Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Christmas . . Belated!

Mini Break

Hi all. Today's post will be very short but I wanted to get something down. Last Friday I started to feel sick and by Saturday I was feeling pretty bad. Flash forward to Tuesday morning, with me sitting in my doctor's office. He said, sorry pal but you have came down with the flu and laryngitis.

Luckily my bosses understood and I was able to stay firmly planted on my couch at home for a few days. And yet, somehow my suitcase got packed (although the contents were a major disarray and nothing matched!) and I got on a plane to Tampa on Christmas Day. I'm here now with my family and even though it's been more than 7 days since the ickiness decended on me, I am still not 100 percent. My voice has started to come back gradually - I no longer sound like a squeaky chipmunk but still sound like a man!

This will proably be my last post for a few days as I'm still on the mend and with the crew here in FL. Hope your holiday was a blast and that you are with the ones you love the most.

A special note to our military members stationed around the world and far from home. We are so very thankful for you and your efforts.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sears and Soldiers - Why I Heart Them

I want to start off by saying, oh my word there are just three days until Christmas. Three days! I've always taken time off before the big day and this is the first year that I haven't. I saved my days for next week, so I'll be working right up until Christmas this year.

I have to tell you about something I came across last night, and then this morning. I was watching Extreme Home Makeover last night when I saw a commercial that discussed the Heroes at Home program that Sears has created. The commerical didn't tell me much but a peak on their site this morning did.

Sears states that "Heroes at Home is a program Sears Holdings has created in partnership with Rebuilding Together in response to an urgent need to assist military families facing hardship. By providing necessary repairs or adaptations to homes, Sears Holdings strives to improve the lives of military families across America."

I encourage you to visit the site and read the stories of the many military families they have helped. There's a spot for donations, a spot where you can spread the word, and even a spot to post a message of support.

As if that didn't warm your heart, here's another reason why military families should support Sears. I came across the following segment on the Today Show:

As Today reported, as Sears struggles for survival, it is still spending millions of dollars it doesn’t have supporting American troops. Sears employes more than 550 men and women that are deployed on active duty. While the employee is away defending our nation, the company not only continues to provide full benefits for the employee and their family but also helps make up the difference between the pay that the military provides, and the pay the employee receives when they are working for Sears.

I sat in awe when I heard this. It's an amazing thing that the retailer is doing. So to Sears, thank you from the bottom of this military girl's heart. While my family is not involved in any of these programs it truly means so much to me that you are willing to show such incredible support of the men and women that serve our nation. I know where I'll be shopping this holiday season.

Do you know of any other big companies supporting our troops that deserve a shout out? Post them here and let me know your thoughts!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Florida Bound Baby

As I type these very letters, the NJ sky has begun to drop fluffy and puffy snowflakes. A snow storm is slowly moving into the area and promises to drop anywhere between 8 to 12 inches of snow by my little casa. Ugh.

Despite the fact that the storm is sure to ruin the day, cause absolute chaos during rush hour and decrease attendance at the company's holiday party, I'm trying to be positive. In less than a week I will be in sunny FL. Where the temperature is currently 64 F degrees with a high of 78F.

Thank goodness I keep telling myself. My parents moved to Tampa more than a year ago and last Christmas was the first Christmas I spent in FL. My brother and sister tried to leave Oklahoma yesterday and never made it to my parents house. Winter weather caused them to wait in the airport for almost 10 hours only to be sent to Memphis. They are due out on a flight to Tampa today.

Last year, I spent Christmas morning by the pool with my mom and sister looking out onto the bay and staring happily at the abundance of palm trees. Dan and I fly to Tampa on Christmas Day this year (its really not that bad) and are staying in the warmth for just five days. We are crossing our fingers and hoping we don't encounter weather delays.

Even though I know that our five day FL vacay will feel like the shortest days of my life, I am so looking forward to seeing my family members and basking in the SUN. I plan on waking up early each day just to bank a few hours of solid sunshine. I need it - I think my skin is starting to become see-through.

