New Years Resolutions

I'll admit... I have never set New Year's Resolutions. Maybe because I am afraid of failure. Maybe I have a hard time with the thought of limiting myself to improvement at only the beginning of the year. I think it is because of some reason in between there.

I recently read an article with some New Year's Resolutions from TRICARE: "New Year: Time to Commit to Old Resolutions" It includes ways that TRICARE can help you from smoking to stress to eating right. I think it is a concise way for you to think about how you can commit to a New Years Resolution and stick to it.

My resolution (Yes, I think I will make one this year!) is to get organized. With a *potential* PCS this year I realize we have a long way to go before this house can be packed up and household goods shipped. My children are getting older and toys can be purged, especially after the Christmas goods Santa, grandmas & grandpas, aunts & uncles bestowed upon them. Shoes & clothes I haven't worn for at least a year can probable be given to Goodwill. If I start NOW our house will feel *so much lighter* by the summer & a chunk of stress will be reduced.

So I will work one room at a time. 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room & the abysmal basement. It will take me months. But as I finish a room I can celebrate... before I move on to the next room on my list.

What can you do to make yourself feel a bit better about yourself? It doesn't have to be considered a 'new years resolution' if those three words rip fear in your bones (like me!). Just think of it as a way of putting yourself first (for once!)

Happy New Year!

- Leanne from

A Simple Thank You for 2008 and Happy New Year for 2009

A simple thank you is often all that is needed to make someone feel good or raise their spirits after a trying or difficult time! With that thought in mind I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our military families and community who provide the support and encouragement our airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors and coasties need everyday to be successful in their tasks and services.

How else can we say thank you? I thought of a few ways to reach out to others and make "thank you" a standard within our community. We hear it from politicians, celebrities and TV news-persons but they seem far away and not very relevant to our day to day lives! I came up with some other ways to help with a "Thank you" campaign that is more at home and provides some day to day support.

Let's start off with some easy ones first!

A quick smile works wonders for the mom or dad dealing with a stubborn or tired child in the commissary!

Greeting a newcomer at a get together who is standing in the background looking for a new friend (encourage your children to do the same and they will learn a valuable lesson too) and thank them for attending (we all need that sort of help in a new crowd).

Thank a service member in uniform while in the line at a local store-it could get catchy! We sometimes forget that we are able to thank each other and we don't have to wait for a "civilian" to do it!

Volunteer at a support agency such as the Thrift shop or consignment shop or other service specific function!

These can take a little more of your time but I bet you enjoy them too:

Know your neighbors so you can see a need! Its easy to get isolated and feel out of touch--a thank you says a lot and earning a thank you says even more if someone is in need!

Encourage friends and their families through communications such as email, myspace,facebook,cards, letters (how about an old fashioned hand written note to really say thank you!) and phone calls!

Call that friend at the last post or installation and say hi, how are you doing? Be sure to listen and again say, Thank You!

Even flowers say thank you in a meaningful way! (Moms loved dandelions so I bet your friends would enjoy flowers from your garden too!)

Dinner for that new military family moving in nearby is always a great way to say thank you-remember their service brought them to you and who could say thanks better than someone who has experienced the same challenges! If dinner is a tough one, how about a cold drink and a few minutes to introduce yourself so they get a break!

These are just some of my thank you ideas I worked out in a quick computer session on a quiet Tuesday morning! I am sure that you have some better ones! Comment and tell us some of your own!

One request for 2009! Tell others about us! MilitaryAvenue was conceived as a method of helping military families as they toured the nation and world serving as only they can! One of our ways to say thank you is the 6,200 MilitaryAvenue Partner Listings on the site offering a military discount or gift to you--our American military family members and service members.We can only say thank you with discounts and support if folks know about us and the many new parts of the site including Answers, Alerts and this blog!

Have a great New Year!

What Does 2009 Have in Store for Our Military Community?

Whatever happened to 2008? Seems like the year just got started! But here right in front of us is 2009!

Before I move onto 2009 I want to say thank you to just a few of the many folks who we have enjoyed working with this last year as they supported our military community in many ways.

