Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year....

Its a new year. Almost.

I will be celebrating at a party tonight, I don't know if I'll make it till midnight...this getting old stuff really stinks.

So, I got the new planner pages and cleaned out my cluttered planner. Of course, I saw the goals I had set for myself last year. They will pretty much be the same goals this year. Only this year will be different...I will lose that 25 pounds I gained through 2007 and 2008. While I didn't lose the weight in 2009, at least I didn't gain any more. I will pay the darn credit card off... Styker breaking his leg at the end of 2007 really set me back! Then, when it looked so close to being paid off in 2009....all the car repairs nailed me. Here is praying the plan still holds to be debt free in March (oh, please, no more car repairs!).

This month, I'm going to try to simplify things, stream line, purge all the clutter in my life. I'm hoping that 2010 allows me to have more time to spend with friends and doing things I enjoy like traveling.

Have a safe evening everyone! See you next year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ohio Snow Driving Skills My @#&

My Facebook status today was, "Heading off to work, good thing for my Ohio drive in the snow skills, wish other drivers had them."

You know, I jinxed myself.

The townhouse roads are clear to the pavement. However, the road out of the development, through the big, swanky, single family homes isn't. You really are o.k. as long as you don't stop and stay in the packed down area. Well, a BMW got stuck in the middle of the road. There was just barely enough room to get by I tried and just got past him when my right front tire slid off the track and into 18 inches of snow. So now the road was really blocked and there were 4 cars behind me.

BMW guy had a shovel and he started to help shovel me out. We tried three times to get my car out of the 18 inch snow. The people behind me were very impatient. Then up drives a Merry Maid car...and they were going to try to pass the BMW on the other side through worse snow.

Come on people!

So, BMW guy and I dig out my right tire some more and this Pakistani guy three cars back walks up, doesn't offer to help push or help dig but says, "Why don't you put it in D2 or something to get more traction."

"I'm in 18 inches of snow, D2 isn't going to help me."

He keeps giving me driving advise.

"I know what I'm doing, I grew up in Ohio driving in the snow. I can get will just take a couple tries."

When the next try got me about 6 inches further but not out, the lady two cars behind got out and yelled, "You need to straighten your wheel."

Just so you all know, my wheels were straight on the initial get traction, but I had to turn to the left in an attempt to free myself from the 18 inches of snow on the right. All going straight would do is get me into more of the 18 inches.

She walks up and knocks on my window, "Straighten your wheel."

O.k. I was about to back-up and straighten ...but would still have to turn the wheel left. When that attempt also only got me six inches further. She is still standing there telling me to straighten it up more.

"Do you not see the 18 inches of snow on the right side of my won't matter if I'm going perfectly straight...I need to get to the left a bit."

Did she offer to push or to help dig. No. The BMW guy pushed my car with each escape attempt and helped me dig out my tire with his shovel the whole time apologizing that it was all his fault. The drivers behind us stood outside their cars, arms crossed, toes tapping, eyes rolling. I looked at BMW guy and said, its not your fault, its the weather and to heck with those people behind me. If they want me out so badly, they could help and they aren't. A look of relief settled on him. One more push and I was finally out.

I suppose I shouldn't wish for bad winter karma to get those people behind me...but I kind of do.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cats can be very industrious...but they aren't stupid

Ranger came out on the deck to help me shovel it off. With the huge amount of snow on the deck, I was a little worried about it with the snow weight. Ranger was happy to be outside...but very bummed he wasn't 'free'. He started digging and then looked to see just how much he'd have to dig....and decided to come inside. I don't raise dumb cats in my house. Hahaha!

I survived the Blizzard of 2009

I wonder when the t-shirts saying "I survived the DC Blizzard of 2009" will be available.

Yes, I survived. I haven't run out of toilet paper, milk or meat yet. One of my friends posted on her facebook, pictures of the shelves at her Safeway in Alexandria, VA. Milk completely gone...unless you wanted chocolate for your coco puffs. Meat section, empty! Clearly some people were planning on doing some serious BBQing. The only insanity I experienced was Friday night, trying to get gas. I NEEDED gas, I was on E. There were lines at every gas station like you'd think it was the 1970s again and the gas was going to run out. I decided to go to Target, get something to eat (all they had left were cheese pizzas), do a little shopping and then get gas.

At 9:30 when I left Target, the snow had finally started. My car was covered in a quater inch of the white dust. Off to the gas station. I won't even go into how annoying people were at the gas station. I am surprised I didn't witness any accidents or fights. I have decided that only the meanest of a species ends up surviving...nice, fair people such as myself, well, we get walked over. I got my gas, and that is all I have to say about that.

