Halloween on a Budget

Autumn has begun and with that come thoughts of beautiful shades of leaves, pumpkins, apple picking and more.  Many families begin to decorate their home with the season's decor.  It is so much fun to walk the aisles of our local Target or eXchange to see the latest Halloween decorations; lighted jack-o'-lanterns,  black cats, funny graveyard markers, skeleton-bones and zombies everywhere.  It is fun to look at but a family on a budget needs to do more looking then putting in their cart!

How do you save this time of year?  I have a few suggestions.  To start with, I love the change of season.  I love to decorate the house as we begin to spend more and more time indoors because of the change in weather.  We can accomplish some of our decorating needs by purchasing multi-use items. Stick with colors (oranges, greens, yellows, browns) and items (pumpkins, fall foliage, etc.) that will work well into the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have some beautiful glass pumpkins that I can bring out this time of year and use until it is time to pack up my autumn decorations and transition to Christmas and winter.

Its Friday - A Focus on the Military Family with Key Spouses and the Caring for People Forum in the Headlines!

Focusing on the military family! Yes, they deserve and earn it every day!

Lt Gen Darrell D Jones
It is Friday! Yeah! Most of us look forward to it.  For us it means a weekend is almost here! Time off, relaxation, family time, church and projects.  Unless you are deployed, tdy, in basic training or other training when it means tomorrow is Saturday. 

I do like this > FFF, Family Focus Friday. Being a military person I am used to acronyms like FRSA, A&FRC, MWR, AGS, MXS, etc. and most of you are too. They almost replace what they stand for at times during conversation. I think the military must have taught teenagers how to text with their lol, idk, ++ shortening of phrases. We were true leaders in this field. By the way, since retiring from active duty I found out that many civilian businesses have their own acronyms too!

Our military friends frequently move on to new endeavors and responsibilities after our encounters at one base, post, station, or camp. When we meet or talk to them again, it can be a lot of fun to catch up. So when the DoD Blogger Roundtable folks announced their next guest, Lt Gen Darrell Jones, I looked forward to speaking with the General who was a friend at a base a few years back. (A few being about ten in my new definition.) As the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, he wanted to tell us about the Air Force Key Spouse program, support to AF Spouses, and the Caring for People Forum and we could hear the passion in his voice as he spoke about the military community and families. Not overlooking the single folks either, he told us about the programs and then let us ask some questions.

Caring For Families is an Air Force Way of Life

Military life has a heart, a voice, and brains galore!  Family presence, once a background nuance has been raised to the top level of prominence.  Communication is the lifeline in this forceful body: in shape, in motion and in communion with all levels, ranks and backgrounds.  Every branch of service has it's unique concept for hosting this life line: the Navy has the Ombudsmen and the Army has the FRSA.  The Air Force has their own new program: Key Spouses.
Programs come together, and on paper are workable.  Then... when real people enter and dedication, love of country, zeal for esprit de corps, Key Spouses zoom... Off the Key Spouses go into the wild blue.

Lt. General Darrell Jones presented with forthrightness USAF's plan and accomplishments on family matters.  The Key Spouse program and the Caring for People Forum are forefront in carrying communication up and down the chains of command.  Caring is the core of USAF life. General Jones spoke from his heart, his voice resounded the respect he has for his people.  He let it be know that the brains of the program was the Air Force loving the Air Force.  True.

Photo credit (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John E. Lasky)
Life for young folks according to Gen. Jones can be categorized into simple wants and desires: good food, good Internet and a meaningful job.  Simple pleasures: life issues.  Simple truths.  The move to a new community brings the search for these items and can bring on some angst.  Enter someone who knows, one who cares and one who shares.  Volunteers work with and for their neighbors, the new folk, the old.  The airman's spouse of all levels across the board participate in the Key Spouse Program therefore they own the program: fantastic!

The brains, the voice and the heart our future Air Force are working hard to contribute to the protection of the USAF family... a giant, huge mega-group of Americans.  This is a tribe of folk who can sing with fervor "Off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder".   We are folks who stand for the flag, salute and sing the national anthem... now life is oh so good when you can stand next to someone who knows what it like to face similar circumstances.  AND a friend who can speak acronyms to boot: PCS, TDY, and USAF.

