Popular Articles: Week of August 23 - 29

Did you know we post hundreds of articles to MilitaryAvenue every week? It can be hard to keep up with the latest news and happenings around the Military Community. Here are ten of the most popular articles on MilitaryAvenue for the past week; news that is important to our Military Families and their community!

Fed Jobs for Military Spouses

Face of Defense: Soldier Fulfills Army Dream

Wearing Your Uniform: Do's and Don'ts

Old Navy Military Discount

An Army Wife’s View: OPSEC and Social Media

Laptops For Flat Tops - Free computers for military families

Look for Smart Choices in Your Commissary

'Chaplains' Closet Helps Landstuhl's Wounded Warriors

Blog Offers Support to Military Families

Adopt a military working dog

Palisades Park Eggplant Lasagna

The gardens are chugging out produce. I can see it like a cartoon event. Boing another plant flops out a beauty. Boing there's another variety. Being one step ahead of the produce production line AND using these trophies keeps the kitchen active.

Eggplant. Not high on my experience level. Pretty as can be, but I told Dale I wanted the plants because we would just LOVE eggplant... sure we would. Small point... what to do with them!

Viva the Italians in my life and their memories, especially Mrs. Kerns. (I know she had a first name, but I have always called her Mrs.) She taught my mother how to cook Italian. Eggplant Parmesan and eggplant lasagna were the first thoughts. I love my Mom's friends! Mrs. Kerns would spend hours in the kitchen with Mom making the sauce. And that is key... but today, I used a prepared sauce.

It's an odd vegetable if you haven't dealt with eggplant before. Large dark purple-black with a leafy green top. To me it looked solid as can be like the squash I have been cooking for years . But then when cutting into it, I found that eggplant is not at all like an acorn squash, but softer and more supple.

Palisades Park Eggplant Lasagna

serves 6
2 1 lb eggplants
Kosher salt
vegetable shortening
bread crumbs
1 egg
1 bottle prepared marinara sauce
1 small container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c Mozzarella cheese

Slice the eggplant into THIN slices. These will serve as the pasta in your lasagna dish! Sprinkle each piece with kosher salt and lay in a colander. Place paper towels on top and weigh down with 2 plates. Allow the excess water to drain out of the eggplant pieces. Set aside for 1 hour.

In lasagna pan, pour 1/2 cup of prepared marinara sauce. Set aside.

Mix ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt, 1/2 c Parmesan and 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese. Set aside.

Wipe off salt from each slice of eggplant with paper towel. Dip slice into a dish with a beaten egg, then into a different dish with the bread crumbs. In a large fry pan heat oil to medium high heat. Add about 3 slices at a time, flip and put into prepared lasagna pan. After refilling the fry pan with 3 more pieces, put 1/3 of cheese mixture on each slice, spread. Pour 1/3 sauce over this; sprinkle 1/3 Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until all is used. Sprinkle extra cheeses on top.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Serve with some good Italian bread. It will make that Boing Boing in the garden sounds like a victory song! Enjoy and share with me your thoughts.

Our Families, Our Military Community, Our Local Community, Our Churches, Our Country

Yesterday was a very sad day in Middleville. It could have been Anytown, USA but yesterday Middleville really shined in my eyes! After retirement the hardest choices have to be made and certainly one of the top ones is where next? We came to Michigan for several reasons even though we had not lived in the area before. Two of our children were nearby and I found a job but as with a PCS there is settling into do. Yesterday we were "settled" and proud of it!

Cpl Nick Roush was buried yesterday by his parents and two brothers after being killed in Afghanistan. Actually a whole community of supporters helped bury him. Nick was brought home from Afghanistan by a fellow soldier and friend who cared for him deeply and told everyone that during the service. This service at his home church, Middleville First Baptist, was amazing. I have heard wonderful music before but this was at the top! The military community was there in support. I had the chance to talk to one young airman who was on leave in the middle of a PCS to Guam and attended even though he did not know Nick. He wanted to be there to show his respect as did Deb and I. About 40 years difference in age, almost two generations sharing the common goal to show respect.

