Older and Wiser ... well at least Older

35 years ago today I entered the world. I made a "Husband & Wife" a "Mom & Dad". The Lieutenant and Mrs lived on the edge of Death Valley aka Indian Springs Auxiliary Field... now referred to as Creech AFB. As I understand it (since I hardly remember) it was quite the drive but I was born at Nellis AFB, just outside of Las Vegas, the closest hospital. 35 years later, many many moves and two special-deliveries of my own I can sit here amazed at where my life has taken me. So with a little reflection and without further adieu...

35 'Deep Thoughts' to celebrate my 35 years
  1. Get out of the House. Go Sledding, Pick flowers, Go Swimming, Rake Leaves. No matter the season, fresh air is good for the soul.
  2. If you are sick, drink till your pee is clear (Thanks, Mom!)
  3. Plant a Garden.
  4. Hug your kids every day.
  5. Call your Mom, she misses you.

FIre up the Fish

One of the best times of the year to catch a fish fry is now during Lent. Even as you take a drive through sleepy towns, look at the signs posted. I would bet that you will see a local group putting on a fish fry. My advise is to get there early, as they sell out before the line is finished.
I prefer to eat fried fish out.. because when we do it at home, the aroma stays around longer than our hunger... and candles, incense and open doors are the norm when trying to get over the meal.
Here is a different type of fish fry. It isn't fried at all, but it has fire. Yeah chilies! We had this for the first time in Lubbock, TX. Back when Reese AFB was still open. Friday night was a time to socialize with other families out at the base club. This fish dish was one of my favorites.

Fish with Fire
6 fresh or frozen fish fillets
1 lemon
1/4 c chopped onion
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1/2 c dry white wine
1 (16 oz) can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 can green chilies
2 T parsley
1 t sugar
2 t flour
1 T cold water
Thaw fish if frozen. Sprinkle each fillet with salt , paprika and a squeeze of lemon. Roll up fillets; secure with wooden tooth picks. In a 10" skillet cook onion, mushrooms and garlic in butter until onion is translucent. Add wine. Stir in tomatoes, parsley, sugar and chilies; bring to boiling. Add fish; reduce heat. Cover, lower heat and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Remove to platter; cover and keep warm. Boil skillet mixture, uncovered. Reduce to 1 1/2 c. Combine flour and water, add to skillet. Cook stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Spoon sauce over fish. Makes 6 servings.

Your "Education Bank Account" and the New GI Bill

An “Education Bank Account”? It does make sense; we have an account for many things: such as, how much time and effort we put into our job; our lifestyle; our car(s); our families; friends; church, etc. You add to each account as you place resources into them which can be your funds, your time, your emotions, etc. So as we finish the series on your Education Bank Account what we have learned? We know education is important to your job progress, promotions and lifestyle; there have been huge strides to make it easier for veterans to place value into their accounts with off duty or full time student status; the colleges are making it easier for you to get credit for military experience, and the classes are offered in many variations/modes to allow you the best possible access!

Fish and Asparagus: A spring time specialty

The season of Lent is the harbinger of Spring... I guess some folks have the robin. I love the smells of hot cross buns in the bakery. I love seeing the pastels popping out in stores and crocus filled gardens. Even though it is snowing outside as I write, I know that it will not pile up to be 4 feet and stay around for an extra 3 weeks. Warm weather, gardens and walks are out there.
I love cooking fish during Lent. This was never a tradition in my family growing up, but we did have it more often during lent because the grocers always had fresh varieties available, and Mom couldn't resist.
We always had asparagus a few times a year. It was too expensive to buy too often. So, when spring came and this bright green vegetable was served, it all went the first time around. This dish, Fish and Asparagus Rolls captures both of the specialties of the season. This recipe serves 4.

Fish and Asparagus Roll
4 fresh or frozen fish fillets
3/4 pound fresh asparagus spears
1 T butter
2 tomatoes
1/2 c sliced mushrooms
1/4 c celery, thinly sliced
1 c minced onion
14 c white wine
1 t crushed garlic
1 t basil
1/4 t salt

Thaw fish if frozen. Snap off lowest part of asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus into 6" lengths, save the parts that you cut off for another dish. In pan with boiling water, cook asparagus for 5 minutes - until they turn bright green. Remove from water.
Dot fillets with butter; sprinkle with salt. Place asparagus across fillets; roll up fillets and fasten with tooth picks (wooden). Place fish rolls, seam side down in a 10 " skillet. Add tomatoes, mushrooms celery onions wine garlic basil and 1/4 t salt. Cover tightly; simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish to platter; keep warm. Boil tomato mixture gently uncovered to reduce liquids about 3 minutes. Spoon over fish rolls.

Oh the trauma...

Warning: for the squeemish I do have a pretty graphic picture below, involving a bit of blood. All in the 'day in the life' of a boy... but not exactly a pretty picture.

