Friday, December 28, 2012

After Christmas Blues

Now that all the rush of the holidays is through, no more shopping to be done, sales to hit or decorations to be hung and the fam made it back to L.A. in one piece, I am finding it hard to say goodbye to the joy of the Christmas season for another year. 

I actually started putting up Christmas decorations the week BEFORE Thanksgiving this year which Maverick continues to make snide remarks about, just so I could have a few extra days of enjoyment. I usually reserve New Years Day to begin the process of putting everything away but this year is different. I actually started yesterday. Maybe I was hoping to give myself a little time to grieve the end of Christmas for another year. I only accomplished putting away the Christmas village houses. I had to stop there because I just wasn't ready to put the rest of the decorations away.

Then there are the after Christmas sales (the only ones I really care about) which I missed out on because we were traveling back home that day. Which was also the morning after Arkansas had 6 inches of snow. Needless to say, Mavs and Poppy (my dad) spent 3 hours shoveling the street in hopes we could trudge our way to the highway, especially since we left our all wheel drive vehicle back in lower Alabama. Smart move, really, I thought. Of course we did think we would be offloading much of the content of the back of the big hoss we drove in but needless to say it was packed even tighter with no room to see out the back window. This presents perfect driving conditions with all the crazies around Little Rock who aren't used to driving in snow. Or the idiots with their four wheel drive vehicles flying past you at 60 miles per hour, throwing snow on your front windshield. Real intelligent. I have to say, makes me NOT miss living there. Then there was the hour long stand still traffic on I-40. Needless to say, everyone was playing in the snow. We saw about 10 snowmen along the way in the median.

So off my soapbox and into the real meat of the story, the after Christmas blues. As I sit spending a few quiet moments enjoying my beautiful Christmas tree, I have time to contemplate the holidays. For me, Christmas has always been about joy. The joy of the feeling of giving to others, either of my time, effort or money matters not. The feeling I get when I hear Christmas music, especially the music my mother used to play between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. It makes me long for the innocent days of youth when all I worried about was what I was getting for Christmas. Or the smell of the house with my moms own special Christmas Spice potpourri recipe. And of course the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve. I long for the days when it was simple fun with family.

Spending time with my brother and his new wife, even if only for a few hours, probably made this the best Christmas in a long time. We looked through old picture albums of when we were kids, reminiscing about times past, looking at the pictures of our family Christmases, seeing all the toys I have long since forgotten. But the memories of family and feelings of joy are still there.

The traditions my mother set which I continue with my children such as the Christmas albums my mother used to play on the old record player. Poppy so nicely made CD's of these albums for us kids. The oranges, apples and nuts in the foot of the stockings that hang on the mantel to keep us healthy throughout the year. The little special gifts left in the tree for us to search and find on Christmas morning. All of these culminate into such precious memories that when it is all over, leaves me longing for next years Christmas.

So, I will spend the next few days lingering in my nonsensical depression but until I can break out of it I will be singing lyrics I can't seem to get out of the running reel in my head, Kenny Chesneys', "Blues, what blues, hey I forgot em" .......

Until next time......

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End of the World December 21, 2012?

There has been some interesting talk most of this year about the end of  "time" as shown by the end of the Mayan calendar, which is December 21, 2012. For many, this is a time for preparation, for others a time of amusement.

There are many around the world preparing for tomorrow. Which reminds me of the show "Doomsday Preppers" on the National Geographic Channel. Think of it as a little of the show "Hoarders" mixed in with a little "SurvivorMan".  Doomsday preppers, as they like to call themselves, stockpile everything from food and water to medical supplies and seeds to grow their own food depending on the disaster scenario they are most concerned about. All this prepping is great for the businesses which sell doomsday prepping paraphernalia. When I did a google search for doomsday preppers, I found several pages of food supply companies, food storage companies and doomsday gear companies which sell everything from medical masks to bug out bags. I even found doomsday prepping groups a prep enthusiast can join.

All this may seem silly to many, but there is a little logic to all of this. Being prepared for a disaster of any kind could mean the difference between life an death. Having an emergency preparedness kit in your home with supplies is necessary for every responsible citizen.

The American Red Cross disaster and safety library is a comprehensive list of supplies needed for different disasters. This is a great resource to start your kit now. 

Ok, ok, ok...So you are asking yourself should I be concerned? What is this Mayan calendar anyway? A good article to sum it all up is

Really, to me, it is a calendar much like our own. Just a way to keep time. A way to mark significant events. A great way to keep a particular history or holiday. There are no doomsday predictions just an end to the days.

So to sum it all up, there is no need to worry about things we can neither prevent nor predict. Get your supplies ready for the next hurricane, tornado, tsunami or whatever your area has and feel safe in knowing you did.  Don't skip your morning latte tomorrow, hug your kids and wrap all those gifts! Christmas is only a few days away!!

Ending on a high note with one of my favorites, an old Irish proverb: 

Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Uphill Battle for Uplifting Thoughts Today

I had another much more uplifting post for today but in light of the news of another mass shooting I must talk about this.

