Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's so big about being a "Millenial" anyway?

If you read my blog occasionally, you may know that I am working on obtaining my Master's degree in education. Currently, I am taking two courses: Reading in the Context Area and Philosophy of Education. Both very interesting classes, and it is amazing to see how many different perspectives there are just in the field of Education alone.
I have a fellow student who goes on and on about Millenials - that generation which was born in the last decade of the old century or the first decade of the new one. I was reading an article in the Washington Times which stated these Millenials are the children of the generation called the Baby-boomers. They aren't. They belong to us, Generation X, otherwise known as the children of the 70's and 80's.
This new generation - referred to hereafter as M's - have been blessed with an ever expanding access to information and technology. There is no question that they are more connection and have more access to information than any other generation in our history. It's all right there for them at the touch of their fingers. But is that always a blessing? If it is, it's a mixed one.
M's can multi - task and organize thoughts and data in ways not previously realized. They are also spoiled, used to the answers being at their finger tips. They don't have to know who John F. Kennedy was, or what his accomplishments were, if they need to know, they just google it. My father, who was a member of the Greatest Generation, could do amazing math facts all in his head. Now, our children rely on calculators and have difficulty performing without them or other technological tools.
They don't read. Not because they can't, but because they chose not too - which is worse. In 2005 research was conducted on high school seniors. This research was conducted by the American Freshman Society, and is a yearly survey. Alarmingly, they found that in this year and throughout the new millenium, one- quarter of high school graduates who've gone on to college have NEVER read a word or literature for their own enjoyment and or enlightenment. Further, this generation seems to view this anti-literacy as cool.
So I ask again, what is so great about generation M? As a future educator and as the mother of two members of this generation , I view them as the greatest challenge I will ever face. They have the potential for so much and yet, so often seem to opt for the easy answer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday and the Reason for the season

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged. This site was starting to feel a little neglected. Sometimes it's hard to find the time to blog with working and school. Life's a little crazy at times. Yet, this morning I find myself inspired, so here I am.
I'm actually done with all my Christmas shopping but I was still out not so bright and definitely way too early this morning. We are going to have a full house at Christmas with my mom, stepfather and MIL all here, so I realized I had to stuff some stockings for them. Hence the reason I was out today.
The morning didn't start out well. My Dunkin donuts had a big cop car blocking the entrance and for those of you who know me, you know that me on NO COFFEE is not a pretty sight. I'm also blind as a bat so driving with the crazies was a little hairy. I missed the turn off to the highway and had to go way out of my way to get to the mall. Things weren't off to a great start. I had to drive by Starbucks' and thankfully, they were open. Eggnog latte really helped improve my holiday spirit, not to mention make me coherent.
I went to the craft store this morning. It was a great experience. I got the stockings and everything else I wanted. It wasn't too crowded and all the shoppers were still pleasant. ( Nice to know that they had managed to maintain the holiday spirit for a few short hours anyway) Then I headed to the mall. I just had one stop. Again, got everything that I needed, everyone was pleasant, and I headed home feeling pretty good.
It was cold and rainy this morning. As I was leaving the parking lot, I noticed a women with her dog on the corner with a sign that said Cold - Homeless - Hopeless. Wow.
Turns out I had a bag of stuff in my car for goodwill. ( We are getting ready for yet another move). I pulled over - I had to. I got out the bag for good will - had a weatherproof blanket and a big sweater in there. I gave them to the women and the money that I had in my wallet - enough to feed her and her dog, maybe get them a warm, dry place for the night. As I was driving away the devil on my should said that she would probably buy booze and that if she really cared about her dog she would take it to the pound. The angel on the other said asked why she should lose her beloved pet and everything else? In the end, I was glad my angel said won. I know it isn't much. It won't buy her a house, but maybe, just maybe it was enough to offer a little warmth and a little hope and a small reminder of what the Christmas season is all about - spreading God's love. I know the reason I was out this morning and it has nothing to do with Christmas stockings. What will you do to share the love this holiday season?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Say Yes to the Dress and Other BS

Recently my husband and I went on vacation. We traveled through Massachusetts and New Hampshire visiting various places of interest. It was a beautiful time for us to just relax and reconnect with each other.
On our way home, we stopped to have lunch at a place called Scupper Jack's in Massachusetts. It was a very nice place with great food and a very snobby clientel. We had the unfortunate circumstance to be seated next to two older ladies and a gentlemen who clearly thought a lot about themselves and their money. Nouveau riche is what my grandmother would have called them. At any rate, as we sat and enjoyed our lunch and some quiet conversation, it quickly became impossible to avoid their discussion, which got progressively louder and louder. Their son is getting married and the two women are on the hunt to help his fiance ( and the daughter of one of the women) find the perfect wedding dress. The figure they were discussing for a "designer" dress was absolutely mind boggling - $50,000. Yes, you heard that right.
Now, let's talk about marriage. Research conducted by Bramlett (2002) suggests that first marriages have a 50-50 chance and most end within the first couple of years. Now, can you imagine having laid down $50,000 for your little princess to get married, only to have to shell out another $50,000 three years later? OUCH.
This brings me to the ridiculous show "Say Yes to the Dress". I know that many people enjoy this show, but I find it to be absurd. Why are we getting married ladies? Is it because we have found our life partner, our twin flame? Or is it because we want to get all dolled up in a fancy white dress and have all the attention on us for one day?
I think that at one point or another all girls want to be a princess. But when the dress appears to supercede the man standing next to you, there's a problem. Does a women need to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that they presumably will wear one time? I mean $50,000 is a sizable down payment on a house! Or the out right purchase of many cars. And some people sink that into a bunch of fabric worn at a marriage that many not last three years. That's my impression of insanity, right there.
I got my dress at a consignment shop. Not because I couldn't afford to go to a bridal studio but because WHY? My husband and I had a very simple wedding. Candle light - 30 people - and us. I wouldn't have had it any other way. I spent $30 on my dress and I have been blissfully happy for 14 years now.
I don't know ladies and gentlemen, tell me, do you disagree? Is there some other purpose to shows like Say Yes to the Dress which I think just elevates the suerficial and tells us to want what is sometimes beyond our means?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?

Nine years ago today, my generation's date that will live in infamy occurred. I will never forget September 11, 2001. Never.

It was a beautiful September morning in Cocoa Beach, FL. I want to say that it was a Tuesday, but I am not really sure on that point. My oldest daughter, then 15 months old, and I were visiting my mom while my husband was in CT completing Submarine training. It was hard being away from him, but we love Cocoa Beach and we stayed busy.

That morning was music class for my little girl. She loved to go. We never watch tv in the morning, so I had no idea what was going on in the world. When we got to the gym, the place was closed. So we headed over the Patrick AFB to get some groceries. We were in the commissary when they asked us to leave our carts and evacuate. I can remember my little girl saying, "But Mommy, what about our ice cream?" I was at Patrick when they scrambled all their fighters to protect the space shuttle which was currently on the launch pad.

I asked the clerk at the cash register what was going on? She said, "Don't you watch the news? We are under attack!" I got my little girl in the car and we headed back to my mother's. I turned on the radio and heard about the first two planes. There was so much chaos. There were more planes in the air, no one seemed to know if they had terrorists on them too. The whole world had gone crazy.

When we got home, I turned on the news and saw the planes hit the towers. I watched in horror as they fell, knowing there were still so many innocent people inside. We watched as the Pentagon was hit and of course, heard about the brave men and women on flight 93 that went down in a field rather than kill more of their countrymen.

Almost three thousand Americans died that day, and for what? How many have died since? Today, in Afghanistan, they burn our flag in response to a Koran burning that never happened. Need I remind you people that nine years ago, you supported those who didn't burn books - they burned PEOPLE.

Nine years later, I don't feel clarity on what happened or what our response to it should have been. I see how many brave men and women are dying in Afghanistan while our government hems and haws over getting them the right equipment, plans, numbers and more. I want them to bring those men and women home, because what are they risking their lives for?

