30 December 2012

Week 25 from AFG


Slow week this week for us with the holidays. Pretty quiet--nothing significant to report. We watched It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, and had a Star Wars marathon on Christmas Day.
Thanks for all who included us in their Christmas Newsletters.  It is fun to hear how everyone is doing and to see your beautiful families.   

I've gotten a few notes congratulating us on our move.  Yes, we are excited. It will be fun.
Wish you all a Happy New Year

24 December 2012

Christmas Blankets

I'm finally done with the blankets made for the kids.
ONE gets a Charlie Brown type of chevron blanket in Navy Acadamy colors.
TWO gets a fun shell puff in colors picked by Grandma.
THREE gets a boys rustic colored blanket that will go with just about any decor now and when we move this summer.






23 December 2012

Week 24 from Afghanistan

I hope you had a good day and were able to enjoy a nice Christmas program wherever you were today. Things have gotten really quiet here. There was a bombing down the street earlier, but overall attacks are way down as Taliban sit tight for the winter. The climate has been a bit milder, and hopefully that doesn't allow more attacks, but there is snow in the mountains, and that is what makes fighting the toughest for them.

We are all waiting in anticipation for President Obama to make a decision on force presence here. I saw an article in the Washington Post saying he was considering a more rapid withdrawal.

17 December 2012

Happy Anniversary

I always get flowers for our wedding anniversary. This year, even though he's half a world away, was no different!


16 December 2012

Week 23 from Afghanistan

While normally I'd provide an update about things going on here, it seems a bit inappropriate this week in the wake of the shooting at Newtown, CT. We've had a lot of gun violence this last year, but something about the innocent children being gunned down is much different to me than the other incidents. Many of these have been connected to mentally ill individuals; while they are all tragic, in my mind it has always been a sort of matter of fact that in a free society, there will be people that choose to do horrible things and folks were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As adults we take that risk--that by walking onto a college campus or into a movie theater,, etc, that something crazy can happen--that the odds of something going wrong are minuscule, and that we are willing to allow all kinds of freedoms because we are almost always safe. Yet children haven't made any such assessment and choice; the tragedy here is more palpable.

One of the guys in the office is a big gun guy, and he kept wanting to talk about this incident and gun control issues. The whole conversation was making me sick and I had to put my headphones on.

As I've thought about this and the nature of our freedoms, I have come to a completely different conclusion than I ever have before. Governmental power is derived from that which the social compact is willing to abdicate to them, giving up some rights and powers, that they might be better protected as a whole. At the time of our nations founding, a well ordered militia and a right to bear arms was a fundamental right, of importance to securing our liberty. There are lots of debates that are valid on both sides of the gun control issue. Ultimately though it comes down to a basic constitutional right. Those debates surround limits on that right. After Newtown though, I find myself wondering how important that right is. I would be personally willing to give up the right to bear arms, that the availability of weapons like those that killed those children would be significantly diminished.

It is a tragedy. I pray that the Lord will bless the families that have lost loved ones to feel of his love and protection for the deceased and the living, soften the sting of memories of the survivors, and lift the hearts and hands of bereaved family.

Otherwise, all is well here.

15 December 2012

Cold Saturday Mornings

Thank goodness for propane heaters!
We got this a couple weeks ago and used it for the first time this morning. TWO's lacrosse game would've been too cold without it. The season goes through February so we're gonna be nice and toasty.

09 December 2012

Week 22 from AFG

Another fairly quiet week. There was a sensational attack out east, and we had a hostage rescue overnight, but otherwise--nothing significant. We are at the end of the fighting season. They talk about fighting seasons out here because the border is so rugged with mountains and snow that folks tend to hunker down. So the "fighting season" is over, and though there will still be some attacks, it drops off a lot. It will pick up again in March.
Its starting to look a bit like Christmas. There is snow in the mountains and people have decorations up on their doors and in their offices. I got a box from home today that had a mini Christmas Tree in it that I set up next to my desk. It would be nicer if we had Christmas music playing all the time, but it doesn't really work for the office dynamic. It is times like this you miss home the most- the traditions and good family time.

05 December 2012

Christmas

I love Christmas time. I love the lights, the smells, the excitement, the music.
I also love to decorate the house with all the wonderful glitter and jingle.







04 December 2012

Raising an Aspie Kid

News came out this week about Asperger's term being dissolved and the disorder being officially absorbed into the Autism Spectrum.  As the parent of a child with AS, I'm not sure I like this new development.  I'll have to wait and see what happens. But it was nice to hear that Congress passed legislation mandating TriCare cover ABA therapy.