The church saved front row seating for military members and the soldiers, led by their general sat ram rod straight respecting their loss. Nick was special to them all and it showed. But then after a brief welcome from the pastor, an elderly gentleman stood to speak. He spoke so eloquently about Nick's life. His words quickly revealed that this was his grandfather. No anger, just thoughtful words about Nick's life, beliefs and strengths! Impressive moments followed including one brother's lament and pain but thanking Nick for his leadership. Parents that held their weeping son who openly shared his loss with the audience showed a loving family that raised a child and gave him to their country to serve and protect us.

A small community, Middleville came out to show their respect too! 1500 folks attended the service and the streets were lined with flags. State police, county sheriff and police officers from nearby towns all led and guided the procession from the church. The fire department vehicles were everywhere in support! The local school buses transported the large crowd to the cemetery which had limited parking. I can not say enough thank yous to the Patriot Guard motorcycles who were in the procession and held flags around the church during the service. An amazing display of patriotism.

It made me proud to be part of this community! Yes all these communities! Nick's family of strong Christians; our family that encouraged me to attend even though I knew it would be painful and hard; our military community that showed it cared about Nick; our local community that poured out its warmth and efforts; and finally the Middleville First Baptist Church which just outdid itself in Christian love and compassion! Thank you all!

Finally, as Nick's grandfather said at the end of his wonderful comments, God Bless America!

Finding sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day

I had big plans for today. It is the second day of school for my school-age children and a regular child-care day for my preschooler. Since I have the pleasure of working from my home-office I can *truly* appreciate a quite house. I had lists made of things that needed to be accomplished. Phone calls to make. Emails to reply to. Site management opportunities to put at the top of my priorities.

But before jumping into my 'To Do list' I took a few moments to read some personal emails that came in over night. One was from a family member. Their son has just been diagnosed with leukemia. My heart just came crashing. Chemo, radiation, a port to administer meds with, surgery. All in a little 11-month old boy. How can that be? My thoughts turned to the family. They are far away from their own family, as the little-boy's dad is in the Navy. I pray their Navy family is helping to take care of them as only those nearby can. Thoughts of helplessness as I considered what I can do from them on the other side of the continent.

Then another email. My mom and dad were off to a funeral for a soldier killed in Afghanistan. He was from their tiny little town in Michigan. (I know that Colonel K will write more about the funeral when he can so I won't 'steal his thunder'.) It was just another chip in my emotional-well-being for the day. The thoughts of Cpl Nick Roush's family, his friends, those he loved and was loved by, just sent me barreling down a hill I hadn't planned on going down.

Finally, I realized what was going on. I realized that I was getting NOTHING done because of all these thoughts running in my head. So after a long talk with God, filled with "why"s, "thank you"s, "help"s, and a bit of silence, I went outside this afternoon and cut some sunflowers from the garden, my favorite flower; just a perfect ray of sunshine. I put them in a vase and reminded myself to Love life while I have it. Live life. and to Pray continuously for those that are hurting, really hurting.

Tonight each of my children will get an extra hug; my husband an extra moment [or more... I won't be stingy :)] of my time. Life is meant for living, and loving.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Popular Articles: Week of August 16 - 22

Did you know we post hundreds of articles to MilitaryAvenue every week? It can be hard to keep up with the latest news and happenings around the Military Community. Here are ten of the most popular articles on MilitaryAvenue for the past week; news that is important to our Military Families and their community!

  1. USAA and Zag Team up with Mercedes-Benz USA

  2. In focus: TRICARE vision care benefits

  3. Pentagon Officials Say: ‘We Want to Hear from You’

  4. Second-tier Entitlement and VA Loans

  5. Convoys Roll Through Danger to Deliver Goods

  6. Company Values Military Experience in Employees

  7. Are You Getting Married for the Right Reasons? Myths of Marrying in the Military

  8. What Job Seekers Need to Know about Globalization and Outsourcing

  9. The End of Summer Vacation (Phew!)

  10. Rocking the Avenue -- Win an iPod

Visit our Reading Room to find more relevant news!

Why Did He Serve?

