Friday, October 9, 2009

Off the Radar

It's been a few months since I've blogged - yep, I've completely fallen off the radar. I always said that I'd never be that blogger. But much has happened since the start of the summer and its scary how good and how bad the months have been.

I got engaged. I got a new job. My grandmother died. My parents unexpectedly PCSed to South Korea.

Yeah, all that in just a few months. I do believe in karma which explains the great things. That everything happens for a reason which explains the sad things. But it seems so odd that I can have such great things happen in one breath and such horrible things happen in another. I've tried to find the silver lining. I just wish it didn't all happen in such a rush with no time to enjoy the good before the bad arrived.

I'll be pushing multiple posts through this weekend for those who'd like to catch up on the happenings. And after this, I promise to be back.

Happy weekend all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2009 Yokota High School All Years Reunion Recap

Wow. The trip that I waited more than a year for has now come and gone. We came from across the nation, spent less than 36 hours in the state of TX and had a phenomenal time. Some of the best 36 hours of my life and hands down one of the best "weekend" trips I've ever taken.

Some top line highlights . . . for photos visit our group page on Facebook . . .



- The gang hit the Riverwalk up on the first nite for the official welcome mixer. Heather, Ruth Ann and I rolled up around 12:30pm and took the party to Pat O'Briens. We continued the party back at our hotel pool where we talked about old times and met some military fly boys - one of which rolled with the Thunderbirds for the past four years. Not surprising, San Antonio is crawling with boys in blue. But we were happy to meet these two and swap our military stories.

- Despite the fact that we had about three hours of sleep, the ladies and I somehow made it out of bed on Sat morning and cruised to the Riverwalk for a Mexican lunch and some sunshine. Full of queso goodness, we took to the streets and headed to the Alamo! The last time I visited the Alamo I was about seven or eight. Um, it's much smaller than I remember.



- Later that evening, the gang headed to the official reunion dinner where we met Panthers that had come before us. When we entered the room, one of the coordinators called the room to attention and all eyes fell on us. "The babies have arrived everyone. Let's show them how we party," he echoed throughout the hall. Mind you, we graduated in 1999 and 2000 - we are by no means babies but the term of endearment continued throughout the weekend and we grew to appreciate it!

- The evening was wonderful and the official DVD that they presented, which showed the past, present and future of Yokota HS, was very moving. It was fascinating to come together, swap stories and share yearbooks. The attendees hailed from the classes of the 70s and 80s. Some from the very first few classes to ever graduate from the school. (Did you know it wasn't established until the 70s?) We all had so many questions for each other. What did you do in Japan back then? What was the school like? What trouble did military kids get into then? Where did you have prom? What do you miss the most?



- While the years span between us, the stories are almost the same. Okay, so replace our grunge wear for bell bottoms. But, I always believed and do especially after this reunion, that once a Panther always a Panther. The same can be said for any military high school. It really showed me that we are truly one in the same and each hold a very special place and time in our hearts that is connected to Japan. I felt so lucky and privileged to be included in the event and to have met these fantastic and fascinating military brats.



- After the official dinner, the girls and I headed back to the Riverwalk and made sure we had a chance to dance to music from our era! Mad Dogs was the official choice and it didn't let us down. Complete with rock bottom priced drink specials and a Micheal Jackson dance off, it proved to be an outstanding location to shake our money makers.



- Sunday morning I woke up and realized that our trip was ending. And yes, hadn't it just started? Bridget headed out early and the rest of the girls headed to el Mercado for lunch and shopping. We met up with another pal from back in the day and had another round of reminiscing. One by one the girls departed and at the end of the afternoon Mikki and I found ourselves in a cab headed to the airport. We were the last to leave the great state of Texas and I certainly was sad about it.



The great thing about this weekend was, that despite the fact that some of us had been apart for more than 11 years, it seemingly didn't matter. It was like we didn't skip a beat. Sure we hadn't spoken in years. Sure we had all gone to college separately. And sure we had all grown up. But in less than 5 minutes we all fell back into a rhythm. And even as we met the brats that came before us, we all felt like old friends. That's the true beauty of being a military brat. No matter how far apart we are, no matter how many years that pass, we will always have a connection to a place in time and a place so very far away. For me and the brats I was with that weekend, that place will always be Tokyo, Japan. It will always be Yokota AFB and Yokota HS. And we will always bleed blue and gold as Panthers.

As my plane took off over San Antonio, I paused and looked out the window. Remember the Alamo? Oh I'll remember much more than that. And even though part of me was sad, so much of me was happy. This marks a new beginning. A future that holds many reunions in other random states. A future that will include these wonderful people. A future of continued friendships and a love of the land of the rising sun.

Friday, July 10, 2009

San Antonio Bound : YHS All Years Reunion Weekend

The day has finally come! The 2009 Yokota High School All Years Reunion is upon us.

I'm thrilled to be heading down to the great state of Texas to see some of my favorite military brats. Some I haven't seen in ten years. Some I saw just the other day.

We've got a great itinerary planned. The Alamo. National Parks. Mixers on the Riverwalk. And of course, a big party on Saturday night complete with a traditional Japanese dinner and a DJ.

I'll be back next week to post pictures of our adventures and fill you in on all the details. But for now, it's blue and gold time. Panther time. And time to remember the land of the rising sun.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Well Wishes for My Army Brother

I've mentioned before that my brother is contracted by the Army. He attends the the University of Oklahoma on an Army scholarship and will become an officer upon graduation next May.

He's one of my favorite people. And despite the fact that he has spent almost more years apart from me than with me, we're so close.

Last week he departed for military training camp - two months, no contact. Yeish. Three days earlier he had just celebrated his 21st birthday. He made the rounds of phone calls reminding me that it wouldn't be that bad for me - we'd only miss our weekly calls. So that's like, 8. I couldn't help but smile when he said this.

I didn't think his departure would shake me. After all, we're both military brats and it's not like he's going far. He is stateside. It's just a camp. I mean, it will suck for him but it's not like it will suck for me.

But it made me sad, for a little bit. He's growing up. And even though he's been filling the role of an Army solider for the past three years, this suddenly makes it very real. Makes me realize that he's going to be graduating soon. And then going everywhere.

So, with a proud heart, I said good luck and bon voyage. Here's to you bud. We'll be thinking of you and we know you're going to rock at camp. Your scores are going to be stellar and when you get home, we'll totally celebrate your major achievements.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Over the Celebrity Hype: Real Heroes Die Every Day

This week marked the passing of three high profile celebrities: Ed Mc Mahon, Farrah Fawcett and Micheal Jackson. While I am certainly aware of each of them, the attention they received in the social media universe and the traditional media space was crazy. Particularly the King of Pop.

Word of his condition spread on Twitter like wildfire before traditional media could even get a foot in the door. Everyone I followed seemed to want to jump on the bandwagon and almost all had something to say.

I follow @PattyGale on Twitter. I often agree with a lot of comments she makes and this week she tweeted something that resonated so strongly with me. "Sorry, can't get into the last 2 days of news. Sad for the families yes. However, real heroes die every day & don't get headlines."

