Friday, December 16, 2011

Random Thoughts

As I sit here watching "Harold and the Purple Crayon" with Bubba I keep thinking of different things I want to write about. Not anything big or special, just lots of random thoughts floating around in my head.

Have you heard of Harold? I thought everyone had, but it seems as if not everyone has. It's a great concept and one I have remembered since I was younger. When Harold can't sleep at night, he uses his purple crayon to create adventures. Whatever he draws becomes "real." It's very simple, simple story lines, simple characters, etc. None of the fast paced, over-stimulating stuff of current kids shows. Bubba loves it. I do too.

I still have a ton to do before we're ready for Christmas. I keep thinking I'm ahead of the power curve but it turns out that I'm not. I think I was at one point - I had most of the presents taken care of a while ago. It's the wrapping and sending that's taking longer than I planned. I mailed several boxes earlier this week but have at least three left. Then I still need to wrap all of our own presents. My parents are coming to spend Christmas with us and will be here Friday so I need to finish soon. We also still need to plan our menus. My wonderful husband is feeling very Italian lately and wants to do the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. We've thought of about four or five fish dishes but I'd like to talk it over with my step-mom since she's the big cook.

I've kind of been out of control lately with buying books and Project Life materials. I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to go on a book diet in 2012 and I think that made me react like I always do to any diets - I want more of what I can't have. So, I guess you could say, I'm stocking up. My plan is for at least the first quarter of 2012 to refrain from buying any new books (including Kindle or Nook books). We have so many books, we even have some in storage! I need to read what we've got so I can pass them on and not move with them again. We'll see how it goes - I'm kind of a book addict. There are worse things I guess...

Bubba is ready for nap time so rambling is done for now...thanks for listening.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WW - Old Family Pictures

My Great-Grandma and one of her uncles...
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas at the White House

I am lucky enough to have visited the White House three times so far. The first time was with my grandfather, just weeks before I entered Basic Training. The second was about 5-6 years ago while I was an Intern at the Pentagon. The third time was last week!

I was able to get an invitation to the White House Press Event on 30 Nov 11 from the National Military Family Association. I was a little nervous because I wasn't really sure where to go or what to do. My wonderful husband took me to brunch at the Old Ebbett Grill and then walked me to the White House. He even waited with me for a bit until I got up the nerve to attach myself to a few other people who were waiting to go in.

Once inside, we were allowed to walk around on our own and really take our time looking at the decorations and other exhibits. I think because it was the press event, we were even allowed to take pictures.

Washington's Plate
We got to see several rooms that aren't usually open to the public (as far as I know). The Vermeil Room had six or seven official portraits of former First Ladies, including a very haunting portrait of Jackie Kennedy. Secretary Clinton's portrait was out in the hall. I don't think I saw Laura Bush's portrait - wonder where it is or if I just missed it...The China Room had a beautiful table set with china from the Bush presidency. It also had pieces from each previous china set on display including some pieces from George Washington's presidency.
Theme for this year

I could have spent a lot more time in the library looking at the books. They had some old White House Christmas cards on display including a really cool one with the 8th Air Force insignia on it. They were replicas, but still neat to see. Speaking of old White House cards, in one of the hallways, they had all of the previous cards on display. It's interesting that for Eisenhower all of his cards were very simple - just the Presidential Seal.
Official White House Tree

The official Christmas tree (one of 37 trees!) in the Blue Room was huge. I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing. It was decorated with pictures from military children around the world as well as ornaments made out of the material used for military medals. Interesting idea, at the same time I felt as if it were somehow trivializing what those medals stand for to use them as decorative material. One neat detail was that the tree skirt had buttons from military dress uniforms.
400 pound White House Gingerbread

There were so many cool things, such as the traditional White House gingerbread house (400 lbs!), the many different "Bo" decorations including a large one made with felt, one out of buttons and another one made from marshmallows and licorice, and one somewhat dark and scary nativity scene.

First Lady Michelle Obama
The highlight was seeing/hearing First Lady Michelle Obama speak in person. What an amazing surprise. Although the bigger surprise may have been that I liked her speech. The only thing I didn't like was that she said something along the lines of not wanting anyone to ever have to ask again what a Gold Star family is but then never actually told people what it was. (In case you are wondering, Gold Star families have lost a family member in the service. Blue Star families have a family member in the service.) Mrs. Obama mentioned that we were the first group to go through the White House of the over 85,000 visitors expected this season - neat to be part of that. Overall, it was pretty cool to see how a "press conference" happens. 

The large felt Bo
I met another Association volunteer and had a nice time walking around with her and talking with her. It's so much nicer to share an event with someone instead of walking around by yourself. We also met a Gold Star wife and walked around with her a bit. She was nice enough to share some of her pictures since she had brought an actual camera and not just her phone.

There are quite a few articles and probably much better pictures on the Internet if you want to read/see more.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Things I Love A to Z

There's a new book out all about things this guy hates...he is such a grouch he wondered if he had something he disliked for every letter. Sad thing is, it will probably be a best-seller. When I saw the book, I wondered if I could list something I love for every letter. (We recently went to someone's house and they had a really cool A to Z wall art thing - I wish I had taken a picture. If you're reading this, can you send me a picture!?) So here's my attempt at things I love A to Z:

