Sunday, November 28, 2010

Teaching others teach's you alot about yourself!

So I have been meeting with alot of Iraqi personnel and teaching them how to order supplies, specifically medical supplies. How to properly store and to properly dispose of expired meds, fluids, needles, etc... It has been very interesting to say the least. The biggest hurdle I run into is I deal mainly with LTC's and up. So me, being a little 1LT kind of creates a little difficulty. We survive though. Sometimes those NCO days come in handy when I, very respectfully inform my counterparts what they can and should be doing. The Iraqi's answer to everything is "God Willing" I always respond with, "Okay so God willing, what are you going to do in the mean time?" Good times. It has actually been getting pretty cold around here. Still no rain, which has the Iraqi's very worried. They live or die according to their yearly rainy season. So far no rain. Good for us, bad for them.

This is the 2nd Iraqi Army, Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade G-4 (basically the supply guy for the brigade) He is also overseer for medical supply orders. He was a very interesting individual, again he used to be old Iraqi Army and was a Brigadier General then. In the new army he is a LTC. He was very interesting to talk to.

Here we are at a pit stop waiting for the Battalion Commander to do his thing and then we can roll out. Somebody asked me what the bars are on top of the MRAP's. They are actually PVC pipes that help roll any low hanging wires over the MRAP so we don't disrupt nor destroy any power lines.

I just thought this was a good pic, plus you can see how the pvc pipes wrap over the MRAP.

PV2 Jarvis and I on the back of an MRAP. Bald is the new sexy. (Jarvis was basically assigned to be my body guard while I walked all over the Iraqi compound talking to Iraqi Officers, we only trust the Iraqis as far as we can through them. If your curious that distance is 6ft! Straight down) Like I said on my first blog in country, this is still a war. Those pouches on my body armor don't hold twinkies.

So the Battalion Commander finished up and we rolled out. It was very interesting though. There are defiantly cultural and religious lines, very clearly drawn out here. It could be very volatile if the US Army was to depart. I'll just leave it at that for now. Y'all can draw your own conclusions. Till next time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Haley's Birth Story

Hello to the Hargrave reading audience! This is Haley's mom, Nancy, and I am pirating her blog for a minute because today, November 28th, is a very special day! Twenty-four years ago on this very day our Haley Dear came into our lives and it has never been the same since! On the kids' birthdays we always told them the story of when they were born, and I know Haley is keeping up the tradition in her family because I remember reading Bennett's story on this blog when it was his birthday. I thought it would be fun for Haley to have her birth story written out for her so she can have it forever. So here goes, and I must warn you that I can be wordy so this could be long. Haley must get her amazing writing ability from me! :)

First, we need some background information. In 1986, when Haley was born, we were living in Merced, California. We had two boys: Logan, who was 4, and Griffin, who was about three weeks shy of turning 2. Haley's dad taught high school science and I was a stay-at-home mom (that was a whole other life for me!). Another important thing to know here is what was going on in our extended families. My dad was just months away from losing his 7 year battle with cancer and he and my mother lived an hour away in Fresno, so we saw them pretty often. Haley's Hazard grandparents lived 2 1/2 hours away in San Jose. At this time they had only had 5 grandchildren, all of whom were boys. We saw them a lot too. It was so fun living close to both sets of grandparents. Now that we are grandparents ourselves I realize even more how precious that must've been for our parents. I would love to live closer to our grandkids! But I digress... .