The many mass shootings in the last several months have me a little on edge. It all reminds me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which states that safety and security are basic human needs right above food and water. That means humans have a hard time functioning if these needs are not met. Since the movie theatre shooting in Colorado, several conversations with friends stated they were afraid to go to a movie theatre or a mall. Each horrific act does make me pause and question what I do and where I go on a daily basis. It makes me fearful not only for myself but for everyone I know. I am on alert whenever I am in public, always analyzing the people around me. This isn't a huge jump for me. I taught myself to do this after September 11, 2001 and honed my skills during the many deployments, especially after having Harry. For some reason, having a child with me made me even more alert for danger. I am not paranoid, just prepared. I believe the more prepared and educated someone is the more empowered and confident they are in their ability to protect the ones they love. That IS important to me.

I am deeply saddened for any and all teachers and students at the school in Connecticut. I will pray for everyone of the people affected by this. Even if a person is not hurt physically the emotional scars can last for years.

I am angry that anyone has to go through such an incredibly all consuming grief.  As a mother, it cuts me to the core. I am angry at the person who perpetrated this heinous act. I am angry that I will question every decision I make. I am scared for my child whom I must let go of every morning and trust he is safe in the public school he attends.

Even through all this though, we are reminded of what is important........

........making sure we let others know how much we care about them and spend time with the people we love the most. Because at the end of the day, that is what matters.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Running My Heart Out, My First Half-Marathon Training

My journey back into the realm of training for a half marathon began innocently enough. Keep in mind it has been over two years since I ran further than about 300 feet without hyperventilating. But Maverick told me, after about the 100th time of me complaining about not being in shape, that I needed to get my butt out there and start pounding some pavement. He even suggested that I sign up for a half-marathon while I was at it. So that is what I did. Running over the last 2 months has been harder than ever. I have trained for a marathon before but that was almost 4 years ago after I had Harry (little Prince).  I continued training even through the last deployment, completing mostly 5k's but some 10k's, too.  But we added another kiddo to the brood since then with Lilliput and I have a stroller that only holds one munchkin. This presents a dilemma with Mavs' schedule and mine. One of us has to watch the kids while the other runs.

Between the schedules, diapers, sick kiddos and my sciatica causing me issues, the last month has been challenging. I am taking the trip back down training lane one leg at a time, pardon the pun. Haha! I did manage to run a 5 miler the other day which was the longest I have ran since 2010. I am trying to stay motivated but sometimes its hard.  Especially on a day like today when the temperature went from 75 degrees just a few days ago to 45 degrees, windy and rainy today...*shivers. Wow, how I dream of my old run by our house in Hawaii. It was always 85 degrees and the smell of the ocean mixed with the plumeria's was intoxicating.

Then there is the issue of food that is best for training. Lets just say my diet over the last few years has consisted mainly of coffee, coffee, coffee with a few grapes, steak and granola bars thrown in for good measure. I am getting back into the motto "crap in crap out" as I used to tell myself every time I would salivate when seeing a candy bar. This is not my first rodeo though. I have lots of healthy "runners" recipes in my arsenal. I know I need to hydrate, supplement, recover. So beefing up the water intake is an absolute, gels for energy during a run and resting are all things I need to remember to do. Then, of course, the proof is in the pudding as I noticed the other day when I put my feet to the pavement first thing in the morning with only a half cup of coffee in my system. Big mistake.

More on this later.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fiscal Cliff or Bungee Jumping?

I’ve been feeling a little like our country is about to jump off into the abyss with this whole fiscal cliff thing. If we jump off the cliff will we bounce back or will we be leaping unknowingly to our demise?

This is what I think so far:

1.       If the government allows us to go over the so-called fiscal cliff without some kind of consensus on taxes and entitlements, it means higher taxes for everyone and not just the top earners.

2.       What I call the middle-middle class, or if your income is between $54,000 and $94,000, will see an average tax increase of $2200.

3.       The President and the Speaker of the House met yesterday to discuss the fiscal cliff but there has been nothing new issued.

4.       If the government continues to drive this convertible off the proverbial fiscal cliff, Thelma and Louise style, deep cuts will happen in the defense department.

5.       According to many news reports today, the U.S. has ramped up operations in North Africa. What does that mean for our troops with the looming defense cuts? Less money budgeted for things like protective clothing, vehicle modifications, that keep them safe in theater plus pay decreases and harder times advancing in rank. All this could damage the morale and welfare of the armed forces.

6.       What do defense budget cuts mean for military families? The cuts would affect families with closings of such conveniences like swimming pools, childcare facilities, commissary privileges, libraries and even the quality of medical care and housing will suffer. Increases in taxes and decreases in pay could decimate already financially fragile military families. Many may need to become dependent on welfare and food stamps.