Hubby can not get home a day too soon!

My six year-old missed school on Thursday and Friday due to a pretty rotten cold and temperature ranging from 99 to 103 throughout the day & night. So our days have just been messed up. Unfortunately, on Friday night I started to feel the same way; achy, hot yet shivering, with a major headache. I love it when the kids share, but they don't need to share their germs with me. Seriously now.

So when a neighbor & good friend called on Saturday to find out what I was doing Saturday night she could tell I wasn't feeling great. She quickly changed plans and offered to take the boys (both feeling worlds better) for the afternoon so I could have some 'me-time'.

Lori packed up my boys & hers and headed over to a friend's house who has a gaggle of kids of her own. I had just turned on the water for a bath --- to ease some of the pressure in my head when the phone rang. Lori called to say "everything was fine" but Christian, 3 years old, had fallen and his tongue was really bleeding. Then I could hear him screaming in the background.

Immediately, I headed over to calm him down and access the damages. By the time I got there they had Christian calmed down pretty well but once he saw me he started crying again. He literally bit through his tongue. It was gross, bloody, messy, many tears of course. (Even I wanted to cry.) He tripped on a stair and went chin first into the next stair.

So off to the emergency room we went. We had toyed with it. Discussed it. What can they do for a tongue? But I decided I didn't want to chance it and just get a little verbal reassurance from a doctor as to the best thing to do. Lori wanted my older son to stay with her but he was shaken and wanted to stay with me. So she declared she was coming too. So the three of them, Lori, Elijah & her 4 year-old sat in the waiting room for at least 90 minutes.

Teeth through Tongue... not a pretty pictureChristian is my fighter. He hates the doctor, abhors the dentist. There is usually much crying & gnashing of teeth when either is involved. So the fact that he wouldn't really open up too well for the doctor was no surprise. When no one was in the room I pulled out my cell phone to snap a picture of Christian's mouth. I told Christian to show Daddy his tongue... and he stuck his tongue out the furthest he had all night. I guess he wanted to show Dad what a tough guy he is!

Once we did see the doctor she said she did get a good enough look. What we can do is put him on a liquid diet for 3 or 4 days. She didn't want to do stitches. Hopefully the bleeding will stop by morning. Oh and by the way... he has a double ear infection. Poor boy!

So at 8pm "Saint Lori", as I have officially dubbed her, was out running to the store for yogurt, icecream & pudding for my little-trooper; dropped off and picked up two antibiotics; and picking up dinner. She still had my 6 year-old. My trooper was still screaming when we were leaving the hospital so the thought was they (Lori, Elijah & her son) would get some dinner while I got Christian into bed.

The bleeding has stopped now by Sunday morning. His breath still smells very raw though. And now that he is decently smiling I can see one of his two front teeth is turned 45 degrees. Bleck. So not only did I torture him with the doctor last night; I guess I'll be torturing him with the dentist tomorrow.

Thank goodness for good friends. I often wonder how all of this would have turned out if it was just me doing all the running. We would have done it... but it would have waited till this morning. Instead we are relaxing. All of us are sleep deprived, we needed the relaxing morning.

As I crawled into bed last night at 11pm, feeling the effects of my fever all day which I had forgotten about when my child was in distress, I couldn't help but miss my soldier. I sent him an email last night detailing our day. I know he wants to know what is happening around home but know that he hates not being here in times like this. We are in the final stretch though... So let's hope this was our final 'incident' for this deployment!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Scampi by another name... Still Shrimp Scampi

I love a good shrimp dish. I love cheese. Voila Vieux Carre Scampi marries the two, and we get to celebrate. This is a dish from the French Quarter in New Orleans. Like my other favorite shrimp scampi, it is served with rice. However, this one adds the bonus of a baguette. What is better than fresh French bread? So, you see, this is a wonderful meal.

Serves 4
1 1/2 lbs. extra large, raw, deveined shrimp
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t lemon-pepper
1/2 t salt
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter, thinly sliced
2 oz. longhorn cheddar, thinly sliced

Place shrimp either in a butter baking dish, or evenly divide between 4 ramekins for individual servings. Pour lemon juice over shrimp, season with lemon-pepper and salt.
Combine green onion, parsley and garlic , and place on shrimp. Top with the butter and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Do not overcook.

This is great served with rice, a tossed salad and the baguette. Bon Appetit!

Shrimp Scampi for a full table

The weekends at our house have the doors swinging! Because we have company coming to spend time with grandparents, or others just coming in to enjoy the woods, river and walk. I love to have them around, and I love to sit at the table over talk of the day, laughter over antics and just plain joy being shared. We had Shrimp Scampi with our latest crew. I wanted a fish meal and something out of the ordinary. I found it!
I doubled this for 8 servings.
This is a delicious meal, yet it takes very little time to prepare.
2 pounds medium to large shrimp
3 cloves garlic, pressed
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 t dried parsley
1/2 cup finely minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
Shell shrimp if using fresh, or if frozen place in a colander and run under cool water until all ice is gone. I use my broiler pan base (with out the slotted part). Place shrimp in pan, butter, oil and all remaining ingredients. Place under the broiler for 4 minutes. Remove, stir and if shrimp are not pink... place back in for 2 more minutes. Do not overcook.