A - aquariums, airplanes and art (both the making of art and the seeing of art)
B - balloons, babies (human and others) and bowling
C - crafts and cats (have you seen that YouTube video about the girl who loves cats? The song is even funnier...)
D - dogs (and warm cinnamon/sugar donuts like the ones my sister-in-law made us the other day...YUM)
E - elephants and Easter eggs
F - family (especially Bubba and my husband!) and french fries...the crispier the better, but not burnt.
G - giggles (especially the deep belly laugh kind of giggles that Bubba does) and games
H - hydrangeas and helping people
I - Ireland (I also thought of adding igloo just as a away to say that I love homes - not just my own but you know how sometimes when you go into someone's house and you know right away that it's more than just a house, it's a home? I love that!)
J - jokes (especially kid jokes...favorite: What kind of insect do you find on the moon? *See answer at bottom)
K - kites (and pretty much anything that flies - regardless if it's alive or man-made)
L - the library (I can't wait to visit the Library of Congress!! and one of my favorite cheesy movies is "The Librarian"...is it just me or is Warehouse 13 pretty much the same thing? Either way, love them both) 
M - museums and movies
N - new things (even if they are only "new" to me - hand-me-downs & heirlooms rock!)
O - the ocean! 
P - pictures (Photo albums), pools and pretty things
Q - Queens and the monarchy...especially European - although the Queen Noor biography is still one of my favorites
R - reading and reenactment (Renaissance fairs, places like Williamsburg, etc)
S - singing, swings and science
T - travel, TV and telling people I love them 
U - underwater...though I've never gone scuba diving or even snorkeling
V - values (also, feeling as if you and others are of value to the world...)
W - writing and water (being on it, in it, around it, near it....)
X - XOXOXOX (does that count? I do really love hugs and kisses but also couldn't think of anything other than X-rays and xylophones...both of which are cool in their own way, I'm just not sure I love them...)
Y - yellow (it's actually not my favorite color but it's so cheerful and as an accent with blue is completely refreshing to me)
Z - the Zoo

This turned out kind of random (or is it rambling?) but fun. Most of these popped right into my head and are things I enjoyed as a kid too. Somehow along the way of growing up I forgot about a lot of these. I'm  blessed to have the opportunity to relearn them.

* Answer to my favorite joke ever: Lunar Ticks!!
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Rubber Ducks


This past week we went to NJ to visit family. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Bubba really enjoyed playing with his cousins. I'm always amazed at how some young adults are so good with toddlers. Luckily, Bubba's cousins fall into that boat - they were great with him. 

Speaking of boats and falling...While we were in beautiful Mt Tabor, NJ (if we had the money for a second home, this place would be on the list) I happened to be flipping through my nephew's Earth Science textbook. Yes, I know that makes me a supergeek (maybe I should get a cool shirt made to look like Superman but with an S and a G for SuperGeek!?). There was this neat write up about 29,000 rubber ducks (and green frogs and some other stuff) that fell off a container ship in 1992 and how the ducks' voyages have helped scientists learn more about ocean currents. What a cool way to learn about oceans, continents and the earth as a whole.

Of course one of the first things I did when I got the chance was to Google it. Turns out there's a website dedicated to those little ducks (actually rubber ducks in general but close enough). Eric Carle (from The Hungry Caterpillar fame) even wrote a book about it. How cool is that? I thought it was this obscure write up in a text book and there is so much more to it. There is a good article about it from 2007 which you can read here.
http://www.lindasog.com/archives/2007/07/voyage_of_the_rubber_duckie.html
I could have spent hours flipping through my nephew's textbooks (the Earth Science one as well as a Literature textbook). When I was his age, I probably felt a bit as he does about homework. Who likes to read when it's an assignment? But reading just for the pure enjoyment of it? Just because it interests you and you are learning something new...that's the best!
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not the only turkey we had, but it was a good start!
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WW - Weird Fruit?

Anyone know what kind of fruit this is (if it is a fruit)? Mango?
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Rosemary Cornbread

We are having Thanksgiving with family again this year. And once again, we don't have to cook! We did volunteer to bring a few things though so hopefully that will help alleviate some of the guilt at not doing much of the cooking.

Imagine two eggs in front... 
One of my favorite things this time of year is Rosemary Cornbread. I found the recipe 7-8 years ago and have made it almost as many times. Every time, I wonder why I wait until the holidays to make it. It's so easy and tastes great!

All you need is 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Bread mix, 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 8oz plain yogurt, 1-2 7.5 oz cans whole kernel corn (I only use one because I think it's "too corny" with 2 cans) and 1 Tbsp rosemary. Mix it all together, pour it into a greased (spray) 9x13 pan and bake 20-25 minutes.

It's a nice change from plain cornbread and goes great with turkey and gravy. If you get a chance to make it, let me know what you think.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Military Memories 2

My father was in the Army and served in Vietnam. Even in high school I would read books about Vietnam and biographies from platoon leaders during that conflict. Finally, after my first deployment, I felt as if I could understand some little scrap of what he went through. It was something, but not enough...

Southeast and Southwest

Similar -
but vastly different
You went your way;
I went mine

Southeast Asia -
No choices;
no support

Three tours -
such a long time
Making changes;
some you saw then and some now

Southwest Asia -
I asked to go;
support is waning

Sixty days -
not long enough
Making changes;
using what I've learned
to prepare for the next time.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WW - Beach Sunset


(Hope to have more beach photos after our trip to Florida...)
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Rapunzel Hair Clip Holder


One of the more fun things I have made recently was a pair of Rapunzel hair clip organizers for my two nieces. They love the Disney movie "Tangled" and have a ton of hair clips and ribbons, so I thought they might enjoy these organizers.

They were very easy to make (see the directions here). When you read the directions and see "3 yards" of yarn - make sure you use the correct length. 3 yards comes out to around 9 feet which seems like an awful lot of yarn. However, as you can see from the picture, the first one I made ended up quite short since I thought 9 feet of yarn must be an error. The second one turned out much better after using the appropriate amount of yarn. After all, if it's going to represent Rapunzel it has to be long, long, long.

The best part was giving them to my nieces. Instead of using them for hair clips they used them as pretend wigs! They put them on their heads and kept them there with head bands around their chins and danced around as if they were Rapunzel. Very cute and very satisfying.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Military Memories

Veteran's Day is tomorrow...

I have so many memories, good and bad, of my time in the Air Force. Below is one of the ways I set some of those memories to paper...

