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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Base Housing - Living on the Outside

Anyone who's ever driven onto a military base will tell you one thing about all of the buildings - they look the same. Same colors. Same shapes. No flair. All uniform, including the base housing.

As a military brat, I've lived in a lot of base housing throughout the years. My favorite has to be the house my family lived in on Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, LA. It was old-school Southern style with hard wood floors and beautiful windows. Completely unlike regular military housing.

The runner up for me has to be the tower I lived in while my family was station at Yokota AFB in Japan. The building was on rollers and could withstand the sways that the earthquake tremors would bring to it, keeping its residents safe. That building protected my family many a time, and I would be thankful for it every time I woke up on the floor (instead of my bed) after a shake in the middle of the night. I awoke knowing it kept my family safe.

When you live on base you live next to other military members. You don't have any neighbors that are unfamiliar or come from different walks of life. Everyone is the same. Each morning they all wake up and put on a uniform and go defend our nation.

With that said, my family has chosen to live off base a few times in my father's career. The option to be able to pick a place that you actually want to live has always been an appeal to my Mom and it's always exciting to live next to non-military families.

As I've mentioned before, my folks are stationed in the great sunny state of Florida. Their off base housing allowance is decent and with all three kids out of the house my parents decided to rent a townhouse in a sweet community in Tampa Bay. I visit as often as I can and I have to say that it is one of the coolest casas my parents have ever had - the location, the community, the water!

As if living off base isn't a treat enough, my parents community is quite popular with the celebrity crowd. Several members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team live there, and a famous author who shall remain nameless.

With Tampa being the host city for the Super Bowl this year, other celebrities have set their sights on the community as well. For a few months now a hip-hop mogul has been interested in hosting his Super Bowl bash at the community's club. And just this week the famous American Idol superstar who is in charge of belting out the National Anthem at the big game temporarily moved in across the street from my folks.

Each time I get a celebrity update from my parents, I have to laugh. We're just a military family. And this would never happen on base. My parents really have the most interesting neighbors and the best part of it is, they don't even care.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

USAF Thunderbirds Release 2009 Show Schedule

There are few sounds in life that I love more than the roar of a military plane's engine. . . particularly if said engine was of the Thunderbird persuasion.

I took my first picture next to a fighter jet was I was five years old. I had just become a military brat. I strongly believe that I'll still feel the same level of excitement towards the jets when I'm 105 years old.

So for all of you fans out there, click here to see their 2009 schedule.

I know when I'm going! Do you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Lady Gets Military Families

I'm a fan of and try to visit the site at least once or twice a week. On this most historical day, the day that Obama became the nation's 44th president of the United States, I visited the site and came across the First Lady's letter to Americans. I encourage you to read it.

Her letter seemed heartfelt and honest. The part that resonated with me the most was how she stated that she "particularly cherished visits with military families all across the country. And if there's one thing I learned, it's that when our servicemen and women go to war, their families go with them."

Her paragraphs about the military significance to our nation, and how she described our lives rang through to me. I honestly believe that she genuinely gets military families.

"So as I watch Barack take that oath, I'll be thinking especially about those members of our American family who stand guard across the world and the loved ones who await their safe return. Because even as we mark this moment in American history, there still will be empty seats at the dinner table; there still will be spouses struggling to juggle roles and responsibilities; there still will be children who mark the passing of a birthday without Mommy and toddlers who know their father only by a grainy video stream from a far-flung corner of the globe."

As a military brat, I was glad to read that. Whether I'm 12 or 20, my Dad's deployments still feel the same. Here's to hoping that starting today American can turn over a new leaf - - - and begin a new journey.

*the excerpts above were taken from*

Monday, January 19, 2009

History in the Making: Inauguration Day

So I know that inauguration day is tomorrow but I wanted to plant this on my blog now so it would be ready in time for the big moment.

Regardless of what political party you cheer for, tomorrow is a momentous occasion. History is being made. And it still amazes me how much excitement our new president has brought to Americans - nationwide - young or old.