So, we had two boys and another one on the way that was due on Nov.23rd. I was in the Primary presidency and I was in charge of the sacrament meeting program that was to be performed on my due date. Since both boys had come early I just assumed that this baby would too and I arranged to have others take over my duties for the program, grateful that I wouldn't have to worry about it. It was pretty embarrassing, not to mention depressing, when I not only showed up that Sunday, but was still around the next day, and the next, and the next for five days! So many friends called the hospital inquiring about me that the front desk knew me before I even got there. Thanksgiving was quickly approaching and family was coming. I didn't want to miss out on all the fun by being in the hospital. I could not believe that this baby was putting me through all this anxiety! When it was 2 days before Thanksgiving and I was still waddling around I finally just got philosophical and decided that the baby could just wait till everyone left. I relaxed and we enjoyed a great Thanksgiving Day. Greg's parents came and we all went to his brother's house, who also lived in Merced, for a delicious dinner. I was huge and had been experiencing lots of pregnancy related aches and pains, but that day I felt so good. We all walked to a nearby park after dinner and I was so happy. It was November 27th.

That night Greg's parents were going to stay at their other son's house, but at the last minute decided to stay with us. We talked for awhile and then went to bed around 11:00. Just as I was drifting off I suddenly felt a POP and realized that my water had broken! That had never happened to me before and I wasn't sure what to do. My other labors took 12-14 hours and never really got going until the doctor would finally break my water, and now here I was all ready at that point. I was feeling great, but we decided we'd better get to the hospital anyway. We told Greg's parents what was going on and took off.

Merced isn't a very big town and we checked into the hospital around 11:30. As we were walking across the parking lot I had my first labor pain and more followed as we made our way up to the birthing room. They checked me and found out that I was already to a 5! A 5! This was so different from my other labors that took forever just to get from a 3 to a 4, then finally a 5, etc. The pain started getting really intense really fast, though. There were no epidurals in those days, at least not in Merced. They were still relatively new. So anyway, I felt every pain from start to finish. The next time I got checked I was at a 6, then a 7. My contractions would start at the peak exactly 4 minutes apart and then last 60-70 seconds. In between big ones I'd have milder ones that lasted 30-40 seconds. You women out that have epidurals have no idea what real childbirth is! As I read about this labor in my journal it all comes back to me and I find it amazing that we went on to have 2 more children after this! The doctor came in and told me to start pushing and I couldn't believe it was time all ready. It had all gone so fast! I pushed and pushed and pushed, but got nowhere. I finally had a great big episiotomy all the way though, and 2 more pushes later we could see the back of a dark little head and heard crying. Another push and a little blue body came out. The doctors and nurses were all saying, "It's a girl!" This was news to us because, even though I'd had sonograms with every baby, they could never tell the gender. I couldn't believe I'd had a girl! We were so excited. It was 2:45 a.m., only 3 hours and 15 minutes of labor! That was the fastest delivery I had for any of our 5 children. She had made me wait an extra 5 days, but she made up for it in the end. We named her Haley Dawn. Haley, because we'd picked that name out for our first girl when we got married, and Dawn for her grandpas, who both just happened to be named Don.

While we were thrilled at Haley's birth, she was not! She was born crying and it escalated until it was a full scream. The doctor was trying to talk to us, but we couldn't hear anything. I finally started to feed her and she ate like there was no tomorrow! She had big red blotches on her forehead, on her left eyelid, and another one on the nape of her neck. The doctor assured us that these would eventually tone down, and they did. They took her away to clean her up and when she came back, all pink and bundled, we learned that she weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long. She was so cute with big dark eyes and chubby cheeks, and when they swaddled her she looked like a little Eskimo baby. My sweet sister-in-law brought us a little purple outfit for Haley to come home in and I just couldn't believe that we were entering the world of pinks and purples. It felt like I was just pretending every time I said, "she", or "her". Grandpa and Grandma Hazard came to see us in the hospital and Grandpa could hardly take his eyes off of Haley. He had always wanted a granddaughter and now he finally had one. Before they left he came over and kissed me on the cheek and said, "Thank you!"

When we took Haley home the boys loved her and were so cute with her. Griffin couldn't walk past her without smothering her with kisses and by the time he was done she'd be all wet. Logan called her, "My Haley" and was so careful when he held her. I remember one time when I had her asleep on my bed and I went in to check on her. She had on a little pink sleeper and she just looked pink all over. I suddenly felt this overwhelming love for her and such gratitude to have her in our family. When my dad died 5 months later Haley and I went down and stayed with my mom for a week. It was such a blessing to have a sweet baby there to distract us and remind us that life does go on. Grandma Hill still cries remembering the comfort Haley gave to her (but, are you surprised?).

