Thursday, March 31, 2011

Camp Purple Signup!

Today is the day to sign your child up for Camp Purple, a free camp for military kids.  Em has been twice and Abs once, and they both loved it.

Go here.

You can read about our experiences with Camp Purple here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

It's been almost 8 months.  He'll be home soon...

Monday, March 28, 2011

We HEART Nutella

Make that a big red puffy heart!  Gunner is German. While his dad was stationed in Germany, way back in the dark ages, he met and married Gunner's mom.  On Saturday mornings, his mom would always make crepes (she even got us our own crepe pan and when Gunner is home, he carries on the tradition).  They would have fruit, nutella, and even ice cream.  (Throw Blue Bell on anything and I am there!)

I was selected to host a nutella party, and invite 10 of my friends over to enjoy in Nutella festivities.  How can I say no?  The kids have inherited Gunner's love of the stuff (For the record, I am not a chocolate person, but because of the hazelnut, I have been known to eat a little nutella on occasion.)
We had gift bags, we had recipe cards, we had samples of nutella, coupons, nutella coffee mugs, and of course a giant jar of the stuff!  ( pictures of the food, because I spent my time trying to keep my kids from devouring it all!)

We served up some crepes, peanut butter and nutella (which is what my kids lived on during our trip to Disneyworld), and fresh fruit with nutella to dip it in.  Everyone was in heaven!
There's just enough nutella left for Gunner, and I have hidden it from the kids.  Do you eat nutella?  What's your favorite way?  We always ship it to Gunner while he is gone too, so he can use it to make a quick sandwich when he comes back from patrol and the mess hall is closed.    
(Even Uncle Dave attended the festivities!)

*The nutella and all nutella merchandise was provided to me at no cost for me to evaluate and share my opinion.  The opinions are mine and mine alone.  How can you not like nutella?

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Decade with Abs!

9 lbs 9 oz. A little turkey. Little did we know what lay in store for us.

She was such a sweet baby.
Her father has spent half of her life deployed. He left the first time when she was two.
Some days I wondered if we would ever reach 10. Thankfully we did, and she will have no surprises tomorrow because I sent her to the car to get a vitamin water, and forgot I had all her presents in the back. She said she didn't look, but come on, it's Abs we are talking about!

Happy Birthday to my favorite 10 year old girl. Here's hoping the next decade is a little bit easier on us both!

(We're just doing something small and waiting for a big dinner out when Gunner gets home.  She was ALL about that plan!)
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Opportunity for Military Families in Florida!

Special Event to Celebrate and Honor Military Families is being sponsored by NASA, on April 18-April 19th in Orlando, Florida.

NASA has provided an opportunity for military families to participate in a multi-day celebration culminating with the Space Shuttle launch.  We are pleased DoD has reached out to the National Military Family Association to help share this incredible opportunity with military families. 

Considerations for participation:
·         You must be a military family; the opportunity should not be extended to neighbors or friends who are not military families.  Space is limited and ID’s will be required.
·         Military Families will need to provide their own transportation to Orlando and lodging (if applicable).
·         Military Families must take DoD sponsored buses to the Kennedy Space Center and Causeway on Launch Day (no POVs will be authorized)
·         The events planned are focused on school-age children, and at least one activity has an age restriction of 12 years or older.
·         Launch day will be a long, but exciting and engaging day!  The buses are not expected to return to Orlando until 12AM-2AM. The launch is scheduled for 7:48 PM EDT. 

Monday, April 18 --L-1/One Day Before Launch there will be an afternoon of space related hands-on activities and demonstrations at the Orlando Peabody Hotel hosted by NASA education specialists;

Tuesday, April 19 --L-0/Launch Day –a special treat with military astronauts and spouses at the Peabody as they discuss with families ‘TDY to Space’ and then get families moving with ‘Train Like An Astronaut’ fitness challenge. A mission overview on STS-134 shall be given and then families will board DoD sponsored buses for transportation to Kennedy Space Center and its Causeway. Military Families will have the opportunity to participate in a special LEGO: Build the Future event on the Causeway in advance of the launch.   