And starting tomorrow, our military members around the world will have a new commander in chief. So I'd like to take a second to thank @weinberg81, my pal from Twitter, for telling me how I can broadcast the ceremony from my blog. Courtsey of Without further ado - here's the broadcast:

Growing Trend: Can't Find a Job? Join the Military

The New York Times reported this in today's edition "More Joining American Military as Jobs Dwindle"

In 2008, all branches of the military met their recruitment goals and according to the article, 2009 may pull in even stronger numbers. The article discusses the growing trend that is sweeping our nation - unemployed, joined the service.
While the service may seem like a good option for some, it is not the lifestyle for everyone and most importantly it is not a decision that should be rushed into. The trend many years before, that I remember, dealt with high school graduates. Just graduated and have no clue what to do? Join the military.

As a military brat, I have a mixed feelings when it comes to that situation and the new trend. On a positive note, I understand the pull and am glad that people who never considered joining the military have discovered that it is a fantastic opportunity. I'm glad to see recruitment numbers soar and I'm glad that all branches of the service are gaining new waves of incredible Americans.

On the flip side, the US military is phenomenal and should be an option that one takes with respect and patriotism, not as any easy way to solve ones problems. Most of the people I know of, who have taken that route, end up hating the military. This is an unfortunate situation, both for the military branch of service and the individual. After all, the individual chose the military. The military did not choose the individual.

Most importantly, as a military brat who's father still serves, I'd rather know that the people working beside my father are there because they really want to be - not because it was the only alternative. Because when they find out that they're going to be deployed and its something they're against or not willing to do, there is no alternative. And the men and women who serve beside them will want to know that their heart is in it and that they've got their backs.

Don't mistake what I'm saying above as negativity - I'm purely expressing my opinions because I've seen split second decisions to join make people hate their lives. And obviously I'm protective of my military community, because, to my very core, I love the military and it will always be a part of me. Deciding NOT to join the service was the hardest decision I ever had to make; after all I've only known a military lifestyle and it has made me who I am today.

So to all those who are considering joining - I encourage you to listen to everyone (recruiters, military families, prior military members) but most of all listen to your heart. Only that will tell you if this path is right for you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Yokota High School All Years Reunion

Ah, high school reunions. The event that most people dread. For me, it's different. As a military brat I went to two high schools - one in Japan and one in the US. I spent three years at Yokota High School, a DoDDS school in the Pacific rim. I left the summer before my senior year and moved to the US. My time at Yokota HS was phenomenal and some of the best memories from my life come from that time.

So, when the official alumni association announced plans for the 2009 All Years Reunion, my BFFs (Heather Ivey and Amanda Stangl) and I jumped up and down in excitement.

For my non-military readers, I hear you asking, "All Years Reunion? What?" The greatest thing about going to a DoDDS school is that it doesn't matter how long you attended or if you had the opportunity to graduate before the military made you move. You will always have a strong connection with that school.

And why do military brats find these reunions so exciting? Because, for most of us, we can never return. It is a world that we can never touch; it is only a memory. For me, Yokota AFB and our high school will always be just a memory. We can never walk the halls again. Never go to a football game. Never go to our favorite high school hangouts. It's on an air base in Japan and most of us are now civilians. Not military? They won't let you in. So, reconnecting with old classmates allows us to reconnect with that world we can never touch.

So for Yokota High School, an all years reunion is fitting. If you were ever a Panther, you'll always be a Panther. Walked the halls as a student at any point in your life - you're invited. DoDDS reunions tend to be big and have alumni in a wide variety of age ranges.

This year the reunion is based in a place I like - San Antonio, TX. I've done an okay job in keeping in touch with the people I used to roll with back in the land of the rising sun. With Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the likes our network is pretty strong. Granted our school was tiny; my class had less than 60. (btw when I moved I graduated at a school that had a class of more than 500. can we say shocker?)

