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Wednesday, December 31

Brighten Someone's Day

Every year there are several landmark dates that I remember to take a moment and pay respects in honor of “that day”.  Most of these “days” usually leave me wondering, “What now?”

Now what?  Be content and file it away until next year?

Not likely, at least not for a couple of weeks.  About a week before the “day”, it’s on my radar and is there until about a week thereafter.

…A week before, so I don’t forget.

…A week after agonizing that I didn’t do more.

When one of these days arrived this year, I observed my moment of silence.  I pondered and researched and Googled.

It was November 11th and I was getting ready to do my usual.  At the right time, I stop, take time to remember, research, mourn, remind others of the day, and send off an email just asking others to take a moment.

But I didn’t remind anyone this year.

Not to mention, December 7th is only a month away and is another day that has been forever etched into my memory for remembrance.

I never forget these two days.  No matter where I am.

So what and do I do to do more?

I am only one person.  I have three children, three and under.  What can I do for others when there are many days that I pray someone will come and rescue me?

This year, I did something different.  I Googled some more and I found what I was looking for.

“adopt a veteran”

I didn’t even know if such a thing existed, but I always hear about Veterans in need in one way or another and I wanted to know what was needed to see if I could offer support.  Not to mention, I want my children to grow up and have a better understanding and appreciation of these heroes than I did when I was growing up.

Angels ‘N Camouflage was my answer.

Did you know that many of our Troops don’t get regular care packages, mail or even messages from home?  Having been enlisted in the National Guard and going through Boot Camp and skills training, I know first hand how heart breaking and spirit crushing it is to be at “Mail Call” and not get anything…  from anyone.

So, through Angels ‘N Camoflage, I have “adopted” a soldier who is serving over in Iraq right now.  I will be writing to them, supporting them each week, so that when it’s time for “Mail Call”, they’ll be getting letters from home.  I use "adopted" loosely and consider them more as a new friend and pen pal.

Here is my first correspondence, beginnings are usually difficult for me – I’m not good with ice breakers.  Many more letter and cards will be sent until they come home.  This was a card with the following graphic and message.


You deserve
to be really proud
of the important things
you're doing --
but at the same time,
it's only natural
to be scared, lonely,
homesick, or even bored...

in case you ever are,
hope it helps to remember
that people back home
are thinking about you,
are proud of you,
and are wishing you
only the best.

I hope to continue to brighten their day and feel good about doing something “about it” this year.

Do you know someone who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces?  Drop them a note or give them a call just to say thank you for their sacrifce.  Don't forget their spouse.  Being away from home is hard for the whole family.  A quick note or sincere call can be all it takes to brighten their day.

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Sunday, December 28

Re-Decorating

I'm doing some more redecorating...  again!  Some links, badges and elements will be gone for a while, but they'll be back.  Have a great day and as always, thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, December 17

A Different Christmas Poem

A new friend forwarded this to me and I wanted to share with as many people as possible.  I hope you do the same.

Note from Allison:
Whatever your beliefs on the war is, we can at least support the men and women and their families who are fighting for us and sacrificing for us, whether we agree with it or not. 

Poem that followed:


A Different Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. 
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight. 

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. 
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream. 

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. 
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near. 

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. 
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child. 

'What are you doing?' I asked without fear,
'Come in this moment, it's freezing out here! 
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!'
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said 'Its really all right, 
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.'
'It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times. 

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me. 
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,'
Then he sighed, 'That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.'
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile. 
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home. 

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat. 
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.' 

' So go back inside,' he said, 'harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.'
'But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
'Give you money,' I asked, 'or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done, 
For being away from your wife and your son.'

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
'Just tell us you love us, and never forget. 
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, 
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.'

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many 
people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people 
stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. 

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

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Wordless Wednesday - Strike a Pose!

Gosh!  Where has the time gone?  Taken 2 years ago today!
More Wordless Wednesday here and here - enjoy!!

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Monday, December 15

Yummy Fun!

While searching for a Greek recipe this evening, I perused through my usual suspects of online recipe sites Recipe ZaarallrecipesTaste of Home, and others.

Not that I didn't find a lot of yummy recipes, but I found one site to allow for some fun too!  This would be great for your young chef/cook to do to help you.

Here is a quick snippet of the fun, but you can go to Cooks.com to find your own favorite and add the fun.  I think we'll try this one.  :)

You can also print a regular version without the fun crossword if you choose.  However, if you do choose to circle the fun...  towards the middle of the recipe, you are given a few options and it'll look like this.

Enjoy!

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Email Santa!

Back when I was growing up, we wrote letters, you know, actually putting pen to paper and mailed it at the post office with a stamp to the North Pole.


Never to hear anything back.  And once that little letter was dropped off, panic would over-shadow any holiday spirit.