Further details and an application to register for NASA’s Special Event to Celebrate and Honor Military Families is available at

The registration will close on April 1st or until allocated spaces are filled. 

I would do this in a heartbeat! If you do participate, please let me know how it goes!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Winner Is...

Eve!  (I don't think she has a blog, because I didn't see one, but she does follow a lot of blogs!)

Congratulations Eve!

Monday, March 21, 2011

General Mills & Hot Wheels Giveaway!

I should have had great pictures to put with this post, but when you take them and forget to include the memory card, you end up with not much.

Anyway, General Mills and My Blog Spark hooked me up with 5 boxes of General Mills Cereal-Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp, and Reese's Puff Cereal.

(Imagine Junior surrounded by the cereal while sitting on the stairs)

First, my kids were over the moon excited, because I rarely by those types of cereal.  Included in each box of cereal was a hot wheels pullback racer.  Junior was ecstatic with the first one I gave him, and Abs was upset because he put the stickers on wrong.  (I kept the stickers away for the next 4 cars!)

(Imagine Junior and Abs playing fighting over the cars)

Soon my children had polished off all 5 boxes of cereal.  Junior's favorite was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Abs loved the Reese's Puffs, and Em preferred the Cookie Crisp.  My favorite????  Lucky Charms, hands down!

A couple of things I like about these cereals, is that they aren't tiny pieces so I can put the cereal in a bag and we are off and running.  It's a quick easy breakfast, since we are constantly on the go.

General Mills and My Blog Spark would like to provide you with a cereal prize pack!  All you need to do is comment below and let me know your favorite cereal!  I will draw for the winner tomorrow, so make sure to get your name in right away!

All cereal and prize packs were provided to me by General Mills, via My Blog Spark.  All opinions are my own and only my own.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Gunner was home on R&R when Junior was born. He left when he was 13 days old. Sigh....
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Homecoming Nesting?

I've been sorting, cleaning, and tossing.  Trying to get done everything I said I was going to do during the deployment, that didn't get done.  (All of the sudden this deployment seems to have flown by, well sort of.....)

No, I am not tackling the garage anymore!  (It's full of the wet furniture that I had to hang on for the insurance company, and now it's too heavy for me to drag to the curb, so it will lie in wait for Gunner to come home)

My friend told me the other day that I must be "homecoming nesting", and I think that pretty much describes it.

I'm looking for a maid to come right before Gunner returns to do a deep cleaning, and before that, I need to make sure I get all the boxes unpacked from the flood, and put everything where it needs to go, or get rid of it.

I have a friend that makes lists of everything to clean, by room, before her husband comes home.  I'm not that organized!

So, are you a homecoming nester, OCD about making the place clean before he comes home, or do you just go with the flow and hope he doesn't notice the piles hidden in the closet?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hanging By a Thread

Well after two weeks, we FINALLY got Em in a cast.
Purple, her favorite color.  The ortho was not happy that we had been there twice and no one could make a decision and she had to be in pain for two weeks without a cast on.  After about 24 hours, her pain level dropped immensely.  Whew.

I was up this morning at 3:45, due to a barfy Em.  I can handle blood, I can handle guts, I cannot handle vomit.  It makes me ill.  I quarantined her to her room and have delivered broth, bread, and water.  I sent the other two to bed tonight with barf buckets.  I am hoping for the best.  Em claims it is food poisoning, but I am not buying that.

Yesterday we celebrated what would have been my dad's 72nd birthday.  For any new readers, Abs noticed that we celebrated Lincoln and Washington's birthdays, so why couldn't we celebrate Grandpa's birthday?  No arguments from me, and while I think of my dad every day, it was nice to have the kids remember things about him last night over dinner.  (That would be the dinner at the mexican restaurant where Gunner's three children ordered cheeseburgers.  They must not be my children!)

The kids wanted chocolate cake and lite icing.  This led to us buying a winnie the pooh cake.  Not exactly what we had in mind, but it was our only choice.  Actually the last birthday my dad celebrated was when Abs celebrated hers, and they shared a Disney princess cake.  He was a great sport about it, although the lady at the cake counter at HEB looked at us a little strange!

