Great Intentions

I read a status of a good friend on Facebook. She decided to do new intentions for 2010 instead of New Year's Resolutions. I liked that! We go through so many areas of our lives with good intentions... mine is vacuuming a room without 17 side tracks that leave the cord strung across the floor... AGHHHH I hate to see that. The cord does get wrapped in place, the vacuum gets put away and all is well. That works for me.

What intentions are you planning on using in your daily path? Life is an avenue that we walk, sometime run/jog and often trip. Lessons are learned and wounds heal when that happens. But the fresh air and exercise of moving forward are rewards in themselves.

Have a great 2010 and keep us informed on your thoughts.

New Year Resolution Resources

The time of year is quickly coming upon us when many of us start to think about how we can better ourselves during the new year. To start thinking about any changes I might want to make in 2010, I pulled this article out of MilitaryAvenue's archives: "The American Psychiatric Association Offers Tips for Attaining Your New Year's Resolutions".

Here are some more great articles that might be of interest as we start setting goals:

Staying Healthy:
Why I take walks for the New Year
Eat Healthy Your Way
From the Commissary: Special recipes for our Veterans - Cooking for 1 or 2
Look for Smart Choices in Your Commissary
Mom’s “Li’l Heroes” Get Their Own Program
Save time by cooking slowly
This Holiday Season Focus on Friends and Family, not Food
Tips to help you eat fruits
Tips to help you eat vegetables
Eating Healthy when eating out
Doctor Is In - New Year: Time to Commit to Old Resolutions

Building Relationships:
Army: Chaplain-led program reinforces relationships
New TRICARE Video Counseling Can Help Military Families See “Eye-to-Eye” with Their Problems
Real Warriors: Behavioral Health Programs
TRICARE Assistance Program Reaches Out Over the Web to Ease Post-Deployment Stress
Date Night

Finding a New Job:
5 Steps to Land a Job in Tough Times
Direct Sales Success for Military Families
From the Better Business Bureau: Franchise Opportunities for Veterans
Managing a Job Change - Free Advice from USAA
Military Spouse? Try These Job Search Success Tips!
Network - 5 Steps to Tapping into the "Hidden" Job Market
New Hiring Authority for Military Spouses Announced

Maintaining Finances:
Financial Readiness: As Critical as Fully Charged Batteries Resources: Money & The Military
Shop smart using saver savvy tips

I hope this new year finds us all happy & healthy!

- Leanne from

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from

Some of us are far away from loved ones and this is one of the easiest times of the year to miss them. Others have recently enjoyed a reunion of loved ones. Some have traveled across the country to be with the family & friends they treasure. All things I have done through the years!

No matter what your situation I hope that you can find the peace; the joy; the wonder, amongst the chaos.

Wishing you and yours the Happiest of Holidays.

- Leanne from

PS: Looking for something fun to do today? Checkout the NORAD Santa Tracker. My boys were excited this morning to see that Santa is /already/ on the move!

Update on Korea for Military Families - DoD Roundtable with General Walter "Skip" Sharp

The Department of Defense Roundtable hosted General Walter "Skip" Sharp this morning to answer blogger and online media questions about the current situation in Korea. General Sharp is the Commander of United States Forces Korea and he opened with his three priorities. A quick rundown of the priorities include the ability to fight and win, strengthen the alliance between the US and S Korea and improve the quality of life for military personnel and their families arriving in Korea!

My focus will be on the General's quality of life priority which has a direct impact on the military community's lifestyle and support in Korea. When the General arrived in 2008 there were 1,700 command sponsored families in country. Today there are 3,700 and by this time next year there will be 4,900. By 2016 they would like to have 6,000 families command sponsored with the final goal of 14,000.

The General stated that he does he have the budget for infrastructure improvements to support the military families due to several reasons. First, many of the outposts in Korea are being consolidated from locations of units from the end of open hostilities to more centralized locations such as Camp Humphrey and Osan Air Base. Second, the South Koreans have agreed to pay for these relocations and many of the improvements are already occurring. It will take 5-6 years to complete the build up. Housing and medical facilities are on track to meet deadlines but the General said the "long pole in the tent" was school facilities. They are working with the DODDS (Department of Defense Dependent Schools) folks to upgrade facilities and provide teachers for the families as they arrive.