Last Friday I stood sadly along a highway welcoming home a hero who had been killed in action in Afghanistan. He returned through the Grand Rapids airport and then down the highway to his small hometown of Middleville. I did not know Cpl Nick Roush as we settled here after my military retirement and had not been privileged to meet this young man. But I knew of his spirit as he served in Army special forces and I had been privileged to serve with the men and women like him while flying Air Force special ops missions! Eager, gung ho and patriotic to the core!

In a local news story Nick's father and mother mentioned that they would like to see the highway lined for his return and it was! All 18+ miles! Local citizens, fire trucks, Patriot Guard Riders, police vehicles--all from the area joined together to recognize Nick's service. Middleville and other nearby towns put out the word and they responded. Families, groups of friends, quiet professionals on their way home from work, VFW, American Legion, church members of Nick's home church, veterans, etc., they all came out! Flags were carried to hilltops, held high over the highway by a huge fire truck boom and waved by everyone! Quietly people waited in respect. I saw a family praying together with their small kids. They waited more than an hour for the procession to arrive!

Led by the state police, county sheriff vehicles and the motorcycles, Nick then his parents and family came by slowly. A sobering moment! Tears flowed and eyes searched.

Back to the original question: Why did he serve? I can only guess but according to one article Nick's dad said Nick could have done anything! He was skilled and successful at whatever he chose to do! But he wanted to serve and he did. He made it through very difficult training and was part of an elite team defending his country's freedom! Individual motivation can be hard to discern but certainly his parents understood the patriotism of our area and Nick must have been raised with that in mind.

Nick leaves his parents and two brothers in mourning for their loss of a son and brother. Our community mourns too and the outpouring of respect showed me that our wonderful country does care. What a blessing! Our prayers, thoughts and support for the Roush' on Tuesday during the funeral and later too...

The End of Summer Vacation (Phew!)

We crossed a line ... some sort of invisible line on the calendar.

I LOVE summer vacation. The thoughts of late May, early June make me smile a mile wide. I love the last day of school. I love the lack of routine and the free-spirit that summer brings out in us. Those first few weeks of summer transform me into a happy school-aged girl again.

However... last Monday (August 10) I suddenly realized that I was ready for school to begin. WAY ready. BEYOND ready. My boys have been fighting. A LOT. Some of it is in brotherly love... but even that constant wrestling gets to this momma. Other fighting is real. The "I'M TELLING" variety. (Words that make my stomach curl.) I remind them they are not only brothers, they are friends. I send them outside and tell them to take a lap around the house. Once in awhile I even have to set them in chairs and instill the wrath of Mean-Momma on them. (Hands on hips, beady eyes, "NO MORE FIGHTING".)

As a mom I get tired of the refereeing. I much prefer partners-in-crime to mortal-enemies at age 4 and 6.

What is pulling me through these couple of weeks?! Monday, August 24. Mom's across America will be doing a happy-dance. (Realizing that school starts on different days ... some friends have already started (lucky-ducks!), others have to wait till after Labor Day. But you get the idea.) My son has found out who his teacher is. He will know some of the kids in his class. We have Open House on Thursday. School supplies have been bought. Life is good! We are ready!

I don't want to come across as a mom shirking her duties, groaning about ... well, being a Mom. But as much as I look forward to the lack of routine in May / June, I look forward to the routine in August / September. Kind of funny how that works!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Related Blogs:

We Have Winners

I looked for a jumping for joy image and isn't this a great military one? A ship coming home to Mayport Naval Station from DefenseLink! Wow, what emotions and sacrifice for the good of our country.

Not the same feelings but we had a wonderful visit at Ft Leavenworths PAIR Day and we had several drawings for some great giveaways! So some of our booth visitors and recent sign ups for MilitaryAvenue are now winners! Here they are and again thank you to our wonderful partners for their support and gifts to the military community! Here are our winners! Jumping for joy-Sweet!

USAA iPod Winners:

Shelley Air Force

Melissa Marine

Shield's Manor Bistro Magnum of Champagne

David Army

Shield's Manor Bistro $100 Gift Certificate for Dinner

Hans Army

DejaVu Salon and Day Spa Salon Products

Sonya Army

Do you want to be in next month's drawing for USAA iPods and have not signed up with MilitaryAvenue? Be sure to sign up during August for September's drawing at MilitaryAvenue Answers!

