Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Memories of the first day on the Job, Basic Training Prelim

I was thinking about when I was 19, and my First day of basic training. Well actually I had already been there for a week since they have a sort of holding area to get you up to speed on the basics for Basic Training :)

So let me back up a bit.

I was working a dead end third shift job, where drug use ran rampart and people would get injured all the time. My girlfriend(future wife) was a senior in high school, I had dropped out. My best friend had a passion to join the armed forces which since he didn't have a car rubbed off on me. He was unable to join due to an issue of attempted suicide. As I took him to meet recruiters one of them got to me and convinced me to join the Field artillery. I figured Why not, I was going nowhere anyhow. SO for the next few months I took the entry test. ASVAB, and did all the initial processing. I also sold my 1967 Chevy Nova for a new 1993 Ford Festiva. 2 of the worst mistakes I have ever made.
Two weeks after new years I went to MEPS. or Military Entrance processing station.
They shuffle you through a handful of doctors, making you turn your head and cough and drop on your knees. Neither felt very good. Next you filled out a laundry list of paperwork, And being 19 I didn't really pay to much attention to that. Then pee in a cup and wait in a room for everyone else to finish and take your oath. BAM Armyfied.

Then everything flew bye. Shuffled to a bus waiting to go the airport. Ticket in hand I flew to St Louis, Then on the smallest plane in the world to fly over the mid-land to FT Sill Oklahoma.
Another Bus, This time the driver was not very friendly. It was either because it was late at night or he was a career corporal, Which isn't a career, it means your not very good at anything military wise. Except for maybe driving a bus of new recruits.
As the town of Lawton passed by I noticed a strange trend as we got closer and closer to post. It started off with houses, and regular stores, But as we get closer to the gate it changed to strip clubs, pawn shops, barber shops, dry cleaners, and more strip clubs. Wohoo me I thought.
We passed the gates, Since it was way before 9/11 there were no guards on checkpoints. Just drive right on.
We arrived at another processing center that was basically 3 rooms. The first room I was liken to prison. Shakedown time
Empty all of your bags. Which I'm not really sure why I brought any since you do not see them for 2 months anyhow.
Smokes gone. That's all I really had. Again not sure why I broke cigarettes to Basic training. Others had knives, weapons, even a pair of brass knuckles. I started to think What the heck did I do.

Let me explain a bit. At 19 I weighed 135 pounds wet, Was not into fighting or conflict. Tall skinny and I guess you could say from a part of the states that kind of likes things slow easy and simple.

OK, So after the shakedown we were led to a long old building. a huge industrial fan was on one end of the corridor, either side were bunks with itchy green wool blankets, super white starched sheets, and a pillow I would consider more of a brick than a pillow.
That night the floor filled with other clueless adolescents, Until the next morning
5:00 am where we were all instructed to fall in? Not one of us had a clue. But luckily the corporal from the bus was there to instruct us. Needless to say it was a cluster. As the moronic corporal attempted to get us to march and in basic movements we slowly we able to navigate to the chow hall. The trip there was comedic, all 400 feet of it.
We were instructed to stand in a single file line, No speaking and eyes front. A group of 50 or so teenagers in civilian clothes with straggly hair and unkempt appearance. Standing eyes front about 25 people from the front I had my first glimpse of a drill Sargent. An intimidating large man with a southern draw marched a platoon of recruits effortlessly in a formation to the front door. I was in awe. They seemed to move as a unit. Unlike our gaggle of misfits. The drill Sargent quickly drew his attention to us. Spewing profanity and screaming like we had just brought his daughter home late form the dance, he proceeded down our ragtag line like a cougar.

Feeling uneasy enough, The chow hall food led to little in the way of comfort. Besides the 2 minutes to eat once you sat down, the food itself had a hard way finding its way down.

The next process was to go to the Mini post exchange with a list of items to purchase. Before that though was getting a paycheck. Strangely enough everything on your list to buy added up to exactly what they gave you.
List completed we dropped or new gear off at our bunks. To be processed.
Being processed was not a fun thing.
First was filling out medical paperwork, then we proceeded in assembly line form through a grouping of shots. A gun shot your arms on both sides as you shuffled from room to room. to finally end in a room where I was instructed to bare a butt check and prepare for a slight pain. That silver bullet shot hurt for 4 days.

Then to the haircut. I somehow thought this would be a non issue but was almost led to tears as the barber applied the clippers to my long blond locks.

ME BEFORE HAIRCUT the one with the glasses.
BTW the picture is from a skit I was doing as a camp counselor

AFTER HAIRCUT, Phew I look young

After this trauma, we were led to yet another building. This filled like a warehouse with everything a soldier needs. Uniforms, Brown tightie Whites, tee shirts, boots, socks, PT uniforms. duffel bags.
Again Assembly line style we moved down the line. collecting the necessary items until reaching a holding area where I was instructed to review the paperwork and sign.
Signing lead to an agreement that I was to use my next 4 paychecks to pay for the items I just received. That being said on payday I was accruing a whopping 40 dollars.

