Kendra's Cooking Challenge!

This is probably no surprise to most of you reading this, but I HATE to cook.  All the cooking in our household is done by Dan.  Thank goodness he likes to do it or we would probably be living off of cereal and rice/noodle packets.  There is no doubt how blessed I am to have a husband who does this for me on a daily basis!  However, since Dan has started working 2nd shift it is become painfully obviously just how awful of a cook I am and how little I even know about this past time.  I am now doing what Dan has prevented for so long... I'm living off of cereal and rice/noodle packets!!!  Sad I know and probably not the healthiest either!  This has got me to thinking...

I really need to learn how to cook and cook well!  I mean one day we will have kiddos and I want to be able to make nice meals for them as well as my husband.  I think it is time I finally learn.  I have tried in the past, but Dan was also home when I did and of course helped me out with a lot of things.  This time when I do it... HE WON'T BE HOME!  This is scary for me, but absolutely necessary because I will actually have to do things on my own and I won't have Dan there to catch all the mistakes I make!  EKKK!

So I have decided that at the beginning of April through the end of August (summer months when my work schedule isn't so crazy) that I will be participating in "Kendra's Cooking Challenge"  During this challenge I will attempt to cook one thing per week.  This could be anything from a whole meal, to dessert, or even a breakfast.  Anything is up for grabs!  There will be 22 weeks in this challenge, which will mean 22 things I will "try" to cook!  It should be very interesting to see the outcome :)

It could be a disaster....

The Law Enforcement Stress Factor

I found the following article interesting and a predictor of what many of our LEO (law enforcement officers) go through because of their occupations.  Either as a friend or family member lets all be aware of what they face on a daily basis.


PLAINFIELD — Retired Plainfield Police Capt. Mark Edwards was "shocked, but not surprised" when he heard on the radio Monday morning that a veteran Piscataway police officer had been killed after exchanging gunfire with police during a nine-hour standoff at his home.

Edwards was on his way to the funeral of 52-year-old Plainfield Police Lt. Ronald S. Lattimore, who fatally shot himself last week, when the news about 46-year-old Piscataway Sgt. David Powell hit the airwaves. Little sense could be made of either incident Monday, but Edwards said both underscored the notion that the mental health of police, fire and emergency workers is something that demands close and constant scrutiny.

"It's not uncommon for there to be a domino effect (with incidents like these)," Edwards said. "This is stressful work."

Edwards, who served as a stress counselor to Plainfield officers during much of his nearly 27-year career in law enforcement, today remains an active counselor and board member of the New Jersey Critical Incident Stress Management Team, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that offers support to emergency service personnel and their family members during and following periods of personal or professional crisis.

Those workers are twice as likely as the average person to get divorced, three times more likely to suffer from alcoholism and between three and seven times as likely to commit suicide, Edwards explained, citing national statistics. Edwards's organization focuses closely on "critical incidents" that can include the on-duty use of a service weapon, a traumatic injury or even an investigation into a child's death. Edwards said he experienced a "critical incident" of his own early in his law-enforcement career, when he responded to a robbery in progress at a local McDonald's.

"There was a point where we were gun barrel to gun barrel," Edwards said of his experience with a suspect, noting that he ultimately was able to convince him to surrender his weapon before anyone was hurt. "There are a lot of things something like that does to your head."

Plainfield Police Sgt. Larry Brown, a 25-year veteran with the force, added that stress can stem from a single ugly incident or build up slowly over time.

"Seeing the dead bodies, the kids being shot, it's rough," Brown explained. "You deal with it, but one day all of that comes down on you at some point."

It's part of what Edwards calls "general police stress," something city Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig said Monday can be "overwhelming." The job often consists of long periods of relative monotony followed by short bursts of extreme stress, Edwards explained.

"It's the shifts. It's time away from the family when other families would normally have that time together," Edwards said. "Plus your diet is crap. We tend to not take care of ourselves as well either."

The concept of safeguarding the mental health of emergency workers remained a fringe topic until only relatively recently, Edwards added.

"The old concept from old-timers was to "bite your lip, be a man, man up,' " Edwards explained.

Police suicide, specifically, is a phenomenon that only recently has been examined closely on a national level — the National Surveillance of Police Suicide Study was the first report of its kind to study actual suicides on a daily basis across all 50 states for an entire year.

The study found that a little more than 140 U.S. police officers killed themselves in 2008, a figure that rose slightly in 2009. Both years, New Jersey ranked among the top three states in the nation in police suicides.