I loved this statement - I had been thinking it since I began to see the Twitter flurry that had erupted over MJ's death. She literally took the words out of my mouth.

I had no desire to tweet about their deaths. I had no desire to state my unending (and mind you non-existent) love for the musician. I think it's crazy that fans rushed to his home and hospital. That people were overcome with emotion - bursting into tears.

It's not that I don't think that passings aren't important - they are. But they are private. And most importantly, I do feel that we channel an inappropriate amount of energy into how much we care about people that appear on the silver screen or fill our heads with tunes.

I think its fine to pause, reflect on a life, and wish nothing but peace to the ones they left behind. I just don't think I need to participate in what I call a celebrity Twitterpaloza.

Patty's right. Real heroes die every day and few stop to pay attention. And if you're a regular reader of my blog you know that I'm referring to the military members of our fine nation.

I do think it is fascinating that some people can touch our lives in profound ways, even if we never meet them. For those people to change our line of thought, to help us look at the world in a different way or broaden our horizons. But for me, those people are rarely celebrities. They are often the men and women of our nation's great forces. Because they are my heroes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Father, My Hero


In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to pause for a moment and write a brief post about my wonderful father. While he's not one for gushiness, I try to always make a point of telling him that he's the best father in the world on this very special day.

The Dad who wears BDUs and serves his country selflessly every day. The Dad that not only takes care of me but of ALL of his troops - even when that number is over 300. The Dad who sends me laughter via email when he's in Iraq. The Dad who never forgets to thank his family for their support of his service.

My Dad really is the best Dad - but not just because he's in the military. While it cannot be denied that his occupation was my one way ticket to travel the world, the opportunity to speak different languages and see other cultures, or live out such extraordinary adventures, he's amazing without the military hooah. After all, he is the man that held my hand throughout that journey and the man that made it such an incredible adventure.

Truth is, my father is someone I will always aspire to be like. An amazing leader. An amazing role model. Brave. Intelligent. Generous heart. Brilliant sense of humor.

I would not be the strong, independent, fearless woman I am today if it were not for him. He made me believe in myself from day one and because of that I always believe that I can do anything. That I am someone special. And without him, I would have never learned to push myself beyond the limits I think I have.

After all, it was my father who helped me climb to the top of Mt. Fuji when I thought I could not climb another foot. It was my father who told me it would be okay when I moved my senior year of high school and was faced with rebuilding my life yet again. It was my father who taught me the true meaning of suck it up and press on.

And it was my father who offered profound wisdom to me when he told me that when it comes to life that it is "not the result it is the journey." Something I have taken to heart and tried to live by every day.

Many thanks to my phenomenal father for all that he has done and all that he will do. I love you Dad. You are my hero.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stephen Colbert: MR. USO



Stephen Colbert did an AMAZING job in Iraq this week. His four shows were witty, tasteful and most of all tremendously supportive of our brave men and women stationed in the land of sand.

Some of my favorite things about this week . . . I really enjoyed when . . .

- Colbert flew with the AF Thunderbirds. I liked watching Colbert's reaction, mid song, during takeoff. In regards to the pilots, as a Air Force brat, I've always loved a man in a flight suit and this was no exception. The Thunderbirds are all SUPER hot and they are unbelievably talented.

- Colbert complimented the troops for doing their job in "140 degree heat in full battle rattle." When my Dad was in Iraq he'd tell us how the insane the heat was. It's something we can never understand here.

- Colbert compared Iraq to a bag of trail mix and said the the M&Ms were the US Troops.

- Watching Deputy Prime Minister Baham Saleh discuss Iraq and his gratitude to the US Forces.

- Seeing and hearing the entire palace sing the Army Song - proud and strong after Colbert attempted to get them to do the hokey pokey.

- Tom Hanks and Colbert packed care packages for the troops. It was my favorite part when Colbert tried to send puppies and ice cream to Iraq

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tom Hanks Care Package
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq


A big THANKS to Colbert, his entire team and of course the USO. If you missed any of the shows this week visit the microsite for his tour Mr. USO.

You can watch full episodes there or download them via iTunes. Proceeds from your iTunes purchase will benefit the USO. If you have a few dollars please also visit the USO's website and donate money. Our troops, and their families, rely on the USO. When you help support the USO, you help them.

If you're tight on cash but want to help, try doing something for a family of a local military family. Bake them cookies. Help find a babysitter. Stop by to just say thank you. The families left at home are at war too - just in a very different way.

A special shout out to all our men and women serving abroad. It was great to see you this week - tan and smiling! Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. You're all of our heroes!

***Special note: photo courtesy of the MR. USO website ***

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colbert Report's First Show From Iraq

Stephen Colbert is now officially my favorite comedian. I checked out his first show from Iraq and it was HILARIOUS!

He kicked off the show with some stellar comments. Here are a few highlights:

- His staff took standard BDUs and made them into a suit. He looked surprisingly cool!

- During his monologue he referred to Iraq as "the country so nice we invaded it twice"

- He let troops know that he wanted to come to Iraq because he "always wanted to cook a microwave burrito in my pants"

Colbert also showed a few clips from his 10 hour-long "basic training." He dubbed it "Stephen Strong: Army of Me." I especially loved the Louis V luggage and the iPhone portion.

Later in the show he took time to interview General Ray Odierno, the head hancho in the land of sand. Odierno let Colbert know that his training experience was not at all realistic and that he needed to get a regulation hair cut to even be considered a trainee.

Colbert refused and then President Obama appeared on the screen. He first gave a shout out to our troops and then calmly gave an official order to Odierno to buzz Colbert's head!

For the record, I know that Colbert will miss blow drying his locks every morning but he looked pretty good with his buzz. He may even grow to like this new look!

The show was awesome and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us for the rest of the week.

Here's a little snipit of the show - and a shout out from John McCain.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando - John McCain
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat


Click here to see the full episode OR visit iTunes and download it. Proceeds go to the USO!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tweet To Remind - Help Raise $1.65 Million for Troops by July 4th

Today, as I was giving well deserved shoutouts to my military twitter peeps in honor of the Military Monday Twitter movement, I came across a tweet that made me smile. I'm a follower of Bob Woodruff and today he simply tweeted the following: "Support our troops is no longer a slogan. It's an action. #tweettoremind http://bit.ly/remind #militarymon."

Tweet to Remind - have you heard of it? It's all a buzz in today's #MilitaryMon chatter. I checked out the site and it seems that Woodruff's latest effort is a partnership between his foundation and the PR powerhouse Porter Novelli. Through the partnership, a unique idea has been born - a goal to raise $1.65 million by July 4th; proceeds will be given to America's soldiers as they return home.

The website, which also links to ReMIND.org, is a movement of Woodruff's foundation that "educates the public about the needs of injured service members, veterans and their families as they reintegrate into their communities and empowers people everywhere to take action."

