Camp Grandpa

Next week is Camp Grandpa in Middleville! I am pretty excited about this first time event that we plan to make an annual one! We get to have 3 special young visitors for 4 days of fun with drop ins for younger ones!

Our kids remember special times with their grandparents. It was harder for them as military kids to see their extended families frequently but when we did they loved it. As they got older we started allowing them to spend a week with grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins and camps nearby as well! We wanted them to know their families and made a few extra trips/drove a *few thousand extra miles* to be sure they were included in family gatherings. Spent some funding on airfare from overseas as well when we could.

We laugh when we hear about "jobs" they did while away from home and I think they enjoyed coming home on occasion too! When they connect on Facebook, see each other at weddings, reunions, etc. their family members are not strangers.

Back to Camp Grandpa, I think we are going to have a great time with planned visits to lakes, a pool, childrens' play areas at Meijer Gardens, a zoo and a dairy where they make ice cream and have a farm animal pet zoo. Yes, we might even ride Grandpa's tractor and 4 wheel a few times and work in the garden too! Might even need to pull out the hose and fill the kids pool on the deck for a splashing good time (I need an excuse to jump in too). Jobs will be done too (they need to have something to remember like ours did). What fun!

What do you do to stay connected with extended family? Share with others as a means to assist other military families during the heat of summer and the frequent stress we all face or have faced at one time. Two of the attendees at Camp Grandpa are enjoying the return of their dad from Iraq after a year long deployment.

Chicken with Fresh Spinach

Summer time is fantastic for so many reasons! Evenings are long, when it starts to get twilight - out come the lightening bugs to display a daily fireworks display. Our deck is high off of the ground and right in their flight path. The trees have their full dressed leaves on them and rustle in a breeze and there is wonderful of the lilies and evening primrose as they close up tightly for the night.
Life is good in the summer.
This year, our spinach crop was top rate. Finding recipes to highlight this dark green leafy vegetable keep me searching books and menus. My Mom actually asked for this recipe at a restaurant she loved in New York. It was written on a scrap piece of paper, evidently told to her years ago where she sat and savored her dinner.

Chicken with Fresh Spinach
serves 4 to 6
3 whole boneless chicken breasts, halved
2 eggs beaten
olive oil
2 c. chopped spinach
3 c. grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t nutmeg
2 c fresh sliced mushrooms
2 T white wine

Dip chicken in beaten egg (reserve any leftover). Flour and saute in oil until brown. Set aside.
In reserved beaten egg, add spinach, 2 cups of cheese, salt, pepper, garlic and nutmeg. Set aside.
Saute mushrooms in margarine until tender. Add wine and a little garlic powder.
Place spinach mixture in baking dish, add mushrooms, then chicken pieces and remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Fresh Spinach Dip

I mentioned the other day that I had a boat load of spinach that we harvested... all at once. Besides frying it, putting it in salads and the yummy Spinach Squares I found a wonderful dip. We sat outside on the deck, in the evening and celebrated the produce with a bowl of bagel chips and Fresh Spinach Dip. I highly recommend it!

I love to put the spinach in the freezer for about an hour, then take it out and crunch it down. Amazing how it breaks and is so brittle. If time does not permit this... just chop it up before placing it in the pan.

Fresh Spinach Dip

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

1 large bowl of fresh spinach approximately 6 cups packed down. (or 1 package of frozen chopped spinach)
1 T unsalted butter
2 T unsalted butter (yes, there are 2 times for the butter!)
1 T flour
1/4 buttermilk
4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese grated
1/4 t freshly ground pepper (this adds heat!)
1/4 t celery salt
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 T butter in a small casserole dish and allow it to melt in the oven while you mix up the following ingredients.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir until bubbly, stirring constantly; do not brown. Add the buttermilk and stir until mixture thickens.
Add the cheese, pepper celery salt, garlic salt, and the Worcestershire Sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. Fold in the spinach. Transfer the mixture to the preheated casserole dish and bake until it starts to bubble, about 15minutes. Serve with bagel or tortilla chips.

Feed Me!

Even though I love writing about recipes, sharing the aromas of herbs steaming through the air, desserts loaded with nuts, salads full of the crunch of crisp vegetables and topped with seeds. I don't like sharing any goodies with the varmints outside.

