Friday, August 29, 2008

In the news... maybe...

In the midst of the Olympics, the DNC, McCain's VP choice, and tropical storms, sometimes other news stories get lost.

Like this one.

I'm not blaming the Soldiers- they were given a bad tip, and there is a multitude of other factors that can be analyzed. I guess that's what gets me- we'll analyze the path of every tropical storm and every possible VEEP choice all day long, but not look at a tragedy that killed 90 civilians- 60 of them children...

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

Residents of Azizabad, Afghanistan, on Saturday walked around a home that was destroyed in an American airstrike on Friday.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

Keep reading the story here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remix: Supporting the Troops

Last Saturday we spent some time with two couples, the husbands of which were deployed with Jon in 05-06. We had an incredibly fascinating conversation (gotta love those 2am solving-the-world's-problems discussions! :-) precipitated by a question posed from Jon.

First, let me give some background- Shawn has been in the Army in one fashion or another for 16 years. Active Duty Enlisted, then later as a National Guard Officer. They have a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 1-year-old.

Andrew (aka "Mac") has been in for... uh... a little help here, Lori? I don't know. I think longer than I have been alive! He was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and has led a fascinating life. He also spent time Active Duty and National Guard, Enlisted and Officer. He has deployed with the Army 3 times (I think?) and last year went back to Iraq with Blackwater working security.

I tell you that just to say- this group is as "Armified" as any. Experiences are broad and varied.

So when the question was posed: "What does supporting the troops mean?" - the answers were equally as broad and varied.

I think that's what was most interesting to me. For each of the three Soldiers and each of the three spouses, it meant something different. It meant different things to each of us both on the giving and receiving end.

What we agreed on was that it is different for everybody, and that basically, if a person FEELS like they're supporting the troops, they are. Or, if a Soldier (or any other person in uniform) FEELS supported, then someone is doing the supporting. We agreed that it is an attitude above all, but that actions must follow.

Lori made a great point that love languages play into it- which is why how Mac feels "supported" and how Shawn does and how Jon does is different.

Some thought that the yellow stickers on cars were a great sign, others thought it was a futile showing. Some thought packages and letters were great, others wanted to be left alone. The guys (and spouses) appreciate being thanked by people, though most admitted that was more because they know it really meant something to the person saying it than that they wanted to be recognized. The idea was also thrown out that getting involved in the political process- even just understanding the war- is the best way to support our troops.

I think it's easy to find ways living in a place like Savannah, Georgia, where every other person you see is military. But what about someone living in Cedar Springs, Michigan, who possibly NEVER sees or is exposed to the military?

I have a lot of other thoughts on this. Our conversation the other night was well over an hour long...

But, before I rant too much, I'm going to ask again, whether you're a member of the military, a spouse, or a civilian- What does "Supporting the Troops" look like to you? You can read people's comments the last time I posed this question here.

Just curious.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pumpkin Pasta!!

In my opinion, dinner is not dinner unless it has a starch. Be it rice, barley, pasta, bread, or sometimes potatoes (I view potatoes as the "Y" of starches- sure, "y" is sometimes a vowel, but you wouldn't want to depend on its vowelness too much...).

Of those, however, pasta is my favorite. I could probably eat pasta for lunch and dinner every day and wouldn't tire of it. I love it.

So in an attempt to creatively serve pasta (we already have red sauce about once a week, and creamy white sauces don't fit well with an Army-fit lifestyle...), I stumbled upon Rachel Ray's "Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta." Well, actually I saw her make it on her show last fall and have made it a couple times since.

As a disclaimer: I don't like pumpkin. I'll have a wee slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but that's really more because I have a ridiculous obsession with the holidays than because I actually like it. But this doesn't taste like pumpkin! I'm sure the flavor is in there... come to think of it, maybe it's just nutmeg and cloves I don't like...

Using pumpkin as an alternative is quite healthy- it has a goodly amount of fiber and protein, and many fewer calories than other sauces. I added some sausage (RR doesn't)- in my opinion it adds a lot of great flavor. However, it would be much less fat if it were meatless. I also put in some chopped tomatoes & mushrooms because I had them on hand- whatever you want to add works.

A tip: We always keep fat-free plain yogurt on hand, and it is fabulous for those times that I make food that is as spicy as Jon prefers! (which makes my nose run...) The yogurt really helps counter the spicy heat, and makes it even creamier- Win-Win!!

Anyway- you can click the link above to see the original recipe. Here's my version. All spices are to taste... I don't measure...

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 sweet Italian sausage link, taken out of casing

1 bay leaf
crushed red pepper
1 chicken boullion cube
2 cups water
1 can pumpkin- make sure you get pumpkin puree- NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!!
1/2 cup milk

plain yogurt

Saute onions, garlic, and sausage until sausage is cooked.

Add 2nd set of ingredients, bring to a boil, then cook on medium about 15 minutes. Or 5. Or 20. Whatever.

Add yogurt (either to the sauce itself or let each person spoon it on his own serving according to taste)- DO NOT BOIL after yogurt is added!