However, New Jersey also is a national leader when it comes to actively working to prevent police suicide. Aside from the efforts of nonprofit groups, the state's Cop 2 Cop initiative, the first program of its kind in the nation, was legislated into law in 1998 to focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers. The program, which falls under the umbrella of the New Jersey Department of Human Services' Division of Mental Health, provides crisis intervention services, including a 24-hour hot line for officers (1-866-COP2COP).

Edwards spoke highly of the Cop 2 Cop program, but added that it's critical that leaders of police departments everywhere make their officers aware of the availability of help in facing mental health issues. Hellwig said he is committed to doing just that, noting that counseling was made available to the entire division in the wake of Lattimore's death.

"Sometimes, we feel we're invincible," Edwards said. "Like it will never happen to us."

This makes me thankful for the counseling sessions Dan's department offers to the family for free!  I feel like they are doing their part in taking care of their officers and their loved ones.

Needing a new hobby...

Okay... as I have mentioned before... these 2nd shift work hours of Dan's are slowly killing me of LONELINESS!  I think I'm in need of a new hobby...

Of course, I still have hobbies that I currently enjoy... but the loneliness seems to overtake even them!

Hobbies I love:

1) Reading... there is nothing like passing the time with a good book!

2) Running... in the summer time I become obsessed with this pass time, but right now in the cold, not so much!

3) Cross stitching... I love doing this, but often start a project and never finish it (Andrew's Blanket)

4) DIY projects... for a while I was really into working on little do it yourself projects such as painting flower pots.  I still have 3 of those I need to do before May hits!

5) Gardening... I know I'm not a green thumb!  But I like to try!  This summer I plan on starting all of my flowers from seeds!

Okay, okay, okay... I guess I don't need a new hobby, maybe I just need to reconnect with my old ones :) I'm thinking that once summer comes it will be much easier to keep myself entertained... don't you!

Wanting a Police Scanner...

Some of the blogs that I enjoy following are what I like to call "Cop Wife Blogs"... they are mainly the blogs of cop wives in different areas around the country.  Very interesting to read about their worlds. One of the topics of discussion on their blogs was police scanners.  Well, after reading about them I want one!

First of all... it isn't just because I want to hear what Dan is doing at work... even though that is a plus... I'm just interested in police work in general.  I mean, I did get a degree in Criminal Justice and probably would have went into that kind of work had I not married a cop.  I just want to know what is going on in general around Lawrence for informational as well as entertainment purposes :) There's nothing wrong with that right?

However, my husband, really does not want me to get one.  Dan says that it will only make me worry more.  Often times they will get a call that sounds a lot worse than what it ends up being.  So, I could think he is going into a life or death matter when really it ends up being nothing.  He also said that there can be long periods of silence between each dispatch so I might be waiting for long periods of time wondering what happened and if he is all right. Plus, since he will be on thirds then I wouldn't be able to listen during his work time anyways.

I'm not backing down though... there are big advantages of having one around the house!!!  They are good to have around if a major disaster hit.  They can inform me of weather alerts such as tornados, blizzards, storms, floods, or earthquakes.  Also, I could find out about highway problems or power outages.  It seems to me that a police scanner would be extremely beneficial during times that I need important information fast, don't you think?

Now... I know that some of you out there read this blog religiously... please leave me a comment and tell me your vote!  Yes, Dan should get me one... or No, Dan should not!  My fate is in your hands!!!!

Mileage Monday!

Running stats for the week of March 14th - 20th...It really is sad how lazy and out of shape I have become during the winter.  I'm finding it a HUGE challenge to get back into any kind of running routine.  However, since the weather has finally started to get a bit nicer and the days a bit longer I feel hopeful that I will soon stop feeling like a beached whale...

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 - 2 miles @ a 10:00 minute per mile pace

Sunday, March 20th, 2011 - 1.73 miles @ a 10:00 minutes per mile pace

Spring Break in P-town!

One of the perks of working at a University is that you often get some of the fun vacations off that the students do!  Spring Break is one of those for us!  We didn't get the whole week off like they did, but we did get 2 days off!  What can I say... I can't complain!

Since Dan is working so much lately Remington and I decided to take a short trip to P-town that way we didn't get so lonely during the times that Dan is not home!  Even though it makes things easier on us... it makes things harder on Dan!  An empty house for 4 whole days will be torture for him.  With Remington there it would be bearable... but without... TORTURE!

Remington and I packed up in the afternoon on Wednesday and started on our 2 hour trip!  We ended up stopping at Ashcraft Jewelers on the way through because I noticed that one of the small diamonds in my ring had fallen out!  AHHHH!  Luckily, they fixed it at no charge!

