Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/26/2017



It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::

80+ all week, 90+ all weekend.  After enjoying lake breezes for a week, this is going to be rough.


On my reading pile:::
Still working on Dear Bob and Sue - I didn't do much reading last week at all.

On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
The Great British Bake Off, My Mother and Other Strangers, Grantchester on PBS
Reign, Season 4, on Netflix
Vikings, Season 4, Part 2, on Amazon Prime

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Baked Salmon, Green Bean Bundles
Tuesday - Roasted Veggie Meatloaf, Asparagus
Wednesday - Grilled Shrimp, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

On my to-do list:::

  • Apart from Christmas in July starting on Saturday, there is nothing on my calendar

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Scrapbooking table is set up and ready for me to sit down and work on my current project, Vic's Career Album.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  Maybe this is the week I will work on that weekly checklist.

From the camera:::


The glorious view that greeted me each morning last week

Something fun to share:::


It rained one day during the reunion so we had a craft afternoon and made a bunch of these stars to leave for our hostess's parents, the owners of the cabin - they are called Scandinavian Stars and the directions are here - no sewing!

What I'm wearing today:::
Sundress, flip flops - I'm heading to the shower but I'm sure today's outfit will be something similar as it is going to be hot.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::
If you're lucky enough to have a group of close friends that you connect with deeply, who are in your same season of life, all right in your very own town, I hope that you soak it up, that you lie around in each other's backyards every Saturday afternoon or stay up late on one another's porches three nights a week.  But if you're like me and those faces are far away, get a weekend on the calendar and get there. - From May 24, Get There, Savor, 365 Devotions by Shauna Niequist

I hope that you can get together with friends who are dear but far away - for a week or even a weekend, to reconnect, to catch up, to remember how it was when you were last together and to have a joyous time together.  I had an amazing week - we talked, and talked, and talked, and talked some more, we took the boat out on the lake, had spa night, craft afternoon, watched some great chick flicks, did yoga on the lawn and ate wood-fired oven pizza, toured a woolen mill, ate cupcakes and local cheese, ate S'Mores by the fire pit and napped at the edge of the lake.  It was a wonderful week!

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Short Break


Taking a short blogging break as I head off to a reunion with my friends from our MOPS days in Florida.  It's been twenty years since we've all been together - can't wait to see everyone!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #67


It's that time of year - the British social season is in full swing and all the associated events bring out great photos.  Trooping the Colour, the celebration of the monarch's birthday when the weather is more likely to cooperate, will be held on Saturday, June 17.  Look for pomp and pageantry, glorious uniforms and great fashions from the royal gents and ladies.

Here are a few photos from last year's event.



This is the time of year I would love to be in London.

The annual Garter Service at Windsor is usually held on the Monday after Trooping the Colour, but this year, it is cancelled as due to the recent General Election, the State Opening of Parliament is scheduled for the same day.


"My Three Sons" was the first thing that went through my mind when I saw this photo!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/12/2017



It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::

80s all week, rising to 93 on Tuesday but dipping to 79 on Sunday.  Nightmarishly (is that a word?) hot, in my opinion.


On my reading pile:::
Finished An English Country Manor which was delightful so I'm looking for the other two volumes in the series.  Picked up
 Dear Bob and Sue again and will reading about their adventures in the Shenandoah National Park which is close to us so I'll be looking out for some tips for a visit soon.

On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
Turn, almost finished Season 2 so we can move on to Season 3
The Great British Bake Off and Granchester return this coming weekend along with the new PBS series, My Mother and Other Strangers

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Grilled Shrimp, Steamed Broccoli
Tuesday - Snack Night
Wednesday - Salmon, Orzo or Artichoke Salad
Thursday - Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

On my to-do list:::

  • Bra-fitting later today - fun, fun, fun
  • Haircut
  • Final shopping for the reunion  - have to pick up nine of my "something from my area" gift
  • Volunteer shift at the gift shop
  • Packing for the reunion

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Photo albums for the reunion arrived and are lovely.  All-day crop on Saturday was wonderful and I got a lot done, just need a few finishing touches and I'll be close to being caught up with Vic's 2016 deployment.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  Still need to work on that weekly checklist.

