30 July 2012

Flat Daddy in the House

Official OSI Photo
Much to the chagrin of ONE, our Flat Daddy(FD) is here.
It took us a while to get it assembled. I was working with the two younger kids- all thumbs those two.We used his official OSI photo, that's why you see the flag on the side.

As an OSI agent, hubby doesn't wear the standard military uniform- even though his is an active duty AF officer. Instead OSI has their own "agent attire"- business suits, and occasionally khakis and a polo, depending on operational needs. So even  though our FD doesn't look like the one you see on the news or in YouTube videos (men in their ACUs), our FD looks just like our Dad.

ONE is not happy. He doesn't like FD. I don't know why?! :)  He doesn't want it anywhere where his friends will see it. Even though a few of his friends totally think its cool! He gets really upset when we talk about bringing it to wrestling and lacrosse games, to scouting events and may even have FD sit in on dinner. Maybe we'll take a picture of him sleeping with FD by his bed :)

 It's funny now that FD is here I have to do a "double take" when I see him out of the corner of my eye.
stuck it to a foam board
Life Size Flat Daddy

28 July 2012

New Habits

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. It's been 22 days since DH deployed. Before deployment I looked forward to our end of day conversations and movie nights on Netflix with a box of Dots or a bag of Dibbs.

That's all changed and I can now say I'm getting better at the lonely nights and better at finally getting to sleep before midnight. I don't watch movies anymore in bed nor do I enjoy the snacks. It's crazy- Dots don't taste the same. Most nights I'm able to get to sleep around 11 or 11:30pm. My brain has finally made the connection that those precious alone moments are on hold for a while. I'm also more at ease in the evenings. At first I found myself on edge with the kids around bed time. I figure it was my unconscious self trying to figure out why things are going like they usually do.

Our conversations are now in the morning via Skype when he's back in his room after a long day of work. Mostly we IM via Skype.  He can't talk openly very often because of the lack of privacy when you share a room with another soldier.

DH is doing well. He's finally in a permanent room and only has one roommate. He no longer has to deal with the top bunk and finally has a place to unpack. He and his roommate have a room they've been able to section off using their wardrobes for some privacy, but it's still a one room and there is no way for a conversation to be much of a private one. He's found time after his morning workout and before heading out to breakfast to Skype alone in the room. The bed has springs poking out so we sent him a mattress pad. The pillow feels like a bunch of rags in a small bag, so we sent a new pillow.  He won't need a comforter set until the weather gets cooler.  His roommate doesn't do a lot of laundry so we sent some Febreeze.  We sent some framed pictures of the kids and myself to remind him of home. He forgot some professional gear, so we sent that as well.  He also wanted some protein powder and some zone bars for snack during the long working hours.  The mess hall isn't open all the time.  And since he can stream some videos, we sent some Dots and Swedish Fish- his favorites.

Me? I'm reading more, finding fun things to crochet for my sister who is having a baby girl in August, getting ONE ready for the drivers' test in September, and finding ways to break up the summer boredom for TWO and THREE. My brain has finally re-wired itself to accept new routines, new habits.

22 July 2012

Letter from Military Wife

Dear America,

I’m pretty sure you don’t know me although you’re probably convinced that you do. You’ve seen me (or someone like me) on the news, in the paper or on a Lifetime tv show. You might have witnessed our tearful airport good-bye or clapped at our reunion. You might spot me by my bumper sticker, license plate or “Red T-shirt on Friday”. It might be my accent or longing for Dunkin Donuts that gives away the fact that I’m not from around here. Another military wife.

I’m not just another military wife though. Actually, none of us are. There are things you don’t know about us. Things that you can’t see in twenty seconds on the news or find in a front page photo. There are things that are hidden in the tearful goodbyes and forgotten in the sweet hellos. I am more than a bumper sticker, a red t-shirt, a northeast accent and a longing for good coffee. We all are and really, I just want you to see that.

