Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snowman Snow!

It’s here! It’s finally here! Snowman snow!

This is not the first day that we’ve had snow all winter. But it’s by far, the first time we’ve had enough to snow to make a respectable snowman. And it’s about time!

I heard on the radio this morning that this is the most snow we’ve gotten in one storm system in four years. Four years! We’re in Indiana, not Florida. We should get snowman snow EVERY winter! Maybe even TWICE every winter.

Maybe it’s because I lived in Colorado for ten years and I miss it. Maybe it’s because I lived in Colorado for ten years and I know how to DRIVE on it. Maybe it’s because it makes every lawn look perfectly manicured with smooth, rolling hills.

Whatever the reason, I like the snow. And unless the wind is blowing really hard, it’s usually not all that cold when it’s snowing. It just looks soft and delicate and pretty. Perfect for snow angels and snowmen.

Long gone are the days when I’d enjoy the snow from atop a make-shift sled. And the one time I went snow-skiing, I didn’t like it at all…but that’s a completely different story. But I LOVE to watch the snow fall. Sometimes (not always) I even love to hear the snow crunch. I love the workout that comes from shoveling the walk. I love to go back in the house and thaw out with a hot cup of cocoa. If I had a fireplace, I’d light it, just to complete the perfect picture.

Bring on the snow! I am blessed that I have a roof over my head and heat and cable and the internet and of course, the forethought to go to the grocery store yesterday. So, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Baby Is 18

Can you believe I'm old enough to have an adult for a child?! I can't believe it. Man, I'm getting old. I never feel old on MY birthday, just my son's.

Eighteen years ago today, very early in the morning, I woke up with minor cramps. It was about 4:30am. I didn't feel that my sleep was interrupted because I'd been put on quarters for nearly two weeks with high blood pressure. (For you civilian types, 'quarters' is when you're assigned to your home instead of your work location because of an illness.) At any rate, I was sleeping whenever I wanted. So, waking up early was no big deal.

When my husband woke up for work, he asked me how I was feeling. We talked about it a little, but neither of us wanted to jinx it, so we didn't mention that 'today could be the day'.

I should mention here that my son was born one week after Desert Storm started and my husband and I were both active duty in the Air Force, stationed at the Academy in Colorado Springs. So, our office was working two 12 hour shifts around the clock. My husband was working the day shift; our friend Joe was working the night shift. Joe lived only a few blocks away. So, depending on when I went into labor, either my husband or Joe would get me to the hospital.

At about 9:00am, I had been tracking my contractions for a couple/few hours and decided that maybe I needed to head to the hospital. My water hadn't broken. My contractions weren't unbearable. But I was on quarters due to high blood pressure. I lived 15+ miles away from the hospital. And this was my first pregnancy, so I was a bit anxious.

My husband was now at work, so I called Joe. He answered the phone, but he WASN'T awake. I kept trying to wake him up, but I couldn't do it. He had only been home from his 12-hour shift for an hour or so and was in bed, dead to the world. In hindsite, it probably would have made more sense to just drive over to his place and wake him up. But instead, I decided to drive myself to the hospital. Honestly, I felt like I was doing okay... as long as I didn't have to DO anything during a contraction. I drove in the right lane of three available to me and just gripped the steering wheel tighter during contractions. I wasn't all that worried.

About a mile or so from the gate at the Air Force Academy, I started to panic. I was stuck in a line of traffic waiting to get on base. They were checking all ID's and random cars... essentially being a bottle-neck for previously moving traffic. I just kept telling myself that if my water broke and traffic wasn't moving, I'd pull over and walk up to the gate and tell them to get me to the hospital. But that didn't happen. I ultimately got through the gate without issue.

When I got to the Communications Squadron, where my husband and I both worked, my co-workers kept saying things like, "If you're walking and talking and DRIVING yourself up Academy Blvd, you are NOT going to have a baby today."

Five hours later, (a couple of those hours fairly exciting) the doctor said, "Congratulations, it's a boy!" He was 6 lbs. 15 oz. and 19" long. He had ten fingers and ten toes and a little bit of hair. And I was never more impressed with how absolutely PERFECT God makes each one of us. He had the tiniest, most beautiful fingers... with fingernails! They curled up into little fists and were still only the size of the average walnut.

It was my best day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Put me in, Coach!

I got a phone call from my new coach. It's been a long time since I've had a coach. But I have one now. Her name is Krista and she's my Wellness Coach.

SAIC has a program called MyWellness. I completed an assessment of my health and fitness. I named a couple of goals that I want to focus on. Then I was assigned to my very own coach.