Coming Home

Dog tags chanting in the wind -
M-60s pointing at the wire

Tents placed in rows -
uniforms and civies hung side by side

Favorite shows watched again and again -
painting a picture of endless possibilities

M*A*S*H and China Beach -
someone else's ideas; a dream made real

Doing something important -
something to be proud of

Set apart from others -
by location and sense of duty

A wish to serve -
to go where others won't

Sunsets over sand dunes -
foreign tongues and customs

The sense of deja vu -
finally coming home...
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Appreciating Veterans

Lately, there have been a lot of articles written about how to "Thank a vet" on Veteran's Day. I even read an article that implied thanking a veteran for their service was a bad thing. The article turned out not to be as bad as I expected but I think part of it was poor choice of words for the title. (You can read the article here. Interestingly, the title has been changed from "When 'Thank you for your service' falls flat" to "For Veterans, is 'thank you for your service' enough? Big difference).

I never really knew what to say when people thanked me for my service. I felt I was just doing my job - and maybe not even doing enough when I was stateside instead of "in the AOR" or the front lines. I think of all the answers I've heard to being thanked my two favorites are a simple "Thank you for your support" and "It's my privilege to serve."
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There are numerous organizations out there where veterans can find support. There are actually so many it's sometimes hard to figure out where to go or who to turn to. It's also hard to figure out which are for real and which may be scams. I had hoped that the Joining Forces initiative would help address some of these issues (see previous post here). However, Joining Forces doesn't seem to be focusing on what is already available and is instead focused on creating job opportunities for veterans and getting big names from Hollywood to make their commercials. If part of their mandate is to "give service members and their families the support they've earned" wouldn't it make sense to create some kind of clearing house kind of thing where people can go and see what all is available for them? 

The only place I've seen anything like that is at Operation Homefront Missouri, where they try to help people figure out which organization or service best fits their needs. Unfortunately, it is more of a local level thing. I had hoped "Joining Forces" would do the same thing on a national level. Maybe they have a plan for it? Might have been good to start with that in my opinion...
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One of my recent pet peeves is how a lot of the new veteran organizations (sometimes even the old ones) specify that they are here specifically for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Now, I know there are a lot of them. I also know they they have a lot of issues including a high unemployment rate and high rate of homelessness. However, I am not a vet of either Iraq or Afghanistan. But I did deploy for SOUTHERN WATCH and ALLIED FORCE. Does my service not count because no one remembers those missions? That's sure what it seems like...

I may not need the same help that some of the men and women returning from Iraq or Afghanistan do, but telling me (and thousands of others) that we don't qualify for aid because we served in a different part of the world or at a different time doesn't seem quite right either. Is it wrong of me to think that way? I'm not saying there shouldn't be something just for them, just as we have organizations for Vietnam Vets and Korean War Vets. But, why does it seem as if so many of the new organizations established to help and/or support veterans specifically say "for Iraq and/or Afghanistan" vets? Where is the support for the "I served but didn't deploy for any of the high-visibility stuff" veterans?
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Well, I don't want to get any deeper into my pet peeve for fear that I'll start sounding like an ignorant dufus...I love my country; I love that I served and wish I could have done more; I love that people out there support the troops and our veterans..that's all that really matters in the end.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Something Diferent

I don't talk about my faith very much. Probably because I don't feel I have the right (lest people throw stones) nor do I want to make others uncomfortable with their own choices. However, since Theme Thursday is all about opening myself up (and perhaps thickening my skin) I offer you something different today.

A Song For the Father

I sing for Your mercy -
I sing for Your glory -
I sing for Your power, my God.

Lord, I sing a song of praise for You,
a song of praise You long to hear -
rushing from my lips to Your waiting ears.

Lord, You are my God, the one and only Rock.
I bask in Your love and forgiveness -
knowing that You, my Father, are here.

Lord, I sing a song of praise for You.
Praise for Your wisdom, truth and hope -
Father, I want to come home.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I saw a post the other day about homemade broccoli cheddar soup (you can read original post here). Once I saw it, I couldn't get it out of my mind. Luckily, my husband is willing to put up with my little obsessions and gamely agreed I could make it for dinner.

While at the grocery store I saw a box of organic cream of broccoli. For a few seconds I thought about just buying it and adding cheddar to make it cheesy. Maybe I should have but I enjoyed making the soup from scratch and overall thought it went well and tasted good.

I couldn't find any small bread "rounds" so had to get a big one. Way too big. We ended up sharing the bread but it was still way too much. The broccoli probably should have been steamed a bit longer since it ended up still being quite crunchy (even after it was pureed and heated in the soup). My husband told me to stop analyzing and just enjoy - eventually I did and must say that warm, creamy soup in a bread bowl on a cold day was really nice.



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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Masks

The idea of wearing a mask seems to be very similar to the idea of wearing different hats. We all wear different hats at different times, depending on where we are, what we are doing or what is expected...are masks so very different?

The Mask

Unhappy and unfulfilled -
living a life for show

worried about appearance -
fear of falling short

wondering what others think -
trying to measure up

losing the will -
then pushing on

not letting go -
stubborn pride

afraid of being a failure -
recognition masking truth.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goldfish Costume

I saw this costume idea last year...after I'd already bought a personalized astronaut costume for Bubba. I've been thinking about it for a year, gathering supplies and thinking of how cute Bubba would look in it. I figured this might be the last Halloween where I get to pick what his costume is...
You'd be amazed how hard it is to find an orange sweatshirt. Especially if you don't want a Florida Gator on it. The orange hat wasn't much easier. The costume actually called for an orange hoody - even harder to find than a plain sweatshirt. Plus, I figured Bubba was more likely to wear a hat than the hoody so it worked out OK.

The hardest part was finding the right glue for paper onto fabric. One of the issues was that I didn't want to ruin the sweatshirt - I would prefer it if we could still use it after Halloween. Amazingly enough, I ended up using Elmer's Glue. Supposedly it will come off in the wash. We'll see...

Bubba wore the costume Friday night for Boo at the Zoo. My parents came down to go with us and we met up with my cousin and her family there. It was fun but I would have liked to have seen more animals...Quite a few people commented on the cute goldfish which made me feel better about all the effort I put into it. Though to be honest, once I had gathered all the supplies, making it was actually the easy part.