The next morning we were taught how to shine the new boots we had received. This learning experience led my boots to be ruined of all shine capability and numerous hours of fixing. Thank you ineffective corporal.

After the boot shining lesson, It was test time.
You had to complete 10 push-ups 10 sit ups
This is a very monumental task when never doing any sort of activity.

If you were successful, Which I was you were moved to another floor to be transported to the real basic training. If you were no however you were stuck in this time warp until you could complete it.

Given minutes to make a phone call, then shuffled to the chow-hall we were sent to the barracks to learn the basics of floor cleaning and buffing before going to sleep.

The next day was going to prove to be very difficult.

Thanks for reading. I start writing and somehow get caught up. I hope you enjoyed this snippet into myself.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My progression into bieng a Dad

Each day I get to play with my daughter is better than the day before.
She is growing into her own little person each day.
Its quite humorous to see her back-up into a room she isn't supposed to be in.
I think she thinks shes getting away with something by going backwards instead of walking straight in.

As a stay at home dad I feel I have the connection that most moms develop with their children. I seem to understand her little grunts or motions as to what she wants.
For fun try a little people watching the next time you see a smaller child and their parent. Its like watching people talk in a foreign language that only they understand.

AS my title suggest this blog is about being a dad. I wanted to share some more insight to myself and also feel its good to get things out once in a while as well.

So let me begin. As a child I was adopted, My mother had me when she was 19, and my father left her to pursue his own life without us.One a side note I actually met my father when I returned from Iraq, More on that in another blog.
I was adopted by a rough and tumble cowboy type man who was quite older than my mother.
At around the age of 5 He took me without permission to Colorado. I spent about a year moving around alot and such until one day my mother came to get me. I remember it being Easter and directly after searching for my basket my "dad" loaded us into a van just as my mom was pulling up. I can't help to think that if she had been 5 minutes later I would have a much different life.


A few years passed and my mom had been dating a guy for a few years when she had my little brother when I was 8. This guy was good to my mom, and we were able to do things I had not been afforded when I was younger. Things like snowboarding, He bought a boat which was great for many summers. Unfortunately he could drink like a fish. As I look back it was a gradual progression in the amount of beers he would consume. Basically by the time he and my mom separated he could drink 18 beers and smoke a pack of Marlboro's from the time he got home at 3;30 to when he passed out at 730-800 pm. I didn't realize how much of an impact seeing this daily would affect me until a few years into my military career.

During high school I was pretty much a trouble making bad kid who didn't care much about anything and got into trouble for many things, Including stealing my parents cars and such. That incident was the only time I fought fist to fist with him. Which resulted in me being sent to live with my adopted dad, in Las Vegas. I often think of it being very strange that I was sent to the guy that kidnapped me but well, that's just how my life went.
I only lasted a few months in Las Vegas until an incident happened where either I was to go to juvenile detention or be sent back to Vermont.
Luckily I was sent back to Vermont. As in my opinion I feel that kids who end up in juvenile detention in large cities like that are destined to a very bad future.

So I kept up with being a punk teenager. I met a girl, or should I say my interest in girls took the majority of my attention and time. I dated a girl from my junior year in high school until I dropped out in my senior year. I had messed up so much I would not have been able to graduate with my friends so I just quit. I worked in factories for a while and 3rd shift jobs, Dating the same girl, the entire time.

I saw a need for a change and really didn't want to be stuck in my home-town for the rest of my life. Funny though now I miss it and like visiting there. So I looked into the military, The First Gulf war was still somewhat fresh and I felt a need of some direction, So I Joined, The Us Army. Ill talk about that later as well.
I also married my long-term High school girlfriend that year. I was 19.
As I am already getting long winded, I was married to her for 11 years, During that time we had 3 children. Two boys and one girl. Since our divorce she has since moved to Vermont and besides paying in support for them I do not get to hear from them see them or have any contact unless she gets a kind feeling. Its not a topic I like to discuss since I have 3 children that are a part of me but at the same time have no connection at all. I'm pretty sure they are not even allowed to receive the gifts I send on holidays.

I met Jen, a year before I was medically discharged from the military. It was like finding the perfect match at first sight. I know alot of people say that but you get this weird feeling when it happens and I often wonder how I have could not have had her in my life. We had met while I was doing a short training exercise in Washington. She actually quit her job and moved to my duty station a few months later. She was a great asset and helpful during my transition from the military to civilian life.
We moved to Florida near her parents and stayed for 5 years.
We decided to have a baby, and after months of trying we became pregnant. In May 2009 Ashlynn was born, She was initially supposed to be a water birth but ended up being a c-section. Since that day I have been with her every day.
AS she is 14 months now I am amazed at all she is capable of. She talks, sorta, Walks and has opinions and quirks all her own. Its also quite nice to get compliments and such on her behavior and demeanor. I fully believe that her presence helped my identify my creative side. Although I'm a guy I am trying to learn how to do her hair, match clothes and shoes. Pretty much all the girly stuff.