We certainly enjoyed continuing our great relationship with Star and Tara from Army Wife Talk Radio with a visit to Ft Campbell in December! They sure have a heart for Army spouses!

Our friends from USAA, in particular Mike Kelly, have also been great this year. We continue to use their great financial information to help you with your day to day lifestyle issues in the form of blog and MilAve articles. They are a great team with a caring attitude.

The folks at Military Spouse Corporate Career Network, MSCCN, Deborah and Kate have been great as they assist military spouses looking for employment. What a great endeavor for a non profit and we are just starting to open this door for our readers.

The list goes on but the key factor for the military community is to know that you are not alone and there are many individuals, businesses, non profits, forums, etc that can and do help! So for 2008 a big thank you to all of our Military Avenue Partners who provide MilitaryRewards in the form of discounts and gifts. We have over 6,200 ads with Rewards for you!

Now for that question about what is in store for 2009? I am afraid I can only say probably more of the same with continued deployments and gainful service by our military men and women! The world is a turbulent place and we can only expect continued strife and conflict. We can also know that there is change coming in the leadership of our government and many hope that may create a different atmosphere.

I offer my prayers to the new President as he meets these challenges which have a direct impact on all Americans but even more directly on our military responders and their families! God Bless all of you and may you be rewarded with a great 2009!

Apfel Strudel (German Apple Strudel)

Your dinner menu is set, your plan for a fun gathering is in the works. Now dessert is just a topper! Here is a beauty. With the help of frozen puff pastry, your confection will cap off a meal that will please your friends, family and you!

Apfel Strudel
1 c butter melted (divided)
1 c toasted fresh white bread crumbs
1 c ground walnuts
3 1/2 lbs granny smith apples, peeled, cored and shredded
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 3/4 t sugar
1 puff pastry dough sheet

Mix bread crumbs and 1/4 c. butter in a bowl. Mix in ground walnuts, apples, cinnamon and sugar.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Adjust oven rack to the lower middle position. Lightly butter a rimmed baking sheet.
On a large, lightly floured surface stretch and roll the dough into a large, very thin rectangle, about 20 x 12". Brush with approximately 1/2 c butter. Spread bread crumbs mixture across the dough, leave a 2 " border on all sides.
Fold the sort ends of the dough over the apples and then fold the end closest to you over the apples and continue to roll. Do not make it too tight.
Bake according to dough directions - or until lightly browned.

Cocoa and Spice Slow Roasted Pork and Onions

Fill your house with friends, fun and a planned menu. Sounds good doesn't it! Here is a slow roasted pork dish that is sure to please the senses: smell - delicious; sight - festive; and taste - perfection!

Spice Rub
1/2 t whole peppercorns freshly ground... or 1/4 t black pepper
2 T plus 3/4 t ground cinnamon
2 T kosher salt
1 T plus 2 1/4 t unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves

Pork and Onions
6T olive oil
3 3/4 to 4 lbs onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 t dried sage
1 1/2 c water
5 pounds pork butt with bone
Spice rub

Mix all spices together. Set aside.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, sage, and salt, saute 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cups water; continue to cook until onions are beginning to brown and water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle spice rub on large sheet of foil. Roll pork in rub, pressing to coat. Set pork on rack in large roasting pan. Top pork with 1/3 of onions, scatter remaining onions around pork in pan.
Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center registers 165 degrees, stirring onions in pan occasionally. Roast about 6 hours. Transfer pork to platter. Spoon onions over pork.

Seven layer Holiday Pasta Salad

New Year's Eve and good friends are coming into town. Time for relaxing, staying out of the kitchen and sharing highlights of the year. Here is a dish that serves well, is pretty and can be a side for anything that fits your fancy! Make it at least 8 hours ahead so that it can chill, and the flavors blend.

