Well, that happened

Yep, we did it. One day we were sitting on the couch, talking about our Navy retirement-celebration plans. After all, it’s only a year and half away. And we are planners. So, planning we do.

Should we take a terrific island trip, inviting our family? How about we spend that money  on a travel trailer instead? Oh, say, a pop-up camper. Nope. Won’t work. We would need a new vehicle, capable of towing. Our current cars won’t cut it. Let’s take a look-see at Class C motorhome – compact, easy to drive… Oh, hell.

And there we were – two weeks later, at Camping World, buying a Class A motorhome. Darn you and your sales pitch, salesman! Au revoir, Caribbean vacation (Sorry, mom – maybe next time. Wanna go glamping, instead?). Hello, swanky 36-foot RV!

I’m not going to lie. It tickles my happy spot every time I step foot in Ervie. (Of course we had to name it – it’s a new-RV owner law.) A leather couch, bunks beds, a KING bed, stove, shower, toilet, crazy amounts of storage space. Air conditioning! Yes, thank you.

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Oh, aren’t you cute?

We and Ervie have enjoyed two blissfully wonderful trips together. (Right now, Ervie is in the shop. But, that’s a post for later.) Our first shake-down weekend was just down the street at the Eagle Hammock RV Park, a local hidden-gem at the Kings Bay Submarine Base. It’s only a handful of miles straight out of our neighborhood, but was the perfect place to work out some kinks and learn how to use our new rolling home, in the safe shadow of home. Highlight: We made friends with three gators, who call Lake D their home. They’re not afraid. But, watching them from the dock, neither were we. Bonus: The view from our front window was amazing.

Our second trip (pre-shop) was to the Jekyll Island Campground, a great location with a true campground feel. Staying here took me back a whole lotta years to camping as a kid. (I’m pretty sure my family has had its fill of my childhood camping stories. Tough nuggets. I have a lot of them, and I’m not nearly done sharing.) We biked miles around the campground and island, stopped at the beach, watched a friend play soccer, and made s’mores. Seriously. Awesome.

Our next adventure takes us to, where else? Yup – Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. You didn’t think the Disney fanatic in us would overlook the Fort, did you? Of course, this is presuming we have the RV back from the shop. We figured it was best to have the smoking electric water heater fixed, the missing bolt in the driver’s seat replaced, and the kitchen vent in working order before our next trip. Stay tuned for more RV fun! We’re just getting started…

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Drink More, Live Longer

ImageI learned two ridiculously wonderful things last week. Let’s start with perhaps the most exciting, shall we?

One alcoholic drink A DAY decreases a woman’s chance of suffering the worst kind of stroke by 17 to 21 percent.* Yes, you read right. And no, the study was not sponsored by Bartenders Everywhere, or any other alcohol-related group/association (real or made up in my brain).  This one was from the fine physicians at Harvard Medical School. Hah-vahd!

They maintain that a drink a day will also keep the cardiologist away; alcohol reduces blood clots and increases HDL (good cholesterol) production. Well, raise a glass and count me in already!

Here’s what I’d like to know, though – the study followed 83,587 woman for 26 years. Yep, 26 years. Who, at the beginning of that study, wasn’t worried about the effect of drinking alcohol everyday for 26 years? How many of them were moms? (I would bet my second-born that most of them were weary moms.) Weren’t they just a little leery? Maybe a touch scared of becoming pickled?

Regardless, cheers to the bold women who participated and have now given me permission to not feel guilty about an end-of-day imbibement. (new word – it’s in the “dictionary.” Go ahead, look it up.)

The second tantalizing tidbit:

If Americans could get off their duffs and sit three hours less per day, we, the American population as a whole, would gain two years on our life expectancy.** TWO years! This, people, is good news. Surely since I can barely sit still on any given day, my personal life expectancy must be extended by at least 10 years.

You now what this means?  We can enjoy a spirited beverage of our choosing every day, (staving off a catastrophic stroke) and if we drink it while standing, we can do it two years longer!

I sure do hope this week brings more exciting revelations. Remember to drink responsibly and bust a move. Until next time – cheers!

* Thanks, Real Simple (August 2012) for those delicious tidbits of info at the beginning of each issue. They really are one of life’s little pleasures.