Saturday morning...I woke up to this:





My little porch decoration couldn't even escape the snow.



It was only about 7 inches at this point. Nothing an Ohio girl can't handle. It was also nice, light, fluffy snow, even though, it still took me an hour to clear the sidewalk and my car off.

At 10 a.m., this is what the car and the front of my house looked like:



I know, I know, already a dusting...actuaually it was about a quater inch of snow at this point and as you can tell from the picture of my house, it was snowing again and was coming down harder.

So, back in the house I went for a morning of baking (2 loaves of pumkin bread, lasagna, tomato-garlic-rosemary chicken, and a crockpot of chili). When I get baking days, I make several meals that I can freeze and pack for lunch. So much healthier and more satisfying than the boxed microwave meals. My house smelled amazing!

At 2 p.m....I took another look at the snow. I had been watching it come down on the deck from the kitchen but the gradualness of the buildup didn't phase me...until I looked out the front door.
Where the heck is my car?



Holy cow! It doesn't look like I had cleared this stuff off at all! the snow was almost even with my front porch and I have three steps that lead up to it. Steping out onto the side walk that was clear of snow 4 hours earlier, I was up to the top of my boots.


So, I started digging again. My neighbor cam out and commented "Boy, you must love to shovel". No, really I don't. I hated that LONG driveway we had in Ohio that we'd have to help shovel...then after we took care of our driveway and sidewalks, we did our grandparents' next door. My dad didn't get a snow blower until all of us kids had left for college. One thing I learned growing up in Ohio...its better to maintain throughout the storm...then to do it all when its over. I'd rather deal with just 7 inches of snow at a time...not 20 inches all at once.

Here are the results of the second dig out.



The deck looked like this...I didn't shovel it and I should have...I was just tired after doing the second clearing out front.

Remember from the photo I took in the morning, I had a planter on the table...can't see it now. Nor can you see the 10 inch planters that are along the back deck railing. In the morning, the top lip of the planters was visible, now...nothing.


Hey, is that Frosty the Snowman chillin' on my lounge?


The aftermath...these photos are from Sunday morning.





Not too bad. My neighbor was wishing she had done what I had done in because I only had 3-4 inches to shovel and clear off my car at this point.

In the afternoon, I did drive down to Quantico to photograph the museum in the snow. I'll blog about that later today. The Federal Government in the DC area is closed, I'm taking advantage of this rare free day (I do have to use vacation) to get some other things done around the house before Christmas...then I'll be back catching up on all my blogs.

Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas, um I mean, Holiday Partied Out.

It has been back to back Christmas/Holiday Parties this weekend.

Friday night, the singles at church had their party. It was really nice. Even though we all are dressed nicely for church on Sunday it was fun seeing everyone in cocktail attire. The food was GREAT too. It was catered by Macaroni Grill and they had a lot of food. For $25, this was the best value for a Christmas party ever.

My favorite series of photos from the evening: The Usual Suspects




Below, me and the ladies from my small group (aka Bible Study) that attended. Everyone was so pretty. What an awesome bunch of ladies.


Below, our social chairmen offering up prayer before we ate. They did an awesome job with decorating, planning...everything. Top notch.


Saturday during the day, Santa visited the museum. It is so much fun watching the excitement and shyness of kids when they meet Santa. If you still believe, stop reading until after the pictures are posted.

Our Santa is the father of one of the museum staff members.



This little girl was to afraid to sit on Santa's lap, this was the closest she would get. However, at lunch time, Santa was up in the Mess Hall having lunch with his "elf" and daughter and the little girl saw him. She had eyes as big as saucers and exclaimed "Santa! Santa!" We laughed, as she was probably shocked that Santa actually eats. She still wouldn't get near him. She did say good-bye when she left.


I remember the one time we went to visit Santa...I think I was 5 or 6. The Santa in my hometown was this old Polish guy with a long white beard and long white hair. I seem to recall he may have even still had a bit of the Eastern European accent. Well, I was so excited to meet Santa...but a couple kids in front of us got scared and started to cry and that scared me and I think I threw a fit and never had my picture taken with Santa. I had it taken yesterday.


This next group of ladies with Santa are future Marines. They are Poolees that came with their Recruiting Station for a visit to the museum. Poolees are high school students who are in the delayed entry program, meaning they have signed a contract to enlist in the Marine Corps when they graduate.


This next bunch are Blue Star Moms. Blue Star Moms are mothers of service men and women. They all posed with Santa while holding photos of their children. They also wanted the two Marines manning the Toys for Tots drop off to be in the picture with them.


