Who is an advocate for your family?

Yesterday after church we headed to the zoo for the afternoon. As a family of six... sometimes we are our own little zoo, or at least circus... but I was really craving some family time. Away from the TV; Away from the video games; Away from the hustle and bustle of home life.

We had a blast! We did the Rainforest first, completely indoors and a great place to see toads, snakes, bats, fishing cats, orangutans and much much more. We had such a good time that after touring the whole building we ventured over to the outdoor part. It was cold, below freezing, in fact, but we had jackets, gloves, hats and LOTS of energy. What else do you need? We saw polar bears, wolves, reindeer and seals. Yep, they all thought the weather was just about /perfect/!

The boys splashed in near frozen puddles (much to this mom's chagrin), threw snowballs at each other and even played some ice-ball soccer up and down the sidewalks. There were lots of smiles [especially from the few people we passed on the sidewalks -> to you I say thanks for enjoying my boys instead of thinking... "Why must they be so loud?" :)]. There was much laughter and tons of love. My heart pounded with joy. (I'm pretty sure it was joy, and not the fact I was pushing the stroller up a steep incline.)

All this leads back to my sermon notes from earlier in the day, Sunday. Our pastor gave his annual 'State of the Church' sermon. It wasn't a plea for money for programs. It wasn't a guilt trip about what we aren't doing right. It was just simply what the church and the Church is about and where we should head in the future as the congregation. It was good.

What I found most interesting and very relevant was where our church spent the largest chunk of its money and resources: The Children. But to take it a step further, the church is there to equip the Family - because who has the most impact on these children's faith? Not the pastor, not the Sunday School teachers, but the parents.


Children are our priority
Faith Training Happens at home


I wrap it back to this. I am glad that Military Family support is in the spotlight right now. It is wonderful to have the support of the nation behind us. I'm hoping money will be well spent on these programs and the programs that receive it are good stewards of the gifts they are given. But who is the primary resource in our children's mental health, our family's physical health? The parents. The spouses. We are a unit not to be reckoned with. Families use the resource you are given. Be there for each other. Spend time together so that you know when their are troubles brewing. Seek out help when you need it, when your children need it, when your spouse needs it.

There are lots of great articles about the call from President Obama to support Military Families. You can find a few of them here:

Collaboration is Key to Family Support Effort, Official Says
First Lady Pledges Support For Military Families
First Lady, Dr. Biden Laud New Family Support Effort
Leaders Praise New Approach to Military Family Support
Programs Aim to Support Military Spouses, Families
White House Unveils New Approach to Military Family Support


Be your family's advocate. Be there for each other. Get out and spend time together!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: Week of January 23 - 29, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Articles for the week of January 23rd through 29th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:

MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Are you having a baby? Whether this is your first child or another addition to your growing family, a new baby changes lives! Here are some resources from MilitaryAvenue.com as you prepare for the arrival of the newest "Military Brat" ...

USAA's iPad Application - Be informed! When we are informed we make better decisions. That is what USAA's iPad application is all about! I have had the privilege of previewing their banking app for the iPad and I have to say I am mighty impressed. It just suits me. It is clean. It is organized. It makes me feel like I am in control. That is important when it comes to finances!I love the look of the Insurance Policy pages. Like a small library of policies. Pick a book. Open it up. ...

Care Package Ideas I really enjoyed a blog post from the DoD's Family Matters blog and wanted to be sure to share it with you. These are some great ideas for a wife, daughter, sister, friend that is deployed but you can always take the thought and apply it to your loved-one. [Like I'm thinking if I sent my husband curtains and a comforter he would have been more 'annoyed' then appreciative... but maybe that's just my hubs ;)] ...

Military Discounts on Facebook We recognize the importance of Social Media at MilitaryAvenue.com. In many ways it is on the same page of Military Life. Always Changing. Flexible. New Directions.We invite you to "Like" our brand-new Military Discounts page on Facebook! Keep abreast of the latest and greatest military discounts. Enjoy the ability to Share discounts with friends in the area. Watch for businesses that support you the military family. ...

Military Family Support I've been watching the news lately regarding President Obama's call to support military-families. This support is needed! The military lifestyle affects more than the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. I am certainly glad to see our leaders acknowledging the family! But, I also feel that government agencies aren't the only forms, maybe even not the best forms, of support out there.The best support I have found through the years of military-living is from my family, my neighbors, other moms, other military families. People. ...

Face of Defense: Soldier Finds Peace Through Music People say it’s not what life throws at you, but how you handle it, that determines your character. For one soldier on the provincial reconstruction team, that’s the story of his life. Army Spc. Diego Medina -- one of the 40 infantrymen who make up the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 3rd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment – has a lyrical talent that he uses to light his way. ...

Obama Announces ‘Unprecedented Commitment’ to Military Families President Barack Obama today unveiled a governmentwide plan to strengthen military family support, offering a glimpse at a few of the new programs and cooperative efforts being launched in the coming months to improve quality of life and well-being for military families. “Today, I'm proud to announce that for the first time ever, supporting the well-being of our military families will be a priority not just for the Department of Defense ...

Family Matters Blog: Agencies Join Together to Support Military Families President Barack Obama today announced the findings of a study which identifies an enduring, government-wide approach to enhance the resilience of military families and to help them better navigate the unique aspects of military life by: Enhancing the well-being and psychological health of the military family; Ensuring excellence in military children’s education and their development; Developing career and educational opportunities for military spouses...

White House Unveils New Approach to Military Family Support White House officials released a report today that unveils a new, governmentwide approach to military family support and details a sweeping, interagency effort under way to strengthen families and enhance their well-being and quality of life. President Barack Obama announced the results of a nearly yearlong review of military family support today in a White House ceremony attended by the Defense Department’s top brass, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ...

Menu Monday: Italian Meatballs Ah Family! We had a wonderful time visiting my brothers, parents, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews this weekend. We are quite a crew. From the humble beginnings of 'The Lt and Mrs' to Grandma, Grandpa, three adult children & spouses, and nine-grandkids. When we get together we rock the house!This weekend's visit was to meet my brand new nephew and niece. Twins!; born on January 3rd to my youngest brother, his wife and their two older sons. ...