Serve over pasta (I prefer ruffles :-) with Parmesan cheese!!

Monday, August 25, 2008


You know how when you know you need to do something, the longer you put it off, the harder it is to ever come back and actually do it?

Welcome to my blog. Sorry for the silence.

We've been busy! I am stewing some actual real thoughts for later this week; for now, it's bullet points:

~ We went to a cabin in Pine Mountain, GA last week for a few days. Full kitchen, cable, fireplace, jacuzzi- that's my idea of camping! :-) (Jon swears that's not real camping... whatever... close enough for me!)

~ While there, we visited the Little White House in Warm Springs. FDR went to Warm Springs to help his polio before and during his presidency. In a time where heated bath tubs had yet to be invented, natural springs that flow warm (an average of 88 degrees year-round) were very helpful for sore muscles. He had a house built there that later earned the nickname Little White House. I would highly recommend this site- it is fascinating. I really appreciated that, instead of using it all for himself, he donated much of his own money- and raised more- to open a center there that other people could come to- especially kids. There were pictures and videos of him playing in the pool with these kids who would otherwise never be able to swim- very cool.

~ We also went to the Naval Civil War Museum in Columbus. It was pretty interesting. I don't know. I don't really like war. I don't like people dying. I don't particularly enjoy seeing it and reading about it. The only thing I hate worse than the thought of people dying is the thought of people dying in water. I hate open expanses of water. I wouldn't have married Jon if he were in the Navy instead of the Army.

I joke.


But- Jon really enjoys boats and history, and he went to the Tea Room with me the day before...

~ On the way home we stopped at a big peach farm for some homemade cobbler and ice cream! They had some big tractors at a playground- Great-Grandpa Nave would be proud...

~ We went to our friend Mac's birthday party on Saturday! It was supposed to be a surprise... alas and alack, such things rarely work out. Mac and Jon became good friends on their first deployment, and it was so good to get together with them. We talked about how we all (Mac & Lori, and Shawn & Tracy) got together at their house just days after they got back from Iraq... little did we know what would happen! Two babies, Jon went back to Iraq, Mac went to Iraq through Blackwater, Mac & Shawn are gearing up to go to Afghanistan next year... things have come full circle, it seems...

Ok, I suppose that was more paragraphs than bullets. Ah well, whatareyagonnado.

Anyway, here's some pics of vacation!

Getting ready for about 15 years from now...

As you can see, Sophie loved the FDR Museum... btw- that little "Moses" is in her hand pretty much all the time- she'll throw down a teething ring after about 10 seconds but has been chomping on him for weeks!

She must take after her dad- she's a little water baby!

Sophie striking a Vana pose- notice the title on the wall...

Monday, August 18, 2008

signing in to sign off

Sorry for the silence... we've been busy relaxing! :-) Well... Jon has been doing a lot of unpacking since he came home.

Sophie is doing great! She has gotten so much more interactive. She signs "All done!" when she's done eating, and her face lights up every time she sees Dad.

PWOC is going well. We have some pretty significant challenges, but we're already on our way to overcoming them! I can't say enough good things about these women... they have really taken off!!

Ok, that's it for now. I'm still half asleep, and we're leaving in an hour for vacation... just wanted to check in! We'll have vacation pics soon!! :-)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Deja Vu (All Over Again)

Today was an exciting day! We had our first organizational meeting at the Hunter Army Airfield PWOC. This group has had a retired POC (Point of Contact- another oft-used acronym in the military) for many years but never a real board. It has been a small and struggling group but is to the point that there are several ladies who are excited about being involved. Most of them, however, have never attended a PWOC anywhere and really don't know where to start.

That's where I come in. I'm, um... the new president...

Not that I have a whole lot of experience- just one other chapter- but I do understand this Installation (Ft. Stewart and Hunter are like separate campuses of the same post), the way the budget here works, etc. So, they asked me to be the president.

We had 12 ladies there this morning- a great turnout! They all took at least one role. Actually, most of them are doubling up- like, each person took a couple roles, and each role has a couple people in it. It's really a great way to help them learn where their gifts & strengths lie, as well as to help each other out. Many of them have really never done anything like this at all and are quite apprehensive- but willing to work and learn- what more could you ask?

We'll be doing a short Bible study these next few weeks, then our official Fall Kick-Off will be September 18. There is A LOT of organizational work to be done... and I am so excited to get started!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Special Day!

She has two teeth! This morning she was whiny and clingy, but not hungry or tired- when Jon said, "Do you think her gums are bothering her?"

I felt, and sure enough, after 5 months of perpetual drooling and chewing on her fists, they popped through! She's such a little trooper- I'd take whiny and clingy over screaming and crying any day!

Here are some more homecoming pics! By the way, I have to give credit to my father-in-law for his comment to us on this post- "Sure, you see eye to eye now... just wait until she's a teenager!"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I stand corrected.

Thanks, Andrea- yep, I accidentally uploaded the wrong video. That one does give you a good idea of the energy in the room! Keep in mind, too, that, though WE were very fortunate, most of these Soldiers had been gone 15 months...

Here is the right one: