Sunday, December 2, 2012


I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year! 

After my dad's passing, I knew how important it was to keep my mom moving and somewhat distracted during these first holidays without him. So, I loaded my husband and the boy and we headed to Arkansas for Thanksgiving. I find it ironic that I would have moved heaven and earth to be with my mom this year, when I didn't put that much effort into going there when my dad was still around. I feel very guilty for that, but am trying to deal with it.
We were so lucky that two of our girls were able to join us. One of them is... Jackson's mom!  Yes, my daughter who lives in Hawaii and is the mother of my grand baby was there. Needless to say, I was one happy Grandma to have that sweet baby around for a few days.
Those grand babies are the best!
Here are a few photos of the sweet boy.

I absolutely loved taking care of him. I hope I was able to give mom a well deserved break. That's what I told myself.. that I was helping her out by monopolizing him.
Rolling around on the floor making him laugh. He makes me smile.
While we were there, we got to spend time with my sister and her college aged daughter, my niece. They live just down the road from my mom. My niece didn't grow up with a father around. My dad was the closest thing to a father she has ever had, and his loss has affected her as much as any of us. She is struggling to get through these tough times too. All she wanted, while we were there, was to get the decorations out and decorate my mom's house like they have in the past. I helped her get it done.

A photo of my mom's tree when Kirsten and I finished.

This is how we listened to Christmas music as we decorated the house. This girl is retro in every way. She was truly born in the wrong time. She LOVES listening to records like this.

Of course my mom still has all her old records. I listened to these as a child. It was so much fun.
I have convinced the three ladies, my mom, sister and niece, to come to my house for Christmas. I absolutely can't wait!

Monday, October 22, 2012


I mentioned in my last post that we had adopted another dog.

A few short weeks after losing our second dog, I realized I was just miserable without a dog. Who would have thought?  I really thought having no dogs to tie me down would be liberating, but I was wrong.
After losing my dad in April and both dogs not long after that, I was experiencing a huge sense of loss and depression.
Nick convinced me to go on and look for another dog.
We started at the Tacoma Animal Shelter which just made me cry. We walked through that place the first time and I felt so sad looking at those dogs without homes.
To make a long story a little shorter, a few weeks after our first visit, we saw this little dog who wasn't barking and looked so sweet. I had already decided I'd like to have another dachshund and she was it.
After inquiring about this little dog, I found out she wasn't available yet because she was awaiting a teeth cleaning. I followed up on her for a full week and as soon as I found out she was finally available, I grabbed Nick and we flew over to the shelter to get her.
I have enjoyed this sweet little dog and have loved watching her come out of her shell as she's gotten more comfortable with us.
Here are a few photos of Miss Dixie.
This was taken the day we brought her home.

I took her to the groomer to have her trimmed up since I know NOTHING about a long haired dachshund, and they put this bow in her hair. (Nick HATED that) She kept it in about an hour and then it was gone. How cute is she?

This is where she is most of the time. On back of one of the couches in the house. She can see out the window that way and is the queen of the house.
I have enjoyed this little dog so much. It's amazing that I was able to rescue her but she has given me so much in return.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I know it's been a very long time since I've been around. It's been a rough few months for me.

Three weeks to the day after losing our lab, Max, we lost our little sassy Dachshund, Cleo. 

I have to say, after losing my dad in April, losing Max in August, having that second dog die was almost more than I could take.

I'll back up a little and give more information.

Max was put to sleep on a Sunday night in August. One week later, Cleo started coughing. I couldn't imagine that she would have kennel cough, because she just had not been exposed. I made an appointment at our vet's office and after two sleepless nights of her coughing, I took her in.

I knew Cleo had a heart murmur, it had been diagnosed about a year or two ago. The vet tells me that with the heart valve not quite closing, she was probably getting a little fluid in her chest and put her on a diuretic to help relieve that fluid. He told me to give her a half pill twice a day. We did that and she stopped coughing!

