Birthday Party: Time to Cheer Another Year!

Our summer is filled with the joy of family. Celebrating family milestones, (birthdays) achievements ( graduation and confirmation), courage (saying goodbye to hubby as he deploys), honor (deploying to the sandbox) and tenacity (newspaper reviews) hold us together and keep us leaning on each other.

Some activities are so big... envolve so much effort and require such strength. Then, the calendar comes to play. A birthday party! A party for the sake of one person, but a time of pure joy. A time to celebrate that person, think about the effect he or she has on our lives. This is really an excellent adventure!

Tomorrow is grandson Jacob's birthday party. Aunt Leanne is traveling in from Ohio... via Atlanta, and Chicago - long story. I think that is where I got the word tenacity and courage! I am also certain a blog is coming on this one! Uncle Dan and Aunt Becky are traveling back from Montana; tangible meaning to 'milestones' as they are driving 30 hours to get home.

The birth of a child adds strength to the family. It assures that the past will not be forgotten, stories will be handed down to another generation. Family values with hold the child and be taught and act as a safety net when questions arise. Conversations will bring tales of the acts of the forefathers to life. And in our family, some of them are just too humorous to let slide!

So, tomorrow morning balloons will be blown, cupcakes baked and iced, games planned and prizes ready... the cousins know the meaning of par-teee. Jacob will be clueless that this is just not another ordinary day. However, the rest of the family have called this his day. I hope you celebrate family and recognize the lasting value of doing so!

New PCS Mileage Rate (Again)

I wrote a blog back in March about the reduction in PCS mileage rates which went down from 20 cents a mile to 19 while gas prices were climbing rapidly towards $4 a gallon! Well, we are over $4 a gallon now and someone at the IRS finally saw the light and is changing the rate for moving and medical appointments. In a story I read recently
the IRS commissioner stated that Moving and Medical appointment rates were changing to 27 cents a mile and business travel would be 58.5 cents a mile. The changes will be implemented as early as July 1st. I am sure it will take a while for the military financial system to catch up but good news for our service men and women and their families who already sacrifice so much for their country! No reason exists for them to pay more out of pocket while traveling on government orders!

Here is the blog I wrote earlier about this problem!

Sometimes things can just be downright confusing when we try to find our way across the country to that next PCS dream spot! Just like this little guy trying to decide which fork to take in the trail!

Just as confusing are some of the government decisions on how much to pay us for PCS travel. With the current gas prices going towards $4 a gallon, the PCS mileage rate for your POV (privately owned vehicle) has gone down from $.20 a mile to $.19 a mile effective 1 January 2008. This is according to the latest information from the DoD Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee in a 17 March 2008 memo. According to the memo which I have linked below for your reading pleasure the GSA sets the mileage based on an IRS rate! So someone in the IRS portion of our government must not be driving a car but riding the metro or slugging it in DC.

If you do not know what a slug is I will provide a brief explanation: Many folks wait at bus stops and other locations in the DC suburbs for a ride to work and drivers stop to pick them up so they can get enough passengers in the car to meet the requirements of a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in order get to their offices quicker and more efficiently. So my suggestion is that the IRS has a bunch of slugs who never fill up a tank of gas so they don't know that the price of gas is going way up and has continued to go up for a few years!

Here is the link to the DoD memo for PCS Mileage Rates . So when the military member files their travel voucher after a successful trip across the US they will be seeing a bit less in their pocket book than last year!

I hope you found this informative and we always appreciate comments and helpful hints so shoot to me or at me (just don't audit me please) and I hope you have a wonderful and safe PCS travel this spring or summer!

The tomatoes are arriving: BLT with Pesto Mayonnaise

Make room for the tomatoes. There are red dots throughout the garden. At first glance like red freckles peppering the staked vines. It's a great sight, as for years we have tried and failed at the tomato endeavor. But it seems our fairy godmother sprinkled some growing dust over the field. So, now with a gazillion plants in the ground and producing... ideas as to how to best use them are being researched.
Here is a great one that will use the basil that is full and leafy too.