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02 December 2012

Week 21 from AFG


I trust you had a good week.  I really don't remember much of mine.  Everyday is so much the same.  Nothing really exciting to report.  
It has started to get cold out here and the people here must be burning everything they can get their hands on because the air in the evening is thick with smoke.  When we lived in Turkey they burned lots of coal so there was a lot of smog, but it wasn't at ground level like this stuff.  I'm sure all of us living here will suffer ill effects from the air quality.  They even gave us a letter for our medical records to show that the air quality was toxic in case we ever have lung related issues.  Crazy place.

Me out with a couple of my guys from *** (stateside base).  They are currently on a team in southern Afghanistan.  This was the village I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago--the one sympathetic to the Taliban, built in a pile of dirt.



25 November 2012

Week 20 from Afghanistan

Week 20 from AFG

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
We had a good one here. Something I was surprised about, because the food isn't usually very good. The best part though was knowing that my family was able to enjoy the company of their grandparents, an aunt, cousins and some friends. As it happened, we had a water emergency with our water heater, and some ministering angels from the Ward came and helped resolve that. There is much to be thankful for.
I got some letters in the mail this week that were pretty interesting. THREE's teacher had the kids write letters to me for Veterans Day. That was very nice of them. The letters are cute and some are funny. I thought I'd share some quotes. These are fourth graders now, keep in mind:

"I'll pray for you that nothing bad ever happens."
"If you fly stuff [I don't] is there any guns on the flying machine. How many flying stuff is there. I bet you are good at being in the airforce."
"How hard is your job? Do you like it? Is it hard being away from family? Do you like my letter? Happy veterans day. Hope to see you soon."

24 November 2012

Holiday mail

USPS deadlines for APO/FPO/DPO

http://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2012/pb22347/html/po_002.htm

Thanksgiving Day Surprise

I would have posted a pic of the finished turkey but we had an unexpected surprise Thursday morning. I went out to get some supplies from the garage and saw water leaking from the water heater. Not totally busted but enough to have to call a plumber. I called Roto Rooter and there was going to be a 2 hr wait and a $1290 charge for new heater. I remembered a friend from church was apprenticing as a plumber. He came over right away and we got the water pipes cut off so we could at least I've water during the holiday. We decided to buy the heater Friday morning.

Thanks to Black Friday and a 15% military discount we got good deal on a water heater from Lowe's for $360. That plus a couple fittings put it around $420.
So we were very thankful this thanksgiving for good friends. This friend also helped when my sons minivan needed some minor repairs. His wife and I were able to sit and have some fun conversation while her husband worked.

22 November 2012

Turkey and Stuffing

This year was the biggest turkey I've ever cooked- 28.4 lbs.
Every year my kids look forward to helping me make parts of the dinner. They always help me with the stuffing. It's an old family recipe passes down from my mother and her mother and grandmother.
4 loaves bread
Celery and onion diced
2 lbs. Sausage
2-3 eggs
Chicken broth
Poultry seasoning and pepper to taste

The kids love to break up the bread into bit size pieces into large brown bags.

Cook sausage.
Sauté the celery and onions together.
Mix sausage and veggies together. Set aside. Watch out for little hands wanting to taste the mix.
Mix bread, eggs, sausage, chicken broth and poultry seasoning and pepper- letting the kids get their hands a little mushy is always fun.
Stuff turkey and save some for extra pan.

I cook my turkey (wrapped in foil in foil roasting pan) over night with the oven set at 250*F although this big bird probably could have gone to 275*F as it took a little longer than usual to get this turkey cooked all the way. I start at 10pm and usually at 6 or 7am it's ready to take the foil off and brown.
(Put a drip pan underneath to catch any dripping)













20 November 2012

Christmas Care Package

Was trying to think of a way to send Christmas to hubby while he's deployed. He shares a room so it can't be something too big or crazy. He has a bed, a side table, and a wardrobe with two small shelves. Not much room. And I don't know much about the roommate to know if big decorations would be appreciated or cause tension. So I figure whatever I send can be put on side table or taken in to work to put in his desk.
I was able to find a small Christmas tree at big lots one that fit perfect on a small surface. Then found mini ornaments and a mini star topper. Hubby likes Andes mints and hot chocolate. I found a nice Christmas mug and some seasonal shortbread cookies that he likes. And of corse some of the old fashioned hard candy.



18 November 2012

Week 19 from AFG

The days and weeks here all start to blend in together after a while. Unless I have something that stands out, it is really just fairly routine staff work every day.