General Jones is a friend, a man of integrity with whom we served at McChord AFB, WA.  His accomplishments match this view and goals for the Air Force we all love.  He communicated with ease the pride of the personnel in our USAF.  We have leadership, talent, voices and hearts working overtime to protect the integrity of our country.  In the meantime, get out and visit the volunteer programs available.  There is always a need, always a blessing and always a benefit!

Life Insurance Awareness Month Quiz - Win an iPod Shuffle

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. To celebrate USAA and MilitaryAvenue are joining forces to give away an iPod shuffle to one lucky winner! Simply COMMENT on our note at Facebook with your answers / "best guess" to the following questions. We will draw a random winner from those COMMENTS made by Sept 30th and announce our winner on Oct 3rd.   Have fun!

Life Insurance Awareness Month Quiz
Courtesy of USAA
1.       True or false. All active duty service members and Guard or reserves who are in a drilling status qualify for group life insurance.
a.       True
b.      False

2.       Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance stops:
                    a.       90 days after you return from deployment.
b.      120 days after you leave the military.
c.       One full calendar year after you leave the military.
d.      There is no stop date.

3.       True or false. Life insurance can provide tax advantages for your beneficiaries—there's typically no federal income tax on the money they receive.
a.       True
b.      False

4.       Life insurance premiums can vary, but generally the premiums are lower if:
a.       You sign up for a policy before age 35
b.      You have more than four people in your family
c.       You are younger and healthier
d.      You

5.       True or False. If you are planning to leave the military, you should start shopping for life insurance about two months ahead of your planned retirement or separation date.
a.       True
b.      False

6.       True or false. If you had free coverage for your children under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, then you will also get free coverage under a new policy.
a.       True
b.      False

7.       Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) provides:
a.       Up to $400,000 of term life insurance protection while you are on active duty, or are in the National Guard or reserves; $100,000 of coverage for your spouse and $10,000 for each child.
b.      Up to $400,000 of term life insurance only while you are on active duty, and $100,000 of coverage for your spouse and $10,000 for each child.
c.       Up to $200,000 of term life insurance protection while you are on active duty, or are in the National Guard or reserves; $100,000 of coverage for your spouse and $10,000 for each child.
d.      Up to $200,000 of term life only while you are on active duty and $100,000 of coverage for your spouse and $10,000 for each child.

8.       To replace SGLI coverage after you leave the military, you can either:
a.       Only convert your SGLI to Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
b.      Convert your SGLI to Veterans Group Life Insurance or Purchase your own term or permanent life insurance policy
c.       Only purchase  your own term or permanent life insurance policy after 120 days of separation from the military
d.      Convert your SGLI to VGLI and then purchase your own term or permanent life insurance policy.

9.       VGLI and SGLI policies differ in the following ways (pick two):
a.       VGLI premiums are much lower, but increase rapidly as you age
b.      You cannot insure your spouse or children through a VGLI
c.       VGLI premiums are higher than for SGLI, and they increase as you age
d.      You can insure your spouse, but not children through a VGLI
10.   True or false. Unlike term life insurance, most permanent life insurance policies are designed to build cash value.
      a. True
      b. False
USAA Life Insurance Company, San Antonio, TX and USAA Life Insurance Company of New York, Highland Falls New York.

So how did you do?  Did you learn anything? Even as I get older I still love learning something new every day.  This little quiz was well worth the few moments of time for me.  Don't forget leave your 10 answers as a comment here to be entered in our contest!  (Do it by September 30th)

Here are some more resources on this important topic:

 - Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Mommy and Me: Happy Birthday Dear *E*!

