Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day

Once more I would like to say Thank You to all those who have served our country in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you especially to those who served in wars that weren't popular and did not give the Thanks that they deserve.  I always try to say an extra thank you to those who served in Vietnam because I think they dealt with war a world away as well as a lot of internal struggle at home.  I hope that some day the whole world will figure out how to live together peacefully and that evil will not exist anymore.  Until that happens though, I will sleep at night because I know that those serving our country are the most selfless, hardest working and honorable around.  I also would like to say a thank you to our veteran canines who have helped countless soldiers and who have put their life on the line to save our soldiers.  Not only do canines help our soldiers on the battlefield, but they are helping our veterans with PTSD back home.  Thank you for your service, words do not do your sacrifice justice.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Wedding Shower for An Anglophile

My sister loves the UK.  As a matter of fact, her
cat is named "Britain".  She has loved all things British (and Irish and Scottish) since before I can remember.  She went on a study-abroad to London when she was in university.   In the past several years she has received several Union Jack gifts from me, including a hand-knit pillow and tea pot cover.  I also have purchased British items whenever I find ones that look that they fit her.

When I found out she was getting married and we needed to plan a wedding shower, a British theme sounded perfect.  Initially, I was thinking a Downton Abbey themed shower.  Then I found out one of the bridesmaids had never even seen the series.  I saw several nice customizable invitations with Union Jacks on Etsy, but now only were we trying to do a cute shower, we were also trying to keep the costs down.

For games, one of the bridesmaids found a Downton Abbey game, but we ended up saving that as a "reserve game" in case we had down time.  The game that the bridesmaid created of British-American slang words was a fun one for everyone to do.  The bridesmaid also found perfect pens with the Union Jack on then (apparently she got these imported from England, and through a mix-up she ended up getting 100 of them and even a display stand but that's another story).

For decorations, we were fairly simple, red, white and blue ribbons and balloons, Union Jack cocktail napkins and little telephone booth boxes that I found on Amazon.  Inside the boxes were hand-made chocolates from some future family members.

My mom contributed a lot with little "London toy buildings" and British prizes.  The shower took place at a great little tea room with wonderful food and everyone had a good time.  A success overall!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A mini-mommy vacation.

This weekend, I flew back for my sister's wedding shower (I will do a post later this week on the "theme").

Who ever thought going to the airport could be like having a mini date with my husband?  He had to drop me off around 5 in the morning and I told him to park the car and come with me to check my baggage and see me to security.  We held hands after I dropped off my bag and got to see the sun begin to rise over the city and the river.  It was special, quiet, morning time.

My husband ran through a checklist of everything I needed for the trip.  I told my husband that this time I wasn't traveling with a toddler, so everything should be a breeze, and it was.

As I got towards my gate, I went ahead and got a coffee and I savored it.  I nursed that coffee slowly and put on my headphones and actually got to watch a new show on Amazon Prime.  It was a comedy but would have been inappropriate to have on with my child (besides the fact that with my child, I'm always chasing him around anyways).  I went to the bathroom on my own and as funny as that sounds, I kind of savored it.

I missed my son, but I kind of felt a little guilty that I did kind of enjoy peace and traveling on my own.  I didn't have to worry about asking anyone about food allergies and did not have to be vigilant at all about food.  I would NEVER trade my son for anything in the whole world, but I do admit a little vacation from toddlerhood was refreshing.  I missed him, and missed hugging him.

When I called back home, I found out my husband was not having quite that relaxing a time and my son did truly miss me- "Mommy, you get on a plane and come back home right now."  That was just what I needed to hear : )

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bodacious and Feisty Saints

This week, I was working with a coworker who I enjoy working with and we make each other laugh all the time.  At one point, she said, "I love working with you and you're in such a small package".  I asked her what she meant, she said, "there's so much spunkiness and feistiness in such a small package."  My husband and I were watching American Grit last week and I anticipated that one of the smaller contestants would win, because she was feisty.  My husband wasn't convinced.  I reminded him how when I was a 5'2" coxswain on my Crew Team, I still outlasted my 6'1" weight lifting partner.  As he thought about some spirited discussions we have had in the past, he did give feistiness some credit.

There's a new book out called "My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live" by Maria Morera Johnson.  I think this book is definitely going to be on my Christmas list.  The author discussed a couple of the Saints she highlighted on a Among Women Podcast.  Some of the tidbits she shared were vignettes I had not heard before.  These included a story of how St. Rose of Lima would smear her face with pepper so she was not as beautiful.  Another tidbit she shared is that legend has it that St. Margaret of Antioch was swallowed by the devil and she clung so tightly to the Cross that she irritated his innards and was "vomited" up.

