24. November 2014 · Comments Off on “To my mind the old masters are not art; their value is in their scarcity.” ~Thomas A. Edison · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,


Okay, so I’m not an old master. But I have been scarce.

In the middle of my series of posts about our awesome summer vacation, I dropped off the face of the earth. I predict it was around the time of the first midterm I had to give, and from then on out, I’ve been crazy busy at work, thus coming home exhausted. More »

02. July 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings – Day 4 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Day 4: Raton, NM to Colorado Springs, CO

Hi honey, we're home!

Hi honey, we’re home!

This is a short drive day. We timed things so that we could easily arrive during the work day so we could visit the realty office and pick up our keys.

Very little to talk about for this short 2 1/2 hour drive. The trip up I-25 northward from Raton is pretty tricky. With the trailer, it was a lot of effort for the truck to wind its way through the mountain passes.

We picked up our keys from the realtor and then had a nice outdoor lunch in downtown Colorado Springs. We ate at a place called La Creperie, which had outdoor seating and welcomed pets. Howie sat at our feet and people-watched. He dog-watched too, since there were so many dogs.

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02. July 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings – Day 3 and the Oklahoma City National Memorial · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
Our view for most of Day 3's drive.

Our view for most of Day 3’s drive.

Day 3: Oklahoma City, OK (1200′ elevation) to Raton, NM (6680′ elevation)

This was not quite as long a drive as the previous day, but it was the least interesting day of driving. It was westward across western Oklahoma on I-40, then we turned northwestward in Amarillo taking U.S. highways (instead of interstates) towards Raton.

Before we hit the road, though, we took a few minutes to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which is a park at the site of the former Alfred Murrah Federal Building. The memorial is very beautiful and very well done. We visited at about 8am on a Sunday, so it was nearly empty. It’s sunk into the basement of the former federal building, and evidence of the bombed building can still be seen. More »

24. June 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings – Day 2 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Day 2: Opelousas, LA to Oklahoma City, OK

This was the longest driving day, about 8-and-some-change hours worth of driving, along with 2 more hours worth of numerous stops and traffic/construction issues in Dallas.

Dave slept 9 hours Friday night. He asked that nothing wake him up — neither alarm clock nor my noise — so I let him sleep.

…and sleep….

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23. June 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings: Day 1 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Day 1 = Navarre, FL to Opelousas, LA

Being that this is our 3rd move since I started this blog 5 1/2 years ago, I will attempt to write a diary of sorts of our 4 day not-quite-although-it-feels-like-it cross-country drive between the Florida Panhandle and Colorado Springs.

Day 1 for us was supposed to be a “short” drive. In a good-old-fashioned military change of command, the outgoing commander says a farewell/thank you speech, ceremoniously gives up his guidon to the new commander, and then beats feet out of the area.

Dave had been saying for the past several weeks, "You'll have to pry the guidon out of my cold, dead hands!". But he was joking....

Dave had been saying for the past several weeks, “You’ll have to pry the guidon out of my cold, dead hands!”. He was joking…but you wouldn’t know if from this picture, would you? Photo: Michael Bruenning.

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07. June 2013 · Comments Off on The Dallas Airport USO · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
It's tradition.

It’s tradition.

Whenever I fly to Nebraska for my Air Force Reserve duties**, I tend to rotate among the three airlines that fly between my local airports here and Omaha: Delta, American and United.

**Once we get to Colorado, flying to my Air Force duties will no longer be my only option. I’m very excited about this.

On my last trip to Nebraska in late April, I flew American Airlines and had a three-hour layover in Dallas-Fort Worth. As it turned out, my connecting gate was across the hall from the airport’s USO.

Typically, my layovers are VERY tight…less than an hour. Also, in an airport as big as DFW, to be so close to the USO was pure luck.

For those unfamiliar, USO lounges are set up in many airports mainly for the servicemembers on official travel. However, family members and retirees are free to use the facilities. In Dallas, the USO lounge would put many airlines’ VIP lounges to shame! A computer lab, kids’ play area, snack bar (you’re allowed up to three snacks/beverages free of charge), and a HUGE theater area with comfy seating.

I had been to this particular USO before, but since my last visit (2009, I believe), it had nearly doubled in size.

This time around, I met a family who was awaiting their connecting flight after having flown 10 hours from Germany. The kids were so tired, they were just plain silly! I also met several uniformed soldiers coming home from Afghanistan for their two-week R&R trip. I also met a very young female Air Force officer assigned to Holloman AFB, NM, I asked how she liked it and I’d never seen someone so happy to be in New Mexico. Good for her 🙂

There’s a luggage area that’s conveniently covered with carpeting. Why? So you can attach your velcro patches to the walls. I had no unit patches (my uniform doesn’t use velcro patches), but I had my name tape on my backpack…which is what I left behind.