We have bird feeders on two sides of the house, and suet cages hanging from tree limbs. Our birds are our entertainment. There must be a gazillion of them! OK, I exaggerate. But I don't like varmints. Rodents are rodents are rodents... sorry squirrels, but I remember my biology class... and that is what you are. And then there are the deer - cute when they are in a Disney film... infuriating when they are chomping off my tulip tops and rose buds.

And to add insult to injury, the raccoons have been coming at night loving the food display hanging in the feeders. Our corgi thinks she has to protect us even hours after the varmints have left the scene. Her bark gas is phenomenal! Therefore, down came the feeders for the month of June. No more open cafe for the raccoons. Argh

So... with no seeds falling on the deck, no activity going on, the squirrels who are acrobatic robbers have been searching for niblets where they once were.

Just a few minutes ago, this crazy rodent decided to come begging. He/she climbed the glass door frame, sat on the top of the screen and had a stare down with me. Of course I was flashing my camera in his/her eyes, while our corgi sat at my feet thinking something was going on.

Sorry squirrel... with a gazillion trees all around this place is not your home!

Military Family Life Question of the week: What has your favorite assignment been and why?

We all have stories being military families... stories of places we LOVED living, stories of places we weren't so fond of. Perhaps the dust-storms in Texas just aren't your thing or perhaps you could have done without the humidity of South Carolina. Maybe you couldn't get enough of the history of Charleston or the free museums and cherry-blossoms in DC.

This is the life of the military. It's more than an adventure, it is life-changing! You get to see the sites, opportunities to do things you wouldn't have had you stayed & lived in your hometown. You have expanded your world beyond borders.

My favorite place was Keflavik NAS, Iceland (closed just a few years ago). We were there from the very end of 1989 through mid 1992. I spent from the middle of my sophomore year in high school till graduation there. Why was it my favorite?
  • Model United Nations in den Hague
  • Basketball / Cheer-leading tournament in Bermuda
  • Family Vacation throughout Europe via train (Luxembourg was my favorite)
  • Youth Group trip to Ibiza, Spain
  • Drama trip to England
  • Class trip via bus throughout the country of Iceland
  • Prom at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  • My parents trusting me enough with their van to load it up with teenagers and drive off-base (into a foreign country!) to see the sites. You had to be 17 to drive in Iceland AND have a driver's license already from the States. Since I was one of a very few seniors with a driver's license I was kind of big stuff ;) ha ha ha.
  • The world's best friends that I could laugh with, mope with, be myself with.

Although Iceland was cold! and dark! and wet! it was still something I would never want to take back. It took me two years to actually 'fit in' but by my senior year I was all smiles!

What has your favorite assignment been? Visit us on Facebook & let us know! (or leave it as a comment here). When we are missing our family, wanting a taste of home, wondering what we got our heads into we have to remember the joys of the military-family lifestyle! How many people get to see what we see?!

Military Family Life Question of the week: What has your favorite assignment been and why?

    - Leanne from

    Oh NO! All my spinach plants matured today!

    Early early in Spring, we planted 2 long rows of spinach. This is our third year trying, coaxing pleading, weeding, watering... doting over the seeds to grow, flourish and provide enough spinach for a few great salads. That we got. This year I was armed and dangerous with little peat moss pots that I started early and two bags of different variety seeds. After the last breath of cold weather, in the ground they went. (I understand now that I could have put them in earlier... I'm still learning.) All of the peat moss pots died. I knew I would be missing out on a great crop, so I immediately planted 2 MORE rows of seeds. Up they shot!
    Today, the heat hit the high 80's and will touch the 90's. The plants are zooming into the seed producing stage and toughening their leaves so.... out the came. All of them!
    I have been picking a few here and there for 'fried spinach' and for great dark green additions to our daily luncheon salad.
    Tonight we will have a new recipe: Spinach Squares (Crustless Quiche)
    This is so good - cheesy to the nth and ingredients that are always on hand - except for the fresh spinach! This recipe can be doubled baked in a larger pan and cut up into squares for hors d'oeuvres. I know there won't be anything leftover. Never is!
    I will serve tonight's meal portion with a side of leftover grilled chicken... mmmm.