Serve this over rice. The garlicky sauce is wonderful.

Veteran Education and Your "Education Bank Account" has Gained Interest

I am going to continue my blog series on your “Education Bank Account" and what great strides have been made to help you increase the balance of your account. One of the best parts of an education bank account is that you can make withdrawals for a new job or opportunity and when you check the balance it is still there! How fun is that? Besides the real money account at your bank grows faster when you do have an education account that is growing!

I would again like to thank Dr Hancock of Central Michigan University for sharing her time with me so I can write this series. She has been involved with military education in some manner during most of her career. Recently she has seen some great strides to make it easier for you to add interest and expand your education banking options! The military services, Congress, the VA, military friendly colleges and many others are making it much easier for you to get your groove on back in school!

To everything there is a season.

To everything there is a season, and with Lent here, fish - well seasoned is a celebration unto it's self.
While living in Florida we had what we thought was an unending supply of red snapper available to us. This white fish was easy to adapt to all favorite recipes. It broiled, grilled and baked to perfection. And best of all, when we went out on a party boat with a crowd of folk, we brought home a cooler full of this bounty. The results: invitations to the neighbors for back yard feasts! We did love Florida!
Cod can easily be a great substitute for snapper. It too is firm and stands up to sauces, grill flips and quick high heat. Roasted Red Snapper with Red Salsa is low in calories and carbs. Lent is the time when fresh fish is usually quite plentiful. Serve this with a great side of vegetables and you will be feeling healthier at first bite.

Roasted Red Snapper with Red Salsa

2 T olive oil
1 T lime juice
1 T cilantro leaves
1 T basil leaves
1 t parsley
4 red snapper fillets, 8 oz each

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a small baking sheet. Pam, or any spray oil works great on this.

Combine the olive oil, lime juice and herbs in a small bowl. Place the fish, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Brush with the oil mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Then bake for 30 minutes or until just cooked through.

Combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl.
Red Salsa
2 ripe tomatoes
2 T chopped scallions
2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 t crushed minced garlic
1 T olive oil
2 t lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the snapper to a platter. Top with the salsa and serve immediately.
Combine the olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Pack it in, or up.. but Save the Cardboard

Life, we meet it as it comes. And when it comes with a set of orders, save the cardboard boxes. I know, you will read that you should not put them in the attic - fire hazard. You should not put them in the basement - bug camping ground. You cannot store them in the closets.... ha ha who ever had that kind of room?

Boxes were the highlight of a PCS. When all the chatter about how wonderful the next place was going to be... all the build up for the kids about museums, parks, beaches, or side trips filled their minds. When they were left only to their thoughts, we could look out the window and see someone moving in. As our house emptied, the place across the street filled and out spewed the boxes! YEAH cardboard. A train of connected crates filled the yard. A tower of packaging or a race car cut out of a large container with crayon colored wheels was theirs for a day.

I love reading other blogs. There are so many talented military spouse writers. Somehow they know exactly how I responded to emotions, people and situations that happened years ago. I guess I am saying the age and time limit just are fuzzy when dealing with PCS, TDY, OWC, ACS, SOS etc... YEAH! They verify me. They prove that my walk as a military spouse had merit. My devotion to my spouse, his work, his compatriots, his studies, his absences were worthy of my time, emotion, strength.

Friends, sometime cyber friendships move us along through life. Friendships open doors as outlets for questioning thoughts - "Can we really be moving again?" "What do people do in Wichita Falls, TX?" "How many high schools can my son attend?"

Look out the window. See anyone moving in? Grab some boxes, or just remember the joy and release of the giggles that came when kids cut doors, windows, or drew wheels.

Open For Questions

I got this email and thought I would share it with all of our readers. It is an interesting way to get your concerns out there to the White House.

Open For Questions is an opportunity to open up the White House to all Americans. Submit your own question about the economy, health care, education, veterans and other subjects that are important to you. Sign in to vote on questions and suggest your own, or read some of the questions already submitted.

"The White House is open for questions.We invite you to participate in our community-moderated online town hall. Submit your own question about the economy and vote on submissions from others. We also encourage you to include a link to a video of yourself asking your question (ideally 30 seconds or less), but text submissions are all you need. Come back on Thursday to watch the President answer some of the most popular submissions live at WhiteHouse.gov. UPDATE: The online town hall will be at 11:30 AM Eastern, the voting will close at 9:30 AM."

