A Warm Kiss of Sweetness: Muffins

Summer is really getting to be a memory. Our leaves are still green, however yellows and reds are tipping some of the oaks and maples. I love this time of year, as the mosquitoes are just about gone. YEAH! AMEN and Hallelujah!

Dale has picked the blackberry patch clean. He committed himself not to leave any there for the deer, raccoons or any other marauder. Our freezer is full and our oven is popping out warm kisses of sweetness. This muffin recipe can be revised to use any fruit. The trick, I think, is not to over mix the batter. Be ready to put UNSMOOTH (Is that a word?... Spell check doesn't think so!) batter into the muffin cups. Adjust the time if using large muffin tins (4 or 6 muffin yield per pan) a regular pan (12 muffins yield) or the tiny ones that just pop into your mouth. The larger the muffin, the longer the time is required in the oven.
Sweet Muffins

Preheat oven to 400.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (yogurt, or buttermilk)
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. baking soda ( if using yogurt or buttermilk add 1/2 t. baking soda)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c fresh berries (3/4 c frozen, thawed berries)

Spray muffin tins with oil. Beat egg, stir in milk and oil. Mix in remaining ingredients JUST until lumpy. Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups with batter (2/3 full). Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately remove from pan.

Commitments and Parenting

No one said being a parent would be easy.

But does it really need to be this hard?

What might seem like a small trivial decision is holding a great weight over my shoulders. Our teenage-son was asked to a attend the big Homecoming dance by a friend from another school district. We were excited for him getting to know new friends and spending time with a gal whose family we happen to really like. I had seen pictures of the dress, we had discussed corsages, permission forms had been signed, and dinner plans were made.

So the news, five days before homecoming, that he wasn't going to go with her because he had a new girlfriend was less than disappointing. Not necessarily because we like his would-have-been-date... but because he made a commitment. And he broke the commitment.

I stood before him yesterday evening, when he told me I didn't need to order a corsage, dumb-founded. My words had left my brain. My thoughts had turned to mush. The boy who I am always so proud of had left me feeling disappointed.

He walked away knowing I wasn't happy, through my words and actions. He got the same feeling from his father. When hubs and I re-grouped later that evening we both were left with this gnawing feeling of wrong-doing and yet understood that his was our son's decision to make.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. - Proverbs 22:6

Hubs and I aren't perfect. Perhaps we need to take a moment and think about how we treat commitments. Are we teaching *J* and his younger brothers how important they are? Do we keep our own commitments, no matter how small? It did leave me taking some important time to reflect.

And yet our own children are not a perfect-reflection of who we are. We can take the time to show our children the right way to go, but it is their decision to follow the right path, especially as they get older and start to spread their wings.

I hope our own child will take a lesson from this decision he has made. I can only pray that Hubs and I handled it correctly. Perhaps this was a small pebble thrown into the lake of his mind. The effects will ripple and important future-decisions will be affected by this one.

We love our children, far greater than they can comprehend! I only hope that in the love we show them they will take the right paths for their future!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Popular Articles: Week of September 20 - 26

From depression resources to the DoD's Social Media Policy there are thousands of articles on MilitaryAvenue that interest, you, our users! 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!

The Day I became a Mom

Face of Defense: Army's 'Grill Sergeant' Takes on Culinary Hero

Defense Department to Start H1N1 Flu Vaccinations

Face of Defense: Division Chaplain Answers Call

Fort Bragg animals look for love, new home

You Are Not Alone

Popular News
The Reading room, full of relevant news related to the military family
Defense Department to Announce Balanced Social Media Policy

Deputy Defense Secretary Calls Employer Support Critical

Pennsylvania Guard Called Up for G-20 Summit

TRICARE Offers Options for Beneficiaries Struggling with Weight

MilitaryAvenue & Supporting the Youth

Military families ... They deal with frequest moves, and in turn getting to know new communities. They also can deal with deployments or days away on missions that they (as family members) can't know details about. It isn't easy for a military family. Not only are they missing their solder, airman, marine, coastie or sailor, but they are also worried about them.