So when I scrape the snow off of my car later today and shovel the many inches of snow out of my driveway, I will say to myself . . . relax Melissa. FL is just days away.

Here's a few shots from last year's Christmas holiday . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Muppets Holiday Special Review

So last nite I raced home to curl up on the couch to watch the Muppets holiday special - A Muppets Christmas "Letters to Santa". Notable guest stars included Uma Thurman, Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Jesse L. Martin, Michael Bloomberg, and Whoopi Goldberg.

As a HUGE Muppet fan I have to be honest. I thought it was good, but it wasn't their best. I have to say it felt a bit different. Some of the latest Muppet movies have a different feel. However, I did enjoy the singing and the adorable outfits. Um, Muppets in sweaters and winter apparel - a favorite of mine every time.

One character that stole the show was Pepe, the king prawn. I've like Pepe for quite some time and have always been a fan of his comedy. But last nite, as he stood in the security line at the airport and dumped out all of his electronic devices I roared in laughter. He unloads his pockets saying "Blackberry, Blueberry, Rasberry . . . Halle Berry." All were "electronics" except for the picture of Halle which he kissed before placing in his TSA security box.

In the end I'm always glad to see the crew anywhere. They are always awesome, and I can't help but feel like I'm four every time I see them. Dan will tell you, last night at 7:58pm I sprinted into the living room screaming "two minutes till the Muppets. M-U-P-P-E-T-S!!!" They always make me smile, and for that I am so grateful. Did you watch it? What did you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Heart Pose Prints

I always have a hard time picking out Christmas cards. I do, it's true. What do I want them to say? Do I want them to look grown up or do I go straight for the snowmen? So many options.

I was reading Celebrity Baby Blog, an oh so fav of mine, when I read a recommendation of theirs. Enter Pose Prints.

I've never been a huge fan of personalized holiday cards. I've only done the picture version once. I just never seem to find a photo that I like enough to send out to those I know. Maybe it will change when I get older and have kids.

But for now, I'd like to recommend Pose Prints. For the sassy and chic gal who's looking for something unique, these can be a great option. I love building my entire scene - myself, my boyfriend, whatever I decide to put on it. There's lots of options like bows, tiaras and what nots. This site is not just for the holidays. Engagement parties? Birthdays? You got it.

Check it out today and build your own character! Save it for your blog, Facebook page, and all other social media applications. Stay tuned for my holiday card. It will be making a special appearance on Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea - For the Military Brat in Your Life

Can you believe that Christmas is just 9 days away? 9. Whew. Wasn't it just Thanksgiving? I haven't even had the chance to mail my holiday cards out. Eish.

Still shopping for holiday presents? Um, I am. And you're amazing if you've finished. Hats off to you. So for those still trying to find the perfect gift for the military brat in your life, I'd like to recommend a personal favorite . . .The Military Brat Challenge Coin.

Until a few years ago, I didn't know it existed. Challenge coins - yes. I mean, my father has kindly given me many throughout the year and I collect them proudly. And I'm a big fan of them and how they are used. (The story behind the origination of the coin is amazing, but that is for another post.) I have many. And to this day, I can still pick up my father's wallet and see a circular imprint. Ever new wallet gets one.

A few years back, one of my best friends Amanda Stangl, was kind enough to give me one for Christmas. We lived in Japan together, and she's the friend I've had longest in my life. I feel like I grew up with her, even though we met when we were 13 and only had 3 short years together.

She found it on the famous military brats website we love the most. I cried when she gave it to me. Too sentimental?

The words that appear on the front of the coin are so important: bold, adaptable, tolerant, and responsible. I've said it before and I'll say it again, military brats don't choose to become brats. It happens to them. But the best thing about being a brat, is learning to embrace each part of your military life. The moves. The foreign countries. The new languages. The constant change. The words on the coin are the code we live by.

