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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'm Fine! How Are You?

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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"How are you?" has become a dreaded question. I don’t really know what to say.

My instant response is usually, “I’m fine! How are you?” That seems to be the answer most of us give to such a question, no matter how we are truly feeling. But now it feels wrong to say I am fine. I’m not always fine. Not at all.

My deployed husband is always on my mind. When you ask me how I am doing, I really want to tell you how much I miss him. I want to tell you I cried taking my kids sledding this weekend, because he was missing it. I want to whine and complain. Instead, I save that for when I am writing here in this space. (Aren’t you so lucky?)

I despise the idea of becoming the person who whines every time someone asks how she is doing. It’s just a courtesy question, anyway. Right? Or do you really want to know how I am? Because if you do, I’ll tell you. But you might want to sit down for it first.

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman


Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

I Want You!

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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I love those old "I Want You!" Uncle Sam posters. His pointed finger follows me around the room. He's always pointing at me. He really does want me!

When my husband was considering joining the Vermont Air National Guard, it was a family decision. This choice would change our lives. He's not the only one who joined the military; we all did.

We all have a choice in this country. It's a pretty fantastic benefit of living in the grand USA. We can choose what we want to be. My husband chose to be an Air Force engineer. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. I then chose to use my open schedule to support fellow military families.

You have a choice, too. You may choose a different path in life. I hope you follow your dreams as we have followed ours. Can I tell you something, though?

We want you!

Don't worry. We don't want you to put on a uniform or head overseas. We simply want you to know that, just as much as this country needs the men and women of the military, we need you. We need you to support us. We need you to think of us.

If you've ever shaken the hand of a military member or a veteran and said, "Thank you for your service," you made our day. If you shoveled the sidewalk of a woman who has a deployed spouse, you did your job. If you bring a meal to a husband whose wife is away for training, you made us proud.

We want you. We need you! Make us proud.

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman


Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Link Love

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM

PHOTO VIA THE HUFFINGTON POST
  • photo via the Huffington Post

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  • photo via the Huffington Post

What a week! We shipped our March issue to press today — you'll find it on newsstands next Tuesday. Until then, we leave you with some light weekend reading. Below are a few of our favorite finds from around the web. Enjoy!

An amazing colored igloo (pictured)! (Try your hand at building a regular one at the Montshire Museum on Saturday.)

Make your own slime.

Kid-approved books from VT Mamateurs.

King Arthur Flour's "diner pancakes" leave us drooling every time.

Comic-book superheroes fight grime, not crime, at a children's hospital.

The extraordinary science of addictive junk food.

Also, the three most-popular stories on our website this week:
"No, My Kids Aren't Skiing, Thank You Very Much"
Out to Eat at Prohibition Pig
Vermont Day-cations: Winter Edition

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Staying Busy: The Key To Surviving Deployment

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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The weekends are definitely the hardest on me. The days just seem to last forever. What used to be family fun time has somehow turned into me just surviving until Monday morning. And I do not like it all. So now I intentionally make our weekends so very busy that we collapse into bed by the end of the day.

My biggest tool in doing so has been the Kids VT events calendar. I can keep track of what’s happening around our area with ease and, man, has it made a difference! Events we have been able to take advantage of: Free Pancake Day at IHOP, the YMCA Sports Night Out and life-size Candy Land at the University Mall.

We are also very involved with local events that are provided specifically for military kids. Our biggest resource is a UVM Extension Program called Operation: Military Kids. They hold events all over the state at no cost to us. Thanks to OMK and its community volunteers, our kids can connect with others who understand exactly what they are going through — while having a fantastic time! Last weekend, we did some printmaking in Waterbury. We met other military families and talked about how art can help us relay our feelings and relieve our stress.

Our military families also have the opportunity to be involved with local programs and businesses for free. We are currently able to apply for a free membership at the YMCA and ski at almost all of the local resorts for free or at a discount. Many local restaurants offer a military discount, as well. Thanks to all of you who make us military families feel so loved and supported!

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman


Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home Cookin': Homemade Oreos

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 3:22 PM

PHOTO BY CAROLYN FOX
  • photo by Carolyn Fox


As kids, my brother and I loved Oreos so much that we named our black-and-white kitten after them. (We thought it was so original at the time — who knew everyone has a cat named Oreo?!)