If you remember, Woodruff suffered near fatal injuries in 2006 from a roadside bomb. He was on assignment in Iraq for ABC’s “World News Tonight." His wife and family have channeled their experience into creating the Bob Woodruff foundation in hopes of helping military families across the nation. Special thanks to them for their generous time and efforts.

Please take time to visit the Tweet to Remind website, donate and spread the word throughout your blogging community. Most importantly, don't forget to TWEET! Follow the movement @remind_org or @tweettoremind. Our nation's forces and their families give everything they have, every day of the year, to protect our freedom. They are our heroes. Please take time to thank them in a small way.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stephen Colbert to Broadcast From Iraq!

I've talked about my likeness for Colbert before. He helps military brats and genuinely likes our military community.

And for some time now, he's discussed an upcoming trip to the Persian Gulf and this week it was announced that he really is going!

The Colbert Report has deployed to Iraq on a USO tour entitled "Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando." He's landed safely and Colbert will broadcast four shows from Baghdad next week, where he’ll be entertaining an audience of about 450 troops. Catch the shows when they air Monday through Thursday.

Comedy Central reports that the operation "is taking place at an undisclosed military base. The week will feature many segments including Colbert putting together USO care packages for the troops and 'shout outs' from notable figures in society."

Check out the announcement here for further info, including a list of his notable guests. Stellar. On a special note, they have also reported that proceeds from sales of "The Colbert Report" on iTunes during the week of June 8 will benefit the USO.

Here's a clip from his show, where he asks his viewers to do what anyone would do with this type of secret . . . leak it! Tweet about it, blog about it, etc.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive - Where and When Is Stephen Going to the Persian Gulf - Iraq Announcement
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

So in the words of Colbert himself . . . Go Forth and LEAK! :) Spread the news and tune in!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NBC's Today Shines Spotlight on USO and Troops!

NBC's Today show took time this morning to shine a spotlight on military families across the nation. With a segment appropriately named "Call to Action," Meredith, Ann and Al talked about why our military troops and their families are so important to our great nation. Check out the videos below.

A heartfelt look into military families' lives when our loved ones are deployed . . .



Ann's Interview with Jill Biden - remember that her son is also deployed.



Here's Al's interview with the USO. Check out this care package assembly line! Brilliant!



I was THRILLED to see the USO and our military community receive so much air time on our nation's best morning show. The USO is an amazing organization and they've been fantastic in supporting our community in the past and present.

Big thanks to Today for showing America's bravest and reminding our citizens to thank them for their service. Warm hugs to all military families around the world and safe thoughts and prayers to their deployed loved ones.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction

This blog has become a bit of a sanctuary for me. This and Twitter. Both allow me to connect with the military community in a way that I didn't think was possible ten years ago. It's allowed me to bridge my two worlds together. It's allowed me to hold onto something that I struggle to keep at the center of my life everyday - my strong military heritage.

During the last semester of college I took a writing class that was awe-inspiring. It wasn't a surprise to me that I enjoyed writing, but what was surprising was what this professor got me to write about. Myself. I decided then that I wanted to share my experience with others.

In our world today, almost everyone has a unique story to share. The gentleman who lived in the Midwest on a farm his entire life. The New Yorker longing to escape the massive amounts of concrete. Everyone's life is special.

What this class did was show me that my life was truly interesting. Where I've been, where I started and how I got here. Someone who didn't even begin her life as an American. So many countries. So many houses. So many schools. At the root of it - the military.

Flash forward four years later and I'm finally giving the project the attention that it deserves. My life has been special and it is time for me to share it with the world. Particularly the other military children - past, present and future.

I'm currently working on a book proposal and channeling my creative energy into my first few chapters. I will fill the pages with the story of my journey, my experience, my path. How my entire existence revolved around being a military brat and how that affects me still even today. And even though many like me have shared their story before, the brilliance of the situation is that no two military brats are the same. Our stories will be entirely different.

I'm happy to share with you what will hopefully be a new beginning for me, and a step in the right direction. And, in the end, if I only write it for my friends and family, if I only write it for military family support centers, if I only write it for myself, I will have still written it. It is my hope that by sharing my experience, other military brats around the world will not feel like they are going it alone. Many brats have come before us, and many brats will come after us. But we're all connected.

Military OneSource Launches New Column that Focuses on the Education of the Military Child

Military OneSource, which prides itself on being the round the clock resource for all military families, has just made itself EVEN better. I'm a fan of the website - I think it can provide a great deal of support for active duty personnel, their spouses and their families. I'm particularly fond of their Blog Brigade.

Today, the announcement of a new column caught my attention. Titled, "Schoolhouse Rocks: The Teacher Is In," the column will focus on the "spectrum of issues that face the military child over the course of their education."

At the helm is Navy spouse and teacher Casey S. and she states that it is her goal to "help you become your child’s strongest advocate." Today's first post calls on all military parents and invites you to comment about the topics you'd like to see addressed.

So take time this week to pop over, welcome her, take their first survey and leave a great topic suggestion. You military children will thank you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grey's Anatomy Finale Military Twist

I am a fan of Grey's Anatomy. It's hard to find a twenty something female in the USA who isn't. But last night, as I tuned in for the season finale and the departure of two main characters, I would have never guessed the military twist.

I am personally sad to see George, played by TR Knight, leave the show and was very surprised to see his ending. After interacting with a wounded solider from Iraq that was willing to do anything to get back into active duty status, George hears his patriotic call and enlists in the Army. We learn that he is to report to duty the following day.

Upon learning of O'Mally's decision a wave of disconcern, shock and anger washes over his closest friends. Several of George's friends discus how he'll do in Iraq and one exclaims "he'll come back in a body bag."

One character who took it especially hard was Callie, his ex-wife. Callie, along with Miranda and George's friends plan an intervention for later that day. They feel desperate to explain to him that this is the biggest mistake of his life.

When Callie informs her girlfriend, Arizona, of her disapproval of George's future occupation Arizona firmly tells her that she thinks that his decision is "awesome." Callie erupts in anger, in total disbelief that Arizona doesn't understand. We learn later that Arizona DOES understand when she tells Callie that her brother fought in Iraq and came home in a casket because there weren't enough doctors there to save him.

I thought that the show did an amazing job of depicting this scenario. Many families, friends and loved ones experience this situation every year. As a military brat, I've seen first hand the negativity expressed when such an occasion occurs. And as a military brat, my answer to someone's call to duty is, just as she said, AWESOME.

I know that because of my military background it is more natural for me to look at joining our nation's forces as a positive and amazing choice. After all, my father and brother both serve. But, it never ceases to amaze me how civilians react when they learn that someone they loved has joined. It's almost automatic - anger, disapproval, a strong desire to talk them out of it. Such a harsh extreme. And none of them stop to realize that it is that person's own decision. That their loved one feels like this is their path.

I was so very pleased to see that the show shed light on both perspectives. So, like Arizona, I would very much so like to stand up and shout from the roof tops to those enlisting and joining the military, YOU ARE AWESOME.