Military Family Support. It is a necessity. There are many ways the military families can find the support they need. They search for outreach programs, ways to connect. They need them. They can find it on base at their local Family Support Center or through their Youth Center. They can also find it off-base or -post. They can find the support they need through a local church, through their children's school, or at a local YMCA.

We, at MilitaryAvenue, created a category for children's support. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Church Youth Groups, YMCA programs... you get the picture. All ways that children from preschool age to college can find the outreach they need as they struggle with the worries, missing mom or dad for a year at a time, or getting to know new friends in a new world for them.

Military & Family -> Youth Programs

Like our category Worship Services, a Military Discount is NOT required to create a free-ad. If you are the representative of a Youth Program and want to spread the word to the military-community simply explain how your organization is going to support the military-family. This will fulfill the requirements for the Military Discount field.

We can't wait to see your ad on MilitaryAvenue. Thank you! from thousands of US Military Families for supporting us all.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com, a proud Army-wife who has benefited from organizations like yours!

PS Thank you to Girl Scouts of Western Washington for being our first "Youth Activities" Partner.

The Day I became a Mom

7 years ago today I became a mom to a beautiful blue-eyed, pink-skinned, 8 pound, 21 inches of love, baby boy.

In the few days following his birth I would hold him amazed that this little baby was given to me to love, take care of, and to call my son. Then with a little bit of humor I often wondered when his mother was going to come get him. Could I possible be this little boy's mother? Wow, I was a Mom. The emotion was conflicting and overwhelming. Yet my heart was OVER FLOWING with an amazing new love.

He's no longer 8 pounds. The eyes are more of a blue-green. His skin is more often dirty than pink. (Particularly after a good game of baseball.) But he is still a beautiful bundle of joy and love.

"A boy is trust with dirt on it's face, beauty with a cut on it's finger, wisdom with bubble gum in it's hair, and the hope of the future with a frog in it's pocket." - Author unknown

His listening is impeccable, unless he is told to do something he doesn't necessarily want to do. He's manners are outstanding, except for the whole napkin in your lap, elbows off the table thing. His ambition is rock-solid, unless he finds it more comfortable to stand behind Mom's legs while he builds up some courage.

Oh how I love him. I love his older half-brother, 15 years old. I love his younger brother, 4 years old. *E* is special, like each of his brothers in their own way. He made me a mom. He has grown with me. He is learning to be an outstanding-character (with grass stained knees) and I am learning to be a mother that praises, disciplines, hugs, gives-space, keeps them nourished and let's them learn to make their own healthy-decisions. Talk about a ton of work... and yet all well worth it!

"Her children rise up and bless her" (Proverbs 31:28), or at least give me big giant hugs whenever they can.

To my little (or not so little) *E*: Thanks for the best past 7 years. Here's to MANY more!

- Your Mom, aka Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Popular Articles: Week of September 13 - 19

From vacation thoughts to military spouse employment there are thousands of articles on MilitaryAvenue that interest, you, our users! 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!

From the Better Business Bureau: Help for Military Spouses Seeking Federal Jobs

Exchange Online Mall Now Taking Travel Reservations

Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Turns At-risk Youth’s Lives Around

Escape and Save with the Armed Forces Vacation Club

Free Homecoming Banners from Build-A-Sign.com

You have Questions?
We have MilitaryAvenue Answers
Army Aims to Improve Soldiers' Mental Well-being

Leaders to Honor Top Employers for Military Support

U.S. Just Beginning to Deal With War Wounds, Mullen Says

Bees Boost Economy, Agriculture in Afghanistan

Country Music Stars Lead Effort to Benefit Military Medicine

Our Pepper Plants are A'Popping: Ready for Nacho Topping

No luck this year with green beans... at least not since early July when we got our first harvest. Then the bugs, or elements or something came in and wiped them out. Ugh.