We stayed in P-town for four whole days, but can you believe that I didn't take one picture!!! I know, I'm disappointed in myself.  The weather was great and Remington and I got to take many walks together and spend lots of time with Mom and Dad.  I got to have dinner with my best guy friend Curt and see Kristin, Lindsey and Baby Andrew!  Usually I would get to see my Grandma F., but she had the flu really bad.  I think the whole family was quite concerned about her.  We finally talked her into going to the doctor! I think she is finally on the up swing!

We headed home in the morning on Sunday so we could see Dan before he left for work and take care of some things around the house.  Dan is getting a cold... blah!  He is very congested and not feeling great.  I cleaned up the house a little bit and tackled the mountain of laundry that Dan had not yet gotten to.  Tomorrow I head back to work......... I would rather bang my head against the wall.

Life as a cop wife...

I must say that life has not been easy this week. It has been somewhat emotional for me. I knew Dan being on second shift would be hard, but you just don't realize what life will be like until it happens.  I'm grateful that I had to work late a few nights this week to keep my mind off being lonely.  Being able to see your husband only when he is sleeping is not all that fun.  When I have been home, things have been interesting that's for sure.  I have been greeted with 2-3 piles of puke almost every evening in Remington's crate.  Yeah... disgusting.  I think he is suffering from a bit of separation anxiety. Also, taking care of an 82 lb dog who is adjusting to his Dad being gone is not the most fun thing in the world.  Remington has managed to push my buttons all week long!  He has enjoyed running around the house like a maniac, barking and jumping at the neighbors like they are going to rob our house, and pretty much not listening to a gosh darn thing I ask him to do.  It has been lovely.  It might not sound like that big of a deal to most, but when your dog is almost as big as you, it can become a real problem. Since Dan is the disciplinary in the house I know that Remington is just testing me to see what he can and cannot get away with.  By the end of my evenings Remington has worn himself out from being so bad :)

"With Dad gone I get one whole side of the bed to myself!!!"   

Sleep has also been an issue since Dan is getting home around midnight most nights.  When Remington hears the garage door go up it is almost impossible to get him to settle down for at least a hour.  So I don't get back to sleep for probably the next two hours :(  By the end of this first week, I'm wearing down....  I'm just grateful that once FTO Training is over with Dan will go back to thirds :)

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

I have been looking forward to Daylight Savings Time all year long!  Seriously, I probably look forward to this day more than holidays!  I LOVE IT!  I know that we lose an hour, but who cares!!!!  We gain a ton of daylight hours!!!!!!

I love the fact that I can come home and walk the dog any time between 5 and 10 o'clock at night and it will still be light out.  I can go running anytime I please and not have to worry about the temperatures getting to cold.  I can work on my flowers outside for long periods of time and not worry about not being able to see!!!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!  But most of all... Daylight Savings means that spring time is almost here!!!!!  I don't know about you, but I'm sick of my back yard being a gigantic mud puddle!  Bring on the sunshine and warm weather!

Enjoy springing forward everyone!!

Unlikely Friends...

The crow and the kitten... so touching!

Sad but Beautiful...

Post stolen from "Suddenly a Cop Wife"... just had to share!

This morning, amidst the ongoing struggles in Libya, Japan, and Wisconsin, I came across a sad but beautiful story, about a soldier and his dog. I felt the need to share, as I love dogs with a love that cannot be explained, and I feel an immense respect for the dogs that help our soldiers and police.

I'm copying a little of this right from the AP:

LONDON – Liam and Theo were a team, fast friends doing a dangerous job -- searching out roadside bombs laid by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The jovial British soldier and his irrepressible dog worked and played together for months, and died on the same day. On Thursday they came home, flown back to Britain in a somber repatriation ceremony for the soldier remembered for his empathy with animals and the companion he loved.

Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province on March 1 as he searched for explosives with Theo, a bomb-sniffing springer spaniel mix. The dog suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base, likely brought about by stress.

Military officials won't go so far as to say Theo died of a broken heart -- but that may not be far from the truth.

"I think we often underestimate the grieving process in dogs," said Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinarian with animal charity PDSA. "Some dogs react very severely to their partner's loss."

She said it was not uncommon for pets to respond to an owner's death by refusing food and becoming sick -- and the bond between working dogs and their handlers is especially close.

"The bonding that I have seen between soldiers or police and their dogs is fantastic. When you see them working together, it's really one unit."

A military Hercules plane carrying Tasker's body and Theo's ashes touched down Thursday at a Royal Air Force base in southwest England. As the funeral cortege of black vehicles drove slowly away, it was saluted by a long line of military dog handlers, their dogs at their sides. A black Labrador retriever sat quietly beside its handler as the hearse carrying the flag-draped coffin disappeared from view.