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Our Letters to You, MilitaryAvenue.com's Military Family Blog

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The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

USAA's iPad Application - Be informed!

When we are informed we make better decisions.

That is what USAA's iPad application is all about! I have had the privilege of previewing their banking app for the iPad and I have to say I am mighty impressed. It just suits me. It is clean. It is organized. It makes me feel like I am in control. That is important when it comes to finances!

I love the look of the Insurance Policy pages. Like a small library of policies. Pick a book. Open it up. Before you lies everything you need to know about your auto insurance policy, or your home-policy, or your life insurance. All at your fingertips, literally.
I love the ease of transferring money. From our savings to checking. On the fly. A bill comes in the mail pick up the iPad and pay it. Just like that. Review your IRAs, Mutual Funds. It's all there.

My husband is our main household finances guy. He pays the bills, balances the books, makes sure we are getting the most bang for our hard-earned buck! It was really nice to sit down together and look through our account balances, see where our last credit card transactions were, think about the future of our home-equity line of credit. All from the comfort of our couch.

My husband, a closet techno-gadget geek, enjoyed the articles posted on the app. Important topics that affect our future; subjects like IRAs, Credit Scores, Identity Theft and Scams. It is nice in this hustle and bustle world to take 5 to 10 minutes to become informed. We are all busy and in this age of information it is important to have a company that we can turn to knowing they are taking care of us, the military family. USAA is providing us with a valuable resource. Adapting to our needs, our way of taking in information.

So if you are an iPad owner and a USAA member head to the App Store on your device. (And if you are not a USAA member this is just another fantastic reason to become one!) The application will be available at midnight on January 29th.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com






Thank you to USAA for supplying an iPad for our use for the review of their product.

Seasonal Light Disorder

"Seasonal Light Disorder". Winter is tough. Winter in northeast Ohio is dark, dreary, cloudy. My mood can plumit into depths of darkness in an instant.

Today at the grocery store I picked up a fresh basil plant. I came home, washed my kitchen window, put my new little ray of sunshine on a little plate. I BREATHED in the fresh spring air, the aroma of fresh gardens, sunshine and so much more all in a tiny little pot.

What do you do to help with the dark dreary winter days? When we were stationed in Iceland we put lights on timers to help keep our 'clocks' on cycle. As those from Alaska can attest to, winter nights are LONG up by the Arctic circle... in the heart of winter the sun was up for moments, not even hours.

I know some will applaud the use of tanning booths in the winter, just for a little while, nothing to do with skin tone, but more to do with mind-tone. The infusion of light helps. The warmth soaking through to their bones.

For now I'm sticking with my little basil plant. May it live long and prosper. I hope to plant it in my herb garden this summer. Until then I will enjoy the aroma, watch it soak up the sun, and enjoy the beauty in the everyday of winter.

I'll end on this thought. My very favorite children's book to read to my boys is Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days. It is a great book! In fact, I've read it so often I have it memorized. (The words don't do its entire job justice as the pictures are infused with vibrant colors in the book.)


Some days are yellow.
Some are blue.
On different days I'm different too.
You'd be surprised how many ways
I change on Different Colored Days.

On Bright Red Days how good it feels
to be a horse and kick my heels!
On other days I'm other things.
On Bright Blue Days I flap my wings.

Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown.
Then I feel slow and low, low down.

Then comes a Yellow Day and Wheeee!
I am a busy, buzzy bee.

Gray Day....Everything is gray.
I watch. But nothing moves today.

Then all of a sudden I'm a circus seal!
On my Orange Days that's how I feel.

Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me.

On Purple Days I'm sad. I groan. I drag my tail. I walk alone.

But when my days are Happy Pink.
Its great to jump and just not think.

Then come my Black Days. MAD. And loud.
I howl. I growl at every cloud.

Then comes a Mixed-Up Day. And WHAM!
I don't know who or what I am!

But it all turns out all right, you see.
And I go back to being ... Me.


My point with all that? We all have gray days. We all have happy days. Some of us are more affected by things around, the weather, the seasons even the moods of others have a huge impact on us. However, we can all weather this 'storm'! I hope you can find something today to turn your grey day to an orange day! [Or perhaps a Spring-Infused Basil Plant day! :)]


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com


Virtual Reality and PTSD - DoD Roundtable

Our combat veterans see things with a different shade of glasses! Their survival instincts and experiences have highly toned their ability to react when facing combat situations. These same experiences and instincts are embedded into their brains upon their return from the combat arena and would surprise many Americans with little contact with the military or their families. These responses can lead to PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and the symptoms of heightened heart rates, high levels of awareness of surroundings, sweat, anxiety, fear of crowds, strong emotions and many others. Seeing or feeling circumstances similar to combat threats such as a pile of garbage along a road (IED location) or driving under an overpass and suddenly accelerating to avoid the “kill zone” are typical. Up to 20% of our veterans find their responses overwhelming and meet the criteria for PTSD.

A pioneer in using immersive technologies to help these men and women met with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable and led us through a very interesting discussion of virtual reality and exposure therapy. Dr. Albert "Skip" Rizzo of the University of
Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, leads several projects that use virtual humans and virtual reality for mental health training and support. He said that exposure therapy has, “the best evidence for success with PTSD” and explained that they were attempting to help patients confront their memories by repeating cycles of trauma memories starting at a low level and slowly increasing it through repetitive exercises.

As children we often heard our parents tell us to "get up and try it again" when we fell, did something new like public speaking or had a less than successful performance with our band instrument. For many the anxiety level came down each step we took, each concert played or speech given and the repetition taught us how to control the fears associated with that activity. Dr Rizzo is using technology to return our service members to these experiences that caused the PTSD through virtual reality so they can reduce their anxiety a step at a time. The ten step protocol begins with three typical counseling sessions and expands into seven exposure sessions where using a $1500 head mounted display (think science fiction) and a laptop the counselor can take the service member back to the combat environment and then return to the peace time location as well. These are not fixed scenarios but the clinician can build the scenario based on the patient’s experiences using the virtual reality simulator with a “Wizard of Oz” interface (think of it as behind the curtain controls).