Little luck with tomatoes. We have walnut trees, so I know the tomatoes have to fight for survival.

Other rows of plants have flourished... and I love it. Ball jars or Mason jars will never go out of business as long as I am in control of the pressure cooker. That big old pot goes nonstop during this time of the year.

But what to do with peppers. Can't can them; chopping and freezing work well.. but how many plastic baby food containers does one need in the freezer? Ahhhhh enter the world of pickling. A new one for me! Leanne did it first with cucumbers and spices and mmmmmmm goodness. Dill pickles are great... but not dill peppers... however... nacho ready peppers? There is a winner.

At this household Sunday nights, especially during football season mean a hearty tray of nachos. And my nachos need peppers. I love the crunch and a taste of a zip. Nachos could not be simpler to make!


1 bag corn tortilla chips (unflavored)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 to 2 T nacho ready pickled peppers (recipe to follow)
Spray oil
Fresh tomato chopped

Set the broiler on 500 degrees

On a large cookies sheet, or a broiler pan, spray with the oil. This will make clean up a lot easier.

Spread chips out on the tray to cover. Most likely it will not take the whole bag. Top chips with cheese. Sprinkle pickled peppers over the chips. Slide into oven. Have the tray at least 5 inches from the burner. Watch carefully. Do not allow to burn. Remove as soon as the cheese melts. This might take about 3 minutes depending on the rate of heat of your oven.

Remove from oven with good hot pads, then sprinkle fresh chopped tomatoes over all of this. AND may your favorite team win!

Pickled Peppers

One large pot full of boiling water. Enough water to cover the jars with 2 inches to spare. Bring to a full boil. Put a lid on this and have ready when jars are packed.

3 to 4 CLEAN glass jars. Pint or jelly size.
10 to 12 banana peppers, seeds removed sliced
6 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed sliced (wear rubber gloves, as they can chemically burn your skin!)
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Set seeded, sliced peppers aside.

In a 1 quart sauce pan bring the vinegar and water to a boil. Put a lid on this, as oh my, it does not smell the best! When boiling add the garlic and allow to sit, with heat turned off for 1 minute. Remove garlic and throw away.

Fill 2 to 3 pint size glass jars with the cut peppers. Jam them full. Leave 1/2 inch headroom on the top. Fill with vinegar. Put lids on jars tightly.

Place in a large pan of boiling water. Large enough to have 2 inches of rolling boiling water to cover the tops of the jars. Boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars. Set on a clean towel to cool. The lids should pop. If not, store in refrigerator for 3 months. That will last just about to the end of football season!

Honoring our Flag

I am so proud to be connected in so many ways to the military. I am the spouse of an airman. He taught me so much that he learned through drill, leadership and hands on knowledge. Dale lives the life of integrity. This attribute is in the forefront of all he does, says and thinks. His military friends exude the same quality. And oh, it is a quality that is revered.

The idea of country before self has been instilled in our family, in our friends, in our service to country. Visible service before self is displayed in the honoring of the flag. Many flags fly at ceremonies, but only one brings everyone to their feet, one flag calls the room to quiet, one flag is carried in with respect, authority and pride of our history.

Next time you have the opportunity to attend a ceremony with an honor guard. See the pride that they carry. Notice the time and effort that has been taken to bring the attention to detail into perfection for you viewing. Honor guards are like fireworks as the dazzle with precision.

I can't help but whisper WOW each time I see an honor guard in action, yet their attention is the our flag, not to self. Thank you all.


Eight years ago today America witnessed the raping of their own security on home-turf. I can recall with great clarity the happenings of the day. I had a migraine headache and had laid down for just a bit. That headache to soon be all but forgotten.

My co-worker called to see if I had heard 'the news', that a plane had hit a major-building in New York City. I turned on TV and just sat there in stunned silence all day. I remember watching as the newscaster being astonished that a plane had hit a second building. A plane had hit the Pentagon. Reports of another downed plane in Pennsylvania but not sure if it is related. Regular programming was cancelled as America tuned in. What was happening?!

