Email from Victor in Iraq from May 27th

May 27, 2007

Hello Everyone:
Thanks again to everyone for their prayers and support for ustroops here in Iraq/Afghanistan. It has been in the 100's (115-120degrees to be more exact) here in Baghdad. If you send any chocolate,make sure it is candy coated (M&Ms/Reeces Pieces) or they will notsurvive the trip. We got a couple of small water pistols and have beenplaying around with them. Water definitely makes the heat bearable.My Dad and brother are sending me a battery powered drill and saw. I amgoing to use them on a couple of projects. They should be handy when Igo to the scout area clean up in mid June (I don't think they have powerin that area). I should have plenty of cookies to give to the Iraqi GirlScouts for their fundraiser on 7 June. I am going to help with their baseball camp in early June. I don't know what kind of equipment theyhave and am considering June my green entry phase into the organization.They said I can take pictures of the events so by mid June, expect tosee some. I am also going to try to bring some things for these kidstoo. The Iraqi Scouts Green Zone Council has a website with a link with pictures. It is as follows: We still struggle with our minimal staff and we still maintain a busy schedule. I still manage to get the med supplies ordered and picked up.The heat don't help with this effort either. Now that I got my forklift licenses, I won't have to wait for my pallets to get downloaded from thetruck. I will say it is nice to get out of the OR for a couple days eachweek to pick up supplies.They are letting the families stay a few more weeks. This will at leastallow the kids to finish the school year. Many families will also still remain here. They are the families of the Iraqi military members andgovernment officials (the ones in most danger).I thought I would send some pictures of my children today. They are allgetting so big and doing good.We are still hopeful for the safe return of the missing US Soldiers.Please keep them and their families in your prayers.
Thank You,

Email from Victor in Iraq from May 25th

I asked permission to reprint these as I thought other's might like to hear what other things are being done over there.....Hope you enjoy reading them. I will be posting them as received.

May 25, 2007

Hello Everyone:

The scouts meeting was pretty good. I did not realize how bigthe organization has gotten here. There are several councils throughoutIraq and they are going to try to send some of the scouts to the ScoutJamborie in the UK. Unless anybody minds, I was planning to give theIraqi girl scouts some of the cookies that have been sent to us. Theyare doing a cookie sale on the 7/8th of June. The proceeds go to thescouts. I am going to try to go to the clean-up detail at the scoutgrounds next month to see what the area looks like. They also have acouple of activity weeks lined up...of course they are during my workschedule. I have attached some more pictures from last week. Thanks againeveryone for sending things. 4th of July is coming up and the OR intends to win thedecorating contest. We have won every other contest and now everyone isgunning for us...especially after we took the commanders cup in lastmonths organizational day. I know its early, but if you see 4th Julydecorations or have excess, there is a place here for them. I hope everyone has a great summer. With the little extra moneyI'm making here, my wife and kids are going to Florida next month.Should be a great time for them and they deserve it. God Bless you all and take care.

Thank You,


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sorry I've been gone so long.......

Hi all. Sorry I haven't been keeping up but it has been a busy week. First of all the Operation Mom Garage Sale was great....we made over $1000!! We had a very nice time Saturday nite at the Homecoming Party of LCPL Tom & his lovely bride ........we stayed til the end eating & gambling. Learned how to play Roulette........did I tell you they had a Casino Night party? Lots of fun.

'The boy' called on Wednesday to let us know he finally got his orders...he will be leaving in less than 2 weeks. Will be going to Fort Leonard Wood or "Fort Lost in the Woods" as it is called. He will be with a Combat Engineer Battalion. Looks like he will deploy to Iraq in July. I did do some searches on this Unit & could only find 3 casualties in the 4 years of war.....1 of those was a heart that makes me feel a lot better. They do the stuff we don't read about in the paper or see on the evening news. They worked on Baghdad Zoo, playgrounds & police stations as well as demoing buildings that pose security issues. Please keep him in your prayers. (US too!)