Veteran Education and Your "Education Bank Account"

Did you know you started your "Education Bank Account" when you finished Basic Training? A veteran receives a minimum of two hours of college Phys Ed credit for just completing basic! Nice!

I just met with Dr Merodie Hancock, the Vice President/Executive Director of Central Michigan's Off-Campus Programs who shared some great information about veteran education opportunities! Dr Hancock has extensive experience working with veterans and helping them pursue their educational goals. She commented that her classroom experience with veterans was exciting and that she found them to have numerous strengths including: diversity, a global view and being incredibly informed. That was the start of a great interview and I intend to write several blogs to provide more information about your education opportunities! What a great way to pursue goals and reach for those special opportunities using the GI Bill, tuition assistance or attending military education courses!

Dr Hancock took an hour of her busy day to talk about you--the veteran! I asked her what she would recommend to veterans and active duty personnel concerning their education and she said the key was getting started on a plan as early as possible. Visit the experts at the installation education center and open your "Education Bank Account" so you know what you have earned and where you need to invest. Don't know where to start? Get those general education classes completed now!

Military members, families and veterans face challenges such as money, family time limitations, opstempo and I loved this one, "surround sound distractions"! We are so busy and an active duty family (or reserve or guard on orders) with deployments, face many challenges to continue an education. Separating veterans face many challenges too as they join the campus community. In fact, many schools have started combat to classroom type programs to assist you. But military friendly schools such as CMU want to make it easier for you. I will write some more about their programs in my next blogging opportunity!

PS: We do have an Education Center on MilitaryAvenue.com! Please go there to learn more about your benefits and the means to develop your education account! You can also see CMU's banner there and you should read about this great supporter of military education programs!

Household Penny Pinching from the House Guy!

Household Penny Pinching

We owned homes while on active duty but spent a lot of time in military housing too as we moved so many times. One of the challenges of post military living has been household expenses and budgeting. We chose to live near family in a cold winter environment with a propane tank due to our country lifestyle. As we try to control electrical and propane bills we also saw the rise of fuel prices so it became critical to maintaining our costs. We like to travel and needed to see what we could do to save precious resources. We also saw it as a way to decrease demand and increase supply and help our environment. Our dollars saved can go into the penny pot for travel! So here are some Household Penny Pinching ideas that we found to be very helpful:

MilitaryAvenue Alerts

Military Alerts
Are you interested in Military Discounts in your area? Did you know we have numerous companies sign-up to be part of MilitaryAvenue every day? We call them MilitaryAvenue Partners. The Partners can have a free ad on MilitaryAvenue as long as they offer a military-discount to our well-deserving service-members and families. (That's you, military spouses and military members!)

It can be hard to keep up with all the new discounts around any given installation so a few months ago we launched the Military Alerts System. It is fairly simple.

Three going on 14

*C* will be four next month. I'm SO ready to move on past age three. The whining and "Whys" are enough to drive me insane. WHY is that car red? Because they painted it red. WHY did they paint it red? That's what color they wanted it. I don't know WHY they wanted it red, honey. And believe me this conversation won't end that simply... it will end with my wanting to pull my hair out despite loving him to pieces.

But there are moments, seconds, fleeting minutes that I want to just gobble him up. This is one of them:

Recently he has been *all about* his brother's mp3 player. His favorite song at the moment is "But the Cat Came Back" sung by Laurie Berkner. He has it playing on big-brother's music player and sings it to his heart's content. It is enough to make any mom smile!

Sometimes I think he forgets he is not a teenager; music player and game-system in toe. I just can't help but smile and beg him not to grow up too soon! ("WHY don't you want me to grow-up, Mom?" OK, maybe you can grow up a little - but not too much please... let's get past this WHY stage, PLEASE!!!)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Set the world into a calidiscope of color: One lesson at a time.

Ricki taught me about quilting. She opened a world to me of cutting, pasting, pinning, precision, and above all patience. I saw folded pieces of cloth translate into fat quarters.
Ricki taught me to distinguish the value of colors.
I valued friendship. I valued time well spent. I valued money.
I had no idea what she was talking about in the value of colors.
I know that chocolates come in light, dark and milk: each type with an appreciation of it's own.
I know
that colors have values too.
And I know that they are just as intoxicating as a great piece of chocolate!

Before I started a quilting class, the fabric store I visited was for a high school home ec. class. Now, all of the local quilt shops greet me by name when I walk in the door. They privately call Ricki their patron saint in these hard times.
The values of fabrics? For all non-quilters: light, medium and dark. Fabrics with prints, large and not too small; fabrics with lines, plaids and angles all are sorted into one of the three categories.
Are you looking for a new skill? Looking for an outlet where you can see your personality spill out into tangible talent? Oh yes, this is quilting. Gives true meaning to a warm fuzzy: try a flannel quilt.
If the Civil War was fought involving the economic balance of cotton's worth. I understand. Keep the cottons coming. Pure, crisp - or soft, floral or plaid, one yard at at time I collect and envision in my next quilt. One on is on the wall pieced and ready for the machine. One is folded and ready for binding and one is waiting to be started.
Get ready, get set and sew. But first get a good instructor to lead the way for you into a truly enjoyable hobby.