BLT with Pesto Mayonnaise. Oh yes, you are thinking this is gourmet... I think it is garden... I live by the use it or lose it policy. If I don't use these plants, OUT they go. And I do love to cook, so this recipe uses my new ripening tomatoes and the fragrant basil plant too.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
6 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 t minced garlic
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of mayonnaise (I used the new type that is out now made with olive oil)
12 oz package of bacon, cooked crisp and drained
5 large tomatoes, sliced thickly... let these veggies have their moment in the sun!
12 thick slices of brioche or egg bread
3 cups fresh lettuce

Coarsely chop basil leaves, cheese, nuts, garlic and salt in processor. While machine is running gradually add olive oil. Stir Mayonnaise into pesto and chill.
Sprinkle tomato slices with pepper. Either toast bread, or put in a George Foreman until lightly browned. Spread with 2 Tablespoons of pesto mayonnaise over each bread slice. Arrange each sandwich with a layer of bacon, top with lettuce and tomato, any extra bacon can be placed on top too... Put on top piece of thick bread - put in George Foreman and let it toast. Oh, this even smells as good as summer can produce.

Vacationing While Military

I just read an earlier blog from Deb for the strawberry and rhubarb jelly roll and thought: Wow what a great summer special recipe and dessert that is. Then I remembered reading a blog from Leanne that said she remembers her family vacations as visiting family enroute during PCS moves! It sort of made me cringe a bit but then I started thinking about it. That seemed to be the best way for us to maintain those family ties and let the kids know that they too had grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins (prior to the internet; cell phones, Facebook and many other communication devices--yeah, I know the dark ages). However, we also needed true vacation time with just our military family and we tried to use military facilities in our vacation spot or the local area that extended our dollars and made the vacation less costly and in some cases allowed us to extend our stay due to cost reductions.

In fact, while stationed at Kirtland AFB, we took full advantage of our vacations in New Mexico by using MWR resources to rent skis and other equipment to enjoy and visit facilities nearby. We visited White Sands National Monument and Mexico while staying at the quarters at Holloman AFB and the staff treated us so well and give us ideas of what to visit and see in that area. When we visited Patrick AFB they had a wonderful beach and quarters in Florida and when we retired we hit Wakikki Beach in Hawaii. Unfortunately the Hale Koa, a military hotel right on the beach, was full but we could use their parking, their small PX, pool and restaurants while staying at a nearby hotel. The reason for doing that was the reasonable prices around the pool for a cool drink; the restaurants were wonderful and lower cost; and the parking cost for one day at the nearby hotel was the same as a week at the Hale Koa. The Hale Koa does take reservations a year in advance but even if you can't get in the hotel being near their facilities is wonderful.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot that is military friendly? Let us know so we can share with others!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly Roll Bring on the fresh fruits!

Strawberry Rhubarb and whipped cream jelly roll. Oh my... this is so good.
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

1/2 pound rhubarb stalks, about 2 cups trimmed and chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled washed and sliced
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large tub of Cool Whip: divided
1 strawberry yogurt

Preparation: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a jelly roll pan, 15x10x1inch, and line it with parchment paper. (This makes the removal from the pan oh so much easier!) Grease the paper, add a bit of flour, then shake it and remove excess.
Separate eggs whites (Now you feel like you are baking don't you!) In a large bowl, beat the yolks with 1 cup of sugar until they are creamy: about 3 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 1/2 c sugar and continue to beat for 30 seconds more. Fold flour, salt and egg whites into yolk mixture, alternating 1/3 of the flour with half of the whites. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Cook rhubarb and strawberries with 1/2 c sugar over medium heat. Stir continually until all is thickened about 8 or 9 minutes. Remove from pan and cool.
Remove 1/2 of the cool whip from the tub. Add a strawberry yogurt the other half still in the container. (This will be used as a layer on the fruit.) The other half on the outside of the roll.
When cake is baked, remove from oven, cool 5 minutes, place a clean dish cloth over pan, invert, remove parchment paper.
Place jelly roll on a flat surface. Spread fruit mixture evenly over cake - leave a 1 inch border on each sort side of the cake. Spread with a layer of cool whip/yogurt mixture over the fruit, again leaving that 1 inch border.
Using the towel, roll jelly roll away from you. Place on a serving tray and ice with remaining cool whip. Keep cold until serving - and then watch disappear!
Makes 10 wonderful servings.
Do you have any other fresh summer produce recipes to send to us. We love to share!