A lot has happened in eight-years:

  • My husband and I bought our first house.
  • I celebrated my first anniversary and many more with my husband.
  • I become a mom. I had two beautiful baby boys, who are now 4 and 6.
  • I've struggled with infertility and so very thankful for the two boys I have.
  • My husband joined the Army National Guard as a 2nd Lt JAG officer with prior enlisted-Marine service.
  • My step-son got his driver's permit.
  • I've become a sister-in-law to Jessica, Sandy, Becky and Dan.
  • I've become an aunt four times-over to four beautiful children.
  • I've learned the love of a garden.
  • I've sent my children to preschool, the older to kindergarten and now 1st grade.
  • My step-son started high school and went to his first formal dance.
  • My dad has retired from the Air Force after 30 years of dedicated-service.
  • I've joined a wonderful company that is all about the military and how we can support them through their community, MilitaryAvenue.com.
  • I've become a member of my church.
  • I've been in my first real car accident, involving one very large deer.
  • I've said good-bye to my husband, as he left for Iraq for a year. Leaving me a single-mom and very proud Army-wife. My children wondered where their dad had gone and yet knew he was off fighting the good fight.
  • I've welcomed him home with open-arms and an anxious heart.
  • I've gone to Disney World with my beautiful family! Our first major vacation as a family of five.
  • I've met new friends through wonderful support organizations like MOPS and church "small-group".
  • I've even become a Facebook and Twitter addict.

Some things small. Some things major. But all part of my last eight years and who I am today.

Anxiety creeps up on me when a plane flies a little lower than usual. (Our house is about 25 minutes from an airport so once in awhile we are in a flight-path.) I wonder if and when my husband will be called to Active-duty again to stand-tall during another deployment. I wonder about the future of the country for my own children and what they will see and do in the next ten, twenty years, thirty years. My fears aren't major, nothing that affects me day-to-day. But they are a quick reminder of what life was like before 9/11/01.

I have a lot to be thankful for! Family, Friends, Freedom, Fortitude.

I 'stole' this video from Col K's blog post last year at this time: Memories of 9/11/2001.

I hope you take time to reflect on these last few years and remember where you were at and where you are today. We are a great-nation. Let's not forget where we came from and what we have been through and where we are headed... together.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Supporting our military families this Christmas Season

I just read about a wonderful program from a company called 'Christmas Decor' that I wanted to share. It is hard to be thinking about the Christmas season ... a few months away when we haven't even bought our Halloween candy for the year. However, Christmas Decor has a *wonderful* program for our military-families.

The lights of the holidays brighten a world where families are separated by war and hostilities. The homes we light for a soldier’s family always seem to sparkle more and shine brighter. The Decorated Family Program of Christmas Decor has been bringing light into the lives of many families throughout the United States. To us and our many franchisees, it’s a small token of thanks for the sacrifices the soldiers and their families make for so many. We are truly a grateful nation.

Imagine that. Someone to come a decorate the outside of your house at Christmas time. I know that I would have *surely* loved this service last year. It was chaos around here as my husband was in Iraq. I was managing a house as a single-mom of three boys at a time of year I usually love. Pure chaos I tell you. I found time to decorate, because it was important to me ... but I didn't do it with a warm heart like I usually do.

Find out more information at their website: http://christmasdecor.net/decorated-family.

Thank you to yet another wonderful company for supporting our troops and their families!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

A New School Year

It took some time but all of the Kocsis kids are officially back to school. Our 6 year old started August 24th, 15 year older, September 1st and my 4 year-older's first day of preschool was today.

Ah ... my baby is in his final year of preschool. Funny the different milestones we create. As a mom I'm a bit somber over the fact that this will be my last year trekking up to the preschool, giving preschool good-bye kisses and then counting the minutes (and oh how they fly!) till I get to hear how his day was, all 2 1/2 hours of it!