The doctor emphasized that they do not “spring” anything on patients and the environment includes audio stimuli and scent as well. Three ongoing trials are being conducted to refine the counseling and it is now available at 48 locations with trained clinicians. Virtual reality is also being considered as a stress resilience tool prior to deployment and to assess returning combat veterans for possible PTSD symptoms. The doctor described it as game technology but not a game! Virtual reality is being used to narrate the personal experiences of those who fought for their country and returned needing help. In this digital age what a great tool to help our heroes! Thank you Dr Rizzo and others involved in this project!

If you would like to listen to an audio or read a transcript of this Roundtable please go to DoDLive. For other interesting information on PTSD from MilitaryAvenue please go to Our Letters to You/PTSD! For another great article on this subject go to Army News.



Photo Credits: A virtual Afghan marketplace as portrayed in Second Life inside Department of Defense's Virtual PTSD Experience. Program users can navigate role-playing scenarios such as an explosion going off, and monitor their stress levels. DoD


Photo Credits: Dr. Albert "Skip" Rizzo. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army.

Military Family Support

I've been watching the news lately regarding President Obama's call to support military-families. This support is needed! The military lifestyle affects more than the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. I am certainly glad to see our leaders acknowledging the family! But, I also feel that government agencies aren't the only forms, maybe even not the best forms, of support out there.

The best support I have found through the years of military-living is from my family, my neighbors, other moms, other military families. People. I find support in people.

Then there are other great /people/ run organizations. Like, MilitaryAvenue and all of the Partners that stand behind us! Other top notch organizations are:

... and that is just scratching the surface!

It is not 'government'. It is People.

Where are your walls of support? What group do you rely on? Who do you turn to when your walls are crumbling? Ask questions when you aren't sure which way to go? Know that you can find the information you are looking for?

- Leanne of MilitaryAvenue.com

A Minute Out of the Norm: Dance Party!

Do you have a case of the winter doldrums? - Feeling a little low? - Kids a little on edge?

Turn the music UP. - Put on your dancing feet. - Have a Dance Party!




Either find your favorite CD or find a good dancing song [CC Music Factory is an old favorite :)] on Pandora and turn up the computer! Even 5 minutes of pumped energy is good for the heart and soul!

Get ready for some smiles! (And not a bad workout either!)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Menu Monday: Italian Meatballs

Ah Family! We had a wonderful time visiting my brothers, parents, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews this weekend. We are quite a crew. From the humble beginnings of 'The Lt and Mrs' to Grandma, Grandpa, three adult children & spouses, and nine-grandkids. When we get together we rock the house!

This weekend's visit was to meet my brand new nephew and niece. Twins!; born on January 3rd to my youngest brother, his wife and their two older sons.

I was excited to meet them but couldn't dream of putting work on the new family so I planned a big meal of Spaggetti and Meatballs. My brother, James, invited my folks over as well as my brother, Dan, and his family. I made enough to feed an army and it was a perfect meal.

Sure you can buy meatballs in the freezer section of your commissary but there is just something about homemade! I put the baby in the Bumbo and had these put together in less than an hour! I put them in the fridge and then cooked them up in pasta sauce two days later. Yum!

Italian Meatballs

> 1 cup bread crumbs
> 1/2 cup water
> 2 eggs
> 1/4 cup grated Parmeson Cheese
> 1 tsp dried Parsley
> 1/4 tsp dried oregano
> 1 cup of finely-chopped carrots, very chopped, like food processor chopped
> 1 cup of spinach frozen or fresh, squeeze any extra liquid out in a paper towel
> 1 tsp salt
> Dash of pepper
> 1 to 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
> 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Combine bread crumbs and water

  • Stir in eggs, Parmesan, carrots, spinach, herbs, salt, pepper.

  • Add meat; mix well. (I use a stand-up mixer)

  • With wet hands, form 20 to 24 balls.

  • Heat oil and cook meatballs until brown, turning regularly, over low to medium heat.

  • Place meatballs on paper towels to absorb any extra oil.

  • If you are serving meatballs immediately, heat pasta sauce to a boil. Lower to a simmer, add meatballs, and cook, loosely covered for 30 to 40 minutes.

  • If you are serving in a day or two place meatballs in an airtight container after absorbing oil and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve heat pasta-sauce as above

  • Serve with spaghetti and /enjoy/!

Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: Week of January 16 - 22 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Articles for the week of January 16th through 22nd on

MilitaryAvenue.com:

Military Family Life MilitaryAvenue.com brings a lot to the table. Part of our lifestyle-offering for Military Families is our Blog, 'Our Letters' to You, written by military-families for your enjoyment, knowledge and empowerment.Find out how much we have to offer. ...

Suffering We are military-wives. We know suffering. Some of us worse then others. Some have lost husbands to war. Some have lost their soul mates to PTSD. Some have lost any sense of closure when something happens 'back home' and unable to go to the ones that need them in their hour of need. Other struggles aren't as bad. But still leave us hurting and feeling miserable. Saying goodbye to our spouse for a year deployment. Saying goodbye to the best of friends as we move across the country, the world. ...

Military Spouse Employment It is not easy being a military spouse. But particularly in the career field! Deployments, being a temporary single-mom and the career fast-track don't go hand in hand. PCSing every couple of years, finding a new job at the new location, and climbing the career ladder aren't easy.If you are looking for some resources be sure to visit our Reading Room on MilitaryAvenue.com. We have articles from the experts to get you on the right track! ...

Tips for Managing Your Money Managing your money can be challenging. The key is learning what to do with the money you already have, and the money you earn. Set Up a Budget: List your income sources; always use after-tax income in your calculations. Figure your expenses. Set aside 5% of your income for savings. Subtract your expenses from your income and savings to see how much spending money you have. ...

Menu Monday: Italian Tortellini Soup I am a /huge/ fan of the slow-cooker. It helps with the crazy routine of the day and allows me prepare a meal when there are a few moments of calm. If you are looking for a tasty, winter, soup filled with the aroma and comfort of Italian food give this meal a try! Put it all together when the baby is taking a morning nap, the preschooler is creating a masterpiece on paper, or the kids are off to school. ...

Winter's Wordless Wednesday: Stubborn Oak Hanging In There! Check out some pictures of an oak just not willing to lose his leaves despite the winter weather.