Though my love for the sandwich cookie remains, my tolerance for its artificial ingredients does not. Luckily, it only takes a little elbow grease — OK, and a fair amount of butter — to whip up a delicious batch from scratch. Make sure to have a big glass of milk on hand for when these come out of the oven.

Homemade Oreos
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 25 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:

1 and 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg

For the filling:

1 stick unsalted butter, just slightly colder than room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean pod (or use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix in the butter, then the egg. Continue mixing for several minutes, until the dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of the cookie batter and roll into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, then use your hands to flatten the balls into even patties about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on racks to cool.

To make the cream filling, beat the butter at low speed. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes more until the filling is slightly fluffy. If the butter gets too warm, the mixture might start to look runny; if that happens, just chill it in the fridge for a few minutes.

To assemble the cookies, load the cream filling into a pastry bag. (If you don't have a pastry bag, use a Ziploc bag: Fill the bag with the cream filling, seal it and use scissors to cut off one corner of the bag.) Pipe teaspoon-size blobs onto the center of one cookie. Place another cookie of equal size on top of the cream and lightly press together. Repeat these steps until all the cookies have been sandwiched.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

“No, My Kids Aren’t Skiing, Thank You Very Much”

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Theo on the slopes — sans gloves, of course.

“Are your kids skiing?” It’s a question I’ve heard a lot. And for a long time, I felt almost shameful answering no.

When my husband, Jeff, and I moved to Vermont almost nine years ago, we dove into winter sports with a vengeance. We spent most of our winter weekends snowboarding or snowshoeing. If it’s going to be cold and snowy, we thought, we might as well embrace it.

But becoming pregnant and having babies put a wrench in things. Jeff chaperoned a handful of middle-school field trips to Jay Peak, but spent more time changing diapers than shredding the gnar. I stopped snowboarding altogether.

This winter, we decided, things would be different. Mira is 5 and a half; Theo just turned 3. 2013 would be the year the kids learned to ski! We rented Mira skis for the season at Burlington’s Skirack. We bought her a helmet. And goggles. And long underwear. And ski socks. Loading her new gear into the trunk of our car, I felt like a hardcore Vermonter.

Continue reading »

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Monday, February 18, 2013

When You Can't Make Promises

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Sending your loved one off for an extended deployment overseas comes with many emotions. Sadness. Anxiety. Worry. Heartbreak. Confusion. I think the biggest one we deal with is fear.

I tell myself a few times a day that my husband, Matt, is safe. I don't need to worry about him. It's all going to be OK. But there is a voice inside my head that creeps up to tell me the terrible truth: "It's war. People die." It's a fear like none I have ever experienced. Even though Matt is in a situation that is fairly low risk compared to many other military members overseas, the risk is there. And it haunts me.

Unfortunately, it haunts our kids, as well. They fear Daddy won't come home. They are old enough to know what war is.

The heartbreaking part about this for me, as a parent, is that I can't make any promises to my kids, or even to myself.

I wish I could tell the boys, "He will come home safely." I wish I could hear Matt say the same to me. But we can't make promises. We can't say with 100-percent assurance that something bad won't happen. It's not wise to make a promise that you know you might not be able to keep.

We can wish and pray for his safe return all day long, and wish and pray we do. The only promise I can offer is this one to my husband: We won't stop wishing and praying for you.

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman


Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ready, Set, Go

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

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Try to envision the preparation that goes into military deployment. What do you picture? Soldiers at target practice? Maybe even strategic war games, like we see on TV?

When I think of military readiness and training, I think about the families. This is my job as the lead volunteer of the Family Readiness Group for my husband’s squadron.

You see, just as members of the military are being trained to be ready at all times, so are the families. We must have backup plans in place so their responsibilities are covered in their absence. We must keep emergency contact numbers on hand at all times. We must prepare ourselves for when our loved ones leave us. With the National Guard, that can be for either a local or state emergency, or an extended deployment overseas.

Every branch of the military has a family-support system in place. For us, it’s the Family Readiness Group. Each unit or squadron has its own FRG, overseen by volunteers like myself and supported by full-time Family Readiness employees.

Several months ago, when we were given the official word to start preparing for my husband Matt's deployment, his squadron's FRG was also in need of a lead volunteer. Matt thought, "My wife would be great at that!" and readily gave my name for the role. He's always thinking of me!