It's Hot in the Kitchen... and we want Chocolate!

When I grew up chocolate chips were used for 2 things... and really 2 things only: Chocolate Chip cookies, (made and inhaled in December) or a monster peanut butter fluff sandwich on cheap white bread...sprinkled with the chips: toasted and then years later we moved this concoction to the microwave. All of this an indoor sport of sorts.
Enter a moment out of the norm.

We seem to thrive on such moments in each family household.
On a recent very warm weekend, when company gathered at our son James' house... the desire for warm gooey cookies won out over sensibility... "sensibility"something that I used to hold as a rule. Amen that such rules don't govern giggles and messes anymore.

Jessica pulled out the ingredients and let the boys have at it - the egg smasher high tailed it out of there when he had enough of the cooking fix. This mixture was perfected outside on their front stoop. It felt like a mid-eastern summit... all the cooks sitting on the ground, one hand on a spoon and watching each other's move. But the batter was mixed, sugar and spices added, and off Jessica went to the kitchen to set the timer. All we had to do was wait, and salivate!

So, blowing bubbles, chalk drawing, and kite flying just got a new outdoor activity on the list: mixing up goodies.

That evening we did cook s'mores and we ate fresh cookies! Who says one has to stay in the kitchen anymore?

Off We Go...

The boys' suitcases are packed.
The very last load of laundry is in the dryer.
'Carry On' backpacks are loaded with treats, books, army men, cars and games (& empty cups to fill up with water after we are past security).
The route to our local 'Park 'N Fly' is entered in the GPS.

Destination ... Hubby! This year's family vacation is a trip out to see my husband. He has been training with his brigade for roughly two-months and has a break between training and boarding the giant C-130 headed to a foreign land. He could have taken the bus home with other soldiers for the few days he has off... but I figured that (a) that would cut into his mini-vacation time and (b) he would get home and spend WAY TOO much time in his office just getting "little things done". No, we decided we would bring the "We Miss You" party to him.

So the four of us are boarding a plane tomorrow. Believe it or not, this is my first flight since 2002. My last flight was out to McChord AFB, Washington for my dad's retirement from the Air Force. For many years prior to that I was a "jet-setting girl". Not only did I fly all the time for work, I also flew to see my then boyfriend (now husband) when we had a long-distance relationship for quite some time. I could fly in and out of that airport like no one's business.

What a change this trip will be! Five years later, not only will I have my 14 year old step-son (who is a mighty big help!), but I will have a 5- and 3-year old in tow. I think the two younger are looking more forward to their first plane trip then actually seeing Dad. Although I'm sure once they get their first giant hug from him the memories of that plane trip will be in the far recesses of their mind!

I did find some good resources for flying with children if you are planning a trip yourself. I hadn't thought of bringing our cheap umbrella stroller but it's not a bad idea. I have no desire to carry a tired three year-older, his carry-on & my carry-on:
Tonight, I still have to pack my suitcase and locate some packs of gum for the flight. Tomorrow morning, I will give instructions to the neighbor boy who will be watching the house, feeding the fish & mowing the lawn. But all in all I am feeling like one prepared momma, who can't wait another moment to see her hubby!