Two weeks later, she started coughing again. Sunday night...once again. I was up with her during the night because she was very restless. It wasn't like before when she would cough and just lie back down and go to sleep. This time, every time she coughed, she would move to another place to try to sleep. Finally, at 1:00 a.m. I was exhausted and went upstairs and left her in the living room to roam. She followed me up in about 20 minutes. At around 2:00 a.m. I heard her go under our bed and start wheezing.

Nick awakened at that point and asked about her. I told him the story and we went looking for her under our bed. She had found a duffel bag Nick had stored under there and made it her bed. When we pulled the bag out from under the bed, she was lifeless and her breathing had a gurgling sound. She had pooped herself and I knew then, we were close to the end.

Nick picked her up and she was so limp. I wrapped her in towels, took her collar off and we loaded her into the car.

I was hysterical, I won't lie. I was truly wailing and thinking of having to call my sweet daughter away at school and tell her about her puppy.

I sat in the back seat with her as she took her last breaths just a few minutes later. We arrived at the vet clinic so they could confirm she was gone and left her there to have her remains cremated and scattered on the mountain with Max and the other beloved pets lost.

I thought it would be liberating to have no pets for a while, but it's been just awful. I need someone to get up in the morning and take care of. I need someone to greet me and need me when I get home. Nick will be deploying again in the next few months and I truly can't see doing this alone.

So, I we did adopt another dog. I will write more about her later. Today's post is about this dog.

She was a sassy little dog that drove me crazy. But she had great personality.
The day she stopped breathing she had a wonderful time. She had a walk, a bath, and a steak bone after our dinner. We started spoiling her quite a bit after we lost Max.
I will miss this silly, barking little dog.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Almost two weeks ago, we lost our sweet lab, Max.

Max was 13 years old and was a pound puppy. Nick had him when we got married and he's been with me through two deployments.

Needless to say, it's been a sad couple of weeks at our house. I miss Max every day.

I like to think of sweet Max playing with my dad now, who only ever called him "Rover" 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chocolate Tour

While the kids were visiting, my daughter-in-law, Meghan, celebrated her birthday. I know Meghan loves all things chocolate, so when walking around Seattle several months ago, and seeing advertisements for Savor Seattle's "Chocolate Indulgence Tour" I knew that was the birthday gift for Meghan.
I booked the tour, took Meghan and Callie and hit the road. It was fabulous!  It was a one mile walking tour in downtown Seattle and took two hours. It was so much fun.

The tour group gathered in the Mayflower Park Hotel. Once we put on our lovely headsets, so we could hear our guide as we walked, we headed to the hotel bar. It wasn't open yet, it was only 11:00 AM, but the bartender was there and he mixed us up a yummy chocolate cocktail.
You really have to love a tour that starts in the bar. And who wouldn't want a chocolate cocktail?

The drink was called "The Seattle Flatliner"  It was GOOD.
Next stop, The Chocolate Box

At The Chocolate Box, we had sipping chocolate. It's like hot chocolate on steroids. SOOOO rich and good. This particular sample of sipping chocolate had a homemade strawberry marshmallow down inside. YUM.

The Dahlia Bakery was next on our tour. Here we had the most delicious coconut cream pie...made with white chocolate. Oh my! It's a good thing it was a small sample.

Pictures out of order here. This sign was over The Chocolate Box, where they also had a wine bar. What's not to love?

I have to admit, I can't remember the name of the bakery where we got the delicious cheesecake. It was right across the street from Pikes Market and they put a birthday candle in Meghan's piece. So sweet.

Next stop was KuKuRuZa gourmet popcorn. I was so looking forward to this place. I love popcorn. I love salty and sweet together. This was heaven. I didn't get photos of the popcorn or the inside of the shop. I admit, I was very busy sampling. I brought home the Hawaiian Salt & Caramel popcorn. Well, I brought some of it home. I ate a lot before I got there with it.

Last stop was Fran's chocolates. This place looked like a jewelry store but with chocolates instead of precious jewels in the glass cases.

I treated myself to the Gray and Smoked Salt Caramels. I have one every few days. It's so good I almost can't stand it.

We had such a good time on the tour. I failed to mention the tea shop we stopped at. I wasn't impressed with chocolate infused tea.... just my opinion.

