Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thank You Amy and Anonymous

I had a wonderful surprise in the mail today. Anonymous sent me a package from Great Cakes Soapworks.

Not only is this my favorite place for my soaps and lip balm - it was also total perfect timing. My lip balms are almost gone, and I was down to the tiniest sliver of my last soap.

Think I'm breaking into the fruit salsa soap first. It smells delicious!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Bryant Day Hike

Monday was a hot and beautiful day. I was lucky enough to go hiking with the older Girl Scouts out at a local state park.

It couldn't have been prettier down by the river. But talk about high humidity!

Maps in hand the girls decided where they wanted to go and led us on the way.

We crossed many bridges over the river and steams and wet spots.

We climbed rocks and explored.

The brave ones stood on the edges of plenty of questionable overhangs.

And after we were done we headed out to Youngs Dairy for some home made ice cream to cool off. Which was very necessary as we were soaked in sweat and none of us brought enough water for how hot and humid it was.

I am really going to miss the outdoor fun I have with these girls.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thinking of You Daddy

This is a repost from a few years ago. Missing my daddy alot lately.

I'm quite sure most are at least having a cookout or little vacation or some such celebration. I can only hope everyone takes at least a moment to stop and think of those that have protected our country over the years.

Today I think about my father, who I lost at Christmas. He was a retired Army man. He served in Vietnam as a young man and then stayed in many more years until retiring after 20 years of service. He loved his job and believed in his country. He lived by a strict moral code.

For the funeral my sister, mother and I went through their pictures and put together a picture CD to run at the funeral home. We found so many gems! My sister then made copies of the CD for all of us to have.

Today I am sharing some of dad's service related shots. Fair warning: He's got a wicked different sense of style....

Dad started out as an MP (Military Police). Perfect place for him. He was also a Game Warden in Georgia (where I was born) and maybe one other place also.
Dad was sent to France for a year when my parents were in the first years of marriage. It was an unaccompanied tour but that wasn't acceptable. Mom went to work and made enough money for a plane ticket and then flew to France to live with dad until it was time for him to come back to the states. Aren't they all stylish, partying in France?
No ideal...... but these shots crack me up. Reminds me of those photo booths in the malls.
After 5 years of marriage, along comes myself. Love our mansion. The custom steps are really something. Yes, the military pays BIG.
Look at that smile! So posed! He didn't smile like that!
Doing very important military work. Bowling. Almost as important as his playing on the basketball team or softball team. After seeing this picture I realized just how much my dad's ear DON'T stick out. Crew cuts are not kind to all.
The Criminal Investigation Division decides to start a pilot program letting enlisted people in. Dad was selected for the first test group and sent to school with some others. Up until that point the job required that you be an officer. If I remember correctly, when all was said and done, dad was the only enlisted one that made it through all the schools and worked the job until he retired.
Do you know I can't remember seeing my father in uniform? In CID they wore coats and ties...and that is what I remember.
When I was about 5 my dad was sent to Thailand for a year.....without family. This time mom stayed at home with my sister and I. The guys he worked with on the Fort we stayed on watched out for us. That's what our servicemen do. They watch out for each other.
When he returned he had a mustache. My sister wanted nothing to do with him. Oh, and see the shirt? I'm telling you, he had some serious shirts and coats.

I wish I had some cool stories to tell you. But, like so many of the military, what he did was not really talked about. There was a need to keep his activities quiet. I can tell you that we were moved after a bust high-up in the ranks. I didn't know that as a kid....he told me things later on as an adult. For the civilians that don't know.....they DO police their own and put them away.

I miss my father. I miss my grandfather, who also served over 20 years. I'm thankful that today my husband is home enjoying his family.

I thank all of those that are separated from their loved ones. We are thinking of you today. My God bless you and watch over you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Little Blessings

It's funny how a simple box of produce...

...can remind you that God is watching...even when you don't think he is anymore.

I am thankful of this gift of food at a time when all food money is coming out of a savings account that is slowing fading away.  Well, maybe not that slowly.  

It's the little blessings like this that always seem to mean the most in the end.

And let me go ahead and mention at this point that if you grow vegetables and end up with an abundance that you don't have time to eat or process -- please consider taking them to your local food pantry. I PROMISE you it will bring someone great joy and blessings. 