- Leanne from

Wild Flower Wonder: A Recipe for the Common

Often times we value that which is monetarily valuable. We seek the best of the best and can overlook the rest. Dale and I were strolling over the hills in the back fields by our house. We had just spent a few hours in the gardens weeding, hoeing and harvesting. It was time to stretch the legs and walk. As we broke through the pine trees and into the field of blackberry bushes, in the distance I saw flecks of gold and creamy white reflecting the evening sun. Wildflowers.

Once or twice I have had my grandsons run and either collect a few handfuls of flowers... or stamp out clumps of them, as if they were enemy invaders, and their little legs were the big guns sent down to save the masculinity of the land. Insects would take flight and giggles and feet ran on to the next island of color out there.

Yesterday, it was just Dale and I. Our peonies and irises have come and gone. A rose stands tall in a gorgeous Swedish glass vase and now... wildflowers sit on the coffee table center stage.

Do you want to highlight any wildflowers that either you pick, or your little ones carry in to you? Trim off as many leaves as you can. None should be in the water, as they cause the water to cloud and stink! Along with the flowers, pick some tall grass that has gone to seed. This adds a soft light green extra. The vase? Either a mason jar, or an odd drinking glass is the perfect choice. Accent your table with contrasting candles, or napkins. Have fun. Decorate your table just as the fields were decorated with these beauties.

Our Super Highway is Getting Faster and Better with Your Inputs

The Team at MilitaryAvenue is always looking for new ways to help you navigate the challenges of the military lifestyle. We have lots of our own experiences to bring to the design and function of your website but we would love to include your ideas as well! For example, one of our recent ideas was to join the America Supports You team which we have done!

We have a designed a short survey to hear from you about the best direction to continue upgrading our Avenue for you! We want it to be a super highway for you or a tree shaded country lane if that is what you want.

Please take our survey and we will enter you in our drawing for a free MilitaryAvenue T-Shirt. We will be drawing five email addresses to send the winners a prize reflecting that they are proud military families! Thank you in advance!

Garden Goodness: Layered Broccoli Salad

Our garden is really putting out right now: fruits and vegetables. The tomatoes and strawberries forecast a bit of the summer's red promise of warmth and good eats. While the green is spread throughout the rest of the patch. There are a few weeds thrown in there too to keep me limber and close to the earth!

We are just about ready to pick some broccoli... we have rows stretching the length of the garden growing and producing some good stuff! Keeping the area clean is keeping the insects at bay. Not the mosquitoes... but the ones that bite the veggies.

I found a great recipe for broccoli salad. Cold and crisp and perfect for summer's festivities. It serves 6, so it is not colossal. I don't think anyone wants a quart of leftovers in the refrigerator anyway! This salad is served in a trifle bowl.. or any pretty glass container. It is fun to use your fancier dishes from time to time. Bring out Grandma's treasure and let your children see a glimpse of why she was so special.

Layered Broccoli Salad
6 cups chopped broccoli flowerettes
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup yogurt
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds or walnuts
4 pieces of bacon, crisply fried, drained and chopped

Preparation: In a large glass serving bowl... perhaps a trifle bowl (Clear glass on a pedestal) layer broccoli and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, honey, mayonnaise and vinegar. Drizzle the yogurt dressing over the layered salad. Layer cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and bacon pieces just before serving.

Memories of a Wonderful Mom and Grandma

We have a daily flip calendar and we have written events on it as we traveled the world with new assignments, special trips, vacations, a flying mission to a far away place, change of commands, etc. It brings back so many memories of wonderful times and in some cases tough times too! This morning the calendar reminded us of the death of a dear mother and grandmother three years ago!

You are sorely missed Mom! Everytime we plan a family get together, have a reminder of a previous fun event or add another baby to the family tree we wish you could be there to enjoy it! In the past when we were a long ways away, you always found a way to get to where we were!

How about the time I was TDY and a new baby arrived and you wanted to be there to help and a couple of airlines went on strike! Being cancelled was not an option and you got there across an entire continent! Trips to Iceland and Panama were part of your experiences too and your daughter was thrilled to see you and show you "our place" in these far off locales! Of course we still laugh at your impression of base housing at our first installation when our roof blew off during a wind storm originating out of Death Valley!