So, that is Haley's birth story, and my gift to her today. It seems impossible that it was 24 years ago, but time flies when you're having fun and Haley has certainly brought joy to our lives. Happy birthday, Hay. On this very special day I hope you know how very loved you are!

It's hard to tell what Haley looked like in these pictures. I was so glad to finally have her here!
Notice how dark my hair is! It got darker and darker with every baby until I finally turned myself into a blonde again.

Happy Greg with his first little girl. He looks like he's about 18, but he had turned 29 the week before she was born.

I love this picture of us! This is the first house we ever owned and we moved into it 2 months before Haley was born. Look how cute those little boys are. What a happy time!
Thanks for hanging in there with me for this looong story!

Happy Birthday, Haley! We love you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Really, Really Bad

This last Friday, Bennett and I had the opportunity to go on base and get our pictures professionally taken for free. This is something the military was doing for all the families of deployed soldiers, and it was awesome. The plan was to look super cute, go on base, take amazing photos, use some as our Christmas card, and send some to Matt so he can have pictures of us. Great plan, right? Bennett didn't seem to think so. EVERY picture we took, Bennett looked like this...

What is this? The Grapes of Wrath?

Seriously, there was not even a hint of a smile on this child's face the entire time we were there, despite the desperate attempts of the photographer and his squeaky bird toy. I, on the other hand, didn't seem to be able to control my smile on this day, and it ran away with me a few times.

The contrast between our two faces is quite shocking.

In the end, we decided to embrace Bennett's look as "GQ" and just go with it.

I got in a good one here and there myself.

I also got in a few really, really bad ones.

So did Bennett. We are such a photogenic crew.

In the end, it was a good day, even if it didn't go exactly according to plan. I think we got at least one good one...maybe...

Church Challenges

Well, we just got back from church, and I thought to myself, "Church. Now there's a blog entry." Especially since the last couple of days Bennett and I have been trading off sicknesses, so not much has been going on here. Except for a lot of laying around. So let me tell you about church. (I just love this captive audience thing.)

So two weeks after Matt left, I had a breakdown over the phone to my sister-in-law, Bekah, about primary. A literal breakdown. Now, I love kids, and I love being in Primary (I'm pretty sure this is why I have spent maybe three days in Relief Society in my entire life). So what in the World can be so stressful about Primary, you ask? Well, try being the sole teacher to fourteen, four to six year-olds. Oh, and then add in your rambunctious 15-month-old to the mix. Ugh. Granted, not all of the kids on my roster came every Sunday, but we did have about nine regulars. And these were good kids. But (and here comes the breakdown part) there was this one kid. Let's call him "George."

George was a great kid, but he had this habit of causing a lot of problems. He was just a very busy and defiant child, and when he didn't get his way, he tended to get a little violent. Add to that the fact that he is almost my height and weight, and you have a pretty good recipe for disaster. Every week. It got to the point where I could keep George in check by constantly sitting by him, talking to him, holding him down in his chair, taking him out in the hall, finding his parents, bribing him with treats, etc. But after I did all of this, every week, with one child, I no longer had the strength to deal with the other eight kids (and Bennett) who were also in my class. Who, did I mention, were great kids, but they were still five year-olds. And five-year-olds, I have found, are like piranhas. They're smart enough to recognize they are small, and they stay away from the big fish pretty good because of it. But as soon as they smell blood in the water, that big fish is a goner.

I am the big fish.