As more families arrive in Korea, I asked if there were going to be command interest in military spouse employment. The General assured the Roundtable that he was personally involved in this issue and had started a spouse employment iniative a year ago. The spouses arrive with a visa that allows them to work in the Korean economy and the Korean Chamber of Commerce is working with the Command to assist with employment opportunities as well. The on post/base jobs will also provide more opportunity on the installations as they are built and open their doors! As schools have larger populations the qualified spouse teachers will receive opportunity there as well.

General Sharp provided a great forum for all of us and I certainly appreciate his time and efforts to keep the military community informed through the Roundtable process!

To listen to the 30 minute Roundtable go to DoD Live.

Soup Liquid Warmth at Your Fingertips

It is Tuesday. It is snowing. It is dark gray and cold. Company is coming for lunch. Our driveway is a bear to climb and make the turns. So, a warming, aromatic entry will calm the nerves of those who came fishtailing at idiot speeds up the drive. I know my friends!
Today there is a pot of soup simmering on the stove. As I have said before, dishes are my passion... so the opportunity to use some deep red pottery bowls is a bonus! With a basket of sliced bagels the vegetable soup is going to be great!
Vegetable Soup
serves 3 (8 oz servings)
Olive oil
1/2 medium onion
2 mushrooms chopped
2 T chopped celery
1/2 t dried parsley
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t celery salt
pinch of salt
2 beef bouillon cubes
left over vegetables: 3 T cooked green beans with liquid, chopped
3 T cooked carrots with liquid, chopped
8 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup cooked pasta, any shape, cut to bite size pieces
left over cooked 3 T broccoli
1/2 c homemade ranch dressing
2 T Parmesan cheese

Heat a heavy 2 quart pot to which you have added 1 1/2 T olive oil. Slice up 1/2 onion and chop into small pieces... the size you would like to feel in your mouth. Slices would not be appetizing. They need to be chopped. Add these to the pot along with 2 mushrooms that you dice to the same size as the onion. Allow to caramelize for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add diced celery to this at the 8 minute point. Add herbs and pinch of salt.
Add bouillon cubes and diced leftover vegetables. I you have left over broccoli, wait until almost done before adding, as you do not want to overcook broccoli.
Add water, tomatoes and bring to a boil lower heat and cover with lid. Allow to simmer for 1 hour. Add cut up left over pasta and broccoli.
In a separate mixing bowl, stir ranch dressing and Parmesan cheese. Ladle hot soup into mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add one more scoop to heat the ranch mixture. Then pour back into pot. Serve immediately.
It is good, it is filling, it is healthy! Enjoy the warmth.

World Class Athletes: Our Proud USN

This afternoon Dale and I, along with Stars and Stripes were invited to participate in a roundtable discussion: an open arena to ask questions, and listen as U.S. Navy Capt. Lori A. Laraway, coordinator, Navy’s Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie R. Chavez, Navy's Behavioral Health Program Manager Navy Suicide Prevention and OSC policies received our questions.

Stress in the military? Stress in our world? None of it can be taken lightly, and the program which the Navy has set up to move forward to meet the needs of sailors today is a generational learning series of steps. From first days at boot camp, sailors can learn about how they are being equipped to be World Class Athletes. Their lives have value and are worthy of our country's respect. The USN is willing to build and support each sailor with the confidence it takes to assist individuals to sustain themselves during continual deployment, family separation and relocation.

As a military spouse I know the comfort of having my military member nearby, or within phone distance. With the military's support of the family there is usually the retainment of the military member. I valued his job security, his job respect, the technical achievements and personal job growth that he accomplished. There was recognition for success continually. We had interaction with his bosses and pats on the back. The family speaks loudly, firmly in the heart of the military community. Military life is about community.

There are times when the outside-the-gate community should step up and recognize the importance of their military residents because of the community's personal experience, patriotic fervor or the desire for continued economic health. It is a said affair when BRAC places an installation on the closure list. Local businesses and establishments need to recognize the efforts they could put forward. They need to speak out and show appreciation, voice accolades.

I would love for spouses to have the ability to have time to be a couple (one of the strongest support systems that I know of!). This support could come from local churches, chapel sponsorship, community support for Navy Birthday, Marine Birthday, or for Veteran's Day. Local news recognition that the installation is an economic stronghold for the community. Clean up the area around the gates - take down the war zone that is out there. Let the Chamber of Commerce know that zoning needs to be realized, enforced or changed. Let the authorities act or react. Embrace the installation with a fresh face!

Our Navy is comprised of athletes, fit, educated computer savvy and purposed. They are ready for success and the leadership is being equipped to direct this goal.