    Spinach Squares
    2 T unsalted butter (not margarine)
    2 eggs
    1/3 c flour
    1 t. baking powder
    1 t. salt
    1/3 c buttermilk
    1 c. grated Monterrey jack cheese
    1/4 c grated cheddar cheese
    1 scallion minced or one small onion
    5 c spinach or 1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in small casserole dish
    In a mixing bowl, beat eggs then add flour, baking powder and salt: mix. Beat buttermilk. Add spinach, scallion and cheese.
    Pour mixture into hot casserole dish and bake for 35 minutes.
    Allow to sit for 3 to 5 minutes before cutting in halves.
    To reheat if frozen, place the frozen squares on a baking sheet and bake at 325 for 12 minutes.

    June's Military Family Newsletter: Summer Safety

    * Subscribe today & receive our monthly-newsletter straight to your email box PLUS become eligible for our monthly-drawing!

    Summer has arrived! My boys are all out of school. My husband is home from Iraq and still working on getting back into routine. Our pool has been setup. Our garden is coming into full bloom & we have enjoyed some fresh peas & cucumbers already. We have enjoyed "Frontier League" baseball games & T-Ball games. I'm attempting to get organized for a garage sale next week. The kids are giddy with excitement over a family-vacation planned for the end of July. Summer Vacation plans are in the works! Nothing screams SUMMER like our house right now.

    Do you have big plans? or little plans. A Vacation or a Stay-Cation in the back of your mind? We certainly don't emulate the 'lazy days of summer'. We are taking on summer-full force! I hope that you are enjoying this change of season and taking what life throws your way with gusto and smiles and tenacity.

    Do you have family or friends, fellow military spouses or service-members that may not know about MilitaryAvenue? Forward this newsletter to them & encourage them to sign up for our future Military Family Newsletters.

    A quick reminder, no matter what lies ahead visit us at Find articles, military discounts, and so much more to support you, our military family!

    - Leanne & the Team

    Become a Fan! Do you use Facebook? Become a Fan of MilitaryAvenue and stay up to date with the latest Military-Family related news! (We will be using our Facebook-space to give away our iPods in July. So join us & stay tuned!)

    Summer Time Safety for the Military Family

    Summer is really here and with it comes those outdoor activities we all love to participate in and enjoy to the maximum! Because of their youth and nature, I think military personnel and their families tend to do adventurous activities. The kind that keep you young and give you an exuberance for life! However, they also tend to be the type of activity that can lead to injury or even death in some instances! So, I'd like to share a few tips on how to avoid some of those injuries (not foolproof but they never are). Some of these are based on training I received on active duty and some are personal experiences that I still shake my head at and thank the guardian angels around my family!

    First, if you are going to go to an amusement park, baseball game or airshow be sure to stay hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen. A big meal is taboo as well since they tend to make it easier to get rundown (and nauseous on the roller coasters we all love to ride)! Carry in water if allowed and have plenty of it. A couple of quarts a day per individual is not too much! Beer is not a substitute for water! Read more on that below. Also, after 8-10 hours in the sun you will wish you had put on the sun screen as many of us forget it unless we are heading to the beach!


    What's Hot on
    Popular Articles during the last month

    Joint Summer Safety Campaign Aims to Reduce Off-duty Deaths

    By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

    As Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pushes to get deployed troops whatever they need to succeed and return home safely, the services are gearing up campaigns to reduce deaths at home during the summer vacation season that kicks off today. The period between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day typically sees a big spike in vehicle and recreational accidents, Defense Department safety officials note. People tend to spend more time outside enjoying off-duty activities, and they travel more. The unfortunate result is that accident rates increase, too.

    Last year, 115 servicemembers died in off-duty accidents during the so-called "101 Critical Days of Summer." (Continued)

    Related Sites:
    Army Combat Readiness and Safety Center
    Navy Safety Center
    Air Force Safety Center

    Marine Corps Safety Division

    Barbecue cookouts - an integral part of summer

    by 21st Space Wing Safety Office, Peterson AFB, Colo.

    Cooking outdoors - in parks, campgrounds and back yards - is an enjoyable summer pastime. Yet while barbecues provide a fun and casual dining experience, they also provide the ideal conditions for a costly mishap. Barbecue grills appear to be harmless, but misuse and carelessness result in thousands of terrible injuries each year.

    While we are anxious to fire up the grill for the first cookout of spring, it's important to remember a few safety tips. (Continued)

    What is next ...