One thing that does stand-out--I will never get used to posturing I see from folks thinking more about promotions and credit, than doing good work, but I guess it is just a state of our society. So much of what Trenchard described in the corruption of the UK in Cato's Letter applies today--but it is a sad thing to see it having crept into military ranks. Its not everywhere, but it is pervasive enough at the senior ranks to give one pause. Absolute power corrupts absolutely right?

13 November 2012

"We just got bombed, but don't worry."

I had a funny conversation with hubby today. It started out by him asking how my day was going and how the kids got off to school. Then he laughed and said, "We just had a RPG hit us but everything is ok now. We'll probably make the news."

I quickly searched nbcnews.com and saw nothing. I think he'll be a bit disappointed that the national news stations are covering the happenings in AFG much any more. Although his boss's boss is Gen. Allen so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about the scandal in the news the last couple of days.

11 November 2012

Week 18 from AFG


Hope all is well. It was a mixed week this week, but some incremental progress on several projects. Not having much effect yet, but I am hopeful and we are on the cusp of changes that should improve performance. We have some folks doing very good work, and some others that are not--hopefully we can bring everyone up to a similar level. When our guys are effective they are saving lives and taking Taliban off the battlefield.

I had a chance this week to travel to see some of our top troopers. When you talk to elite troops, you see some of the very best America has to offer. The folks from these high intensity units will deploy for four months at a time, because they are doing raids every night of the week. It is a pretty intense environment. One soldier I met was on his 18th such deployment.

I had a chance to go out on a mission with some of my Air Force guys. They were out on operations into a village sympathetic to the Taliban that have been launching rockets at the Air Base. Pretty tough place. Its nothing like what I saw in Iraq. These people live in dirt. Literally. For some reason, they chose to build a village in a pile of dirt. Its not desert like the west, it is a very fine dust. I couldn't see any water around, but they must have a well somewhere. They make mud huts on top of the dirt and lay carpets down on top of it for flooring. When we were walking into the village there were about 100 or so kids following us around (there is no school), trying to break into our security cordon. We wouldn't let them in (Taliban will sometimes use kids as suicide bombers). Finally they gave up and started playing this crazy game where they would run around, throw a kid into a pit, beat him for a while until he could escape, and then they would run around until they caught someone else to throw in the pit. At this particular location I was helping pull security for a team that was conducting a meeting in the village, so I watched this game go on for the better part of an hour until we started to leave. Then the kids followed us out of town. They didn't seem to like us much--they were throwing rocks at us as we left. Anyway, that was my first encounter with an Afghan village and I'll have to admit--if I grew up in a pile of dirt, had no education, got pounded my whole life, and worse (there is rampant pedophilia among the Pashtuns), with no prospect of work--I'd probably be a Taliban member too. Why not. There's nothing else to do. Its a local cause and gives them something to "stand for". Sad stuff.

Anyway, it was great to see my guys in action. They are much better at what they do than we were a decade ago in Iraq. Lots of lessons learned. It was good to see. I should have some photo's up soon. They look a bit like homeless people in uniform, but they like those beard in Afghanistan--it is a sign of maturity and experience.

10 November 2012

Veteran's Day Discounts

http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/


05 November 2012

Week 17 from AFG

Not much to report from here this week. I found myself fighting pitched battles within our own staff. Contention is never constructive. Hopefully we will all end up on the same page and can move forward in a more unified direction, but I fear that due to ulterior motives and capacity issues we will have some more train wrecks ahead. My job here is kind of like being a conductor; I don't actually control anything, I just try to direct all the disparate efforts of some 40 nations and a variety of US units spread throughout the country within three levels of command. I sit at the **** headquarters, but there is also **** headquarters and ******* running divisions underneath all of that. Anyway, not sure I got much good done this week.

[I got] a case of tendonitis in the elbow. I've had it before, and this go around, its been pretty consistent for the last six weeks or so, but it has been getting more and more painful. I had to stop my normal workout routine and shift to pure cardio to keep off the elbow. I love to run, but our headquarters is the size of a postage stamp and I hate to run on treadmills. But its probably going to take a couple of weeks to heal, so I've been getting on the machines.

Probably more interesting stories in my email next week.

