Tragedy in Chardon - Talking about Emergency Preparedness with Children

Sunday night we were at the kitchen counter and my boys said something to the effect "I wish we could blow up the school."  I stopped.  It was typical school-age conversation.  If there's no school they can stay home and play all day right?  This was their logic.

I was immediately taken to Columbine, Jonesboro, even Virginia Tech.  What came out of my mouth was a stern but caring "We don't joke about that."  Kind of like you don't joke about firearms and terrorist activities standing in line at the airport, you don't joke about guns, bombs or other activities of that nature in relation to school.  It's not funny.

So imagine how my heart sunk to hear about the shooting at Chardon, less than an hour from my home.  It happened less then 24 hours after the discussion of /why/ we don't joke about guns or bombs at school.  Sitting around the kitchen island I had looked my 3rd grader in the eye and said "It has happened.  Children have brought guns to school and accidentally or on purpose killed other students."  He understood.  Yet, after hearing about Chardon I was thinking we needed to take this conversation a step further.

Caring for Your Parents from a Long Distance - Military Style Part Two – The Checklist

Sometimes a blog inspires new ideas and last week's Caring for Your Parents from a Long Distance - Military Style brought up the idea of a checklist that might help others. Much of the same information but in a shorter format without personal details.  Think of it as a guide and then add your own ideas too!  Share your experiences with others too by commenting! 

1 - Caring For Senior Family Member While Long Distance: print a copy of this list and put in your glove box. One never plans for an emergency long distance road trip. However, when called to go, arrive armed with a design for success.

2 -Communications: Keep informed while on the road.

Cell phone: the phone does not always give a clear perspective of what is going on at the other end.  Do you have key numbers in a contact list?  Need to bring a book of numbers with you?

Laptop: Great resource finder if you have one.

Teach mom/dad, grandma/pa, great grandma/pa how to use her cell phone and voice mail. Do not assume that this is a simple task for an elderly parent.

Social Media: How does your family communicate best? Facebook, twitter, phone, text…? Facebook private message with medical information to siblings who could share with others is a proven avenue.

Caring for Your Parents from a Long Distance - Military Style

Praying for Grandpa and Grandma as they travel
One thing that military families know about is long distance communications! We also face long separations from family and find ourselves frequently traveling a long ways to be with family. Sometimes that makes us better at helping others from a long distance too! We know the phone does not always give a clear perspective of what is going on at the other end. So when the phone rang two weeks ago with an almost distraught family member on the other end we knew there was more to come …

We have a large extended family but as the military piece of it we often are/were missed at family gatherings, holidays, special events etc. but one thing for sure the rest of the family knows that we can travel – i.e. road trips are a specialty – no, a core strength actually! My folks reside in Florida due to some health issues and most of the rest of us are in the upper Midwest – IL, MI, IN, MN, OH. So when dad/grandpa/great grandpa had a fall and ended up in the hospital, the call for help went out. Fortunately, one sister was on her way to see them and that covered the first few days in the hospital but she had to be back home soon. She was able to extend her stay despite airline challenges. We were next up …

We were battling health issues ourselves (not unusual for the “sandwich generation”) but the best option for travel was via road trip. Within 3 hours we were on the road with 1300 miles to go. Twenty three hours of driving and one short night stopover and we were there! A guardian angel in the form of a county sheriff did provide a wakeup call to our speedometer reading very early on with no fine involved. Staying on speed became more important and of course we were a bit safer for it.

An opportunity to win $1,000 from the Defense Credit Union Council

I just got this press release in my email and wanted to get the word out to our readers.  The chance to win $1000 while making good financial decisions? Win-Win!  (Hurry, deadline to enter is 2/29/2012)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com



Win $1,000 during Military Saves Week from the Defense Credit Union Council!

Staying motivated to save can be a hard task. That’s why, in honor of Military Saves Week, the Defense Credit Union Council is giving away $1,000 to one lucky military saver on SaveUp, a free rewards program that rewards you for good financial actions.