We talked about two primary goals: try two new healthy recipes from the StayWell website AND exercise 30 minutes a day, four days a week. She wanted to know what I already had in place to meet those goals. Then she offered a couple of other suggestions. She also asked me what might prevent me from attaining those goals. Then she offered a couple more suggestions.

She wanted to know if I had a strong support group; I think I do. She asked me what I'd eaten today; I told her. She asked me what my reasons for wanting a coach were; I told her I wanted to look and feel and sleep better. She also asked me if I had an ultimate goal, like a certain weight or dress size I'd like to visualize. Of course I do! But mostly, I want a lifestyle change. I want to BE healthier. But I'd also like to see 135 pounds again! Lastly, we made plans to talk again in 30 days...unless of course I want to talk to her before then. Then she gave me her number.

I am pretty excited to start this journey to be a healthier, sexier, more rested, lighter me. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fox in Socks

I think everyone should have a favorite Dr. Seuss book. Why, you ask? Hmmm, well... it shows a level of imagination and whimsy. It allows others to identify with you on something other than color, creed, culture, and job description. It's also just fun. Play along with me...

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Fox in Socks. I LOVE the tongue twisters. And just when you think the twister has gone as far as it can go...

New socks.
Two socks.
Whose socks?
Sue's socks.

Who sews whose socks?
Sue sews Sue's socks.

...Dr. Seuss finds another line to add to the silliness.

Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?
You see Sue sew Sue's new socks, sir.

I love it! Reading it makes me smile. Every time! And when I used to read it to my son, we would literally laugh out loud!

Did you know, Fox in Socks was first published in 1965? It's older than I am!

My very favorite tongue twister in Fox in Socks is:

Let's have a little talk about tweetle beetles....
What do you know about tweetle beetles?

When tweetle beetles fight, it's called a tweetle beetle battle.

And when they battle in a puddle, it's a tweetle beetle puddle battle.

AND when tweetle beetles battle with paddles in a puddle, they call it a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle.

AND when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle, {breath} they call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.

AND when beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles and the bottle's on a poodle and the poodle's eating noodles, {breath} they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.

Now doesn't that make you smile?

Additional gee whiz information: Fox in Socks was translated into Hebrew in 1980, titled "He Came with Socks". In order to maintain the whole rhyming scheme, names and verses were changed. But the spirit of the book, as well as the artwork, remain the same. That too makes me smile.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kidney Stones ROCK!

Pun intended.

Today was supposed to be my RDO, my regular day off. I normally have every other Friday off. And I LOVE that about my schedule. But today, I worked for five hours.

Early this afternoon, I got a call from the school. Jeff was not feeling well. Possible kidney stone. He wanted me to give the school permission to let him go home. So, I did.

An hour and a half later, Jeff calls me in tears. He can't take the pain and wants to go to the doctor. So, I leave work and take Jeff to the Quick Care Clinic in W'ton. After two hours, a thorough exam, and a urinalysis, we were sent to the hospital for a CT scan. Who would have thought that you could get a CT scan at 5:30pm on a Friday?

An hour later, kidney stone confirmed, we stopped by CVS to pick up Jeff's prescription. Jeff was hoping it wasn't darvocet because they don't mask the pain as well as other meds that he's taken. I, on the other hand, was hoping it wasn't loritab because even Jeff admits that they make him REALLY ANGRY.

When we got there, we found that Jeff had been prescribed THREE different meds. Loritab (ugh, lucky me), but this time at a lower dosage. 800mg of ibuprofen. (TWO pain meds? hmmm.) And terazosin, which as far as I can tell, is primarily prescribed for high blood pressure, but also relaxes the muscles in the bladder, making it easier to urinate. And anyone who's had a kidney stone knows that if you're not urinating, the stone is NOT moving. And folks, that ain't good.

So, for the fourth time since June, Jeff has kidney stones. Needless to say, the doctor was concerned. Jeff REALLY needs to capture a stone so that it can be analyzed. Only THEN will we know how to modify his diet to hopefully prevent these events in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prison Cuisine

I visited a friend in prison over the weekend. I don't want to dwell on why he's there, how long he's been there, how long he going to be there, blah, blah, blah... but know that he's doing REALLY well. He's using the time to better himself. And I'm very proud of him for that.

My reason for this blog is to share with you something interesting I learned from my friend. Actually, more like AMAZING. I couldn't hear enough. I found it totally impressive.

Prison Cuisine.

First, I want to mention, there IS in fact a cafeteria at the prison. But for reasons I'd just as soon not have to relive by typing them for all to see, my friend (and many others) choose NOT to eat there. Instead, they purchase items from a predetermined list of appropriate items that are delivered directly to their cells.