I will never look at the world in the same way as I did on September 10th, 2001. All of us, I believe, were forever changed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't try to find him... he's not there

A year ago, on the 8th of August, my Dad lost his battle to Cancer. I have missed him every day since then. People tell you that when the funeral is done, the worst is over, but it isn't, it's just beginning. What you have left is a life that must go on while you miss a person that you love. It's tough.
Still, I know my Dad would want life to go on, for me to be happy, for his grandchildren to be happy. I know he's watching me and taking care of me still. I'd like to say that I was a good daughter, but in reality, I was something of a disappointment. I tried. Last summer was very hard. I was here taking care of my Dad for six weeks. I went home and two weeks later, he was gone, I never saw it coming. I thought I had more time.
All that said, I told my dad the things I needed to say. He was and always and forever will be my hero.
I didn't cry at his memorial service, he would have hated that. Even though he said tears were for funerals, he hated crying. I came back home for three weeks to be here on his anniversary, spend some time with my mom and step-father. It is wonderful and difficult to be here in the places that he was. All this time, I thought about going to the cemetery, paying my respects. I know he would have liked that.... But I just can't and I hope he will understand. Maybe that makes me weak, but I can't look at that hole in the ground and think of my father, who was my own personal John Wayne, as being in that place. I know that only his body is there and the rest of him is in a much better place, where there is no more Cancer.... but I just can't go there. I want to think of him as the last time I saw him, standing in his yard smiling and waving goodbye....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Working too Hard?

Do you ever feel like your working too hard at a friendship? You don't hear from someone in a while, you call or try to touch base and things... well, they just keep slipping apart. I have to say that I feel that way about a few of my friendships right now and it's sad really.
MaIybe I'm a bad friend. Maybe life just gets complicated. To be honest, there are few people that I expend the emotional labor on to become friends in the first place. Now, to most of you that probably sounds really harsh, but those of you in the Navy will probably understand. The fact is, I'm in one place for 2-3 years usually. Just when I have a beautiful friendship going, it's time to go again. Sure I have many close friends in various places that I do maintain friendships with, but it's a challenge. After a while, you have to ask yourself, how hard do I want to work to make this friendship happen? Will it survive the next move I know is coming? Are we just in different places in our lives? I'm not really sure myself about the answers to these questions. Maybe there is just something about me.
Since I've started back to school, I have been happier than I have been in a long time. I love school, but sometimes it feels isolating. I'm so busy working on homework that I don't have a lot of time for making an extra effort to maintain relationships that are important to me.
What do you think readers? How do you maintain your friendships/ relationships? Especially for those of you that are military, do you ever feel this way?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's Karma Baby.

Yesterday my MIL departed and all the overly dramatic incidents in my life came to a screeching halt. Funny how that happens.
Here is a brief recap:
I already told you about her teeth. That cost us over $1000. - so far. The bottom teeth haven't been replaced yet, and if you have been to a dentist lately, you have some idea of how expensive that is. Enough said. Shit happens, and this is just something that we will have to take care of. Moving on.
I spent several nights while she was here out with girlfriends. This was done not only because I enjoy my time with my friends, but also to preserve my sanity. I had to spend some time away from the endless, nonsensical blathering. One day was particularly bad. I was half out of my mind when I left my house, but felt so much better after dinner at Chile's with my very good friend, Amy. We are both working on our masters degree right now, and I love hearing about her classes and the things she is learning. Plus, she is a great listener and always has a positive way of looking at everything. It helps give perspective. When I got home, I was feeling human again. Until I heard the screaming as I pulled into my garage.
My husband and his mother were in our spare bedroom screaming at one another at the top of their lungs while my baby ( she's 6 so not really a baby...) was terrified in her bedroom. I went upstairs and found my usually very rational man so pissed off that he was actually shaking. I had never seen that before. They were arguing about his mother's continuous inability to manage her medication. (She over medicated her antibiotics and was out four days earlier than she was supposed to be, as a result, my husband had to keep her medication and dole it out daily... pathetic and frustrating for him really.) After all of that and her continued assurances that she had all the medication that she needed, we collectively made no less than five additional trips to the pharmacy for her various medications. It just pushed him over the edge.
He had some problems with his vision and horrible headaches as a result of all the stress. They actually did a sonogram of his neck and heart to make sure that he didn't have a heart problem. He may be diagnosed with migraines, which is likely submarine disqualifying, because of all the stress his mother put him through in the 18 days she was here. If so, this will have a huge and lasting financial impact on my family. Thank you MIL.
Fast forward to Friday. I went to the lake on our base to see a dear friend and her children that my girls and I haven't seen in over a year. I have missed her terribly and have been looking forward to her visit for months now. One potential spoiler? Had to stop at the pharmacy for more pills on the way and of course, MIL had to go with me. Ugh. She never shuts up. I hardly got to visit with my friend without her incessent droning. There was some verbal flap over a bikini that my SIL had purchased for my oldest daughter. Sporty as I call her wanted nothing to do with a bikini and told my MIL that her daughter " doesn't know me at all." Needless to say that opened a WHOLE can of unnecessary drama complete with crocodile tears and more nonsensical diatribes.
When I got home, MIL then started drama with me by saying that my SIL "never meant to say anything bad about my children." How the hell would you hear/ interpret that statement? Probably that someone was saying something less than nice about your children right? Well, I correctly figured that my MIL was talking her usual bullshit and a whole can of bs was opened over that.
To make a long story short ( and I realize that this isn't really short - sorry. Thanks for bearing with me if you are still reading...) I told MIL that she is worthless, at risk of losing both her son and her granddaughter, she doesn't know what the hell she is talking about more than 90% of the time and if she starts any more drama between my SIL and I, she will not be welcome until it gets resolved.
The positives of this little jaunt? At least my husband realizes that no, his mother can NEVER live with us. The woman is nothing but a whirling bag of drama who leaves devastation in her wake everywhere she goes. My children aren't going to be among her victims. Nor are we going to enable her continued non acceptance for responsibility in her own life. After all, she has problems with my BIL, my husband, myself, doctors, neighbors... It can't always be the fault of the other person when the only commonality in all the insanity is her.
The last bit... the karma. Well, she got on the airplane yesterday to go to CO to visit her precious daughter and the center of the universe, my nephew. She missed her connection and had to be driven to another airport some hours away. At some point, what comes around, goes around. I hope that she has a much better visit in CO than she has had her in CT.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Damage Control

We are finally on the downward spiral of the crazy train that is my MIL's visit. Unbelievably, it has been better this time than in the past. Her medication is still a problem. My husband has to keep her antibiotic and dole them out as a daily dose because she was downing them like chicklets. Still, Saturday is our return to our normal lives date. I'm looking forward to it.
Her visit has taken the largest tool on him, mainly because I am simply refusing to do all the things that I used to - like get her medicine and deal with her mini-emergencies. I am sad that it is so stressful for him but glad that he is beginning to see what she is really like when she is here.
It's funny how if there are weaknesses in your relationship, the smallest events can cause fissures to appear. Most of the time I feel like my marriage is very solid, but my MIL and my husband's whole family, really know how to find those pressure points.
On a positive note, my husband and I are planning a get away around his birthday and I am really looking forward to it. I found a beautiful hotel, right on the beach in MA. We hope to go whale watching and do lots of other fun things. I think it is really important for couples to take time to reconnect, just with one another. We will take another family vacation in the winter. I'm hoping to take the girls to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. :) Should be fun. In the meantime though, I am looking forward to the one on one with my husband, to repair the fissures and just be ourselves. Leave his cell phone at home and use mine only for our children. Get away... just us. Heaven. I can already here the sound of the surf on the beach and feel the salty air on my face.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today is the day

Today is the day that my MIL goes to get her teeth worked on. I'm hoping that the dentist gives her enough vicodin to put her out for the next 9 days. Is that wrong of me? One would think that a sore mouth would slow down her ceaseless, nonsensical chatter, but so far, the sore mouth has had zero effect on her ability to drone on endlessly. Here's hoping that actually pulling the teeth will change that.

On a better note, today is also the first day of subfest. That is a huge midway and fair that our Navy base puts on every fourth of July weekend. We didn't get to go last year because we were at home in Pennsylvania taking care of my dad. No way we were missing it this year. Sadly, thanks to my MIL, my husband probably will miss it. I''m sure he will have to babysit her as she whines and moans all night, after all, it's all about her getting his attention. It's sick really.