Yet, I am so glad to watch his wings sprout. *C* looked so forward to school starting and getting to see his teacher again. (He has the same teacher he had last year, major bonus!) Each day we mentioned school starting again he would look at me with his big brown eyes and say "Mom, are you going to take my picture?" He knew I took first day of pictures for his older two brothers and didn't want to be left out. He couldn't wait to play in the 'play-room' and be line-leader again. Snacks and drinks were a top-priority. He loved knowing what was coming; what he had to be excited about.

I hope you are still finding excitement in the adventure! My 10th grader was hardly all smiles his first day of school. He is at the point where he kind of loathes going. He is a star student, a wonderful soccer player and has lots of friends but his enthusiasm has waned over the years. Where are you in the journey of life? Excited for what is to come, apprehensive about what you don't know or just a bit complacent.

I would encourage you to find the enthusiasm of a four-year older! We all need to be child-like once in awhile. Sometimes just being around him makes me as giddy as a girl, and I need that!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Thursday's Thoughts of a New Season Approaching

"almost" Wordless Wednesday: Pride in our Power & Love of my Heritage

Air Show 2009
As an Air Force Brat and Army Wife not living anywhere close to a base or post I was thrilled to spend my Labor Day showing my boys some of our military capabilities; some of the pieces of my husband's life during his year in Iraq; some of the planes their grandfather flew for special ops missions & aid-drops in Afghanistan. What an opportunity for my boys & our community.

Jet Noise - the Sound of Freedom

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Question of the Week: Where is your happy place?

Every night at about 7:30pm we start the bed-time routine...

Snacks, healthy dinners equal yummy snack; didn't eat very well? then you get a healthy snack;
Teeth brushed;
Books, one book for each boy;
and then finally...

Bed... kisses, water-refills, lights-out, "I love you"s.

And then I crawl into my happy place. My happy place is my very own bed in my own bedroom. It can be as early as 8:30 in the evening and I hastily don my pjs, brush my teeth, fluff my pillows, grab the big ol' blue pillow that makes it easy to sit up in bed, and grab a book.

What is it about my bedroom that I just love? I spend most of my day throughout my house, running between my home-office, the kitchen, and family-room. My bedroom is vacant throughout the day. My own bedroom is quiet serenity where I can collect thoughts without the din of the day. The dishwasher isn't running in there. The washing machine is unheard. Surely there is no sound of "MOMMY, HE TOUCHED ME!" when I am curled up in my bed with a book (or my laptop if I'm between books).

Hubs joins me, usually a couple hours later. And my time of serenity is complete. But I *need* that little bit of time for /just me/.

Where do you find your happy place? The kitchen amongst family? The TV room with a favorite TV show? The outdoors with friends? My happy-place is very specific. I don't find that serenity in the middle of the day, with things piled on my plate. I hate mornings... there is just nothing happy about it. I do love the garden, but, there is a certain amount of work involved. Although I do love sitting around the kitchen table for dinner ... that isn't about *me*... it is about family. So at the end of a long, stress filled day, at about 9:00pm you know where you can find me!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Wordless Wednesday: Harvest

Reasons I LOVE to garden

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

September Featured Military Reward

September is here and the kids are back in school, many military folks are settling into new locations and finding new restaurants to eat at and enjoy new surroundings! Near Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville the sailors and other military personnel can find a restaurant with a great Military Reward discount!

This month's Featured Military Reward recognizes:

The Ortega Hurricane Grill and Wings at 5907 Roosevelt Boulevard!

Their Military Reward says:

Ortega Location Only!!! 20% off entire check with Military or GS ID. 99 cent Hurricane Lager. Gameroom, Sporting events (college and pro package). We cater.

Click here to view coupon featured at Jacksonville NAS.

A great big shout out to the Ortega Hurricane Grill and Wings 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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