When the squadron commander asked if I would help, I said yes. With Matt's deployment approaching, I was more than willing to take my turn in supporting our squadron’s families.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

We’ve Only Just Begun

Home Front: Diaries From a Vermont Military Family

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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We are just getting started in our deployment journey. We can’t even count months yet; we are still counting weeks. “We’ve only just begun…” as the song says.

I think about my husband, Matt, settling in to his new “home.” I hate that I can’t make his bed for him, tucking the sheets in just the way I know he likes them. I can't make his favorite meal after a long day. It’s my job to take care of him and I’m not very good at letting that job go.

“Do you need anything? Want me to send you more blankets? Are you warm enough? How about food? Are you getting enough food?” I barrage him with questions. He laughs. I sound like a frantic mother who just sent her baby boy off to summer camp for the first time.

While I imagine him settling in, I think about the people who were there before him. They are packing up and getting ready to go home. Somewhere, there are families preparing for homecoming parties. Their arms are poised for that long-awaited hug. I am happy for them. I truly, truly am. In the military life, we all take our turns. We are grateful for those who are out there serving while our loved ones are home. We think of them and support them and their families. Now that it’s my turn, the support and love is coming my way.

We’ve only just begun, and while I await our own party planning and Matt’s homecoming, I daydream about the ones happening in other people’s homes. To them I say, “Be happy. Celebrate! It’s your turn.”


Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman


Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Sledheads

Adventures in Sledding With Children

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

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My family’s sledding adventure hit a road bump — er, mogul? — before we even reached a hill. Since last winter was a freakishly mild one, it dawned on us after this season’s first big snow that we only had a couple of baby pull sleds and a warped plastic one in the garage. My husband, Jeff, went on a mission to find the perfect sleds. Trips to Costco, Kids City, Lowe’s and Kmart turned up nothing. The next day, though, he hit the jackpot at our local hardware store with the 39-inch Tornado and the 50-inch Blizzard, inflatable snow tubes that held the promise of an exhilarating downhill ride.

It’s been quite a few years since my childhood sledding exploits, and I had forgotten how rough the activity can get. Our first attempt at the LaPlatte Nature Park sledding hill behind the Shelburne Post Office proved treacherous and tearful for our almost 3- and 5-year-olds. On the first run, my daughter insisted we go “back to back” on the Blizzard. We picked up way too much speed, I was blinded by spraying snow and Mira ended up flying off the sled. Soon after, a sled of older boys barreled into my son, Theo, at the bottom of the hill.

Our kids are made of hardy stuff, so they toughed it out and ultimately had fun. But the experience made me yearn for a kinder, gentler sledding hill. I had heard the Old Round Church in the village of Richmond was a great sledding spot for families with younger children, so the next day we met friends there. As we pulled into the parking lot, the sight of a gradually sloping hill and several families with small kids reassured me.

The hill proved just the right speed for our group of six adults and five children, ranging in age from almost 2 to 5. The younger kids rode on parents’ laps, but the 4- and 5-year-olds proudly braved the hill on their own. A long straightaway at the base of the slope allowed ample room for coasting, so there was no worry of stopping short and flying off the sled. The ride was fast enough to get the adrenaline pumping, but didn’t elicit that terrifying, out-of-control feeling that steeper hills often do.

And the idyllic Vermont setting sweetened the deal. The Old Round Church is a 16-sided wooden meetinghouse and National Historic Landmark celebrating its 200th birthday this year. Set against the bucolic backdrop of Richmond, blanketed in a fresh coat of snow, the scene seemed straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

After close to an hour of sledding, numbness set into our toes and the younger kids started asking for the car. We retreated to our friends’ house to warm up with the one thing no sledding adventure would be complete without: hot chocolate with marshmallows.

If you go: The Old Round Church is located just past the center of town in Richmond. Follow Bridge Street across the Winooski River Bridge and the church is on your immediate left. The parking lot is a stone’s throw from the sledding hill.

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This post was written by Kids VT contributor Alison Novak, who lives in Shelburne with her husband and two kids.

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Smirkus Camp

Greensboro, VT

Learn circus skills at any age! Smirkus Camp is open for children ages 5-11 in Intro to Smirkus Camp (June 22, 2019) and children ages 6-11 in Smirkling Camp (June 15-16, 2019) sessions. For campers who crave a longer sleep-away summer camp adventure, choose between 1 week, 2 week and…(more)

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