01. November 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

First of all, let’s show a recovering Dave this evening, happy after a Panera sandwich and chocolate brownie.  My poor guy had to go 36 hours without food.  While that stinks for most people, those who know Dave well can imagine how it must have been for him.  He’s recovering normally (i.e. very sore for the first 48 hours) and we’re looking forward to him coming home tomorrow afternoon.  He reports that he’s been walking around and not feeling the pain he’d had in his legs for the past 2 years!

Because his procedure was moved to Halloween day, the family’s Halloween plans had changed considerably.  We didn’t carve our pumpkin, I didn’t wear any more of my costume this year than the hat at a spouses’ club luncheon 2 weeks ago, and I sadly had to unplug the ghost light timer from our front porch since no one would be home to give out candy.

The picture is supposed to be of the tiered sandwich platter, but you can see me in the background in my purple witch’s hat looking witchy.

After Dave went to the recovery room and we could visit briefly with him, the boys and I enjoyed a short trick or treat trip at Hurlburt Field’s base housing area, thanks to an invitation from Dave’s squadron’s 1st Sergeant.  Katrina had invited a couple of families of deployed over to her place so we could experience a safe, traditional trick-or-treat experience.  Even though it was a short trip, and by the time we started many houses had run out of candy, the boys had a very nice time and ran into a number of their friends — who didn’t live in base housing either.

Enjoy some pictures from Halloween night:

On Sunday Jacob went to a Halloween-themed birthday party.  Jacob has a rubber rat in his hand, who he’s named Scabbers.  He’s with his classmate William, dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda.  His Mom did a great job with the tunic, hat and shield!

Timmy and one of his classmates he ran into while trick or treating.

The base fire station was out visiting the kids and handing out candy.  The kids love Sparky so much — although the CE Squadron Commander told me that suit is VERY hot and Sparky had to take a lot of breaks in air conditioning 🙂

The kids enjoyed seeing the elaborate decorations.  This house turned their entire — and I mean ENTIRE — front yard into a haunted cemetery!  The boys loved checking it out.
30. October 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Today I got home from my two-week AF Reserve tour.  Having to get on a plane and fly to my two-week tour is actually a first for me…unless you count the year I deployed, which I’m not.  I’d have had to fly to that one no matter where Dave was stationed 🙂

A tad chilly in Omaha this morning — they had to de-ice our plane before we took off!

No details about the work I did, it’s the same as what I always do, which is challenging work, but rewarding when all’s said and done.  I happened to be on night shifts — which I was two years ago — and it’s seeming like pulling night shifts is getting harder and harder on me.  Perhaps it’s the time I’m putting between having to work nights, perhaps it’s my getting older?  I don’t know.

Dave has back surgery on Monday.  The super-perceptive will start to realize a trend.  For those who haven’t been reading for as long, “let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” (to quote Indigo Montoya).

It’s autumn, and it seems it’s time for Dave to have surgery again.  His back has been deteriorating pretty quickly this year, in part from the more intensive fitness regime he’s had here.  After talking to several peers here who have had successful back procedures, he decided to meet with a neurosurgeon who suggested Dave would be a candidate for a procedure called an AxiaLIF.  It turns out his case made him a candidate so he goes in on Monday, but should be out of the hospital on Tuesday.  If the procedure is successful, Dave’s recovery will be quicker than a traditional vertebrae fusion procedure.

This post from 2010 will provide a little more detail on his past surgeries.

I’ve a couple posts brewing that I’ll get up here in between surgery and Halloween updates.  I’ll start with this one.

Another shameless pitch…

I came across these products at the little bookstore/sundries store at the airport during this trip.  I bought them for meals while I was working, since I stayed in a hotel with no fridge or microwave.

For about $7 (airport prices) these little meals were organic, well-balanced and sensibly-sized.  The meal on the left is gluten-free: tuna salad, rice crackers, applesauce and dark chocolate.  The meal on the right is salami, processed asiago cheese spread, crackers and trail mix.

These GoPicnic meals are shelf-stable and fit nicely in my backpack for when I went to work.  Each of the meals weren’t more than 350 calories.  The clerk at the airport shop told me that the salami meal could go through security, but the tuna meal couldn’t because of the larger container of applesauce.  This particular airport store was on the ticketing-side of security.