    July 1st - Monthly "Military Alerts" will be sent out, filled with great-military discounts that can be found around your installation. To subscribe or change your Installation Click Here.

    July 19th - Look for our next edition of the MilitaryAvenue Family Newsletter.
    To subscribe Click Here.

    Help your fellow military-family by answering a question and you will be entered into our monthly-giveaway brought to you by, with support from USAA. Will you be our next winner?

    Some recent questions on MilitaryAvenue Answers that you might be able to help with:

    What is the best way to get from Orlando International Airport to 'Shades of Green' on Disney world? (Click here to help out)

    What online courses for military are there? (Click here to help out)

    Is there a list of available scholarships for use at universities near Eglin AFB, NAS Pensacola, or Hurlburt F? (Click here to help out)

    Earle NWS: "Whats the contact info, for lodging on base" (Click here to help out)

    How much is it to store a camper on oceana naval base (Click here to help out)

    Help out your military-community by answering some unanswered questions. (Click on 'Unanswered Questions')

    Off-road vehicle safety

    by Chuck Cypher, 1st Space Wing Safety Office, Peterson AFB, Colo.

    Recreational use of off-road vehicles has gained widespread popularity during the past several years. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, an estimated 3.2 million off-road vehicles are in use today.

    Estimates from the Consumer Products Safety Commission report up to 90,000 ATV-related injuries per year and 120 deaths are related to off-road vehicle mishaps. (Continued)'s June 2009 Featured Reward

    This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:

    Liberty Village Premium Outlets
    Flemington, New Jersey

    "Military personnel and dependents who show current military ID at the Info Center will receive a FREE VIP Coupon Book with hundreds of dollars in savings offers (reg $5) redeemable at participating stores. Individual stores offering military (with ID) discounts* include Bass, Designer Fragrances & Cosmetic Co. - Lancôme, Izod, Jockey, L'eggs Hanes Bali Playtex, Nautica, Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and Zales Outlet. *See store for details. Restrictions and terms apply." (Continued)

    Previous Featured Rewards

    Find Your Military Reward! has over 6,500 Military Partner Ads on the site. We are adding partners daily to help you find military friendly businesses in your community. Simply find your installation and then click on Military Rewards at the top of the category sign-post.

    Camping safety

    by Ron Burrell, 21st Space Wing Safety Office, Peterson AFB, Colo.

    Summer is a great time to take some much-deserved time off and head to the mountains, the lake or wherever you and your family like to go and get away, relax and spend some time together.

    One such outing that comes to mind is a family hiking or camping trip.

    A family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation. (Continued)

    VA Refinance

    That refinance fence you're sitting on - it's wobbling. And the low rates that have held that fence up for the past seven months are starting to warp, so if you're waiting on rates going any lower, you better snatch up the 5.5s while they're still here.

    The reality is this - if you haven't refinanced your home and you are sitting at a 6.5% or higher, then you have to decide now if you're going to refinance, and you need to do it quickly.

    There's a few questions to ask yourself before you jump into refinancing, because you are going to add some principal back onto your loan, so is that worth it to you? (Continued)

    Staying in Touch

    Do you Twitter?@MilitaryAvenue- @MilAve_Leanne - @MilAve_Col_K - @MilAve_Deborah

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    Don't forget to look for your Military Reward in your community. Don't see one, ask! Let your local merchants know about MilitaryAvenue.

    Thank you for your service,

    The Team

    How can you make *your* site?

    Are you new to MilitaryAvenue? Want to be a part of the community? Created by a military family, is an online service supporting the military relocation, travel, and lifestyle needs of the American military family. We present Military Rewards and discounts for over 150 categories at 250 installations in the US which also includes local lists of businesses in your area. You will find Military-related articles with news you can use. There is installation information including frequently used telephone numbers, child development center information, on & off post vehicle regulations and much more.

    So join us! Become part of the community we can't wait to interact.

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    Browse our blog, "Our Letters to You", written by Leanne, Army wife; Dale, retired Air Force; and Deborah, Air Force spouse. We would love your comments and feedback. If you have your own blog let us know about it so we can add it to our blog-roll.

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    Come back again and again.We are adding discounts daily! You never know when the next opportunity to save is going to appear on the site.