Life is a great game... not a game of chance but of stepping forward with conviction and self worth. We need to support and cheer on these athletes - it's our team and we know they are winners!

Navy's Operational Stress Control Program - DoD Roundtable

The military community is facing numerous stressful events and the services, correctly, are addressing these mission impacts "head on" with programs and support for the military members and their families. Today, Lt Jennifer Cragg hosted a Defense Department Roundtable discussion with US Navy Captain Lori A Laraway, coordinator, Navy's Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program and Lt Cmdr Bonnie R Chavez, Navy's Behavioral Health Program Manager to discuss the Navy's response to a rapid increase in measured stress levels within the Navy as self reported by Navy personnel. Comparing surveys from 2005 and 2009 the Navy has seen a 16% increase in reports of stressful lives!

Started in November 2008, Operational Stress Control was designed as a command/line program with medical assistance to improve sailor and family resiliency! Comparing the program to resources that world class athletes use to reach the top of their game Capt Laraway stated that sailors needed assistance to be the best possible performers. These resources include physical training, education and resources to meet stress including mental health tools. Some of the specific tools include knowing when to seek help, defeating the stigma attached to mental health issues and creating a climate that prepares sailors to help each other! Laraway said, the program guides include giving sailors, "Tools to reach full potential".

Training for the program is through leadership continuum efforts including professional military education. As a line program, it provides unit assistance to help individuals focus on prevention before stress reaches the high level associated with mission degradation and conflict. It teaches personnel to recognize stress in themselves and co-workers so resources can be identified to help relieve the stress. The program is developing measurements to determine effectiveness through mission performance issues, legal, family issues, unit cohesion, morale, etc.

To listen to the DoD New Media Roundtable with Captain Laraway and Lt Cmdr Chavez go to DoD Live. To find OSC resources go to Naval Center Combat & Operational Stress Control! The mission of the NCCOSC is "Building and Preserving Psychological Health for Sailors, Marines and Their Families".

The services are providing resources to help! Please take advantage of all the assistance available to maintain your resilency and be successful in dealing with stress! Prevention is key.

Tradition The Depths Can Be Only be Measured in Your Mind.

It's traditional. And traditions in December, at Christmas time cause my thoughts to go spelunking... cave diving around the spirals of my mind. There are so many places, so many faces, so many hurdles jumped, parties attended and given, gifts purchased, cards written and received, children's programs directed and those that we were in the audience over the years. Wonderful traditions and celebrations all.

The filing cabinet for these remembrances is now standing in the living room. Twelve feet tall and lit up: 2009's Christmas tree. Yeee Ha! It's up, lit and decorated. And it is beautiful. We sat last night just looking at it and pointing to our history. Each move has a marker on that tree.

Icelandic ornaments: House on top of the world, and a wooden doll.

Panamanian Ornaments that we brought home were straw animals.

You get the idea... New Mexico, Texas, and every other station fills a spot in our hearts and is brought back to mind as we celebrate the season and friendships. I hope your Christmas, your holiday time is the best. I hope you get to share it with loved ones and friends.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! The best of your holiday season!

Congratulations USAA! Number 3 of Top 100 Most Military Friendly Employers

USAA has been named #3 of the Top 100 of Most Military Friendly Employers by GI Jobs Magazine! That is their highest ranking ever and shows their continued commitment to support the military community with their services, products and employment!

I spoke with three USAA employees this afternoon and asked them questions about the company and its employment programs that lead to the recognition by GI Jobs. John Dipiero, Howie Egbert and Brandon Harrison were kind enough to speak with me and answer my questions about their employer! John and Howie are retired Air Force and Brandon was active duty Army till joining USAA in January and is now serving with the Texas National Guard.

First, just some basic facts about USAA: 7 Million Members, 22,000 employees, 12% of the employees are veterans and 7% are military spouses! The company target (which they are working hard to reach) is to have 25% of the employees be part of the military community they serve. That includes military spouses, family members, veterans, retirees, and Guard and Reserve members.

Why would you want to work for USAA? John, said the bottom line is they have great products and services that support the military community and they take care of their employees. Brandon, Howie and John all praised their training programs which allow military personnel to transition to a new job and be trained for it! They have on the job training and will pay for college courses as well! Personal experience tells me that is a unique opportunity to receive quality training from an employer while in transition to civilian life!