As soon as George was finished sucking all the patience/kindness/sanity out of my body, the other kids would pounce on the opportunity to stand on their chairs, jump from the tables, scream at the top of their lungs, run through the halls...I am getting tired writing this. It was just an all around bad situation, only made worse by the fact that I strongly believe every child has the ability to reach any expectation, within reason, set for them by adults. And I set my expectations pretty high for my class. When George wasn't around, these kids understood that, and they were pretty good about listening to me. But, like I said: piranhas. Hence, the breakdown.

I asked for help over and over again from the Primary Presidency, but never seemed to get the message through to them that I was in serious, immediate, need of assistance. So it got to the point where I decided I simply couldn't do it anymore. Matt was gone, I had a little boy who needed a sane mother on Sundays, and I was just done. But before I could ask the bishop for a minute, he came to me and asked if I could meet him in his office. Yes! So I went in there, all ready to sob my eyes out and tell him I just couldn't do this anymore, when he extended the calling to me to be the second counselor in the newly reorganized Primary Presidency.

You betcha.

The first thing I made sure we did was call a second teacher to the CTR 4-6 class. A man. A very big, strong, man who can take George on without breaking a sweat. (Oh, and just as a side note, George's parents came to me a few weeks after I was released and told me they just found out George had serious ADD and ADHD issues. Really? You're just finding that out..? Anyway, he is doing much better now thanks to some new "methods" they are trying. Yay for modern medicine.) We changed a lot of other things, too, and I think the Primary is really turning around in a good way. I mean, I haven't cried on the way home from church in over a month now, so something must be working. :)

Today we had our Primary Program (which I was over) and I had to hold the tears back again...except these were tears of joy. First of all, because we made it through the program without any serious incidents. And there was lots and lots of room for incidents. But mostly I was holding back the tears because I love these kids. Even George. I am so happy I get to be in there with them, singing songs and learning about how Jesus loves us. It's not very deep doctrine, but I think it's the most important.

And, to add to my joy, Bennett decided today that maybe Nursery is a fun place to be! In the middle of all this aforementioned hubbub, Bennett turned 18-months-old and was moved into the wonderful World of Nursery. He was not a fan of this place for the first couple of weeks, however. He would cry and cry, and since the Nursery wall and the Primary wall are joint walls, I could hear every minute of it. But I refused to get him, one: because I was in the middle of a whole lot of craziness and didn't need to add to it, two: because I have a been a Nursery leader and know that it only makes it harder when parents continually get their children in and out of the room, and three: because the two hours Bennett was in Nursery were the only two hours in my entire week I didn't have to worry about him. Sweet freedom!! (Let it be known, I love my Bennett-Boy very, very much...but breaks are still nice.) So Bennett cried, and I tried to ignore it, and the weeks went by. And pretty soon Bennett cried less, and less, and now it is just right when I drop him off and then he's over it. Thank goodness!

So life is good, again. Now the biggest problem we have to deal with at church is making sure Bennett doesn't get too many treats. Because really, this kid has a ton of friends, and they all just want to feed him candy. And Bennett lets them. Today we came home and I didn't even have to feed him lunch because he had such a little potbelly from the treats he'd gotten all day long.

But whatever. We're happy. And that's what this blog is all about.

Besides being sick and going to church, Bennett learned how to blow bubbles this week. Here is a little video of him doing it for one of the first times. If you listen close you can hear his squeals of delight with himself. I wish I could have gotten his face a little better, but we were at the mercy of a lawn chair and there wasn't much control in the camera area. Just imagine a really, really, excited and proud face. Haha, I love this boy. :)

Order Up!

So to make things feel a little like home this Sunday some of our guys ordered a bunch of T-Bone steaks, pork, baby back ribs, and of course chicken halves. Just for a moment you can close your eyes and image your somewhere else besides here, in Iraq, in the desert, away from family. But the food was delicious. I'll be your waiter for this blog so enjoy the meal.

Here is our personal BBQ pit. We do have some great cooks here. I did get my hands in it. You know me and BBQ I cant stay away. I think we ended cooking something like 100 T-bones, 10 racks of ribs and 50 whole chickens.