This my friends is Blue COLORADO!!!!  We heard that it had arrived on Tuesday and the kids went crazy....well I did a little too.  If you haven't had Blue Bell before, you are missing out.  It's HUGE in Texas, and apparently it's a hot item here.  We got to Walmart, and three cases had sold out, and they had compiled into two cases what was left till the next shipment came in.  I was talking to an older gentleman while we were in there, and he had been stalking the store for two days, and was upset it was out on the east side of town before the west.  We love our Blue Bell!

So now Spring Break will begin, and mind you my children have ELEVEN days out of school.  That shouldn't even be allowed while your husband is deployed.  It's also sad, because Gunner should have been home this Sunday.  (Of course with the outbreak of the barfs, I bet he is glad he's safe in Afghanistan a little bit longer)

Anyone do/doing anything exciting for Spring Break?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to Help the Wounded Warrior Project!

As I wrote in my last post, many moons ago, I am a big supporter of the WWP, and the issues that they work on.

I was contacted by Rudolph Foods, to help spread the word on how they too are supporting the WWP.


Pork rinds, honestly, I love them.  I remember when I was a kid, we would go to my grandparents ranch in Oklahoma and they would butcher the hogs, and there would always be fresh pork rinds to nibble gobble on.

I have several bags of the product that are headed over to our next FRG meeting so I can share them with the other wives in Gunner's company.

I did open one bag, and Junior was in heaven!

Currently, they are asking everyone to go vote at and for every vote they receive, they will  donate 10 cents to the Wounded Warriors Family Support Program.

How easy is that?  So please go click and support our WW's and their families by checking out the website and casting your vote!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wounded Warrior Project

Have you heard of this organization?  It's one of my favorites because of the work that they do on behalf of wounded warriors and their families.

What is troublesome to me now is what the VA and the White House are trying to take away from these Heroes and their families.

Wounded Warrior Project calls on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the White House to make good on promised benefits.

Caregivers of veterans recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) at risk for being left out of Congressionally mandated benefits by VA

Jacksonville, FL (March 7, 2011) As we enter Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Wounded Warrior Project  (WWP) is committed to ensuring that veterans injured during Operation Enduring Freedom  and Operation Iraqi Freedom and their caregivers receive the benefits included in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act signed into law last year by President Obama.

“In 2010, Congress put assistance in place to ensure that the caregivers of these brave men and women are able to continue providing the necessary support for their recovery,” said Steve Nardizzi, Executive Director of WWP. “Nearly a year later and ironically coinciding with Brain Injury Awareness Month, family caregivers of as many as 2,500 severely brain-injured warriors may now be ineligible to receive benefits promised under a plan the VA continues to defend.”

“Last month, the VA submitted a plan that would shrink the number of families qualifying for benefits by more than three-quarters, hitting those with cognitive and related brain-injury impairments hardest,” Nardizzi continued. “It is unacceptable for the Administration to deviate so dramatically from the clear direction Congress set, and jeopardize the care of these service members to meet a new agenda.”   

TBI has emerged as one of the signature wounds of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, amazing strides have been made in the medical intervention and treatment of TBI.  But with that comes a long road of treatment and care for these veterans when they return home. It’s a labor of love for the family caregivers of these severely wounded warriors, but also an all-consuming one in which many families have had to commit all of their resources to their loved one’s recovery process.

In providing for caregiver assistance, Congress clearly specified that the law covers caregivers of veterans who sustained traumatic brain injury in the line of duty and who were “in need of personal care services because of…a need for supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological or other impairment or injury.”   It is apparent when reviewing the Act as a whole, that the rehabilitation of veterans with traumatic brain injury was an intended goal with respect to each of these provisions.

WWP is calling on the Administration and the VA to recognize the severity and complexity of these injuries and guarantee that these American heroes and their families are provided the best support and care possible. 

Join the effort to secure what has been promised to the caregivers of our nation’s heroes:

About Wounded Warrior Project
The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and service to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. To get involved and learn more, visit

You can also join their facebook page here.  