Looking for your favorite photos!

Photos ... They take us back in time. A memory of a baby being born, a laugh from a family reunion, a smile of grandparents we miss dearly. Some of my favorite photos are from my husband's homecoming from Iraq. Oh how we missed him. Oh how happy we were to have him home!

Do you have favorite military-family photos? You can now upload them to our MilitaryAvenue Facebook Fan page. We'd love to see them, to have you share them. We would love to use them on MilitaryAvenue, to show the military's surrounding communities who our true-heroes are. In the future I will compile all of our facebook-friends' submitted photos & make a video. Let's share with the community what the military-family is made up of.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

We are Strangers Within Kansas City's Gates.

It is a long drive from Michigan to Kansas City, MO. A good drive, but a long one. We are going to have the fun of representing MilitaryAvenue.com at the PAIR Day on Fort Leavenworth this weekend. We have not been here before, so in that way we are strangers. New installations are so interesting to visit.
The idea of being a stranger brought a smile, and a very good feeling as we walked into our room at the Hilton Embassy Suite room we reserved. The air felt great, the room was ready and the refreshing shower was beautiful. But something else caught our mind. On the side of the bed lay a note:
To Our Guests
In ancient time there was a prayer for
"The Stranger Within Our Gates"

Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a money making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.

May this suite and hotel be your 'second' home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we many not get to know you, we hope that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house.

May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travelers. From 'birth til death' we travel between eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

A note to folks is a very welcome action! Do you have house guests eoming, a note beside the bed will stay with them even after they are home.

Disney World!

Disney World! A piece of heaven on earth... at least for this military-family. We jetted out on July 24th. A family of five. A family that survived a year deployment. A family that needed the opportunity to just be with each other. To smile. To laugh. To be.

We had saved all year for this vacation. We opened a CD with USAA and socked money into Savings when we could. We had a garage sale for some spending cash and the boys did extra chores around Grandma's house for some souvenir money. Money was not going to be a stresser.

Friday evening, July 24th, over a year after we started planning our magical adventure, we arrived safely at our hotel-destination, Shades of Green.

Shades of Green was beautiful. It is an MWR facility, however, it is also a Disney Parks Resort. So all those benefits of staying on the resort are afforded to the military family staying at the much less-expensive, but equally beautiful Shades of Green.

The advantages of Shades of Green were numerous. Each day one of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) opened an hour early for guests staying at the Disney Resorts. I found out that purchases made (hats, mugs, tshirts) can be delivered to the resort the next day so that you don't have to carry them all around the park. Of course I saved all of my shopping for the last day so couldn't take them up on the offer but would have gladly! There was free shuttle service from the parks to Shades of Green and vice versa all day. I ached just watching folks walking across the giganamous parking lot at the end of their day to get to their car. We climbed aboard our bus and relaxed for the 5 to 15 minute drive (depending on which park we were at).

Disney is very generously offering free 5 day Park Hopper tickets to service-members through the end of this year. (Disney Tickets for Military Personnel) Family members tickets are greatly discounted too. We purchased those tickets & got hub's free ticket there at Shades of Green and then activated the tickets at Disney World the next day. It was all very easy!

We spent our first day and our last day at Magic Kingdom. Our teenager rode the Dumbo ride with his knees in his armpits and our four-year-old tackled Thunder Mountain with fear and trepidation (and a request to 'LET'S DO IT AGAIN!') Nothing was too little or too big for any one of us. We brought water bottles and took long gulps after each ride. It was HOT. We had our customized-maps from Disney and piggy-backed with the maps we picked up at the park we were in good hands and had our day planned out from the get-go. We mastered the fast-pass system and avoided the 60 to 90 minute waits at the most-popular rides.

I was amazed as a thirty-something-ish gal I felt like I was 10. It felt so good to feel so young. I was just as giddy as my six-year-old. I let my husband take the lead in the planning of our days. He asked for my input and I gave it. But I knew that too many cooks spoil the broth. I wanted us all to enjoy our time.