So my girls and I have made it our mission to spread the word about the event and show up with a good crowd of people we know. Yesterday, I created my first Facebook group for the event. Fingers crossed. If our plan works, we're going to bring the party to TX.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chilis Coming to Yokota AFB

During my lunch break today I jumped on to Stars and Stripes and came across an article in Monday's edition that made me stop and say, woah. For my readers, please note, if you are not a military brat the article will not make YOU say woah.

As a military brat I've been fortunate to live and travel throughout the world. During my high school years my family and I were stationed at Yokota Air Force base in Japan. It is one of my most favorite places and every time I think of it my heart floods with memories.

So needless to say, when I saw the headline, "Five food, coffee places opening at Yokota," my interest was peaked. Yokota was my old stomping grounds. Anyone remember the coffee stand in the terminal? ha ha

The most impressive sentence in the article was the one that announced that Chili's Bar and Grill had plans to build at YAB. "Perhaps the biggest name coming to Yokota this year is Chili’s, which will be next to the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Stachowiak said the $5.6 million facility is expected to open in late summer."

So why am I excited for Yokota? Chili's! Variety. A new hang out. Somewhere else BESIDES Anthony's Pizza. I know that Yokota has changed a lot since I was there but some things never change. The food court.

For those who are non-military, let me break it down. Being stationed somewhere so far away from home is hard. But it is especially hard when it comes to your food selection. Aside from your host country's offerings off base you only have a few selections on base: Anthony's Pizza, Robin Hood Deli, Baskin Robbins, Popeyes and the most loathed Burger King.(I think I've eaten in a Burger King less than a handful of times since I've been back in the U.S.) If you're lucky you get a Taco Bell, Subway, Charley's Steakery and Pizza Hut. Other than a few other spots that is it. So imagine, what three years of just that is like. Now you know why I never eat at Burger King!

So to hear that something new is coming to Yokota makes me rejoice for all the families and service members that are stationed there. Whoot! Whoot! I also would like to applaud the new addition for the fact that it will actually create 75 new jobs. Calling all YHS Panthers? You know where you'll be applying.

Monday, January 12, 2009

60 Minutes Showcases Admiral Mike Mullen

Last nite as I was sitting in my living room I debated on what I should watch - - - Golden Globes? 60 Minutes? Planet Earth?

After five minutes of watching the Globes my focus wandered and I flipped to 60 Minutes. I'm glad I did - they had a 12 minute plus piece on the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The piece profiled Admiral Mike Mullen as he gears up to take orders from the new President. Mullen talks about his first encounter with President-elect Barack Obama and his thoughts on the war in Afghanistan.

Watch CBS Videos Online,

As a military brat I was glad I had the opportunity to tune in. Mullen was great during the interview - calm, relaxed, and real. Mullen stated that when he was promoted to Admiral someone told him that "from now on you will always eat well and you'll never hear the truth again.'" Mullen said that the statement stayed with him and the piece showed him visiting troops on the ground and asking them for feedback . . . "breaking through the chain of command" as he called it, to get honesty.

I find that refreshing. The piece had several great highlights including great shots of Mullen's most recent journey to Iraq and Afghanistan (just before Christmas)and his take on where we are in the war against terrorism. Mullen also gave us a preview on the increase of troops he feels we need in Afghanistan. Overall, I'm so very impressed with the Admiral. He seems very focused, clear headed and determined to get the job done right. I was also impressed with 60 Minutes - a fair and balanced segment.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Troops in Iraq Have a Reason to Celebrate: Beer & the SuperBowl

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq did a great thing on Wednesday. He passed a waiver that will bring our troops in the land of sand a little piece of home on Super Bowl Sunday. Beer.

The waiver grants authorization to all U.S. troops to drink beer but there are some rules. Only on this special nite, and a maximum of two beers a person. This waiver comes as our troops have begun to step back and take more advisory roles that come with less combat.