I forgot to add something or I changed my mind, now what?
Did it get there in time?
Did it get lost?
Did he have a chance to read it before Christmas?
Does he know that I won't be at home for Christmas?

Well Hello 21st Century!  Now we can email Santa and get an immediate response!  You can ask Santa for 3 things (and if you really want something, you can ask for it 3 times).  Since you only fill in the blanks, it is really simple and you don't have to sign up for an account, give them your email or phone or home address.  (If you want to be reminded next year to send a letter, they will ask for your email at the end, but that is it - they don't ask for it to send the letter - it's great!)

If you have more than one child, don't worry cause they can each do it and will get different responses.  It is really neat!

I did one too and it even commented on my age not necessarily be that of a youngster.  ha ha

Thank you to Adventures in JuJuBoo for posting about it.

Have fun!  Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, December 10

Shrimp Boats in Port

Having fun with Wordless Wednesday every week here and here!

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Sunday, November 30

Did I Mention that I HATE Blinds? Oh, Yeah, Contest Too!

So today, I unplug the kids from the TV cause, even though we primarily watch educational programs like on PBS and Noggin, enough is enough.  Not always on the education, but mostly.  Mine probably - I know they do - get too much TV time and maybe - I know we do - we need to remain more unplugged.

Anyway, so today...we color, play alphabet / color / shape games, build a few castles, play kitchen, etc...

We eat lunch, clean up, start dish washer, a load of laundry and I decide to take a moment to check emails, catch up on some blog reading, etc...  Before long, all three of them are running through the house like a pack of wild animals.  I go to investigate and I find this...

What is the allure of thrashing blinds?

This is the best I could do to fix them.  Your bedroom, you'll have to live with it for now.

Blinds and kids just don't mix - doesn't matter how old they are.  I have step-tweens and this site is normal for them too.

Unplug the TV?  Mostly, until I can get re-acquainted with my creative side and keep 'em busy and out of trouble.  So until then, I'm so excited to hear about Heather over at 
Home Ec 101 giving away a copy of Lizzie Swan'saward winning group Swingset Mamas Swing, Dance and Sing!  It'll be a nice change of pace from the usual.

Besides, who doesn't love a contest to get free stuff?  Head on over, many ways to enter.  Must enter by 8 pm EST tonight, so don't delay!

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 26

100 Blogs that Will Inspire You to be a Better Person

Hmmm...  This is why I love being part of the blogging community, even though I am really just a bystander in contrast to the popular names out there.  If you come across my blog, it was by accident, from a carnival that I'm participating in or are part of my friends 'n family circle and just want to know what's up with the babies.  I appreciate all visitors that stop by, even if just passing through.


"Everyone needs a little help sometimes in getting motivated, feeling happy or just getting those creative juices flowing. Luckily, the Internet is full of places to find inspiration. These blogs can help you get moving towards your goals, whether you want to give back more to the community, feel better about yourself, or just get in shape."

A few of the blogs that I follow are listed, I guess I need some inspiration.  Who doesn't?  :)  Stop by and check 'em out.  You'll be glad you did!

You can find them HERE.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 25

Support Your Library

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge is being hosted over at J. Kaye's Book Blog and I'm so excited to join in!  Since I tend to over commit myself I am going to stick with twenty-five this time around.  And since we can include all books, I'll be including the ones I read with the babies.  We'll see how many we actually get to since we just signed up for our library card in September after a 10 year hiatus!  I thought it would be a good time to get my three little ones interested in going to the library.  We've been going almost every week since, so this challenge will be fun to keep track of what we've been reading.


Click on over for the complete run down of the guidelines.  And check back often for new books added to the list.
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Happy Reading!

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What's on my Nightstand - November

It's that time again!  5 Minutes for Books is hosting the monthly What's on Your Nightstand Carnival. Click on over and see what everyone else is reading or better yet, link up yourself and share with us what you are reading.


Here is my short list of books that I am enjoying this month.

Inkheart (Cornelia Funke).  Have you ever wondered what would happen if the words you read aloud from a book, came out of the book?  This story has been fascinating and keeps you wanting to read more.

The Geography of Bliss (Eric Weiner) The self-help seeker in me wanted to know where "One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World" led him.  The author travels with world in search of what makes people happy.  Each place that he visits in his quest is interesting and since I am not a world traveller, I still find myself immersed as if I am there.  I can't wait to finish as the last chapters are closer to home.

Conquest of Mind (Eknath Easwaran) This book is one that I've had on my nightstand since September.  I had abandoned it somewhere in October and am taking another stab at it.  It's not an easy read, at least not for me, there is much to be processed.  With that being said, however, this has proven to be a great little book.  I've been seeking a book that can walk me through meditation and help me understand why the negative broken record from my childhood won't just break and let me move on.  Have you tried meditating and you find that your life just won't quiet down enough for you to "get there"?  Conquest of Mind speaks to you in practical terms and can help you overcome those distractions.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, November 24

Menu Plan Monday...Late







I'm so late with this week's menu that I thought about not posting, but then I realized that if I didn't I may completely fall off the wagon!  So here goes...