    As two military spouses (Air Force retired and Army National Guard) we know what it means to serve and would like to thank you for your service. We hope to see you on soon!

    Leanne Kocsis & Deborah Kissinger

    In the mood for some Mexican Food?

    I was in our local grocery store last week and eyed the tomatoes, corn and other fresh items that were on sale. Soon it will be our local products sitting in the bins. (Small store, with lots of local flavor!) I don't know, but the picture I took in of the vegetables just put me in the mood for some good Mexican food. Right there, sorting through the red peppers was a good friend with a recipe card in her hand. She volunteered to share it with me... and said it was good to pass it on. I love getting tried and true recipes. This one is great, give it a try.

    Enchilada Casserole

    3 T. butter
    1/4 c flour
    1 c milk
    1/2 c chicken broth
    2 c. chopped cooked chicken
    **** side note. I bought a rotisserie chicken, used 1/2 for this, boiled up the bones and
    skins and used that for the broth. Waste not want not!?!
    1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
    1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies, drained
    2 T. Dried Taco seasoning mix
    1 (8oz) package of cheddar cheese shredded
    6 corn tortillas, halved
    Monterrey Jack cheese, sour cream, salsa as sides if desired

    Spray an 8" square pan or a 2 quart casserole with non stick spray
    Melt butter in saucepan until sizzling; add flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly about 1 minute. Add milk and broth. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil (4 to 6 minutes). Add chicken, red pepper, chilies and taco seasoning; continue cooking until heated through 2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
    Spread 3/4 c chicken mixture in bottom of prepared pan. Arrange 4 tortilla halves over mixture; top with 3/4 c more chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 2/3 c cheese. Repeat layering twice. Beginning with tortilla halves and ending with cheese.
    Bas as directed or cover with foil and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, place in refrigerator for 4 hours or until thawed.
    Heat over to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, cilantro or other favorite herb. Serve with sour cream, salsa and ripe olives if desired.
    Makes 5 servings.

    Love and Marriage

    I am 100% in love. Hubs and I aren't your 'perfect' couple. I get frustrated with him when he leaves the Sunday paper strewn across the kitchen counter. He would really prefer I DIDN'T leave my shoes all over the house. I'm sure any psychologist could pick our relationship apart. We have squabbles. YET, We don't kick. We don't scream. We just get past it and work through it. We love each other 100%, unabashedly.

    Our toughest 'years' of marriage were probably the first couple. We were in love but not quite synced. I did a lot more yelling and fussing then I needed to. He didn't voice his opinions or his troubles and did a lot more stewing then he should have. We learned. We grew. We stayed in love.

    We have gotten closer. I can honestly say I'm even more in love with him *today* then on our wedding day. (Something I probably thought was impossible as I walked down the aisle on my dad's arm.) Children have come. A house bought. New mutual-friends made. Work has taken its share of our time. But we found a pace, side-by-side. A pace that we enjoyed.

    Iraq came. He was gone for a YEAR. (More if you count the months of training before he left.) We talked as often as we could. We even got a little "frisky" via web-cams. We stayed in love despite thousands of miles and time zones between us.

    Now he is home. We are trying to re-sync. It's happening, slowly but most certainly. Through it all we are still very much in love!

    So today as I was knee-deep buried in work. A deadline on my plate. Thoughts of everything that I can accomplish while my children are in child-care. He whispered in my ear, "Love, let's go catch a baseball game." 11:05am was the first-pitch. It was 10:00am. I hemmed and hawed. What is a girl to do?

    Well this very happily-married couple spent the afternoon at the ballpark. A hot-dog and nachos for lunch. A Pepsi to quench our thirst. The sun in our face. A hand on my knee unless we were cheering & clapping for our favorite team (which we do a lot of!)

    Yes, I am 100% in love and it grows every day. Keep your home-fire lit! Take time to 'date your spouse'. You won't regret it!

    - Leanne from

    PS: Thanks to my wonderful bosses for letting me play hooky for the morning!

    Summer Time Safety for the Military Family

    Summer is really here and with it comes those outdoor activities we all love to participate in and enjoy to the maximum! Because of their youth and nature, I think military personnel and their families tend to do adventurous activities. The kind that keep you young and give you an exuberance for life! However, they also tend to be the type of activity that can lead to injury or even death in some instances! So, I'd like to share a few tips on how to avoid some of those injuries (not foolproof but they never are). Some of these are based on training I received on active duty and some are personal experiences that I still shake my head at and thank the guardian angels around my family!