Receiving that coin made me feel like I was finally like my father. And when he went to Iraq, I bought a coin for both my younger siblings Matt and Nicole. I wanted to remind them that they too deserve such an honor. Their dedication, support and respect to our father and our military family should be recognized and celebrated.

Until my father returned from Iraq, I carried my coin and his coin in my wallet. It helped me feel connected. And now, when I'm with my friends who are military brats, I never hesitate to call a challenge at a bar. After all, I now have my own duds.

If you have a military brat in your life and are looking for a stocking stuffer, or a special gift, I encourage you to give your loved one a military brat challenge coin.

Hugs to all brats around the world.

Muppet Alert! Muppets Christmas to Air Wed on NBC

Listen Up Muppet Fans! The gang has come together again to produce yet another Christmas special . . . as if we could ever get tired of seeing our favorite characters celebrate the holiday season!

While I'm sure that you've seen tv ads for it, I'd like to remind you that it will be airing tomorrow, at 8pm on NBC. Special guests include Nathan Lane - who is a personal fav. It's called A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.

To help generate hype around the new special, some of our Muppets will be making daytime appearances. Catch Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. Pepe the King Prawn is also set to appear as a featured guest on "The Bonnie Hunt Show" the very same day.

So tomorrow will be a Muppet filled day!!! Get the popcorn ready folks. You know where I'll be on Wed at 8pm!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oprah's Weight Gain - Why She Should Be Embarrassed

Last week you couldn't surf the Web or look at a paper without seeing the following headline (in one form or another) - Oprah Reveals Shocking Weight Gain.

As someone who is on her own personal weight loss journey, I am inclined to listen to what other people have done . . . what works and what doesn't.

The new issue of her magazine shows her "now" self standing next to her much thinner "then" self. Oprah revealed that she is now tipping the scales at 200lbs, and is embarrassed. She also said that she couldn't believe that after all these years that she is "still talking about her weight."

I wasn't appalled by Oprah's gain but what did make my jaw drop was that she was so outwardly negative about herself to her millions upon millions of readers. Her article reveals that she feels like a "fat cow," and details her struggles with an out-of-balance thyroid, explaining how the condition led to "a fear of working out."

Winfrey weighed 40lbs less just two years ago and in 2005 she went on an extreme liquid protein diet that resulted in a dramatic weight loss. She literally STARVED herself. She's done crazier things in the past. In 1988, she lost 67lbs and she chose to wheel a wagon loaded with fat on her talk show.

Today, I feel ashamed for her and embarrassed for her - not because of her weight gain - but for her lack of self respect. And her public display of it.

As someone who strives to lose weight, I know that one thing will always remain true - this is MY journey. And every time I gain anything back, I don't freak out. I just remind myself that I need to work harder. Freaking out gets me no where.

As for Oprah's comment about how she can't believe this is still part of her dialogue - - - clearly she hasn't learned everything about weight loss. It's a journey for her too. If you ask anyone, ANYONE, that has ever lost weight in the past they'd tell you the same thing. The weight can come back.

Her super stardom does not make her immune to the weight coming back. It does not give her a special pass out of the struggles that some of us face every day. A carrot or chocolate cake. A 30 min workout or another hour of sleep. Her money and everything that comes with it can never make her a size zero. But her self respect, discipline, and motivation can make her healthy again.

While I'm not happy to see Oprah slip, it does remind all of us that we are human - and that "they" are just like us. I do wish her the best of luck in her continued journey. And maybe when she reaches her new, adjusted goal, she can celebrate herself in a different way. No fat wagon. Maybe she can write an article on how loving yourself, no matter what size or shape you come in is the key to life's happiness- and how she FINALLY realized that.

My girlfriends and I often ask each other what we would do if we became millionaires - - - we all say the same thing. Quit work. Devote our time to philanthropic endeavors and get a personal trainer. "If I was rich, I'd always be thin." At times like this, I pause and remind my chickies that money is simply no excuse. Look at Oprah. Let's be thinner and happier and love our selves more now - the millions can come later.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Can’t Let This Bank Fail!