Vices and Grace

I was guilty.

Zooming down the country roads of Michigan about 30 miles away from any major highway I was on my way home. I had visited my parents for the weekend. It was a GREAT weekend. I met my newborn niece for the first time. She was one-week old; beautiful, sweet, and as perfect as they come. I watched my boys, 6 and 3 play with their cousins, age 3 and 1 1/2. I laughed and smiled, enjoying the time with my two brothers and sister-in-laws. I thoroughly enjoyed being with my mom and dad. Going 'home' is always a funny thing for me. "Home is where the heart is." Very true sentiments for me as I have *never* lived in Michigan, yet, I go 'home' to Michigan whenever I can.

Sunday evening came and we hit the road back to *my* home. DVD player was playing in the back. (A god-send for out of state trips.) I had a Pepsi in hand for the caffeine factor. It was 6:30pm and we had a five hour trip in front of us. But it was well worth the time with my family.

I have a vice and it is my lead-foot. My lead foot has driven me across the country, literally, several times. It helped me get back and forth between Chicago and Cleveland when I was long-distance dating my now-husband. It gets me back and forth to Michigan quicker than most folks. However, I do have to interject: Despite my speeding I am a very *aware* driver. When I am driving, that is all I'm doing. Very rarely do I pick up the cell phone on the road. I am constantly watching my 6s, 3s, and 9s (Can you tell I'm a pilot's daughter?). Usually, I see a speed-trap, a reckless driver, an accident, WELL before the other cars around me. I don't sit in the left-lane and am very aware of what is going on around me. Learning to tune-out my boys in the backseat when necessary has been a gift I quickly acquired.

In my 20-years of driving with hundreds of thousands of miles under my belt I had been pulled over three times for speeding; one ticket (ironically, five miles from my house).

Well make it four times. There I was on the country roads of Nashville, Michigan going not 10, not 15 but nearly 20 miles-per-hour over the speed limit. That is major. I had done these roads hundreds of times and had NEVER seen a police-officer. So there I was pulled over and the *very* handsome sherrif walks up to the window.

"Good evening, ma'am. I'm the Sheriff for ... Do you know you were going 74 miles-per-hour? Were you just not paying attention?"

In a very shaky voice, "Yes, sir. We were just heading home." I handed him my driver's license; buried under my military-id. I found my registration right-away but the only insurance card I could find expired in 2007. I knew I was going to be hauled off to jail. How was I going to explain this to the angels sitting in my back seat?

By the grace of God "Mr. Very Handsome Sheriff" gave me a verbal-warning. "Please slow it down. I realize it is a beautiful evening and you were on a straight-away but slow it down." As he walked away all I could say to him was "I'm sorry". Grace like that left me feeling guilty. A ticket probably would have made me mad (at myself more-so). I know when I have been wrong and I was.

I'm not sure what happened to warrant only a verbal-warning: girl-power? the Army sticker and ID? pure-grace? Whatever it was I'll take it. I still made it home pretty-lickety split but did take it down quite a few notches on those country roads. Being pulled over twice in one night would be pushing my luck a little too far!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Don't watch your words, use them wisely!

We came back from a great vacation. Our bags were overstuffed, our 'fun limit' was about maxed out. Our spirits were high but the line to customs was ahead. It is interesting how emotions can take roller coaster rides in break neck speed.
Rifling through my bags to find passport and declaration paper I approached the customs officer waiting at the desk. His first words were, "Welcome Home!"
Wide eyed I looked at him and said a heart felt thank you! He meant it. I meant it.
Then, after seeing my Military ID, he thanked me for my service! "I'm the spouse." I said. He said he recognized that and said spouses deserved thanks too.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
How rich, how rewarding.
This should be easy to pass on to others. Greetings, words of cheer, affirmations are spiritual gifts!
Raise some spirits today. Respond with encouragement to an email. Say thank you and mean it to the mailman. Ask your child's teacher, bus driver or friend how their day has been going - and be receptive to them, they are probably tired.