    First, if you are going to go to an amusement park, baseball game or airshow be sure to stay hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen. A big meal is taboo as well since they tend to make it easier to get rundown (and nauseous on the roller coasters we all love to ride)! Carry in water if allowed and have plenty of it. A couple of quarts a day per individual is not too much! Beer is not a substitute for water! Read more on that below. Also, after 8-10 hours in the sun you will wish you had put on the sun screen as many of us forget it unless we are heading to the beach!

    Second, if you are doing a physical activity, be sure to loosen up before jumping on the jet ski, tube, skis, four wheel, taking that long hike, climbing that steep path, etc. Most outdoor activities should include a bit of a stretch after a long car ride or sitting still for any length of time!

    Third, wear the safety gear required for the sport! All of it! Life jackets, helmets, long sleeved clothing, boots and leather clothing if practical do save lives and limbs! I cringe every time I see motorcycle riders in flip flops or short sleeves and not wearing a helmet!

    Fourth, be aware of the affects of alcohol! Any activity requiring judgment and coordination can end tragically if you combine alcohol with it. I remember telling new service members how to plan for consumption of alcohol and it is still true today! If you do not have a plan for who is driving before your second drink; you won't have a plan and then someone will get hurt or arrested! Great day at the beach but horrible way to end it with an accident or DUI!

    Fifth, planning a large outing? Ask someone to be a safety observer and tell everyone else what the "safety's" role is. Want to try to that new trick on your bike? Swim across the lake and back? Ride the heavy duty stroller down the steep hill (yep this family has tried that one)? What does the safety think about it? Tough role but sometimes it saves an emergency room run for someone!

    Sixth, going to the beach? New beach? Are you familiar with the currents, depth, nearby safety gear, etc? Is there a lifeguard? Are you a swimmer? How many aren't and do you know who they are? Have you set limits for depth for the kids? Buddy swimming required? Do you insure the rules are followed? Anyone trained in CPR in the group? Lots of questions to think about here!

    Seventh, have a great time, return home safe and sound and have a wonderful summer from the team at MilitaryAvenue!

    My Passions

    What a great week it has been! Have I ever mentioned what a great company I work for? I don't want to make that statement lightly but MilitaryAvenue is TRULY my passion. I have a few passions in life ... my husband, my children, my God, my extended-family, my friends and MilitaryAvenue falls right in rank.

    What a privilege to work for the military-families each and every day, knowing what they go through, because I've been there... done that. (Although, I do believe strongly that we EACH have our own struggles and no one can truly say "I understand" but we should all at least say "I'll be there for you". . . but that is a completely different tangent.)

    Today I want to tip my hat off (once again) to our military families. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you.

    A few weeks ago Shannon from F.R.A.Z.L.E.D. MWCN contacted me and wanted to know if I would like to talk about MilitaryAvenue on her radio station. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. That interview was on Tuesday (June 9) and Shannon was one of the easiest people I have ever had the opportunity to talk to. Shannon, Thank you! She is another 'been there, done that' Army Wife that is taking the time to serve her community with her gifts.

    Check out her show if you need to feel a bit uplifted. We talked about more than *just* MilitaryAvenue. We talked about the importance of being connected. The importance of being informed. The importance of having friends. I'd highly recommend carving out 45 minutes to an hour to listen.

    Have a great weekend!

    - Leanne from

    Summer Jobs

    Summer has arrived at the Kocsis Household. It may not be summer on the calendar but school is out! The kids are sleeping in (well the teenager is anyway), staying up late & enjoying every moment in between.

    I remember these days as a child. The monotony of school was broken with the excitement of summer. I have clear memories of swimming at the base pool, having to pass the test to dive off of the diving board; taking our bikes to the shoppette to buy candy; playing on our slip and slide in the backyard; or jumping off the deck (as a teenager) to land in a little kids pool. Pure glee!