During economic times like these, we all begin to stop and count our blessings. We remember to be thankful for what we do have, and our hearts go out to those who are in need. Earlier this week 4,000 people were let go from the company my boyfriend works for. 4,000 people. Luckily he wasn't one of them. But that doesn't mean that he'll escape the next round of lay-offs.

We all know that it's happening across the nation. We all know people who have been effected by the recession. For me, it always helps me feel better to do something charitable. So for all of you based in NJ here's a few stats for you and a fantastic opportunity to do something good for someone else. Even THE BOSS is pitching in.

More than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, either live with or are on the verge of hunger. In New Jersey alone, an estimated 250,000 new clients will be seeking sustenance this year from the state's food banks. But recently, as requests for food assistance have risen, food donations are on the decline, leaving food bank shelves almost empty and hungry families waiting for something to eat.

The situation is dire, no more so than at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), the largest food bank in the state, where requests for food have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism.

As the state's key distributor of food to local banks – serving more than 500,000 people a year and providing assistance to nearly 1,700 non-profits in the state – the stability of replenishment of the CFBNJ is essential to ensuring that individuals in need have access to food.

If everyone could just do a little, it would help those in need a lot. To help, people can:

- Make a monetary contribution: Visit
- Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry. Click here to find a food pantry near you
- Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD.
- Help "Check Out Hunger:" Look for the "Check Out Hunger" coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small!

It's really easy to donate and all of us know that there are things in our pantry that could go to a family in need. Donate today and you'll get a gift in return - - -the satisfaction of knowing that you're making a difference in your local community!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Low Cal Salad Dressing That Only Seems Sinful

So it's no mystery to all of you that I'm a weight loss journey. I begun to discuss it a few posts back. When I find something that seems like a miracle (I've been dieting strong for more than a year and a half now) I like to share. I was reading one of my favorite weight loss blogs the other day, Glamour's Margarita Shapes Up, and she talked about bad food habits and a revised solution.

My diet, like many other women I know, consists of a lot of salad. Margarita even reveals that it's something she depends on as well. It's the one thing that I can eat a good amount of that isn't laden with calories. The one thing that actually fills me up. And sadly now, I really crave a nice big bowl of greens.

So the bad food habit - the loophole - salad dressing; it's a dieters worse enemy. I finally found a line (that is not a low fat Italian vinaigrette) that causes me to do a little dance. Enter Bolthouse Dressings. It is my solution.

The line has a few dressings that can make a party out of any salad. Why do I love it? It's yogurt based. It has less than half the calories and half the fat than regular dressings. The real bonus - it ACTUALLY tastes good. Modern miracle if you ask me. I'm in love with the Ranch dressing. I also have the Thousand Island dressing in my fridge. It tastes fresh, homemade almost and I no longer have the urge to dump a quarter of the bottle into my bowl. The only downside - it expires much faster than the regular kind but in the end that means that it's only made of the real stuff.

Check it out and let me know what you think. Salad bowls will soon be celebrating.

Disney Parks Dedicates a Year to Me . . .

I'm a HUGE fan of Disney. I've gone to almost every park - with the exception of Euro Disney. Yep, even Tokyo Disney where my favorite character, Winnie the Pooh, speaks in Japanese. Yeah for the military who sent us to live in Japan!

So it's not surprising that I have a huge affinity for the Disney brand. I came across this today and was thrilled. Disney Parks decided to dedicate a year to ME! ;)

And why, I'm sure you are asking. Um, I'm spectacular. And they love grown ups who love the fact that Disney celebrates the child in all of us. Okay, so maybe it isn't so believable. But watch the video and at the end enter your name and see what happens. Disney will dedicate a year to you as well! Pass it along to all the Disney fans in your life - - - and all the youngsters that this will bring happiness to.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Home for B-52s

New Home for B-52s

Stars and Stripes reported today that the Air Combat Command has selected Minot Air Force Base (N.D) for its fourth B-52 squadron. The squadron should be up and running by 2010.