Have you ever made a Halloween costume for your kids or yourself? How'd it turn out?


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Picking

On Monday, we took a road trip to visit a friend who was passing through the area. We had some time before she arrived to go apple picking at an orchard. Bubba had a good time - the first one he picked went right into his mouth

The few times I went apple picking last year, it was only Bubba and I. This time my husband was able to get the day off so he could go with us. I was happy that both my boys were there with me. We had such a beautiful day for it. Clear blue sky, slight breeze, beautiful area...all of it made for a great road trip and family outing. In case you missed them, there are two more pictures from the trip on my Wordless Wednesday post which you can find here.

One of my favorite things to make with apples is a really easy apple crisp. We have enough apples to make some other things too...do you have any recommendations for what I should try?
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seeing is Believing

This is a little more "personal" than some of the others...written in October 1997...

Seeing is Believing

I see what I want to see,

even when it's not there...

I see friendship,

then learn it's an acquaintance -

I see interest,

then learn it's only boredom -

I see truth,

then learn the darkness of deception -

I see joy,

then learn what it means to be shunned -

I see what I need to see,

evading loneliness and fear for one more day...
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

American Wife Books

I recently finished reading "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld. I wish I had finished reading Laura Bush's biography first but despite that, it was a good book and I enjoyed it.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about it was all the other books that were mentioned as the lead character's favorites. I have already added many of them to my Barnes & Noble wish list. Though there are so many books on both my bookshelves and the wish list, I'm not sure when I'll get to them...There are quite a few:

Deenie; Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry; The Golden Notebook; A Wrinkle in Time; The Golden Notebook; Anastasia Krupnik; Autumn Street; The Westing Game; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; Dicey's Song; A Solitary Blue; The Great Santini; Locked in Time; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes; Rabbit, Run

Have you read any of these? Any recommendations as to which I should read first?
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Addicted to Time

This was written over 12 years ago...unfortunately, it seems we are even more tied to the clock than we were back then...

Addicted to Time

Addicted to time - 
No one must wait

Live by the clock -
Be the first to the gate

Time won't stand still -
Pages are turned

Keep an eye on your watch -
This addiction you've earned

The promotion you worked for -
Brings more than you thought

Your life passes by -
As you watch the clock.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dinosaur Food

I have been a bit obsessed lately with the idea of Dinosaur Food a.k.a kale chips. I first heard about them in a Tweet from Soleil Moon Frye (@moonfrye). You can find the original post/recipe here.

 I think kale is such a pretty vegetable. It's bright green and the leaves are so pretty - curly and just fresh looking. Looking at it just makes me want to use it in something...hence the kale chips. I'm not sure how else to use it yet. I'm sure I'll find something good. In the mean time, crispy superfood - awesome!

Even ripped up into little pieces, kale still looks good...The recipe says to bake for 15-20 minutes. I'm not sure what kind of oven the poster was using but my first batch was way too well done after only 12 minutes. They turned out very bitter and burnt tasting. I don't think even dinosaurs would have eaten them...

The second batch has turned out a bit better. I took some pictures but none of them look very good. Trust me that the chips look pretty good. They still have a nice green color and aren't bitter like the first batch. I probably should have left them in the oven another minute or so but was too worried about burning them. They are very brittle/fragile and I can't imagine they'd last very long so I'm glad I only made a small batch this time. I'll have to wait and see if the husband and/or Bubba will like them or not. Read More......

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Rose

For this week's Theme Thursday...let me know what you think.

The Rose

A single rose -
wilted and bent

The vibrant life inside -
all but gone

Fighting to survive - 
questioning the need

Dried and wrinkled petals -
more delicate in their haunting beauty than ever before

Beauty brought about through pain -
the pain of loss with memories of joy

A single rose -
wilted and bent

Worth more for its age -
than a dozen in their youth.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yarn Wreath

Yarn Wreaths seem to be all over blogland these days. Looking at other people's posts on the subject, I've learned yarn wreaths have actually been around for a while - I just never saw them before now. They look so cool and the tutorials looked so easy, I thought I'd try to make one for fall. I've been in a craft desert lately keeping busy with moving in, dealing with headaches and trying to get organized. I really needed to do something quick and easy so I could see my finished product and feel as if I accomplished something. The yarn wreath looked as if it would fit the bill.

First, I should have realized that when Beth from "The Stories of A to Z" said wrap the yarn around the wreath "until the cows come home" (read her tutorial here) that it might take a while. Especially since I had to wrap the wreath twice to make sure you couldn't see the wreath form. It took me about 3 hours or so (late, late at night when both my boys were sleeping...). I'm just glad I got a small wreath. Not that I had much choice, Michael's only had one wreath form left. At first I thought it would be too small, but now I'm happy I started with a small one.

The flowers were easy thanks to Beth's awesome video showing how to do it. I don't think mine turned out so great but for my first try, I'm pretty happy with them. Of course, I had to go buy a glue gun but I needed one anyway for another project I have in mind. I just used felt not fleece but I might try that for the flowers on the next wreath.

Overall, I like how it turned out. I'm going to send it to my grandmother in Florida. I think she'll like it since they don't really get fall colors down there. I'm planning on getting her a wreath hanging hook to go with it since I don't want her to have to buy one. Or I may just make some kind of loop from the leftover yarn so she can hang it from that. I'm already thinking about what colors I want to use for my next wreath...I just need to get some other stuff done first...

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Blog?


Lately I have been feeling as if I should be doing something other than blogging. As much as I enjoy the writing aspect of blogging, I feel bad when no one reads what I post and/or doesn't comment. 

Part of that is because of my privacy settings which might hamper the amount of readers I get. Part of it may be that I don't have an actual "theme" for my blog - I just write about what I think at that particular time. Whatever it is, I don't seem to have any readers and those I do either don't or can't comment. Add to that the fact that I should/could be doing other things (housework, planning stuff to do with Bubba, organizing, scrapbooking, etc.) and it almost seems as if I'm wasting my time.