Your pride at grandchildren events such as graduations and weddings was so evident. A few pictures of you dancing the night away are an example we must uphold during the next generation of weddings! What fun you had enjoying life! We loved you so much!

We were so blessed to have you in our lives! I always thanked you for raising a wonderful daughter and the faith you taught her! The adventurous spirit was kind of a nice add on too! At no additional cost either! :)

We know you are enjoying a cup of coffee with another lady you never had the chance to meet here but can laugh with her about those crazy kids now! God Bless both of You!

Your family!'s June Newsletter

We will be publishing our June Newsletter this Sunday, June 22nd. The theme is "Vacations", because don't we all need one once in awhile?! In fact, when it hits your mail box I will be off on my own vacation. Myself and family will be with Hubby during his "four-day pass", a small break between training & when he leaves the great US for foreign soil. My two youngest will be flying the friendly skies for the first time in their lives. I think they are more excited about that then seeing Dad... well not really, but they are pretty pumped.

The Vacation Newsletter will have our regular features including: our top 10 articles from this past month and our personal favorite blogs from May. I also have some great articles lined up about different Vacation Benefits afforded to our military members & families.

Sign up today! We'd love to be in touch.

- Leanne from

Staying Connected

I ran into an old friend last night in the comfort of my living room. I was on Facebook, which is fairly new to me but I'm getting the hang of it, looking at the list of folks I had graduated college with and lo' and behold there was Beth's name. Beth and I didn't 'hang-out' in the same circle but she was a true friend. She was great if I just wanted to talk to someone or I needed a little help with my accounting work. (She is now a CPA ... and I have no clue how I even passed Accounting 101, much less Accounting 200 and Statistics 1 & 2.) We had lost touch after graduation, as so often happens with any type of relocation.

How fun it is to re-connect with folks from your past. I use both Myspace and Facebook and have found friends from early high school and now through college.

Don't forget OPSEC with any of these sites. I keep my personal myspace account private, only accepting invitations from those people I know. I have never mentioned my husband's unit or dates when he is expected to be in or out of country and when he will be home. You won't find specifics as to where he is going to be overseas during his deployment anywhere in my accounts either. I've written once before on the importance of OPSEC. I can't stress it enough.

That being said... these social networks are a whole lot of fun. As a military-brat they have afforded me the opportunity to meet old friends, new friends and even friends I see around town. I would suggest checking out our joint venture with America Support You on Facebook: Where I served. You can find friends that you have been stationed with previously; as a brat, a spouse, or a service member!

If you are feeling 'disconnected' from college friends, high school friends, friends from previous posts - reach out. It was no small thing for me to find an old college friend online. It reminded me of where I have come from, what life was like a "few years ago", and who has mattered in my life. We just can't forget that!

- Leanne from

Father's Day from Afar

Father's Day is this Sunday - talk about creating a void for our family going through our first deployment. I'm sure the void will be felt all across the globe on the 15th.

I fortunately have stayed on top of this one (I'm not on top of much lately). Hubby's care-package is in the mail & he should be receiving it any day now. I hope it oozes with love! (As opposed to oozing with sticky-melted chocolate!)

I'm not great at 'themes', maybe with some practice I will get there... but for now the theme is simply: "From Us" :)