Here is a really tasty shot. The head chef, SFC Fillmore made his own personal sauce. We had to improvise with a baster. A shop towel tied to a metal rod makes a great baster. The next one will be even better.

Here is one of my neighbors, Doc Manson. We were reorganizing his space for a more efficient feel. HGTV eat your heart out.

Here is my other neighbor, SGM Balcer. I got him convinced that Scentsy are the greatest thing ever. It helps get the stink out of the air. And we have alot of stink!

So here is a funny little storyboard for ya. I thought it was funny.

So this is what most Officer's are expected to do. Stand around, bark orders and wait for the job to get done.

I never got that memo. So here is the story. I received two portable offices. I was supposed to have them unloaded and hooked up by 1300. Well I go to check on things around 0930 and find out everybody has taken the morning off. Now this upsets me slightly so given everything else that has gone on around here I took care of it myself. I drove the trucks to the off load site, got the crane in place and started to work.

So here we are waiting for a present from above, why wont it rain?

Oh! Even better, crane hooks! Did I ever tell you I love cranes! I mean my Dad used to own one! And I got caught on it more than once. Being a Dad now, if my, in the far future 12 yr old fired up a crane and started swinging it around I might be a little worried.

Yeah baby, eat your heart out. Never thought I would be operating a crane while armed.
(OSHA would not approve)

Just doing what I do. Notice that there is no one around. Like I said never got that memo that Officers aren't supposed to work. The Chief Warrant in charge of the motor pool even gave me a key to the welding shop! I like making connections.

The crane operator was not the best. I mean the ground guide was fantastic but hey, do what you got to do.

This one is for Haley!!

(I just love that desert color, brings the color out in my eyes)

Another job well done.

Now there is a lot of heartache involved with these containers. Now let me start from the beginning. I ordered a bunch of these BOH containers when I was the C CO XO with the BSB. When I transferred to 2-7 CAV I left all that behind. Well someone got the good idea to send these out to the patrol bases (me) they work great for 1 medic in the middle of no where. On a Battalion level Aid Station they are horrible. Well trying to convince a bunch of Rangers/Infantry grunts that it is unacceptable according to Medical regulation's to use a box for a Level I Aid Station has been kinda difficult. But no worries we will get it fixed. It just seems at times that we create our own issues. I have been pretty on edge with everything and let me just tell you my dear sweet wife had been so supportive and has put with my short temperament that I have seen to garner these last few days. Anyway till next time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lets talk about BOB!

-Bob Marley-

Now I need to tell you about my friend Bob. Yes he was a pot head and probably wouldn't pass a temple recommend interview but he has helped me through some of the roughest times of my life. Now the background fades and we go back to a time not to long ago. The place is Idaho, Summer of 200? (Ya'll dont need all the details).~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I was attending Brigham Young University Idaho and because of personal, bad, very bad choices I felt like my life was spinning out of control. You know when the coyote would chase the road runner and then run off a cliff and before he dropped like 3000ft. he would hold up a sign that said "ouch"! I felt that my life was a little worse than that. So I'm up at school pretty much lost (my record for not leaving the house is 26 days straight, not cool). So one of my absolute best friends says, "hey Matt come down to Salt Lake with me and spend the summer and we'll see what we can do." So I went. That is where I met Bob. Excuse me, let me back up I met my new Bishop. He was a retired Air Force Doctor, and a very enlightened man. So my dear friend gave the Bishop a little heads up about me. The first time I met the Bishop was when he pulled up to our house in a Cadillac Escalade which was attached the most beautiful Mastercraft boat I had ever seen. He came to the door and said, "all right guys grab your gear lets go." Being the astute young men we are we were so excited we forgot to lock the door and left. We must have skied, tubed, and kneeboarded until it felt like our limbs were permanently detached from our bodies. That is when I met Bob. Now you ski enthusiast will now that Mastercraft ski boats come with fantastic sound systems, including 12'' subs. (YES) Apparently the Bishop has a little hippie in him. Given I was always in a happy mood those days (no I wasn't) Bishop asked us our preference of music. We said we had none and he told us, "I'm going enlighten you and introduce to my friend Bob". It was all down hill from there. I would have interviews with the Bishop and we would talk about, you guessed it "Bob". We talked about his music, his life what the meaning was behind things, all things. He was able to reach me when no one else could. I want to share the song that I have probably listened to more times than is probably sane but here are the words and you might recognize the melody:

"Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou:")

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun...