So here I sit, anxiously awaiting the return of my normal life. I hate enablers and excuse makers, sadly my MIL is both. I'm just trying to drown out the incessant noise until she is ready to head on out to Colorado. You know, Colorado is a beautiful state. My sister and two of my nephews live there; however, due to the proximity of other family members and the lack of trees, I would never want to live there. My husbands family is best handled in small doses and from many states away. I always feel guilty for saying that though, like because he is with me, he is somehow giving up on something else. That said, he doesn't have a particularly close relationship with either his mother or his sister and I'm not sure that would change if I suddenly weren't in the picture.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seriously, who does this?

So, as most of my regular readers know, it is once again that time when my MIL graces us with her presence. I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe her visit wouldn't be SO bad this year. Oh how wrong I was...
So apparently, two days before coming here, she was supposed to go to her dentist and have a crown fixed on her tooth. Her entire bottom bridge is being held together by super glue and one tooth and crown is gone completely. Instead of taking care of this, she didn't bother to show up for her dentist appointment and now, guess what? Her face is swollen and her tooth is infected. What a shock. And now, we are looking at emergency action, which my husband and I will be out of pocket for, to fix this. Sigh. It truly never ends.
I don't mind when "shit happens". I get it, that's life. What I don't like is when preventable shit happens that people just didn't take care of when they were supposed to, thus making it someone else's problem. Not ok. 13 days and counting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Aromatherapy and the Search for Quan

Have you ever noticed how certain smells can make you happy or bring back happy memories? I am a very scent driven person. I think if I couldn't smell my food, I wouldn't want to eat it. Making something smell delicious is half the battle when cooking.

I also like to change my perfume scent with the seasons of the year. I don't understand women who wear nothing but Chanel No. 5 all their lives. I like Chanel, don't get me wrong, but No. 5 smells like old lady to me. I prefer Coco or Chance. My favorite scent to wear lately is Light Blue by Dolce and Gabanna - it's citrusy - very light and full of summer. I also like Sunflowers, another summery scent.

Certain scents trigger memories - like the smell of new mown grass and honeysuckle always reminds me of home when I was a little girl. My husband smells like sunshine and salt water.

Believe it or not fresh laundry always makes me happy too, not just because I have successfully climbed Mount Washmore ( hey, I do have a family of four!) but because everything smells so fresh and clean. It's a wonderful feeling.

Today I am going to mop my floors. Clean wood always gives me that fresh feeling too. A clean slate - what a wonderful feeling!

I love to burn candles. I guess my favorite scent on the planet is Lilacs. It reminds me of my Dad - he had wild lilacs all around his house and they remind me of my brother because they were his favorite flower. Lilacs - so purple and fresh. I think Heaven must smell like Lilacs.

Is there a smell that makes you feel happy or brings back positive memories from your life? I think I am off to burn some Yankee Candle Lilac and Lemon and think of happier times.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Doomsday Approaches

There is no search for Quan this week, I'm too busy treading water just trying to stay afloat. My Mother in law arrives today - for 18 days. I'm already counting down.

I hope that this visit will be unlike her others, but I am preparing for the usual whirling dervish of drama and trips to the pharmacy. Ugh. I've been lethargic lately in preparations for her visit. I just can't get excited about it because every time I do, something horrific happens.

I've been trying to think about my Dad and the way that he raised me. I know that he would want me to be the best person that I can and that would include my behavior toward my mother in law. I hope that I won't let him down. I really try to be forgiving and understanding, but when she is here, I always have this elevated fight or flight feeling.

I am making plans to maximize the amount of time away from the house that I can possibly get. I need my space and some peace and quiet, neither of which are in long supply while she is around.

I love my husband, but I haven't really been connecting with him either. Father's day, memories of my Dad, this upcoming visit, it's all been swirling around in my head and leaves me feeling like I just need to get some air - some space - OUT!!!

A year ago, I spent my last father's day with my Dad. I miss him very much, still, every day. Sometimes I still dial his phone number. I hate that I wasn't there when he died, but I am glad that I was able to spend so much time with him prior to his going into the hospital.

I remember the day after Father's day last year, it was about ten o'clock at night and he was taking a shower. I heard him fall and immediately asked him if he needed help. I found him naked, face down on the floor, unable to find the strength to get himself up. My father, a man who was stronger than a sherman tank and invincible in my eyes, was as helpless as any of my babies had been. It broke my heart to see him like that, and worse, it broke his that I did. I will never forget that night. We came up with some strategies to help him so that it wouldn't happen again, but that moment has stayed with me.

I guess I never realized how adrift I would feel without him. He was my conscience and now I can only hear the things he used to say.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gratitude and the Search for Quan

Gratitude is an absolutely essential part of being truly happy. After all, if we experience no sense of wonder, no appreciation for all the bountiful gifts in our life, happiness is almost impossible. A few years ago, my daughter and I started a Gratitude journal for the month of November. We picked one thing every day to be grateful for. Then, on Thanksgiving, we shared our journals with one another. This was such a beautiful, positive experience in both of our lives that it is a tradition our entire family continues.

When my husband was deployed, I used to have trouble sleeping. I found myself laying awake thinking over and over about all the things that could go wrong in my life. Maybe the roof will leak, maybe another pipe will break, what if the children get hurt, what if my bronchitis comes back? On and on the worries went until my anxiety played like a record player every night in my head. Then, I remembered my deep, untroubled sleep from my childhood. What was different? Was it really the responsibilities that were different? Or was there something I did as I child that I had somehow lost along the way?

When I was a child, I used to talk to God every night. About various things, my life, my family... whatever came to mind. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. So, I made a point to spend some time every night listing all the things that I had to be grateful for. There are SO many.
I have a wonderful husband who loves me and who I adore. We have an amazing life together in a beautiful home, with two beautiful, charming and intelligent little girls.
I have a mother who loves me and a father that loved me. I have wonderful friends who I know would be there for me if I really needed them.
I live in a safe corner of the world. I love what I do.
If you really think about it, there is a whole world to be grateful for. I look out into my yard and sometimes I see a little red fox that lives in the woods across the way. I am so grateful that I live on such a beautiful planet, so full of various life and that I get to experience that for even a day. I love the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, the smell of my flowers in bloom. All of these things are such a gift.

My mother always taught me to find something every day that brought me joy, even if it was something small. What a tremendous gift she gave me! A few years ago, when my pipe burst, I was up late at night with the technician while he fixed it. I kept saying to him, "I'm so glad that I was home when this happened, it could have been so much worse! I'm so lucky that my friend could be here with me so I wouldn't go through it alone while my husband is deployed. I'm glad that this only happened in my garage and not the kitchen." Etc.... He laughed at me and said that he had never met anyone so grateful for having something like this happen. It was a compliment really.

So if today you are looking for the happiness in your life, as we all do...remember all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for. Start small and go from there. Believe me, there is so much!

Gratitude - it is the wave.....

Friday, June 11, 2010

In Law Troubles?

My Mother in law descends on me in less than two weeks. It would be a tremendous understatement to say that I am not looking forward to her visit. Those of you that know me, or have been reading my blog for a while will understand. For those of you that don't. here is a brief synopsis. Apparently my MIL has cleaned up her act since the last time she was here, gotten her self off most of the mind altering prescription drugs that she was on, and I have been cautiously optimistic. Then I remember, that every time she comes, I get cautiously optimistic. THIS time things will be different, THIS time she will actually be a good grandmother, THIS time my children, my husband and I will all enjoy her visit. THIS time, I won't have to drive her to the pharmacy every other day. Yep, THIS time.....
However, then I am reminded that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result. SO THIS time, I'm preparing for the worst with no hope for the best. It dawned on me that like me, some of you probably also have in law problems, too. If so, please share some ways that you cope when your in laws descend on your family.
Right now I am planning book club, two mom's night out, actively trying to book Tastefully simple parties while she is here all to limit my exposure. Any other suggestions are so greatly appreciated. Lots of Baileys and wine is the standard, by the way so I have the alcohol escape covered - and note to self - I don't usually drink. What the hell does that tell you? HELP!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Forgiveness and the Search for Quan

It's hard to believe that a week has passed. It's been a crazy week here with almost everyone in my house sick. Seasonal asthma sucks.

Last weekend my husband and I had an argument, all over the mulch if you can believe that. No, I guess it wasn't really over the mulch but rather our communication skills with one another. In the course of the argument, things came up - on both sides - from our past together.