(We came by this abundance not because we go to a food pantry (yet) but because a local pantry was gifted with thousands of pounds of fresh produce that they couldn't use up -- and someone that was given boxes of food then passed on to others. A big, big thank you to Jen for her generosity!) 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Parenting Carnage

I don't know if I've ever done anything in life that is harder than parenting.

We all want to do it right. Some of us are even caught up in trying to be the perfect parent.  Like that's possible. I do at least understand that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We will all make mistakes of one kind or another.  But as we are not created to be perfect beings, that is just part of life.  Our job is to be the best we can be and constantly strive to improve on our short comings and adapt to each kid and situation.

So easy to say.

Not so easy to live.

And if you are anything like most parents, there is one really big area that we fail at over and over and over again.

That is -- how we talk to our children.  Or maybe I should say how we "raise our voice" or flat out yell. Or maybe its just the tone.  You know, that tone you would NEVER use on someone you valued, a friend, a co-worker, someone who worked for you -- but you don't think twice when using on your own child.  CHILD.  You wouldn't talk to an adult like that but you do it to your own child.  The child you supposedly love more than anyone else on the face of the earth? 

Tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. (And if you don't I really, really admire you because its not easy. I do have a few friends that have this almost completely mastered and it is awe inspiring.)

Yet we do it time and again.  And again.

Unhealthy or unhelpful criticism.

Unkind words.

Hurting feelings unnecessarily.

I'm happy to say that I am much better about this since joining the Christian ranks than I was before. Not that I've cured the problem. Hah.  Not even close.  Especially when I'm tired, sick or stressed. (Which defines my life right now.)

One thing that helps me is thinking WWJD.  Yes, the whole "What would Jesus do?"  Because lets face it, He would NEVER ever handle our children like we do.  And He would never scream, raise his voice or belittle our children to teach a lesson.

Because that is not teaching.  Think back to school (or for the unfortunate, your abusive parent or sibling or other family member).  Did you ever "learn" or strive to do better when you were treated that way?  Or where you determined not to comply or maybe just resent or even "hate" that person? I cannot think of a single time in life that being yelled at, or being talked to like I was less than dog dung EVER had the desired effect the adult was trying for.  NEVER ONCE.

So why would I fall into that same old trap and turn around and do the same thing to my own children? 

The children we are commanded to teach -- not verbally abuse or belittle.

The children we are supposed to be modeling for? Not pull the insulting "Do what I say, not what I do"?

The children that WILL resent us for being treated that way. Or think there is something unlovable about themselves and will hold their self worth in question.

The children that very well may reject being a Christian due to the Hippocracy in their own home. 

Concentrating on certain Bible verses does help me out on this issue.  Because I don't WANT to belittle my children. I don't want to talk to them like they are stupid.  I don't want them to think being yelled at is just "raising my voice" - its yelling.  I don't want my children to think I value others more than I value them... because I speak to them like they are less than but I'd never speak to others that way.  I don't want to ANGER my children into resentment or even hatred.  

Some of those verses:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
 even when he is old he will not depart from it.

You cannot train a child by "telling" (or yelling) you have to model.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Reproof is not is teaching.  It is not yelling, it is teaching. Not yelling or belittling is not the same as not teaching or disciplining.  You can reproof and disciple without ever treating your child like a less than. Reproof should not leave carnage.

Matthew 7:12  “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Do you want others to talk to you in that tone? Do you want others to yell at you?  Do you want others to "raise their voice" at you?  What do you feel when you are treated that way?

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

This is the one that comes to mind most often.  Some versions say do not anger your children.  This does not mean that we will never make our kids angry. It means we should not give them reason to be angry by HOW they were treated over an issue so that they can focus on the issue and teaching at hand. They might be angry for being disciplined for a transgression....but don't cancel out what you are trying to teach with bad behavior of your own.  Why should they listen to you at all if you do?

If we can't treat our own children with KINDNESS and love, what does that say about us?

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

I think its pretty clear that in our dealings, if they aren't done with love I have completely missed the mark and wasted the effort. 

Sorry this is such a long post. Its and issue that has been on my mind or in my home way too much lately.  And if any of you has any advice or other verses to pass along I'd love to hear them. Because I love my kids.  More than anything.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Daddy's Girl

Some of you know that my daddy is from Kentucky.  So that is half of my roots.  Mom is a Texas/New Mexico kind of girl - so that's the other half.  Kentucky hills meet the west Texas desert.