The no alcohol ban has only been lifted only one time before this, in 2005 and only for troops operating under the Baghdad command. Normally, if anyone is caught drinking in combat zones they are dealt a series of negative consequences. They can face a reduction in pay, a reduction in rank and can even be court-martialed.

Troops that are in Iraq who want to watch the big game will have to stay up late. After all, it will be 2 a.m. in Baghdad when the big game gears up. But I guarantee that you won't hear many complaints. They'll be watching the game, drinking a beer and feeling closer to home for the first time in a long time.

Enjoy those beers and thank you for all that you do!

US Army Apologizes for "Dear John Doe" Letters

I rarely discuss anything that is overtly negative about the military unless I feel like I can add interesting commentary to it. The truth is, I wouldn't be who I am today had I not been a military brat. And I'm very proud of who I am, and how I got here. And I'm proud of the military heritage our country has.

But I came across a few articles that caused me to sigh - let me tell you about the Army's latest situation.

On Wednesday, the Army formally announced apologies to the 7,000 relatives of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that received letters addressed to "Dear John Doe."

The letters, which were sent from a contractor, had all the best of intentions. They were to inform these relatives of private organizations that offer assistance to those who have lost relatives in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The letters were obviously supposed to have specific and personalized greetings - instead they read "Dear John Doe." To remedy the situation, the Army has publicly apologized and Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, has promised to send a personal letter to each recipient of the improperly addressed correspondence. That's 7,000 personal letters if anyone is counting.

The situation made me pause - I was sad for the families who received the letters but I also feel for the U.S. Army.

If I were to put myself in the shoes of a letter recipient I would have been very shocked. Even if it would have been memo style with the to section reading "To: Relatives and Families of Our Lost Soldiers" I would have been fine. I know there's a lot of soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. My name is not essentially important to the Army. But "Dear John Doe"? I hope that the recipients did take note that the intentions of the letter were pure, helpful and were meant to be heartwarming. (I read the letter on

If I were the U.S. Army, I'd begin looking for a new contractor. I think they did the right thing by acknowledging their mistake and publicly apologizing to all of the families. I do hope, that Casey does write a personal letter to all of the recipients. But realistically, I know that's 7,000 letters and we're in the middle of a war. But I hope his staff helps and that he gets them out. Soon.

It's hard, in times of war, for everything to run smoothly. Our military - all branches - is stretched thin. It's something that Americans tend to forget. And in the grand scheme of things, it isn't something that should be blown out of proportion. But that's just my opinion.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Air Force Band Preps for Inauguration

With one of the most historically significant presidential inaugurations rapidly approaching our boys and girls in blue are taking out their secret weapons . . . their music instruments that is!

The Air Force Band, along with all of the other branch's bands, will be belting out patriotic tunes during the Obama's inauguration parade. Each service band will have 99 musicians, a number reserved only for inaugural parades and state funeral processions.

In regards to the AF band, they've spent quality time practicing at Andrews Air Force Base. Colonel Dennis Layendecker, band commander, and Chief Master Sergeant Elizabeth Schouten (USAF band superintendent) took some time yesterday to let America know about the prep and excitement. I love how Schouten says that she doesn't mind that they're last (because they are the youngest branch) because she feels they have saved the best for last.

"The Air Force Song," will be one of three selections the band will play along the 1.6-mile parade route (begins at 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and goes past the White House) by memory! They'll also play John Phillip Sousa's "The Washington Post March," and Don Keller's "Trombones Triumphant."

While I love all branches of the service, I tend to love the Air Force most because my Dad is a man in blue. I'm also most fond of the Air Force lifestyle. Throughout my life, I've had the privilege of attending many USAF band performances and I can personally tell you that they are spectacular! Stay tuned for more updates leading up to the big performance day! Good luck to the Airmen that are playing that day!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Bit of Sadness

Today is a tough day. I've mentioned in the past that Finn, my family dog has fallen ill. Finn's the lovely dog you see here. This summer he went into congestive heart failure. He's been on human heart meds (seriously his Walgreen's prescription bottle says "Finn Ryan the Dog")ever since this summer and they're not working too well.