It sounds like she has all sorts of interesting stories and is quite a storyteller.  It is a good reminder to find role models that do not conform and stand up for principles.  There have been many times of struggle and anxiety in our history and God has provided us with Saints to help light the way for us all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Toddler Birthday fun- Sports Themed and Frugal

Today is my three-year old's birthday.  We embarked on our first non-family only birthday party.  We had about 12 kids come over, including mostly daycare classmates and siblings, as well as a few neighborhood friends.

We were trying to decide between doing a "Thomas" party, a Curious George party or a "Sports" themed party.  In our area, most of the places that you take kids to and throw parties at cost upwards of $600 for just the facility.  We decided to organize the party at a local park.  Knowing that yes, we would have to share the facility with whoever else comes, but thankfully, it's a fairly private park in our neighborhood.

I decided to make a baseball and basketball cake and just used some round cake forms I got from Michaels (using the 40% off coupon, of course).  One week before the party, I did a "trial run" to see how the cake forms worked.  My husband and son were happy to "tast
e-test".  Pictures will be included soon (I am experiencing some type of technical glitch at this moment).

I also made cupcakes and decorated them easily with store-bought frosting and red icing.  I'm no Martha Stewart, and the time it would have taken to make homemade frosting would have stressed me out too much.

I made humus and harissa from Food Network earlier in the week to supplement the meal for the kids and adults.  We also had peppers, carrots and veggie chips and quinoa tortilla chips.  I pre-ordered pizza and pizza rolls and got 30% off the pizza because I ordered it online.

For favors, we got bats and balls and big balls to play with.  My husband and Dad set up hockey nets, T -all, soccer and more at the park for the kids to play, as well as the playground that had two different play sets for older and younger kids.

The tablecloths were from the party store and looked like basketball courts.  We also got a football, soccer, baseball and basketball balloons.  We put two on the wagon for the parade to the park and two at the picnic tables at the park so everyone would know where to go.

My son loved the party and we tried to keep it as budget friendly as possible.  Expectations for a 3 year-olds first birthday party are fortunately not set too high and we tried to keep it as casual as possible.

It was also a great opportunity for all the parents to get together and relax.  The conversation got into how daycare is a magical place where our children eat vegetables and take long naps.  We laughed about that for a while and discussed other topics.  I somehow brought up a "confession" that my son hates to change out of his pajamas and confessed that not only do I send him to school in pajama tops sometimes, but sometimes I actually dress him the night before in the outfit I want him to wear the next morning to make for an easier morning.  I choose my battles, I said.  My husband would have been embarrassed if he had heard my confession.  It then came out that every parent at the table I was sitting at agreed that they do the same thing and were relieved to know it was a "normal" battle and parenting tactic.  I made sure to inform my husband that we were not being judged.

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Cell Phone Adventure

I use my cell phone for so many things: calendar; personal and professional communication; and entertainment/education with podcasts. I also use it to make money with various rebate programs.  I use it for so many things and in some ways am incredibly attached to it.

I try to balance my attachment with taking cell phone free walks and trips to the park with my son because I don't want him to ever think I'm more attached to it then him.

I find myself feeling really old when I'm speaking with young staff members who never knew a time when people didn't have cell phones.  I still remember having access to my parents cell phone when I was in college was a privilege and born out of the fact I was dealing with various health issues/doctors, etc.  But that's another story.  I remember a time when there were pay phones.  I will let that date me.

I can relate to a story that Alli Worthington tells in her book "Breaking Busy In A World of Crazy".  This was a book I was in the process of reading on MY cellphone.  She tells a story of being a busy mother of five boys and having to take a business trip from California to Tennessee and taking a early morning flight to get the most out of her day.  (I can relate, I used to do this flying from Arizona to Michigan, it was rarely ever a good decision).  She got to the airport and was looking for her phone, she couldn't find it anywhere.  She asked a stranger to please call her phone number so the shuttle driver would hopefully turn around and return with her phone.  Then she realized her bra was ringing...

That story is much better told by Alli, but kept me laughing and definitely relating to the absent-mindedness and dependence with our smartphones.

My friend Monday emailed me that she thought someone hacked into my yahoo account.  I immediately changed the password and fortunately it wasn't an account I use very often.  I didn't think much more of it, except for being a little annoyed.  I had just decided to cancel my cell phone insurance as my phone is 3 years old and probably wasn't worth the monthly payments. Or so I thought...