    There was something else that came with each summer... Summer jobs. Before employment was an option my mom put us to work. She had a list. We got to pick from the list what we "wanted" to do. There were things like washing the dog; crawling into stinky garbage cans and washing them out with pine-sol; washing windows, floors, sidewalks, etc etc. They weren't exactly fun ... and as we got older there was more and more groaning involved. But it was standard. Part of life. An important lesson our mom was trying to instill - that life isn't purely about fun or sitting around moaning "there's nothing to do" [it did happen on occasion as I recall ;)], and that we were a part of the household. (And to be honest, it kept fights and idleness at bay. Idle / bored siblings tends to equal squabbles.)

    So the Summer Jobs at the Kocsis household have begun. I had a spiral notebook in the closet that I pulled out and wrote out jobs that need to get done for the week. My boys are at child-care twice a week so those two days don't count. But the other three days they have to pick something from the list. It is a bit of work for me because I have to supervise, teach, help. It's part of being a mother after all. When they are done they get to cross the job off of the list with triumph!

    When my 4 year-old was done washing the sliding glass door in the kitchen this morning he proclaimed (rather stubbornly) "I WANT ANOTHER SUMMER JOB!" Although it made me chuckle, it also made me happy. Kids like being busy, helping, being a part of 'progress'.

    So to my own mom, "Thanks!" Thanks for instilling the need to a part of the house at a young age! I hope my children will some day appreciate it like I do now.

    - Leanne from

    Life in the country when the neighbor comes to visit

    Here in country living, life comes and goes. It is a bit different than living on Base or on Post or any Military Installation. Economic times have hit our area hard - rather slammed it. Our neighbors are not coming, but they are going and leaving their life long project houses for others to come and build their own dreams.

    Our driveway left under storm clouds too. Rain riveted canyons in our gravel entrance. Dale was continually digging, laying vented pipes, gathering rocks anything to divert the flow down hill. But, down it went, and off to never never land - or into the gardens not to return to where we purposed it to be.

    Then we invited Robert over. He came in the biggest truck I have ever seen. We have had quite a few large trucks delivering mulch, but this monster roared up the road and parked itself anywhere it wanted to be parked!

    Twelve yards of crushed concrete lay in front of the garage door and are spread out one hundred feet or so. Another truck will be on it's way. Our drive will be restored. Now, I am waiting for our good neighbors to set up roots too. I am a people person. Not crazy about the chattering raccoons... not at all. I'm annoyed with the rose chomping deer... what is with that! But I love the country. I just miss my neighbors!

    Celebrations and Why and How They Can Be Special

    Last week we had a reason to celebrate! A little more than three years ago my wonderful military spouse fought off breast cancer after a long battle with multiple painful tests, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. She never really slowed down and kept on moving ahead with life but then about three weeks ago she had a shock with a possible indication of a recurrence.

    The surgeon said "not likely" but he needed to do a biopsy to verify! You can imagine the discomfort and concern we both felt realizing another round of treatments was a possibility! We told our family, friends and church what was going on and really appreciated their prayers and support! We felt cared about and the presence of God's peace but hey, we are human and finding peace in this situation is pretty tough.

    Last week the test came back "negative for cancer" and after catching our breath and enjoying a big hug we decided to celebrate with dinner out (after telling all of our family and friends the great news). So I ask Deb where she wanted to go and she thought for a moment and said how about "Outback"? The closest Outback is about 22 miles away and we enjoyed the ride and talked about other times we had celebrated.

    When we got to the Outback the hostess seated us and ask us if we were celebrating anything and we said we sure are! When the server approached the table, Nate said, what are you celebrating? He must have been a bit surprised when Deb tried to tell him and started tearing up. I jumped in to explain and then Deb finished and he left knowing that he was serving a special lady that night. During the meal he provided Deb with a free drink and brought his manager over to talk to Deb. Amber said some very kind words and then delivered a free but wonderful dessert of fudge on a brownie with vanilla ice cream! Ha ha ha! Well, we might have been enjoying the evening but that left this guy in need of some insulin! :)

    We left the restaurant knowing our evening had been made special by two wonderful employees of a great restaurant! Thank you Amber and Nate!


    So if you need a place to celebrate I can highly recommend Outback Steakhouse 3650 28th St SE Kentwood, MI 49512 - (616) 957-7932. Here is their corporate website so you can find one in your area: Outback Steakhouse

    June iPod winners!

    A big congratulations to Kathy, an Army Wife in California and Taylor, a soon to be commissioned Air Force officer

    Kathy won our "Rockin' the Avenue" contest by subscribing to our monthly-MilitaryAvenue newsletter.