My mom took him to the vet yesterday and she said that it wasn't looking that great. Today my mom is bringing Finn to an animal hospital that is as big as a real human hospital. I wonder if they help all animals. Like will Finn be in a room next to an alligator? Will my mom have to look at the owner and tell them, "um, we're going to close the curtain now. Your alligator is scaring my golden retriever."

Anyway, he's going - alligators or not - to see a doggie cardiologist (Yep, they have those. Seriously they do. People actually wake up and say I want to be a cardiologist, but just for dogs) and get some uber-high tech ultrasound to see what's wrong with his heart and if he has cancer. Apparently the hospital is the biggest in the nation for animals and this one doctor and his one machine are only in Tampa.

So on the bright side I'm very happy that Finn is going and seeing such an amazing specialist. But I'm terrified about what today's news will bring. I know that he's going to die but I'm not ready to say goodbye, even though I tried to at Christmas. He's only 11 years old. Golden retrievers usually live for much longer. But we must do what's best for the pup. And at least this will tell us if there's anything left that we can do, or if it's time to say goodbye. And at least we'll have peace knowing that we've done all we can. I find out the verdict later today. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wii Fit Anyone?

Today's post will be short (I hear rejoicing) because I only have one thing to say. Last night I received the gift of a Wii Fit!

Considering how much money we spend on other people during the holidays and the expensive cost of our airline tickets to FL, Dan and I vowed to not buy each other presents this year. We had a pact . . . at least I thought we did.

Last night, as we drove home, Dan said casually "do you mind if we run into Target for a quick second?" I cheerfully said okay, despite the fact that I was starving and only wanted to go home. (Hey, my 250 calorie Lean Cuisine lunch meal and a few carrots did not come close to filling me up. And come 6pm I'm ready for dinner or a snack at minimum. At least I was being good!)

As we swing in, I ask "so what do you need to pick up?" He smiles and says "um, your Christmas present." I then immediately burst into protest and tell him "no way buddy. We had a pact for goodness sake!"

But my protests fell on deaf ears and we came out with a Wii Fit. I've wanted one ever since Dan kindly bought me a Wii for my birthday in Oct. He's been trying to get his hands on one since Thanksgiving. "Sorry this is so late - they were sold out, everywhere; I know you really wanted this and wouldn't buy it for yourself" he said.

How could I continue to protest? Instead I smiled and cheered like a four year old. It's times like these that remind me just how thoughtful Dan can really be and how lucky I am to be with him.

Unfortunately I did not have the time to open it or test it out last night but I will find sometime this week to. . . and once I do, I'll let you know how it goes. Do you have a Wii Fit? Do you have any pointers for me?

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Years Resolutions

So, as today is January 5th I've decided to publicly announce my resolutions for the new year. And yes, they are themed . . . well what did you expect?

Health and Wellness
- To start doing yoga so that I can hopefully tap into the "piece of mind" everyone seems to talk about
- To not allow a bag of Doritos to cross the threshold of my front door (or office cube, or anywhere I ever go) until the summer starts
- To stop eating candy and dump the sugar once again
- To continue to incorporate whole grains into my diet
- To continue to drink seltzer water like its my job (and stay as far away from soda as possible)
- To participate in another 5K and improve my finish time
- To continue to partner with my BFF Heather Ivey in our Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge and never try to get out of our "Wednesday Weigh In" phone calls
- To up the number of times I hit the gym each week
- To lose 20lbs before I head to Ireland this Aug for my two week vacay (I'd really like to lose 30 but I'd rather exceed my goal marker than fall short of it)

- To correspond with my family in Ireland more often, including my cousins that I barely even know
- To call my grandparents at least twice a month
- To call my mom and dad more than just once a week
- To talk to my brother and sister more than just once every two weeks