I don't know if they still have the gear, but I picked up my WWP tshirt from Cracker Barrel, and everyone needs an excuse to go there and eat fried till your heart can't take it anymore!

Tomorrow I have another way to help the WWP!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Common "Army" Sense

Common sense and common "Army" sense are two totally different things.

I've got pretty good common sense.  (Ab's lack of common sense does not come from me!)

If I had common "Army" sense.....

     I would not have gotten excited LAST month about Gunner coming home THIS month.  He's not.

     I would have made notarized copies of my POA's, so that when the house flooded and they were ruined, that I would not be trying to get one from Afghanistan, like yesterday, since my ID card expires in mere days.

     I would not have taken on so much in March thinking that Gunner would be home, because surely we all know that the Army will change things.

     I would have switched our doctors to a closer location as soon as we moved on post, because trying to get Em into the doctor for her ankle is stressful for the whole family since we are still assigned to the Academy.  (Plus side, I love them there, but the drive and time it takes is getting old!)

     I would have sent a few more cards to Gunner in case he was extended, because then because of the laws of the Army, he would have missed them all and been home already.

     I would have hired a maid like I did last deployment.

What common "Army" sense things can you add to the list?          

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guest Blog: ANOTHER Evening With ABW's Kids

ABW asked me to write another guest blog.  So, as I sit here at ABW's home at Fort Carson doing even more laundry, I thought this was as good a time as any.

As a reminder for established readers and an fyi for new ones, my name is Dave.  I've known ABW since the Baylor Sailing Team college days before she was married with these three crazy wonderful kids.  I met Gunner before they were married and was one of the groomsmen in their wedding.  I've remained close to ABW and Gunner over the years and have gotten closer with the family over the last two as I was living in Denver for a time and am now, for unemployment reasons, a sort of gypsy back and forth between Colorado and Texas. 

As I'm on my way back to Dallas from Denver for awhile, I decided to stop off for a quick visit.  Of course, that quick visit has now turned into a couple of days as it's become obvious ABW needs a little assistance here.  I arrived at Fort Carson late Sunday afternoon and we met at the dog park so that our two designer (rescue) dogs could have a meet and greet.  This worked well when ABW's mother and new puppy visited several months ago, so we decided to give it a try due to the fact that our last visit involved a tempestuous cockapoo puppy not being too happy at having an older schnoodle trying to rule the roost.  This proved an excellent idea and they've become well behaved colleagues. 

Not long after we had arrived at the house, ABW decided to run out and grab pizza for the kiddos before taking Em to a girl scout ice skating event.  ABW wasn't gone ten minutes when Em tripped coming down the stairs and injured her ankle.  So, while she was laying at the bottom of the stairs crying, I began assessing the situation and damage.  I did know she was hurt, as opposed to a past incident with Abs at the park when she feigned a twisted ankle.  I raised Em's pantleg to look at her leg since we had heard a pop and the top of her ankle above the shoe.  Since I've had a sprained ankle before, I wanted ABW to get home before I removed the shoe since that could accelerate the swelling.  I called ABW and told her what happened and to get home.  Between all of us, I knew she'd be home in a matter of minutes but thought that my phone call would relieve Em a bit, knowing her mother was rushing home.  Of course, this event caused great excitement in the house.  By the time ABW entered the door, Emily was still on the floor crying with Junior dancing around her and Abs had begun playing the violin for a soothing effect.  Throw in two concerned pooches and it was a sight to behold.

After looking at the ankle and a telephone consult with ABW's mother in Texas who is a retired nurse, it was agreed upon that Em needed an ER trip--particularly since the next day's schedule alotted zero time for another appointment.  So, off they went with pizza in tow while Uncle Dave was left to put two children to bed.  As a huge relief, Abs was pretty well behaved.  She showered and besides a brief argument with Junior regarding the television and remote control, got settled down with Bella Serra on the computer and was essentially a non-event which was both appreciated and shocking.  Junior, of course, was a slightly different matter.  Getting him in the tub and bathed wasn't a big deal.   I could tell his eczema was bothering him so after administering the required nightly pullup, he got coated with both his prescribed ointment and aquaphor.  He loved this and told me over and over how good his skin now felt and how he needed this every single night.  He can be such a cutie pie.