No overseas bases were considered in the decision process and the new location will have to undergo a environmental impact analysis prior to getting the full nod.

I'm a huge fan of B-52s. When my family left Japan we were shipped to Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, LA which is home of the B-52 bombers. We saw them every day and heard the roar of the engines every night. They are giant beauties. They are phenomenal.

Military jet engines - ahh, they are one of my favorite sounds to hear as I fall asleep and is something that I miss each night. There's something soothing about the hum that is created as military aircraft fire up for flight. Hmm, maybe other military brats feel the same. Did I just stumble onto an idea? A specialized alarm clock with military related sounds - jet engines firing, the morning reveille . . . ???

Congrats Minot - - - get ready for them!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Calling all military moms across the globe. Stars and Stripes needs your voices! :)

Yes, it is true. Our favorite military newspaper is launching a new website geared towards military moms in early 2009. The paper is currently looking for moms to sign up to be moderators. Moderators will be compensated for their time with AAFES or DeCA gift cards.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this new site pans out!

Sesame Street Experience for Military Families

I'm always a fan of any company that the USO recruits to takes time out to thank the troops and their families. This year the Sesame Street Experience for Military Families traveled to more than 40 bases to put on an incredible show. I'm glad to hear the USO plans to continue the show next year and expand it to travel to more bases in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The show is live - complete with many muppets- and is similar to the Broadway version, only smaller. A special tweak has been made for military families though . . . when Elmo sings "You Make Elmo Proud" he praises military kids for helping their parents and being strong when one parent is away.

The Sesame Workshop has paid special attention to military children lately. They have a special section on their website titled, "Talk, Listen, Connect." This section offers information, videos, posters, music and support for military families as they face challenging transitions such as deployments, homecomings, moves, and TDYs. By the way, the program is also bilingual.

As a military brat, I can personally say that this is amazing. I wish they had had this around when I was growing up. This program isn't new (it was launched in 2006) but I wanted to mention it because it is an incredible resource. So to the Sesame Workshop I must say - - - thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thanksgiving - What I'm Thankful For

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope all of you had a fantabulous holiday. Thanksgiving is awesome. You eat a giant bird. You eat pie. And, well, you just eat. And you get to reflect on the things you are thankful for.

Because of work my Thanksgiving is always an un-Thanskgivingy but it's something I'm willing to accept. Here are the things I'm thankful for this year, in random order . . .

1. That my family was together again - even if I wasn't with them. This year, my parents and brother and sister met up in the Ozark Mountains for some quality family time. My parents drove all the way from FL and my brother and sister (and her boyfriend) drove up from Oklahoma on their break from college. I was happy that this happened - last year my everyone spent the holiday alone. My folks went to Miami and hated it. Very un-Thanskgivingy said Dad.

2. My job. I'm so glad to have my job. Seriously. I'm also glad that my job provides me exciting opportunities like experiencing Black Friday in an amazing way. And today I am thankful that Black Friday is far away!

3. Dan. Like I need to say more. I thankful for his love of the holiday, the way his family celebrates it and how they miss me so very much when I'm not there with them. And I love him and am thankful that he loves me.

4. My friends. Especially the ones who love me enough to call me on Thanksgiving and cheer me on as I count down to Black Friday

5. Our military members across the world. I'm very thankful for all of the military members (and their families) that are stationed throughout the globe as they are far, far away from those who love them. A special shout out to the young and single - here's to hoping that another military family opened their homes to you on the special day. My warmest thoughts go to our men and women in the land of sand. I know that you stood in line for hours to call home on this week. Thank you for doing that. Thank you for emailing. And thank you for your positive attitude that reminds us to stay just as positive even though we miss you oceans.

What were you thankful for?