And I have an affinity for both of these landscapes that goes soul deep.

That's not something that I usually think about or dwell on or affects my day much at any given time.  But when I have been away from either (which is more often than not), a return brings a singing in my soul.  It's like the land welcomes you back.

This week I had one of those home comings when I met The Dog Whisperer for the day.  Just crossing into the state of Kentucky brought a smile to my face.  The familiar landscape made me happy.  I was back in daddy's country.

I enjoyed every minute of the ride.   I enjoyed the day walking through the restored areas at Berheim and the natural areas of forest and hills and creeks and mountains that is also a part of the area.  It felt almost like a big welcome hug.

And after we had our late lunch and it was time for TDW to head back to Tennessee, I was just not ready to call in quits.

Lucky for me we were not even a mile away from the Jim Beam distillery.

Bourbon was my daddy's drink.  It had its place in every home we ever lived in.  It went into hot toddy's when I was sick. It was a smell I grew up knowing and a taste that I liked when I got older. Although I turned trader when I found out I preferred spiced rum to bourbon.  LOL!

So, back to the story.  I decided I could not leave without going to Jim Beam and checking it out. (Plus I've had 5 wonderful months of company at home and a little time to myself now and then is just nice.)

 I used my trusty TomTom to find my way a whole .83 miles from where I was. The distillery is rather impressive and they are building even more warehouses for the aging. The economy might be slow...but apparently bourbon sales are not!
Did you know that white label Beam is the most popular bourbon sold world wide? I did not know that.

Yes, Jim Beam is the number one Bourbon seller in the world.  I also found out some other interesting facts. Like in order to be sold as bourbon, it must be made in the United States (has to to with the limestone springs).  98%  of the bourbon made is actually produced in Kentucky -- again, its about the water.  And Jim Beam produces 50% of that 98%.
I was lucky enough to walk around and find out there was a tour starting in ten minutes. So I wandered the gift shop until time and then took the 45 minute tour. It started at the original Jim Beam house that was actually used up until the '80's.  I think they are on their 7th generation of Beam's working/owning the distillery now.
This is the worlds smallest working still. It is licensed and anything made in it is taxable by our favorite uncle. It was a display made of the 1954 world fair. (I could have that wrong but its what I remember.)
The original distilling process was a much smaller affair than the big guys now.  Unfortunately we were unable to tour the actual distillery. But they are opening that up to the public starting in October.
We did get to tour one of their largest warehouses where the bourbon ages.  Each type ages for a different amount of time.  When a batch is ready they pull out that date and mix them together as the alcohol will be different proofs depending on where it sat in the warehouse.  By mixing all the barrels together they get a more consistent product.  But there is one area called the sweet spot that has perfect conditions and they actually bottle that right out of the barrel under the Bookers name.  It has to have a separate sticker on it to tell you the proof of each batch as it changes.

Now the warehouse was my favorite part.  Before the guide even opened the door I could smell the aroma. Charred wood and aging bourbon.  It was not overpowering as it was in kegs, but oh my goodness. If that was a cologne I'd make my husband wear it. Call me strange but that was like one of the most heavenly smells I've ever smelled.
I know this isn't a great picture, but what you are looking at are trees with black trunks.  Another interesting thing I learned is that there is a certain amount of evaporation that hits the air around a still. This covers the tree trunks and even the buildings with a black residue.  The government actually used this clue to help find stills during prohibition.  Where you find the black trunk trees, you will find a still.
We finished up the tour with some samples. Oh yes we did. And did I mention the tour was free? Well, its rather smart because then you go buy something after that taste test.  Brilliant.  And what did Autumn buy?  Well, remember me telling you about the top shelf bourbon in the sweet spot? The current batch on the shelf was the highest the tour guide has seen it since she's worked there.  Yes, I bought my honey a bottle of the 130 proof.  Should make for a nice celebration!

Then it was time to head back to Ohio and my family.  But I am so very glad I stopped even though I was by myself, yada, yada.  I learned alot and had a good time.

So my friends, if you are traveling alone, don't hesitate to make a stop. Sure it might be even more fun with your family, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it all by your little self also.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Walk To Remember

This last week, my sister-in-law, The Dog Whisperer, was visiting family in Tennessee.  I haven't seen her since last summer so I checked out the mileage between where she was and here.  A little too far at 5 1/2 hours.