I realized then that these events from our past - while I had put the hurt of these past incidents on the back burner, I had neither forgotten or forgiven them. To be sure, these were large events in our lives, but they did happen almost 4 years ago or more. Why was I holding on to that hurt? And how did it impact our relationship together?

Holding on to past hurts is like a festering wound, and this one was in my heart. I never took the splinter out to let the wound heal but rather, nursed the pain and resentment that the pain had caused. Sure, it was buried good and deep and on most days, no one would even know it was there but it was there.... infecting all the positives in my life and even impacting my ability to connect with my husband on a deeply emotional level. Why, you ask ? Because I didn't trust him not to do it again. So I waited, nursing the pain and the hurt, licking my wounds in the dark where I thought no one could see.

Here's the thing though, that anger and resentment - it's like a cancer and the person that it hurts the most is you. I realized that to truly move on in my relationship, I had to decide if I could really forgive those past hurts and truly put them in the past where they belonged. Ultimately, I believe that I can do that and that I have done that. Sometimes arguments are healthy in a relationship as long as you aren't doing it all the time and as long as what needs to be aired is actually being aired.

I trust that my husband wouldn't hurt me for anything in the world, sometimes he just isn't an effective communicator and he doesn't know any better, but I can honestly say he is trying. As for me, I pulled the splinter out of my heart because I want my heart to be whole and healthy so that I can truly share it with my family and friends.

I honestly believe that in order to be truly happy, you have to be willing to risk your heart and forgive those that may have hurt you. You even have to forgive yourself. It's a process, but it's definitely worth it.

Love suffers long and is kind: love does not envy; love does not parade itself; it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely,does ont seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in injury but rejoices in the truth,bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. True love never dies.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sunday Feature - The Search for Quan

Did you see that movie Jerry McGuire? I love that movie. I hate Tom Cruise, but I still love that movie. The idea of Quan comes from there - it is an idea espoused by Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character that means a complete happiness. Perfection. A friend of mine started doing a weekly feature on her blog about cooking and that gave me an idea. I am going to do a weekly feature too. The Sunday search for Quan. Who's with me? I want to be my own ambassador of Quan.

I started a month ago with my World According to Snowflake, though I just didn't know then that I was on a larger quest. What makes me happy? This is going to be a weekly query and maybe, just maybe, some of the things that work for me will also work for you.

One thing I know is true - happiness is a state of mind. Things can not give it to you ( though they can make life easier) Money can't buy it, no matter how much money you have ( though like the above statement, having enough money for necessities also makes life easier.) Finally, and I think this is most important, no one else can make you happy. You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else.

The most simplistic advice I have is that happiness is a decision. We all have a choice every day. My mother always told me to find the joy in everyday. I really try to do that. Today spending one on one time with my oldest daughter brought me joy. The sense of purpose that going to school or working with the children at the school gives me is something that has also enhanced my daily joy factor. I love the way my blanket smells just out of the wash and these are just a few things that bring me joy - small, every day things.

The biggest thing that I have done in my life lately that I know has increased my happiness factor? I have limited how much news that I watch. It's never good news. The world is coming to an end every night, or some baby was killed by their mother, it's always something tragic. I remember when I was watching the news, I would step out of my house, look up at the sky and expect to see it falling. I always wondered why it wasn't? I do stay informed. I read the news - online for a large variety of sources, but I don't watch the news anymore and it has definitely been a change for the better as far as my state of mind is concerned.

Turn in next weekend to join me in my continued search for Quan.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say - What A Novel Concept.

It seems like such a simple concept- saying what you mean and meaning what you say - and yet, it is one that is put into everyday practice so rarely. Think about it, businesses, politicians, every day people - how often do you hear them saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite? It's exasperating.

My father was a man of his word. He could be counted on to do exactly what he said he was going to. For example, when he and my mother got divorced, he told my mother that he would give her some established sum of money for the rest of his life. He did. Every month. Before he passed, he expressed to my sisters and myself that it was his wish that action would continue even after his death. Not many people are like that today, which brings me to the point of today's post...

Three weeks ago, I purchased a new washer and dryer from Best Buy. I had purchased two machines from them 11 years ago and had been extremely satisfied. Now, when it was time to replace those machines, I naturally returned to their store. My buying experience was spectacular - great customer service and more. They delivered exactly when they said they were going to deliver and everything was wonderful.

Fast forward until this last Sunday when my new washing machine, which I absolutely adore, starting pouring water out of the soap dispenser of all places! I immediately called the Geek Squad ( yes, I know what you are thinking but they do handle appliance repairs too...) to set up an appointment to repair my machine. I had, after all, spent $400 extra to get the extended five year warranty on BOTH machines. I had a great experience, they expedited my service and scheduled the repair appointment for Tuesday, which was yesterday. They told me that I would receive a call on Tuesday letting me know what time they would be here. So I waited....

9 o'clock came and went, so I called them to find out what time I needed to be back from school to be here for the repairman. They had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and worse, they had no intention of coming out yesterday. Now, I have a family of four and one dog, and I don't know about you, but I just can't go that long without my washing machine. I informed them that wasn't going to work for me that they needed to abide by what they originally told me. Long story short, after much excuses and apologizing they didn't mean what they said. They failed absolutely and completely to keep their service contract with me.

I didn't stop there though, oh no. Now I was pissed. So I called the store manager where I bought the machine. I told him the whole scenario- positive experience with purchase and delivery - abject failure on service contract. So I told him that unless something was done, I was going to cart the washer and dryer off to the curb of my house with a BIG sign that said, " I bought these lemons at Best Buy, if you want to purchase appliances from a company that stands by their promises, don't go there." I told him I would take pictures and post it all over my blog, facebook, the local newspaper, EVERYWHERE. Further, I'm a Navy wife and we all know, bad news spreads like wildfire. Needless to say, he found me a new machine and it will be exchanged for the one I have now, to be delivered later today...

I still don't know what time today but if you hear of seismic activity here in CT, well..... you'll know what happened. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This year, as I celebrate another Mother's Day, I celebrate the greatest gift I have ever been given - my precious children. Being a mother has always been something that was incredibly important to me. My own mother was such an inspiration in my life that I wanted to share that love with my own children. There was only one problem....

When I was 17, my gynecologist found precancerous cysts in my uterus. They did experimental (then) laser surgery. I was told that it was highly unlikely that I would ever have children. I was devastated.

Several years passed, I moved on with my life. I was in college, in love and almost everything in my life was perfect. Except... I couldn't get rid of my period. I bled for months on end and then finally.... it stopped. My boyfriend (then) and I were getting ready to graduate from college and not only did my period stop, but it left completely. I went to the doctor and took a pregnancy test - negative. So they gave me some pills to bring on my period and told me it was probably the stress of graduation. I didn't give it another thought. Another month passed. No period. The doctor was concerned that I may have cysts in my uterus again, so he gave me an ultrasound. What he found was not a cyst... but a miracle. What he found was my now 11 year old daughter....

My boyfriend and I, already planning on spending our life together, were thrilled about the baby. We got married and my family lived in new bliss. It lasted for three years and then, on another mother's day..... I lost a second baby. Miscarriage - on Mother's Day. I was devastated. I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year with no success. I was starting to think it would never happen again. God had blessed me with such a beautiful child, I felt bad about asking for more, but somehow, my family just didn't seem complete. My husband deployed and when he came home, he gave me a wonderful Christmas present.... My now six year old daughter.