If you're ever in the Seattle area, Savor Seattle has several foodie tours. I'd like to take Nick on the brewery one. He loves beer and would love that one, I bet.

No one paid me to take this tour or write about it. I bought my own ticket and my opinions are my own!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kids and the 4th of July

Since I'm so far behind, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I'm just now writing about our 4th of July.
We had kids fly in on the 3rd of July. JD and his wife Meghan, and our daughter Callie. Callie visited us in January, but JD and Meghan had not been here yet. Since they are all sweltering in the Texas heat, they were more than glad to be here in the Pacific Northwest where the weather is JUST NOW getting warm.

We had absolutely fantastic weather while they were here.
These kids spent a 4th of July with me in Hawaii a few years ago when Nick was deployed. It was the first time JD and Meghan had ever been on a military installation for Independence Day. They loved it. They loved the cannons, the tribute to the states, the music, fireworks and the overall atmosphere. I can't blame them. There is nowhere I'd rather be to celebrate Independence Day than with our country's heroes.
Needless to say, they were so excited to spend this holiday with us here.
The day started with a parade. Nick's brigade supports a local town outside of our installation. It's a very small town but they had a parade on July 4th. Because Nick is the commander, he got to be in the parade. Guess who got to ride with him?  That's right, me!  The second car in the parade was the Command Sergeant Major. His wife isn't here with him yet, so the girls rode with him and they loved it!
Here are a few photos of the parade that day.
Soldiers of the Brigade carrying the colors.

There we are! Our 15 (well, more like 5) minutes of fame.

Getting ready to get started.

Pretty girls in a cool car.

They LOVED playing Miss America in the parade.

I'm afraid none of us were as popular as the Stryker vehicle. It is pretty cool.

Soldiers giving out candy. The kids loved it.

Here is Callie and me waiting for it to get dark and for the fireworks show to start. They gave out these funky glasses that are supposed to enhance the whole firework watching experience. I found they made me dizzy. It could be because I'm old. I'm not sure.

It was a great day. I'm so thankful to have shared this day with the kids. I only wish more of them could have been here.
I will share more of their trip in a later post.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Catching Up

I am so far behind in blogging that I don't even know where to begin. I wonder though, is anyone even out there anymore?
I went to visit my mom several weeks ago and attended a park bench dedication in honor of my dad who was a volunteer in this park.

My dad, and the other Master Gardeners in their little town, met once a week to plant, weed and do general maintenance on a beautiful city park. So, the gardeners donated this in memory of my father.
It was a beautiful summer day and was one that my dad would've enjoyed.

Here is the inscription that dedicates the bench to my dad.

My mom, sister and me enjoying the day at the park.

We all shed a few tears as the group took turns speaking of my dad. There were several laughs that morning too. My dad was a joyous man and would have wanted us to laugh. The funniest part was when the guy speaking said "It's ironic that we are putting a bench out here for Paul, because the man never sat down."
He's right. My dad was a hard worker. I learned so much from him. My love of the outdoors, growing things and playing in the dirt and my strong work ethic. Most of all, I learned that life is full of joy and should be enjoyed with those you love.

In the next few days, I will try to post more of the things that have been going and that have been neglected. I am also going to try to catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs! I've missed you guys!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Madame President

Yesterday was the last spouses' club luncheon of this year. As I have mentioned, I have been selected to be next year's club President. Why, you ask?  Because the Commanding General's wife asked me and I didn't have the guts to say no.  That's it in a nutshell. And.. I'm always up for a challenge.

We started our luncheon with the "passing of the torch" if you will.  Only we passed flowers. .. roses to be exact. The outgoing president gave a white rose to each of the current board members. The incoming president (me) gave a pink rose to the new board members. I received one white rose as outgoing membership chair, and one pink rose as incoming president. Not sure how I ended up with a vase full of roses, but they were stuck in my bag when I finished yesterday.

I am not complaining.. I do love fresh flowers in my house.

This collection is the contents of a gift bag the outgoing president gave me. Here are each of the items along with her explanation of them.

Claudia told me that when she took over the presidency, she was given a candy bar with nuts in it, because you had to be nuts to volunteer to be president. She gave me a whole jar of nuts...what do you think that even means??