Planning a Military Wedding Doesn't Have to be a Saber-Rattling Experience Unlike other areas of the military service, there are no steadfast rules in the marriage process. Getting married by a Navy chaplain really is not much different than getting married by a civilian minister, priest, or rabbi. The only differences occur in the way a couple chooses to marry. ...

TRICARE to Extend Dependent Coverage to Age 26 To ensure military families don’t get left out as the new national health care reform law extends parent’s health insurance to their children up to age 26, TRICARE plans to roll out its new Young Adult Program by spring and to provide an option to make coverage retroactive to Jan. 1. The new program will allow qualified, unmarried military children up to age 26 to buy health care coverage under their parents’ TRICARE plans through age 26, defense officials announced yesterday. ...

Protecting American Lives and Property: The Air Force Reserve Command – DoD Roundtable It is easy to forget the quiet professionals, not to recognize those who treat you politely or give you great customer service. Sometimes we are too busy or we just fail to respond when we should say thank you. ...

Are You Getting Married for the Right Reasons? Myths of Marrying in the Military A Sailor getting fresh air on the deck of a ship says to his buddy, "I can't wait to get back home. I wish I could get a place of my own in town, but I'll be stuck living on this ship." The other Sailor, unflatteringly regarded as a "sea lawyer," responds, "Hey, why don't you just marry another Sailor, and then you'll get paid more money to live off base and always be stationed together?" ...

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Our Letters to You, MilitaryAvenue.com's Military Family Blog

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The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Military Discounts on Facebook

We recognize the importance of Social Media at MilitaryAvenue.com. In many ways it is on the same page of Military Life. Always Changing. Flexible. New Directions.

We invite you to "Like" our brand-new Military Discounts page on Facebook! Keep abreast of the latest and greatest military discounts. Enjoy the ability to Share discounts with friends in the area. Watch for businesses that support you the military family.



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Winter Weather Driving

Brrrr ... It is cold out across the great Midwest. It is winter after all and inclement weather is to be expected!

Today my family will be packing up and driving several hours to meet the two newest members of our family: Twins! a beautiful niece and nephew. But with that comes a 5+ hour drive, leaving lots of room for a bumpy ride.

What do you pack in your car in case of emergency during inclement weather and possible time stuck in the car on the side of the road?

On my to to-pack-in-case-of-emergency is:
  • Blankets

  • Hats, gloves, jackets

  • Some candles and a lighter. (I asked this question on Facebook already and someone mentioned a coffee-can to hold the candle. Great idea!)

  • Some extra granola bars, Pediasures (for my boys), and water

  • Extra Formula and a bottle for the baby
And then importantly we will make sure these things are accessible (not packed below the suitcases and other travel paraphernalia!)

Here are some great driving tips from the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center: The “cold” facts on winter driving.

So now it's your turn! Let us know what you put on your 'to pack' list during the winter months.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Military Spouse Employment

It is not easy being a military spouse. But particularly in the career field! Deployments, being a temporary single-mom and the career fast-track don't go hand in hand. PCSing every couple of years, finding a new job at the new location, and climbing the career ladder aren't easy.

If you are looking for some resources be sure to visit our Reading Room on MilitaryAvenue.com. We have articles from the experts to get you on the right track!

12 Myths to Trash if You Want to Get Hired
Gimme the $$$ Part 1 - Salary Basics
Military transitions: Your strength matters
References that work
Too soon old: Age discrimination realities
Uncle Sam Wants You
New Hiring Authority for Military Spouses Announced
5 Steps to Land a Job in Tough Times
Direct Sales Success for Military Families
Fed Jobs for Military Spouses
From the Better Business Bureau: Help for Military Spouses Seeking Federal Jobs
Managing a Job Change - Free Advice from USAA
Military Spouse? Try These Job Search Success Tips!
Military spouses have opportunity for educational assistance
Network - 5 Steps to Tapping into the "Hidden" Job Market
Speaking the Government’s Language
Staying Steady in a Shaky Job Market - Free Advice from USAA

Also be sure to checkout Army Wife Network's recent Field Problem™ - Career Conundrum. Some more great advice - from military-wives, for military-wives!

What is your advice to fellow military spouses? What job fields have you find success with? Is your company extra accommodating to your needs? Give them a shout-out! We'd love to hear.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Winter's Wordless Wednesday: Stubborn Oak Hanging In There!







Oatmeal Walnut Waffles

Sunday Night Supper... in our house needs to be a simple satisfying meal. Now sometimes this meal occurs in the afternoon, but often it's an evening feel good, relaxed yummy time.

Oatmeal Walnut Waffles. As Sesame Street would say... without *W* waffles would be awful. See, it is a childlike time. Syrup, honey, jam or just hard butter top these aroma beauties and allow the weekend to come to closure.

Oatmeal Walnut Waffles

3 eggs separated

1 1/2 c milk

1/4 c oil or melted shortening

1/2 c oatmeal

1 3/4 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking powder

1 t salt

cinnamon

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Stir in milk and oil or shortening. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture. Beat just until dry ingredients are moistened. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; carefully fold into batter.

For each waffle pour 1 1/3 c batter into preheated waffle iron and spread over grid at once. Bake until done and lightly browned. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add with your favorite topping.


Protecting American Lives and Property: The Air Force Reserve Command – DoD Roundtable

Protecting American Lives and Property: The Air Force Reserve Command – DoD Roundtable

It is easy to forget the quiet professionals, not to recognize those who treat you politely or give you great customer service. Sometimes we are too busy or we just fail to respond when we should say thank you. This could not be truer than for three Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) C-130 aircraft missions that we rarely hear about because they are quietly and professionally doing their jobs in the background of natural or manmade disasters such as hurricanes, large fires, insect infestations and oil spills. They mitigate the disasters with unique (and sometimes venerable) equipment and training to penetrate hurricanes, drop fire retardant in difficult terrain, spraying at low level for mosquitoes or covering oil slicks with chemical agents.

This group of airmen just got together for a conference to bring their common issues, tactics and experiences to the forefront. There were discussions on command and control, lessons learned, similarities and commonality. Officially their unique efforts are known as Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions. I talked to the commander and leaders of these airmen during a Defense Department New Media Blogger’s Roundtable and came away even more impressed than I had been due to personal knowledge of the requirements of some of their missions.