WE THANK YOU. WE SUPPORT AND CELEBRATE YOUR DECISION. YOU ARE OUR HEROES. WELCOME TO THE MILITARY COMMUNITY.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Ahh, Mother's Day. The one day a year that everyone on the planet simultaneously thinks about their mothers. After all, everyone has a mother.

When I was growing up my mother was, and still is, a military spouse. So it comes as no surprise that the things I'm most grateful to my mother for are all wrapped up in my military childhood. My mother truly is one of my heroes.



She is my definition of a Super Mom. A Mom who can move us from country to country - without my Dad.

The woman who promises that this move will be an adventure. The woman who gives me the biggest hug in the world after I say goodbye to my life and get on a plane and make that move.

The woman who reminds me, on my first day of school, that I'm a champion. That I've done this so many times before. That I can do it again.

The keeper of happiness. The woman who fills my life with optimistic thinking when I feel so alone and everything around me is strange, unfamiliar and very different. The woman who is a solid wall of strength when my father is so very far away, for so very long. The woman that holds our family together when we're all at a distance geographically - even still today.

The woman who really knows who I am, where I've been and the many steps it took to get where I am today. The woman who knows where it all began. The woman who knows my entire world and carries it with her. She is the gateway to things and places long forgotten - things and places that I'll never be able to revisit.

Some people are lucky - they get to live near their mothers for the course of their entire life. I'm not as lucky. My parents live on the opposite side of the nation, and yet I feel so fortunate, because for right now at least they don't live on the opposite side of the world. I can call my mom daily if I want which isn't something I could do a few years ago. I can call her and she's in the same time zone. I can take a three hour plane ride and be at her front door. While she may be far away, for the first time in many years, she's much more reachable.

My mother is an amazing person and I am so very thankful to have her. Happy Mother's Day Mom. You're the best.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Military Spouse Day: First Lady Promises More Support

Today is Military Spouse Day. Military Spouse. Two words, unbelievable meaning. To understand the true meaning of the title you must be part of the military community. To understand the true meaning of the title is to be in awe of some of the strongest and bravest men and women our nation has ever seen.

Being a military spouse is so much more than being a spouse. Friend. Caretaker. Supporter. Military families wouldn't be families if there wasn't a military spouse. The saying, behind every great man there is a great woman, is especially true in military families. I truly believe that behind every great military member there is an amazing military spouse. Male or female.

There was a recent survey done by Blue Star families that reveals that 94 percent of military families feel as if the country doesn't understand their challenge. The struggles include moving, finding schools, jobs and childcare. Most importantly, these challenges are faced when their spouse is deployed which can make the challenges significantly harder.

First Lady Michelle Obama took time to address this statistic yesterday during an interview with The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. She said that she was "surprised" and that the "administration is moving ahead with concrete measures to make military families' lives a little easier."

Measures include 2.9 percent increase in salary for service members and an investment of $80 million for career development and training for spouses. Obama also stated that she feels like the communities across the nation can also do something to improve the situation.

"There's also a separate call to the nation that has nothing to do with the government," she said. "It's what we do in our own neighborhoods that's also an important part of what this community of families needs to feel."

When asked about how she felt about the special day Obama said, "It's a wonderful recognition, but that's just one day. We should be doing it every day."

I couldn't agree with her more. As a military brat, I know that I could not have succeeded in a military family without my amazing mother. Military spouses are what I call silent service members. They may not wear BDUs but they have their own special uniforms. Invisible uniforms. They may not wear ranks or pins. They may not salute. They have never taken an oath to serve the military formally, but they did when they said their marriage vows.

And when their husband or wife goes into battle, so do they and so does their family. They endure the battle of keeping their family strong and positive. And just as their husband or wife spend every day protecting the men and women of our nation, they too set out on a mission of protection. To protect their families, to protect their fellow military spouses, to provide their families a sense of normal. To me, they are the unsung military heroes.

Thank you to all of the military spouses stationed throughout the world. Without you nothing in a military family would ever run smoothly or ever seem normal. Your sons, daughters, spouses and military community owe you everything. You hold us all together. And for that . . . you are our heroes.


*** Please take time to pause and remember all of the military spouses who lost their military service members this year. Thank you for enduring the greatest sacrifice any spouse can endure for our great nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families today and always. ***

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

JetBlue Salutes Our Armed Forces

I'm always a big fan of giving shout outs to companies that give back to our military families. I was very happy to hear today that JetBlue is offering an amazing deal to active duty military throughout the month of May.

In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, JetBlue is offering active duty personnel $1* fares for domestic, nonstop flights, for a limited time, departing from the two JetBlue cities nearest to our nation’s capital: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, VA, and Richmond International Airport (RIC) in Richmond, VA.

Please click here to see the rules and regulations - including the date parameters. Act fast folks, these $1 deals are going fast.

Additionally, JetBlue is also donating $15,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project to further honor the nation's men and women in uniform.

The Wounded Warrior Project most recently received national attention at the Country Music Awards. They are an amazing non-profit organization that was created to honor and empower wounded warriors.



From military families across the nation, we thank JetBlue from the bottom of our hearts for their amazing deal and generous donation. We also thank the Wounded Warrior Project for helping our most deserving Americans and their families during the hardest times they may ever face.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stephen Colbert Helps Military Brats Nationwide

Who doesn't love Stephen Colbert. His comedy is stellar. And today I'm an even bigger fan.

I'm pleased to report that Stephen Colbert announced his goal to raise money 4 schools with large populations of military kids! Check out this Kid's Edition . . . the military shout out is all the way at the end.



The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Shout Out - Kids Edition
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial


Let's rally together. Military children are amazing and are always in need of support. Visit DonorsChoose.org to learn more!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Newark Cherry Blossom Festival Reminds Me of Japan!

*** Special note: Many apologies for the scarcities in my posts. I love that I have readers from all across the world and that you are military and non-military. Thank you for your support! I promise that I'll be blogging more frequently! ***

Happy Spring Everyone!!! I find it hard to believe that April is almost over and that Spring has rushed in. The weather in NJ has been fairly random lately - for instance it was 81 degrees on Saturday and today it's in the 40s and rainy. I think that Mother Nature is a bit confused. But overall, I'll do anything for those mini bursts of sunshine that seem to beckon to us. I always feel that sunny Spring days are the Earth's way of saying, come out and play!

This past Saturday was such a day, and I took full advantage of it. Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ has one of the nation's most beautiful collection of cherry blossom trees.


After living in Japan, I have an obsession with the trees and have wished for quite some time, that I could walk among them again. The festival was spectacular and thousands of people, young and old, flooded the park to take a peak at what were the first blossoms of Spring.



I lived on the East side of Yokota AFB and I used to call one of the main roads Cherry Blossom row! The trees framed the street so beautifully and when they blossomed it was breathtaking. When the petals fell to the ground it would look like pink snow. Don't you think it looks like that?

The park and festival were truly the highlight of our day - and even a few wedding parties made an appearance. In total we saw six parties roll in and incorporate the blossoms into their wedding photo backgrounds. Below, there's two shots we snagged - the first because it's a classic pose and the second because I loved the bridesmaid's dress colors!