Motherhood has been a joy, a challenge, a life altering experience. It's impossible to imagine loving another being so completely until... you do. My daughters are the greatest gift - Mother's day or otherwise - that I have ever been given. They make me whole and give my life a true purpose. None of this would be possible though without the amazing man that I am lucky enough to call my husband. For loving me and for our beautiful daughters, I am eternally grateful. No matter what life may bring, I will love you if for no other reason than a part of you is a part of them. Thank you my darling Robert.... thank you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I started working on my Masters Degree in Education three weeks ago. It's exhilirating to have so many ideas dancing around my head. It's exciting to be talking about theories and situational activities that I may someday be using in my own classroom. Wow, what an awesome responsibility.
I work 7 -10 hours at my children's school. I absolutely love working with the children, which is part of the reason why I chose to get my degree in Education in the first place. But, just like with any other job, some days are better than others.
I was in the first grade class yesterday morning. My job was to help the children who didn't understand a Math worksheet by assisting them with the more difficult components that they didn't understand allowing them to complete it. Most of the children are happy for help. They want to do what is necessary and they recognize that sometimes they need a little personalized guidance. I have one student though who really doesn't respond well to teacher intervention. I'll call him Andrew.
Andrew is very bright, but he has some behavioral issues and family problems. Some days with Andrew are better than others. On a good day, he is eager to tell me what is going on with his life, look at his work and provide insight and instruction. Yesterday was not a good day.
Andrew was having trouble with his math sheet and it was a rather complex worksheet for first graders. They were working on reading a graph, but in this case, the symbols on the graph represented more than one, so they children had to read the directions accurately and then count by the appropriate number. (2,3,or 5) Andrew had the right answers if the computation would have been 1. He doesn't handle correction well and when I asked him if he would like some help, he just shut down. He wouldn't look at me, make eye contact, talk to me... it was terrible. The only saving grace was that he was like that for his regular teacher and her full time aid as well.
I know that there are children like Andrew and it will be my job to help them. I wonder how I will meet that challenge when I can't help one little boy with his math problems? He did hug me when I left, but that doesn't help him read the graph.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Everyone's A Critic

One thing I really hate - nitpicking. So I know that some people may not be familiar with that term, I don't know whether it's a northern or southern thing, but basically nit-picking is being overly critical on small items that just shouldn't matter. You ever have that happen to you? It isn't fun, is it?

The worst thing is that in addition to being the victim of overly aggressive critics, as a mother, I realize that I am often one myself. Out of necessity - or what I feel is necessity, of course. I tell my daughters to fix their hair or change their clothes when they aren't up to my expectations. I mean, impressions do mean a lot, but at the end of the day, is it worth the constant criticism?

I bicker with my husband sometimes because instead of the words of affirmation that I crave, what I often get is an unrequested critique - even of my blog and TYPOS for the love of pete! I try never to correct people on typos because, after all, we all have made them. No one is perfect.

I am going to resolve now to stop being so critical of others and attempt to go with the flow a little more. Love is what matters, not perfection. Perfection is something that I'm not even remotely capable of, so I guess I should stick with the small stuff - you know, getting up every day, doing my best, taking care of my family... the day to day dirty work that often goes largely unnoticed and unappreciated. Some one has to do it after all.

So, since I can't change others, I'm going to start with the woman in the mirror. I don't want my daughters to hear some harpy in the head when they think of their mom, I want them to think of the person who loves them most in the world, because after all, we're the same person. As for me, well, I guess I can only hope that maybe when my treatment of others changes, maybe their treatment of me will likewise change.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Keep Your Domestic Goddess Happy - Guys Are You Listening?

There are few blogs that I read with any regularity but one that I particularly like is called Everything Must Go - A Male Perspective. It is a wonderful blog- funny, perceptive and always worth reading. At any rate, in one of the latest entries called Keeping Your Dragon Slaying Husband Happy Ken offers up some awesome suggestions for how to keep your man happy and at home. What's curious is that women are as likely as men to cheat or become dissatisfied in a long term relationship, so where is the how to guide for guys on how to keep women happy? I certainly can't speak for all women, but I will try to offer some insight into the female heart and mind.

1. Be her biggest advocate.
As a woman, I love taking care of my family. I love cooking, making a beautiful home and focusing on having a healthy marriage. As a woman, I also need to do those things that make me feel like a complete person, which occasionally includes things outside the home. When I undertake these endevours - whether it be a job, a volunteer position or furthering my education - I want my man to be there supporting my decision. Now don't misunderstand, that doesn't mean I want a yes man who agrees with everything that I do; however, it does mean that I want my man to give me his honest feedback and always have faith in my ability to do whatever I set my mind to whether it be losing 10 pounds, making a new recipe, or taking my life in a different direction.

2. Be Romantic.
This doesn't mean get her flowers every Friday, some women don't even like flowers. What is means is, find what is important to her and take the time to do the little things. If she likes flowers bring them for no reason at all. Take the time to do something special just for her to show her what she means to you. Use endearments, most women love that.

3. Words of Affirmation.
Women need to feel appreciated. If you want her to do something for you, ie, have sex more - then when she takes the time to do something special for you, let her know you appreciate it. Tell her how amazing you think she is and MEAN IT. Be honest, she will know if you are just blowing smoke up her skirt. You want her to look hot? Well, when she takes the extra time to put on a sexy dress, heels and straighten her hair for you - take the time to appreciate it. Don't just say "Wow, you look amazing." That's a good start, but take the time through your words and your actions to show her that you truly appreciate the effort that she made for you.

Women are more likely to repeat a behavior that feels good. Aren't men like that? So if you want something a little special in the bedroom whether it be role playing, oral sex, or whatever - make it worth her while and I promise you, she will make it worth yours.

5. Women Percolate.
Foreplay guys. Sounds simple, but I mean it. Men are often like microwaves, they turn on very easily. Women however are slower at getting aroused and they like to savor the experience. That doesn't mean that a women doesn't enjoy a quickie, but prepare her for it. E-mail or text her and say what you would like to do.... Call her and let her know you are thinking about her and can't wait to be together. Kiss her like you mean it, these are things that women appreciate.

6. Know Her Preferences.
All human beings like variety. Women like that as much as men do. Don't make her do all the effort in your relationship, sometimes the man has to take the bull by the horns. Know what she likes and actually listen to the cues her body is giving you. Sometimes women like gentle love play. Sometimes they like a man who is going to take charge and mean business. Sometimes we like to reverse roles and take charge ourselves. If you become adept at paying attention, you won't be disappointed.

7.Quality Time.
It isn't all about getting laid. Take the time to really know your woman. Talk to her about important things and frivolous things. COMMUNICATE! And most importantly, when your woman is talking to you, take the time to really listen to what she is saying. We know the difference between a man who is engaged and a man who is wondering what he needs to say to end the conversation and get in our pants.

8.Build Common Interests.
Find things that you like to do together. Try new things and places. Sharing memories and interests builds a foundation for a long lasting relationship.

9. Respect Each Other as Individuals
Even the closest of couples need time to develop outside interests. Let your partner spend time with their friends or doing the things that they love which isn't an interest you share. They will come home re-energized and these experiences will give you something to talk about. As you both grow as individuals, you need to reinforce your relationship so that you are also growing together. After all, in my opinion real love isn't found in gazing into one another's eyes, but in looking outward in the same direction.

10. Be kind and considerate. Be her knight in shining armor and no, I don't mean rescue her. I just mean love her.

Do these things and a woman worth her salt will love you in spades for them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The World According to Snowflake

I just started reading this really cool book called "The Happiness Project". Usually I would blog about this at my other blog It's a Book Thing but what I wanted to talk about isn't specifically about the book, but rather my own outlook on life.
The author of the book is working on maximizing her own happiness in her life and part of this is coming up with areas of her life that she wanted to improve and basically boiling down her life philosophy. She said that in order to embark on her own happiness project, she really needed to review her "Ten Commandments."
I have issues with considering my philosophies of life as commandments, so I will refrain from referring to them as such. Still, I definitely have a code that I do try to live by and it is my firm belief that everyone benefits when they write out or articulate their core beliefs.
Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

1. You can't wait for happiness to find you, you have to make your own happiness.
2. Barbie was meant to be plastic, not people.
3. Don't just stop to smell the flowers, actually get your hands dirty and plant some.
4.You will never "find" the time, but if something is really important, you can find ways to make the time.
5. Appreciate the ordinary because it happens way more than the extraordinary.
6.Have a plan and when life messes with your plan, be ready to go to plan B, C, D, and even ZZZ if necessary.
7.Surround yourself with people who have traits that you admire and would like to cultivate.
8. There is little that a good book can't fix.
9. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, so don't be insane. Just run little penguin run!
10. We are stewards of the world around us, not the owners of it. It is our responsibility to teach our children and try to leave the world a better place for all the creatures that share it.
11. Compromise when you are able and for those things that really matter, be prepared to kick ass and take names.
Live your life.