The Roundtable included the 22nd Air Force Commander, Maj Gen James T Rubeor, Lt Col Jonathan Talbot, representing the Hurricane Hunters in the 403d Wing, Lt Col Steve Condit, representing the fire fighters of the 302nd Airlift Wing and Capt W. Travis Adams, Assistant Chief of Aerial Spray of the 757 Airlift Squadron. Thank you to each of you for representing the 22,000 airmen of 22nd Air Force so well!

I asked General Rubeor if they were having any difficulties with maintaining training currencies with so many commitments and he said “no” but that part of the purpose of the conference was to identify “efficiencies” that were common to all to three missions. One need for the efficiencies is to support new taskings such as the spray mission following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, the insect spray can be spread at a higher altitude and airspeed to cover a larger area. The oil spill chemicals had to be dropped lower and slower to hit the targets which were being identified by other slower moving search aircraft. The C-130s flying the mission would normally spray at 200 knots and instead were operating at much slower speeds (around 150-160 according to the captain) and being directed to turn by other aircraft which makes it even more difficult of a maneuver! This requires experienced airmen which AFRC has!

Were you part of the winter storms along the East Coast at Christmas? Did you know the Hurricane Hunters of the 403d flew four missions in those atypical storms to provide better data to the forecasters so they could alert authorities and citizens what to expect? The states, counties and cities were better prepared with information to time their response (this certainly was a nightmare storm for many travelers). These brave aviators are kept very busy while chasing hurricanes and penetrating them (which all aircraft flight manuals and FAA/Air Force regulations say to avoid) to keep our citizens out of our harms way but are adding new missions as well. They are also now flying missions over the Pacific in the winter to gather data over the storms that form there and move over the US. They are dropping weather buoys to gather data where no weather stations are available and in areas that improve the accuracy of our weather forecasts.


The airmen C-130 firefighters of the 302nd Airlift Wing are adding new equipment and capability provided by the US Forest Service and will be conducting training in May with it to prepare for the major fire fighting season to come. Another difficult mission requiring highly experienced aircrews and support personnel the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems bring flexibility and quick to respond capability for the US Forest Service and our citizens in fear of losing their homes and resources in a forest fire. Dropping fire retardant in the mountains, near a large fire, at low altitude and hitting the target precisely is key to successfully winning the battle, supporting the ground fire fighter and ending the threat to our citizens’ homes, businesses and livelihoods. Maneuvering their C-130s in these conditions requires a professional airmen (and maintenance team to provide a fully operational and safe aircraft).

General Rubeor said the Citizen Airmen were an “incredible bargain for US taxpayers” and that he was very proud of them! So the next time you read about or are in a hurricane, massive winter storm, forest fire or other calamity, just know that the US Air Force is protecting and saving lives! If you would like to read a transcript of this interesting Roundtable or listen to an audio please go to DoD Live. For more detail on these missions go to AFRC News! Thank you General Rubeor and your leaders for taking the time to talk to the Bloggers Roundtable and sharing the story of your airmen!





Photo Credits: A C-130 Hercules drops an oil-dispersing chemical over the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Deepwater Horizon Response effort May 5, 2010. Members are from the Air Force Reserve Command's 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station, Ohio. The unit specializes in aerial spray and is the Department of Defense's only large-area, fixed-wing aerial spray unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Photo Credits 22nd Air Force Commander, Maj Gen James T Rubeor U.S. Air Force

Photo Credits: A WC-130J Super Hercules takes off during a hurricane tracking mission Sept. 19, 2010, at the airport on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The aircraft assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron will collect data on building tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Photo Credits: The radar image of Hurricane Igor's eyewall onboard a WC-130J Hercules keeps Airmen from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron busy over the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 17, 2010. Known as the "Hurricane Hunters," the 53rd WRS mission is to provide surveillance of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the central Pacific Ocean for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)


Photo Credits: A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system, taxies to the runway at McClellan Airfield, Calif., July 5 to begin firefighting operations. Aircraft from the 302nd AW are conducting firefighting support missions as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hector Garcia)

Menu Monday: Italian Tortellini Soup

I am a /huge/ fan of the slow-cooker. It helps with the crazy routine of the day and allows me prepare a meal when there are a few moments of calm.

If you are looking for a tasty, winter, soup filled with the aroma and comfort of Italian food give this meal a try! Put it all together when the baby is taking a morning nap, the preschooler is creating a masterpiece on paper, or the kids are off to school. If you work outside of the home put the dish together the night before and then plop it in your slow-cooker on the way out the door in the morning. What a wonderful thing to come home to!

Italian Tortellini Soup

1 lb. Italian sausage (not in casing)
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5 cups beef broth
½ cup water
½ cup dry red wine
1- 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (I ran three peeled carrots through the food processor)
½ teaspoon basil leaves
½ teaspoon oregano leaves
½ teaspoon parsley
1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
8 oz (2 cups) frozen or refrigerated cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese

Brown the Italian Sausage on the range and then scoop into slow-cooker leaving any drippings in your pan. If there is less than a tablespoon of drippings add a little olive- or vegetable-oil. Next saute onions and garlic in drippings until onions are tender and see-through.

Add sauteed onions, beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, parsley, tomato sauce, green or red pepper and browned-sausage to slow-cooker. Cook on low for about 4 hours. (Beauty of slow cookers is it doesn't have to be an exact amount. Your meat is already cooked so the longer you cook the longer the flavor mixes, the longer your kitchen smells like a little slice of heaven.)

Add the frozen or refrigerated tortellini for the last 30 to 40 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with Parmesan Cheese.

Serve with crusty bread.

Enjoy!




- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Suffering

We are military-wives. We know suffering. Some of us worse then others. Some have lost husbands to war. Some have lost their soul mates to PTSD. Some have lost any sense of closure when something happens 'back home' and unable to go to the ones that need them in their hour of need.

Other struggles aren't as bad. But still leave us hurting and feeling miserable. Saying goodbye to our spouse for a year deployment. Saying goodbye to the best of friends as we move across the country, the world. Watching our children struggle with depression because of their "Military Brat" lifestyle. All suffer.