According to my friend, there is no cookbook. But let me tell you, my friends, there should be! The inmates have what they call a 'slam'. That's when they all bring something from their 'pantry' to the table. Everything becomes an ingredient for something better. And you'd be amazed at what they can do...with Raman Noodles and a microwave!

Apparently Raman Noodles are a staple item in their kitchen. They are the primary ingredient when making pizza crust. Who would have thought?! The inmates also make various soups, apple pies, and caramel popcorn... among other things. They even use the packaging for these items as cooking utensils.

Needless to say, there are a select few that are considerably more talented in the role of chef. But the fact that they all work together to develop these unique and tasty concoctions, I think it's just amazing.
I still think someone should take the time to write down these recipes.
PS - I have a picture of me with my friend, but I haven't scanned it in yet. As soon as I do, I'll post it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Sad Day for Colts Fans

Colts Coach Tony Dungy has decided to retire. He is a stand-up guy, a dedicated husband and father, a devoted Christian, and an inspiration. He will be missed.


Irsay spoke of Dungy for nearly 10 minutes before a room filled with media and Colts employees, turning the stage over to Polian after an emotional speech during which he fought tears. Before he finished, Irsay read a poem he said “sums up my belief in what Tony inspired on our journey when we finally did win the Super Bowl and what it stood for and what it meant to me:”

Once upon a time – oh, what a time it was, a time that moved within us – the seeds of our humble beginnings,
We would gather in our circles and pray together on sore, bended knees, holding hands to keep our dreams from escaping from our hearts,
We had heard about a time, a time that might be ours, a time that the spirit might deliver – when long tired days were shared within those rooms,
And we would lose some along the way, but we would honor them with a gift of conviction and faith,
We would hold on with nothing left within us except the will that says, ‘Hold on,’
We would cry and we would laugh,
We would suffer and we would rejoice,
We would get angry and we would meet sadness,
But we would always find our circle,
With clenched hands and heads bowed, and ask for the courage when the distance seemed too far,
Then, on a rain-drenched, windy night, hiding deep inside a magical, Florida winter, we finally walked softly into our time.

Irsay then turned to Dungy.

“That kind of sums up what the journey has been with you, Tony,” he said. “I just can’t thank you enough, Tony, for all you have done, and the way you have brought the horseshoe back to such a height that it stands for so many special things.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's Time to Pray

If you are opposed to abortion, please read the information below and join us in prayer and fasting January 11-19, 2009.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) will be signed into law if Congress passes it on January 21-22, 2009. The FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion. If signed into law, all limitations on abortion will be lifted, resulting in the following:

  1. ALL hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, will be required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens, Bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals - more than 30% of all hospitals in the U.S.
  2. Partial birth abortions will be legal and have NO limitations.
  3. All U.S. taxpayers will be funding abortions.
  4. Parental notification of abortions on minors will no longer be required (regardless of age).
  5. The estimated number of increase in abortions is 100,000 annually.
Just as important, the government will now have control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, Down Syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have.

Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly true. As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

If these petitions become fully law, the U.S. Bishops have threatened to shut down All Catholic hospitals in America – roughly 30% of hospitals. Think of the negative impact this would have on health care in our country! Think of the negative impact this would have on our economy!

PLEASE JOIN US in saying a novena (nine days of prayer) and fasting from January 11-19. For Catholics, the prayer of choice is the rosary for the special intention of stopping the FOCA. For non-Catholics we encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intention for nine consecutive days. We hope and pray this will branch and blossom to become a global effort.

Please do the following 3 things:

  1. Pass this letter to 5 or more people as soon as possible (so as many as possible can start praying on January 11).
  2. Say a novena from January 11-19, asking God to prevent the FOCA from becoming law in the U.S.
  3. Fast at least 2 days during this novena (either a complete fast of bread and water or a Lenten fast of no meat and meals limited to one regular meal and two lesser meals during the day).
Remember that with God all things are possible and the power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless killing of defenseless children, please join us in prayer and fasting.

What else can we do besides pray and fast?

  1. Encourage your church leaders to include prayers of petition regarding this issue in their general worship gatherings daily/weekly.
  2. Write your congressman and express your concern. If you do not know how to contact your congressman, links are given below to help you find out.
  3. Learn how to explain the pro-life position with respect and love for all. Learn the issues.
  4. Visit the websites of front-line organizations who are leading the fight for respect and dignity for all life. listed below. Note:photos and videos at pro life.com website are very graphic.
  5. Participate in the National Pro-Life Postcard to Congress campaign being sponsored by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.See the link below.
  6. Seek out local pro-life groups or efforts.