Seven layer Holiday Pasta Salad
Prep time 30

2 c. (4 oz) uncooked farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 c. broccoli flowerets
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 1/2 c.)
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped (1 c.)
1/3 diced red onion
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt
2 T. sugar (or Splenda)
1 1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 T crispy bacon pieces
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 T dried

1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Place broccoli in boiling water, cover and cook 1 minute. Drain. Immediately rinse with cold water; drain.
2. While pasta is cooking, layer tomatoes, broccoli, bell pepper and onion in 2 qt. glass serving bowl.
3. Mix Mayonnaise, yogurt sugar in medium bowl. Add Pasta. layer pasta evenly over onion in serving bowl.
4. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with bacon pieces and parsley. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving but no longer than 24 hours.
Serves 8.

Happy New Year

Wow is it really almost 2009? We had a *wonderful* Christmas season with a trip up to my parents' house for a week. Santa Claus visited us in Michigan, as opposed to at our home in Ohio, and our transportation to my parents became a miniature sleigh as I jammed all of the gifts ready to be opened (in plastic tubs undetected by little children), along with snow paraphernalia (including a sled), a video-system and DVDs (only used for out-of-state trips), two booster seats, toys to play with while we anticipated Christmas' arrival, plus a supply of clothes for our 7 day excursion. To say the car was full was an understatement!

Making Apple Pie at my mom'sBut we made it! And we had a blast. Family can be stressful when we get brothers and sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, (no nieces in my family yet), and parents all in the same house. This past Christmas was an exception to our rule. Possibly we are all getting older? and realize we can't have everything our way and we are learning to compromise and to blend. It was wonderful.

Of course, I MAJORLY missed my husband off in Iraq. My father pulled me close at one point in the week and told me how very fortunate he was that he never missed a Christmas with his wife and children in his 30-years with the Air Force. That is amazing! He missed a birth, birthdays, and other family occasions while off flying the Air Force skies; but no Christmases.

Paul has never missed a birth and never anything major (even as small as a birthday) up until this deployment. So it is taking me a *wee bit* of adjustment. He'll be home for R&R fairly soon. In fact, we stepped in the door, unloaded the car (all stacked in the kitchen) and first thing I tackled? - Putting Christmas decorations away. Christmas is DONE I'm ready for the next major celebration! HUBBY'S coming home (even for "only" a couple of weeks, I'll take it). I think I'm just going to sleep through New Years in hopes it will bring him home that much faster.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! As a reminder be safe over this New Years Holiday; stay off of the roads if you can, especially if you are drinking!

- Leanne from

Networking is Important! Your Next Job Could Depend On It!

Maintaining contact with friends and associates has always been a challenge for military personnel and their families due to their frequent relocations and changes to their address, phone numbers, etc! But...the internet has changed all of that with a worldwide resource for maintaining relationships! Add in Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo and other social and professional networking tools and the opportunities for maintaining a network of friends and employer contacts continues to expand!

How important is networking? When was the last time you heard of a great assignment opportunity in the unit, or talked on the phone, emailed or responded to a friend on your Facebook accounts? All are networking opportunities and create knowledge and opportunity for the military member and family members as well! A recommendation from a friend, military supervisor or a family member of a military contact to the hiring authority can be key to that next job!

How about membership in professional organizations such as the enlisted/officer or spouse club, that volunteer job, military organizations such as the VFW or American Legion, church groups, your childrens' room parent and youth team contacts? All are potential networking opportunities and a means to spread the word that you are looking for employment! Don't be hesitant to tell others about your desires for a job!

We asked a military recruiter at USAA to give us some thoughts on military spouse employment. John DiPiero, USAA Military Recruiting, and a retired USAF Colonel, sent us some great ideas for you to use during your job search. Notice his emphasis on Networking!

"A big challenge for military spouses is frequent moves requiring multiple job changes. Military friendly employers understand this, but you may find some that don’t have an appreciation for the military lifestyle. During the interview, don’t be bashful about explaining why you’ve had frequent moves and that it’s tied to your spouse’s military service obligations. Ensure the interviewer clearly understands your intentions are to remain employed for as long as your spouse is stationed there. They may ask how long that might be. You should explain most military assignments last for about three to four years. The interviewer will be able to see how long your employment lasted for previous jobs on your resume. Just be able to explain why. And remember, NETWORKING is your most powerful employment tool. Use your connections to improve your opportunities."