Monday - Leftovers from last week
Tuesday - Butt Roast
Wednesday - Beef Stroganoff
Thursday - Turkey Day  (I'm in charge of desserts... Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie)
Friday - Leftovers

As I was preparing the Parmesan Pork Chops for the first time last week, I was getting concerned.  Not a real lover of Parmesan, I was getting nauseous from the smell of the cooking Parmesan and finished cooking the last three with just salt, pepper and seasoning just to be safe.  Much to my surprise, however, the Parmesan Chops were awesome!  It's a recipe that will be added to our family recipes.  Even my picky eater devoured 'em!!  Can't argue with that.

I'm not sure about your, but I've been finding that we haven't been able to complete a menu.  Each week something comes up or someone else decides to cook and then chooses something else to cook or whatever.  How do you and your family stick with your menu?  Thank you for sharing!

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Wednesday, November 19

Wordless Wednesday

Proudly participating in Wordless Wednesday here and here.  Join the fun!

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Tuesday, November 18

Breathe Easier

Sam,

As you know for quite some time, you've had an advocate (maybe more) trying to get you to quit smoking.  But to no avail, Nicotine has it's claws in you deep.  So deep that you don't see the affects that the Second Hand smoke, given off from the cigarettes that you smoke, is affecting those around you.  What's more devastating that you don't *really* know or see what it's doing to you First Hand.  On the outside your tough composure tells me that, "you gotta die from something..." and then blow me off by lighting up.  You've been telling yourself that for so long that you actually believe it.

I'm not a doctor, but what I can do as a daughter, sister, niece, wife, mother and friend is give you information and support to help you finally kick this habit to the curb.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and November 20th is the Great American Smoke Out Challenge.  I challenge you to take the challenge.

Just within the 24 hours of the challenge, here are some of the benefits your body will be experiencing while you are taking control back from your abuser - Nicotine.  You can click here for a more extensive list from the American Lung Association.

Just 20 Minutes after quiting:
     Blood pressure decreases
     Pulse rate drops
     Body temperature of hands and feet increases

8 Hours after quiting:
     Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
     Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

24 Hours after quiting:
     Chance of a heart attack decreases

You CAN do this!  You are a fighter, always have been.  Fight this now while you are ahead, because when it comes time to fight Lung Cancer or Emphysema or CODP or any other nasty disease this abuser will unleash on you...  Quiting smoking, as hellish as it may be at times, will be like a walk in the park compared to the hell you will go through if you don't.

The CDC has a great list of resources available for you.  You can find it here.  And click here to visit the American Lung Association's free online smoking cessation program!

I'll be in touch on Thursday.  I hope you accept the challenge.

Take care,
Shanna

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Kids' Picks

It's Kids' Picks Day over at 5 Minutes for Books and can't believe that another month has gone by!  There is always an open invite to join in or follow along.  Either way it's a great way to see what other parents are reading to or with their children and what they have to say about the books and stories being read.  If you don't have children, but love to read... Click here to view the other book review themes that you can participate in or just follow along.  Avid readers must stop by.  :)


Thank you to Callista over at SMS Book Reviews for her suggestions to have a bit easier time with the children at the library.  I finally got hooked up with our library's online system and now I can easily place a hold on books that I want and get an email when they are ready to pick up.  Yeah!!

As for the books that our three thoroughly enjoyed over the past month, in no particular order...

This is a fun story, not about jumping on the bed, but rather baking a birthday cake for their mom.  How sweet!  From slipping on the oil and sneezing at the flour incident, my children squealed with glee when one or two of the monkeys would say, "Shhh, don't wake up mama".  Much to the little monkey's disappointment to find that mama's birthday isn't until tomorrow, the cake was still a success...  even after the firetrucks arrived!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin and illustrated by Eric Carle
My kids loved it, yes.  We even enjoyed it at the doctor's office while waiting for the appointment and Miss Isabelle recited the whole thing.  No, she can't read, yet, but some people in the waiting room were giving us some peculiar looks.  I just smiled.  What else could I do?

Tip the Mouse Can't Sleep by Carol Ottolenghi and illustrated by Marco Campanella
A cute story that goes through the motions of some typical bedtime routines and the same one that we try to stick with.  So if ever a "step" is skipped the book reminds us to remember tomorrow.

These are the few that I know they loved and there are others...  I have to learn to write down the title and a quick review before I take them back to the library.  :)

What books are your children into right now?  If you blog about it, make sure you link up here, let me know in comments and I'll be sure to stop by!

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