Wordless Wednesday
The Day I Became a Mom - September 21, 2002

March 2003

The President's Budget Reduction Plan Will Have a Large Impact on You - The Active and Retiree Military Community

MilitaryAvenue is here to support our men and women in uniform and their families! Period! We do not desire to be political but must occasionally operate in that world as decisions are made in DC every day that affect you – The Military Community! Usually we simply post the articles to our Reading Room for you to digest and make a decision on how you feel things are going. Sometimes we highlight articles/information in the form of a blog or posting a link to a critical piece of data. We also participate in Department of Defense Blogger Roundtables to provide the newest and most current information. We also use our Facebook page to make you aware of issues and seek feedback.

Stand Up for Heroes Event ... See Below
Today, we feel a bit stronger about an issue because it will directly affect your budget, your family’s ability to plan for the future and how much you can rely on the political process to follow up on promises made during wartime! Plus, we expect fairness, those who sacrifice the most should not be expected to pay the most too! The President and his predecessors sent you to war! No one else did but they seem surprised that the military medical system now costs more! They did not send civilians to war or ask them to sacrifice but now ask that the military retirement system be “civilianized” to make you pay more, be more like them and help reduce the federal budget crisis.

Yes, it is time for Americans to sacrifice but the burden is not being shared across the board under this proposal! Many programs favored by this administration are not being asked to pay more like we are! Why not? Politics! Voters are not being asked to sacrifice like you are as a military member or their family! A big Washington DC pat on the back but when the crunch time comes they forget all about what we did and why!

He "Refused to be a Burden" and Earned an Air Force Cross - DoD Blogger Roundtable

TSgt (Select) Robert ("Gute") Gutierrez









Words heard frequently during the interview... A motto... FIRST THERE … THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

Keeping It Simple - How to deposit money with USAA

I am a fairly simple girl.  I love my family.  I love my God.  I love my country.  Dinner shouldn't take me much longer then 30 minutes to make.  Homework tools should be kept in the same place every night.  Junk mail, old school papers, finished newspapers should go right into the recycler.  Rooms should be picked up and toys put back in their place each night.  Banking shouldn't be complicated.

Banking.  Even taking the time to deposit money via the drive through is on the not so simple ways to do things list for me.   I can remember being fresh out of college, receiving sporadic checks and depositing them via USAA Deposit by Mail.  Sure, it took a couple days via the US Postal Service but it wasn't complicated.  No stamps required just slip the USAA provided envelope in the mailbox in the morning, put the little red flag up, and a few days later - Wala! the money was in my checking account.  Innovation has taken us a long way since 1996!

About 15 years later, Hubs and I deposit the check or two we receive each week via USAA Mobile.  It is a simple app which I downloaded for my Droid. (It is available for the Windows Phone 7, iPhone and iPad, too.)  I take a couple of pictures of my signed check and then in a matter of seconds - Wala! it is in my checking account.  Simple.

Helping a Veteran!

The Big Dead Tree
... respecting the flag they fought under...

The weather is getting a bit cooler, the days shorter, school has started and Fall is upon us! Veteran’s Day is fast approaching … The MilitaryAvenue team is busy preparing for Veteran's Day with helpful articles, blogs, another Giveaway opportunity, recognizing veteran support organizations and much more during the almost two months preceding November 11th. Then I thought about how I had so much to be thankful for as a veteran. A loving wife (who moved 18 times and will celebrate a 40th anniversary in the spring) and family, a great support team of family/friends, veteran benefits, a church home, a country that recognizes veterans for all their sacrifices and the freedoms that we celebrate as a country!

Getting started ...

But I get way ahead of myself as I wanted to focus on some help I received recently! We had a huge dead tree, probably a victim of the ash bore which is killing thousands of trees in our area, which needed to be brought down. It was more than I could handle by myself as it was 42 inches in diameter and about 50 feet tall. It was close to our house and driveway and quickly becoming a hazard with dead branches as big as a medium sized tree that could come down during bad weather.

Flat Daddy

My husband crashed a party.

First of all he made his way to a big Kissinger Family party.  His original RSVP said he wouldn't be able to make it because of a prior commitment (something about serving in the Army National Guard in Iraq).  So weren't we surprised when he showed up!

Can you find our very own Flat Daddy Kocsis?

He visited the ladies room. (You really have to watch this guy!)

He helped the local law enforcement keep the rowdy Kissingers in check.