Military personnel should take advantage of Transition Assistance Programs which have become very helpful and informative according to all three! John said, "You are crazy if you don't use them." Next step is to contact USAA to find your niche! Brandon had a USAA contact who worked through resume issues and gave advice too!

John and Howie were both retirees and said the company has no age issues and they felt like they were doing what they wanted to do! Brandon said the environment was more like family and allows choices within the company for lateral moves and other career options as well! All were highly enthusiastic about their jobs, the folks they work with and the company!

Brandon is now a member of the Guard and felt that the company allowed him to continue serving with a flexible schedule for duty periods that were required. The company has won the Freedom Award from the ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) in the past for its support of Guard and Reserve members too! So if you are a separating veteran with the desire to continue serving in the Guard or Reserve this is a great company to join!

Feel the enthusiasm? Want to join the USAA team? Send John an email at to find out more information and begin that next career step!

PS: Did you know that all honorably serving Veterans are now eligible to join USAA? Click on the USAA logo at the top to find out more of the benefits and why you should be a member!

(nearly) Worldess Wednesday: Sites of the Season

I have enjoyed the Christmas Season from Panama to Iceland and States all over the country. Each with it's own unique 'nitch' on the month of December. (After all I can't wear a sundress on Christmas in New York yet very comfortably did it in Panama. Snow skiing in Florida is out of the question but the mountains of Colorado & New Mexico were quite enjoyable. And we won't even talk about the very dark December that Iceland entailed.) These are images of my Christmas season last year. You know what is even better about this year's Christmas Season? HUBS IS HOME! Ah life is good!

I hope you are taking the time to enjoy the sites, sounds, smells and so much more of the season and not too caught up in the rush & chaos of this time of year!

- Leanne from

PS: Looking for a fun web site to enjoy with the kids? NORAD officials ready to track Santa's flight

An 'Expert', me?! Most certainly!

We all have have our 'knowledge' areas. I can tell you quite a bit about northern-Ohio as I have lived here for several years. I can also tell you a whole lot about Military Deployment and the support that you can find out there when you need it most. Why? Because I have "Been there. Done that!"

If you haven't heard about Military Answers, you should stroll on over to see what questions are out there that other military-families are asking for help with. It's as close as a mouse click. BUT if you really want to help, become an "Answers Expert!"

After you sign up with an Answers account (used only for MilitaryAvenue Answers, Alerts & our monthly-newsletter) you will see our list of Military Installations. Select the bases / posts that you have lived at... 2 years ago, 10 years ago, now. These are the bases you know. Maybe a little or a lot. Installations that you could help guide another military family that is looking for help. After you have selected all of your 'Expert Locations' select 'Next'.

Hit 'Next' and you will see our list of 'Expert Categories'. We have quite a range of different categories from 'Military Deployment' to 'Pets' to 'Children & Family'. If there is a category that you think you could help other families with select it. There is no limit to the number of categories (or installations) you can be an 'expert' at.

After you have selected the installations and categories that you can help with you are done! (That was pretty painless!) Now here comes the least painful part. Whenever a new question is asked related to an area you are an expert in you will get a very short & sweet email.

If you can help with the question there is a link to click on and type in your answer. If you can't help then just hit 'delete'... and that email is no longer your concern :) Pain free and yet a wonderful way to help!

There is nothing like military families helping other military families!

- Leanne from

Popular Articles: Week of November 29 - December 5

Here were our top 10 most-viewed articles for the week on

USAA Urges Home Protection as Winter Weather Approaches

A Market that Rewards the 'Sponsors'

"Elf on a Shelf" - A New Christmas Tradition

What does PCS mean to our MilitaryAvenue Partners?

Second-tier Entitlement and VA Loans

Why is a Military Discount Valuable for a Marketing Strategy

Sears Celebrates Military Heroes This Christmas With Programs That Give Back

The Season of Advent

Military Discount on your Truck or Trailer Rental

Turkey in a Puff Leftovers Turkey Celebrated!

Thankful Thursday: The Craziness of Kids

With the Thanksgiving Holiday behind us and the craziness of Christmas ahead of us it is easy to forget what we can continue to be Thankful for!