Spring Bunny Rolls

Spring is finally here. It is outside - the proof is tulips poking out, daffodil spiking up, hyacinths branching out. Color will soon be where decaying oak leaves blanketed the bulbs.
So, watch out!
Those pesky rabbits will be chomping on the leaves and blossoms as they appear. I say turn about is fair play... chomp on the rabbit. Not being a hunter... I vote for bunny rolls. Yeasty rabbit rolls served piping hot with cold sweet butter. Nice

3/4 c milk
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 bread flour
2 eggs

Scald milk in microwave - heat until milk starts to climb the side of the dish. Add shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
Sprinkle yeast on warm water; stir to dissolve.
In mix master, add 1 1/2 c flour to milk mixture. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. Beat in eggs and yeast.
Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured board; knead until smooth and no longer sticky.
Place in lightly greased bowl, flip to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and turn onto a board. Divide in half and shape dough into long ropes 1" in diameter; cut in 10" lengths. Tie in loose knots, bringing ends straight up to make ears. Press in currants or raisins for eyes. Brush with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 T water. Let rise on greased baking sheet.
Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
After baking and while still warm, frost light with Confectioners Sugar Frosting tinting, if desired, some of the frosting a pale pink for bunnies' ears.
Makes 30 bunnies.

The heavenly, yeasty aroma of baking bread greets folks at the door promising all who enter something wonderful to come! Rolls can be simple to bake. The secret is to keep the dough soft, as soft as you can handle.

Serve the rolls so hot that the butter that you spread on, melts pronto! Should you need to warm the rolls at mealtime, put them in a brown paper bag in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 15 minutes. Of if the rolls are frozen, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat in a hot oven (400 degrees) about 20 minutes. One more point to heed - after baking, remove rolls at once from the pan or baking sheet. Cool on wire rack if you do not serve right away.

Spring has more promise than a PCS move has boxes!


New beginnings.
New promises of hope.
New joys to be seen every morning.

We just returned from a fabulous vacation. Fabulous is putting it lightly. It was an escape from the winter's cloudy skies, dirty snow and icy roads. We chose to escape as far as we could manage - just north of the equator: meaning the Caribbean. Ahhhhhhhhhh doesn't that even sound good.

We were pampered to put it mildly. I was Madame for 10 days. I had coffee and croissants brought to the room each morning. 'Wake up' called just prior to sunrise so that we could go to the veranda, sit in luxurious bathrobes, feel the sea breeze and realize this trip which we had dreamed about for years on end was the here and now. Could life get any better?


We got the phone call. Our granddaughter arrived. Mom and Esther were doing well. Dad was exhausted and ecstatic.

I just read in Proverbs that children's children are the crown of the aged. Well... not thrilled about being the 'aged', however I so understand this! My grandsons and now Esther are a crown. I love to wear the existence of them... let everyone know they are MINE. Their worth is like gold and jewels - not easy to come by - but wow, others will take notice to how I beam in their presence. They are right there, up on my head and in my thoughts.

So, now there is another promise of joy; another acknowledgement of hope and a precious beginning. I think Spring has become my favorite season! My mind just runs as if being released, to all the events I will be doing. When I stack up the ideas, along with memories and toss on that pile dreams, I see the fun that I am going to have. That stack of ideas piles high - I need a semi to haul it in. This reminds me of the moving van pulling up to the front of a new house. Spring definitely has more promise than a PCS move has boxes!

Pride in that Military ID

We just returned from a great vacation with many warm waters to swim in and sunsets to enjoy. It also included zip lining in a rain forest which was a great time(and kept us young thinking). But one simple event during our return travels made me feel great!

As we entered the security line at a US airport I pulled out my military ID to prove that my name and picture matched the ticket for the friendly TSA agent at the beginning of a long line. Instead of a rudimentary proceed wave of the hand, I received a "Thank you for your Service"! I felt great to be recognized by a busy hassled person. I realized that we can all make a difference each and every day on how we treat and respond to others! She was busy; did not need to say anything, but took the time to recognize that I had served this great country too!

Do you use your military ID card?

Spring Has Sprung

My Crocuses are in bloom.

My Tulips are peaking out of the ground.

My Daffodils are waking up from a long winter's nap.

The Hyacinth is getting ready to let out a giant stretch and a yawn of color.

I love this weather! I have trimmed (aka whacked down) butter-fly bushes. I have cut dead flowers & branches off of last years plants. I have pulled plants I just don't want anymore.

I have thought through what flowers I want to plant this year. I started seeds inside. Life is a ray of sunshine right now!

Last year it snowed in April. I hate to be the pessimist. But if I see another snow-flake I may cry.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Happy St Patricks Day!

In honor of St Patricks Day I wanted to share this Irish-Blessing with all of our military friends and families...

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine upon your face
the rains fall soft upon your field
and until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand

I got up this morning and was intent on making sure my boys had green shirts on ... Yet, I walked out the door with a pink-shirt and jeans on. Why do I do that so often? Think of my own children and *totally* forget about me. I guess it is the curse of being a military-wife.

Hope you all have a *great* St Patrick's Day. And if your spouse is Irish (or not!) give them a big giant KISS (even if it is virtual). I reminded *Hubby* in an email last night to wear green. Never mind the fact that he has been wearing his green-uniform for days upon days and months upon months. I'm so funny! He probably didn't laugh. ;)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Penny Pinching

Penny-pinching ... Don't think of it has a burden. Think of it as a challenge! Some people are natural budgeters others of us find it a major stretch. Stretching the value of a dollar is important in this day and age. After all President Obama hasn't included *MY* household in his stimulus package. Although, I sure could use a few thousand dollars if he finds any extra in his pocket-book.