Next was a packet of Motrin, for the headaches that are sure to come, and Tums for the stomach acid.

A bottle of stress relief bubble bath. This I will use, for sure.

Booze...this goes without saying, right?

She ended the little presentation by giving me this bag of chocolates and wishing me nothing but "Bliss" with my presidency.

After the luncheon and the fun Bingo, I met with Claudia to get to the more business side of things. Wow, can you say "overwhelming"?  This is my dining room table this morning. The binder of paperwork that just scratches the surface, my two calendars because one ends at the end of June, a pair of sunglasses someone left at the luncheon that ended up at my house, a new binder that I've started for next year, the AARs (After Action Reviews) from all previous board members on how their year was, and a set of keys that would choke a horse. Seriously. Check this out:

These are all for one building. How can one building have so many locks?  I love the key chain she passed on that says Army Wife. It's not clear here, but I do love it.
So, let the ride begin! I'm taking notes, reading reports and getting ready for my first meetings. I have a feeling the chocolate and alcohol in this gift bag doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what I'll consume this year.

Thanks, Claudia, for a fabulous year. You have left big shoes to fill, but I will do my best :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Keepin' On

First, let me say thank you to everyone who posted sweet comments or sent thoughtful emails to me regarding my last post and the passing of my dad. I have received such an outpouring of love, from my "virtual" friends as well as my real life buddies. I am truly blessed.

Secondly, I want to address my follow up visit to the hospital. I realized, after someone asked me about it, that I never finished that story.

As soon as I came home from Arkansas, my husband pushed me to re-schedule the follow up mammogram. I had it done a few days later.

The second scan was followed by an ultra sound. They never said why, and I didn't ask. I remained calm because there was nothing to be done until I heard it all, right?

The ultra sound showed nothing. I had a real doctor do the ultra sound, something that is not always done in the Army. Our Army doctors are taking care of wounded Soldiers, and I understand that. But, this time, I got the expert. He found a spot and said, there it is.. that's the one I'm looking for. Then he said, no, it's just a cyst. Cysts are good, they're not cancer and they don't bother anyone. Those were his words.

He went on to say that because of the density of my breast tissue, I would probably always need a second scan and possibly an ultra sound because it's hard to read it with just a mammogram. I said, that's fine, I'll be happy to have you smash, poke, scan and smear that gel all over the girls to get a good reading.

As for the rest of me, I'm doing as well as can be expected. I'm staying very busy with all my volunteer activities, not to mention my friends and family. I'm planning another trip in a few weeks to visit my mom and help her with some more business stuff and just spend some time with her.

I'm getting on with my life. I'm taking care of my family and other things I'm committed to. That's what my dad would expect. It's what he would have wanted.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Worst Day Ever

I have been putting off writing this post. I knew it would be emotional, but I just couldn't seem to sit down and write about it. Even now, before I'm even started well, my stomach hurts. I had to do it though, because daily, I think of things I want to blog about, but it didn't seem right to keep writing about every day life when my heart is breaking and I haven't talked about the worst day of my life so far.

Thursday, April 12, started off rocky. I hadn't slept well in three nights and I was cranky, tired and emotional. To top it all off, I felt a cold sore coming.  I had just had one a month earlier and I was like.. "really, again?" 

Then, early afternoon, the hospital called and said I needed a second mammogram, and it needed to be tomorrow. Nothing scary about that, right?  I broke down and cried. I called my husband at work and I never do that.  I talked to my friend Carla and cried to her. She reassured me and reminded me that she's living proof that you can get through breast cancer, if that was even a thought to me.  Nick reassured me as well and told me to lie down and take a nap. He knew I hadn't been sleeping well and that I was exhausted.

I had just taken to the couch with my blankie when my cell phone rang. My sister's name popped up. My sister never calls me. I knew something was wrong. I didn't answer. I wanted to put whatever it was off a little longer. I really thought I couldn't take whatever it was. She left a voice mail, I listened to it and all she said was "call me as soon as you can"  I didn't.