Wednesday morning everything was going fine and I had on my mind a lot of things to get done.  I was going to work, but also multi-tasking as I am apt to do.  My e-mail kept shutting down and so I didn't worry and just tried to do a soft reset.  I wanted to have my phone available in case my husband or my son's daycare called me.  Nothing.  I could not get past the "apple" coming up on my screen.  Fortunately for me, my early appointment ended up re-scheduling and the manager was happy for me to take un-paid leave to take care of my phone.  The wireless store had no idea what was going on with my phone.  I couldn't call my husband to check with him on our plan options and which phone I was getting.  I definitely was getting the insurance.  Especially after the representatives told me if this had happened 2 days ago I would have gotten a free replacement.  I stayed calm and tried to keep my sense of humor.  There was definitely a part of me that knew how important that darn phone was to my livelihood, communication and generally how I run my life.  I did remember though- there was a time when I didn't have it and I did survive.  My family was fine and I would get a new phone and this was all just a minor annoyance at a very inconvenient time.

Perspective helps.  I look forward to reading more of Breaking Busy In A World of Crazy by Alli Worthington.  But alas, that was lost when my cellphone met its demise.

Hopefully I will get to read the book again, next time it comes as a free book on BookBub or maybe check it out from my library.  I do think the perspective that she offered, and I need to be reminded of, was helpful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hit the Road, Jack

One of my favorite memories from childhood was going to my favorite University's hockey games.  I remember singing and cheering, including the song, "Hit the Road Jack" whenever the opposing team was put in the penalty box.  I don't know how it came up, but I said this expression to my son and he loved it.  "Say it again, Mommy," he would say.  This evening, I showed him the Ray Charles video on YouTube of him singing the song.  My son loved it and wanted me to keep replaying it.  He kept changing the words to "Hit the Street Jack".

This weekend, we purchased a new car.  It was a big decision, and it was done in anticipation that hopefully we will be blessed with a larger family.  Making a big decision like this is hard for me, who knows that things can change, dreams don't always come true exactly how you want them and jobs change faster than you think.  There's not a whole lot of security in life, so it's easy for anxiety to set in.  Fortunately for the car dealer last week, I almost hit a motorcyclist who came up suddenly on my in my blind spot.  I was definitely willing to spend a little extra to have the newest "sensing" technology to help prevent this kind of thing.  As I drove the car today for its first big trip (A little over 2 hours in the car to work and back), I had a lot of nervousness.  First of all, realizing I had this fresh, new car, free of dents and blemishes.  I didn't want to be the first one in the family to cause a blemish to it.  I also had a certain amount of anxiety of not being familiar with it and trying to learn how everything worked and functioned.

This weekend, when we got it, I didn't really want to drive it a lot and I asked my husband if he wanted it more for his primary car.  I like my "Big Blue" AKA "Mommy's hot, hot car," as my son calls it.  Big Blue and I have been through a lot and we are familiar with each other, like childhood friends.

Alas, it was time to let my hubby drive Big Blue and time for me to get brave in the new car.  As I got into my trip and switched between podcast and XM radio, warmed up my heated seat and chilled out that life is uncertain and you do the best you can, I relaxed a little.  After all, the only one in control of life really is God, I'm happy to sit shotgun in His car.  I guess like a lot of things in life, sometimes you just have to "Hit The Road" and get out of your comfort zone.

Friday, May 6, 2016


We learn about hydration pretty early on in veterinary school and even before in basic biology.

Mother Teresa mandated that all of her houses have the words, "I Thirst" next to the Crucifix.  Jesus thirsts for souls and souls thirst for Jesus.

Hydration, in one form or another, is essential for life.  In disease processes that we don't quite understand or illnesses that are not well defined, as veterinarians we often give supportive care in the form of fluids, as often it can really help the comfort and function of a sick animal.

While having a Starbucks frappucino doesn't count as traditional hydration, I count it as hydration therapy- as in, "if I have it I may be more willing to deal with the people who cause me to want to bang my head against a wall."  I was rewarded in finding out that the individual who caused me to want to bang my head against the wall caused the veterinarian last year to want to pull her hair out.  On my spectrum, the former is a little less destructive...

You don't have to agree me.  You don't have to have the financial means to do what I am recommending.  Those things don't get to me.  What gets to me is when you plainly don't care about your pet and you want me to do something that is illegal and going to harm your pet simply because you are lazy and cheap...  Ok, I'll get off that tirade.

Hydration, be it physical, spiritual or a chocolate shake, can also refresh, reinvigorate and "save" us.  I often don't think to drink water unless I'm really thirsty and I've been surprised lately now that I have a Fitbit and track my water consumption, how far behind I am.