** The specifics tend to bore me. It’s also entirely likely that the meat behind the study is spoiled, but until another study comes along to debunk this one, I’m going with it. Learn more here: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/09/less-sitting-may-lead-to-longer-life/

Monster Mommy Moment

How can such a beautiful face drive me so crazy?

You would think that with only six weeks left of school, we (read: the children) would have the morning get-your-crap-ready-for-school routine down. To. The. Dot. Not the case. Ten minutes before bus stop ops* this morning, a child (I won’t point fingers at which one) whipped herself into a full frenzy over what to wear. Apparently, the outfit she envisioned in her mind did not exist in her closet or drawers. Oh, the horror!

An all too common look lately

Admittedly, this morning was not one of my proudest parenting moments. Rather than quell the frustration, I fueled the fire. How could a child who can’t close her drawers not have something to wear? I could have put together dozens of choices for her, but she was having none of it. None.

In the span of those 10 minutes, tears flowed and words of hatred swirled around and still linger in the air, long after the bus has pulled away from the curb. Could I have tapped into my compassion and handled it better? Without a doubt (insert beating-myself-up fists of guilt). Do I want more than anything to run into her classroom to hug it out? Sure do. Have we lapsed into complacency so close to the end of the school year? Yep.

*Sigh* Looks like it’s time to pull out a reminder of our morning and evening routine. After school, we’ll calmly chat about what went wrong this morning so it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully. And I’ll take an introspective look at what I could have done better so I can better diffuse future explosive situations. You would think that after nearly 11 years of parenting, I’d have the how-to-be-a-great-parent gig down. To. The. Dot. Not the case. But, that’s an entirely different conversation….

I’m not the only one, right? What do you do to make your mornings run smoothly? How do you (happily) coexist with your strong-willed child? Do dish below, please.

*as a military family, we use the abbreviation “ops” for a multitude of events, i.e., “time for dinner ops” means, “let’s get dinner started.”

Creating Thanksgiving Memories

It’s Saturday morning, a sunny, wintry chill in the air. One child is at a birthday sleepover, the other watching daddy play his new video game (insert giggles from downstairs and demands to, “ooh, get the moose, get the moose!”)  I am blissfully wrapped in a blanket pondering the upcoming Thanksgiving Day menu.

It’s pretty simple, really. And absolutely tear-free, unlike holiday baking forays of past. There was the year in Hawaii… Ah, cooking a holiday feast in a single-wall construction house in the heat of the day, window AC units blowing to capacity. I mistakenly used butter in my apple pie crust recipe. Rookie move. Long story short, I retreated with my tail between my legs to the bathroom and had a good “I suck at pie-making” cry, while my husband lovingly tried to resurrect an all but dead glob of dough.

More recently – the not-quite-done turkey disaster. The kids and I celebrated the day with neighbor friends. My husband, Kevin, then assigned to Offutt Air Force Base (Omaha, Neb.) had duty on Thanksgiving and wasn’t able to join us. My one job? Cook the turkey. (I also made green bean casserole, but that’s a no-brainer.) I cut into the turkey after hours of cooking and basting, and realized to my horror that it wasn’t fully cooked. Thankfully, my friend Beth had made a wonderful ham and Thanksgiving was saved, no thanks to my lack of holiday cooking prowess.

On any given day, I can pull off a pretty good meal. On holidays, I fall apart. I’d like to feign ignorance as to the explanation for that. But, I know full well why. It’s because a week before the big day, I put together this grand plan, complete with activities, main meal menu, snacks, drinks, etc. And somewhere between waking up and turning on the football game, my plan fizzles.

This year, Norman Rockwell’s not invited to our holiday scene, and I’m abiding by the KISS adage. Kevin will make the turkey (see above), I will pull together the green bean dish we all love (without cream of mushroom soup), heat up the Bob Evans mashed potatoes everyone enjoys (I’m a mashed potato snob, so this requires a shift in attitude – but good golly I LOVE this microwavable delicacy.) Instead of making Bobby Flay’s deliciously, but ridiculously complicated-looking pumpkin pie with cinnamon crunch topping and bourbon-maple whipped cream, the kids will help make Eagle Brand’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie. (It has “perfect” in the title – how can I go wrong?)