Overall, Dan and I had a blast and can't wait to go next year. We wished that we would have gone years before, but we're glad to have discovered it nevertheless. Who would have ever guessed that Newark held such a gem?

Here are a few shots . . .












Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Watch PBS Tonight at 8pm to See Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change

Over a month ago I blogged about a PBS special that will be airing tonight, at 8pm called "Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change."

As April is the month of the military child, I can't think of a better way to kick off the month. If you have a child who has a family member who was deployed and returned with combat-related injuries, or if they have friends who have parents that are, I encourage you to watch this special. It tells the stories of military families who are coping with such challenges in a very warm, loving and child-friendly way. The special features Queen Latifia, John Mayer and the biggest superstar of all . . . Elmo.

Here's to hoping that you'll tune in tonight to help make your military child's world full of understanding. A very special thanks to PBS and the Sesame Street Workshop - you are one in a million.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Will Always Love You Finn

It is with a sad heart that I write today's post. Yesterday my family and I said goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Finn.

We've known for some time that we were going to need to say goodbye but it doesn't make it any easier. My entire family came together - all of us from a distance - and yesterday our sweet puppy was put to sleep.

Last night, my parents went on the same walk they normally do, for the first time without Finn. They walk along a pier. When they approached the pier a dolphin crested and followed them for the entire length of the walk. Cresting every few seconds, playfully weaving along.

My mom came home crying. She said that it was beautiful to see. I thought - could it have been in the spirit of my beautiful dog? It may sound stupid to some, but part of me thinks that it was like he was saying his last goodbye.

Rest in peace Finn. We will always love you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Military Brats Build Invisible String of Support

All military brats are eventually faced with a tough decision - to join or not to join. To carry on the family tradition or pave their own way in the civilian world. Many military brats become military service members themselves; some marry into the military. And then there are the others. I'm part of the others, the part who chose to go it alone. I am a civilian.

My entire family is spread throughout the U.S. and somehow we get by just fine. As a military brat, I have become accustomed to only seeing my family once or twice a year. I have learned to deal with the separation, in good times and in bad, with the understanding that our family can never have a sense of normal - we have a normal, it's just a military normal.

This situation has allowed me to form a solid wall of strength and independence. It has also allowed me to fully appreciate the people I love who are closest around me, and even those who aren't.

I feel that through the years, I've built an invisible support system across the nation. Best friends in all areas - east coast, west coast, south and the north. Where it snows often. Where the sun rarely ceases to shine. Some military brats, some civilians who have adapted to my unique lifestyle.

Most recently, I've come to an unexpected roadblock in my life. It is during these times when I feel my friends and family are the closest to me, though their physical location is remarkably distant. They have an amazing way of making me feel like they're with me when I need it the most. When the pin drops, they come out of the woodwork.

I'm so fortunate to have the invisible string of support, those who won't hesitate to shout my name from the rooftops, those who never question my character and those who are a constant reminder of a brighter tomorrow.

While one of my life's adventures have ended, I have no doubt that I'll find another. Another adventure that is sure to lead to even better things. Another adventure that will continue to teach me life lessons and shape the very fiber of my being. And I have no doubt that my invisible string of support will be on board for the ride.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scholarships for Military Brats - Apply! Apply!

So, you're a military brat, graduation is just months away (seriously, it's March) and you've decided to be a civilian. Need cash? Sure you do! What college bound, non-military contracted kid doesn't? I say this with a smile because this was certainly me!

If you fit this category, check out Homefront America. They're currently accepting scholarship applications from eligible military dependent children.

They give away the American Patriot Freedom Scholarship to "dependents 17 to 21 years old who plan to pursue a degree from an accredited college, university, technical or vocational school in the fall of 2009 or spring of 2010."

They're generous - a total of 25 winners will receive $1,000 scholarships each. So start filling out those applications (visit www.oohrah-usa.org)and get them postmarked by April 24. The lucky winners will be notified mid-May.

Don't forget to check out what scholarships are also available to you through on-base facilities and organizations such as the commissary and the wives's clubs. They're also generous as well and have a smaller competition pools since they focus on individual bases versus military brats worldwide.

Good luck future graduates!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recalled Military Mother - Remember SERVICE BEFORE SELF

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, Storked, and she discussed an article she read about a military mom who was recalled to duty.

Here's a summary of the article if you don't have time to read it. There's a prior military woman who lives in NC. She served the Army for four years and was honorable discharged. Like ALL prior members, there is a possibility for her to be recalled. She was - called to report to Fort Benning, and isn't happy about it. Thing is, she has kids now. And apparently her husband travels a lot. Being away from them is "not an option."

So, in her first report back in, she drove about 400 miles, through a snow storm and brought her kids along. She's filed several appeals as to why she can't possibly be recalled and all were rejected. When she gets to Ft. Benning, they will let her know their decision.

The Associated Press piece reads, like most news of late, as a melodramatic movie script. She had to fight through an insane snow storm. She so doesn't want to have to go back into the Army. She's devastated to leave her children. The Army is the bad guy.

Seriously? No, I mean, seriously? As a military brat, I feel like I have the authority to sound off on this. Firstly, the piece is ridiculous and all it does is paint this horribly unfair picture of what happens to prior servicemen and women nationwide. Because, FYI folks, THIS happens to everyone. Men, women. Families of 6. Single people. This woman is not going on some plight by herself. And not to mention, we ALL drive hundreds of miles for everything in the military. Again, she is not alone. And we don't complain.

And reading this, and hearing this makes me angry. Firstly, I have the utmost respect for all mothers worldwide. Being a mother is a sacred thing and not one LIKES to be separated from their kids.

BUT, she chose to join the military and she knew and understood everything that goes along with it. The military is not a job, it is a lifestyle. A commitment. And I don't even want to hear her complain.

And as a military brat, I understand what it's like to have parents not there. Let's talk about the time my father was in the land of sand and my brother graduated . . . HIGH SCHOOL. Or the many birthday, soccer games, every day occurrences that he missed. We NEVER complained. Ever. And we are the kids. It is the nature of our lives. And we had mad respect for our parents who were sent away. Don't even get me started on the families who have TWO military parents. Their kids don't complain either.

Additionally, you may think that I'd like the Army to make her go. BUT, I don't. I don't want someone who's heart isn't in the right place, over with all the other men and women deployed who's hearts are in the right place. She doesn't deserve to serve with them. They wouldn't want her.

An old saying, from my favorite Army Ranger in my life, is SUCK IT UP AND PRESS ON. Life happens. The military is your life. You can't just pick when and where it suits you. There is a reason why we say service before self. Think about that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stimulus Pkg May Help Military Families Who Are Selling Homes

Ahh, moving. The one word that is at the top of every military brat's minds. Two or three year rotations. Inevitable. Exciting. Difficult. I could go on for hours. If you're in the military, or part of a military family, you truly know the drill. You also may be able to pack up your entire life in less than 24 hrs. We're pros.