Finally, a new tool on MilitaryAvenue, Military Answers allows you to ask for assistance while finding employment information at your current installation. Or if planning a PCS move you can look ahead and ask for opportunities at your new location! What a great way to start a new network of military friends as well!

Best wishes for that job search in a brand New Year!

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

It is time for leisurely breakfasts, family gatherings and a sweet tooth to be satisfied at sunrise. Our sunrise here in Michigan is bright and white with silver and gold accents. The landscape is snow covered. The tree branches are white lined: winter! The railings are even decorated with brilliant red male and female cardinals flitting in; black and white junco; green/brown siskins; and boisterous blue jays.
Now, as we sit and watch all of this move across the deck and sky... a hot cup of coffee and a
piece of warm cinnamon scented coffee cake fit the bill!

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Baking time 35 minutes
1/2 c butter
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 1/4 c Splenda sugar or 1 1/4 c regular sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. milk

Cream butter and cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add alternating with 1/4 c milk into butter and cheese mixture. Pour into a greased 13x9" pan. Top with crumb mixture.

Crumb Mixture
2 T. Butter
1/4 c. Splenda brown sugar or 1/2 c. regular brown sugar
1/2 c flour
2 t. cinnamon

Tis the Season

Wow, craziness has overcome the Kocsis household - Tis the Season, I suppose.

Kindergarten Class Parties
High School Orchestra Concerts
Cookies, Cookies and Cookies - followed by the inevitable Kitchen Cleanup
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping followed by Bills, Bills, Bills
Preschool Class Plays
Christmas Lights, garland and hours spent outside freezing my little fingers off decorating
Deadlines for work despite everything else that is happening
Christmas cards that need to be addressed and mailed

I don't think *this* is supposed to be the Reasons for the Season. Quite often my own children will remind me; "I can't wait for Jesus' birthday". Sometimes in the midst of the 'work' & chaos I remember what it is all about myself: making Christmas cookies with the kids is a lot of fun & a great memory maker on cold December days; wrapping presents while I think of the joy that will fill my children's faces on Christmas morning; sitting back and enjoying the music & noise of the season.

Don't forget the chaos that surrounded the birth of a baby over 2,000 years ago. I hope that those that stood around that stable also found the peace in the midst of the chaos themselves that night. I need to remind myself daily of that peace that passes understanding. I hope you can find it in the chaos of your own December!

Season's Greetings and How to Save On Your Taxes Before the End of the Year

As we approach Christmas and many other holidays in December it also marks the end of the tax year. So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year and Season's Greetings from MilitaryAvenue! I so enjoy this time of the year but also realize it requires me to stay focused on our budget and planning for taxes is one of the unfortunate pieces of reality we all face at this time of the year!

Our friends at USAA, Mike Kelly and JJ Montanaro, provided us some great ideas for this end of the year planning. They provided some action items that we need to get done during the holiday season in order to lessen some potential tax liabilities.

First, it is the season for giving and we certainly can help those in need. When you do charitable things like giving clothes, donating groceries, or funding programs be sure to get a receipt. Also, remember to include your mileage in support of charitable efforts as well!

Second, pay deductible expenses such as January's mortgage at the end of December and push up the interest deduction into 208! I always thought this was a great idea but a tough one with our Christmas expenditures but if your resources allow it will reduce taxes for this year.

Third, do you have a favorite stock that just lost a lot of value? Maybe you want to sell and show the loss for the year? After this year's market losses it would appear that anyone with investments could use this tactic.

Fourth, invest in the future with a contribution to your IRA or 401K or similar retirement fund. Be sure to consult with your financial planner for the best option for your investment based on income, current financial situation and age. The financial planners at USAA are always available to answer questions and assist you with these type of financial decisions.

Fifth, are your getting ready to PCS? We did a PCS at Christmas one year and visited family enroute and then went skiing in Utah enroute Washington state. We had a great time, planned it well and some of our expenses were deductible! It was a great move and we added value by planning it to include our holiday events too!