Got alot of cards done......will be working on them until Tues & then will send off all that I have. Still have not gone thru everything I have received yet......will pull out everything that is masculine looking to use for Father's Day too. Thanks to all that have sent cards. I really appreciate all the participation. I have some boxes I haven't had time to open as I want to post photo's so will get that done hopefully tomorrow.

Friday The City of Hayward planted a tree in memory of Spc. Michael Balsley who was killed in Iraq in January.......4 months to the day of the planting. Steve & I attended the cermony...I will post photo as I get it uploaded. Tomorrow the church were his memorial service was held is putting up a plaque in his memory....we will be attending that also. Then on Monday we will go to Chapel of the Chimes for their annual Memorial Day Ceremony. Operation Mom will be there as the cemetary has given us office space plus we will have a booth to see tshirts, pins & such to raise money for the Wounded Soldiers Fund. Steve will be presenting the colors which will be very kewl. I offered to lay a wreath if we can not get a servicemember to do so. Will be an all day event with a BBQ at the end.

I am going to close this with some news links I have going to try to do this more often. Have a good Sunday everyone.

Puppy helps tie family to slain soldier

Wounded warrior leads formation run to Ground Zero

Saturday, May 19, 2007


We are off for the day....Operation Mom Garage Sale (this will be Sunday too) first to earn postage money to send packages off to troops.... it is on Victory Ave in Hayward if you are in the area. Then we have a welcome home party later for Marine kiddo of one of the members.

Today is also Recruiter Appreciation Day.......thank a service member &/or Recruiter today for sure. Also please remember all our service men & women in your prayers especially those 3 missing soldiers & their families......pray they are found soon.

Have a good day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


The winner is Wanda!! Please email your snail mail so I can get your goodies out asap. Thank you all for giving me good news & making me smile. Please come back & visit again soon.


I am getting so much good news....I love it. You are all definately putting a smile on my face. Some are not linking back to email addy's or blogs tho so I can contact you if you win. Hope you will be checking back to see if you won then. Make sure you post your comments HERE soon.

Also don't forget that Laura at Whirlpool of Imagination is doing the buy a card she will donate a card offer this month so those who aren't cardmakers have another way to participate. Check out her work......very kewl. I wrote up more info here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Someone finally let me know they couldnt' post on my 360 yahoo page to enter this so I'm moving it here too so those who don't want to sign up for yahoo can still enter.I have been promising some goodies for a couple of weeks how time flies. As you can see I have put together some Michael's $1 Stamps & acrylic blocks to go with them, Joann's $1 stamps, some bling, 3" Scalloped ovals (cut from Wishblade not punch), current issue of Memory Makers & a Support our Troops pin. I am so tired of just hearing all this bad news we've had of late.....School shootings, Tornado's, Freeway collapse, fires, etc so.....Leave me a comment with some GOOD NEWs that is going on in the world (make sure I can get ahold of you if you win, make sure you link to a blog & send me email addy). My inspiration is "The Life & Times of a Butterfly Wife".....check out her blog. On Thursday evening we will draw a winner for all the goodies.
Don't forget I still need more cards for the troops.....collecting Father's Day cards til end of May. Please help......they don't have to be handmade cards but I do need envelopes. Envelope donations would be helpful too......invitation size most needed.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A word from one of our HERO's

I found this & had to share........Controversy on Mother's Day This is what you will not hear on the Nightly News or read in your newpaper.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Card Contest deadline coming up....& BLOG CANDY

Less than a week to go to enter Kyla's contest....they must be received by May 15th. Prizes are Gift Certificates for Stampin UP & eclectic paperie. Good luck to all entrants.

Make sure you check out my Other Blog....have been putting pictures up & make sure you try to win the blog candy.

Needing Father's Day cards right now....must send out by end of May. Also if you can get some cards to me by Monday for Armed Forces Day that would be greatly appreciated by me as well as the troops. Just a card with some words of encouragment & appreciation is all you need. Let me know you are sending em so I can hold off my shipment. Thanks

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pictures from Iraq....May 3, 2007

I got an email from Iraq this morning letting me know the package of cards had arrived & had pictures showing them with cards in hand & big smiles. I got permission to post the photos. These are the Mother's Day cards that Janis, Sue & I made.