With the housing market being the way it is, and the economy seemingly hidding under the world's imaginary covers (I'd hide there too for the record), many military families have begun to dread PCSing. Buying a house at a new station is always a risk, but sometimes that risk pays off, and then again sometimes it doesn't.

For all the families who are looking towards a PCS and have begun planning, here's some positive news I'd like to share from military.com. It's been reported that the new stimulus bill may be helping you out when it comes to selling your homes.

"The stimulus package includes $555 million in aid to compensate military service members who are given orders and must sell their homes for less than market value. The Department of Defense would reimburse the individuals for up to 95 percent of the loss if the homes were purchased before July 1, 2006. The department could also elect to purchase the homes for up to 90 percent of the fair market value."

As of right now, everything is in a holding pattern until the DOD figures out which "value" it uses as a benchmark - in today's market, or the market condition at the time of purchase. This could result in tens of thousands of aid being delivered to our military members who need it most! Fingers crossed, I'm hoping that this helps many of you and maybe even my family who weren't able to sell their home two years ago before PCSing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pentagon Lifts Media Ban on Coffin Photos

About an hour ago MSNBC reported that the Pentagon has lifted the media ban on coffin photos of our fallen military members. I will not restate on how I feel - I've already done that in a prior post.

Apparently, the families will now be allowed to decide if the media can photograph their loved one's homecomings.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the announcement today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Country Superstars to Play on European Bases

Ah, I love it when musicians show love to military members and their families. Especially when those members are overseas. I remember seeing countless Tops In Blue shows growing up and it was a night I always looked forward to - and the stars were all military personnel who never landed on the Billboard charts.

Today I learned that a favorite group of mine (besides Tops In Blue) will be heading to Europe next month and is taking time to stop at few military bases!

Sugarland (Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush) is a hot item in the country music arena and we've seen them on every awards show in the last few years - performing, attending due to nominations and even taking home a few sweet awards. They just won a Grammy! In the last two years they've seemingly exploded onto the scene and the fan base has swelled.

So to all those stationed in Europe, here's a listing of where they're stopping:

March 6 - Aviano Air Base, Italy (7pm)
March 7 - Naval Air Station Sigonella (9pm)
March 8 - Naval Support Activity Naples (7pm)
March 14 - Ramstein Air Base, Germany (7pm)

As always, the concerts on base are open to all military id card holders and are free. First come, first serve.

I hope that those concerts bring a big smile to all of the attendees faces. Being stationed overseas can make you physically ache for the U.S. and you guys so deserve a piece of home - even if it's in the form of a concert.

Special thanks to Sugarland for giving their time, talent and tunes to the military community stationed in Europe!!! The military community hearts you and "all they want to do-ooo-ooo-oo" is listen to YOU! ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Navy Seeks Home for 2 Secret Vessels - Seriously. Want It?

So, the Navy has a pair of top secret vessels that it no longer wants to keep . . . but wants someone else to put it on display. Is that someone you?

In today's WSJ, an article appeared on the front page by Barry Newman that talked about the vessels.

Here are the lines that made me smile . . .

"One is called Sea Shadow. It's big, black and looks like a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. It was made to escape detection on the open sea. The other is known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Mining Barge. It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites. The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy -- as it was 35 years ago -- for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine."

Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. Nice. I love the way that Newman wrote this piece. I wonder if the Navy gave him the description or if he came up with it on his own.

For the record, if I had space in my front yard, I'd totally bring these bad boys home. And take good care of them of course. I wonder who will end up with them? Whoever does, I'd pay to tour them!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Farmer of Dead South Korean Rabbits Wants Money from USAF

Okay, it's Friday and for that I am very happy, but the topic of the post is in fact REAL. This story so warrants a Friday afternoon.

In the Pacific edition of Saturday's Stars and Stripes an article titled, Korean farmer: Jet noise killed 100,000 rabbits, will appear. I kid. You. Not.

For the record, I've been to South Korea plenty of times. But I've never seen a rabbit. Ever.

The article states that "thousands of bunnies in Kunsan have literally been scared to death by aircraft noise, according to rabbit farmer Lee Ho-kyung."

And for his losses this farmer wants to get paid. By the USAF. Here's the deal - he's had a 17 year run of raising rabbits and his farm is very close to the 8th Fighter Wing's runway. (It should be noted that South Korea’s 38th Fighter Group also shares this runway.) And in those 17 years, according to him, he's lost 100,000.

He's quoted in the article saying that the "infertility rates are up 30 percent" among his rabbits and that the "mother rabbits kill and eat their babies right after the babies are born because of the piercing noises from U.S. aircrafts."

Lee has filed a compliant and requested 250,000,000 Korean won (about $170,000) to cover the cost of relocating his farm.

I can only say one thing. Wow. That's it. Oh, and this is crazy! Just thought I'd bring some entertaining reading your way to help brighten your Friday. For the military folks handling this case, I'm quite sorry. While I know that keeping a positive relationship with our host nations is of the utmost importance, this case seems a little far fetched to me. Show me the study on how US aircraft jet noise causes bunnies to eat their babies and then I'll take you seriously.

**Disclaimer: for the record, I like bunnies and want them to be healthy. . . not eaten by their mamas**

OH, and on a final note don't forget to tune in tomorrow for Taking Chance - HBO's nod to military escort duty. Unfortunately, I will not be home to watch it but can't wait to hear what you think! Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

17,000 Additional Troops to Head to Afghanistan

If there's one thing I've heard often recently, it has been that critics have deemed Afghanistan as "Obama's war." That statement rang loud and clear this week.

Yesterday Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, let his thoughts be known about the military efforts in southern Afghanistan and warned that the 17,000 new troops that will be deplying to the region(Army and Marine forces) will "take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have 'stalemated' U.S. and allied forces."

These comments come on the wake of President Barack Obama's approval (announced Tuesday) to have additional troops begin deploying this spring.

McKiernan also said that the new and elevated troop level of 55,000 soldiers many be in for a long haul - five years to be exact - and that that number is around only two-thirds what he's requested to help him get a handle on the region.

To hear what McKienan had to say during his press conference at the Pentagon click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Military Pen Pals Are the BEST

To know me is to know that I love the Today Show. Seriously, I do.

This morning, as I pulled up the home page something made me smile. There was a Marine, with the caption "I love you too buddy."

I've placed the segment below for you to watch. It's about a little boy who had some trouble mastering reading and writing. His mom was looking for a creative way to encourage him and decided to work with the Adopt a US Soldier organization. Her son was assigned Marine pen pal Gy Sgt Balthazar Pineda who is currently in Iraq.

Their correspondence has made a true difference in this little boys life and the Today Show brought the mother and son on live today to share their story. The family explained how they have never met Pineda. He is still in Iraq and hopes to return home in a few months. He promised the family that they could meet when he returns.

Well in true Today Show fashion, the family got a fantastic surprise today. Pineda was patched in live from Iraq and the pen pals were able to meet for the first time via satellite.