30 October 2012

Chief Tecumseh's words of wisdom

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

"Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

"When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

"Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

"When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

28 October 2012

Week 16 from Afghanistan

"I spent the early part of the week with some NATO leaders and Afghan Generals out on the border of Pakistan. We were looking at ways to improve joint communications regarding insurgent threats. It was an interesting experience.
"First of all, Jalallabad is a beautiful lush valley in the mountainous border region of Pakistan's tribal areas. So different from Kabul, which is a dirty, filthy city. Unfortunately, I understand that the lush fields were planted with poppy, so its not as picturesque as it seems, but it is still pretty.
"As we were flying in, it reminder me of Germany, with lots of very orderly cultivated plots of land and smaller villages sprouting out around the agricultural areas.

"This was my first real interaction with Afghan leaders. On the staff I deal with NATO forces, and when I travel it tends to mostly be to visit US forces. It was quite a thing to see these rising leaders in their ranks. They were very frank about the problems of corruption within their government and within the senior military ranks. These were men who have fought Taliban for decades and are now in a position to set their nation of a better course. They are fathers with great hopes for their children, most of whom are attending university.

"... they are men that can lead their country, and whose children may be able to build a better future. Spending time with these leaders convinced me more than ever that we need to be out of their way.
"We were on a tour when I slipped away from the group to get a side bar with a US Army intelligence Captain. I found him in their operations center--manned primarily by Afghans. As I entered the representatives from the Afghan Army, Police and Intelligence service were having an intense discussion about some issue or other. I don't know the substance of the discussion, but here they were, fully engaged in some debate about a report they had in front of them.
It gives me hope. The solutions here will not be American solutions. They will be Afghan solutions. They may not be pretty, but I am of the mind that the sooner we can transition out to a small advisory force, the better. These folks need to be in the lead. It will probably be bloody--we loose something like 10X the Afghan security forces in combat each week, primarily in areas we have turned over... They are brave. It is their country. I hope that after the election is over, we will draw down as quickly as possible."

21 October 2012

Week 15 from Afghanistan

"I am writing a bit early--I have a trip this weekend and am not sure if I will have internet access where I am going.  That may give me some interesting things to write about as I'll have some good engagement with some Afghan leaders, but I wanted to write a quick note now."

And the rest is a personal note to me and the kids... :)

14 October 2012

Week 14 from Afghanistan


I hope you had a good week. The longer I am here, the more the days blend together. As a staff officer, your efforts do not yield immediate fruit, and all you can hope for at this headquarters level is to make incremental progress each day.
I am thankful for opportunities I have had to work with and develop young people--that is likewise incremental, but it is wonderful to see folks you have worked with for a long time improve in capacity. We get to see that as parents, as members of the Priesthood in our callings, and professionally. In most of our field units in the states, we have a regular crop of new agents rotating in each year direct from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. They come in as "probationary agents" who have to accomplish a number of required on the job training experiences over the course of a year before they become fully accredited Federal Agents. Usually about 1/3 of our agents at stateside offices are filled by probationary agents. Since 9/11 we have had a pretty standard process of bringing these folks on board, giving them an intense professional experience during their probationary year, and then sending them off for about three months of advanced and pre-deployment training before we send them off to a unit performing a mission where they ply their trade against terrorist, insurgents and spies.
They hit the ground and don't stop for their whole 6 months--16-20 hour days in hazardous and austere conditions. By the time they come back from that, they are among the most competent agents in Federal Law Enforcement. I have been a commander four times; twice in the states, once in Turkey, and once in Iraq. Of all the things I have been able to do as a leader, one of my favorite has been to develop these probationary agents and prepare them to the very best of my ability to be ready for what they will face in a combat environment. In my units, we press them and challenge them to ensure they conduct their operations to as high a standard as possible, because once they are chasing Taliban or al-Qa'ida, the environment is unforgiving. I've got five folks from my ***** team deployed here throughout the country. I see the statistics for all the counterintelligence forces here in theater--Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force--and week to week it is our Air Force units that are taking most of the enemy off the battlefield. I got a note from one of my former probationary agents today. He is doing amazing work and is loving the opportunity he has to serve. Its great to see the folks you have worked so hard with move from a crawl to a walk and then off to a sprint.

11 October 2012

Never Fly American Airlines

This is a complaint I sent to American Airlines, hoping to be refunded money I had to pay because I missed my flight... well, you'll see..

This was my first international flight out of *******. I read on your website that I needed to be at the airport 2 hrs early. (See www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/checkingIn/arrivalTimes.jsp)
I even printed all my boarding passes.  I arrived at the airport at 8:45 am for my 10:55 am flight.