I put my head back down and no more than five minutes later, the back door opens and Nick came in. I knew then it was serious. She had called him. I said oh gosh, did my sister call you? He said yes. I told him it must be bad and he told me my dad had suffered a stroke. Now my dad has had heart disease for years. Heart attacks, open heart surgery, stints etc and has always bounced back. A stroke threw me. I literally lost it. I was sobbing, crying out NO!  Then it dawned on me, I didn't ask how bad it was. I said "He's going to be alright, isn't he?"  Nick said, no babe, he's not.  Then I realized he might already be gone. He said no, but they don't expect him to make it through the night.

Suffice it to say that I was hysterical. The thought of losing my dad was heart breaking.

To make a long story a little shorter, I flew out that night, arrived in Arkansas the next morning in time for them to wheel my dad to test his brain function. He had none. We took him off the life support after telling him our tearful good-byes. It was the worst thing I've ever been through.

It's been over three weeks and it is still so raw and so painful I wonder if I will ever get over it. And my poor mother, if it hurts me like this, how is she living through it? 

The three days after my dad's passing were a blur. Funeral plans, so many people coming by, so much food, so many tears. It was overwhelming.

I will write more about his service later. For now, I have typed out and seen in print that my dad is gone. Maybe I can finish the story of his leaving this world and be able to move on with my thoughts.

My positive encouragement?  My dad was the most Godly man I know. There is no doubt in my mind that he is singing with the angels now and is happier than any of us left here behind.

Here is a photo of my dad, mom and me last October when they came here to visit. It was taken on our drive up Mt. Rainier. My dad had just said something silly and made us laugh. I love to remember him this way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Can it seriously have been almost a month since I last posted?  I'm a bad blogger. I think of things to write about, then don't make time to sit down and write it. Is it possible to be that overwhelmed?

I have a lot going on. That's just the way it is. Most of it I do to myself. I volunteer. A LOT. So many things are important to me and I want to participate in everything!  However, that means you have to be uber organized and so far, I'm struggling with that.

So, I figured out that I need to treat my life and volunteer activities as I would a full time paying job. I need to prioritize my list of things to do and schedule them, on my calendar, to finish them.

Honestly, the prioritizing has been difficult. I realized that to do anything well, I need to let a few things go. I don't want to end up doing lots of stuff, but nothing gets done very well. So, I let a few things go. I have also admitted that I can't do it all, and asked for help. I have several people in every organization that wants to help, so I'm letting them. It's very liberating to be able to pass something off to a willing helper and it makes them feel good too.

I have allowed myself to be nominated for the president's position on our spouses club board next year. I am seriously pumped about this opportunity and excited to see what we can do next year. However, it is a big time consuming thing. So, I have made myself schedule specific times during the week to sit down and focus on club work. Other scheduled events, besides the obvious meetings, are answering email, organizing my calendar so everything fits in, and paperwork. Oh the paperwork. If I don't keep up with board reports, agendas, minutes etc, I get so far behind I can't see ahead anymore. Not to mention housework. I am seriously putting on my calendar things like laundry, clean the bathroom etc.

So, that's what I'm working on now. I'm planning my system to be more organized with my time. If you have calendar tips, lists etc that help you stay on track, please share! I'd love to hear them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Creative Army Wives

One of the things on my full calendar is a "Mock Dining In" coming up this Friday. It's an event being held by the Spouses' Club here and is a fundraiser for the many wonderful things this club does in our community.

For those of you not familiar with a Dining In, an Army tradition, I will do my best to explain.  Since it's an all Soldier event, I've never attended a Dining In, but my husband has.

So these Soldiers get together for a formal night out... no spouses. They dress up, eat food, drink lots and smoke cigars. I think the motto is "What happens at the Dining In, stays at the Dining In"  So, we are having our own evening with this theme.

These ladies are serious about their Dining In. Tickets are sold according to units. Each unit is responsible for decorating their table and the theme is "Unit Pride"  So, we are engineers.. we'll decorate our table in that fashion. Get it?

There are two different kinds of Army Engineers.  One is a construction unit. They build things. Bridges, roads, buildings, do all kinds of infrastructure. It speaks for itself.
The others are combat engineers. They blow things up. They are the guys who do the road clearance and get rid of those pesky IEDs we hear so much about. We appreciate them.. LOTS.