The cubbies on the left easily accommodated the carry on bags we all had.

The cubbies on the left easily accommodated the carry on bags we all had.

17. April 2013 · Comments Off on Time to Think About Moving — For Real! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

From our packout in North Carolina, July 2008.

It’s for real now — this week we’ve been squeezing in a couple of move-related tasks before I go to Omaha for more Air Force work. We put all our ducks in a row for looking for a house in Colorado, and we have made the arrangements for our belongings to get picked up in early June. It’s feeling real now!

We are having our stuff picked up a little early this time around for several reasons: (a) the kids can still be at school and not underfoot during most of the packing and (b) we’re still planning our annual big trip to the northeast and I wanted to get the packing over with beforehand and (c) there’s more assurance that our belongings will be ready to deliver as soon as we get our house squared away in Colorado.

What this means is that things are getting REAL: in the month of May I will be wrapping up my involvements with the base spouses’ club and the local Cub Scout pack, and I will be able to completely focus on getting us prepared to move.

What types of things do we have to do in the 7 weeks? Here’s a quickie checklist, which will help me as much as it will help anyone else, hopefully.

  • Checklist of utilities to turn off
  • Checklist of address changes for other creditors
  • Establish a “Do Not Pack” space; remove items that you need packed, begin position items in there that you can’t have the movers take, such as personal paperwork, valuables, musical instruments, pet supplies, etc.
  • Begin removing batteries from toys and lightbulbs from lamps
  • Know where the cash is in the coin banks around the house, prepare a big trip to the local CoinStar machine (where you can convert the contents into one of a number of gift cards to waive the 8%+ fee)
  • Get vehicles prepared for the big cross country drive in June

Here’s some other moving-related stuff I have shared on this blog in the past several years.  This is the third move I will be sharing on my blog, this is a great way to help the kids remember what it was like the past several moves.

Here we go again! This big orange truck (as Jacob called it) was from July 2008.

That’s just move #8 since Dave joined the Air Force.

This had been a long time coming; we’ve been waiting almost 6 months to tell our other-than-family-and-closest-friends our big news!

This past summer Dave was invited to apply for a professor position at the US Air Force Academy. He got the job, but had to keep quiet until all the assignment-world ducks were in a row. He’s going to teach physics and meteorology! Today he found out his report date, and we can start the ball rolling on our next move…


…in a mere five months!

That seems pretty quick, doesn’t it? For some reason, this is such old hat to Dave and me, that I am calm…for now.

I wrote a post 5 months before our North Carolina-to-Nebraska PCS discussing the types of things that went through my mind at the T-150 day point.

That’s about where I am now: plan to work through my pantry, mentally inventory things that we want to sell before our move (i.e. a riding lawn mower, outdoor furniture), and start researching the boys’ school options.

I’ve written quite a bit about the other two PCSs we’ve had since I started this blog, in 2008 and 2010. I put some of those posts on a Pinterest board, if you’d like to learn more.

You can also view any moving-related posts here, but that could get lengthy.

We’re thrilled about Colorado Springs, the hiking, the shopping, the skiing, the camping, the opportunities to explore the American west! We have friends stationed out there, too, who we can’t wait to see after so many years.

Stay tuned for the inevitable rants and raves about our PCS preparations.  For now, we are basking in the excitement still.

18. October 2012 · Comments Off on Preparing for a Two Week Tour… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo of Moody AFB Commissary’s single long line. This week’s commissary trip brought back memories of our “big shopping” trips we would take to Langley AFB’s commissary as a kid. Photo: Air Force News.

You might or might not remember my post from when we first moved to Florida in 2010. When we have to move from one military assignment to another, we often will relinquish some of our pantry goods and cleaning wares.  Such as vinegar, soy sauce, household cleaners, Lysol sprays, and any perishables in the fridge and freezer. Friends are usually happy to take that stuff off our hands. We’ve come to expect that type of trading around when living in a military community.

This weekend we’re going camping. Right after the camping trip, I’m hopping on a flight back to Nebraska for my two-week Air Force Reserve tour. Why do I do this to myself?  I don’t know…

I try to help Dave plan meals before I leave on these trips, and in this case, I offered to stock up on as much food as I could for the kids’ quick-and-easy favorites: tacos, spaghetti, pizza (with a Boboli crust), turkey burgers, etc. On Tuesday I went to the NAS Pensacola commissary to stock up on groceries for this weekend’s camping, plus I attempted to buy 2 weeks of groceries for my boys while I’m gone.  I had another appointment in Pensacola this week, which is why I didn’t go to Hurlburt’s commissary this time.