He even "helped" the hotel staff.  (He didn't quite have the customer service skills they were looking for though.)

Then he crashed it...  a wedding happening at the same venue.  He claims he just wanted to see what was on the menu.  I hang my head in shame.

Where has your Flat Daddy or Mommy been? Hopefully he is more behaved then my hubs ;)  'Flat Daddies' is on Facebook now: http://www.facebook.com/flatdaddies!  Be sure to check them out, give them a like, and tell them MilitaryAvenue.com sent you.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The sweet feeling of accomplishment

You know that feeling when you put off a project, and put it off and put it off... and then you /finally/ get it done!? Ahhhhh... It is a joyous feeling.

I am miffed at myself for not taking a 'before' picture.  But who knew a couple hours of work would give me such a sense of accomplishment.

But picture this: BOXES of clothes from my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. Boxes stacked in the corner of his room (and not very neatly).  Some rummaged through, other boxes still closed. Hand me downs (some with tags still on them) for my 13-month old.  Clothes ranging in size from 18 months to 5T.  Summer clothes, winter clothes, in between clothes.  I will never have to buy clothes for *L*, ever.  Well, unless I get that impulse.  It happens, my husband doesn't get it.  I digress.

Rebuilding and Cleaning Up Iraq – “The Right Thing To Do” DoD Blogger Roundtable

American forces are preparing to leave Iraq on December 31st and in fact, some of our folks are “looking at their watches” but what have we accomplished after a war, the loss of too many American lives and huge expenditures of our national treasure?

Brig. Gen. Rock Donahue
Those thoughts ran through my mind as I talked with Brig. Gen. Rock Donahue , director of U.S. Forces Iraq J7, the senior engineer in Iraq during the DoD Bloggers Roundtable. Gen Donahue carefully went through the statistics, the huge effort, that, our men and women in the military community have made to clean up Iraq during and after the war. He was proud of them, you could tell by his explanations of their responsibility to leave “a more stable, sovereign Iraq.”

Impressive to say the least:

“ In January of 2008, US Forces resided on a total of 505 bases and facilities. Since then, 461 of these bases and facilities have been closed or returned to the Government of Iraq and the remaining 44 will be turned over by 31 December.”

We did not just walk off the bases and facilities but completed a detailed transition plan in accordance with international agreements, Central Command regulations and Army Corps of Engineer guidance. Transition tasks include real estate, property management, contracting and environmental oversight. A thorough hand off with a joint review with Iraqi leaders is the outcome.

Iraqi workers dig a new sewer system in Oubaidi ...

A Moment Out of the Norm Cooking with GrandBrat

Her name is *E*.

She has eyes that shine, a mind that zooms, a sea of energy and a steel trap memory.  She is my grandbrat: child of my Brat.  Military kids pass on the zest of life and love of challenges.
*E* loves action and is at home in the kitchen.
After a trip to the farmer's vegetable stand it was time to put up some tomatoes.   Every tomato was washed... 67 tomatoes... 78 gazillion gallons of water.

A Gift of Your Time

This weekend’s 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks brought a lot of reminiscing for America and individuals. "We Will Never Forget ... "    Where we were, why did this happen and how we responded as a nation. The images just flowed through my head of the towers burning in New York, the Threat Condition Delta on our military installations, locked and loaded automatic weapons at the installation entry points, a command post full of very determined airmen and the President reading to a young group of children. So many to remember …

As we were enjoying our coffee and breakfast this morning, I pulled out our calendar with special events for our family recorded on it. We read it each morning and add new events if warranted. They remind us of good times, extraordinary times and a few that we remember to make sure we know why we celebrate the good times. A short discussion usually follows with our day’s events but today we jumped into a discussion about some note cards Deb had pulled out of the drawer.

I had prepared a few items on note cards a couple of years ago as reminders for me,
gave them to Deb one day at a time for a month. They were simple, how I could help more around the house or take my time to do something unique!  Some were “chores”, some were romantic and some definitely lead up to a planned vacation. All were simple one liners such as, “clean living room”, “take Deb shopping for cruise items”, “take Deb out to dinner”, “do the laundry today” and “take a walk together”.