This sometimes happens to us spiritually too, it's often not until we are parched that we realize what we are lacking.  Just like I'm trying to be more cognizant  to drink enough water to keep me optimally running, I have to also be cognizant to fill up my emotional and spiritual tanks,  so to speak.

I was thinking of all of this when I went over to check on our garden.  We have had nearly constant rain for almost

a week, after close to drought-like conditions before that.  Like my tomato seedlings, there is only so much I can do to adequately water or not over-water once they are outside, in the real world.  There's definitely a large amount of simply relying on God's mercy, and that God will provide.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

4 Things I'm Loving This Week

1) Our Garden.  It's so exciting to see everything growing!  Hopefully my seedlings will survive being planted, but it is definitely time to move them out of their house.  I guess in a way it's kind of like having children.  You want them to grow and thrive but you get nervous about them surviving on their own.  Fortunately I'm not quite at that point yet but I know it's coming sooner than I like.  Below is an updated garden picture.  The seedlings on left and potatoes, garlic, carrots, etc on right.

2) Friendship.  I had the opportunity to catch up with several of my friends this week and many more of my family's friends over the weekend.  It is so refreshing to catch up and share memories.

3) Good natured people on the airplane this weekend.  My son and I took a trip back to visit my family and go to my sister's wedding shower.  I wasn't exactly thrilled about flying with him without my husband.  It's a mix between a marathon and treading water.  He's fairly reasonable except for one thing.  Wearing his safety harness.  He hates his safety harness.  I once thought I would never be the type of parent who bribed their child.  I am.  When you are on an airplane, with lots of people glaring at you because your child is making their restricted space unenjoyable, you change your mind on some things.  On the flight out, I was able to successfully bribe an end to the tantrums with Hershey kisses.  The way back, he was either not hungry, or on to my methods.  I had preemptively informed the passengers that I had Hershey kisses for the toddler or for them.  They laughed.  I ended up shortening the "I don't want a belt" tantrums with reading a variety of books.  I'm pretty sure no one on that plane wanted to hear about baseball or the Bernstein Bears and the Birds and The Bees.  But you do what you got to do.  I whipped out stickers, books, potato chips, anything and everything to distract my son from his restraint device.

Just as the flight smoothed and his attitude seemed to have lost turbulence, we were reading about batting.  A rather safe subject, one would think.  Nope.  Apparently some batters use a "red donut" to bat with while practicing before a game.  This is a weighted device so that when they are playing the game, it makes their bat feel much lighter and have more energy.  My son yelled to the whole plane that he wanted a red donut.  I told him, I'm sorry, that's the one thing mommy did not pack and I wasn't going to be able to come up with it.

The flight went on with behavioral highs and lows, but I hope my fellow passengers would have at least given me an "A" for effort.

At the end of the flight, after my son tried to convince me multiple times during the flight that the seatbelt light was off when it wasn't, the light went off.  He got out of his seatbelt and was happy and looking over the seats at the fellow passengers.  I asked him to tell them he was sorry he was noisy.  He complied.  Fortunately he's really cute, so they all smiled and told him it was no problem.  The man right behind him asked him if he ever found the red donut and winked at me.

We got all of our items together and between his bag, my bag and my purse, I had to hurry him off the plane in front of me.  I encouraged him to move as fast as his little legs could go, and so did all the passengers behind him.  He looked like a champion with the whole plane urging him on.  The pilot of the plane was up front, and due to my son's small legs, was able to quickly go to the cockpit, get his baggy of pilot's wings and produce one to personally give to my son once he made it to the front of the plane.  My son was so thrilled.  I was thrilled that the people who could have been very annoyed were tolerant and maybe even a little happy to see such a happy little guy.

4) Being blessed to have two cars.  While I've sometimes thought if things got tight, my family could go down to just having one car, I'm reminded what a blessing it is to have two.  Kind of ironic that today's episode of Berenstein Bears was, "Being Thankful for Your
Blessings".  This morning we had a lot of things to get done in my household and my husband and son were on the way out.  I had errands to run, a sick cat to drop off at the vet's office, a medical appointment to get to and more.  My husband ran out to me and told me we needed to switch cars because his didn't start right.  No one in our family was thrilled and I wasn't thrilled about how my day was going to be turned upside down if it had to get towed, but fortunately it didn't and I thought to myself, "we are blessed.  This is a first-world problem.  My family has a safe roof over our heads and my husband and son can take a safe car to work.  All is well."