We have two tables and each will represent one side of the Engineer house. Dirt movers, bridges, somehow blowing things up, etc. I'm not the creative one, I just facilitate the others.

We are also dressing the part. We painted t-shirts with the engineer castle on them, will wear jeans, tool belts, boots and hard hats with our cool shirts. 

Today we got together to paint the shirts. I'm always amazed at what a group of Army wives can do. These girls rock and we're going to have custom shirts at our event! 

Enjoy a few photos of our shirts.

It looks like somebody bled out.. doesn't it?

Launa, working her magic with a can of fabric spray paint. Who knew there was fabric spray paint?


Hanging to dry. Tomorrow I will distribute the shirts!! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Where is the Time Going?

I just read my last post and can't believe that I left all of you hanging, waiting on my menu post. I'm kidding.. I know that no one lost sleep over that.

I was just looking at my calendar, trying to squeeze one more evening event in there, and realized that time is not on my side lately.

As an Army wife, there have been times when I have desperately wanted time to fly, and times when I wished for it to drag. The older I get, the faster it seems to go.. except during a deployment, of course.

With Nick taking brigade command, I find myself entertaining more and wanting to reach out to more groups of spouses. I struggle with trying to fit it all in every month. It may come down to re-prioritizing some events.

Speaking of time demands, this week, I agreed to be nominated to be the president of our community's spouses' club. It was a difficult decision and I took several days to think and pray about it, but decided I could do this and maybe make a difference in a club that has been two years in transition. I'm excited to serve the military spouses in this community and hope I don't tarnish my name in the process.

So, here's to more hours in the day, more days in the month, and to delegating to others!  Let's hope I can follow my own advice.

Here is a look at my calendar. I thought I might pretty it up a bit for you, but decided you can see it in all it's glory. Scribbles, scratched out events and all...piled up on other papers that need to be filed, shredded and gone through. Sounds like a project for this weekend.

There are a few events I haven't written in yet, because I'm still deciding what day to do them!! Not to mention the entertaining Nick wants to do that I will have to squeeze in somewhere.

Happy Friday everyone. I hope your weekend is fantastic!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Crunchy Hamburger Casserole

A while back, I blogged about a new cookbook I had discovered. This cookbook takes me back to my Southern roots and really brings back memories. I have re-discovered old favorites (that I had completely forgotten about) and found new things to try as well.

I was digging through cookbooks yesterday and found a recipe for Crunchy Hamburger Casserole. It doesn't even sound right, does it?  Anyway, I started reading through it and realized I had every ingredient in my pantry (and freezer) already. That just doesn't happen very often. So, I put it on today's menu.

Before I post pictures, let me just tell you that I was too lazy to run upstairs and get my camera. The very nice camera that Nick bought a while back and that I just love to pieces. Yes..that's the one.  Instead, I grabbed my phone and snapped a few photos with it. I lost one of the photos. I don't have one of the finished casserole. That will teach me about lazy, won't it?

There you have it. The total of my photos for tonight's dinner.
The verdict?
Well, I'll be honest. When I first tried it, I thought eh, it's good, but not sure it's a keeper.  My next thought was, it would make a great potluck recipe. After a few more minutes, I liked it more. My boys didn't say anything for a little while, then Alex looks up and says, "This is really good."  SCORE!  It's a keeper. Nick liked it too.
It's SO easy and a great comfort food. I will definitely keep this one around.

The one change I made was to substitute a can of regular Ro-tel for the canned tomatoes. Picky boy who likes no spice didn't even notice. Score again!

So, give this one a try, and go check Christy out at Southern Plate.  Here is the link to the recipe, because I didn't bring the book upstairs with me and that laziness is preventing me from going down to get it. Lucky for me Christy posts so much on her blog.

It's Monday evening and it's been a four day weekend. This week is packed with a trip to the doctor for my physical, (oh joy) a company Change of Command, and I'm hosting a get together on Thursday night at my home. By Friday, I will be done.
Tomorrow, I will share this week's menu. Right now, that second glass of wine is calling my name.
Happy Monday!