Well as I am not much of a writer and have about a thousand other things to do, that and I feel long winded :) I will end this post today.

There is probably quite a bit of open ended areas that people want to know more about. And I will link other blogs to this one in the future.

My intentions where to show what I felt like being a dad but It looks more like a short history of me instead :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Breakfast Smoothie.

Yesterday I was tired from a long car ride with a 14 month old, and the long weekend in Louisville for our friends wedding. So I wanted to start my day off with a boost, kick me into gear for all of the things I need to accomplish.
My family loves this Smoothie and its pretty easy to do,
I figured I would post it now since alot of fruits are in season.

So here goes.

Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup of frozen peaches, (we get ours from a farmers market,slice and freeze them
1 cup frozen blackberries, or blueberries, or raspberries :)
4 tbl spoons of dried milk powder
2 tbl spoons of milled flax seed. (optional)
2 cups of milk.
about 5 or six ice cubes.

For a sweeter flavor you can add a 4 oz flavored yogurt such as peach or berry

Simply put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
If it seems to be more of a melting ice cream consistency add a little milk at a time.

Its easy but fun and tasty.
I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Todays Delicious Recipe. Soy-Orange Salmon with vegetables

So this is a recipe we did on Monday night and thought it was so delicious I wanted to share it with you.

It has a great source of vitamins and omega-3 fats as well

Prep time 5 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes

Soy-Orange Salmon and Vegetables.

Grated Peel and juice from 1/2 and orange
1 1/2 tablespoons of reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of Hoisin sauce (look for it in ethnic foods aisle)
1 teaspoon of ginger grated
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, or canola oil
1 bag 6 0z of baby spinach
5 teaspoons ish of water
2 Salmon Filet's about 4-6 oz and about an inch thick
sugar snap peas ( optional )
1 cup Thinly sliced carrots, or store bought match sticks carrots
2 scallions sliced, green stems only

Pre-heat oven to 350
In a bowl, combine orange peel, juice,soy sauce and hoisin sauce,ginger and oil. Mix .
Take a piece of aluminum foil and place salmon filet's centered. Drizzle a tablespoon of mixture on top and wrap tightly.
Place wrapped salmon on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily.

Meanwhile preheat a sauce pan with a teaspoon of canola oil.

Add carrot to pan and saute for 3 minutes on medium heat, Add peas and scallions during and toss to combine, The peas should be bright and crisp, at this time add the spinach to the pan with water and toss cooking for about one minute.

Place vegetable mixture on plate, arrange sauteed spinach under salmon next to vege's and drizzle remaining sauce over both.

We also served it with 1/3 cup of brown rice.

Makes 4 servings

Calories 347
Carbs 15g
Fiber 4g
Protein 40g

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome to my Blog.
My plan is to post blogs about my life as a stay at home dad, an Etsy shop owner, A veteran and a guy. Also I wanted a place to share my recipes and some statistics of a new way of eatting to ensure my family is healthy. I hope to be able to let people see a picture of me through words and photos.

Alright lets start with an Introduction to me.

My Name is Joe (Joseph), I was born in Vermont, which is were I grew up. At 19 I joined the US Army and became a Field Artillery crewmember in MLRS (pictured here). I went to basic training in FT Sill Oklahoma and served in 2nd Armored division in FT Hood TX as my first duty station. I then went to South Korea for a year, during my 21st birthday. (more on that later). I then returned to FT Sill for a few years before I was able to go to Baumholder Germany for 3 years in Jan of 2000. Germany was a great place and I loved being able to travel through-out Europe. In Early 2003 my unit was deployed to Kuwait, to be deployed into Iraq to support the combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom.
I returned from Iraq to return to FT Sill once again in 2004. During the summer of 2004 my unit was deployed to FT Lewis WA, where I trained Officer cadets during their summer training. It is also where I met Jennifer my wonderful other half. I was dishcharged in 2005 and moved to Florida, where Jen's Parents lived. I worked as a Land surveyor for a while, Did some school and eventually we had our Duaghter in May of 2009. 6 months later Jen was offered a position in Huntsville AL, which is where Im writing to you now. We really like this area and the way everything moves and flows here.

In Novemeber of 2009 My Jen and I where trying to figure out what I was going to do while being a Stay at Home dad. Besides all of the cleaning,cooking,child care ect. :)
We also did not like throwing away a ton of baby jars each week.
WE decided on making candles from my daughters used baby food jars. Thus started my Etsy shop. I also learned a few techniques from Jen's mother in making jewelry. I have always enjoyed making things with my hands and since November I have been able to sell of few of my crafts online. My goal is to be able to sell products I make full time eventually.

Jen and I have also taken on a healty food lifestyle, which since I really enjoy making food has became a great passion of mine as well.

This first post is just a general overview of me, and a glimpse in to some things I will blog about in the future. I suppose its a template for me to stay organized as well :)