All this money-talk though has me thinking about ways that we can save money, a nickle at a time, even.
  1. I can't be the Joneses (or the Wendts, for that matter). I have wonderful neighbors all around me. One of my closest friends in the neighborhood is a doctor's wife and she has a pretty well-paying job herself. It is hard to try not to keep up with her; but her priorities are different then mine. She can afford the bi-weekly house-cleaners, the seasonal carpet-cleaning, the vacations to 'The Hamptons', the sleek looking Volvo. I can't. I can still be wonderful friends with them. I can sit in their backyard and enjoy a glass of wine with her. But I can't compare myself to her or her family.
  2. Coupon Clipping. This one is *Hubby's* job. (Yes, it is a huge blessing.) However, since he has been deployed for over a year the job has fallen on me. I'm not nearly as good as he is in the 'savings department'; but I am getting better at it. A couple of hints for coupon cutting: Don't clip a coupon for something you wouldn't normally buy. If you are using coupons for something you wouldn't have bought anyway you aren't saving any money. But if you need hand-soap & there is a coupon ... by all means clip away and think of how 50 cents here and 50 cents there can add up.

Mrs Obama's Visit to Fort Bragg

I realize I'm preaching to the choir on this one ... but I was reading an article this morning about Michelle Obamas visit to Fort Bragg and it struck a chord with me.

"I encourage everyone out there, within the sound of my voice, to reach out on your own — through schools, PTA, Little Leagues, churches, workplaces — and find out if there's a soldier or a soldier's family right there in the community who needs a little extra support," Mrs. Obama said in her speech. "They're there. Something as simple as offering help with car pool duty can make the world of difference to a parent who's trying to hold the family together during a very stressful time."
Isn't this so true? Hubby is in the Army National Guard and when he gets home in April he will back in his "civvies" except for the monthly drill-weekends and periodic week- or two- long trainings. I don't have the benefits of a military installation around me; my Family Readiness Group gets together once a month but they are a four hour drive away (one way!); the community-supporters of my husband's unit are in the Dayton area (again, 4-hours away) and sometimes being this far north of them I feel quite forgotten.

A Special Sesame Street Presentation

Sesame Street and PBS present "Coming Home" - Military Families Cope with Change on April 1st. The flier says 8:00pm but doesn't mention a time zone, so be sure to check your local listings for the right time.

We had this video series given to us from Military OneSource. My boys enjoyed watching Elmo and friends discuss deployment. I think it helped them knowing there are others out there that are in the same boat! If your spouse is deploying (whether for the 1st time or the 10th time) and you have young preschool age children be sure to order the video series for FREE from Military OneSource. You can also watch it online at http://www.sesameworkshop.org/initiatives/emotion/tlc/.

For more information: http://www.sesamestreet.org/tlc.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Is it April yet?

Is it April yet? *Hubby* will be home for good in April. He told me the guys he is with are all getting antsy. They are a little bit "short" with each other, patience is way down and they aren't exactly "being all they can be". I think they are ready to get home too!

As for me I am READY! He's been a little short with me too on our nightly web-cam calls. Not in a mean way, just in a 'bleh... this web cam is getting old & I'd much rather kiss your face goodnight then stare towards the computer at you' kind-of-way. I'm with him on that. We chat every night from about 10pm my time till 11pm and there is just so much you can talk about over the course of an hour, seven days a week. Especially as winter winds down and a case of the blahs has settled in to our neck of the woods. (Don't take that the wrong way! I *LOVE* the fact that he and I can chat over IM every night. I know so many service members that don't have this luxury. I don't take it for granted, but we have been doing it for quite some time now...)

So let the countdown begin. Our FRG sent out an email with his homecoming date and even a time - 1:00pm, baby! I put it in INK on the calendar (kind of dangerous I know but I'm ready to live on the edge). I think the boys and I will make a paper-chain to hang in the kitchen. We will fight these winter doldrums and think of the CELEBRATION that is going to occur. YIPEE!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

March Military Family Newsletter: The PCS

My Dad's final flight: Mom & Dad, my Grandpa & Grandma, brother Dan & Hubby & II am an Air Force Brat. My father retired after 30 years-of-service in 2002. I attended his retirement ceremony at McChord AFB, with my husband and was about 8 weeks pregnant with my first child. It was a bit of an emotional time because I realized a HUGE chapter (or more like entire book) in my life was closing, even though 'technically' I was no longer his dependent. I wear the term 'Air Force Brat' like a badge.