How do I contact my Congressmen and Representatives?

The following is a link to a page where you can locate information about your representatives and with direct links to their websites.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

What I'm Writing

I've never done this, but I'm going to blog about what I'm writing.

Not only does this book not have an ending, it doesn't have a title. So feel free to offer suggestions.

There are three primary characters. Right now, I'm referring to them as seasons. It helps me to keep them straight and to give them their own personalities.

"Winter" is a single parent to a teenage son, in her late 30's. She works hard doing computer support and travels consistently for work. She's been divorced since her son was very young and has never seriously considered remarrying. So, she's had to learn to balance her career, parenting, AND the household budget. Unsurprisingly, she struggles with at least one of those chores at all times. Her son is a challenge at best and she regularly feels like a failure as a parent. Much like the season, "Winter" is cold, hard, and bitter. She's not a horrible person, she's just worn down and burned out. This woman needs a vacation and a serious attitude adjustment.

"Autumn" is also in her late 30's and works as an administrator. She has never been married and doesn't have children. But she desperately wants both. She feels like time is getting away from her to make either of those things happen. But she so longs for her own family. When "Winter" is venting about her son, "Autumn" craves even THAT contentious relationship. Anything to know the feeling of motherhood. She is everyone's favorite aunt and babysitter. She is so good with children. And secretly she has to admit that she's considered alternatives to starting her own family (single-parent adoption, science, etc.) But that's not what she wants. She wants the fairy tale. She wants to find the man of her dreams, make babies, and enjoy life in a house full of kids. Much like the season, "Autumn" is so many people's favorite. She's friendly, and easy to be around, never met a stranger in her life. She's comfortable and stable and secure with who she is. But she wants more.

"Summer" is in her mid-30's and works in marketing and advertising. She's never been married, but is engaged to her best friend. She's at the point in her life where she can afford to have the wedding of her dreams, so she's going to. She's a little more material than her friends, always the fashion plate, every hair in place, wouldn't dream of leaving the house without her make-up. But she's also bubbly and fun. Right now, her entire life is all about planning the perfect wedding. Much like the season, "Summer" is fresh and bright. She's just a little sprite, beautiful and bouncy.

These three women work together and are great friends. They get together after work every other Friday for their Girls' Night Out (GNO on their calendars). They share everything... laughter and tears, hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares. And sometimes, they get brutally honest with each other, even when it hurts.

So, picture this:
  • "Winter" is constantly fighting her out-of-control teenager. Of course she loves him, but she also looks forward to the weekends that he's at his dad's. Otherwise, she's driven to do her job very well, sometimes at the expense of everything else...including her son.
  • At this point in her life, "Summer" can think of nothing but planning her wedding and starting her life with her soul-mate.
  • "Autumn" often finds herself in the middle, trying not to be jealous of her friends, while trying to relate to their frustrations and celebrations...wondering if they ever consider her place in life.
As the wedding plans are coming together, "Summer" gets pregnant. She has all but decided that she WILL NOT be six months pregnant and sporting a baby bump in her Vera Wang bridal gown. "Autumn", who has felt the loss of every child she has had to hand back to its mother, pleads with "Summer" to protect this life. "Summer" starts to see "Autumn's" true heart with respect to motherhood and finds herself falling in love with her unborn child, appreciating this miracle of life. But in a very tragic turn of events, "Summer" loses her baby, completely devastating her. And the only person that can console her is "Autumn".

That's as far as I've gotten. I know I need to include "Winter" in more of this story. But I'm not sure exactly where she fits in. She will...somehow. And I'm not sure where to take the story from here. 'Chick Lit' (drama for women) has to have a happy ending. But I'm not sure how to adequately overcome the tragedy of the loss of "Summer's" baby. So, I've considered pulling that facet of the story. But I think it belongs, so I'm a little torn.

So, I've been playing with a few ideas for endings. (That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone if you read yesterday's post.) Nothing is hitting me as the right direction yet. But it'll come to me...hopefully soon. Until then, I've been editing the chapters that I are already written, getting to know my characters a little more, adding a little humor, 'painting' the scenery a bit to allow the reader to 'see' the story.

That's one of three books that I'm somewhere in the middle of. But it's the one that's getting most of my time right now. I love it and really want to finish it. I have probably 8-10 books that I've started, but never finished. But they don't all hold the same interest for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What I'm Reading

I love to read. And I read a lot. Mostly fiction. I like to be entertained, to be completely removed from MY world and placed in a story I've never been in before. But at least quarterly, I try to read something educational, usually about writing.