From Military to Civilian

I just returned from a great visit to USAA in San Antonio and had the pleasure of meeting a lot of great people, seeing a lot of great things up USAA's sleeve and doing some super networking with fellow bloggers, military spouses and financial gurus.  (In fact, I frequently thought, "How was I so privileged to be invited seeing the room was full of such-experts.")  What a wonderful opportunity!  The visit culminated with their 9/11 remembrance, "America's Resolve".  Our emotions were tested and kleenex placed at the end of every row.  Even saying the Pledge of Allegiance tugged at my heart and that was just the beginning.

We listened intently to the keynote speaker; bated breath, thoughts of  "I can't imagine", and even smiles over a few moments of levity.  Colonel (Retired) Tillman, USAF pilot of Air Force One, described what he and his team went through on that fateful day as they kept President Bush safe as they traversed the great skies of America.

We Will Never Forget - 10 Year Anniversary of 9/11/01

Why I will never forget ...

You can ask me where I was on Sept 11th, 2001 and I am instantly brought back to my apartment. (I worked from home); sitting at my desk; nursing a migraine headache. I can remember calling my husband; IMing my co-worker, Dan; learning that my dad, a colonel in the Air Force, was on high alert with a very long day (month ... year...) ahead of him. Tears would stream down my face periodically throughout the day. For me life had changed.

But what about my children? They weren't alive. Ask the generations that are in high school and younger and they really may not remember where they were. My own step-son (a senior in high school now) has vague memories from 9.11.01, he does remember watching TV in the library but the impact is not quite as profound. He remembers more the reactions of the adults around him, then the own emotions stirred within him.

"These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."  President George W. Bush, addressing the nation on 9/11/2001

How do we instill this resolve in our own children? We tell them. We let them know where we were. What we were doing. How it made us feel. We remind them about the freedoms we have. Why we have them. Why they can be so very proud of their military mom or dad. Our children will be responsible to insure these freedoms, this sense of pride, this knowing that we are strong people, not to be reckoned with.

We must tell them.

Or it will be forgotten.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

YouTube video courtesy of USAA.  Want to hear a first hand account of how a USAA employee helped someone on 9/11.  Watch this heartfult video, "On 9/11, a USAA service representative fielded a call directly from New York City after the World Trade Center was hit. She helped a member reach her family to tell them she was safe." http://youtu.be/YhFeJXFb7-c

10 Years Down the Road

Travel came to the forefront 10 years ago.  Hubs traveled home from an around the world hop and stop flight with different crews, different planes and at that time a different mission.  Friends drove out the gate of McChord AFB, drove down to SEATAC to fly off to attend seminars, visit family and find sunshine.  Little thought was made going in and out the gate of an installation other than the usual identification that needed to be in the car, and on the person.

As a child, I remember watching TV nonstop when JFK was assassinated.  The very word was mesmerizing.  TV anchormen were somber, music played all the time.  These were the days when TV channels signed off at night.  We lived right outside of NYC.  The biggest story Headline in my lifespan was, "Where were you when the lights went out in NYC?"  The media proclaimed that life would be different because of all of the children that would be born in 9 months.  They knew.

President Kennedy's funeral changed the way we focused on television.  It took our emotions and as a nation let all grieve together, attend the funeral procession, see a toddler Patrick salute his Dad's casket, watch and hear a horse clomp down the streets of Washington DC, enter the Rotunda and view the graveside service.  As a nation, we were stunned, quieted, and disturbed.

Just short of four decades later, 9/11 crackled our daily functions.  The television flipped on to CNN nonstop.  NYC was burning, smoldering and crumbling... people were fleeing for their lives... the plane went down in PA... finally the Pentagon took a plane.  The television was a mainstay of focus that September. 
Life on a military installation clamped down.  Fences were fortified, road blocks were adjusted, security was on the forefront.  Security was placed and handled with determination to be at the front line of all measures; of all thoughts, all actions.