Today I am Thankful for:
  • Wiggly Teeth
  • 3AM: "Mom I'm scared"
  • Dirty knees, filthy fingernails
  • Guns, Swords, Light Sabers... all pretend, usually completely imaginary
  • Games of soccer in the family room... "Keep the ball low, boys"
  • "OOPS"
  • 4 year-older declaring "I HATE school"
  • 7 year-older asking me what the bad F word is that was written on the back of the school bus seat
  • "Can I help you, Mom?"
  • "I'm telling." STOMP STOMP STOMP. "MOM, he [fill in the blank] me."
  • "Mom, I have a joke to tell you." (Now think of the most non-sensical sentence you can come up with & that's their idea of a joke.)
  • "Mom, I love you" (Seriously, how lucky am I to hear this multiple times a day?!)

Not everything about being a mom is pleasant, but it is all manageable! Children (in my case boys) bring life abundant. I am so thankful to be a mom; to be an influence; to know that I can handle what comes my way... and to know that if I ever feel like I can't handle it I have a support network behind me like no other!

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

- Leanne of

Turkey in a Puff LeftoversTurkey Celebrated!

We always have a large crowd over for the holidays. Name the holiday - we love to entertain. When it is appropriate to have a spread with a turkey dinner... we roast a big bird... a mighty big bird! Because that means there will be enough gravy several nights of turkey leftovers. I love it. Dale loves it. We are happy people at this time of year!
Turkey in a puff started out to be ham in a puff. Ham is not a family favorite, so I looked for a way to dress it up, even disguise it a bit. But to my non-ham loving children: ham is ham and the best way to serve it is to pass! So, although the ham in a puff didn't work. Turkey in a puff, (a choux pastry) vanishes when put no the table. It is pretty, it is cheesy and the turkey is tender. Love it!

Turkey in a Puff
For choux pastry
2/3 c water
2/3 c flour
1/3 c butter
3 eggs
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Bring water to a rolling boil in a medium sauce pan. Add butter, stir. Remove from heat as soon as butter is melted. Add flour all at once, stir until a ball is formed. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until they are incorporated. Stir in cheddar cheese. Spray a large casserole dish with Pam or spray oil, and put this choux around the sides of the dish, keeping it off of the bottom as much as possible.

For the Filling:
2 T olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, diced small
4- 6 mushrooms (optional)
1 cup broth
1 T flour
1 1/2 cup cooked turkey, or ham, or chicken cut in strips
2 tomatoes, peeled, cut in strips (or 2 canned tomatoes)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 T breadcrumbs
2 t parsley

To make filling
Add oil or butter to saute pan. Cook onions slowly until soft. Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes or until tender. Take pan from heat, stir in flour and pour on stock. Bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Take the pan from the heat, add the cooked turkey, tomatoes and season to taste.
Set oven to hot 400 degrees.
Sprinkle the choux with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bake in heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

The Season of Advent

I have to admit. I have WAY TOO MANY Christmas decorations. Not that my house looks like a gaudy gingerbread-house when all is said and done... but that in these days of craziness it takes me two or three days to get it all done. In some ways I just don't look forward to dragging it all out of the basement, setting it up and then taking it down in a month (or less). BUT I have to admit once I have all the decorations out, I can sit back and relax (between the craziness, of course), and I do truly enjoy the trimmings of the season.

One of my favorite Christmas-pieces is an advent calendar my mom & dad bought for me back when our middle-child was born. It is a magnetic board with little boxes all around it. Each day the boys take their turn (one a day) at pulling out that day's magnet to put on the board. We are reminded AT LEAST that one time of day (usually first thing in the morning) what the real story of Christmas is. We talk about the stars, the animals, the inn keeper, Joseph, the story of the 3 Kings, Mary & of course the baby born in a manager over 2,000 years ago, the most important part of our little manger scene.

The rest of my decorations are just that... decorations. But our advent calendar is part of the story-board of our lives.

- Leanne from

December Featured Military Reward

MilitaryAvenue continues to see a great out pouring of support for the military comunity! Our Veterans Day outreach was tremendous with numerous national, regional and local companies offering veterans a special on their day! We also continued to enjoy seeing all of the new ads at MilitaryAvenue! There are so many new ones and their great Military Rewards make choosing the best one a very tough job! The MilitaryAvenue team has chosen an apartment complex with a great MilitaryReward that reflects a military friendly owner and support to the military community! Thank you!

If you know of a business offering a military discount tell them about MilitaryAvenue!

This Month's Featured Military Reward is given to:

Normandy Club Apartments

Their Military Reward says:

Receive your 1st month Free and $50 off each month when you sign a 12 month lease!!

Click here to view the coupon featured at Wright Patterson AFB!

A special thank you to Normandy Club Apartments 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".

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