One of my friends, and essentially only reader of my blog, tried to comment on another post the other day and couldn't. He sent me a note telling me what he had wanted to say in his comment. In the note he told me he also went through a time when he analyzed why he blogs. He came up with three reasons: "I have something to say on a topic, I want to share those thoughts with others, and I want to have a dialog with others on the topic." He went on to say that even if there is no dialogue (no one comments on his posts) he knows he still has two other reasons to continue writing. 

Reading his words made me start to wonder why I blog myself. I started this blog at the end of 2008. It was one of my 2009 goals and in my excitement, I started it a bit early. For as long as I can remember, I've loved to write. I can also admit that I love hearing people tell me they enjoyed what I wrote or that it was "good"...I also have a lot of opinions and a lot to say. Not on everything, but on things that interest me. After leaving the Air Force and becoming a stay at home mom, I needed/need an outlet for those thoughts and opinions. Blogging seemed like a good outlet - as opposed to saving them up to share with my husband in the 10 minutes before we fall asleep...

So, I blog for essentially the same reasons as my friend - I have something I want to say and I want to share my thoughts with others. I would really like it if people would let me know what they think on that particular subject and/or what I've written but I think the writing itself is what's most important for me. So, on that note, I guess I'll continue to post for now. If no one is commenting, it's probably not so much a "comment" on my writing as it is their lack of time, blog know-how, or simple lack of interest in the topic I chose that day. Easy to say, hard to internalize - especially for those of us with thin skin. Maybe this is all just good experience to help me get thicker skin for when I finally write that book and have to send it to numerous publishers...hmmm...we'll see.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sharing Thoughts

I've been debating for the last couple weeks if I want to keep sharing my poems...I'm torn. I feel as if by posting them, I'm at least doing something - putting them out there into the world instead of hoarding them. However, when you share something you're very proud of and get no response, it's a bit of a blow...I guess I knew it might be tough from the beginning when I talked about my thin skin. We'll see if by continuing to post, I can make it a bit thicker...

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts - 
meaningless to anyone other than me

Would that change - 
if they knew what it all meant?

Would they take the time to see me -
in all the words?

Will I ever have the courage to share -
knowing I won't be able to explain, even if I could?

Random thoughts -
my life on paper

Fears, hidden in words -
dreams, revealed with care.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Funky Sizing



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Monday, September 26, 2011

Abbey Ruins

As you may recall, in the post about my recent birthday (read it here) I discussed how one of my David Winter Cottages broke during the earthquake. As a wonderful surprise, one of my friends found a new one for me. He's actually the one who started my collection. I'd liked David Winter cottages for quite a while since my step-mother was a collector (mostly the castles). My friend gave me my first two cottages (I bought a third from him) and now he has given me another one. That means he is directly responsible for over half of my collection! Pretty good way to remember a friendship...
As you can see by the picture, the new one seems to be in better shape than my old one. You can definitely tell when comparing the two side by side that these cottages are hand painted and no two are exactly alike. The colors in my new "Abbey Ruins" are much brighter and well, more colorful. 

Thank you, trebord, for the wonderful gift!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

100 Days

Actually, it's 99 days. Yesterday was the day when it was 100 days until the end of the year. I just thought 100 days sounded better than 99 for a title...

I don't remember ever even thinking about things like "100 days left" in a year. This year it seems to be all over Twitter. I wonder how come?

Anyway, my problem is that as soon as I saw "100 days left in the year" I started thinking of all the things I might be able to get done in that time. If you've read any of my past posts, you know I've always got lists of things I want to do and get done. So of course, ever since yesterday, I keep thinking of things to add to the "get done in the next 100 days" list. The fact that I didn't even get the blog done until 99 days should tell you something...it's been a busy week.

So here are a few things I've been thinking:
Lose 10 pounds - pretty doable considering I have almost 100 days to do it (would be great if it ends up being more than 10...)
Start walking again (a couple/few times a week)
Start the McGuire scrapbook and get at least three months worth of pages done
Sort through "stuff" - enough to take three trips to Goodwill (or throw the stuff away)

Doesn't seem like too much...most are things that can be done at the same time. A quote I recently saw was something along the lines of "the bridge between goals and accomplishments is discipline." So, I guess we'll see if I manage to accomplish any of these in the next 99 days...it's worth a shot, right?
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Reward

I wrote the following in the spring of 1999. I don't remember what was going on at the time, just that I was starting to feel like an old maid...

The Reward

A memory lasts
in the mind and it's dreams - 
Adding it's texture
as a rock in a stream

Care must be taken
if it isn't to fade -
A key to the future;
a toll that's been paid

Look back to the visions,
the memories you've stored - 
Remember them fondly, 
they are aging's reward.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adventure Aquarium

We went to NJ this weekend to visit some friends. On Monday, Bubba and I went to Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. We arrived about two hours before closing which turned out to be just about perfect. It was almost as if we had a private viewing. We only ran into about 15 other people, total. We didn't have to wait in line or peep around shoulders. Bubba was able to walk around and I didn't have to worry about him taking his time or getting in anyone's way. In other words, it turned out to be a very good experience.

I lived in NJ for two years and never once went to the aquarium. Strange because I love aquariums. I used to go to the one in Boston every chance I got. Actually, I didn't even know Camden had an aquarium until our NJ visit this weekend. All this time, it was just down the road from where I lived when I was there. On another note, I drove by my old apartments (I had two while there). I can't believe I remembered how to get there, probably only because I remembered I lived off of "Exit 5." Seems like everyone in certain parts of NJ give directions based on which Turnpike exit you take...

Anyway, the aquarium has these two HUGE hippos. They were kind of hard to see since the water was so dirty but we waited around so Bubba could see them from the under water window. I didn't get a good picture of their faces but you can see how big they are...out of all the stuffed animals they had in the gift shop, Bubba wanted the hippo. I love hearing him say "Hippo" - don't little kids have the cutest way of saying things?