This 10 years down the road has 'smartened' us into safe guarding our country, family and selves.  That's a good thing... hard lesson, but worth the expense.  Today we are back to traveling, back to attending seminars, seeing family and seeking sunshine.   Our American spirit which values lives, liberty and the luxury of personal freedoms has not changed.  The road might have... a bit bumpy, a bit more expensive, but paved with our American history that cannot be forgotten.

Today, as we remember the lives that were lost, the ground that was blasted, the men and women who fight for our country.  Remember that we have the ability to work and worship.  The luxury to love and respect family.  Take pride in that which we have! 

These things we do, lest we forget.

Afghan “Right”, Aghan“First” and Afghan “Like” DoD Bloggers Roundtable

I have to admit to being very impressed. A general officer in the US Army writing a blog about what is happening in Afghanistan! So maybe his public affairs officer is helping? Might be a bit of pessimism in my blood; confirmed by my bride of almost 40 years! Deb blames it on Harry Reasoner and his famous news commentary in 1971 about the Vietnam War including the line,

“That's why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant, extroverts. And helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble.”

USAF HH-60G in Afghanistan
Since I flew helicopters for many years (including the HH-60G Pave Hawk to the left), I tend to look at things differently but I do laugh a lot and enjoy life so maybe it doesn’t really fit. So back to Maj Gen Peter N Fuller, Deputy Commander for Programs, NTM-A who I have yet to introduce. Gen Fuller met with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable and demonstrated a keen awareness of the social media by writing a blog before the Blogger Roundtable!

Maj Gen Peter N Fuller
It is ironic we are talking about the war effort in Afghanistan as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11! I went to Afghanistan early (in 2001) – it was an airlift mission in a C-17 with night vision goggles, tactical descent/approach to a dark airfield at Kandahar and Bagram. The general spoke of an Afghanistan very different 10 years later! In charge of building the infrastructure of the Afghanistan military, he has a huge budget ($3B for infrastructure, $3B for equipment, $1B for training, and $3B for sustainment.) to control and monitor; to ensure the resources (our national treasury) are used in a smart and thoughtful manner to build resilience into the Afghan Security Forces.

How best to do that? The general said they do it by considering the following three concepts: Is it Afghan “Right”, Afghan “First” and Afghan “Like”

Army Suicide Prevention - One Family's Struggle - DoD Blogger Roundtable

When you are in a boxing match the blows are tough but are felt less as you fight, it is not till after the match or the next day that you really feel them!

What a great example to better understand combat stress! Major Jeff Hall, US Army and his wife Sheri, agreed to meet with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable to discuss their lives with combat stress and his struggles with suicide. Jeff’s comparison of boxing to the effects of combat stress and peace time fit the warrior ethos! We may not feel the pain of combat stress while engaged in combat or even combat support but it can kick our butt later!

September is Suicide Prevention Month - Logo from DCoE
It was a long story for them and by telling it, they hope it will help someone who needs the type of help they received to save Jeff’s life. It took Sheri, two and half years after Jeff returned from Iraq to take that last step and open the door to her husband’s commander! She said,

“I was never fearful for Jeff’s life while he was in combat, since I knew that he trained himself well. But that all changed when Jeff returned and began having suicidal thoughts. I told him that while I didn’t know the effects of combat, I knew that something was wrong. It was hard because he kind of pushed me and our two daughters away.”

I asked, “why did it take that long to seek help?” and Jeff said it was stigma driven. That warrior feeling of toughness but he felt like the “cat was out of the bag”, “career was over” and he was “scared to death”. He was shocked that his commander knew of resources to help him. Jeff ended up at Walter Reed in a three week program to begin his recovery.

Sheri's Turning Point? “When Jeff did not want to live anymore”

Up, Up, and Away: Heading to USAA

  • Laptop & iPad - Check
  • Itinerary - Printed and packed
  • Babysitter - Lined up and on her way (Grandma is travelling in from Michigan!)
  • Instructions for our day for Grandma - Thought out, typed and on the frig
  • Dinner in the crockpot for tonight - Prepared
  • Brand new shoes - On my feet
  • Hugs and kisses to my guys - Done, Done, Done and Done
USAA Bloggers Conference 2011 here I come!

