Friday, June 29, 2012

RIP, Lance Cpl. Eugene Mills

~ In Honor Of Marine Lance Cpl. Eugene C. Mills III ~

Lance Cpl. Eugene C. Mills III, 21, of Laurel, Md., died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.,0,5908644.story

Laurel Marine killed in Afghanistan remembered as patriot, 'all-around great kid'

21-year-old man, killed by enemy fire, had dreamed of joining military since 9/11

Dignified transfer
A U.S. Marine carry team moves the transfer case of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Eugene C. Mills III, during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. Mills, 21, of Laurel, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. (Getty photo / June 25, 2012)
"Pops, when I come home, Natty Bohs and crabs?" Lance Cpl. Eugene C. "Gene" Mills III asked his father, Gene Mills II, during an impromptu phone call early last week, about a month before the younger man was due to return home to Laurel from Afghanistan.

"One more mission, Pops, and I'll be home," the son told his father. "Love you, Pops."

Those were the last words his father — a retired Prince George's County police officer known as "Big Gene" — would ever hear from "Little Gene," 21, a High Road Academy graduate and Marine stationed in Helmand province, on his second deployment to the country.

On Monday, Corporal Mills' remains were returned to the United States at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where family and friends — including his father; mother, Theresa Mills; stepmother, Melissa Mills; and brother, Jacob "Jake" Mills, a rising senior at Atholton High School — were waiting on the tarmac.

On Friday, Corporal Mills, a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., was leading his five-man infantry team on a patrol in the province's Sangin Valley when they became involved in a firefight. Corporal Mills was shot in the upper left chest, his father said. He was treated by another Marine on the ground, then transported to a medical facility in Afghanistan, where he died, his father said.

Two Marines and Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin brought the family the news.

"There's nothing worse," Gene Mills said, choking back tears. "You know it's not good. I prayed that it was just he was injured, I prayed that he lost a leg, I prayed that he lost two legs but was OK."

The news of Corporal Mills' death quickly swept through Laurel, where the Mills family has deep roots.

Mayor Craig Moe announced flags in the city will be flown at half-staff in honor of Corporal Mills until his funeral services, which have not been set.

"Everybody's coming together," Jim Collins, president of the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, said of the city's support for the family.

Corporal Mills had first announced his desire to join the military on Sept. 11, 2001, his father said, after watching live news coverage of the terrorist attacks on a 13-inch television in his room, unknown to his father.

He had come out of his room, a concerned look on his face, and asked his father what was happening.

"So I sat down with him and discussed everything, and I said, 'Everything's going to be all right. We're the United States of America. We can survive this,'" his father remembered. "And he said, 'Dad, when I'm old enough, I'm going into the military, and I'm going to help protect us.' "

Corporal Mills never lost sight of that goal and joined the Marines shortly after graduating from high school, onFather's Day2008, his father said.

He was first deployed in 2010 to Now Zad, Afghanistan. He left home for his second deployment in the country in March. His family would send him care packages, and he would give most of what was in them to Afghan children, his father said.

"Gene was just the all-around great kid," his father said. "He wanted to make a difference."

Corporal Mills' superior officers have recommended he receive the Purple Heart.

Though funeral arrangements have not been completed, Mills will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery after a service at Grace Community Church in Fulton, his father said.
Gene is the son of a friend of mine from junior high and high school, Theresa (Stea) Mills. Semper fi, Eugene.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kenzie's cooking -- again!

When I posted yesterday about the Monkey Bread Kenzie just made, I realized that I'd forgotten to post about the day she made the New York onion buns and an entire dinner.  Here are the pictures -- hope you don't get too hungry!!

 Kneading the bread.......

 for 10 minutes!  It's a long time!

 Almost done kneading.

 Forming the dough into bun-sized balls.

 On to dinner -- chopping an onion for the meatloaf.

 This requires some concentration!

 Cut up red-skinned potatoes, prepared meatloaf waiting to go in the oven, and chopping up fresh rosemary!
 The rolls after being topped with the onions and after rising -- ready for baking.

 The chef with her baked goods!

And the entire dinner, done by Mackenzie!!  Yummy!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More of "Kenzie in the Kitchen"!

Kenzie has been taking an on-line bread baking class.  I already posted pictures of her loaves of bread a while back.  She also made some amazingly delicious New York onion buns, and this week, she made Monkey Bread.  Too bad you can't smell the cinnamon through your computer -- it was a wonderful aroma!!

Kenzie kneading the dough.....

 ....and kneading it some more!

 The dough was then made into small balls, dipped in butter, and rolled in cinnamon.

 The balls of dough were placed in a Bundt pan, and some candied cherries were scattered into the pan.

 The dough was left to rise for about 45 minutes.

 Another view of the dough after the rising time.

The final product!!  Tasted even BETTER than it looked!!

Great job, Mackenzie!!  


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun at the river

I'm always on the lookout for places with water that will be safe to take our dogs.  Last week, I found a new one, and took Kenzie and Taylor out to play there.  The photo qualities are not the best, as I was using my cell phone camera AND looking into the sun for many of these.  But -- enjoy anyway!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My journey to straighter teeth!

I'm not vain about my appearance and ESPECIALLY not about my teeth.  However, over the last few years, my teeth have decided to migrate all over the place.  This has made it hard to floss (some teeth very close together), some teeth have begun overlapping others, and a few teeth have cracked when I've bitten down on something hard (cracking due to the misalignment putting pressure on spots where they shouldn't have been).  All this led me to consider braces -- not an appealing thought when you're part of the over 50 crowd. Because I meet with a lots of clients, however, I did not want to do the metal railroad tracks type of braces.  Over the last year and a half, I did a lot of reading, soul-searching and saving ($$) and opted to get the Invisalign braces.