I'm working on my own happiness project. This is just the beginning. Surprisingly next will be formulating a plan to identify areas in my life that I would like to improve to maximize my own happiness quotient and hopefully that of my loved ones as well. More to follow....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Blog is Going Carbon Neutral and Yours Can Too!

carbon neutral coupons with

With Earth day just around the corner, I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what I can personally do to reduce my carbon footprint and love my planet. Maybe there really is something to "The Secret" because, like magic, an e-mail arrived in my inbox about making my blog carbon neutral. How awesome is that? The e-mail was from a young woman in Germany who is part of an initiative called "Make it Green". Their goal is to promote awareness of the carbon emissions resulting from internet usage - or more specifically - blogs.

Now you make think that blogging is already an environmentally friendly actively, but internet usage does have some carbon footprint. A blog with 15,000 views per month (not yet but maybe someday!) generates the equivalent of 8 lbs of CO2 per year. How then am I planning on going carbon neutral? The Make it Green initiative will plant a tree for EVERY blog that writes a post about this opportunity. This group is planting trees in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation in Plumas National Forest in Northern California for this project to neutralize the carbon footprint of blogs. Thousands of wildfires burned down many national forests over the past ten years and 88.000 acres of Plumas' were destroyed by two fires in 2007. To help replanting they need the support of bloggers all over the world! For every participating blog they plant a tree. One blog - one tree. My blog is worth a tree - isn't yours??

Here's my Earth Day challenge - write your own entry - make all your blogs green! Here is how:
Just a few easy steps to make it green:

Write a blog post about the initiative + insert your favourite button
E-mail the link to your post to
We plant a tree for your blog in Plumas’!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So You Think You Have the Market Cornered

Have you ever met one of those people that think they have the market cornered on problems? No one could possibly have as many problems as they do! I think we have all probably known people like that, and in most circumstances, probably many.

I'll give you an example: I live in Southeastern Connecticut and for the last two days, we have had record amounts of rain. I'm talking 10" of rain or higher. The ground has been pretty well saturated and there was just no where for the water to go, so guess where it went? You guessed it... into our basement. We had 2-3" of standing water - what a pain in the ass! We have been working for the past two days to clean it all out and I'm glad to say that we are once again "high and dry."

In the midst of all of this, there was some drama between my MIL and SIL. Not fun. It's a serious issue that needs to be discussed but the timing couldn't have been more colossally bad. In this case, it really never rains but it pours.

Here's my frustration though and the point of this post. ( Be honest, you were wondering if it was coming, weren't you??) Everyone has problems. Yes, they are relative and some people really do have more serious problems than others, but we all have them. No one has cornered the market - not the martyr who takes on everyone's problems and then wants to whine about it, not the one who creates 99.9999% of their own problems and then wants professionals ( ie lawyers) to fix it for them, not the extremely overweight person who won't accept a modicum of responsibility for their own unhappiness, no, not even the military wife who never puts her big girl panties on - we ALL have problems.

The real question in this life is not whether or not we have problems because I have already stated, we all do. It's how you handle those problems that count. Taking on so many problems that rightfully belong to other people so that you are so overwhelmed you can't function properly wouldn't be a great way to cope. Leaving your difficulties to lawyers to unravel is probably only going to get you more problems. Blaming others for your decisions and choices never allows you the ownership of those choices and the ability to affect real change in your life. Wanting your life to be other than it is and yet doing nothing other than wishing and hoping, well, in the words of that 60's song "won't bring him into your arms".

Problems have to be faced. Head on. There has to be a PLAN of action for addressing the problem. Have you noticed yet that I am big on plans? Most of mine go awry but it gives me the illusion of control over my own life. Yesterday we faced our problem by marching into three inches of water and getting our hands ( and everything else!) wet. One thing that this life has taught me, there is always a curve ball. Tragedy is always one second away, and you won't always be able to be ready for the things that life throws at you; however, the good part is that you decide what to do with the pitches you are given.

Don't let the martyrs, the whiners, and others bring you down. Live your life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cruising Along

Last week was my 11th wedding anniversary, a topic I am usually quite loquacious about, but apparently not this year. The day came and went without a peep and while I had a wonderful anniversary with my husband, I felt uninspired. Strange for me, but it happens.
Today my husband and I are preparing for another anniversary. 11 years ago tomorrow he rejoined the Navy. I can remember it like yesterday. I was pregnant and he had a job offer from Lockheed Martin and this interview with the Navy. I never suspected that he would choose the Navy over Lockheed. I can remember him laying out all his reasons like it was yesterday. He told me that the economy was cyclical, which of course, I understood well. He said that he was worried about a time when things would be very difficult in the future. It was a future that I could not imagine, but in retrospect seems almost prophetic.
I hear on the news every day how things are getting better and I wonder why I can't see it. Don't get me wrong, thanks to my husband's foresight, we are comfortable enough, but I'm not blind. I see the struggles of my friends and neighbors. Gas is on the rise - again. I'm sure that before the summer is in full swing, we will be looking at $4 a gallon again. The cost of everything seems to be on the rise...
11 years ago, I railed against my husband's decision. I hated the Navy and all the time it would keep my husband away from me. But 11 years later, I am so thankful for the life the Navy has given us, the places we have seen, the lessons that it has taught. I never thought I would say it, but sometimes the right decision isn't always the obvious choice.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It Never Rains....

but today, it certainly has been pouring. And I don't mean the rain.

My day started out with a phone call. Unless it's my friend Bronwyn who I usually chat with over morning coffee, starting my day off with a phone call is usually never a good sign. This call was from my father's accountant. We have been trying to get my Dad's taxes done for the last time. Not only was this call "not good", I'd say it was the phone call equivalent of Fat Man and Little Boy.

So, the accountant asks me if my Dad paid his estimated taxes quarterly. This was his custom, but in the days after his death, the checkbook was lost. Not a huge deal, the people at my dad's bank are great, and I felt certain that I could get the information from them that I needed. It would just take a little more time and effort on my part.

Sadly the questions didn't end there. The next one was, "Do you have his 1099 from Social Security or the Air Force". My answer? No, I sent you everything that I received. Well, we need that if we don't want to risk an audit. ( And let's face it, who the hell would want to risk an IRS audit? Not I....) So now, I also had to call the Social Security Administration and DFAS to try and resolve this ongoing umbruglio. This day was getting uglier by the second.

So, I hung up the phone with the accountant and proceeded to begin the various rounds of phone calls I now needed to make, starting with the social security administration. When someone dies, you have to call the SSA to alert them to that person's death, which of course we did. However, what the amazing government employees who comprise this fine institution fail to tell you is that once a person is reported as deceased, they will not forward 1099's. Oh no, survivors have to go to a SSA office, with death certificate of the deceased, their own birth certificate, and two forms of photo id to request a copy of the 1099 in person. That would have been great to know when I first reported my father's death. You would have thought that they could have mentioned that.

I was unable to get in touch with the Air Force today, so I have that yet to look forward to. The fun just never stops. The high for the day, at least the awesome ladies at the bank were able to get me proof that my Dad did, in fact, pay his quarterly taxes. Like my Dad always used to say, it can't rain on the same dog's ass everyday. Tomorrow has to be better.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Boys VS. Girls

It seems like there is a lot of this going on in my life right now between my reading groups as school and he current Navy "hot topic" of allowing women on submarines, it seems like the battle of the sexes is everywhere I look.

I took on another reading group discussion for my daughter's 5th grade class. It is quite interesting actually as one group is all girls and one group is all boys. What a difference there is between the two groups, and also in the selection of books to discuss.

My girls are discussing "Every Bird that Sings". This is the story of a young girl whose family owns a funeral home and about dealing with life's changes and challenges. The story is very Southern and the characters have unique names. My ladies were all a-twittter wanting to give themselves Southern names, name our discussion group, tell me about all the people in their families that have died and so on. It's a lively group and they all have a lot to say and contribute. The challenge for me will be keeping them on task. They have a lot of energy and a willingness to discuss,maybe all most too much. The book they choose makes you feel and discussing it will require discussing how you feel about it. My girls seem more than up to the task.

The boys, on the other hand, chose a book called "Code Talkers" about the Navajo code talkers of World War 2. They were all very serious and very focused on their choice. They seemed very interested to learn more about World War 2 generally and the code talkers specifically. They were very excited when I told them I had found part of the code on the internet and would bring them in some samples. A few of them said that they wanted to learn more about World War 2 because of a video game that they had played.