From Us

  1. A letter from our oldest, 14;
  2. Some pictures from our 3 and 5 year older from their "Write from the Heart" books;
  3. My 5 year old made a 'dot to dot' for Dad. I'm not sure it actually makes a picture - but he sure enjoyed doing it and that is what counts!;
  4. A copy of my 5 year-old's preschool "report card";
  5. Diego stickers. The 3 year old insisted on buying Diego stickers for Dad. Logical. So I put a little note on them that maybe he could attach them to the envelopes of letters he sends us;
  6. The 'regular items': Our church bulletin, town newsletter and the daily-papers from our "Uncle John" calendar. I send them to him every week just to give him a little touch of home;
  7. Some new stationary (post-card sized paper in a rainbow of colors with envelopes). It was a huge pack and I split it in two. I sent half to Hubby and kept the other half for us to send him letters;
  8. "42 Lunch Notes" - These are great. I picked it up on a whim and crossed out the "Lunch" part of the title and hand-wrote "Deployment". The notes are smaller then a postcard. Hubby can write a quick note for the boys and include them in envelopes mailed home. Sometimes it is hard to come up with words to write to the kids and these have a smaller writing space but I'm sure they will be a keep sake to the boys;
  9. COOKIES! He said they are getting cookies out the ying-yang. BUT we made some anyway because his children helped make them :);
  10. Beef Jerky - Hubby's favorite snack. I'm just glad he can eat them without me having to smell his breath! [Hey sometimes we have to find the small blessings of these deployments ;)];
  11. Some extra-dark Dove chocolates. I'm sure they are going to be melted to smithereens by the time he gets them - but it is the thought that counts sometimes right!

So that sums of his 'Father's Day Care Package'. I hope he loves it! Because we sure do love him. I realize I am going to need to find more care-package ideas as we deeper and deeper into this deployment, or he will get really tired of melted chocolate and beef jerky :). Here are some other deployment-care packages that I intend to use in the future:

If you have another resource for deployment care-packages I'd love to hear about it! Just drop us a comment.

- Leanne from

We Have Lost a Friend and a Military Dog Brat

We named her after the President of Iceland in the early 90s and had to spell it wherever we went! Vigdis joined the family in Annandale, VA after our return from Iceland in 1992 when I was assigned to the Pentagon. She never left our side for 16 years. She played with us, our neighbors' dogs, our friends and eventually our grandsons too! Always friendly but also a defender in time of need. Her picture doesn't reflect the German Shepherd in her but her heart did! An intruder found out the hard way one evening! She hated air travel but loved the freedom of a large yard at McChord AFB and one evening at Charleston AFB she decided to go on her "own" walk on the trail around the base! Friends saw her on the trail and called us and we think she did the loop like we did as a family! She came home tail wagging and seemingly telling us she didn't need us all the time!

Described in her older age as "Gentle Vigdis" she could take a treat from a one year old without touching their fingers with her teeth! Pretty impressive feat with the eager fingers holding the treat and an eager dog waiting to enjoy it!

We had been watching her go downhill slowly with her age approaching 16 (funny how we all grew older too). She had a possible stroke with a resulting slight limp and one ear that would no longer stand straight up. She was very deaf and her eyesight was not very good either but she still loved the game of chase the squirrel and a romp with the family through the woods. In fact, she was outside running like a puppy when she came in for a drink and had the start of the seizure.

The seizure lasted too long and made our hearts ache and we held her and called the vet. We took her in to his clinic and they gave her some meds to calm her down and help her rest and suggested an overnight visit to watch her. So we headed home with an empty feeling and impending sadness. We were right as the next morning the wonderful vet called and said it appeared she was unresponsive to the meds so would we like to hold her and be there. We did and it was hard; so hard that I had to wait 4 days to write this. She slowly went limp in my arms and we brought her home and buried her in Eden, our garden in the woods with a tree swing in the big oak for the grandkids she loved nearby! We will miss our friend and companion!

PS: We do see her bounding someplace with Angel our first dog who was an Aghan who loved to run! What a great treat to have such wonderful pets!

Some Days Just Were Not Meant to Be

Yesterday started kind of normal; I went to church and came home to a snack (more of a snack than dinner since I was fixing and eating it while my bride was out of town). Then I decided to mow the grass which has grown a bit with all the rain we are getting. I started mowing and the tractor made some loud noises and I looked back and realized I was plowing versus mowing! One side of the mower deck was digging this neat trench in the grass. Pulled the tractor into the garage and realized I needed a new spindle on the left side of the mower (just changed the right side two weeks ago so I had a bit of experience with this). Two hours later I was done sweating and pinching my fingers; I had the deck off the tractor and the worn out spindle removed! Yeah! Off to the garden to pull some weeds that enjoyed the rain too which became an hour of stretches!