While I am glad the President put in his weekly address Saturday that we must extend the middle class tax cuts and work together to come to a solution, all this is rhetoric if there is no action. If my family is expected to tighten the purse strings so should the federal government. The officials in Washington need to REALLY sit down and get this work done. They need to talk about where we need to tighten and not just by slashing defense. Talk about entitlement reform. Bring back work for welfare, reduce unemployment benefits. There should never be an incentive for someone not to work. Also, reform medicare and social security.
So I ask you, what areas do you think the defense department will cut spending and what should the federal government do about the pending expiration of the Bush tax cuts? What effect, if any, has the talk of the fiscal cliff had on you and your family? Are you saving more, spending less, selling stocks, contemplating retirement, postponing retirement, budgeting more than ever, couponing more than ever? Leave a comment! I would love to hear!

Lingerie Fashion Show, various singers, What?

Yes, yes, as a sane 30-something woman I never should have watched a certain lingerie fashion show last week, but I couldn't help myself.  I used to identify with these women back in my 20's but what did I want to just torture myself about my lack of gym time, love handles, muffin top? Nope I was looking forward to seeing the artists and maybe the cool sequiny outfits the models wear. They are a beautiful representation of fashion and I love fashion!! Plus all the artists like Justin Bieber and my new favorite Bruno Mars certainly helped. I watched for the first time last year as Adam Levine sang about moves like Jagger and his girlfriend at the time strutting her stuff on the runway stopped to give him a kiss. I thought that was a sweet gesture. Because of that, I actually tuned into The Voice this year to see what that show was all about.

Back to this year though. I enjoyed the Biebs sitting so coolly on a stool singing about loving someone whether we are rich or poor, even though I am not a fan of the Biebs (probably the only female on earth who isn't). There I was transported back to my early 20's again.  I even enjoyed Rihanna singing but she didn't seem too excited to be there. And then there was Bruno Mars, he was phenomenally entertaining. I have seen him before performing on various shows and sing along to his other songs when I hear them on the radio but there was something about this particular venue that made me want to buy his music. He sang two of his new songs. I am still singing "oh ya ya, hey, ya... for too loooong"..... The newness of his classic look and sound is refreshing in an era of boys showing their underwear cause they don't wanna wear a belt. After all that watching of boobs and boys singing of loving girls, I thought what am I doing here, changed the channel and promptly logged on to itunes and downloaded the new Bruno Mars cd.

Is there anything you have watched in the last few weeks that made you love something and even go so far as to buy it?

Monday, December 10, 2012

NAUGHTY OR NICE which are you?

Santa must have a great sense of humor for sending this little mischievous elf to our house. Chippie was bungee jumping from the ceiling fan this morning and had left a trail of toys in his wake. He even brought back a message from Santa that said the kids were doing a good job! Those little elves! So what message would Santa leave with your elf? Naughty or nice?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Time Management Skills

Over the last few weeks I have spent an increasingly larger portion of my day researching blogs, blogging, creative writing, spam, writing online content and more. My insomnia got the best of me last night when I woke thinking of this blog and the ramifications of this on my personal anonymity and my family’s safety. I immediately put my butt in the chair and my fingers to the keys and commenced with more research. This is what I do when I need to understand a particular subject. I spent more than an hour figuring out the best course of action. So all this begs the question, how much is too much time spent on this little diversion from my everyday life? What is it costing me, if anything?

The first thing that comes to my mind is a little something I learned in all those economics courses in college, opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is for any given activity what does it cost in your own time and energy. A better way of saying it is how much time spent on the activity, in my case blogging, versus not doing the things I’d rather be doing. So to figure my opportunity cost, I will set up a system of daily goals. I will set a specific goal for the amount of time I will spend reading, researching and writing. I will set aside a specific goal for exercise and time with my family.
The second and third things that come to mind are what are the risks and rewards of this activity. Risk is fairly minimal. My personal anonymity and security are important to me. I will research and protect myself and my family as much as I can. I also risk spending too much time obsessing over it as I do many things I am passionate about. Which leads into the age old problem mothers have: how to balance everyone’s needs, including your own.

The rewards are four fold. First, there is the awesome feeling I get accomplishing something other than changing diapers and picking up toys for the tenth time that day.
Second, I have always loved writing. Blogging gives me a reason to learn how to write better. Forgive me, grammar police. I am fairly good at talking about anything and nothing all at the same time.
Third, I am back in school again without having to pay for it. I can spend my extra time researching and analyzing, learning something new or increasing my knowledge base and providing an interesting read.
Fourth, it gives me balance. Balance of mind, body and spirit. It allows me to focus on either something I need to understand or losing myself in something mundane. It is my own choice. I can devise my own therapy sessions.
After all this contemplation, the conclusion is continue with the exercise and see how far this goes. 
Life is a series of challenges, defeats and accomplishments. Life is about always moving forward, not being stuck with your feet in the sand.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas even though it is 75 degrees outside in LA.  Guess that's what I get for wanting a little downtime for my family away from the back to back deployments of Hawaii. We loved the seven years we spent in paradise. My husband especially liked that he was flying all the time, even though mostly over sand instead of water. I had a precious little boy, finally graduated from college and struggled through four deployments. I would say those little deployment gremlins can't touch me now, only the demons of semi-normal life. As normal as life gets for an Army spouse.