I am really looking forward to the next couple of months and spending time with these children. I hope that I can bring something to their lives that they will carry with them into their future endeavors.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Valentines Day

So usually I forego the purely "hallmark" holiday, but since my husband was home this year, we actually celebrated. It was nice for a change to not be the so outspoken conscientious objector and just be able to enjoy.

That's not to say that $100 roses that usually cost $29.99 or less don't still offend me - they do. But a handmade card from my honey? That was a most welcome Valentine. Ok, he did get me flowers too - Daisies ( my fave) not roses. The best part of the holiday though was just spending time together - both just the two of us and with our daughters. This is something that we haven't been able to enjoy together in three years, so I guess we were due.

Still, as I have lamented on many occassions Valentines day and the hype and advertising offends me. Let's review.
Valentines Day is a day for lovers - ok, but if you really love someone, shouldn't that be celebrated everyday, not just on the obligatory February 14th? I think so.
Let's look at the advertising -
Hallmark - when you care enough to send the very best. Ok, so if my husband makes me a card or writes me a love letter that means he somehow loves me less than a woman whose husband buys her the card with the right stamp on it?
Oh and my personal favorite... Every kiss begins with Kay. So if my husband wants to really show me he loves me, he can only do that with jewelry? Followed by my next thought that if my husband is interested in anything beyond a kiss he better find a jeweler that begins with F??? What is that about? It's like legitate prostitution of some sort. If you want to get some than you better be giving some....

Say it isn't so. I love my husband whether he buys me flowers, a Hallmark card, or jewelry. I can say that in our relationship he has bought me jewelry three times in thirteen years, and once that was my engagement ring. It's all good, I know he loves me even if he doesn't put us in hock to Kay jewelers. Maybe I even think he loves me more.

Our gift to one another this year? A HUGE chuck of our house paid off. We will own it outright in just four years, giving us both a great sense of satisfaction and at least some security. That dedication to our family is worth so much more to me than the obligatory roses, crown and jewelry box.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Need A Little Summertime

I can't really complain, the winter here actually hasn't been too bad; however, the last couple of days have been bitter, bitter cold. When the wind blows, it feels as if it blows right through to your soul and that you will never be warm again. Honestly, I would rather have a foot of snow than that kind of wind.

I started to write yesterday but was on such a downer that I was even depressing myself. Decided to scrap that entry and move on. Today I want to focus on feeling warm, memories of summers past and hopes for the spring and summer ahead.

In just a few days, the groundhog will look to see if he can see his shadow. The groundhog better give me good news!!! Seriously though, usually here in CT, just when I think that winter is over, Jack Frost gives us one more thorough snow! Last year it was 17 inches in the beginning of March. I don't know, maybe old Jack wanted to celebrate St. Patty's early.

Summertime brings to mind so many things - the feel of the sun on my face, the sand between my toes, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and the gulls crying. Although I don't enjoy being too hot, I do love the summertime here in CT, especially on the beach. Summer also bring s back memories of young love, kisses on a hot, summer night, promises shared, the feeling of doing anything to be with that person just one more time. I still feel those things, but sometimes, in the dead of winter it's easy to forget the feel of the sun.

My husband and I started our relationship in July. Just before the 4th. I can remember being at the beach with Meatloaf playing on the radio, sharing our first kiss to the strains of..." You took the words right out of my mouth, it must have been while you were kissing me..." I love Meatloaf.

I remember nights on the beach with my Robbie - holding hands and whispering words of love while we made grand plans for a future we weren't even sure was going to happen. Love certainly is a leap of faith, isn't it?

I can remember waking up early and walking to the beach together. I remember making love in the waves and how glorious it felt to greet the sun.

Sometimes I miss that desperate feeling of I have to be with you right now... life has become comfortable and in many ways that is a good thing. Still, when I think about summer, I remember those times when we were young and desperate - shining our love into the dark of the night and wondering what, if anything, would ever come of it.

Here we are nearly 14 years later. Wow, that's a long time. I still remember like it was yesterday. When I look in my husband's eyes, I still see the guy who made me solar systems in the sand.

Sometime ago a friend asked me if I visited other places in my past when times were troubled. I wasn't sure of my answer then, but I am now. I think of those summers and those memories. My Robbie will always be my summertime....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Memorable Afternoon

Yesterday I went to visit Kitty. She is one of my hostesses for February and I wanted to touch base with her before her party. Kitty is an amazing woman, I was amazed at how quickly my afternoon passed there in her cozy apartment.
Kitty is 72 years old with diabetes, but she is spry and lively. She has an infectious smile and a warm embrace. Stepping into her quaint little apartment is like stepping into a flat over in England. She has lots of florals and glittering spheres, which she has collected for the last 40 years.
Kitty has lead an amazing life. She has six children, all by her husband of 17 years. They had 17 amazing years together, and then he passed. Cancer, what else? She raised their children alone, doing so many things that I don't think I could ever be brave enough to do if I didn't have my Robbie there beside me.
The first thing you notice about Kitty's apartment besides the cozy decor and glittering spheres hanging everywhere is Jabez. Jabez is her pet Dove and he is given free flight over the entire apartment. He is a beautiful tawny pink color with a very sweet demenour. Kitty says that he is shy, but he took to me right away! How do I know? Well, he landed on my head and then plopped down to my shoulder where he quietly began singing in my ear. What an experience to be this close with an otherwise wild creature. Kitty got Jabez from a rescue shelter when she learned that she couldn't afford a dog.
Kitty loves to craft and I discovered that she and I share a passion for beading and that she is also learning how to scrapbook. As we whiled away the afternoon, I learned that she is hoping to make a scrapbook for a wedding present for her youngest son, but that she seemed somewhat lost by the process. I quickly found myself offering my help.
I sat there with Kitty thinking that it had been a long time since I had so much fun talking to anyone. She had such amazing stories. My father always told me that I had a real affinity with older people, and I believe that is right. I respect and admire them. I love to hear their stories about a life and world long past. I look forward to more afternoons with Kitty and it is my fervent hope that our friendship will continue long after her party is past.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Margaret Isobel Myles Thomson

My husband hates it when I use quotes, but since this is my blog, I'm going to use one anyway, even though this entry is about his grandmother. Henry Drummond once said that to "love abundantly is to live abundantly and that to love forever is to live forever." I can think of no greater way to epitomize Isobel's life than by that quote. I never met a woman who loved or lived more abundantly than she did.
Isobel, as she preferred to be called, is my husband's Grandmother. She passed on into the next life this last Sunday. It's something that we had been expecting for some time, she was after all 92 and no one, not even one as vivacious as she was, can live forever.
I will never forget the first time I truly met her. It was a car ride that changed my life. Robert and I had been seeing each other for a while. I knew that I loved him with all my heart but I didn't know if we had a future. His grandmother showed up at his house one day, unexpectedly and needed a ride home. She asked him if I would drive her. I was so horribly nervous because I knew what a very important person that Isobel was in Robbie's life and I wanted to make a good impression.
She was lively and charming with a smile that was absolutely infectious. She had such a way about her, but underneath it all, even in her tiny frame, you could sense the steel underneath. Anyone that had lived through all she had must be tough.
At any rate, I can remember she asked me whether a bedroom suite was a suit of furniture or a suite. I knew that much of my future rested on getting the answer right. I explained that like herself, my grandmother had been very proper and while it is spelled suite, a set of furniture is actually a suit. She smiled delightedly and from that moment, we got along famously. I will never forget the privilege of basking in the smile and realizing something I had done had somehow elicited something so miraculous.
Yes, Isobel's smile was miraculous, like basking in the warmth of the sun. She loved like that too. She was a very passionate person and she loved completely, whole heartedly and forever. There was no halfway with her. The love she shared with her husband of 44 years continues to be an inspiration to all who knew them. Whenever I find myself questioning whether true love exists or not, I think of Isobel and Addison and my answer is always yes.
When Robert and I had a child of our own, Kaylee and I would spend Wednesday afternoons having tea with Addison and Isobel. These are times that I will treasure forever. She liked her tea just so, and he was usually watching Hogan's Heroes reruns. I remember all the stories that they told me, his about the war and hers about her experiences growing up in Scotland, coming to America, working in London during the war - even meeting Errol Flynn. They are all engraved on my heart and in my mind. Isobel was one of the most intriguing and truly beautiful people that I have ever met.
I feel so blessed that Isobel was part of my life - even if for a short time- and I feel honored to call her family. I will forever be grateful for all that she did in creating the man that I love. I see much of her in him. Her generosity, her charm, that miraculous smile ( when he chooses to use it) all of that comes from her. His love of music and piano - again a gift from his Grandmother. The way he questions authority and looks for the answer... there is so much of her in him and I hope he always knows that.
So today, for all who will miss not seeing Isobel's smile, I remind you ( and myself) that those we love never truly die, and that only love lives forever.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An Eye Opening Trip to the Grocery Store...