The Army Profession, Drawdown, Army Families and more! DoD Bloggers Roundtable

Army children in youth program ... see below for credit
Chandler said,  Secretary of the Army - no cuts to Army programs for families without his specific approval.

Did you know that the US Army end strength (total number of active duty soldiers) under the Defense Departments current plan and budget will be at 490,000 after the drawdown is complete? That is the loss of eight brigade combat teams and other resources (80,000 soldiers to be specific).   The number of cuts seems to be a bit of a moving target as we talked just recently (December) with the DoD Blogger Roundtable and the number was 50,000! 

The Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III responded to our questions during a DoD/Army Blogger Roundtable concerning the Army Profession and what we have learned after 10 years of combat.

Home Maintenance equals Money in the Bank

It is Military Saves week!  A subject that is dear to my heart as Americans (including military-families) find themselves in more and more financial trouble.  Sometimes saving money can be found in the simple things.  Today's blog post on saving money is about what you can do in the day-to-day.  There is value in maintaining your home.

Take the time --- and I know we are all so very busy --- to take care of our 'stuff' and you will find more money in the budget for other important things.  If we maintain our electronics (invest in a can of compressed air for the computer as an example), vehicles (are you due for an oil change?), appliances, even clothes and carpets they can last longer.  It will take time and possibly money up front but in the long run you are saving money to put towards your emergency fund, vacation fund or retirement.  USAA drives this point home with a great article about the value of car maintenance:

A well-maintained vehicle performs better and stays on the road longer. If you’re on the road to retirement this can be a big deal. Maybe even as much as $200,000 toward retirement, if, just this one time, you’re able to drive your car for an extra four years after it’s paid for in full. - Maintain your Car and put some muscle in your Retirement Plan


It can be the simple things, I spent 10 minutes giving my oven (a glass range) and microwave a good scrubbing.  It was 10 minutes I could have been doing /a lot/ of other things; I am a working Mom of four after all.  However, maintaining (which can include cleaning) our household goods is in the long run a great investment of time.

Want to learn a super easy way to get your range and microwave cleaned up?  Be sure to check out this blog post: Cleaning your glass-range & inside your microwave (no elbow grease required)

What else can you do?
  • How does your air filter for you furnace or air condition look?  (This will help your furnace work more efficiently and help the life of it as well)
  • Is it time to vacuum to pick up ground in dirt in the carpet?  (If spills and dirt are cleaned up efficiently and quickly your carpet won't need to be professionally cleaned as often or replaced for that matter.)
  • Line dry your sweaters so they last a few more seasons. (A $50 sweater is a great investment if it can last several years.)
  • Call your mechanic and schedule a morning to have your car tuned. (Think of the savings in gas and long-term wear on your vehicle when proparly mainteined.)
The list may seem endless, the possibilities continue to roll around in my head, but just a few moments and a dedicated mind-set reminding us that we don't need to live in a disposable-world can mean money in your wallet, money in your TSP, money to help you get out of debt.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com
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Saving Money Around the House

Click on any of the pictures to find some easy ways that YOU can save money around the house.  Where would you put an extra $10 to $30 a week?  Perhaps towards your retirement? A down payment on a home? A vacation?  Start saving now for a brighter future!

(Remember you can click on the image to read more.)


Start a savings shadow box with a picture of what we're saving for. This would also be cool for the kids, to teach them to save for something by seeing you do it and letting them join in with items they want as well.  Perhaps a picture of Disney World, a picture of the garden you want to create, a picture of a new car.  The ideas are endless:



Pinch those Pennies: 50 Tips to Be Frugal - This article as a LOT of good ideas:


Soldiering On...

Last night I fell into bed.

Sometimes my mind has time to wander after I turn off the lights.  I think about what I did earlier in the day, what I accomplished, what I forgot to do, what I can get done tomorrow.  I think about my blessings. Thank God for my family.  Dream about what our future holds.  It can all be a pleasant way to drift into dream world.