The whole process of actually getting fitted for these was a bit intimidating.  There were regular x-rays; panoramic x-rays; and digital photos of my mouth from every possible angle, inside and out -- and yes, I mean that!!  They even put a small mirror in my mouth to aid in taking pictures of some of the teeth in the back!!  Then the hardest part -- the gooey stuff they put in a mold and have you bite down on for several minutes.  It tasted pretty bad, but the worst part was that on the first attempt, the technician put too much goo in the tray, and as I bit down, it started going down my throat, setting off a horrible gag reflex.  This was REALLY tough, as I NEVER, EVER get sick to my stomach -- and I truly thought I was going to throw up with a mouthful of gooey trays in the way!!  Scary and strange......

But that was finally finished and all the information, trays, photos, and x-rays were sent off to the Invisalign labs to create the series of trays needed to give me well-placed, gorgeous teeth.  All I had to do now was wait.......

My "kit" arrived, and my appointment with the dentist was Monday.  The first surprise was that there were "buttons" or "attachments" that had to be added to several teeth in order to help the braces rotate them into position.   You can see a few in the picture below.

Then they handed me a set of these handy-dandy little plastic trays......

.... and told me to try to put them on.  Uh, yeah, right........ I sat in the dentist's chair, struggled and struggled, and could NOT get them on.  Then they suggested I go to the lady's room and try doing it in front of the mirror.  Nope, still not happening!!  Those suckers are TIGHT!!  Then the technician came in to help, and with me standing up against the wall, bracing my head, the two of us were able to snap those things into place!  OK, now they're in..... will they ever come out??

Back to the exam room to get all the instructions: wear them for 22 hours per day; only take them out to eat, brush, floss, and then right back in; only drink water while wearing them (don't want to get the sugary liquids stuck against your teeth all day); remove them from the back molars first and work your way around; don't bite down on them to snap them into place; keep them out of reach of the dogs!!

As I was walking out the door, the dentist told me, sort of in passing, that "they're much easier to get out if you leave them in for 48 hours or so, so the teeth have a chance to shift a bit".  I nodded and hurried out of the office.  It wasn't until a few hours later that it dawned on me -- if I leave them in for 48 hours, how the heck am I supposed to eat??

When dinnertime rolled around, I'd only had the braces in for about 3 hours, and I was definitely not ready to try to take them out.  I made dinner for the family, and then broke my first rule -- I ate with the braces in!  Well, not really "ate" -- I took a piece of bread, ripped it into small pieces, and washed them down with water!  I HAD to have something in my stomach.

When it was time for bed, I just brushed around the trays a bit and decided I'd worry about all of it in the morning.  I took a good dose of Motrin to help ease the ache of the teeth moving and headed off to sleep.

In the morning -- getting them out?? Uh-uh.... not happening.  Like I said, these suckers are really, REALLY tight.  I pulled, twisted, prodded, and could NOT get them out.  The solution was to make a smoothie and call that breakfast -- so I didn't really "eat" with them in, but I was definitely getting stuff stuck in them!

I had a full day's worth of client visits to do, followed up by the end of year Promotion Night picnic and promotion night with Cedar Brook Academy.  It was a lot of fun until it was time to figure out how to eat -- again -- sigh.......  So off to the ladies' room I went, determined that this time, those trays were coming out.  And after about 10 minutes of struggle, I managed to remove....... ONE.  Sigh again........  At this point, hunger overrode any concern -- hey, I had the bottom teeth free anyway, right??  So I carefully managed to eat a hot dog, some potato salad, and part of a soft cookie -- enough to keep the very hungry tummy from growling during the program!

After getting home from the program, it was definitely time to do something about this.  In front of the mirror, I again tugged and pulled from every possible angle, and miracle of miracles, finally managed to get both of them out!!  Yay!!  Now I could finally give my teeth (and the molds) a good cleaning.  Getting the braces back in was another huge ordeal, but a task that was finally accomplished, though not without a lot more struggle.

Today, I've managed to get both trays out for breakfast and lunch, and it's getting SOMEWHAT easier -- enough that I am feeling somewhat hopefully that the trend will continue.  Of course, in two weeks, I graduate to the next set of trays, which will probably be tight again, but I'm cautiously optimistic that by that point, I'll have figured out some tricks of the trade to make this whole process easier.

To aid in that, I Google'd "removing Invisalign braces" and came up with an entire blog devoted to this.  It's informational and at times, pretty darn funny -- it's entitled "My Invisalign Blog --The Creation Of My Hollywood Smile ".  One of the best posts I've found thus far was this: Top Ten Tips For Removing Invisalign Braces -- very helpful, informative, and gave me hope that I too would get over this difficult part!
In the meantime, my teeth have probably never had such meticulous hygiene, the braces have the unexpected benefit of protecting my teeth from some of their cold sensitivity, making it easier to drink ice water, and then only downside (besides getting the trays out!) is that one of the "buttons" or "attachments" is rubbing a raw spot on the inside of my upper lip.  I suspect this will improve with time as the skin toughens or the tooth moves into its proper location.

In the meantime, take a close look at these two pictures......  

Pretty amazing how invisible those braces really are, isn't it?  (braces on in the bottom shot).  At least I don't walk around feeling like the world is staring at my teeth!!

I'll probably post from time to time as I start to see my "Hollywood Smile" improve, too!