When you open up the box, you’re greeted with individually wrapped parts, and a very fun box:

These were the contents of the meal pictured on the right above.
Fun nutrition facts.
Fun food facts.  I love that peanut butter statistic!
I loved the Sudoku puzzle at the bottom of the box.  I saved it for several days thinking I might have time to work on it, but I didn’t…

The final verdict?  I liked everything except for the trail mixes that were included with each of the meals.  The nuts seemed soft, probably because of the lack of preservatives (which is a good thing).  All of the ingredients are top quality, with no artificial flavors, colors, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG!

If you see them at your local airport, I recommend them!

02. October 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Wanna know a secret?  I came in the Air Force about a year before my husband did.  Many of you know this, but many of you don’t.

Because I had switched to the AF reserves in 2005, the timing for competing for promotions became very different for the two of us.  So even though up till now I promoted to each of my ranks about a year before Dave did, he competed for and made Lieutenant Colonel about a year before me.  So he officially now outranks me 🙂

Only 13 months after his notification, last Friday Dave finally got to have his long-awaited pin-on ceremony at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park.  A cold front had just come through and even though the temperatures were a bit warm, the humidity was nice and low.

Enjoy some pictures from Dave’s special day.  I didn’t take that many.  We’re hoping to get the pictures that one of his Airmen took during the event.  Then you’ll see more of the kids and me….but this was Dave’s day, so enjoy pictures of him 🙂

The event was held at the base’s Memorial Airpark, which as you can see is an outdoor venue.  The weather was nearly perfect!

The boys were tickled to see their names posted on the chairs.
I snuck in a picture during the oath, although I should have just been standing nicely during the ceremony.  Dave’s commander flew down from Offutt AFB for the occasion.
The cake will get a blog post of its own.

09. August 2011 · Comments Off on Happy Birthday Dear Husband! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Who knows what that is on his cake??? Hint: it’s supposed to look like that…

07. August 2011 · Comments Off on Dave’s Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Dave enjoys cooking.  It’s an occasional indulgence for him — he has a suite of yummy recipes that he likes to call his own.

Sadly, he doesn’t cook as much as he says he’d like to, since on on most weekdays he’s coming in from work while I’ve been working on dinner for some time.

Since today is Saturday, tonight he took the time to make the family the fried rice recipe he enjoys making while I’m on reserve duty.  It’s really easy, and you’ll find it isn’t really a recipe, per se.  It’s more of a set of ingredients tossed together in a wok or large skillet.  It’s a great way to use leftovers!

The first thing Dave does is chop, chop, and chop some more.  Onions, carrots, and cooked chicken.  We had a couple Huli Huli chicken thighs leftover from earlier this week and these were chopped up.  I also cooked a couple more chicken breasts in the microwave, see below for more on that!

This is our version of a “Slap Chop”-type of food chopper.  It made chopping the 1/2 large onion, 1 c. of carrots and 3 cooked chicken breasts very very easy.

Onions.

Carrots.

Cooked chicken breast.  I learned a new trick to make preparing cooked chicken for recipes super-dooper easy…see the next caption.

Do you have one of these?  It’s Pampered Chef’s “Deep Covered Baker”.  I know it’s expensive, but all you have to do is host a Pampered Chef party and get it for free, like I did several years ago!  3 chicken breasts, 14 minutes in the microwave in this baker — who woulda thunk it?

Along with the chopped vegetables and chicken, also beat 2-3 eggs together, peel some raw shrimp and have 3 cups of cooked rice ready to go.  Heat up a wok or large skillet on “high”.  Add oil of your choice, we use sesame oil.

I love my Zojirushi rice cooker!  A gift from my parents about 8 years ago.  Hinode medium grain Calrose rice is our family’s rice of choice, we eat about 10 lb. every 6 weeks.

Fresh shrimp, caught off Jacksonville on Friday night, ready to cook on Saturday night, did I mention how much we love Florida???

Start by scrambling the eggs.  Remove the eggs to a dish when they’re finished.  They’ll be added in at the end:

Next you’ll add the onions, carrots, rice, chicken and some soy sauce to the wok, stir frying it, adding oil as needed to keep it from sticking to the pan.  With luck you’ll develop a nice crisp to the rice, which is oh-so-good!