The aquarium has a ton of things you can touch - sharks, stingrays, jelly fish, star fish, etc. Pretty neat. They even had baby (4 months old) sting rays for the little people to touch. Bubba almost touched one but stuck with just getting his hands wet for the most part. The aquarium also had Purell dispensers all over the place to keep everyone clean.

Of course they also had "Nemo" - lots and lots of Nemos...Bubba didn't want to leave them. Since at some point we did have to leave, he finally settled for looking at the pictures. Once we got into the shark tunnel he totally forgot about Nemo. There's this cool glass tunnel where you walk under the water in their giant shark tank. The sharks are literally swimming around you - pretty cool.

The only downside to the visit was I only had my cell phone to take pictures. I didn't get any good ones in the shark tunnel because it was too dark. I got plenty of pictures but with a good camera would have gotten even better ones.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

POW/MIA Remembrance Day

As today is POW/MIA Remembrance Day, I thought I would share with you a poem I wrote about POWs. I wrote it in November of 1991. I can't really remember what was going on at that moment to bring the words, but I do know I had been reading about POWs since I was in high school and going to the Academy only reinforced that. Out of everything I've written so far, this has remained something I'm most proud of. I used to think about sending it to someone in the POW/MIA remembrance community but didn't know who or where. So I'm sharing it with you now.

Faith and a Prayer (21 Nov 91)

Name, rank and service number –
That’s all I’m going to give.

Please, please, let that be enough –
Just to let us live.

The days drag on –
The months don’t end.

How many years
have we been here, my friend?

The questions have stopped –
Our knowledge is old.

Yet, our cells are still dark –
Our bones are still cold.

A question remains –
Running deep in our hearts.

Why did you leave us –
Did we not do our part?

The years flow by –
There aren’t many left.

Our faces are covered –
In the stillness of death.

Once we believed –
That our country did care.

Now all we have –
Is our faith and a prayer.

Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta gave a good speech today. If you'd like to read it, you can find it here.
____
I'm not sure why the intro paragraph isn't showing up right...sometimes it's there and sometimes it isn't. Usually, it shows up when I click on the title. Anyone have any ideas why it's not always there? Funny thing it, that's what I was trying to do with the "read more" thing but that wasn't working and I haven't had a chance to try and fix it. Read More......

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strands of a Web

I'm not sure if this is exactly a "poem" but it's something I've written, so I'm posting it here for Theme Thursday. 

Strands of a Web

memories fill my mind until I can think of nothing else -
I think about things I've done and decisions I've made -
wondering how I ever thought they were for the best -

just as time changes our lives, it changes our perception -
of what our lives were or what might have been -
we see things more clearly and begin to understand -

how actions and decisions molded our lives -
decisions and events become strands of a silken web -
that over time grows in size and strength -

adding beauty and color to our lives -
silently threatening to trap us -
within the memories of what life once was.

I wrote this in October of 1997 - about 16 months after graduating from the Academy and two months after moving from Recruiting in PA to Aircraft Maintenance in NJ. 
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Underwhelmed

So, the OSC function yesterday did not go quite as expected...as in I'm not sure if I've ever felt less welcomed anywhere.

On the OSC website was the following statement:
"Whether you are new to the area or have been here for years, you will enjoy our Super Sign-up. You can find out about our club and all our great Activities and you'll also learn about other groups and things to do in our area."

I had made a conscious decision not to bring cash to the event because I knew they were supposed to have a lot of crafts and other neat things to look at and buy and I didn't want to buy anything. I still think this was a good thing, especially now as I realize I probably would have felt pressured to pay the membership fee before I had even learned anything about the club.

I wish I had handled the whole thing better in person, but was so surprised at having been "dismissed" that I just wanted to get out of there and not go back...still not sure if I'll participate in any of their events at this point - they just left a really bad taste in my mouth...

Below is the e-mail I sent to the person in charge of the information fair as well as to the "info@ OSC" e-mail provided on their website. There was a lot more I wanted to say but I felt that getting too into my hurt feelings and emotions would only get in the way...Take a look and let me know what you think - too much? Not enough?
___________ 
To whom it may concern -

I attended the welcome fair yesterday but wanted to let you know I have never felt less welcome at any base I have ever been to.

Based on information on your website, I thought this was an opportunity to get to know your club, see what you had to offer and decide if I wanted to join and participate. Since we just moved here, I had been looking forward to the Info Fair for over a month thinking it would be a good introduction to the base/area.

Upon arrival at the "Welcome" table there was an expressed expectation that I join the BOSC in order to participate in the event. When I stated I did not have any cash and wanted to check it out before joining, I was no longer "welcomed" and was told to mail in a membership form and/or check out the Facebook page and to "have a good day." My impression of having been thus dismissed was reinforced by the fact the woman in front of me was given a "gift bag" (as it seemed were the other women present) and I was not. When I asked if I could look around, I was told "I guess, but you can't sign up for anything since you're not a member."

I'd like to recommend that in the future, if this is truly an information fair, that "Membership" be separate from "Welcome." As you welcome people, you can take their information if they do not want to join right way (thereby keeping track of the number of people who attend and enabling your group to reach out to them later) or if they are interested, point them to the membership side to sign up. It's a small distinction but may help alleviate misconceptions about who is "welcome" and who isn't.

Thank you for your time.
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Monday, September 12, 2011

New Place, New People

We moved about three months ago and so far the only new people I've met and talk to with any regularity are my neighbor and the women at Bubba's daycare. As nice as they are, I don't think we're exactly friends...

Tomorrow is the "Welcome Social" for the local Officer's Spouse's Club. I'm actually looking forward to going and seeing what they have to offer and meeting new people. Judging by their website, they seem like they have lots of interesting things going on: books clubs, a "Tea Time" group that goes to different "Tea" places around the area, a mom's group for play dates and mom's night out events, a crafting group, and a group that just gets together to explore the area. I hope to get a lot of information and see what kind of plan I can come up with to get involved and still have lots of time with Bubba. I already had to promise my husband that I would not volunteer for anything and especially not to be on the board. Easy promise to make...I had enough of being on the Board and dealing with opinionated women at our last base.