From the camera:::
I completely forgot to take a photo of our brunch yesterday - we went to this really arty place, the menu was very limited but I managed to find smoked salmon and creme fraiche on some kind of bread while Vic had a BLT with turkey and spicy Thai mayo.  It was ok but we won't go there again.  It just wasn't anything memorable - I suppose it would be a hip place to go if you're a twenty-something but we're long past that stage!

Something fun to share:::
My Melaleuca package arrived and I've been busy replacing some of our household items and toiletries.  Love my new lip gloss, it's called Brilliance Plump Lip Gloss in Berry Shimmer.  It's the one on the very far right in this stock photo.

What I'm wearing today:::
Black capris, white T-shirt and black sandals.  After watching all five seasons of House of Cards, Claire Underwood's neutral wardrobe really appeals to me.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::
An excerpt from, a traditional American folk song, it's been in my head since it was featured in this episode of House of Cards.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #66


Happy 96th Birthday on June 10 to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  It has recently been announced that he will retire from royal duties and visits in the autumn.  Very much a man's man, a keen sportsman, and known for his tactless gaffes at times, His Royal Highness has been at Her Majesty the Queen's side for almost seventy years.


I love this photo, taken at Broadlands in Hampshire, to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2007.


The photo is a recreation of the one taken in the same location while on their honeymoon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/5/2017



It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::

HIgh 80s all weekend so I'm glad to see 69 and 70 in the forecast for the latter part of the week.  Broke down and turned on the air conditioner yesterday but only ran it from 8pm to 11pm to cool down the upstairs.  Longing for a single story house again.


On my reading pile:::
Put Dear Bob and Sue to one side to work on An English Country Manor that I picked up from the lending library at the British food store.  I also picked up, at Costco, Lilac Girls and Everyone Brave is Forgiven for the reunion, either to read by the lake or to keep my mind off being in the air.  Not a fan of flying at all.






On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
The White Princess
House of Cards, into Season 4 so I'm almost caught up
Turn, Season 3 although we're going to start 1 and 2 again so we can remember what's going on!

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Grilled Shrimp, sides to be determined
Tuesday - Barbecued Ribs, ^^
Wednesday - Salmon, ^^
Thursday - Brats, ^^
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

Sides will depend on the weather, mostly likely will be some form of salad.

On my to-do list:::

  • Finals week for Sophia - must put together a little "You made it" package
  • Physical therapy - Monday and Friday
  • Visit with my friend from our Florida days - haven't had a chance to connect before now
  • Spouses' Group Board Turnover Brunch
  • Scrapbook Crop on Saturday

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Ornaments for the Christmas in July Ornament Swap are in the mail and photo albums for the reunion are ordered.  I need to get my materials organized for the crop so I can just sit down and get busy.  I think working on it a little each day should take care of that.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  I really need to come up with a weekly checklist and stick to it.  One room a day plus a quick whiz over to put away any clutter should do it.  I need to get back into the habit of decluttering each night before we go to bed.

From the camera:::
Two great lunches over the past week.  Poulet Crepe (chicken, spinach, mushrooms, Swiss cheese with Bechamel followed by a German Crepe which was lemon juice with salted caramel (interesting combination that was so delicious, we gobbled it up before I could take a photo).


Lamb shawermah/shawarma/shawurma (must be regional differences in spelling) with basmati rice.


Something fun to share:::
Not as much fun as informative - I signed up with Melaleuca again, any users here?  Their line-up of household and personal products is awesome - environmentally and consumer safe and made in the USA.  Switching over from the products I've been buying at the grocery store.

What I'm wearing today:::
Workout gear - I'm off to physical therapy.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::

When will this senseless violence end?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Story Time Friday #2


Looks like Story Time Friday will be a monthly feature since I only got as far as #1 in May.  Continuing on, I left off when we moved from Germany to Massachusetts in 1961.  I didn't really cover much of our time in Germany, so I started digging through some of the memorabilia I have stashed away to give you a little idea of our life there.