I mean you cant get more simple than that. Now coupled with the my daily scripture reading, but when I was out and having a "moment" we called it, I couldn't start reading my scriptures in rush hour traffic in Salt Lake City. Its like trying to sip a cappuccino out of one of those little cups while in a Nascar race. So I would pop Bob in and listen to the words and everything would be all right. All summer long the Bishop would come to our house in the morning and we would go water skiing early in the morning before work and listen to Bob. Those were great times. I cant forget my good friend. He knows who he is and knows I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. It is very safe to say I owe my life to him. So why now? Why after all this time am I writing about this? Well I'm in Iraq (duh everybody knows that) but it gets hard at times. You spend your whole life looking for that thing that makes you feel complete. I was blessed with receiving that at a young age, but then you want someone to share the road with. A soul mate. I thought my time had come and gone for that one. When your having a "Bob" moment that person is there to physically wrap their arms around you and tell you everything is gonna be all right. Yes I am talking about my wife. My sweet Haley. She really is my angel, she is my angel of redemption. I don't know if she knows this but when we were dating and getting pretty serious about getting married. I got really scared and didn't want to go through with it. I was afraid of being hurt again and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to recover a second time, and was thinking of running away from it all. Then there was this little knock at the door to my apartment and there she was and said she was just thinking of me and just wanted to hang out and talk. It was done. I was stuck. I was her's for eternity whither she wanted me or not. I'm glad it stuck. (life really does not get any better, best friend forever? Sweet deal, glad I got the extended warranty) But anyway so at times I get sad like everyone else and when I do I pop in Bob, and me and him talk for a bit and you know what? You guessed it;


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


For those of you who care, I have officially redeemed myself for the forgetting of my camera at Sarah and Josh's wedding. If you want to see pictures of this blessed event, please go to the blog entry entitled, "Sarah, Josh, and The Loser Who Forgot The Camera" posted November 7th.

The Non-Loser Who Can At Least Get Pictures Off Of Facebook

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Halloween Story (yes, I know it's November 17th...)

Since my wonderful (bored-out-of-his-mind) husband updates this blog on a regular basis, I have felt pretty good about sitting back and not really worrying about updating my end of things. But one day I will look back on this section of our lives and think, "Why are there no pictures of Bennett on his second Halloween?" and then I will feel guilty. I know I will do this, because I am my mothers' daughter and I feel guilty about everything. So without further ado...

Bennett's second Halloween was interesting. And a little depressing, really. Anybody who knows me, knows that I am very into the whole Halloween spirit. But this year I just didn't have it in me. Which is probably why this sad little blog post didn't make an appearance earlier. I don't think it had as much to do with Matt being gone as it did with me continually forgetting to put up decorations, (which are still sitting in their boxes in my garage) but we just never really got around to being very Halloweenie this year. We did decorate for Fall, but not specifically for Halloween.

Another Halloweenie-hindrance: this year it landed on a Sunday. Growing up, I was taught that anytime a holiday lands on a Sunday (except Easter) you celebrate the Saturday night before. However, Bennett and I were at his Aunt Sarah's wedding the Saturday night before, so this never happened. Except that Bennett did wear some super spooky pajamas.

Finally, the wedding itself took place in Fredericksburg--an hour-and a half drive from home. So the most exciting thing that happened on actual Halloween day was Bennett setting off the panic alarms in the hotel elevator (who puts giant red buttons at child's-eye view? Those hotel people were asking for it). The rest of the day was spent at church, watching Josh and Sarah open yet another huge pile of presents, and driving home.