At the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, where people line the streets in a mark of respect each time a dead solder is repatriated, dozens stood silently -- some with dogs at their feet -- as Tasker's friends and family laid roses atop the hearse.


Read more:

Stay at Home Dog Mom?

Is there such a thing?  Well, if I could have it my way this is what I would be!  Wouldn't it be fun to not have to get up in the morning and instead just cuddle in bed with your sweet dog.  Then whenever you did decide to get out of bed you could spend the mornings/afternoons watching Animal Planet with your furry friend.  You could go on long walks together at the park or play Frisbee in an open field all day long.  You could even enjoy long naps together!

This week has been very hard on Remington with Dan's change in schedule.  It is weeks like this that I wish this occupation existed so life could be a little easier for my baby.

I hope that Remington is able to adjust to our new schedule after a few weeks.

Mileage Monday!

Hey All,

With all the excitment that has been going on this week with Dan and his new job, I'm sad to say that even though I did run, I forgot to keep track of it!  AHHHHH!  I know the Rhoton Family Blog has recently become the Dan Blog, but hopefully once everything settles back down a bit things will get back to normal :)

Happy Monday!

Taser Recertification!

Things have been crazy this week with Dan and work.  He has been busy doing administrative duty's for the past few days until they can get him on his FTO's schedule.  He starts Monday shadowing his FTO trainer.  I think he is really looking forward to that.  He also had a full day of qualifying with his duty weapon and off duty back up weapon.  He was pleased with how he did shooting.  He got his radio reprogrammed so when he keys up on the radio all the officers will know who is speaking.  He even received a new pager and got all his computer stuff worked out with his unit number.  At home he has been spending a lot of time trying to get things organized in his take home car.  On Friday he had his taser recertification.  They basically went over all the departments policies pertaining to the taser.  Then he had to practice shooting the taser at a target. Even though it seems like little things it has added up to a super busy first week.

I think what I'm going to start doing is a post a week about Dan's work adventures.  Then everyone can stay updated on what is going on in his world.

Dan's New Toy

Well, Dan came home with a new toy today... or should I say a few new toys!!!

There she is... Dan's new girlfriend :)  A beauty isn't she??? A 2006 Crown Victoria with 115,000 miles on it.  Not new, but pretty nice that's for sure.

Here's all the switches that make the lights and sirens go...

And BOOM... a brand spankin' new computer!!!  NICE!!!

It's not surprising that I won't see Dan for a few nights as he plays with all his new toys :)  What a rough life he leads!

Dan's Swearing In Ceremony

Today was Dan's Swearing In Ceremony and I can honestly say that I have never been more proud of him.  To know how hard he has worked to get this position and how long it took makes it even more worth while.

We left for the department at 11:45 a.m.  I think I was more nervous about the day than Dan.  I actually feel like I'm starting a new job!  Must be sympathy job pains.  Once there, Dan and the whole family met with the Chief of Police.  He was very nice and seemed easy going.  After that we were directed over to Craig Middle School where the swearing in would take place...

Dan had kind of a special Ceremony.  The Lawrence Police Department were taking their first group picture in 8 years, so ALL the officers were there for the ceremony.  WOWZERS! It was neat driving up to a parking lot FULL of cops cars and officers.  The Ceremony began at 2:00 p.m. and it was very special for me to be there for this important moment in his life. Below are some pictures from the day :)

Dan begin sworn in by the Lawrence County Clerk (the Mayor was on vacation)

Shaking the Chief's hand :)

I got the honor of pinning on Dan's badge... here's the start of me trying to pin it on...

Still working on it... (Captain Vaughn telling me he'll help me if I need it)

Still working on it...

Finally finished!!!  Just so you know it wasn't my fault... Dan had not cut the appropriate holes for the pin to go through so I was pushing it through a THICK layer of material.  The whole gymnasium thought it was quite funny... more like EMBARRASSING!

After the ceremony we took some family photos :)

 Dan's family... so happy for him!!!

The Rhoton side of the family :)

The Fowler side of the family!

 So proud of him :)

Before we left they were bringing in their canine unit for pictures!!!  Of course you know I had to get a pic of that!

Here's the dogs with their human partners :)

Dan starts work tomorrow.  Right now he will be on administrative duty for the next few days.  On Monday he will start training with his FTO!  I can't tell you how excited he is :)  The only bad thing is yes, he will be starting off on 2nds.  This will take some getting use to for Remington and I.  However, we are so happy for Dan not much could rain our parade!!!  CONGRATS OFFICER RHOTON!  We love you!!!