    Taylor helped answer a question regarding graduation at Lackland AFB and so was eligible to win our "Give A Little" ipod giveaway.

    Your iPods are in the mail! We, along with USAA, hope that you enjoy them.
    Do you want to be a part of next month's giveaway? Then become a MilitaryAvenue user today!

    - Leanne from

    June Featured Military Reward

    Summer is here and that means a shopping spree to update your wardrobe and use your military discounts at our Featured Military Reward business this month!

    This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:

    Liberty Village Premium Outlets

    Their Military Reward says:

    Military personnel and dependents who show current military ID at the Info Center will receive a FREE VIP Coupon Book with hundreds of dollars in savings offers (reg $5) redeemable at participating stores. Individual stores offering military (with ID) discounts* include Bass, Designer Fragrances & Cosmetic Co. - Lancôme, Izod, Jockey, L’eggs Hanes Bali Playtex, Nautica, Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and Zales Outlet. *See store for details. Restrictions and terms apply.

    A special thank you to Liberty Village Premium Outlets and all of our MAPP partners for supporting your military community with your Rewards.

    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".

    Twitter Anyone?

    RT @DrumFMWR What is everyone doing for lunch? ACS is having their Brown Bag Lunch Series from today Noon to 1pm. Topic "Talking to a Deployed Loved One"

    If you don't receive tweets, the above might not be in the best English format for you. However, for a multitude of folk, it is an easy read.

    The subject caught my eye and brought me back a decade or so. Whenever Dale was on the road, somehow the word got out to the washing machine, the dryer, the car, the kids tonsils... "Let's keep the family entertained!" Lovely.

    At first when the phone rang and his sweet endearing voice softly came across the wire for 10 split seconds I met it with joy and companionship... and then... I felt I needed to share. Share in the annoyances that were surrounding the home front. And then Whack up side the head I would realize - Arghhh not the best communication skill there Deborah. What can he do about this, and is this the subject that I wanted to share in the precious 3 minutes that we would have.
    True, he needed to know that a jumbo size car mechanic bill was in the mail. But he needed to know that I had it covered with 'a bit less of this or none of that shopping'. We were a frugal family who enjoyed the USAF life to the fullest. That TDY pay, Combat pay and my paycheck filled the sparks that life threw in our path.

    So, the subject of the tweet above: "Talking to a Deployed Loved One" is a very valuable instruction. Best of luck to all of you living in two separate time zones! It will get better!

    Zesty Italian Chicken

    It is cold outside. Wait, it is JUNE! Today the temperature is 57 degrees at 1 pm. A few weeks ago, I would have loved this warmth. Now, I've been spoiled by warm dry air. My garden is thriving in the overcast moisture... but not me! So, I need something warm and zesty for dinner.

    I love using salad dressings as marinades, as sauces and even as dressings on salad! Italian dressing has a zip and bite to it that goes so well with chicken, and then there is that side dish of crusty bread, always good.

    Cooking in a Dutch oven, a heavy cast iron pot that can sit for hours on the stove top without burning heats up the kitchen, sends aromas throughout the house and calls everyone to the table at the proper time, and all I do is stir!

    Italian Chicken
    serves 5
    3 to 4 pound chicken, cut up
    1 (8 oz) bottle Italian salad dressing
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup flour
    1 T parsley
    1 t basil
    1/2 t salt
    1/4 t onion salt
    1/4 t celery salt
    1/3 c olive oil
    2 T olive oil

    Place meat and salad dressing into a zip lock bag. Allow meat to marinade at least 5 hours in the refrigerator, turning the bag occasionally. Drain meat, discard marinade.

    Mix Parmesan, flour, parsley, basil, salt, onion salt and celery salt. Coat chicken with this cheese mixture. Reserve remaining mixture. Add 1/3 c olive oil to dutch oven, heat to medium. Add chicken and allow to brown and sizzle! Turning occasionally. Do not crowd, remove pieces as they brown so as not to crowd.

    Reduce heat; add all chicken to pot; sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Drizzle 2 T Olive oil over chicken pieces. Cover tightly. Simmer 1 hour. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, crusty bread and fresh vegetables. It is going to be really warm before you know it. So, enjoy the taste of a cool weather dish now.

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