- To spend more quality time with them
- To reconnect with friends that I haven't seen or spoken to in years (especially other military brats)
- To visit my crew in MI
- To host more get-togethers with the people who matter the most to me

Life Overall
- To revamp my five year plan
- To find more of a work life balance and spend this year working to live, rather than living to work
- To remember that it's okay to say "no" to social engagements
- To remember to put myself first more
- To have more fun in life
- To remember to always do what is going to make me most proud, and most happy . . . rather than what makes everyone else happy and proud

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 in Review

Okay, so even though I haven't been blogging I wanted to take a page from my blogging yoda, Wickedly Scarlett and do a year in review post.

While mine will not be as snazzy as hers I still wanted to give it a shot, for myself . . . if no one else.

This year was a crazy one for me and I learned a lot of lessons. When I thought about how I should write this I realized that there is only one way: a list of excitement and a section on a very prominent theme - distance. So, since I'd like to end the post on a good note on to the bad stuff first . . .

The Summer of Distance

- This summer my grandmother fell extremely ill and I was again solidly hit with a shake up that can only be brought on by the distance living an ocean away. My mother flew home to Ireland to see her through the journey - and she was our only information line. Luckily, after several surgeries, she is starting to get better. But there is not one day that passes that I don't think about what it would be like to be home with her and how I have to get home as soon as possible since we never know what can happen in life.

- My mother's international journey was also matched with my father's TDY and my brother's vacation through Europe (believe it or not it was all around the same time. This situation reminded me of what my life was like just a few short years ago with me and the rest of my family living an ocean apart. This summer, all of us where in a different place, and hey in different countries. My sister and I were the only ones in the US at that time but even then she was in OK and I was in NJ. A few years ago, when I lived in the US and the rest of my family lived in London there were phone calls once a month and a trip about once a year. That distance was something I will never forget. Or what it took away from me. So this summer I felt as if my world was a bit upside down and the familiar feeling of real distance crept back. But the upside to being reminded of this feeling was that is was only temporary. Once Mom, Dad and Matt returned home it went back to normal and a quick trip out to see my parents in FL made all the difference.

- This summer my dog also went into congestive heart failure just days before my mother was supposed to travel to Ireland to be with my grandmother. It was heartbreaking. Finn has been with us for so long, and with a steady dose of serious heart meds he is still with us today. We're not sure for how much longer though and as I said goodbye to him at Christmas I prepared myself for the fact that it may be the last time I see his beautiful face.

But the summer of distance is now thankfully over and now I can talk about the stuff that made me smile . . or as I like to call it, my List of Excitement . . .

- One of my best friends, Megan, got engaged and she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. This is my first experience as a bridesmaid and I will do everything in my power to be a great one

- I went to WABC-TV's MS for a Cure charity event and supported a good cause and made some new friends that I'm now even closer to

- Dan's brother, Mike, graduated college! I was there to experience everything and help him celebrate

- I experienced my first ever, real NYC partying experience which became the introduction to a world of others

- I flew to FL and was there to celebrate my mother's birthday for the first time in many, many years. I also helped my family surprise my Mom with an unexpected birthday gift . . . my sister!

- I went to Sea World in Orlando, twice, and touched a dolphin!!!

- I was again very fortunate to attend the PR Week awards with the firm I work for and this year I got to meet Christian Finnegan

- I spent the 4th of July cruising up the Hudson River watching the Macy's fireworks

- I spent my mother's birthday with her for the first time in many, many years. I also helped my family surprise my Mom with an amazing birthday gift . . . my sister!