Today at church our sermon was on Ephesians 3:1-13, about the suffering of Christians. Here is a man, Paul, in prison, writing a letter to folks saying ... 'Yes, I am suffering. But yes, I can endure.' And so I simply want you to know that as a military-spouse ... you can endure!

Through suffering we can identify with others. We can identify with Christ but we can also identify with others that are suffering. We can empathize with someone when they are in need. We can be a friend, a mentor, we can say yes I have 'been-there-done-that' and here is how to get-over-it and climb this mountain.

Suffering is noble. Think of your spouses that are serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places of hardship. They are noble. They are American Heroes. They serve rather than expect to be served. We, as spouses, can do the same. When we are in the midst of hardship, instead of saying 'woe is me', let's say "I will endure for the greater good". A pity-party isn't going to solve our troubles. However, a sense of relentless endurance will help pull us through.

Lastly, suffering leads to passion. Have passion to overcome suffering. If you have struggled in the past learn from it. Teach others. Equip them. Show them how to endure.

My hardships are nothing in comparison to some! But the hardships I have endured have defined me. Quite for the better. How about you? Will you let these hardships break you down or build you up?

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: Week of January 9 - 15 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Articles for the week of January 2nd through 8th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:


PCS Allowances and Entitlements - Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): is an allowance to offset the cost of housing when you do not receive government-provided housing. Your BAH depends upon your location, pay grade and whether you have dependents. BAH rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographic location. The rates are established such that members in each pay grade, independent of location, pay approximately the same out-of-pocket expenses. ...


Ways to Cut Home Energy Costs - If you're like most homeowners, you're looking for ways to lower your monthly utility bills as energy costs continue to stress household budgets. These simple tips can help you save money year-round. 1. Control the temperature. Start by keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees during your waking hours in the winter and 10-15 degrees lower when you're asleep or away from home. In the summer, the thermostat should be set at 78-80 degrees — day and night. ...


The Top 8 Foolish Military Money Moves - You've been fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban for what seems like an eternity and doing it thousands of miles away. In exchange, the military provides a steady paycheck, fashionable clothes, and food and shelter. And, if you hang in there long enough, you stand to earn a pension -- for most, at the tender age of 40-something. You're set, right? Not so fast, Ranger Bob. You have a good deal, but you have to keep up your end of the bargain, too, so all that goodness will continue and extend into your "old soldier" years. ...

Ringing in the New Year with Class, First-Class, that is - We appreciate what you do for our military and their families! Part of our appreciation is a free ad through our MilitaryAvenue Partner Program. To ring in the new year, and the success ahead for all of us, we would like to give you a free First Class Package (a $60 value). What does this mean? ...


Critical Care for Our Heroes – DoD Roundtable - A Flying ICU! When one of our service members is injured we take care of them! The services have an entire system of combat rescue, medevac and airevac to move the heroes to hospitals with top notch facilities and medics to care for them. We all pray that no one has to be placed into this responsive system but knowing it is there and saving lives is reassuring. ...


A Breastfeeding Journey - WE did it! By "We" I mean BabyBoy *L* and me! In just a few weeks he will be six-months old and aside from a few sips of formula (promptly spit out on his part) he has been exclusively breastfed.Can I tell you how much I have enjoyed this journey?! (Thanks, then I will.) I tried with my other two. *E* my first born was a colicky-mess... or maybe it was just me that was a mess? ...


Boston Celtics to Host Members of the United States Armed Services for the 4th Annual Seats for Soldiers Night - The Boston Celtics will again host members of the United States Armed Services and their families for the home game on Friday, January 14 against the Charlotte Bobcats as part of the fourth annual Seats for Soldiers program, presented by OmniPresence and the Army National Guard of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Seats for Soldiers gives Celtics fans the opportunity to donate their tickets...


MilitaryAvenue.com Special: PCS Central - We all know how hard it is to pick up the family and move them to a new duty station! We have a wide variety of resources for you here on MilitaryAvenue.com. Here is a directory of articles & MilitaryAvenue.com categories offering military discounts related to PCSing. This is just a small selection of what MilitaryAvenue.com has to offer you. ...


Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill, Detain Insurgents - Afghan and coalition killed at least 15 insurgents and detained numerous others today in operations throughout southern and eastern Afghanistan, military officials reported. Afghan and coalition troops observed the movement of several armed insurgents in Helmand province’s Marja district. Troops engaged the insurgents with small-arms fire, wounding one, and continued their patrol. The troops later came into enemy contact again and were attacked. ...


Words of Affirmation - A simple Facebook status. One of those 'Repost this if you agree...' because clearly if you don't repost it, you must not agree'...! I really don't like these because usually it is a matter of actions speaking louder than words but I digress. This one just got me to thinking ...

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Reflecting on MLK Jr Day

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. Visit MLKDay.gov.I have been thinking about Martin Luther King Jr Day the past few days and the impact this man has made on even my life. As a military-brat I grew up in a very diverse environment. There was not a 'wrong side of the tracks' on the various bases where we lived. My school friends were black, hispanic, pacific and white, with no real minority amongst us. We brats were adaptable. Different cultures, different values, different points of view. BUT same schools, same neighborhoods, same circles. Military life growing up was one big melting pot. And I wouldn't change it for the world!

Last night, sitting around the dinner table (my favorite place to chit-chat) I talked to my kids about diversity. Just because someone looks different, talks different, is different doesn't make them less. They immediately got it. Chiming in with their own definitions of diversity. I was proud of them. The concept wasn't new to them but still important to reinforce.

But there is more to talk. There is action. And according to http://mlkday.gov/:

On January 17, 2011 we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the holiday recognizing one of America's greatest heroes-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a federal holiday, a day off of school, an easy day to sit around the house and not think much more about what the day is about. Instead, why not talk to your kids; remind them the importance of diversity; the importance of respecting others; find a service-project you can do together. Make it a "A day on, not a day off".




Which leads me to a question posed by the US Navy: How Will You Observe the 25th National Day of Service?

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

PS - I'm always looking for a good book and just finished 'The Help'. It is a wonderful, poignant reminder that we are /all/ people. People with struggles. People with needs. If you want a good read and look at life around MLK Jr's era pick it up at your library or local book store. It's a great one!