I stood in line at the curbside check in for 10 min until an attendant told me I couldn't check my 1 bag at the curb if I was traveling internationally. He showed me the line I was supposed to get in inside to check my bag. All American Airline passengers are required to go through the self serve kiosks to get to a counter attendant to check their bags. ONE line for all passengers and only 3 attendants at the counter. I waited and waited and finally got to the self kiosk 5 min after 45 min cut off to check my bag. I was then told to get in another line to see a counter attendant. I was in that line for 30 min. I asked a passing attendant why there weren't more counter attendants.  She said

07 October 2012

Week 13

I spent most of my week in Belgium.  My lovely wife was able to meet me out there, and it was great to be able to see a bit of that country with her at my side.  I returned to Afghanistan Saturday morning, and I am right back into the swing of things here.

Update Afghanistan Week 12

From hubby while we were in Belgium:


This a bit delayed as I traveled this weekend to Brussels to attend a conference at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE/NATO).  I'll write about that when I return, but I just wanted send a quick note out to say hi--most of my week was preparing our presentation for this conference--so it was long days but fairly boring staff work.
I did have a chance to write my oldest son this week.  He has been interested in attending a military academy for some time.  Apparently, some folks have been giving him a hard time about this when they have asked about his career goals, and he wrote me telling me about that.  It is a sad statement of our society that we have people that would discourage a young man from service--it is a fundamental responsibility of those in a free society, to be willing to serve when called upon. 

Brussels

Photos from Belgium

 Grand Place, Mons Belgium
Good Luck Monkey.  They say if you rub the monkeys head with your left hand you will have good luck all year. His head is pretty shiney from all the rubbing.
Door lock to the Town Hall in Mons, Belgium
Only baroque belfry in all of Belgium.  The bells play a really cool chime every 15 minutes.  I was sorry I didn't record it.
St Waldru Church in Mons.
The Belfry

St Michaels Cathedral in Brussels
St Michaels

02 October 2012

01 October 2012

A monkey, banana creeps, and a walk

My first day in Belgium. The lady at the front desk told me it wasn't far to walk from the hotel to catch the bus downtown- I wanted to get some sightseeing in before hubby finished at his conference. Wasn't far turned into 2 1/2 miles down windy road with not shoulder and cars going really fast.
And there was no bus stop so I stopped at gas station and asked the attendant to call for taxi.
Got all the way downtown and first stopped at the tourist office to get a map and find out what I could easily so on foot. The lady very nicely old me I came on the wrong day bc all the museums are closes on Mondays. ??
She said I could go see the mayors gardens, rub the monkey for luck,and go shopping. I wondered why it was so deserted at 10:30am.
So I saw those two, took a pic of the monkey the gardens with were really small, had some great banana creeps, and started off to find a taxi back to hotel.
I walked and walked and walked until I ended up at the train station before I found a taxi. Made it back to hotel at 2:30pm and am now in desperate need of a nap- jet lag and walking catching up to me.
I'll post pics soon.

EU Rendezvous

After having the most awful experience with American Airlines (who I will avoid in the future even if it costs me more), I'm finally at my destination.
Had a nice small four cheese pizza and a cup of fruit for dinner.

Hubby comes in a couple hours. I have his uniform and will be ironing and pinning things on, then some reading until he gets here. Can't wait to see him!

24 September 2012

Week 11 from Afghanistan

This week's email was a bit personal so I'll only share a snippet.
"in the midst of political battles and debates, and especially in times like this for me where I am faced with what can sometimes seem to be senseless conflict, I have a favorite Tabernacle Choir rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever, that helps me focus in on exactly why we do what we do. I have pasted the words below, in case you haven't read them all. 

The Stars And Stripes Forever
John Philip Sousa came back to earth one day!
He looked around at what he found here all the contradictions that abound here
Good surviving, evil thriving, everything in disarray ...
With frown and mouth turned upside down
He said "This'll never do! dead level never do!
Don't they know to show some pride in who they are!
The pioneers of former years were not without their doubts and woes and fears but
They know well the love of God would never let them go astray!
But here today where there's no fear of dark in the wilderness some are in wilderness
They must shift and lift their gaze to some new star!
By a star in the east the least of men once were succored in time of needing
For the star promised peace to those in pain and from Galilee was Westwardly proceeding.
With the star of the West the best of men now are siding in their endeavor
To restore as of yore their country's pride in the glory of the stars and stripes forever.
Three cheers for the red, white and blue, for the red is the blood of our brothers.
The white is the light of the star that has led us to where we are.
The blue is the hue of the sky where on high the Almighty falters never.
Our banner for two hundred years! Oh pioneers! Here's to the stars and stripes forever!

True Love

Have you seen this?