Tomorrow's event is supposed to be stroller friendly, so hopefully Bubba will do OK and not get bored too quickly. I figure if I have milk and crackers, he should be good to go. Plus, he loves to see new things and watch people so it should be fun for him too.

I plan on doing some recon today so I can find the Officer's Club more easily tomorrow...I'll let you know how it goes.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Palm of Tomorrow

I've gone back and forth with myself ever since I wrote the post last Thursday saying I'd share my poetry. Now, I know I only have two or three readers so it really shouldn't make a difference if I share something uber-personal or not. I've only shown my poetry to a handful of people so it's hard to break out of that and "put it all out there." Plus, as I've mentioned before, I'm not sure I have the thick skin needed to withstand harsh critiques of my most personal writing....

Despite all of that, I'm pressing on, thin skin or not. I wrote this on August 21st, 1991. Classes were probably about to start following 9 weeks of summer programs (SERE, Summer Ac, and CONUS for me). I would have been moving into my new squadron meeting all new people. I'm not sure what else to say about the time frame or what I might have been thinking at the time...Do you even want to know the background or prefer to read it "blind?"

The Palm of Tomorrow 

Ghosts - 
floating in and out of consciousness
Memories - 
of days locked in the past.

Keys -
thought lost, or
purposefully misplaced
Suddenly jingling in a dust filled corner.

Pain and anger - 
heating the metal to a crisp, red heat
Burning its imprint on the palm of tomorrow.

Drawn by the wizard of confusion - 
tumblers fall open, followed by relief

Spirits of tomorrow -
cower unseen, hidden by abrupt flashes of contentment
Balancing on the shoulders of thinly veiled hope.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scent of Life

Have you ever smelled something and all of a sudden you were transported to another time and place?

A few months ago I splurged and bought Wheat Germ Oil & Honey shampoo from the Vermont Country Store. The first time I used it (and every time since) I had the strongest memory of the country club we belonged to when I was little. We used to go swim there pretty much every day, every summer. I guess I must have used Faberge's Wheat Germ Oil & Honey shampoo quite a bit one summer since I got such a strong memory of it. The smell of the shampoo brings to mine sunshine, friendship, long, fun days in the water...in other words, a happy childhood.

Another such memory booster is a certain pipe tobacco. I have no idea what it is or what makes the right smell, but when I smell it I always think of Father Garvey. He was the priest at the church my family attended. He presided over my First Communion and numerous confessions. One year the church did a "tubing" trip - I remember hiking in the woods with Father Garvey while he was smoking his pipe. I normally don't like any kind of smoke but when I smell that particular tobacco, it makes me feel young again, safe and secure in knowing life was good and everything was going as it should.

I know there are other smells out there that remind me of different things or moments in time but these two seem to stand out. I wonder if it's because they both remind me of happy times - times when I felt all was right with the world. Whatever it is, I'm glad for it - it's nice to have those memories to think of.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Teenage Obituary

As I was going through my "Writing Box" I came upon something interesting. Actually, many interesting things but this one will come first...I found an obituary I wrote for myself sometime my senior year of high school or first year at USAFA. I can't remember why I wrote it - I assume it was probably for an assignment of some kind, but who knows? I think those of you who know me will get a kick out of it - either way, it's interesting to see what my 17-18 year old mind thought was important, what would mark a successful, happy life...Maybe something I should think about some more and see how it would be different if I wrote it now.
___
Colonel Sam (actual full name here) died yesterday at the age of 53. She died during a test flight of the new Grey Falcon X-18 when the engines malfunctioned.
Col Sam was a recipient of a Bronze Star when she acted, with no thought for her own safety, and saved the lives of 35 Hungarian refugees as they fled from Soviet military police after a peace rally.
Col Sam graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1994 and went on to pilot training. During a night jump her second year, she fractured both legs and was told she'd never walk again. Overcoming great obstacles, she went through rigorous physical therapy and returned to the Air Force to become the first female fighter pilot.
Col Sam and her husband, Edward Johnson, spent many years in Africa in an effort to make the plight of the endangered elephants more well known. She spent her life doing what she could to save this endangered species. 
She is survived by her daughters Elizabeth, a lawyer in New York, and Margaret, a doctor in Louisiana, and her sons Jonathan and Marcus, both of whom are training to become fighter pilots. Her husband, head of Johnson & Johnson, has set the date for the ceremony (to be announced later this week). 
Col Sam is donating her organs and other useful parts for medical use and scientific study. She will be cremated with her ashes to be sprinkled over the ocean.
_______

The elephants and Africa are no surprise. Nor is wanting to marry someone fabulously wealthy. Even the Hungarian refugees makes sense considering I used to think about joining the Peace Corps to "help people."

The main thing I get when I read this is a bit of a "super-hero complex" thing - as if I wanted to be remembered for doing great things, for making an impact to the world and the people around me, to leave the world better than I found it.

I guess that's not really a bad thing...it just leaves a lot to live up to. And probably helps explain why I always feel as if I haven't done enough...now I know those feelings started 20 years ago.

What would your obituary say? What makes a successful life to you?
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Fear #2

One of my friends commented on my Fear post from a couple days ago and said one of his greatest fears is "being misunderstood." My immediate thought was that my greatest fear is being ignored or not heard.

Back when I was at the Pentagon I was given a call sign, Ditto. They said it was because I repeat myself all the time. Luckily, it was toward the end of our time there because I was really hurt and offended (thin skin kicking in). I thought because they remarked on (called attention to) a personal "fault" it meant they didn't like me. Every time I opened my mouth I questioned if I was going to be made fun of for repeating myself. So, I think I pretty much stopped talking to most of them and stopped talking in class and/or meetings. 

What a waste. 

Now that several years have passed I can see it a little more clearly. Call signs usually do make fun of something personal...it's possible they meant it as a "welcome to the club" kind of thing and not meanly, the way I took it.