I found a letter written (the first nine pages) and then typed single space (pages ten-fourteen) by my father to his mother, my Grandma M.  I think Grandpa M was husband number two or maybe three.  I know the first one was a bank robber; Grandma M married him when she was very young and he told her he kept a gun because he was a detective.  She found out differently when he got caught and hauled off to jail.  Wish I knew the whole story.

Grandma M was the first (and I think only) family member to visit us in Germany shortly after I was born.

Grandma M, Dad, Mum holding me, Frankfurt Airport, March 1960 - obviously smoking in public wasn't an issue then, or smoking around babies!

Anyway, the letter is written December 31, 1960 and January 3, 1961, and goes into great detail about what a wonderful baby I was, so well-behaved and adorable, albeit a little chubby.  I love this paragraph, "We bought her a winter coat, hat, and leggings for a two year old (I'm 10 1/2 months old at this time).  The coat sleeves and the leggings are still a little too long but she's popped a button off the coat because it's so tight on her."  Insert chubby person emoji here, I was doomed from this early age.


The letter goes on to talk at length about a move from a temporary housing apartment to a nicer house with a little yard.  Apparently, the comings and goings and the rowdy antics of the residents in the temporary apartments drove my mother nuts, literally, as she had to have a note from a psychiatrist to say her nerves were shot in order for them to move to the nicer house.  I found this fascinating document, DD 398 Statement of Personal History, where my father listed all of our addresses from 1960-1973 and it goes back farther, to his assignments as far back as 1954.  How I wish I had kept adding our addresses from 1973 to the present although if I think really hard, I can probably come up with them.

There is also a reference in the letter to my sibling, "I found out that Wally's mother has her other baby."  My biological mother's name was Walli but I guess my Dad spelled it with a 'y'.  I found two cards from my biological maternal grandmother, Oma, but they are written in the very old German Gothic script known as Fraktur and I have yet to find someone able to translate them.  I must dig farther into that - surely in this tech-savvy age, I should be able to find a translator.  If they can translate hieroglyphics, there must be someone who can handle Fraktur.


It's been really fascinating tracing my early days and I have a feeling I will soon be branching out into some ancestry studies.  My Dad's sister has traced his family back to the American Revolution but I want to work on Mum's side and my biological family.

We left Germany and moved to Revere, Massachusetts in July 1961 and stayed there until August 1962.  Arriving at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey is the only stamp in my German passport.  During the time we lived in Massachusetts, I became a United States citizen.

Boston 1962

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 309

It's time for the Hodgepodge - click here if you want to join in.

1.  What makes you feel accomplished?  Explain.

I feel accomplished when things that I do directly benefit someone else, when I can provide them with the tools they need to succeed.  It could be something for my husband, my daughter, my boss, my spouses' group.  It gives me a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I played a part.  Not sure if that's the direction this question was going but it's the first thing that came to my mind.

2.  If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?  Tell us why.

I'm sure  you're thinking that I would say three members of the Royal Family, but no, I'd chose Gervase Phinn, Bill Bryson, and Peter Mayle, three of my favorite authors who put such humor into their writing.  I think we'd have a lot of laughs.

3.  Do you have a great burger recipe?  What's in it?  What do you like on a hamburger and where is your favorite spot to order one out?

I'm hopeless at burgers so I don't have a recipe to share.  They are either over-cooked or under-cooked, I just don't have burger skills.  Sometimes I like the works - lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, tomato, ketchup, and mustard, but only if the veggies are super fresh.  Other times, I'll stick to something like cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions with lots of mayo.  I'm really open to trying any style of burger unless anchovies are one of the ingredients!

My all-time favorite burger spots were in my California days - Big Al's Drive-In and Burger Hut on Nord Avenue which, sadly, is no longer open.  Both made big burgers with all the trimmings at college student prices.  Right now, I'd have to say Five Guys - I can pick the trimmings depending on what I'm in the mood for that visit.

4.  What's the biggest anxiety producing thing you do on a regular basis?

Menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Right now, none of it interests me.  I hope this is a phase - there are days when I just wish we didn't have to eat.  I think part of it has to do with the strained muscle in my leg and how painful it is to stand for any length of time.  The prospect of standing while prepping and cooking a meal just fills me with dread.  Vic sympathizes and he's so good; when I say "What do YOU want for dinner?", he'll usually respond with "Where would you like to go?".  