At the end we tossed the shrimp, and then put a lid on the wok for about 5 minutes to let the shrimp cook.  It doesn’t take much heat, or a very long time at all.

Serve it with a glass of milk for a complete dinner.

Yikes, we almost ate it all up before I remembered to take a picture of the finished product!  Hence the small pile on the greasy plate with the fork in the background!
21. July 2011 · 5 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Last Friday was Dave’s change of command.  He took command of the 2d Combat Weather Systems Squadron.  For any no-longer-actively-serving-in-Air-Force-Weather types, the squadron stood up in early 2010 combining personnel from the AF Combat Weather Center at Hurlburt Field with the Weather System Support Cadres from Robins and Tinker AFBs.

Both sets of parents, Dave’s brother and our niece came into town to see the ceremony.  It went off without a hitch, and here are a few pictures of our day.

I think I’m looking at someone else taking a picture of me, but I wanted to show off one of the pretty corsages all the ladies in our family were wearing.

Dave presented me flowers.  He called it an advance apology for late nights and changes to weekend plans.  🙂  He knew to get me a mixed bouquet instead of roses or lilies, which are typically what one sees given.  That mixed bouquet is still looking like it was just picked 5 days later in a vase on our kitchen table 🙂
The boys each got one of these coins.  A great gift!  Good job Dad!  We’re so proud of you!
12. July 2011 · 5 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
Hey — is this lady really juggling for you?  In my blog post draft this is animated!

Today I’m doing a “reset” of sorts.  As great a time as we had at Disneyworld, on our road trip, and hosting our North Carolina friends showing off the sights of the Florida Panhandle, I realized we were “on the go” for a solid MONTH!

From June 8th through July 10th!  Wow!  And then there’s GeekMom Jenny who’s currently halfway through a 40-day vacation!

So here’s our “reset”: The kids are taking it easy, we’re taking care of a few errands, cleaning up the house some, and we’re getting ready for this weekend’s next set of festivities.

My Dear Husband’s assumption of command is this Friday.  Dave will be taking command of an Air Force weather squadron, and I couldn’t be more proud!  The “change of command” ceremony itself is a pretty elegant affair, and much of our extended family is coming into town this weekend to see the ceremony and celebrate with Dave.

I did a cursory search for some easy-to-digest information to help define Air Force Squadron command to a non-military member.  I didn’t think I’d find it, but I found this recent blog post with exactly what I need!  An Air Force Colonel at Sheppard AFB, TX wrote about how squadron commanders are selected and what kind of job is ahead of the Air Force’s newest squadron commanders.  Wow!  How easy is that?  I’ll just link it for you here:

Sheppard Live: Squadron Command

I’m proud and excited for Dave, but also nervous about what impact squadron command will have on the family.  While part of me is dreading that I’ll never see Dave for the next 2 years, that his new wife will be his squadron, I also remember how it was when Dave first started his 3-year PhD program in North Carolina.  Several fellow Air Force PhD-student families warned me, “Kiss Dave goodbye for the next 3 years.  He’s going to be living at his office!”.

So. Not. True.  Dave did a great job managing his time and even though it was tough work, things didn’t seem as bad as I thought they would be.

We are looking forward to have all the parents in town for the weekend, along with Dave’s brother and our 16-year-old niece.

21. June 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Imagine my delight when I saw N-Scale Magazine sitting in a magazine rack yesterday at the Strasburg Station train store in Lancaster, PA.

And here’s Dave’s super-awesome front cover picture, and inside is his feature article! I wish I could share the whole article here with you, but from our vacation we can’t do it — and instead will refer you to your favorite model railroading hobby shop for the latest copy.

The work Dave had put into the photographs for this article was remarkable. I’d estimate over 1000 pictures, and over 20 hours worth of work staging the shots and getting the color composition right. We definitely used our small, but capable Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS to the max! Our friend Maryann @ Fotomom helped Dave with the photography quite a bit and we’re very grateful for her expertise and advice.

It also has us considering whether a higher quality camera — such as a DSLR — is in order. We discussed it earlier this spring, but it’s an investment that will have to wait until after we pay off our summer travel.