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Afghanistan 'makes you appreciate America'

Returning Marine: Afghanistan 'makes you appreciate America' - U.S. - Stripes

17 September 2012

Feeling Loved

ONE says,
"I love walking into the pantry after you've gone to the Commissary.  Seeing all that food makes me feel loved."  
Can you tell he is a teenage boy?

16 September 2012

Week 10 from Afghanistan

Hope all is well with you.  It has been a mixed week here.  We had a fairly significant attack down in Helmand Province, and also a couple more insider attacks from Afghans we are partnered with.  When you consider all the positive interactions that are occurring all over the country on a daily basis, this kind of thing is a statistical anomaly--but insurgents realize that it gets more media attention than roadside bombs, and it is the tactic de jure to try to break down popular support at home and cause distrust between coalition and Afghan forces. 
We have also been watching the unrest around the region with caution. 

12 September 2012

Libyan Loss

From my husband:
The US Ambassador that was killed in Libya was someone I knew.  He was the Deputy Consul General at Jerusalem.  I saw him again when General B***** had to testify on the Hill.  At the time he was serving as the Diplomatic Fellow assigned to Hillary Clinton on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He always took time to talk to me about the things I was working on.  He was a great American. 
 
It sounds like the video that started the protest is pretty offensive.  Not sure why people do things that just tear down. 
 
Another senseless loss of life as people resort to violence and murder as a means of expressing their dissatisfaction.  

11 September 2012

Afghanistan Week 9

I had a chance to travel again this week.  Again, I was impressed by the amazing folks we have working things at a tactical level...  My team and I continue to try to push these lesson's learned into practical course corrections ... it is our duty to make an effort.  

My return back to HQs was disrupted a bit due to a

07 September 2012

Top 10 Perks for the Air Force Spouse

Top 10 Perks For The Air Force Spouse
Article by: Wendy Zarganis, Air Force Spouse

The Air Force life is not an easy one. The constant moves, deployments, North Dakota. But there are some key perks that your civilian friends are simply missing out on.

10. Immunity from Hoarding. Traditionally, in America, you get married. You buy a house. You fill it with crap. The Air Force variant is you get married, you buy a house thinking you’ll be stationed in the area for several years and then it gets suggested to your AF spouse that he/she apply for a job 1500 miles away as it will be really, really for the best. So you sell the house, move, and then repeat the cycle, except next time, you rent. The ability to collect crap is exponentially diminished by the Air Force’s need to show you the world beginning with Yikes, Nevada and followed by WTH, Oklahoma. You get tired of packing and TMO has weight limits anyway, so you don’t collect junk. You are streamlined and would never think of hoarding. Oh, I know, some have tried (I see those timeless and classic Longaberger baskets there, ladies) but PCSing every couple of years keeps the clutter at bay. And really, life’s better for it. Stuff is just stuff. Better to pack on the memories and leave the tchotchkes behind for those civilians who know they will be in the same house for 40 years.

 9. Geographic Know-How. You get to see the world. Mostly the desolate parts of it where the Air Force can park its airplanes, but still, you get to travel and enjoy new cultures even within our own country. With all that travel comes uncanny abilities, like being able to pack up your car with exactly what the kids and pets will need at any given moment, or the ability to use an atlas(!) should the GPS short out after somehow finding its way into an open coffee travel mug. You will know how to make the best of a 3400-mile PCS move driving across the frozen Alaskan wilderness to the desert-dom of Las Vegas. (Hint: if you see a functioning road stop along the road, just pull over and use the bathroom, even if you only kinda have to go. If you don't, a sightseeing plane may crash land on the road 10 miles later and you'll be stuck in traffic on the two-lane-through-nothing part of the Alaska-Canada Highway for HOURS. You may have to pretend you're pregnant to garner sympathy from the tour bus of seniors stopped in front of you, just to use their on-board toilet.) But you will develop a sense of humor and flexibility about life that others don’t have.

READ MORE at http://www.baseguide.com/Articles/Article.aspx?title=top-10-perks-for-the-air-force-spouse&page=1

02 September 2012

Update from Afghanistan

For some time I have been studying the works of philosophers that influenced our founding fathers--Locke, Montesquieu, Kant, Rousseau, etc. My study culminated a few months ago with a reading of James Madison's journals of the Constitutional convention. The point of this for me was to understand better the the foundation principles that influenced their debates, and resulted in a document that we hold to be inspired.
During my study, I was surprised to find less of a direct connection than I had expected. Except for a series of letters written by John Trenchard after a financial scandal in England (collected as Cato's letters) I found few arguments that were direct ancestors of what was eventually established by those good men. There were some basic ideas on sovereignty of the people and separation of powers, but nothing that would account for the genius of the document itself. Interestingly, the debates themselves reveal little argument regarding the great ideas, but were primarily occupied with discussion over various forms of power sharing, which when it boiled down to it, revolved around the slavery issue. The actual drafting was carried out by the committee of detail, a small group which shaped the destinies of generations here in America and abroad.