5.  This is the last Hodgepodge in May.  Tell us about your summer plans.

I'm off to a reunion with my Sisterchicks - five of the nine moms who were members of MOPS in Mayport, Florida are getting together for a week of fun, food, and fellowship...and wine!  Vic has lots of travel scheduled and I hope that something will open up on the job front for me.  If not, then my volunteer work and scrapbooking will keep me busy in the air conditioned comfort of the gift shop and my home.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I stumbled on this the other day - a counter-depth refrigerator.  Why haven't these been available all along or did I just miss the memo?  Raise your hand if those refrigerators that stick out farther than anything else drive you nuts.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #65

Ambrosia Rice Pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  I grew up eating rice pudding, at home and at school, and it's part of many wonderful memories.  There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of rice pudding.  I haven't actually ever tried to make my own from scratch, fearing that it wouldn't have the same creaminess as Ambrosia but I have recently come across a recipe given to me by an English friend and I'm going to give it a try.  I'll let you know how it turns out.
This year happens to be Ambrosia's 100th anniversary.  There is some fascinating history here in The Ambrosia Story and a list of Ambrosia products.  I wish my local British food store carried more of the items. 

Ambrosia, food from the Gods, no kidding!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 5/29/2017



It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::

87 degrees today and temperatures in the 80s for the week - definitely summer.


On my reading pile:::
Finished up the last of the Song of Blessing series as well as a new book I picked up at Barnes and Noble, The Dressmaker's Dowry.  I'm working on Dear Bob and Sue, Matt and Karen's Smith tour of all of the National Parks written in the form of a series of emails to their friends Bob and Sue.


On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House
The White Princess
House of Cards (how have I not found this before?)

On the menu for this week:::

Vic's home so I'll be working on this today.

On my to-do list:::

  • Physical therapy for my strained popliteus muscle in my left leg
  • Spouses' Group Lunch Bunch - we're going Mediterranean this week

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
STILL working on ornaments for the Christmas in July ornament swap.  Part One of the assembly is complete, Part Two will be done today so that I can get them in the mail.  I have to order the photo albums for the reunion.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.

From the camera:::

My Erin Condren planners arrived - there is one for me and one for Sophia which will be our Something to Make items for Christmas.  We're doing the Minimalist Christmas again since it worked so well last year.


Something fun to share:::
I went to a great luncheon held by the international spouses' community here - it was hosted by the spouses of the Mediterranean region - Greece, Turkey, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Croatia and each table had a theme of one of the countries.  I sat at the Italy table and this was our table setting - one lucky lady took this home with her (not me, unfortunately).




What I'm wearing today:::
It's early so I'm still in my PJs.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Catching Up


It's been crazy, there's no other way to describe it.  This was me over the last two weeks.  Where do I start without turning this into a novel and boring you all to death?

My old job - the one that was my dream job and the one I gave up when Vic wanted me to move to Virginia with him - is open again.  The woman I thought was keeping my seat warm until I got back (we talked when she took the position that her husband was stationed in Washington for two years and we were hopefully coming back in two years, hey presto, she would leave and I would move right back into my old job) decided that she wants some upward mobility and found a higher level position in another department.  All I could think of was my poor boss, four Executive Assistants in one year, not fun.  Anyway, I knew that all I had to do was pick up the phone and the job would be mine.  Vic was in Japan so I called him on Viber - do you know Viber?  It's like an international FaceTime and free.  He encouraged me to go for it - it was a pretty sure way to make sure that his next assignment would be there.  If we're here in Virginia together, the Navy could impose the "no coast to coast moves" directive that is in place (with exceptions, of course) in his community and Washington would be totally off the table.

What a dilemma - the prospect of the two of us being apart was not the problem, the logistics of moving me, my car, and a good portion of our household belongings back to Washington was overwhelming.  There was just something telling me to hold off on making that phone call to my former boss.

