Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Still Got It

One of the things I love about being in the Army Reserves is that it pretty much forces me to stay fit.  Because every year, I'm required to participate in the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).  Oh, and I have to pass the test.  Which always makes my palms sweat.  This year?  It was even worse, because it's been three years (yes, three!) since my last APFT.


Let's see...last year during annual training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, I wasn't permitted to do my APFT test because of the 6500 feet above sea level issue.  Apparently, when you go from sea level to an altitude of 6500 feet, it's harder to breathe.  NO KIDDING.  I personally found this out when I was poo-pooing the "you're not gonna do a PT test because you don't have enough time to acclimate to the altitude" when I ran for the first time there.  On the day I flew in and thought a run sounded like a good idea.  I found my heart thumping out of my chest, and me desperately trying to take in air.  Yes, if you're not acclimated to the altitude, it's not a good idea to run.

The year before that?  I was pregnant with Kellen. I call that a fine excuse for a no-APTF year.  He was, after all,  8 lbs, 8oz at birth, and even though I ran until I was 7 months preggo (when I could no longer lace up my own sneakers), I can't say it was efficient running.  I still, however, give myself street cred for running while knocked-up. 

So my last APFT test was in summer 2009 when I was in Officer's Basic at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  We were living in L.A. at the time, and I had been running 4-5 times per week, training for a 1/2 marathon.  Only two kids under my belt (Owen was 6 and Abby was 4), I was feeling good and prepared for the test.  I ran my 2-miler in 18:20, did 20 push-ups, and 50 sit-ups.  All within the requirements of the Army.

And here were are.  2012.  At 0600 Monday morning, latte in hand, I arrived at the track where the test was held.  Four people from the Navy and four of us from the Army, although I was the only Reservist.  I've been preparing for this test for the past few months, but running with active duty soldiers is a bit unnerving.  These people are fit.  As in uber fit, young and old[er] alike.

However, my worries proved unfounded. Turns out, I still got it.  Well, whatever 'it' is!  I finished my 2-miles in 18:40, did 48 sit-ups (which turned out to be my worst area, but dude!  I have popped THREE kids outta this body.  My abs simply ain't what they used to be!), and 30 push-ups.  All far surpassing the minimum requirements for my age group.  Which, while I complain bitterly about my aging knees and hips, at least the Army cuts you a break for being (*ahem*) older.  The Army standards for required time for the run and number of sit-ups/push-ups are significantly less for my old[er] age group than that of an 18-year-old soldier.  Finally, a benefit of age!

And speaking of running, I recently knocked out an 8-mile run with a running group that I've been swearing for MONTHS that I'd run with. Please, don't judge me!  Thee peeps meet up at 6AM every Friday, which is really way too early for me.  But now that I'm training for a marathon, it's time to suck it up and get up EARLY because the Egyptian sun shows no mercy in the summer!

Anyway, the run was awesome.  We ran Saqqara to Dashur, finishing at the pyramids at Dashur.  It was absolutely amazing.  We ran through a few small villages, an agricultural area, and finished in the desert.  I made some new friends, and have promised to run with them frequently.  This group is definitely going to help me prepare for my marathon!

Finally, and this is the last of the week's brag.  I'm now down 15 pounds!  Biggest Loser is coming to an end next week, and I have but 1 single, itty bitty, little pound to go to get to my goal.  Oh, painful!  I'm so close...we'll see what happens on Wednesday's weigh-in day.  Stay tuned...

And now, a new countdown begins.  21 weeks until my marathon in San Francisco!

The runner's group enjoying the agriculture area.

Camel guard.  The beginning of the desert.

Up-hill run with the Red Pyramid in the distance.

View to the end of the race!  So close...
At the Bent Pyramid in Dashur.  End of the race!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Nipped" in the Blog

This week, the blog written by my dear friend Jen Dinoia was axed off an officially-sponsored Foreign Service blog roll.  A list in which she was asked by an online specialist to be on at it's creation.  However, the new community specialist in-charge opted to remove her blog from the list last week.  No notice given.  Evicted.