So then I put him in his room to play and fall asleep.  I went up every ten minutes to peek in on him--the first time to turn off the light and the second to see what he was doing.  On this second visit I realized he wasn't in the room.  Sure, there's one gate up at all times, but thanks to Abs he's learned to escape.  I quickly scanned the upstairs to see where he was.  Did he go into Ab's room?  No.  I then saw that ABW's bathroom door was shut and the light was on.  I immediately went to open the door and it was locked.  "Junior, I know you're in there.  You need to unlock and open this door RIGHT AWAY."  I did have a moment of panic as I remembered a story of when I was a child and we were visiting my grandmother--I had run down the hall to the bathroom saying I was going to "shave like daddy" and by the time my mother and grandmother got there I had gashed my cheek.  Anyway, I heard the bathroom door unlock and I quickly opened it.  Junior was just standing in the middle of the large bathroom and yelled out "ta-dahhhhhhhhhhhh."  Cute, but not.  So, I put him back in his room and told him if he didn't behave I'd have to put up another gate (knowing I should but kinda didn't want to deal with it).  Junior said "you should probably put the gate up."  Of course, Abs yells out from her room that she could get out of two gates, but not three.  Yes Abs, I know and so does everyone else in blog-land.  But hey, I got a kick out of it as I had to love Junior's honesty.

So, most of yesterday was spent doing laundry.  A lot of laundry.  I won't say how much in an attempt not to embarrass ABW, but let's just say I did it all day and am still doing it today.  Lots of laundry means lots of folding.  And then you add all the clothes that were already clean but not folded and let's just say I've never folded so many clothes in my life.  I still required some assistance in trying to figure out whose clothes were whose.  I mean, Junior is easy but it can be more difficult regarding the girls. 

ABW got a call from daycare yesterday that Junior was being unruly so she had to pick him up early and got to keep him with her in the car half of the afternoon due to her crazy day of appointments and whatnot.  When they finally arrived home he ran up the stairs, saw me where I was busily folding clothes and yelled "Uncle Dave!!!"  I greeted him enthusiastically and then asked him where his clothes were as he was only wearing a pull-up.  His answer was a flat "I don't want to talk about it."  Ah, a good day was had by all.

ABW still had appointments for the kids as she was going all day nonstop.  I mean, she went through a half tank of gas yesterday running around--what with taking the girls to school, Junior to daycare, herself to crossfit (her only escape), a doctor's appointment for her, picking Junior up early, picking Em up early from school and taking her to the orthodontist, then picking Abs up from school, then dropping Em off at home (where she spent a long time matching socks), taking Abs to OT and then later to violin.  Amazingly, we were able to get everyone to bed and Em agreed to babysit for awhile while we ran down the street for an awesome German meal.  Yes, I wish I was able to help ABW with all the running around but it was more important for me to wait out the four hour window for the maintenance men to come work on the constant beeping from the smoke/carbon monoxide detectors driving everyone, dogs included, nuts.  ABW had already pulled some down but others just kept going.  In perfect fashion, the maintenance men neglected to show during the prescribed window and when they finally showed up later and after a time-consuming inspection explained that it was a wiring issue and that someone would have to come out the next day (luckily they disconnected the wire so the sporadic beeping would stop).  And hey, no biggie as I already have to spend this afternoon waiting around for another maintenance man to come fix the leak from the icemaker dripping water down into the fridge and making a mess.  Apparently I'll be adding "fridge cleanup" to the list of things I'm doing around the house. 

Well, that's all for now as the laundry is calling.  And one final note all you mothers can relate to--regular sized loads of laundry with children's clothes are an extra joy as it's just more clothes to be folded.  I mean, I'm used to only having to fold adult clothes (I'm 6'2") and not those of people much smaller who, for one reason or another, change clothes frequently.