We are called the silent ranks but it’s never said why we are silent. I’m here to tell you it’s because we are waiting. We are holding our breath. It’s easy to be silent when you’re afraid to exhale. We wait…on letters, phone calls, emails and homecomings. But there’s more. We wait on training schedules, new commanders, duty rosters and dates for the field. We wait for leave approval and four-day weekends. We wait for dinner or else someone has to eat it cold. We wait for orders, Transportation, dates, and housing. We sometimes have to wait on Christmas, birthday and anniversary celebrations. We wait for phone calls that will always come at the worst possible moments and require you to give up a perfectly wonderful Saturday evening. We wait to see what last-minute changes will happen because we all know there will be some. We wait on life filled with uncertainty. We don’t usually see it that way though. To us, we are loving a soldier and couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Next time you see me, or someone just like me, notice me. And softly remind me to stop holding my breath. It might be the first time I’ve remembered to exhale all day.

Letters by Jenn Pineo

17 July 2012

More BBQ recipes

Last year I had such a great response from the BBQ recipes I shared, I thought I'd share a couple more.Italian Dressing is one of our favorite staples during the summer months. We've always had such great success marinating our meats in it. The last weekend Hubby had with us, we grilled steaks and of course some bell peppers and onions, and it was sooo good!

Grilling Steaks is great if you can take the time in the morning and marinate the meats for a couple hours. I simply dump the meat in an aluminum pan and pour probably a whole bottle of Italian dressing on top (There are 5 of us, but I have a couple teenagers who eat more than their fair share) and then cover with foil and put in fridge. Toss every now and then.
When you're ready grill to your preference.

Another great recipe we love is Oriental Chicken Salad- but without the chicken if we're already grilling meats.

1 head of cabbage, sliced, diced, chopped or however you like
green onions
2-3 pkg of ramen noodles
toasted almond slices
toasted sesame seeds
3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c. veg oil
1 packet of ramen chicken noodle seasoning

I usually prepare the cabbage and dressing separately and refrigerate earlier. The crunchy stuff I keep in a ziplock if done early.  This dish is best served right after you combine all the ingredients.  If the Ramen and almonds get too soggy it's not so good.  If you want you can add diced cooked chicken pieces.

14 July 2012

First packages

We packed our first packages to Dad today. We made sure to pack his favorite candy, some zone bars, and the kids looked through the AFRC magazines they received of postcard punch outs and stickers to make nice "love notes" to put inside the boxes.

11 July 2012


Took Hubby 5 days to get to his assignment in Afghanistan.  That's a lot faster than other stories I've heard of travel to Afghanistan by other military members.

12 months and 3 days left to go. :)  The kids are having fun marking down the deployment calendar we have up on the wall in the dining room.  Today TWO and THREE wrote down "Daddy got to Afghanistan, we went out to eat on base for free."
The base sponsors a buffet style dinner for families of deployed servicemen once a month- go get together and meet other deployed families, to meet the staff of the Family Readiness Center, and the USO had some fun things for the kids- a movie, puzzle/coloring books, stuffed animals, snacks.  THREE walked away with 3 cartons of Pringles, TWO received 2 stuffed animals, and we got Eragon, the movie.  I haven't seen it so it will be a first for me this weekend.  
TWO gorged on french fries and corn dogs, THREE had popcorn chicken and corn dogs, and both had ice cream for dessert. I had a nice baked pollack filet and a great salad.  It was nice to not have to cook.  We couldn't stay long- piano lessons were rescheduled for tonight instead of Thursday.  ONE is out at High Adventure scout camp this week, so he missed out this month.

Strong Military Marriages

Military Families are not strong by virtue of being military families but they are strong because we work to overcome all the obstacles in our way.

Six Pillars of a Strong Military Marriage

One of my pet peeves is when people ask me if it is hard to love a military guy. Deployments are hard. Moving is hard. Worrying is hard. Other people will say, “I don’t know how you can do it.”
But loving someone in the military is easy as pie. Really.
Part of loving someone is supporting them and going through all the things that are hard about life, together. So, we make do. We face deployments and even when he is home he misses some birthdays and family events, but we make do.
We’ve moved three times, and each time we moved, he got called away at the last minute for duty right before moving day. I was left to juggle packing and children and movers on my own, but we make do.
I fell in love with a person who happens to be in the military. Being in the military is a part of who he is and I wouldn’t change that about him even if I could. So, we make do.
I have many requests recently for advice about helping your marriage in the military — here are the six essential pillars that help me “make do” when the times are rough.

10 July 2012

"Thank the families.."