Jen, she's amazing.  In 2009, when my husband was hired with State and I officially became a trailing spouse/EFM, Jen was one of the first spouses I "met" ---  she moderates one of yahoo groups I joined and we emailed back and forth.  And then I read her blog - which I poured over, reading entry after entry and even thinking "gosh, Iceland sounds great!"  If you know me, you also know that I passionately hate snow and cold and icy weather.  But her experiences made me think that it might be worth going there someday.

Her husband was gearing up for an AIP (Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan) assignment just as mine was. And then, while her husband was in Iraq, she found out she had breast cancer.  Her husband flew home immediately, she went through tons and tons of treatment.  All through her ordeal, she blogged.  She blogged about her worries about how this would affect their next assignment, her husband's career (yes, medical clearances and icky stuff like that DO affect careers - since they affect where employees with families can be posted), and how their children were handling everything from the abrupt changes to Mom's cancer.  And now her husband is taking another AIP assignment, which she's also blogged about.  She's blogged about cancer, treatment, pain, healing.  She's blogged about the FS community reaction and support.

Come to think of it, Jen's a big reason why I began blogging in the first place.  The fab hubby was in Iraq and I needed a way to vent.  Her blog is so personal and so detailed - you feel you know her when you read it.  And I realized I wanted an outlet like that.  So here I am - having blogged about my experiences with an unaccompanied assignment, our subsequent assignment to Egypt, everything it took to get us here, and our experiences here in Cairo.  But I also blog about running, my family and pets, and my military service.  Not just FS stuff.  Same as Jen - not just FS stuff.

So back to the missing blog roll link.

Here's the response Jen got when she asked "Hey!  Where's my blog?":

Hopefully, you can understand that some topics covered in your blog are very personal in nature, e.g. nipple cozies, and wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the majority of potential candidates who are interested in learning about the FS life overseas. Through our years of recruitment experience, we found that FS prospects want to learn more about the work that’s conducted, the people and cultures with whom they will interact, the travel experiences, and the individual stories our employees* have to share.

Jen's blog was deemed not Foreign Service enough.  Which is complete and total BS.

Because personal stories are exactly what people are looking for when considering this lifestyle - whether it be potential employees or trailing spouses/EFMs.  I actually know this because I get contacted by people through my blog asking me questions about FS life - and I ALWAYS get the most questions whenever I post something very very personal (for instance - when I questioned my happiness here in Cairo, or when I was really struggling with my husband being in Iraq).

Jen is the epitome of the greatness of this nomadic life.  She is heavily involved in AFSA, multiple yahoo boards, and DC-area FS groups, like the Unaccompanied Tour support group.  She helped me to organize the DS Spouse's Run the World 2011 event.  Her blog is a wealth of knowledge and experience and it is downright wrong that it was removed from the blog roll.

Let's be honest here.  It wasn't removed because it's not FS enough.  It was removed because the person reading the blog and making decisions was uncomfortable with breast cancer and nipples and how it fit in with the FS life.  It's a slap in the face to Jen and everything she's been through and everything she's dedicated herself to in FS.  Haven't her boobs caused her enough pain in the past year without having this ridiculous issue come up?  Do judgements really need to be made about her blog on the basis of the word nipple?

If there's anything I've learned in my short time in the FS, it's that just about anything goes.  The FS is certainly capable of handling nipples.  It's asinine that her blog was removed in the first place.

I hope the community specialist in charge of the blog roll out there realizes how many of us support Jen, her blog, and her nipples.

Want to read more about our support for Jen?  Here are some other FS Bloggers writing their support!
Nipplegate 2012
Not FS Enough
Nipples, Nipples, Everywhere
Nippletastic: A Rant for FS Bloggers
What Makes a Blog an FS Blog
It's the Little Things
Nipples! Boobs!

UPDATE!!  As of 5/17/12, Jen's blog, was back on the official blog roll.  Take a look at her blog's posting and see how everything came together!