It was a great moment. The boy was in complete shock. All he could say was how much he loved Pineda. Pineda responded, "I love you too buddy." :)

I think it's evident that the pen pal arrangement has also made a difference in Pineda's life as well. He has his own family and his own daughters, but I think that he saw the opportunity to make an impact in this little boy's life, and that makes him proud.

My favorite part of the segment - well besides the actual meeting, had to be the video of the school children creating care packages to send to our men and women in Iraq. That made my heart smile. If you'd like to help send some good cheer and support to our troops in Iraq visit the Adopt a US Soldier website, the Treats for Our Troops website, or visit a personal favorite of mine - the USO.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Military Escort Service - Sound Off - To Be Seen or Not To Be Seen?

Yesterday I talked about a new HBO film that provides a glimpse into the world of the military escort process. I thought the timing of the film is almost perfect - as the new vice president has a very specific opinion on the transparency of the military escort process.

As I mentioned before, the process is not something that is typically discussed or seen by the civilian world. Our new VP feels that this is something that needs to change and that our nation should see, in many reporter's words, "the true cost of war."

As a military brat, I have unique feelings about this. If, heaven forbid, the situation ever happened to me, I would not want the world to be witness to it. It's a process that should be for the family only. For instance, no other deaths (besides presidents, celebrities, etc) get showcased for the world to see. I would feel that it would be such an invasion of privacy and I would be angry that my loved one, after giving the ultimate sacrifice to their country, could be exploited by the media. I'm sorry, but that is how I feel.

In addition, someone I love very dearly has had intense experiences with these situations. One of my best friends used to work for the USO in Dover, DE. Not only was she responsible for sending troops over to the land of sand, but she was also responsible for being there to assist the families when they came home in flag draped coffins. Time and time again, I remember how she told me she felt. How the family would react. How her heart felt like it would shatter into a million pieces every time. She was so strong, for those families, in their darkest hour. And she did it out of respect, but after many years it took a toll on who she was and had to move on. I will forever admire her for her dedication to the nation and the military service. I would never be strong enough to do that. Ever.

So maybe you can see how this is not something I think that should be put on display for all of America. Burials in Arlington aren't. And it's not like our nation doesn't know - - - soldiers names are splashed across every major newspaper when this goes down. You can't seem to turn on the news or read anything in print that doesn't have that cold headline that rocks you to your core. Some things should be private.

And overall, I think about the military families whose loved ones are currently deployed. The military families that are waiting for them to come home. Who have a yellow ribbon tied around their heart. Bearing witness to their husbands/wives/fathers/daughters/sons/etc comrades would take a toll on their spirits. Aren't their families sacrificing enough already?

Your turn to sound off - what's your stance? How do you think you'd feel if the media starts covering these situations? Do you feel that its something your entitled to see? Why?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

HBO Movie "Taking Chance"

Yesterday, Chris Matthews (Hardball) spent some time shining the spotlight on an upcoming HBO film called Taking Chance. The piece is based on a true story about two Marines - one who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq (19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps) and another who escorted him home (Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl).

As many of you know, military escort duty is not something people talk about, and not something that the civilian community is exposed to or really knows much about. (If you watched the presidental press conference last night, this topic is something you just heard about. I plan to address this topic tomorrow and can't wait to hear your thoughts.)

In this story, Lt Col Strobl requested that he be assigned for military escort duty. During the journey, Strobl witnessed such an amazing amount of support and respect for Phelps, that he was motivated to capture it all in his journal. His story then became huge on the Internet and within the military community. It eventually reached the mainstream civilian media and has now become an HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as Lt. Col Strobl.

Matthews' interview with Kevin Bacon and the real Lt. Col Strobl was interesting. He first thanked Strobl for his service, which I was glad to see. But he quickly turned his focus to Bacon, which I was not a fan of. However, when asked on how Bacon felt about making the film, his response made me respect him. He said that he felt grateful to learn about such a respectful process, and very proud to be able to help tell the story. Most importantly, he said that while so many people thanked him for doing this film and for shedding light on the escort process, that he didn't feel right accepting the thanks. After all, he's just an actor. Here's the interview:



I'm so glad that I got to see this, and find out about the film.It premieres on Saturday, February 21, at 8PM. There's also a Facebook page for the film that has almost 3,000 fans.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How Families Feel When Dads Deploy

Yesterday I talked about my Dad and a possible deployment. I mentioned that I was happy that he wasn't going away in a few months; happy that he'd be home. But I also mentioned that I felt guilty for feeling that way. One, because he wanted to go and still wants to go. Two, because so many other military families have Dads and Moms deployed. Today I feel even more guilty.

I'm a big fan of the blog Big Blueberry Eyes. I've been a reader for more than a year and a half now. The family behind the blog is phenomenal. When I started reading, the military Dad in the family was deployed. I've continued to read - the Dad came home, a new baby was born, the family PCSed. And then today I read that Big Blueberry Eyes' Dad left again. For a year.

You should read the post about the family's goodbye. It made me cry - maybe because I know all too well what the family's little ones are going through. What Mom is going through, after all I've seen my Mom do it before.

The Mom behind this blog is incredible. Incredibly brave. Incredibly strong. So positive when it seems like she has more reasons not to be. I'm a huge fan of her strength, her outlook on life, her warm and loving heart. She loves being a military wife and stands proudly next to her husband. Today I send her warm wishes, positive thoughts and hugs. Best of luck to Big Blueberry Eyes' family over the next year. Let the countdown begin.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Topics In My Head: I Miss My Dad. Oh, and a C-130 Donation

I know that most of my posts are a mix of military news or topics with a personal twist but sometimes I can't help but write something very personal. Today I planned to tell you about the 86th Airlift Wing (Ramstein Air Base, Germany) and their upcoming donation of C-130s to our allies in Poland. I was going to talk about how I love to ride in C-130s and how cool I thought the donation was. But I can't seem to write about it. All I want to write about is how much I miss my Dad.

For the record, I miss my Mom and my entire family. But this week, for some reason, I really specifically miss my Dad. I don't have a reason why, I just do. Truth is that until last week there was a possibility that my father might have a new position that would have him go on a deployment fairly soon. When the decision came and we were told that he wasn't going to be going away I was happy, but he wasn't.

I feel that it's times like these where I miss my Dad the most. When I was talking to him on Sunday, I mentioned that I missed him. He smiled (we video conference) and asked if there was any reason in particular. I said "um, because I just do." I guess that I am realizing the reason why as I type this post.

I feel lucky to have him home, and if the decision had gone the other way I would be just coming to the terms of his upcoming deployment. And this Sunday, I didn't have to do that. I could just talk to him about the every day things. About the cruise he's taking with my Mom and the new clothes he brought for the special occasion. Not about if he knows when and where he's deploying to.

I know, that as I'm saying this that it is such a selfish thing for a military brat to say. After all, so many other Moms and Dads are deployed throughout the world. But my Dad's been in for more than 20 years and I don't want to feel guilty about doing a mini-dance of happiness because I'm happy that he's not going away again. But maybe I should. He wanted to go, and in the end, us military brats know that what they want is the best thing and we must be okay with that as part of the family.