As they say in the Navy (because the Air Force doesn’t have a cool, historically significant saying like this), BRAVO ZULU Dear Husband!

20. June 2011 · Comments Off on Happy Belated Father’s Day! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Belated Father’s Day to any of my Dad readers!  We were happy to get to spend time with Dave’s Dad early in the day at Dave’s family reunion in Pennsylvania, then we drove down to my parents’ house in West Virginia in time for dinner with my Dad.

Earlier in the week GeekMom solicited the writers for some posts for Father’s Day. I was encouraged to write one about Dave’s model railroading and the project he’d been doing with Jacob.  It was shown over at GeekMom on Father’s Day!

With Dave’s recent N-Scale Magazine article (on the shelves right now!) and this week’s talk at the N-Scale Convention in Hershey, PA, it was appropriate to show off a little about him!

13. April 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
My dear husband and me at the 135th anniversary Battle of Antietam Reenactment, September 1997.  Can you spot the one anachronism in the photo?  We joined about 35,000 fellow reenactors in the largest ever American Civil War reenactment to date.  Don’t expect a 150th Anniversary Antietam — no one stepped up to lead the planning efforts.

On April 12, 1861, 150 years ago today, the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, as the state militia attempted to take the fort from Federal troops.  While this “battle” itself didn’t result in any casualties — only two accidental deaths due to a Confederate cannon misfire and Union a 100-gun salute, the 2-day incident was the green flag for 4 years of intense fighting and strife that reshaped our nation.

Many of you know this already, but Dave and I are Civil War reenactors.  Perhaps I’m more accurate if I said “My husband and I WERE Civil War reenactors,” but I’m not ready to give it all up yet.  Let’s just say we’ve taken an 8 1/2 year hiatus since we’ve had our two sons.  We did one reenactment in spring 2004 when Jacob was about 18 months old.  Just a day trip, where we usually do weekend encampments.  I enjoy sewing the costumes, and we both really enjoyed a unique way to enjoy a weekend of camping and camaraderie with fellow American history fans.  I don’t know how many times the guys would be sitting around the campfire after a day of “battle”, passing around a flask of moonshine, discussing not sport scores or the federal budget, but rather whose historians’ interpretations of the battle diagrams of the skirmishes between Atlanta and Savannah are most accurate.

But with the war’s 150th anniversary coming up, and my husband being stationed east of the Mississippi River these next 2 years (if not longer!), there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to get back into the hobby, and we’re excited about the prospect.  We’ve been hauling around about 200 lbs. of uniforms, hoop skirts, tents, leather goods, and a replica Springfield Model 1861 musket from home to home all these years.

We’re even more excited about introducing our kids to the wonderful world of Civil War reenacting!  I have sewing patterns at the ready to make some handsome circa 1860s costumes for my boys.

I won’t go into Civil War history here, but I would like to bring to your attention some of the commemorative reenactment events on the calendar over the next four years.  The first significant combat action, the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run*, will be reenacted July 23-24, 2011 in Prince William County, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.).  Word on the street is that the current economic and political climate is contributing to a lower-key approach to the celebrations, with lectures and walking tours leading the list of commemorative activities, more so than the all-out reenactments.

*Many of these battles are known by two separate names.  The Union Army leans towards geographical features for names, such as Bull Run, the creek that ran through the battlefield.  The Confederates used the names of nearby towns and cities, such as Manassas.  You’ll see other examples of this with Antietam Creek v. Sharpsburg (Maryland), Pittsburg Hills v. Shiloh (Tennessee), and Sabine Crossroads v. Mansfield (Louisiana).

12th Connecticut Volunteers at a reenactment in Narcoossee, Florida, Spring 2004.

I don’t think the First Battle of Manassas will be on our summer travel itinerary this year, but we are looking at other 150th anniversary events during our two years on the Florida Panhandle that might fit our travel schedules.  Shiloh is definitely a finalist (late March 2012)!  It’s easy to do web searches for smaller reenactments near you.  Websites such as the Camp Chase Gazette and Civil War Traveler have extensive information on reenactments, and the Civil War Traveler webpage even has special designators on the 150th anniversary events.  Here are some other key reenactments that will probably do something special for their 150th anniversaries:

Events are also being planned for western and even the Pacific theaters and the calendar links above can tell you more about that.