- I spent a wonderful girl's getaway weekend in near by Philadelphia. Yes, I ate a REAL cheese steak AND at night we took the town by storm

- I participated in my first 5k and continued on my fitness quest

- I spent a romantic long weekend with Dan in Vermont. We spent time visiting all of our favorite spots and even took time to see some new ones. Overall, it was the most refreshing vacation of the year

- I threw myself a birthday party at my casa and all of my favorite people showed up including two of my BFFs from Japan - Heather Ivey and Amanda Stangl

- My BFF Heather Cheney and I made a year long plan in the making come true! She flew in to see me and experience a whirlwind NYC Christmas. We saw the Radio City Music Christmas show (rockettes, holla!) and the tree. We even went to Hoboken to kick her visit off with a bang

- I spent Christmas with my family in Tampa and went to my first ever NFL game!

- And last but not least . . . I embraced social media. I started a blog and now I'm addicted. As someone who is a true social media fan it's a wonder why it took me so long to get here. I mean, I joined Twitter before I started a blog. Needless to say, I'm now thrilled that I'm now immersed in the social media scene. And hey, I even joined the 20-something's bloggersnetwork.

As this year was marked with ups and downs, I am reminded that it is how it should be or life would never be life. I know that this post seems like its all over the place, but that's how my year was. Hope your 2008 was great and I hope your 2009 is even better.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Heart the Military

As a military brat, I am ALWAYS a fan of organizations who support the military and I do my best to blog about ones that make me smile.

My parents are stationed at MacDill in Tampa, FL and while I was on my holiday mini-break I unexpectedly got to experience my first NFL game. For the final game of their season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released 250 free tickets for military families and their friends.

My family and a few of our friends went to the game. I must say, I was fairly impressed. With what you ask? Okay, so yes the stadium is amazing and I was floored by their REAL pirate ship . . . but what most impressed me was the love they showed the military members.

The honorary captain of the game was a solider who had just returned from a tour in Iraq. As the national anthem was sung, a giant American flag danced across the field.

On the final note, a military cargo plane and two military choppers graced us with a fly by. The crowd erupted in cheers.

While the Buccs lost the game to the Raiders (it was close though!) the coolest part of the entire experience was hanging out on the pirate ship. My dad's connections got us right up there (yeah for my fam, I love when we get to be VIPs!) and we had an excellent view of the game and even got to throw beads into the crowd.

Here are a few photos from the big game!


The back of the ship . . .

My boyfriend Dan and I on the ship . . .

My parents on the ship . . .

And here we are tossing beads into the crowd . . .

Many thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You made my first NFL game an amazing experience and you gave 250 military members and their friends a wonderful Christmas present!

Christmas Recap

So I know that Christmas was days ago, but hey it's me and I always do things backwards. Plus, I'm still under the weather (though not nearly as bad as before) and am just getting back into the swing of things.

This Christmas I didn't want to exchange gifts. To be honest, with the economy and so many of my friends and families hurting (specifically in MI, but here in NJ too) I was just thankful to have a job and a roof over my head. All three of us kids were going to be home, and for Mom and Dad that is something to celebrate. All of us under one roof - that now happens once or twice a year if we are lucky. Military brats - you hear me right?

But my Dad encouraged us to celebrate the time and we raked in quite a treasure chest. My present tower's theme was jewelry, the Muppets, Pixar related goodies, and things that warm my heart. While I was thrilled with all of my presents, here are a few things that I got that I was uber syked about . . .

- My new GUESS butterfly watch with Swarovski crystals

- David Price's book "The Pixar Touch: The Making of A Company" (which I promise to review upon completing it)

- Muppets Muppet Movies DVD 3-Pack (to add to my collection)

- Part of the Luxurious Lambie Collection from Bath and Body Works (the blanket is phenomenal but I'm also a big fan of the adorable slippers that are very warm and super soft)

- And last but not least, a challenge coin from my father's squadron

Overall, the best present was spending time with my family. As we all grow up, we have begun to realize that getting our family together (since we are spread across the nation) is no longer an easy task. With deployments, work and school schedules, and the soaring costs of airline tickets getting together always involves planning and juggling.

Did all of you have a nice Christmas? Did spend time with your family? Did you exchange gifts or get anything that you just have to tell everyone you know about?