Critical Care for Our Heroes – DoD Roundtable


A Flying ICU!


When one of our service members is injured we take care of them! The services have an entire system of combat rescue, medevac and airevac to move the heroes to hospitals with top notch facilities and medics to care for them. We all pray that no one has to be placed into this responsive system but knowing it is there and saving lives is reassuring. For part of my career I flew combat rescue and C-17s involved in these missions and know personally how seriously the aircrews and medical personnel take supporting our wounded heroes. During a Bloggers’ Roundtable we learned about an expanded role in the system by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Colonel Brett Wyrick, Air National Guard and Air Surgeon talked to us and answered questions about the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT – “See Cat”) mission in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

A CCATT is assigned to care for the most critical patients during air movement from in country to Landstuhl Hospital (Ramstein AB Germany) and then on to the US. Most are taken into Andrews Air Force Base for a hospital in DC and burn victims will be taken to Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. The team consists of a doctor specializing in critical care, pulmonology, anesthesiology or surgery; a critical care nurse and a respiratory technician. They can care for a maximum of four patients during the flight. The Air National Guard will have 18 teams and the Air Force Reserve will have 36 to expand responsiveness and reduce the active forces' opstempo according to Col Wyrick.

CCATTs will be on alert at Ramstein so they can move forward to the combat theatre to move patients or take patients to the US from Landstuhl. The program was a concept only six months ago and the first Air National Guard CCATT was on alert this week. The teams can fly on aircraft such as C-17s, C-5s, C-130s and KC-135s and do not have dedicated aircraft. They may fly alone or with an airevac mission aircraft moving numerous less seriously injured patients.

The Air National Guard expects to reach full mission capability within two years with all 18 teams and Col Wyrick added that the Guard brings a lot of experience with this program. A high percentage of the Guard medical personnel have 15-20 years experience in caring for others and many have been involved in the CCATT mission before while on active duty. Some will need training in this specific mission but the initial teams are volunteering for extended alert periods of time and the teams will also provide capabilities for the states.

Since the Air National Guard also performs missions for the Governor as state employees (describing this system of Title 32 is another whole blog) they could be available for the governors’ crisis response. If a natural disaster occurs with critical injuries requiring movement of the patients, the CCATT teams (they are from 17 states) could respond and assist those as well, creating an extra bang for our training bucks. They can also use the medical equipment owned by Air Mobility Command on any aircraft.

Praying that your soldier, airman, sailor or marine never needs the services of the CCATT but so thankful that our country and military leadership recognizes the value of this type of care! If you would like to listen to this Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive. Thank you Colonel Wyrick for taking the time to tell us about this mission. Please go to MilitaryAvenue’s “Our Letters to You” for more interesting Roundtable subjects!


















Photo Credits: A C-17 Globemaster III takes off for Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 29, 2010, from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Photo Credits: Critical care air transport team members Capt. John Eggert and Master Sgt. Rich Pakula setup medical equipment for their patient inside a C-130H Hercules Jan. 5, 2011, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The CCATT is a specialized three-person team that recreates an intensive care unit environment within an aircraft during aeromedical evacuations. Captain Eggert is a nurse and Sergeant Pakula is a respiratory technician assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Melissa B. White)

Photo Credits: As a critical care air transport team member Maj. (Dr.) George Kotti makes notes on a patient's medical chart inside a C-130H-Hercules Jan. 5, 2011. The CCATT is a specialized three-person team that recreates an intensive care unit environment within an aircraft during aeromedical evacuations. Dr. Kotti is assigned to the 451st Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron . (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Melissa B. White)

Photo Credits: Members of the 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Critical Care Air Transport Team work together to load patients onto a C-130H Hercules for an aeromedical evacuation Jan. 5, 2011, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The CCATT is a specialized three-person team that recreates an intensive care unit environment within an aircraft during aeromedical evacuations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Melissa B. White)

A Breastfeeding Journey

WE did it! By "We" I mean BabyBoy *L* and me! In just a few weeks he will be six-months old and aside from a few sips of formula (promptly spit out on his part) he has been exclusively breastfed.

Can I tell you how much I have enjoyed this journey?! (Thanks, then I will.) I tried with my other two. *E* my first born was a colicky-mess... or maybe it was just me that was a mess? But he would cry for hours and at about six-weeks old consistently had blood in his diaper. I /tried/ to cut out all cow's milk from my diet at the recommendation of my pediatrician but my discipline is lacking for this cheese lover. (That was the first time I ever had to have a restricted diet and THAT, my friends, is hard to do!) So after a couple weeks we switched to Nutramigen, a special-formula that is worth it's weight in gold... and costs that much too. So *E* made it a little more than a two-months on the breast.

*C*, my second-born son, was doing beautifully, I thought. Until his two-week checkup. We did the weight check and he had lost weight when he should have gained. He was such an easy infant I had no idea there was a problem... but after working with a lactation consultant it was determined he had a 'poor suck'. His palate was too high and he was having a hard time getting enough suck to pull in milk. So for three months I pumped milk, put him on the breast, and took a syringe with a tiny tube attached and slowly pushed pumped-milk into his mouth. After three months I was done and he became a formula baby.

So today in my email box I got one of those regular parenting emails and it started:
Congratulations! You have nursed your baby for six months, as recommended
by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You and your baby have enjoyed the many
benefits of a nursing relationship, and can continue to do so.


Wow! I know some moms have done it for multiple children for at least a year if not longer. My hat's off to you! But for me this journey hasn't always been easy BUT it was worth it for me. Now, as a polar opposite of his brothers, Baby *L* thinks a bottle is more for playing then drinking... a bottle of water offered when we have cereal usually equates to water running down his chin and big grins. *We* still aren't sleeping through the night. I haven't been separated for more than three-hours for nearly six months! Oh and I saw recently he was 17th-percentile for weight. (Although my boys are not big boys. Hubs AND I are 5ft 6... not overly tall nor overweight.) But even with all that I wouldn't change this journey for a moment and am so glad that my last-born has given me this gift!

If you are starting this journey down motherhood and breastfeeding I would recommend 'The Breastfeeding Journal'. I got the recommendation for it in one of my emails from Tricare's eCareConnect. Also be sure to check out MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Are you having a baby? Lots of great resources there, including Tricare info, mental health info, and much more.