But Louisville Kentucky is half way between at 2 1/2 hours for her and 3 for me.  Perfect.

So I proposed a day trip to get together and be able to see each other. 

A little internet research brought several possibilities.  But then I stumbled on the perfect place.....a place that allowed dogs...and was free....and was outdoors....and had a cafe using many of their own grown produce, etc.

Right up both of our alleys.  And that is super cool because there aren't that many people in my life that I could propose this kind of meeting place to.

Anyways!  We agreed to meet at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest this last Monday.  Just the three of us. Because LuLu counts ya'll.  (And sadly I managed to NOT get a picture of this canine princess.)

At the visitors center we first saw a living sculpture/playhouse. It was amazing.  
I just wish it was leafed-out at the time.  But it wasn't.  We crawled around in here to start our day.

Then we took a hike around a couple of ponds after checking out the chef's garden.  
There was a cool carved tree trunk in one of the ponds.
We met Mr. Turtle alone the way.  I thought LuLu might give him a hard time, but she wasn't having anything to do with this strange looking creature.  After a cursory sniff she kept well away.

 Then we drove out to the Fire Tower hiking area.  And of course the tower was locked up. Bummer. But no worries...we drove over the the tree top canopy hike and walked out into the trees.  I don't have a good picture.  This was a rather high pier out into the forest canopy.  The wind was blowing and we watched the tree trunks swaying right next to us.  Since I am quite afraid of heights this was a feat for me. I actually went all the way to the end. (Although you won't find me leaning up against the rails, no sir.)
Next it was back down to the lower areas to the founders garden, where we were met with several different kinds of butterflies chasing each other around.  These blue and black ones were just hanging around in the clover.
Under the Let There Be Light statue, the founder of this forest and his wife are buried. This land was burned out farm land that had been deforested by iron and another kind of industry in the area.  Their dream was to turn it back into a beautiful wooded and flowered area for all to enjoy.  They did a wonderful job.
The next area we drove to was supposed to have more flowers and gardenish type of stuff to see. Guess we missed it..but we did find a cool sculpture with moss on it.
And a really slimy looking mushroom. 
And we ended our day together with a fresh soup and sandwich meal at the cafe. 

It was wonderful. Lots of walking.  Good company. A beautiful day.

My hope for all my loved ones is that you grab the unexpected opportunities that pop up in life and make something of them.  It would have been so easy to not even think of meeting half way.  After all, gas is expensive and we are still jobless.

But look what I would have missed.  A wonderful walk to remember.

Don't forget to take those walks my friends. They are the little things that make up a great big happy life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goodbye to Stoneybrook

As summer approaches, so does camp season.  And I'm pretty sad that I won't be joining my favorite Girl Scouts in all their summer camps this year.  I have had an amazing time camping with these girls the last two summers.

Luckily, we had a spring camp-out scheduled. So I joined the girls in a final outing to Stoneybrook.

The girls chose to start our first dinner with "hobo's".  That would be bringing a can of food that can be heated in the fire and eaten straight out of the can.  Of course that means canned mac n cheese for Mouse. If you haven't tasted this canned delight....skip it.  It's gross.  I don't know how she eats it.

This is one meal where the adults spend most of the time cooking. Hot cans and little fingers don't do so well. But the girls were responsible for gathering the wood and getting the fire started. Our girls usually do the cooking on their camp-outs.
The next day our first activity after a pancake breakfast (that the girls made) we went on a hike. Uphill most of the way of course.  I burned a few calories for sure.
Of course the hike included the "Swinging Bridge".  I have a problem with heights, but these girls are a good influence and I managed to cross with a group that wanted to jump.  And we jumped all the way across.  Well, at first I jumped and then I skipped because there is not real rhythm to the way the bridge reacted and it was jarring.
 At the end of the hike we stopped at the creek pool. One of the younger girls on the bridge above dropped her water bottle.  And Mrs. M went to the rescue.....and ended up sliding into the very cold pool. It took two other adults to pull her out.  the whole area was covered with a slick mud coating just under the surface. It became the story of the weekend and there was even a skit made about it.
Later in the afternoon several of us went creeking. This is a favorite activity of our girls.  Not even freezing water stops them.  And I promise, it was cold.  The girls found the clay banks along the creek and covered themselves with the green clay.  I didn't take pictures during the creeking as I left my phone back in a dry place to be safe.  This is after some clean-up. Not kidding.