On his way home from work yesterday my Dad called me to say hi. I think he's done that maybe once or twice before in my entire adult life. (He really doesn't like talking on the phone and we usually just talk on Sundays) I missed his call and when I listened to his message I smiled one huge smile. He called to say hi. It's a big deal for me. An even bigger one, because he never gets to do that when he's deployed. My word of the day is GRATEFUL. That I am. GRATEFUL.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Last Nite I Felt the Earth Shake

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Today I'm going to blog about something I never thought I'd blog about - - - an earthquake that happened in NJ last night.

Scenario: It's around 10:30pm and I'm chatting on the phone with my BFF from Japan, Amanda (who now lives in PA). I'm sitting on my bed in the master bedroom of my house. Dan is also talking to one of his BFFs, but is sitting on the couch in the living room. There we both are, chatting chatting. Then it started. I heard the sneaky rumble that I had heard so many times before and then the ground began to shake.

The quake was less than 7 seconds and the funniest thing is that even though I knew what was happening, I didn't even worry. You see, after three years of living in Tokyo, this girl is used to earthquakes. This girl is used to falling over and/or out of her bed. This girl is used to seeing the ground roll. By the way, none of which happened last night.

But I knew what it was and when it was over, Dan came running into the bedroom, eyes wide open, exclaiming "what the hell was that?!" I looked at him and calmly said, "I think that was an earthquake," as if I said that sentence to him every day of my life. He was like, "seriously?"

I guess that because of my prior experiences I wasn't scared at all. (for the record I was terrified when I experienced my first one in Japan; but towards the end of our tour they were so common place that my best friend and I would get so excited and run towards a window when they happened just to see the ground roll outside) I was shocked though - I didn't even think we could have one here in NJ. In reflection, I'm also shocked that I didn't do more besides telling Dan not to move for two minutes after because I was unsure if we'd experience any aftershock tremors.

I've been through the earthquake training drills. Not once did I think, maybe I should stand under the door way. Nope, just sat on my bed because I knew that it wasn't going to be that bad. It's weird for me to say that - they all start small and then I feel like I can tell by the sound if it's actually going to get worse.

I tweeted (@MACK_ATTACK) about the quake shortly after it happened - in disbelief wondering if it had just happened to my house, and not my area. Did I make it up? Nope, I was so right and the news confirmed it shortly there after.

They said that apparently we can get them all the time here. Great, I thought. I survived living in Tokyo and now I live on a giant hill in NJ that gets earthquakes. Now that surprises me. Maybe next time I won't be so passe about it.

Did any of you feel it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Sesame Workshop for Military Families April 1st

A few days ago the American Forces Press Service announced that the Sesame Workshop is airing a new special on April 1st that is aimed at helping military families cope with changes.

The AFPS reported that, "Actor/singer Queen Latifah and singer John Mayer will join Elmo to present, 'Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change.' The special carries a message for children whose parents suffered a physical or psychological wound in combat."

The show will be about a half an hour and is part of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen and Connect" program that I have blogged about before. I'm a huge fan of everything that the workshop does, but I must say that their efforts geared towards military brats are by far my favorites.

For this special, Lookalike Products and Worldwide Pants Incorp. helped with the production. Worldwide Pants is actually David Letterman's production company and the late night talk show legend had some wonderful things to say about the military.

"The men and women of our military have made indescribable sacrifices," Mr. Letterman said. "The very least we can do is tell their stories, and to honor the bravery and strength of both the soldiers and their families."

Showtime is 8pm on April 1st - perfect timing if you ask me, as April is the month dedicated to honoring the military child. I'll be tuning in, and even though I have yet to see it, I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to the Sesame Workshop and all involved in the production.

Troops Watch SuperBowl From Iraq

The following video is from the Today Show and shows well deserved troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad watching the big game. A special thanks to all of our troops in the land of sand - thanks for all you do. I hope that yesterday's festivites made you feel a little closer to home.

Friday, January 30, 2009

U.S. Military Continues to Participate in SuperBowl History

The U.S. military and the Super Bowl have shared quite a history together - more than 40 years! As each of us gathers with our family and friends this Sunday to participate in a proud American tradition, our military members are prepared to give us a special treat.

Which military members will be participating in the big day? I'm pleased to tell you that I have the answers. For the pregame - my favorites, The Air Force Thunderbirds, will dazzle the crowd with an amazing flyover; additionally our phenomenal and stealthy all-service U.S. Special Operations Command color guard will present the nation's colors during the game's national anthem. (which will be sung by the American Idol living across the street from my parents!)

I'm also happy to tell you that Gen Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, will be officiating the ceremonial coin toss.

It's nice to hear that the NFL has major respect for the military. Spokesman Brian McCarthy told the American Forces Press Service that, "The NFL has had a longstanding tradition of supporting the military. We have a great appreciation for what the military does and feel honored to include the military in the Super Bowl."

As I mentioned in an earlier post, military members in the land of sand will also get to join in on the event. McCarthy stated, "[The NFL] feels that the 70,000 fans attending the Super Bowl this year should be cheering louder for the military than the two teams playing. It is, indeed, very important for the NFL to look for every opportunity to support the troops."

I couldn't agree more. So please stop and think of them this Sunday, as you're noshing on all of your favorite foods and drinking your favorite beer and enjoying the comfort of your own home. I know I will.

Thanks to all our men and women around the world who protect us and keep us safe. We miss you every day. And now, let's get READY for some FOOTBALL!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nat Geo Special Gives Sneak Peak at Air Force One & Marine One

I'm a fan of Nat Geo. Honestly, who isn't? They have incredibly interesting specials that allow you to get your learn on.

And last night I did just that. I plopped down on the couch and tuned in to watch two specials that took an in-depth look behind the scenes of Air Force One and Marine One.

They were fantastic and they proudly showcase some of America's finest servicemen and women and the stellar aircraft they command. The Air Force One special gives you the run down of what happened from their cockpit on 9/11 and even lets you in on GWB's covert trip to Iraq on the eve of Thanksgiving. The special is so up to date that you even get ride along for Obama's first flight. Most importantly, you get to meet the crew that takes care of the most important man in the world and get to understand what goes into transporting him across the globe. And hear the most awesome statement ever to be echoed in flight, "We are now Air Force One."

The Marine One special is just as exciting and gives you a glimpse into the high pressured positions that these fantastic Marines hold. Imagine landing on three red discs in the middle of the White House lawn. Exactly on the three red discs. Imagine being the Marine who greets the President - standing at attention for up to 40 minutes in all weather conditions. Doing all this in front of oceans of press and citizens lined up to see the President take flight.

If you missed it, fear not - they will both air on Feb 1st. Until then, visit here for more info on the Air Force One special and here for the Marine One special. Lastly, if you are truly a fan follow Air Force One on Twitter - "call sign" @NGC_AirForceOne.