Then the mad rush home to get ready for my company Christamas party that was held at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the BIG Air and Space museum out by Dulles Airport. There were 3400 people there. Holy cow...when I pulled into the parking lot and saw how full it was, I figured I'd NEVER find anyone. The museum is HUGE and it was PACKED. Amazingly, as I was walking in, one of my project mates was walking out. I did end up finding several of my project mates.





Of course...I did walk around and take photos of the aircraft.

This is the SR-71 Blackbird.



Light effects in the Blackbird's engine.


The space shuttle.



Some of the crowd.


The Enola Gay.


Some aircraft flown by and to be flown by Marines. The air craft in the front is the F-35 Lightening II.


Below, some World War II aircraft.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Christians to Blame for Secular Christmas"

When I saw this headline a few minutes ago, I was like "What?!?" Of course I HAD to read the story behind it and boy, it sure was something I needed.

I really haven't been feeling the "Christmas Spirit" this year and this is my favorite holiday of all. Instead, I feel rushed, stressed, tired, fat, ugly, stressed, tired, boring, disorganized, frazzled...did I mention stressed and tired?

This paragraph stabbed me like a knife..

"Instead of allowing ourselves to get swept up in the whirlwind of "holiday" parties, useless gift exchanges and harried shopping, we can use those weeks to prepare our hearts and homes in meaningful ways for the Prince of Peace. Make time for family prayer, singing and the lighting of the Advent wreath. Choose cards and decorations that have religious significance."

I miss my Fontanini nativity set that the X-husband got 12 years ago. I loved that each figure had a story and I had planned as I collected a new figure every year, that as a family, our tradition leading up to Christmas would be to read the figure's story, add it to the scene, read from the Bible and really prepare our hearts. I had hoped that tradition would have been very special to my children.

As you know, I am no longer married and I never had any children. As my 40th birthday came and went, I have resigned, or am trying to resign, myself to the fact that I will most likely not be getting married and I'm about 90% sure I won't be having any children. You know, that just breaks my heart. Those are two things I just don't want to give-up hoping about, but the cold hard reality is I need to let those two hopes just go.

I was recently asked about my favorite Christmas shows...I haven't watched any this year. The favorites of the person asking were those stop motion animated classics from Rankin and Bass, "A Christmas Without Santa" and "Santa Claus is Coming To Town". Just the mention of those brought back memories of Christmases past, I could actually remember conversations. But then, I got kind of sad, we looked so forward to those shows. Now that they are on video, kids can watch them on demand, they aren't even as "special". I would love to watch the excitement of a child as they watched these, counting down the days to Christmas.

I remember the excitement of putting up the tree as a child. When I bought my townhouse five years ago and put up my first Christmas tree. I was so excited. I'm slowly collecting special Christmas ornaments (again, all the ornaments I had collected that were special to me were lost when I left my X-husband). I was still excited about unwrapping each of my new special ornaments, most are Marine Corps Museum themed. Yet, after it was all done, I realized, who would see my beautiful tree...heck, I have had it up now for two weeks and I haven't even gotten a chance to sit on my sofa to enjoy it. Ranger enjoys sleeping under it and I've lost another ball ornament to the cats' playful whims.

I feel like all the joy and excitement is being sucked from me. There are times I feel the crushing alone-ness that George Bailey must have felt as he stood on the bridge in Bedford Falls. I wonder what God's purpose was/is for me. I wonder if I failed Him. At the same time, I hear the nasty, jeering taunt of my X-husband "I hate you" "You are so unloveable." "No one will ever love you!" "No one will ever marry you again." "You will die lonely and alone." I've been hearing that voice in the back of my head a lot this past month.

My small group did this wonderful Bible Study on The Christmas Carol. Just as Scrooge's heart was hardened, I realized mine has been hardened too from past hurts, hopes lost, fear of a dead and empty future. I've lost site of these facts:
  • God created me and He doesn't make junk. Eventhough I may not be the standard of beauty, success or value that is the world's standards, He created me and I am beautiful, successful and valued by Him.
  • I am so valued and loved that He sent His son to redeem me, despite all of my faults and impurities.
  • He loves me
  • He will never leave me
  • He will provide for me
  • He will give me the desires of my heart - - I just have to let go of MY desires so that He can fill me with HIS.

I'll admit, I'm struggling right now. I'm wishing for that "Red Ryder BB gun" and I keep getting the "You'll shoot your eye out" as the response. So...what I want for Christmas is a change of heart, I want it to be in line with His. I want His will to become my will. Geez, is that hard and scary to pray for. I want to be able to live each day confident in whose I am.