Oh, and who can forget the jellied cranberry? We’ll all stand in a circle, around the plate, watching in amazement as the gelatinous cylinder slowly descends from the can, making that sucking plop sound. As it successfully jiggles on the plate, we’ll throw up our hands in cheer! (It’s a crazy tradition, but it’s memorable, and it’s all ours.)

We’ll have cinnamon crunch bagels with hazelnut cream cheese for breakfast, thanks to Panera; watch the Green Bay Packers (our fave!) wallop the Detroit Lions; eat our fantastically simple yet amazing dinner at halftime; and draw straws for which movie we venture out to see – Hugo or Arthur Christmas. (My vote’s on Hugo. Paige and I have been reading the book…)

It’s an ultra low-key plan, but the kind upon which childhood memories are built. When I was a kid, our holiday dinners were a big event. Lots of aunts and uncles, cousins, football, and grandma’s famous pies. My favorite memory? The year grandma forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin pie. The adults were gathered around the dining room table, the kids at the kitchen breakfast bar – almost simultaneously after the first bite, we all looked at each other in confusion. Finally, a brave soul wondered aloud what was different about this year’s pie. We had a hearty chuckle over grandma’s realization that she forgot to add the sugar. The perfectionist in me cringes, but I can proudly say I carry on the occasional holiday cooking snafu tradition.

What are your Thanksgiving plans and memories? Extravagant or simple? Traditional or contemporary?

My Favorite Things. Starting Now.

This week, I’ll reluctantly surrender the part-time social media, writing, public relations, everything-communications gig I’ve been fortunate enough to do from home. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve found myself in a “what to do today?” conundrum. But here I am, resilient and ready.

My best strategy for avoiding daily online shopping? Recently, a friend (you’re awesome, Amy!) posted this as her Facebook status: “In challenging times, creative people get creative…” It was exactly the message I needed to see at just the right time.

Guess it’s time to get creative. Starting now, here are a few of my favorite things to keep me busy and creative:

Learning to make biscotti. Peppermint, to be exact. I recently bought a box of these at the Metropolitan Home Cooking Show in D.C. (I should have bought at least a dozen!) Bellas Home Baked Goods makes an amazing rendition. However, I’m frugal. And spending $7.50/box plus shipping isn’t going to cut it. After all, I need to support my kids’ new-found hot chocolate and peppermint biscotti habit – without a paycheck.

Making homemade marshmallows. You know the kind – fluffy, big, monopolize-the-hot-chocolate-cup variety. Sure, it would be easier to drop by Williams-Sonoma, but then I would fall in love with a shiny new baking sheet. And a sharp knife. Ooh, look – Star Wars-shaped pancake makers… See? Homemade it is!

Sewing Christmas gifts. I can’t elaborate much on this one without giving away my gifting secrets. Theoretically, there’s plenty of time to whip up some handmade _________ (fill in the blank).

Painting the house. I’m on track to paint every. single. wall. I lured my husband to the computer one night (sexy, yes?) to view my newest paint-color obsession. He quickly retreated, hands to the sides of his head, yelling as he escaped to the hallway, “Painting is not a hobby!” Well, not if you loathe it, it isn’t. I, however, appreciate a change of scenery. Sherwin Williams’ Truepenny awaits the adjoining kitchen and dining room walls.

That should do for awhile, don’t you think? What are some of your favorite things?

Dear Diary

Starting a blog feels a lot like writing a public diary.

Dear Diary,
Today I started a blog. I miss my mom. Hope it’s nice outside tomorrow….

Seriously though. I just heard on the news (so it must be true) that numerologists say this once in a lifetime (longer, if you happen to live to be over a century old) occurrence of 11-11-11 is a springboard to goodness; anyone pursuing their dreams, starting today, will see them come true. Just like that. Now wasn’t that easy?

So here I am. Starting a blog. On the seemingly most appropriate day possible. My dream? I have a vague idea and it involves writing for Mac Life magazine. A girl can dream, right? In the meantime, I’ll grab whatever rewarding gig comes my way.

Stay tuned for ramblings about my new favorite things, thoughts on boxed wine, writing a new life chapter and more.