I'm so excited to share with you what is up the pipelines for USAA.  This 'invitation only conference' is going to be a whole lot of fun; jam packed with a whole lot of information; and a great reminder about companies that stand behind us, the military family!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Writing One's Own Check List

He is so punctual.  Life's ticks are on the calendar.  The mileage is documented for the car. Emails are even spell checked before going to family members.  "If you are going to do it, do it right!"  He bends for others, dismisses gaffs that just up and happen, but his approach to his personal lifestyle: check list, counter check and move forward. My response: I couldn't agree more, but let me do it faster, and I'll check with it in a bit.

Today a glitch occurred.  An event entered the mix without being entered on the calendar.  Nothing prohibited it from being terrific, but someone important to Dale was left out, feelings hurt, a shock of frustration. 

My man felt it deeply.  Thought through the process, recognized how to avoid this in the future and did a page change on his imaginary check list.  I saw the pages fly in his eyes.   I remember changing pages for flight manuals all too often in our USAF days.

Now we are into the family business, again the best of the best working side by side (even though miles separate all of us).   I heard the communication open again through phone lines.  Always thinking, always generous with time and himself: my knight in shining flight suit.  A smooth running machine is set up for the next day.  Not a beat missed.

This is a life style to be mimicked.  I so appreciate Dale and his teachings.  He reaches out to those near, to those who drop an email, to phone calls that come in at the 'wrong' time... he is there.  Dale is known for his ability to communicate, appreciate, and gather intel.  Oh MilitaryAvenue.com is such a fantastic place because of this gentleman!

Thanks for being there MilAve_Col_K!  Keep smiling... you  are making the world a better place!

Friends: Partnerships in Growth, Understanding and Enjoyment of Life

ChiTown: city of lights; waterfront; museums; skyscrapers; fabulous food; frothing fountains; multiple museums and friends.  Chicago: bursting with art, star light, the philharmonic symphony pulsing in the park   The Loop rumbling with near mile wide highways, rumbling with trains and full of the drum of the 'L's"... a beautiful noise.  Overload of joy, memories, shopping and walking.

Back to the Big Metal Tube – Part 2 Cancer Redux

Yep, “call in two days” if you have not heard from us is truly an eternity for the patient and loved ones. 

Our journey with cancer is always an interesting one! We were visiting a doctor two weeks ago to help with some post surgery issues on my skin. When we mentioned that some of the skin near the surgery location in my heel was similar to what we had seen prior to discovering cancer in that location, he almost ran from the room. Deb and I almost laughed at his patient care style but understood as it is such a unique cancer (1% of 1%, da da da) and he was young and not an oncologist. He did recommend that we visit our surgeon at the U of Michigan Cancer Center and so we called and moved up our scheduled visit a couple of weeks.

US Air Force C-17 on the go! Last aircraft "Col K" flew.
On Wednesday we saw the surgeon who saved my leg a year ago with the intent to discuss our concerns. In this big “sarcoma center” (did you know they have such things?) we are frequently seen by other medical professionals before we see the doctor. I am still in the learning mode (always inquisitive) and this appointment started with a discussion with a physicians assistant who very firmly told us we needed to be seen there and only could do our MRIs at a sarcoma center. We had dared to suggest to her that we might do follow ups closer to home in Grand Rapids which has a wonderful cancer center too. Once again, we were slightly taken aback by the “bedside manner”.

Before the physician walked in, we had a few quiet, alone moments to talk which allowed us to get our focus back. The doctor was wonderful. After a short discussion, she ordered up new MRIs for both locations where the cancer had been removed. Then I did something that I had wanted to do and kept forgetting. Maybe it was the stress, the pain meds, the short and hurried visits with a very busy doctor but I had not said, "thank you" to her for saving my leg. When I did, I could tell she was touched by my heart felt appreciation as she gripped my hand. Maybe we need to say thank you more frequently to our health professionals? It was a moment I will always remember as I took in her response.
Typical MRI machine

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