But last night there was none of that.  It was a hectic day that involved making 30 Valentines Cookies for my 3rd grader's class, which in and of itself involved multiple (yes, multiple) trips to the grocery store.  It was laundry and sheet day (and if I don't stay on top of that "little" household task it snowballs into a giant blizzard of dirty laundry.) Chief entertainer for the 18 month old.  Homework for the kiddos.  Routines not to be messed with.  Dinner.  Kitchen cleanup.  Finally, baths.  It all somehow felt very overwhelming.

Roots and Wings

We have an interesting phenomena going on in my house. We have an 18-month old and an 18 year old (and two other brothers in between).  My husband and I often laugh with each other over the fact that we are the "young parents" with *J* (at sporting events, parent-teacher conferences etc etc) and we are going to be the "old wiser-parents" with *L*.

There are times when I just want my 18-month old to grow up.  I want him to
  • communicate (although this can be hard even for an 18 year old);
  • tell me his favorite things;
  • share his deepest wishes;
  • form an opinion that doesn't involve whining;
  • meet friends;
  • pump his feet on a swing;
  • hit a baseball;
  • swim from one side of the pool to the other;
  • play out of under mom's feet while I desperately try to make dinner, help the middle boys with homework and wonder when oh when is hubs going to be home.


A few Social Media 'Patches' for our Military Families

In keeping with the military-tradition of patches MilitaryAvenue created some for our family members that you can wear on your favorite social media sleeves (like on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).  Just click on your patch to save, like, pin or tweet, (such fun verbs!).

Proud Wife of a US Navy Sailor

Chicken Breast in a Puff of Pastry

Pure deliciousness emanated out of my kitchen Saturday night.  It smelled of pastry and cheese and a hint of bacon.  It sounded like "mmmmm", "This is good" and even "Can I have some more, please".  A home prepared meal that took about 30 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake.

Before I share my newest recipe I'd like to introduce you to my kitchen help:
He's a keeper, even if he refuses to wear pants
today

Chicken Breast in a Puff of Pastry

Cleaning your glass-range & inside your microwave (no elbow grease required)

...Don't Judge...

I have to admit.  I do not enjoy cleaning.  I LOVE a clean house... but the actual process of cleaning?! BLECK!  However, this year's goal has been to get my house organized and for me part of that includes getting into a regular routine of straightening, maintenance and yes... cleaning.  So before I show you the before pictures of my range and microwave remember I'm trying, one foot in front of the other.  :)



Before cleaning my glass-top range.
Yucky, yucky grease and burnt on yuckiness.

Before cleaning the inside of my microwave.
Tomato splatters everywhere.

Easy Baking Soda Scrub and Vinegar Wash


A Very Special Valentine’s Day

Today we are happy to share a guest post from Maya Szydlowski, community manager for Veterans United Home Loans:

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and for moms with kiddos that means trying to round up cards and candies for your kids to hand out to their classmates. While grabbing a classroom list is no hard task, trying to get your kids to simply scrawl names on cards can be a little more difficult as the work hardly keeps their attention. To make Valentine's Day a little more fun and creative for both you and your kiddos this year, consider giving a few of the following craft ideas a try:

Heart-Shaped Breakfast

Valentine pancakes

An awesome tradition that my mom used to do when we were kids was a Valentine’s Day breakfast. Starting your families’ Valentine’s Day can start with some love from the kitchen. A few days prior, go out and purchase some metal heart-shaped cookie cutters from your local grocery or craft store. These cookie cutters can be great additions when making pancakes, eggs, and French toast! Now how exciting would it be for the kids to sit down at the table and be served heart-shaped chocolate-chip pancakes? It will surely bring a smile on their face and a moment they’ll always remember.

The Dandelion & The Military Child


A few years ago, a debate emerged on an Internet newsgroup for military brats about what kind of flower military children of military parents were most like. The consensus became the dandelion.


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