And it is a miracle we made it home. Because I have never been that tired in my entire life. I think whatever sickness Bennett had over the weekend rubbed off a little on me, and I was so excited when we finally pulled into our driveway. Bennett was excited, too. He had spent the last hour and a half comfortably napping in his car seat, and he was ready to p.l.a.y. Sometimes I really need to correlate our schedules a little better. All I wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but since it was only 5:30 in the afternoon I thought it would be better to just keep moving until a more decent bedtime hour. So I made us some dinner. And then I remembered it was Halloween.

Originally, I had planned to let Bennett trick-or-treat the halls of the hotel we were staying in for Sarah and Josh's wedding. It would be mostly our family staying there anyway, so I bought a huge bag of candy intending to let each family member take a couple pieces to their rooms, and then give them back to Bennett when he came to their door. However, Bennett was one tired-out little boy after the reception, so he ended up just going straight to bed and loving it. And I ended up with one huge bag of candy...and eating almost all of it. (Really. It was grossly delicious.)

So after dinner on Halloween day, I remembered Bennett's candy bucket which was still partially full of assorted chocolate delights, and I thought, "What the Heck? It's Halloween!" And I let Bennett eat as many pieces as he wanted.

Yes, you heard me right. Go ahead and call CPS, I was too tired to care at the moment. So Bennett made a good-sized dent in his candy bucket at three kit-kats, a few packages of rolos, a sucker, two boxes of milk duds, and a package of reses-pieces, before I realized my child had no limit to the amount of sugar he could inhale and I had to take the bucket away. At this point our huge bag of 86 assorted chocolate candies was whittled down to about 12 boxes of milk duds (apparently not a family favorite), and I am not ashamed to admit that there was a hint of pride in my eyes as I watched our son follow in his mothers' chocolaty footsteps.

And that was Halloween.

However, it was not the end of the day and I was still fighting sleep, so I called my friendy-friend Joelle and we decided to go on a walk. So I gathered up a super sticky Bennett and was heading for the door, when all of a sudden there were three little shadows standing on my doorstep. Three child sized shadows. In costume. Ringing my doorbell.

What in the World? Didn't these kids know Halloween was celebrated Saturday night? And I couldn't give them candy, because Bennett just ate pretty much everything that was left. So we did the only logical thing. We hid. I backed up from my door as sneakily as I could, which was pretty un-sneaky considering there is a huge window in my door I'm sure the trick-or-treators could see me clearly through. Also, Bennett was yelling "Jace! Jace!" at the top of his lungs, trying to open the door. I'm almost positive it was anything but a clean getaway. But regardless of our inability to quietly leave, we were very good at sitting in my bathtub and "waiting them out" as they rang the doorbell again, and again, and again.

Oh man, who does that?! I feel like a terrible person right now! I was just so unprepared. So. Very. Sadly. Unprepared. Because guess what? It wasn't just those three little shadows out there that didn't get the memo of Halloween being on Saturday. It was the entire town. Seriously, I have never seen so many little people in one place except at amusement parks and McDonald's play areas. And they were all coming to my house.

I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't spend all night hiding in my bathtub, so I waited for a lull in the doorbell ringing and made a mad dash for the front door. I threw Bennett into his stroller, sprinted to the middle of the street, and then tried to act casual as I walked away from my dark empty home. Did I mention I could feel guilty about anything? This single act of unspiritedness is something I will probably take to my grave.

Despite my guilty feelings, though, the night turned out pretty well. It was a nice warm night, so most of our neighbors sat in lawn chairs in their front yards, or in the backs of their cars, passing out candy. Like a giant trunk-or-treat. And because we were out with the crowd, people kept trying to give us candy, too. We kept insisting we were not out for candy, that our children were not even in costume, and that my son was already covered in chocolate so it was pretty obvious he'd enjoyed himself previously, but nobody listened. They were practically throwing it at us as we walked down the street, so we had no choice but to take it.