My Mom was in church this Sunday and emailed the following:
"..we had an exceptional speaker on Sunday; former military, interrogator in the 1st Gulf war, spent an unaccompanied tour in Korea.  While in Korea, he was called to be a branch president, very small branch, but with lots of problems.  While trying to tackle all he had to do, he was asked to go to a prayer breakfast, with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (an leader for our Church) attending.  He wasn't going to go, because of his workload and he felt Elder Holland wouldn't understand his problems, and he could accomplish more staying put.  In the end, he decided to go, piled his car with as many saints as it would hold.  Sis Holland spoke first, then Elder Holland got up, he stood there for a few moments, trying to control his emotions, and then began to speak.  Paraphrased:  I do know of the great struggles you have.  I know of the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made for our liberty and freedoms.  More importantly, the Savior knows of your many sacrifices, and if He were ever to be indebted to anyone, it would be all of you who give so much in the cause of country, family, freedom and a land to where we can worship as we please.  So on His behalf I say thank-you, for all that you do". Wow!
"He also told of an event in the 1st Gulf war as an interrogator.  The military had trained him in Russian. Now in the war, expected to get information from prisoners, who did not speak English or Russian.  So he was given 2 interpreters who had been in America, ready to go to school, and when Kuwait was invaded, signed up to help their country by helping the Americans; which they did for many months, until the conflict was mostly over.  The 2  asked if they could go into Kuwait City to find their families and make sure everything was okay with them. This brother had to get special permission to go into the city.  He said it was so hard to take them in and to see the pain in their faces upon seeing the devastation.  They came to one of the houses completely devastated, upon running in an uncle from nearby, told him that the family had gotten out before the bombing and everyone was okay.  The 2nd individual found his house in the same condition, but no one was around.  The streets were empty and silent.  He stood there for a long time, then the chieftain came out and told him that his parents were able to leave to Saudi Arabia for safety .  He asked the Americans to please come for tea.  During the next hour or so, he told of the horrors of the Iraqis.  This brother was hearing first hand what they had been doing to the men, women and children of Kuwait.  He asked this brother to do him a favor.  Anything, if I possibly can.  "Please tell everyone you meet, how grateful we are for your help, tell their families how grateful we are for their loved ones freeing us from this evil.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the church service that morning.  He is out of the service now, flies helicopters for hospitals."

07 July 2012

Deployment Cures

Nothing like yard work to keep your mind off deployment and missing Dad.

D Day

Hubby is off. He had an early flight that had us all up at 4am. I debate whether to take the kids with or to let them sleep in, knowing they had a nice night with dad and he tucked them all in bed. But hubby wanted them there so we all piled into the car for the 30min drive to the airport.
ONE did good, so did THREE. TWO was a mess and I expected as much. So to make things happy we're at Denny's for an early breakfast. Smiles all around.

05 July 2012

A True Patriot

Airman Ranger retires after 41 years
by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

7/2/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- 41 years, 167 temporary duty assignments, 22 base assignments, 6 deployments and 3 wars later, Col. George W. Hays, the director of Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems, Headquarters Alaskan Command, retired from active duty service July 1 as the longest-serving colonel in the Air Force.

"When I joined in 1971, I was a country boy from Eglin, Ore., who had never been to a big city, no plane or bus of any kind," Hays said. "Then I had to get on a bus to get on a plane to get on a bus and it all seemed traumatic, but it was pretty exciting. I didn't know exactly what to think."

Hays and his brother, who joined under the buddy system, were planning to serve only four years.

"I wanted to go on to college, however, my brother ended up doing 20 and well, you see where I'm at," Hays said.

Joining the military wasn't really popular due to the draft and the Vietnam War, but his father and all seven of his uncles served in World War II and his two oldest brothers were in the service as well. Keeping with family tradition, he said as a male family member he was expected to serve.

"My draft number was 157," Hays said. "I wasn't in danger of being drafted, but my brother's number was under 50, so we joined together. I wanted to go to Vietnam and wanted to do my time serving the country just like my family did before me."

03 July 2012

Farewell Luncheon

Hubby had farewell luncheon today. It was a nice event. And for the first time ever, I got a gift! Lillys and nice sentiment said. They've all offered to help out with anything I need while DH is away. Sweet guys!