So, one of my environmental goals for the new year is being a more conscientious consumer. It's amazing what you find when you look at the labels. Do you know how much junk we put on and in our bodies on a daily basis? Here are just a few COMMONLY found in your everyday beauty and cleaning products. Considered yourself forewarned though, you are about to be grossed out!
1. Triclosan - this is a chemical that is found in almost all antibacterial products. Triclosan is often contaminated with dioxins which are highly carcinogenic and can weaken your immune system. Kind of ironic in an antibacterial product huh?
2.Parabens (methyl - ethyl - propyl[ butyl-isobutyl) These are commonly found in moisturizes and lotions. They are chemical preservatives that have been identified as disruptive of normal hormone function.
3. Talc - as in baby powder - Talc contains a chemical that is similar to asbestos and can increase the risk of certain ovarian cancers.
4. Isopropyl ( SD-40) is a drying agent that strips off the outer layer of your skin, exposing your skin to bacteria and accelerates aging and brown spots. Yucky!

And these are just the tip of the iceberg - a conglomeration of ingredients that you probably have - RIGHT NOW - in your bathroom and your kitchen. Do yourself a favor and research what you put IN and ON your body!

Which brings me back to my trip to the grocery store. I have been a avid food label reader for over a year now, and now I am becoming a more compassionate consumer too, but it is amazing how many go blindly into the grocery store. I saw a woman the other day who was over 300 pounds, with an equally obese toddler buying... guess what? A 5 pound container of cheese curls!!! Yuck! DO you know how much fat and calories are in that???
Looking at the carts it is amazing to see so much that is preprocessed food. Does anyone cook anymore?Not to mention all the packaging and don't get me started on the use of plastic or paper bags at the store! Do us ALL a favor and invest in some reusable bags, they are so much easier than either the paper or plastic - that you will be glad you did!
On your next trip to the grocery, look around. Trust me, you will be amazed what you see. Start reading your labels. One way to stop the advance of cancer is to get serious about fighting it. It's like the old adage says - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Healthy shopping!

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's amazing what social networking sites can bring into your lives. In the last year, I finally left "that company" that I was working for and no longer visit their social networking site. Happily though, I was able to find all my friends from aforementioned site on Facebook. ( I hate myspace and only had an account there for my last job). At any rate, I love Facebook, it's a great way to keep up with my friends who are so far away.
In the past year, Facebook has brought back to very important men in my life. The first is my cousin Johnny. He was the closet thing that I ever had to a brother. We both lived in FLA and when I was a teenager we spent a lot of time together. Life and circumstances tore us apart and I am ashamed to say that I lost track of him for a long time. I am so happy to have him back in my life! He has a little girl the same age as my youngest and we are making plans to hopefully get together in FL sometime this year. I would really like that, even though it means getting on an airplane. yuck. Whatever it takes though, I am so glad to have Johnny back and I'm not going to lose him again. He is some of the last family I have on my mother's side.
The other is a longer story..... We met when I was 13, on the cusp of 14. (Gosh that was a big year) We were moving to Florida from Pennsylvania and there was so much changing in my life. On the horrendous drive to Florida, we stopped along the way in South Carolina, to stay with my parents best friends from highschool. Oddly enough, they had a son, just a little older than me. Mike.
You know how you meet some one and you just connect with them instantaneously? It was like that; the stars and planets aligned and it felt like we had been friends forever. For three days we were inseparable. I watched Jaws for the first time with him, we played cards and just had fun together. When my parents first told me we were going there, I didn't want to go. A few days later, I didn't want to leave... But leave we did.
Mike was a constant fixture in my life after that. He was an awesome pen pal for a boy and I looked forward to every letter - rushing to the mailbox every day to see if there was something new. I loved hearing about his life and exploits. I even have pictures that he sent me - still.
Mike and I went to Prom together - his. The only Prom I went to - couldn't be bothered with my own - I despised highschool and just about everyone I went to high school with. It's sort of a shame now, but I'm glad that I was able to go to Mike's prom, he's really the only person I would have wanted to go with anyway. We were quite the couple. I found some old pictures of us that I promised to put on Facebook for him for a laugh.
For years I carried a torch for him, but I was in FL and he was in SC and when you're a teenager, that's a very long way. Life sort of got in the way. I got invovled with bad boys, and couldn't see how wonderful nice boys were.
Years later, we hooked up again. He was a bad boy this time. I think we were so caught up in being what the other person wanted, that neither one of us was ourselves. There was a history for him that I sort of interrupted. Or thought I did. Things didn't end well and ...well, he gave up too easily. I guess we were just star crossed and couldn't get it right.
Now life has brought him back. It's weird. I searched him on Facebook and just a few days later - there was a friend invite from him in my inbox. It's like the secret - you know, what you put out in the universe comes back to you. I'm glad to have him back in my life. I look forward to hearing from him, just like I did as a young girl and just like then, I feel like I can talk about anything and everything. I've missed having him in my life. Sometimes I wonder where the road would have taken us if things had worked out differently. Not that I'm anything but happy where I am - I'm pretty sure I made that clear in an earlier blog entry - but being curious, one wonders. Still, this is where the road has led us and I'm so glad that we are still friends. I love you Mike.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year's Promise Kept

My best friend challenged all of her friends to make 2010 a healthier year - for themselves and especially for the planet we all share. The goal was to come up with ten things each of us are going to do in the new year to make the world a better and healthier place.

So,here are my goals. I'm striving for 10, lets see how I do...
1.) I believe that in order to make the world a better place, I have to make myself a better person. Constantly improving ourselves and the world around us should be the goal of all. That said, I am going to do yoga more and complain less. Thank God for my blessings and exorcise the negativity from my life - in myself and in others. Like the old song says, you have to accentuate the positive and for people like me, that's everyday, because it is easy to fall into old habits.
2.Consume Less. Practice the do I NEED that philosophy. (This is easy to do now that have my snowblower. LOL.) I think that in general, our society consumes too much, buys too much. I am an impulse consumer. No more. My goal is to wait, ask myself do I NEED that and if the answer is no - pass.
3.Gift giving is going to be more thought and homemade orientated this year. Bronwyn and I are learning to knit so socks and scarves are in order for all, using organic cotton and other materials of course. I truly believe that handmade gifts are often the best. My oldest daughter gave me a scarf she made this year. It was, by far, the best present I got.
4. I purchase a Nook. A Nook is an electronic book, that allows you to download new books AND share books with friends who also have a Nook. This may seem like a small thing, and contrary to other goals listed above but if any of you could see how many books I have, you would understand. I my books. I love trees more.
5. Further along that end, both my book clubs are going to start a book swap to encourage less consumerism and more reading. :) All books I have finished and swapped will go to good will and the local senior center. The library here and I do NOT get along!
6.I am an avid label reader when it comes to my food, but I am going to read ALL labels making sure to make environmentally and ANIMAL safe products. I will make my dollars be a voice for those that have none.
If anyone did the things to my dog that dogs routinely undergo in the name of beauty, I would kill them.
7.When going to the movies I will bring my own, metal water bottle. I will not contribute to the landfills by purchasing bottled water.
8. I am going to plant a garden. Since we bought this house, I knew just where my garden would go, but every year found some excuse not to plant. Not this year. This year, my lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more are going to hopefully come from my own garden. Maybe someone I know will help me?
9.Reduce and Reuse more. It's amazing how much trash my family of four, plus one dog, can generate. We are going to reduce our trash production from two cans to one - every week.
10.Today, I bought a tree in honor of my father at I can think of no better way to honor him and start the new year right!