Our second and fifth day were at Epcot; day three we spent at Hollywood Studios. Our boys were the perfect size as most of the more adventurous rides required you to be 40 inches. Both younger boys are taller than that. *C* (4 years old) could not ride Mission to Mars at Epcot (although quite honestly, he wasn't missing much... I'm not a fan of needless g-forces, needless to say) because you had to be 44 inches for that one. Neither of them, *E* or *C*, could ride the Rockin' Roller coaster at Hollywood Studios as you had to be 48 inches. The teenager and I hit that one together (fast-passes in hand) while Hubs stayed back with the two shorter guys ;). *J* and I decided that Rockin' Roller coaster was definitely worth it! A whole lot of fun. [I LOVE roller coasters... Hubs, not so much. :) ]

Day four, Tuesday, we spent at our hotel. We were in Florida for six full-days with a five-day Disney pass. Right smack in the middle of our trip we took the day off. *E* showed us how much of a fish he was with some non-stop swimming at the pool. I finished a good book. We all took a nap at one point. It was just what our weary feet needed. Rested body's and happy souls (& soles).

We discovered new things about each other. Our 4 and 6 year olders LOVE the thrill of a roller coaster, our 15 year old is young enough to *want* to meet Cinderella (& slightly jealous that she kissed his six-year old brother instead of him). I learned it was nice to sit back and let my husband plan, to give my input but for the most part go along for the ride. We can in fact have a PERFECT vacation as a family!

A HUGE thank you to Disney World for allowing my family of five to enjoy your parks for 5 days (6 days if you include our one day of lounging around the hotel pool) for just under $400. It is a wonderful feeling to be a family again and a wonderful way to make memories. Disney World is top-notch!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Disney

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Peach Oatmeal Muffins

We are getting ready to go on a road trip. Dale likes to leave at 0 Dark Hundred. Earlier if he could... sigh. Driving out of our area we'll see lots of deer (aghhh must be alert!), stars and a few farmers in the fields, but not a lot of McD's, BK's or anywhere that even the smell of coffee is available. So, for the first hour I pack 2 muffins and 2 travel mug of java. Have to have all the help I can to keep the eye lids UP!

Last year, our farmer's market had multiple peach booths. I bought multiple pecks of peaches. None went to waste. Each time I bought some, I canned some. We have carefully used them all winter long and there are 5 pints left. Time for repeat performance. Canned peaches are so great to use in recipes that call for applesauce, it's a natural substitute and is packed with flavor.

Here is a recipe where I did the switch. I just smashed up 3 peach halves to make up the 3/4 measurement. I think you will agree that it not only works, but it works wonderfully!

Peach Oatmeal Muffins

1 c Quick Oats (the type that cooks in one minute)
1 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar Splenda (or 1/2 c brown sugar)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c smashed peaches (3 canned peach halves)
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or use liners.

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Stir to make certain the brown sugar is distributed. In a separate bowl, smash the peach halves. To this add the rest of the ingredients. Add these to the dry ingredients all at once, stir JUST until moistened, not well mixed.

Divide into the muffin cups.

Bake 20-24 minutes depending upon your oven, and the size of your muffin pan. I use a 6 cup tin, and I bake the muffins for 22 minutes. Test with tooth pick until tester comes out dry. Let sit in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from tin.

August Featured Military Reward

August brings summer to a close for many military families who have relocated (PCS'd) and the routine of school and fall events rapidly approaches! This Reward is for all the military personnel at Ft Leavenworth, KS and Whiteman AFB, MO! In particular, those new to both installations including personnel attending school at the Army Command and Staff College. Many military personnel are unfamiliar with their area and looking for entertainment and local highlights to visit and this looks like a great one with a big thank you to our men and women in the armed services and their families.

This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:


Their Military Reward says:

Come enjoy a live comedy, musical, or drama performance at AHT in Crown Center! ALL TICKETS ONLY $12.50 FOR GROUPS OF 5 OR MORE! (That's a savings of up to $17.50 per ticket!) Call or email group sales now to reserve seats! Must ask for the "Military Rate" when ordering. Go to www.ahtkc for show information and schedule. Free parking. Crown Center offers lots of shopping & dining choices. Footsteps away from Union Station.

Click here to view coupon featured at Ft Leavenworth and Whiteman AFB.

A great big shout out to American Heartland Theatre 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 Military Reward 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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