After lunch several of the girls had doughboys. I'm more of a s'mores girl myself.
At the end of the evening we had another troop come visit us in our campsite.  The girls put on skits for them - split up by age group.
Even Mouse participated in a skit. Amazing.

And another great camping trip comes to a close.

How I will miss the Girl Scout camps in this state. They really know what they are doing.  Gonna miss it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

My sweet sixteen will be turning 17 next month.

How did that happen?

But that's not the half of it.

You see, with an impending move hanging over our heads we have been very concerned about what this means to her.  And getting settle in time for her to start a new school.

Her senior year.  A new school.

Both Hubs and I did that when we were her age....and neither of us has anything good to say about it.

But this child?  She has been taking advanced classes all her high school years.

Which means she already has enough credits to graduate as a Junior.

So, after discussing options with her and a quick meeting with the counselor....we now have a graduating Senior on our hands instead of a Junior.

She has chosen not to walk the isle.  There will be no invitations.  No ceremony.

But at this end of this month, just shy of her 17th birthday, she will be graduated from High School.

This coming year her plan is to get her drivers license, a job and take a couple of college classes at a local Jr./Community college (depending on what's available where ever we end up).  A low key year where she can get her feet wet in the college scene and yet still live at home and be a kid for another year.

And that sounds pretty smart to me.

But I really am not sure how I feel about my baby girl being done with High School.

Time really does fly when you are having fun.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I love it when you find a program/charity that covers subjects you are passionate about.

Recently I found out about P2V.  This organization brings together two things I care about.  1- our injured or traumatized veterans and 2 - rescue dogs.  Straight from their site(posted with permission):

There are 18 veterans in the United States that commit suicide everyday and one (1) shelter animal is put down every eight seconds — P2V’s work helps facilitate the healing and support for the 10-12 million men and women that suffer with some form of psychological condition and homes for the 4-5 million shelter animals that are euthanized every year so that both may live in dignity together. P2V provides our nation’s heroes that do not have a companion animal, a choice in selecting a dog or cat, while providing cost-effective Animal Assisted Activities (animal companionship) as they pursue rehabilitative and therapeutic care from their health care providers.

Totally Awesome guys!  Here is their founders story:

Founder’s Story
Founder, David Sharpe and his savior, Cheyenne.
Sharpe served in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces where he endured several incidents that, at the time, didn’t affect his personal relationships with his family, friends, and colleagues (or so he thought). However, a short time after his first deployment during November 2001 where a life-threatening situation occurred (one-one confrontation with a Taliban sympathizer pointing his weapon in Sharpe’s face during Entry Control Point Checks), he began to act violently towards his family, friends and himself – all symptoms of Sharpe being diagnosed eight years later by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) with having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sharpe found himself waking up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, random crying, having outbursts while blaming and questioning himself how he had handled the life-threatening situations he had found himself in.
Then, Sharpe was introduced to a little pit bull puppy, Cheyenne. Cheyenne witnessed one of Sharpe’s many outbursts (hyper-arousal) shortly after he adopted her from an independent pit bull rescue organization. While Sharpe was in the act, he noticed this little pit bull puppy wagging her tail looking up at him with those playful puppy-dog eyes while turning her head from left to right, knowing that something was wrong with him. Sharpe found himself fixated on this new little puppy that had come into his life during his violent outburst and froze, picked her up and told Cheyenne (while crying) everything he was suffering with in his head.
Sharpe: Pakistan (2004)
Immediately, Sharpe felt so relieved; like a 10,000-pound weight had been lifted off his chest. Soon after, Sharpe’s family and friends noticed a significant change in his behavior – a reduced number of outbursts, better attitude, etc – all because of this little pit bull puppy. So, in October 2009, Sharpe set out on a mission to share his personal struggles and success stories with his brothers and sisters-in-arms, firefighters, police officers, first responders and patients suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or similar symptoms. Sharpe’s hope is that P2V will aid them in their recovery while at the same time saving our nation’s sheltered and rescued animals.
Today, P2V has aided dozens of our nation’s heroes while finding loving homes for shelter and rescue pets in just under its first year of operations.

If you are looking for a good cause please visit the P2V site and consider how you can help both our military veterans and homeless pets destined to be put down.  How can it get any better than that??

Seaman Recruit Blanchard and Sophia