Today, I live in a bustling suburban city in northwest Ohio. My closest base is the Cleveland Coast Guard Station. There isn't a commissary and their BX is not worth travelling to. The people around me appreciate our military but they don't KNOW our military. When I meet new people of course the topic of where I grew up always comes up...

The PCS. It still defines me at 34 years-old. We lived at nine bases before I graduated from college. *Most* people can't grasp that one. That is about one new base every two or three years. Long enough to get to know really good friends & then prepare for the next move.

I have always really enjoyed this article: 'Growing Up in the Military'. "Like the dandelion, military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy, resilient, and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. And ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends."

MilitaryAvenue will be publishing our monthly-family newsletter this Sunday, March 15th. The topic of discussion? The PCS. The season is almost upon us! Are you ready?

If you are not a subscriber sign-up today (& you will also be entered in our monthly drawing for a free iPod!)
- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

A Breath of Fresh, Unhurried Air

I almost didn't go this morning. I have felt *very* overwhelmed the last 10 days and the thought of sitting around with friends and fellow-moms at a MOPS meeting wasn't appealing. After all, it is Monday. I lost an hour of time this weekend (thanks to Daylight Savings Time). Getting the boys out of bed, dressed, lunches packed and the kindergartner on the bus was a little tougher than usual this morning.

Plus, I have had a few job responsibilities shifted onto my plate while my fellow bloggers are on a well deserved vacation... and to top it all of my *Hubby* returned back to the sand-box about 10 days ago and I just can't seem to get back into our one parent-routine. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED having him home and wouldn't trade that time together for the world but I've been juggling household responsibilities by myself for about a year. He came home and I let him take some of the "balls" out of my hands so that I was juggling less for those two-weeks. Now I just can't get them back in-sync.

Planting Seeds

Our annual-spring garden is in the works! We hit the store yesterday and my two younger boys each got to pick out two seed-packets. I did veto the Lima beans but other then that their choice was completely on their own. (I picked up an additional 3 packets because I love the garden just as much as they do.) So this year we will have:
  • Green Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Green Beans and
  • Carrots

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday! To all of our service-members, spouses and families: A sincere THANK YOU from MilitaryAvenue.com. I hope all of our MilitaryAvenue Families have a great weekend.

Land of the Free because of the Brave!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

March's iPod Winners: "Give A Little" & "Rocking the Avenue"

Drum Roll Please...

We are very excited to announce this month's MilitaryAvenue.com winners.

Carrie from Fort Hood won our drawing in the "Rocking the Avenue" contest


Christen from Camp Pendleton was our winner in the "Give A Little" contest.

How can you be a winner next month?


Have a great weekend everyone!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Spring is in the Air

What is the bright orange-orb in the eastern skies this morning? Does it for tell a spring-like day ahead of us? My bones begin to warm at even the thought of winter turning to spring.

I sent my kindergartner to school today just *knowing* he will have outdoor recess. (They stick to indoor recess in the gym when the weather is below freezing.) I love to imagine the sights and sounds of the playground around noon today. I'm sure it will sound quite heavenly as they run out the door straight to the playground soaking up the 'warmer' weather.

My preschooler and I will get out today and sweep off the deck; walk around the yard; dream big visions of our vegetable garden. Perhaps, we will talk about what we should plant this year, peas, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers are our norm. We live in suburbia with a small plot for planting. But it's the *best* garden in the neighborhood if I do say so myself.

So today there will be an extra "spring" in my step and a little more joy in my smile.

By the way, don't forget to change your clocks this Sunday! Spring Ahead ... and enjoy the days sunshine longer into the evening.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Holding Up the Fort

Happy Monday! My two fellow bloggers, Dale & Deborah, are off sailing the seas for about two-weeks. I hope they are having a *wonderful* well-deserved vacation! I am oozing jealousy because it was 10 degrees on my kitchen-window thermometer this morning. I am not a 'cold' person. I'll take the warm waters of the Caribbean any day! (Well, except maybe during hurricane season.)

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! This week is Dr. Seuss week for my son's kindergarten class. I am so excited for him. It sure is nice to shake things up as the tail end of winter can be so hard. They have something planned for each of the five days of school which includes:

March 2009 Featured Military Reward

This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:

Baja Tan & Suntan Center

Their Military Reward reads:

1 FREE WOLFF TAN or 7 WOLFF TANS for $7 or 20% off any Regular Priced Packages. 10% Off any Swimsuit and 20% off any sandal or flip flops. Limit 1 per person, new client please, please print this coupon and present at time of service.

Click here to view coupon featured at Camp Pendleton.

A special thank you to Baja Tan and Suntan Center and all of our MAPP partners for supporting your military community with your Rewards.

Why Should Your Business Offer A Military Discount?

We choose a Featured MilitaryReward each month to highlight our Partners and their wonderful support to the military community! Our military family team chooses one based on value for the military family and how well it sends the message "military friendly business".

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