I usually go grocery shopping weekly. I have a pretty good rudimentary meal planning system down pat and no one here starves. One shopping cart typically fits the bill, and everything fits in my pantry and fridge when I get it home. I don’t have a large pantry, nor do I have substantial freezer space. So once a week works well.

My boys eat a lot more than they used to. This started over the summer…we always had one son eating a ton with a growth spurt, and the other one playing picky eater. They now both eat…eat…eat…eat…

Two+ weeks worth of lunch stuff, dinner ideas, cereal, bread, eggs, milk, orange juice and meats added up in a hurry. I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay more than $300 for a batch of groceries other than that first time grocery shopping at a new location. For the first time on Tuesday, I did.

It brought back memories of the “big shopping” trips my parents would take approximately once a month when I was growing up. When we were living in Norfolk, our whole family would load into the car and drive to the commissary at Langley AFB and I have memories of using two shopping carts while my parents would stock up on meats, frozen foods and pantry goods for the month. I have memories of the LONG lines* if we were shopping on the Saturday after a military payday…the single line would extend back through the frozen food aisles to the dairy…and maybe even to the meat area at the back of the store if everyone was taking their post-payday, pre-holiday shopping trip.

*A little military lifestyle lesson here: Unlike most grocery stores, checkout areas at military commissaries will establish a SINGLE line, and whoever is at the head of the line will take the next available open register. Bigger commissaries have these funny machines — centrally located near the head of the queue — that announce “Next, Please” with the register number lit up. This blog post explains the single line, as well as many other nuances of the military commissary. Most civilians will see such queueing techniques mainly on Black Friday at stores like Old Navy and Best Buy (although Best Buy does it all the time now, if memory serves).

The monthly shopping thing? It’s a sensible way to shop if you plan properly. Which I don’t. My family simply can’t plan that well…

It’s also a sensible way to shop if you have the space to keep all that stuff. Which I also don’t. This house is spacious enough for us, but not in pantry space.

This turned into a problem when I got home on Tuesday. I didn’t have space for everything…my fridges and freezers (I have two refrigerator/freezers, one in the kitchen and one out in the garage) are packed full, and so is the pantry. I ended up having to pre-load the bags with the camping non-perishables to free up space.

To conclude, the big shopping trips don’t seem as convenient in our current state of storage. Perhaps one day we’ll have a bigger pantry, bigger fridge or a deep freezer with which we can long-term store more goods. But not in this house.

I tend to do this a lot.  Just sneak a few pictures of something intriguing while in a store…it’s fun to slowly wander around without the pressure of the kids, or appointments or meetings that seem to dominate my life when I’m at home.  I have plenty of those here, but I also have a relaxing time when I’m off shift.

I was at the BX (Base Exchange) today browsing for a thank you card for someone. I walked past an aisle of hard liquor and the bottom row caught my attention.  Bottom shelf, they call it, right?

Who else had no problem drinking the “cheap stuff” when in college? I’m a bit more discriminating now, but considering how little I drink now, I have no problem making more discriminating “investments” in our alcohol.

It all looks so…standardized!

But wait!  There’s more!

Need some bourbon, scotch or Canadian whiskey?

Can’t beat those prices!!!  Can’t beat some of the reviews of these products either.  Oh, and check out this one, which is from the VodkaBuzz website, home of some very discriminating vodka purveyors.

Anyway, there’s more to the story.  I picked up a bottle of the Canadian whiskey to get an idea of who was bottling this liquor…all the same bottles with similar-looking labels.  I found a reference to Atlantic Wind and Spirits out of Baltimore, MD.  But some Google sleuthing reveals that they’re little more than a distributor.

Someone is distilling, fermenting, etc. this stuff — who?

More Google sleuthing revealed the Sazerac Company.  Yes, like the Sazerac mixed drink. They seem to outsource distilling of their premium spirits to other companies, but then it gets distributed under numerous other names.  And if this recent peanut butter recall is any indication, you can imagine where else you’re seeing the same “Miltary Special” spirits.  Look what I found out:

This same company that makes the Military Special vodka also makes CVS and Albertson’s…and “Skol”, a brand I remember from my college days..similarly, the Military Special American blended whiskey is the same as CVS’s.

You can read more about their brands here (click “Our Brands” at the top).

And the kicker? Check out these inset pictures on the Canadian whiskey and rum bottles.  I mean, how stereotypical can you possibly get???

I have no words for this…

Or this…