In a lot of ways it's the little encouragement from the outside world that has kept us going. The little emails that say "Congrats, you have made it this far." Social Norms that have changed and made me feel only a /little funny/ about nursing in public with a blanket over my shoulder. But even more so is looking down at my nearly six-month old, watching his chubby fingers pinch at my clothes, feeling his weight across my arms, and the smile that goes from ear to ear when he is done. THAT makes this journey worth it!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: Week of January 2 - 8 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Articles for the week of January 2nd through 8th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:



The Military Family Should Be the Next "TIME Person of the Year" The Military Family is a Hero group! Self sacrifice is their first name and we come in all sizes and shapes! There is not a more diverse group of Americans who serve their country. ...

Have You Been "Cutting Out Coupons" for Your Bank Services? The beginning of a New Year is always a time of financial considerations for the military family! We have traveled to family Christmas and other celebrations, purchased presents and just received our bank statements for December. ...

Face of Defense: Soldier Prepares for Recording Contract The origin of Army Spc. Brian Stowe’s military career isn’t much different from other soldiers’ stories. Stowe, of Elkmont, Ala., joined the Army in June 2008 and attended basic and advanced individual training as a human resources specialist at Fort Jackson, S.C. ...

Face of Defense: Army Driver Keeps on Trucking Army Spc. Martin Jackson, a native of Clinton, S.C., looks particularly at ease behind the wheel of his mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle as he drives in convoys for the provincial reconstruction team here ...

Advance Pay for a PCS If you have PCS orders you can receive advance pay and allowances with commander’s approval. These include advances on basic pay and Basic Allowance for Housing. Up to three months of basic pay at either the old or new duty station can help with out-of-pocket expenses, not typical of day-to-day military living. ...

Clumping It is Sunday. I got up this morning in time to say good-bye to hubs. I got dressed. Sipped some coffee. Made breakfast for the boys. Nursed the baby. Then we headed out the door! Time for church. One of my favorite activities of the week. ...

Military Discount on your Truck or Trailer Rental Receive a Military Discount on your Truck or Trailer Rental from Penske! Click here to make your reservations today.

Navy Program Puts ‘FOCUS’ on Military Families Navy program is equipping service members and their families with the skills they need to weather the psychological and physical challenges bred by a decade of war. ...

MilitaryAvenue's Moving Checklist A move isn't complete without a checklist! It certainly is less stressful with one. Click on a link to take you to the appropriate timeframe and then skim the other lists to make sure you are on track for a great move ...

Getting Ready to Say "See you soon" Goodbye ... Love You ... I'll miss you ... See you soon! All words I will be uttering tomorrow morning. Hubs is off to Virginia for some military training. ...

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Words of Affirmation

A simple Facebook status. One of those 'Repost this if you agree...' because clearly if you don't repost it, you must not agree'...! I really don't like these because usually it is a matter of actions speaking louder than words but I digress. This one just got me to thinking ...

A teacher has to wear many hats. They must be the teacher, nurse, referee and countless other things. They simply cannot do it all on their own. They need the support of the parents. Something as simple as practicing the song for the upcoming program or practicing their spelling can make all the difference in the world. Children need to feel valued . Material things do not provide that, only time and attention! ...


My hats off to teachers! But, even more so, hats off to my kids! I help my children with their 'sight-words', their songs, their math, etc etc, so that my children will feel good about themselves. Part of my job title as Mom is Teacher; academics, morals, values, behavior. We cover it all! Academically, I want my boys to get to school and to have part of their day be a review. I can only imagine this helps their self-esteem as they can shout out answers and are positive about what they are saying. My boys beam when they come home with an A+, a "Good Job", a sticker declaring 'Well done!'. Words of affirmation. Words that say "You are smart", which will keep them on the road of success.

Academically, I feel pretty confident in my ability to be a Mom. What I do struggle with is behaviour. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of them. We hear so very often about how well behaved they are, especially in very public settings. But sometimes in the closure of our own home I struggle with 'am I doing a good job'?

Wednesday was a late night. We were at a friend's house till way past bedtime. BabyBoy *L* has had an ear-infection and was still recouping. He screamed the whole way home. The two older boys were tired, having been back in the swing of school-routine for less then a week since Christmas break. We are all missing Dad / Hubs as he has been in Virginia for some Army-schooling.

At 9:30pm we pulled into the garage, got out of the van, and *C*, 5 years old, was very slow about it, DS in hand, a very valued Christmas present. I asked him several times to put it away. I had to raise my voice as *L* was still /extremely/ upset. *C* was oblivious. I finally grabbed the DS and threw it in my bag which sparked a temper-tantrum beyond description (on *C*'s part... mine followed quickly though.) So *L* is screaming, *C* is screaming and Mom is now... screaming. (And *E*, 8 years old is now very upset and crying too. He hates confrontation, just like his Mom.)

Oh how I hated losing my cool. I never hurt him. I never said anything to tear him down. I couldn't get past the yelling to get him to understand that it was not time to be playing with the DS; it was time to be walking in the house and getting into bed. I keep replaying the event wondering what I could have done differently and I just draw a blank.

Amazingly enough on Thursday after this whole ugly incident I was thinking about words of affirmation and how important they are. How I so rarely get them, compared to how I give them. (Ok, pity party for me ... but keep reading.) That afternoon I was going through my kindergartner's folder of school work and came across a hand drawn picture with the beautiful words "I love you, Mom". Words of affirmation. I gave him a huge hug and he said he did it during free-time and wanted me to know how much he loves me. Words in writing. Words in the air. Words that I will cherish. They remind me that as a mom I am, in fact, doing a great job!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

PS "Never go to bed angry at one another". Even though it was late, after I calmed *L* down... pulling him out of his car-seat and cuddling for a few moments... I pulled 8 year-old, *E*, aside and reassured him that there was no reason for his tears. I reminded him how much I love him and I can understand how that would have been very stressful for him. Then I talked to *C*. I gave him hugs, explained how we need to put the DS away when he is told, and then asked for a round of apologies. He did, not begrudgingly. We all needed closure on that night. Reassurance that even when voices are raised there is still love deep in our hearts.
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