Right now I'm reading, Hooked by Les Edgerton. The subtitle is, "write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go". Sounded good to me; that's what every writer wants. And it's desperately what every wanna-be-writer wants.

But what I really need is to find this book's functional opposite. No, not a book that pushes readers away after 3-5 pages. More like, a book that ties all of the loose ends together so that the book ends in a way that satisfies the reader.

I can create believable, lovable characters. I can even create relationships between those characters. I'm not great at irony and suspense, but I think I can tell a pretty good story. And I love to write. I LOVE to sit at my PC and type away, making up the story as I go along, or wading through notes that I've made to put things into a more logical order. What I can't seem to do is FINISH a book.

Sometimes the problem is that I simply don't know what the ending of the story is. I've recently started exercising that part of my story-telling. I see an advertisement for a new movie or an upcoming episode of a television show and I try to imagine how it would end. What twist would there be that would surprise the reader, but still be believable? Who makes it to the end of the story and who doesn't? Is there a way to work the ending so that a sequel is expected/warranted?

Sometimes the end of the book is too predictable or not very interesting. I hate that. Whether I'm reading it or writing it, I hate that. But I have a difficult time shifting the story to an alternate ending. Sometimes I'll read the last couple of chapters or my chapter headings to see if a new idea comes to me. I'm just not that practiced at the endings.

And sometimes, I'm just enjoying the characters and their story so much that I don't want it to end. I have to admit, this happens to me a lot when I'm reading as well. I hate to see the end of the book come.

Nevertheless, every book that has a beginning MUST have an ending. And although I am enjoying reading this handy-dandy book on creating amazing beginnings, I need to find it's mirror. I'm sure it's out there. So, if any of you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Monday, January 5, 2009

'09 Resolutions

I know, I know. It's about time. Actually, I came up with my resolutions Saturday; I just didn't take the time to post this blog entry until today. And then, only because I'm at home, sick.

I have decided that in order to stay on track with my 40X40 goals, my New Year’s resolutions should be in line with them. So, here’s my list.

Resolution #1
Do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
This resolution is in line with at least three of my 40 X 40 goals:
  • Lose 70 pounds. (#1)
  • Walk two miles every day for a month. (#4)
  • Run a 5K. RUN THE ENTIRE 5K. (#5)

Resolution #2
Spend at least 15 minutes writing every day.

This resolution is in line with at least three of my 40 X 40 goals:

  • Write a book. (#2)
  • ...and have it published. (#3)
  • Complete my Winghill writing course. (#29)

Resolution #3
Put 10% of my income into savings. AND Reduce my existing debt by 20%.

This resolution is in line with at least two of my 40 X 40 goals:

  • Debt free except for the house. (#17)
  • Donate $1,000 anonymously to a worthy cause. (#39)

Resolution #4
Read at least five chapters in my bible every day.

This resolution is in line with at least two of my 40 X 40 goals:

  • Read my bible cover to cover. (#16)
  • Visit IHOP. (#37)

Resolution #5
Write letters to Jeff twice a month.
This one doesn't really affect my 40 X 40 goals. But I think it will be a good way to touch my teenager's life every once in awhile. We talk. But not always about the important things. He's busy; I'm busy. I just don't want to lose any more opportunity to parent him than I already have. I want to use the letters to lift him up, counsel him, remind him about the important things, and tell him something that I love about him. With any luck, he'll be going away to college in 7-8 months. And I look forward to sending him cards and notes.

So that covers mind, body, soul, and financial responsibility. I also have a resolution to redecorate, clean, organize, and repair my home. I'm just not sure where to start with that one...or how to track it. But with my new job, I'll be working much less overtime. And I won't have to travel much, if at all. And I can't imagine having to bring work home with me. So, I want to take advantage of all the free time.

I've even added 'tickers' to my sidebar to keep track of my progress. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

It's January 1, 2009. Maybe it's because I work for the government and we've been referring to FISCAL year '09 for three months. But I just don't think the turn of a new year is all that big of a deal.

Sure, we get the day off work. We have to change our calendars. We have to get used to putting a new year on every check that we write.

It's even a holy day of obligation in the Catholic church.

But really, it's just another day. It's not like we're celebrating our freedom or a victory over something. We're not commemorating or memorializing anyone or anything. We simply take advantage of another opportunity to party.

Earlier today, I watched a montage on one of the news channels that showed a 10-15 second snippet of several cities celebrating the last moments of '08 and the first moments of '09. Fireworks, people cheering and clapping, toasts being made, everyone kissing someone, confetti, ooooh's and aaaah's and wow's in several different languages.

All because the second hand went past the 12.

Sometimes I think we are a strange people.
At any rate, I hope everyone has a great day!