Surprised by what I found, it became apparent

01 September 2012

Breakfast

Grandma and Papa are visiting this weekend. The kids love when they come. One of the special things they do for the kids is make a big breakfast. This morning was waffles, and some with chocolate chips. Not just any chocolate chips but the ghirardelli chocolate chips.

30 August 2012

Meal Planning

Today I'm getting things ready to brave the Commissary tomorrow morning.  I try to get everything I'll need for 2 weeks, going to the commissary on or near pay day.  To do that I plan out the dinner meals ahead of time- at least two weeks in advance.  I don't always do everything on the meal calendar, occasionally switching days or just forgoing the calendar all together for something different.

Next step, going online to find any coupons that go with the things on my list.

How do you prepare to get to the Commissary?


27 August 2012

Free and Clear

We are officially free and clear of all car loans!  Yipee!  Both cars (2002 and 2007) are still in good condition and haven't had any major work needed- other than brake pads recently.  This will help with my trip to meet up with Hubby in Belgium this fall.


21 August 2012

More Beach Memories

THREE loves to build sandcastles and play in the sand. It wasn't until this year that he really took a liking to being in the waves and especially to boogie boarding. 

This was something he etched in the beach before we left and wanted me to take a picture for Dad to see.

We had a great day today.  It started off a bit cloudy but ended up being a perfect beach day.  The kids got a little too much sun but they had a blast!

20 August 2012

To the Beach

We made it to Camp Pendleton's DelMar Beach Resort.  We're staying in a family suite at the South Mesa Lodge.  It's a new lodge and nicely furnished. 
First things first- set up the umbrella. Then start in on the sandcastles.
THREE had a great time boogie boarding with TWO. This is the first year he's really taken an interest in getting on the board. 


19 August 2012


excerpt from Hubby's weekly email to family
"This has been a tough week here with a rash of attacks on US military from Afghan Security Forces, with the media coverage not helping much. On the policy side, which is where I work, it has been a bit crazy as folks continue to try to throw things at a problem that is rather complex. I'm afraid the front page news this has garnered will only inspire a desperate Taliban to push harder in this direction. Anyway, it has been exhausting....
"The best experience I had was getting a letter from my wife..." 

Afghanistan Week 6

excerpt from Hubby's weekly email to family:

"This has been a tough week here with a rash of attacks on US military from Afghan Security Forces, with the media coverage not helping much. On the policy side, which is where I work, it has been a bit crazy as folks continue to try to throw things at a problem that is rather complex. I'm afraid the front page news this has garnered will only inspire a desperate Taliban to push harder in this direction. Anyway, it has been exhausting....

"The best experience I had was getting a letter from my wife..."

16 August 2012

Day in the life of OSI Agent

I've had a few questions about being an OSI wife and what all that entails.  Several have seen my post from Feb 2011  Here's a good article from the OSI website about what an agent does.

A day in the life of Barksdale AFB OSI agents

Keeping Busy

ONE is an obsessed lacrosse player and dreams of playing Navy Lacrosse.  So for his bday I decided to make a navy and gold afghan for him.  But I didn't want it to be plain, so I found a cool pattern. 

I've got a way to go, but it's starting to look pretty good.

 
 

14 August 2012

Brownies?

According to wikipedia "Brownies are said to inhabit houses and aid in tasks around the house. However, they do not like to be seen and will only work at night, traditionally in exchange for small gifts or food."

Ever since we moved into this house 2 yrs ago the master bathroom toilet leaked. It's been at the bottom of our to do list and we've been using the shut off valve to keep it from leaking all day.

Now all of a sudden it doesn't leak and I don't have to use the shut off valve. What happened? My kids think it was a house brownie- from the fablehaven books. Perhaps divine intervention? Who knows. I'm just glad it works and I don't have to keep using turning the water off.

Sick

I'm sick. I'm never sick. One month into a 12 month deployment- still a way to go and I get sick. I'm never sick!
But ONE is stepping up and helping make dinners so I don't get them sick, TWO is making cookies, and THREE is my little exec. He likes to check the mail for me, report on what the other two are doing, screen the doorbell, and bring me whatever I need.

Gotta love 'em!