Dinner time! Ate healthy again with my veggies and all! Felt good about the day despite the tractor/mower problem so I decided to go into town for an ice cream! I had earned it with all my sweat and good eating habits during the day (don't we all like to justify ourselves!)

We have had some strong storms and wind and I noticed quite a few tree branches down enroute but then a huge tree was down and blocked my path! No problem; I know the alternate route! Pulled into my favorite ice cream place and as I opened the door their power went off! Hmpph! No ice cream from them tonight. On the way home I heard a loud unusual noise from under the car! Now this beauty has traveled 172,000 safe miles and helped us PCS from South Carolina to Washington State and then back to Ohio and Michigan for retirement. Then it provided a way for our son to get to work for more than 2 years and returned home two weeks ago! So... it has served us well and we could name it a militarycarbrat!

A clamp had come loose and fallen off the new muffler James put on the car before he returned it! Wonderful action on his part but the muffler was now hanging and banging on the road and I had one small vice grip, no rags or anything else to work with (where is that old coat hangar when you need it most?) Well after one failed attempt to re-connect the muffler, I decided to take it off and was fairly successful except for the burn on one finger (yes I knew it was hot). On my way again I pulled into the driveway. The garage door didn't work! Ugh! What is wrong with it? My normal keys were out of town with the spouse! No house key in my hand! So off to check for a door that would not blocked, locked or secured in some way! I found one! Yes! Normally I am very security conscious but before I leave... but this time I failed to lock one door! Thank you!

I got in the house and realized that the garage did not work as the power was out! Phew! I thought I had another maintenance job to do! But it was getting a bit humid and warmer, but what the heck, its a camping trip in Michigan! Finally I fell asleep after reading a bit of a new Zits comic book by flashlight! I needed the humor after this day!

PS: I didn't mention that I did get an ice cream at an alternate location on the way home--I deserved it!

Ever have an exasperating day or string of events? How do you handle them? We would love to hear your stories!

News You Can Use: MilitaryAvenue's News Reader

Do you have a blog or a website that other military families enjoy? Here is a great tool for your use:

Everyday we scour the ".mil world" for relevant articles and news that we think you will find of interest. You can share this news with your fellow military families and keep them informed. If you would like to have a News Reader on your site simply copy and paste the following html code on to your site:

<div style="border:2px solid #243E89; width:240px; height:290px;">

If you decide to post it on your site let me know! I will gladly post a link back to that page on so that others can see your work in action.

- Leanne from

To Our Military Families: America Supports You

The Team at is very excited this afternoon as we have been selected as a corporate supporter of America Supports You! We believe in you, our American military families and recognize the stress that current operations place on you! We have team members who include an Army National Guard active spouse, Military Brats, Air Force spouse, and retired Air Force. We have lived the lifestyle and enjoyed the rewards and shared the challenges too!

America Supports You says this about themselves: "America Supports You is a Department of Defense program that provides opportunities for citizens to show their support for the US Armed Forces. The program was launched in 2004 in an effort to highlight citizen support for our military men and women and communicate that support to the members of our Armed Forces at home and abroad."

We want to support you and provide the best data available for your next relocation, lifestyle choice or travel needs! We now have over 6,100 Partner listings offering you a Military Reward thanking you for your service! ASY recognized our efforts in your behalf and we want you to know that we care and want to continue supporting you!

To see us and other corporate supporters of you at ASY, our American military community, please go to

Words alone cannot express our gratitude for your service as a family, spouse, active duty, Guard or Reservist! A simple thank you seems inadequate but it is heartfelt!