Thanks again to JJ Montanaro at USAA for his ideas and assistance with end of the year tax saving ideas!

Shakin' things up a bit

It has been a LONG two weeks at the Kocsis household. Since just before Thanksgiving break my two youngest boys, ages 3 and 6, have been fighting what feels like NON-STOP! Especially between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. We call it the 'witching hour' amongst us moms. They have learned to ignore my instruction; I end up yelling WAY TOO much. There has been nothing healthy about it.

On top of that bed time some how got turned upside down and our "normal routine" now included getting out of bed every 20 minutes from 8pm till 10pm to tell me about their tummy ache... headache... hang-nail... whatever they could think of; it seemed like a good excuse to get out of bed and bug Mom. And this Mom was CAPOOT! When lights go out at 8pm I would like to have my two hours of peace to do MY thing before getting on-line with Hun at 10pm.

No matter how I tried I couldn't shake this new 'routine' the boys had made, the fighting & sleepy-time procrastination & stress it was causing me. Then I had a revelation last night: Change the routine!

The boys have shared a room for two years; since *C* came out of his crib and we bought bunk-beds for the boys. I was then blessed with a guest-room for out of town guests. Since my family has to travel considerably to see me they always stay over-night. So a guest room is perfect. It has my husband's old full-bed in it (from his bachelor days) and a hodge-podge of other furniture from our 'single-days'. Well that guest-room is now *C*s. I gave them the option of having their own room after dinner & *E* jumped at the idea! Since *C* was a little more reluctant he got the option of which room he wanted.

I took out the hodge-podge of end-tables, dressers & even a chair (probably headed straight to the garbage at this point). We split up the books from the shared room and divided the mountain of hot-wheels. I brought *C*'s dresser into his new room and you couldn't cut the excitement in the air with a knife!

The best part?! We read books as usual last night. I tucked them into bed in their own rooms and kissed them each goodnight. And then I didn't hear from them again until morning-light. AHHHHhhhh... It was definitely time to shake up our routine!

If you find yourself in a rut I'd suggest doing the same. I'm all for routine - it is full of blessings. However, that routine can go hay-wire. Don't let that 'hay-wire' become your norm. Find a new healthy routine that the whole family will benefit from!

- Leanne from

Have you read the latest? MilitaryAvenue and the American Forces Press Service

Jamie Findlater at the Defense Media Activity has been a wonderful advocate for and I must say she put together an excellent article, once again, about what MilitaryAvenue is doing for the military-families out there! To Jamie - a HUGE thank you! We work very hard for the military families out there and it is encouraging to be recognized.

Take a moment to read about 'Answers' (, a very exciting piece of MilitaryAvenue. Then get out there: ask some questions, leave some answers, and connect with other military-families. You won't be sorry!

- Leanne from

Military Family Newsletter: Military Spouse Employment

This month's upcoming newsletter is going to be all about Military Spouse Employment. There are many facets to finding... and keeping a job... as a military spouse. We will have some ideas about working from home, resume writing and much more.

We already have quite a few resources on MilitaryAvenue. Check them out if you are in the market for a new career:

Do you have an article or an employment-tip to share? Please do tell! We would love articles from our partners and our Military Family Members. Send any submissions to: Feel free to leave any simple tips as a 'comment' on this blog for our readers to enjoy.

Don't forget to subscribe to our Military Family Newsletter so that you can read our full employment-related newsletter towards the end of December! Create a account and you can manage your subscriptions to MilitaryAvenue Alerts and our monthly-newsletter.

- Leanne from

Military Reward for December

This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:

Water Safe Kids
Surprise, Arizona

The Military Reward reads:

25% OFF Swim Lesson Tuition Please call or email us for details (623) 322-3688

Click here to view coupon featured at Luke Air Force Base.

A special thank you to Water Safe Kids and all of our MAPP partners for supporting your military community with your Rewards.

Why Should Your Business Offer A Military Discount?

If you know of a business that offers a military discount tell them about MilitaryAvenue! They can spread the word through a free ad with their military discount.

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