12 August 2012

Afghanistan- Week 5

There have been days this week that I've worried as the news has reported several accounts of what is termed "Green on Blue attacks"- afghans in Afghan Security uniforms attacking NATO/US troops.  Each report leaves me more anxious to hear from him, even in an email or IM.  Thank goodness I was able to hear from him each time.


Here is another snippet from this week's update from Hubby to our families.

"Hope all is well with you.  It was a bit of a crazy week here.  I see the news reported many of the deaths we had this last week.  There was a lot of scurrying about as the leaders here work to figure out if there is a common theme in all the Afghan Security folks that have turned against coalition forces.  I think the common theme is that they don't like us; but the Generals are hoping to find something a bit more actionable than that...
"I was thinking this week about folks that were lost, and then about the folks on my team, some of whom have been involved in pretty tough and bloody battles.  One of my advisers is a former Marine who has been shot up and blown up so many times that his body, at 32 years old, is pretty beat up.  He has traveled with me as I have done battlefield circulation so I have gotten to spend a bit of time with him.  He is divorced, has a brilliant daughter that he sees once a year, and has been pretty much continuously in either Iraq or Afghanistan for the last 10 years.  From my discussions with him, it is obvious that he has been involved in some traumatic stuff.  

I can't even begin to imagine the great task of our leaders to try and figure out how to fix another country and culture.  Hubby had one good day this week when he was visited by BrigGen Dahl (Army).  Hubby worked closely with, then Col. Dahl, on the Joint Staff (J2) for three years.  BG Dahl came over to Hubby's command area to say high and see how he was doing. From the tone in his voice and the words he used, he was very happy to see him.

I hope he has more good days as this year goes by.

07 August 2012

Update from Afghanistan

Here is a short snippet from hubby's latest email to both our families. Great people doing great things in AFG.  (A few edits for PERSEC/OPSEC)
"I had an opportunity to travel again this week and met with teams that work tirelessly to identify, exploit and neutralize insurgent networks. These folks in the fight work 18-20 hour days in the worst conditions imaginable, from greatly exposed positions to destroy the Taliban networks that threaten enduring peace in Afghanistan. One of the teams I visited was led by a young Major that I have worked with in the past. If you met him back in the States, you would see a clean cut, good decent man, a born leader. He has been here for just over four months, just a third of the way through; you can see the toll that the mission has taken on him. The folks that work for him come in at a dead sprint for six month rotations, while he and his superintendent serve a year. As we talked about his need to balance out mission and health over the yearlong marathon he has to run, he told me that it was an easy thing to say, but that as the commander of these men, he didn't feel right about getting extra sleep or taking time out for himself when his guys were in harms way. He is out on every mission with them.

"Two of the agents on this Major's team worked for me at (former AFB). I had dinner with them and talked to them about their experiences here. These are two of the finest young men I have had the privilege of working with in my career. They came to my unit at (former AFB) straight from the best law enforcement training in the world, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center-FLETC. All federal agencies train there--the US Marshals, Secret Service etc (all but FBI and DEA). They came out of school excited to do the mission and hit the ground in (former city where AFB is) ready to work. Over two years they ran some of our most significant cases, to include the Air Force's leading undercover operation targeting criminal networks involved in the theft and resale of high end military property. They worked some pretty long hours back there and gained significant experience. After two years of that we pushed them through a pipeline of training to get them ready for deployment to Afghanistan. As I said, these are some of the most talented young people I have worked with. They been well trained and prepared. They have been here about two months, conducting source operations into Taliban networks, and driving capture/kill operations against the enemy. What they told me at dinner was that when they first started working with the team here, after the first couple weeks of non-stop outside the wire operations, they both nearly broke down--they asked themselves how they could possibly function like this. They questioned whether they were up to the task, whether they had the right training, experience, and endurance to possibly survive this experience. Now it is all just part of their standard routine. They are one of the most respected teams in country--there is nothing standard about it."

Cub Day Camp

While TWO is off to Girls Camp this week, THREE and I are at Cub Day Camp this week.  It runs from 4-8pm- thank goodness because it will be in the triple digits all week- mostly around 110*.  But the shade in the park is wonderful. (I am so glad we aren't doing this back East in the humidity!)

This year's theme is Cubbing Down Under.  The boys are doing the normal BB shooting, leather crafts, science lessons, knots, and games, but they are also learning about wildlife in Australia (a taxidermist is coming to share eyeballs, pelts, etc.), the aboriginal music instruments and culture (a didgeridoo below), and on Friday a traditional Down Under BBQ.