And that is the story of how we accidentally trick-or-treated on a day I had no idea people celebrated. It was pretty exciting, but I think next year we will aim for a more traditional approach to the holiday.

My poor neighbors.

Bennett's personal Halloween celebration. I really have no idea what face he is making here, but feel free to embrace it.

Informing me he wasn't done yet, after I took the bucket away.

Some of the evidence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This is what we do!

Here is the next installment of pics for your viewing pleasure.

Aunt Annie sent me this one of Cole in there yearly Veterans Day parade. I sent him my "looking sexy" pic! No really I was pretty touched by this. I do love the camo on all the kids.

Here we have Soldiers that have no construction skills at all trying to hang a flat screen TV on the wall. Yes! very entertaining. I did help out eventually.

Just what we look like daily. Here we have my medics administering small pox vaccine.

15 little pricks and bam! You got small pox. Oh the fun things we do.

I just like these trucks. This is actually our front gate.

We went today to give MG Nasir and his staff the flu vaccine. Lions are a big thing here. Power, strength, vitality, knowledge, you know just all around cool.

This is the entrance to MG Nasir personal compound inside the base.

And yes this is not a joke that is MG Nasir, the 2IA BCT CDR. And yes that is me 1LT Hargrave giving him a shot. So if the MG doesn't make it then I'm gonna have to make a run for the Pakistan border and a life of refuge. A little bit about the General, he was a prior Iraqi Army Special Forces Soldier. After the Saddam regime fell he hooked up with the new regime and has advanced quickly and is very influential in all the transitions of the new government.

Here is Doc Manson giving the DIV CDR's brother, 1LT Nasir his flu shot. It pays to be the Generals brother some time. His office is better than the DIV XO office.

Me and Doc just having a good time. This is what we do. We hang out with the higher ups and do a lot of tea drinking, shaking hands and saying hi! Its a different fight out here. I mean we still have Soldiers out doing missions and things that I would just give my 2 front teeth to do but this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. I know my little wife really appreciates that I don't do that stuff any more. But hey its all good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2nd Iraqi Army Division Northern Province

We visit/live right near the 2IA Division compound and we visit there regularly as part of our job here in Iraq. Along with the new mission we have new rules. We technically do not fight but we do advise and assist on a consulting bases. Since I am the Medical Officer for the Battalion I get lumped in with all these other experts. I just try to keep my head above water with these guys. Anyway enjoy the pics.

Just another pic of the front entrance. We have a theory about this massive use of "pink" on an army base? We think that the Iraqi's found a warehouse full of pink paint and used what they had! Thats my theory of course.

This is the front gate to the compound. You can see the trouble makers in the back ground and all the gate security. The Iraqi's are very proud of there flag and there country.

This is pretty funny, these guys got in trouble and they are totally covered in mud and water. No matter what country your in a PVT in an Army is a PVT in the Army. They all get in trouble usually for doing something stupid!!

This is one of my medics, Spc Grondin teaching an Iraqi medic how to use quick clot bandage.

Inside the TMC in the immediate trauma room. This is a real big step for the Iraqi's. There are very proud this clinic. The next and only other medical facility is in Baghdad nearly 300 miles away.

Here we have, starting from the left is LTC Buery (STT trainer) COL ??? (Division G-9)
COL ??? (Division Surgeon) and of course 1LT Hargrave 2-7 MEDO

This is one of the big things we have been working on here. I full blown dentist chair with all the trimmings. This is the Division Surgeon with one of the medics.

This is the enlisted side of the medical clinic when patients are in processed for a few days.

This is one of my medics with an Iraqi guard that protects the Clinic on the Iraqi base.

This is inside the Iraqi Compound. This is the personal gate to 2IA Div Gen. Lions are a big thing for Iraqi's