- Your Team

The Weather in Baghdad and Kabul

I can be a Weather Channel junkie! We just had a wonderful rain shower and it made our spring flowers perk up big time as we had been dry for a bit! I was cheering for it so I wouldn't have to drag garden hoses around tomorrow to get the vegetable garden some refreshment. While enjoying the cool breeze and listening to the rain fall I had a quick thought! What is the temperature in Baghdad right now? Hmm, according to a weather website it is 88 degrees and it is 11 PM and tomorrow's forecast is for a high of 106!

Think of our comforts and ability to adjust the dial of our air conditioning, ceiling fan, opening the window to let in the cool breeze and other methods of cooling ourselves. Then I transition to our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and think how hot the body armor is, the lack of a place to cool off and the overheated bodies and uniforms in need of a shower and cleaning. Then I jump to a Humvee filled with hot and stressed bodies and then to an aircraft maintenance crew on a concrete covered flightline which due to reflection can be 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the actual temperature with no shade.

Many Americans just have no way to put themselves in our guys and gals shoes. They are uncomfortable when not in a "controlled temperature environment". Every time I see a "political" comment from a "star" I boil and think, "I wish they would have served and seen and felt the pride of serving this wonderful country"! Then I cheer for those who join our forces overseas with a USO tour. A big Hooah to them for providing a show and support to the service personnel!

My son in law is in a train up environment getting ready to head out to the desert and I am sure he will bring back some stories and certainly a different perspective on creature comforts. We keep you in our thoughts and prayers Paul as you prepare to depart and thank you so much for your service and willingness to protect all of us!

Deployment Troubles of a 5 year-old

My five-year old is struggling. He is struggling with his father's deployment. One and a half months down - 10 1/2 to go. This could be a long year. The two of them are close. He loves watching his dad play video games; looks for his dad's face after every soccer goal he makes; helps his dad make an occasional dinner; hangs on every word his father says. When you talk about being a hero, Dad is up there in this little boy's eyes.

So I found it quite peculiar a couple of weeks ago when I asked him if he wanted to talk to Dad, I was just finishing up a quick call with him, and he adamantly told me 'No'. Hm... He was mad, I could hear it in his voice. Then what broke my heart a few days later: "Daddy is going to die." I reassured him that Dad was not going to die. (Please, dear Lord, do not make me a liar!) I pulled him up onto my lap and gave him a big long hug. I asked him why he thought this and he replied, "There are so many bad guys out there." Oh more long hugs as tears welled up in our eyes. I was glad he was finally talking and I told him it was ok to tell me these feelings but that we won't dwell on them.

I have three boys and each of them is taking this deployment differently. They are all different ages and each has his own distinct personality. The 5 year-old is struggling the hardest at this point. Preschool is done. Soccer just finished. (He already misses his coach he has told me.) Our summer routine (or lack there of) is startling to unfold. I know he misses the leadership of other adults around him.

He will enter Kindergarten in the fall and I signed him up for Fall Soccer already (using our Military Kids grant!). But now I am looking for local things to do over the summer. I did see some 'college classes' for his age at our local community college (art and fun stuff) and there are some summer soccer clinics that we might take the time to enjoy. I'm regretting that we didn't do baseball this spring / summer, as I didn't want too much on our plate. Yes, I am a mother, always second-guessing my own decisions.

There are also some great resources out there if you are struggling with deployment and your school-age children:

By the way, a couple days later Hubby called and I again asked my five year-old if he wanted to talk to Dad and again he said "No". Two minutes after we hung-up the phone he changed his mind (a step in the right direction!). So, we called Dad back up immediately. (Thank goodness Hubby is still training stateside!) He proudly told Dad he came in second place in Lego Racers that afternoon, a computer game that the two of them play together all the time. He couldn't play that game without Dad's help a couple of months ago, my little guy is growing up.

- Leanne from

PS Kudos to support from my fellow military spouses. I lamented the fact that I was having some troubles during Army Wife Talk Radio's Monday evening radio show in their chat room. Not only did I get some great advice, I also heard from ladies having the same problems with the same age children. If you are having deployment-troubles find support, virtual or face-to-face. You won't regret it.
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