The biggest thing I realized is that I do repeat myself. All the time. I'm so concerned that people hear and understand me that I sometimes say the same thing (again and again) to make sure the other person/people "got it." It's not really a bad thing. I guess it can be annoying for some people but if they're really my friends, they realize that's just one of my things. Plus, if you listen to me and I repeat something then it's a good sign it's something important to me or something that really means something.

Instead of being embarrassed or fearing people will see a weakness in me, I've tried to embrace my "Ditto-ness." Even as I write this post, I'm wondering, have I talked about this before? Maybe I have, but I guess it's important enough to me to talk about more than once.

So, what's your biggest fear and how do you deal with it?
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Theme Thursday


So, I'm trying something new.

One of the things I talk about quite a bit is wanting to have a plan or some kind of routine. I figured one good place to start is with this blog.

I usually just write based on what I'm thinking about or feeling in a particular moment on a particular day. While I don't think there's anything wrong with that, I've also found it leads my posts to be all over the place. I'm hoping if I have some sort of a plan maybe it will come together a bit better.

One of the things I'm most interested in is writing - hence the blog. But I'm interested in all sorts of writing, and not just my own. I love reading, I love talking about books, I love collecting quotes...and of course I love writing. So, I thought I would start doing "Theme Thursday."

As you may remember from school when you were assigned writing themes - this particular word is not just about a "theme of a play" or something like that. According to the Thesaurus a "theme" is a piece of writing, blurb, commentary, story, think piece, etc. Sounds exactly like what I want to write about and now I know when to do it. Plus, if I do want to have a better explanation for "Theme Thursday" (based on any vague or blank looks based on the other definition of Theme) all I need to say is "Literature is the theme"...because it is...

I've been thinking about doing some kind of book review in addition to tracking the books I read. I've also thought about posting some of the poems I've written. I've collected quotes for a long time and have quite a few of them. I've thought about writing some kind of book using all the quotes I've got - why not start with some blog posts? Lots and lots of juicy ideas waiting to be written down...

If I like the way "Theme Thursday" is going, I might move on to one or two of the other days. Who knows? Let's see how this goes first...let me know what you think.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fear

Fear is a great motivator. Fear is also a great equalizer. Fear can also freeze time and stop everything - no forward nor backward movement.

Most people fear something.  

Fear of sounding or looking stupid; fear of falling; fear of bugs; fear of flying...they range from those that sound silly to others to those most people can agree are worth fearing. The list of fears is as endless as there are creatures who can know the feeling of fear.

I've been thinking of fear and how it limits us (me) quite a bit the last couple months, even more so in the last day or two.

Those who know me, know for the last 8 years or so, I've had recurring headaches and migraines. I've tried everything from pills, to acupuncture, yoga, more pills, relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, supplements, hot/cold packs, more pills, etc...in other words, just about everything the doctors, well-meaning friends/family, and the internet can throw at me.

I was lucky enough that during my pregnancy and my son's first year I only had three or four migraines and even those were very mild (compared to what I had in the past). Over the last 6 months or so, they've been coming back with a vengeance.

Yesterday was probably the worst one I've had in years. To top it off, I was home alone with my 18 month old son. My husband came home as early as he could but with an hour long commute (not to mention work) he didn't get home until early afternoon. This was the exact fear that plagued me when we discussed having kids in the first place. What would happen if...?

By the afternoon I felt a bit better, but that's when the fear hit. If I go outside with them, will it get worse? If I get out of this bed? If I eat something? If I don't eat something? Round and round trying to second guess what may or may not have caused the migraine or what might bring it back. 

I decided that the fear of doing something to make a migraine strike again or make it worse is almost worse than the pain itself. I know that to get rid of a migraine I need solitary, cool, dark, silence - and sometimes meds. But what kind of life will I have it I let the fear drive me into a life of constant solitary, cool, dark, silence? 

While I sometimes joke that I go into my cave when I need to get away from life or stress or worries...I don't want to live there. I don't want fear of migraines to force me to live there. Yet, that's all I've known for so long. I had accepted it as my lot. Until I got pregnant and realized that it was possible to feel better and to have a real life with people, outside, in the light, with laughter, music and noise filling the air.

The fear is so much worse and the pain more frightening once you catch a glimpse of what life can and should be like. I want it back.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Surveys

Does anyone else out there do surveys on line?

Years ago, when I first got out of the AF I joined several different on-line survey forums. It seems ad if it might be an easy way to make some money from home. In the meantime I have completed hundreds of surveys and have gotten about $100, four free books, gift cards, free magazine subscriptions, and other things.

There is one survey group NPDOR that I have taken surveys with for almost 5 years. I have done almost 100 surveys. Yet, I have not once won a prize or gotten any kind of reward. The survey forums where I have received something seem a little more credible, but it's hard to think of these things as anything but a scam when you don't get anything in return for your time.

So, do you do any of the survey forums? Which ones? Either way, what do you think?
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Taggie

Over a year ago, while in the fabric store, I saw these cute baby blankets with tags. At the time, Bubba was about 4-5 months old and really enjoyed playing with tags on just about everything. I thought this Taggie was something he might really enjoy so I took a picture of the one in the store. They were selling them for $20-25 each! After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to buy one of their kits for two reasons: 1) I would get the instructions as well as fabric and ribbons to make the first one and 2) it felt a bit like stealing to take a picture of it knowing I was going to try to make them.


I made Bubba the taggie from the kit but it was too big for him to hold when he was small. He still slept with it all the time and liked to hold on to it but couldn't really carry it around. Now, he still sleeps with it and I think enjoys having it. It hasn't turned into a "lovey" or something he absolutely has to have (which is good) but I think it helps to have a bit of home with him wherever he is.

Recently, I made several more for new babies and/or baby showers. I changed the pattern a bit and made them smaller so the babies could hold them more easily. I also used flannel for one side instead of the minky fabric on both sides which is how Bubba's was made. 

I have found patterns for taggies on various websites and blogs (just google it or let me know and I'll get you a link and/or the pattern). I wish I had found them sooner so I wouldn't have had to pay for the first kit. It all worked out in the end though so it's all good. 
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