I waited twelve hours and then called Vic back.  Lo and behold, he wasn't thinking it was such a good idea after all.  I should have played the lottery - I knew he was going to say that.  He's getting a little used to me being at home when he gets off work, being at the airport when he returns from an inspection trip, and being at his beck and call when he needs something and honestly, I'm perfectly happy with that arrangement too.  By the way, don't think badly of him, the beck and call thing happens about once a month, usually when he can't remember where to find something he needs and I, of course, can immediately put my hand on it.  I call it job security.
I need to buy Vic this bumper sticker.

Just about this time, I finally got a call for a job interview.  The federal hiring freeze still hasn't been lifted across the board but it has for this particular agency so I began the process of practicing my interview skills when it dawned on my that I hadn't done a formal interview in over ten years!  It was just as bad as I imagined - a panel of three interviewers, and a set of seven questions (each one about half a page long - I had a hard time remembering what was at the beginning of the question by the time they got to the end).  They said they hoped to make a selection in a week at which time their Human Resources Department would take over and notify the successful applicant.  They said HR was a bit backed up but they were hopeful that the job vacancy would be filled in 60 days.  60 days?  Thank goodness I'm not dependent on a job to survive.  I'm still waiting to hear about the outcome.

As if all that wasn't enough, my torn/strained/sprained/pulled/whatever muscle/tendon/ligament in my leg turns out to be a strained popliteus muscle which is a muscle that starts just below the knee and wraps around the back.  Although I'm thankful that I finally found a physical therapist who knew the exact problem ("Does it hurt here?  Here?  YES! YES!"), the therapy itself is painful and I am still limping around.


When the news from Manchester hit, I was gutted.  It's my home, it hit so close to my heart.  All my family and friends are safe, no-one in their immediate circle was there but my heart breaks for the families of the victims.  Senseless violence, when will it end?

So, how's it been going for you over the last two weeks?  All I can say now is that I have about three weeks to go before I hop on a plane and head to my Sisterchicks reunion where I plan to sit by the lake and drink copious amounts of wine to dull the pain in my leg and the brain cramp from dealing with everything else that is going on in my life or as luck may have it, I'll get a call saying my new desk is waiting for me and the whole reunion will be a non-starter.  As much as I would like to go back to work, the prospect of copious amounts of wine is most definitely preferable at this point.  LOL, who am I kidding?  One glass and I'll be fast asleep.

If you're still reading, have a glass of wine, you deserve it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pray for Manchester


My heart is broken this morning.  Manchester is my home, my roots, the place I most associate with making me the person I am today.  All that I loved and love is in this city.  I think British comedian Russell Kane summed up what many are feeling this morning: 
Woken up this morning feeling physically sick. I thought the only worry I would have at midnight last night was replying to comments about a show I filmed after an amazing day; not frantically messaging home to check none of my family or friends were in that arena. I can't understand the mind-set of an animal, a less-than beast, who sets out intentionally to harm solely teenage girls, boys and their families. I can't understand how someone can brainwash themselves to a place where maiming and killing innocent children, mums, dads, aunties and uncles is any sort of response to the grievances he feels. I can only speak for my family, my little girl, my friends - just normal, average Brits: WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND. None of us sympathise with your f***ed up cause. None of us understand what led you to do this. None of us accept your warped ideology, your corrupted version of faith, your rationale, or any part of the bullshit you've told yourself to get yourself into that diseased, child-killing headspace. You are not glorious or courageous. You are not a martyr. You are a sick cruel, cold, murdering psychopathic bastard - on par with any other premeditating or serial killer. Your own mum and dad will probably be wailing in shame today. And even as an atheist, I can promise you, if there is a God - He is sending anyone who murders innocents southwards. 

Me and my family send love to all those affected in any way. Maximum respect to all emergency services. x
 I'll be back in a few days.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and caregivers of human and animal children.  To  my Mum and my mother-in-law in heaven, my sister, and to all my friends near and far, have a lovely day and I hope you are pampered.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blogging from A to Z April (2017) Challenge Reflections


I'm late with my Reflections Post although you've probably heard it all before.  I didn't care for the way this year's challenge was set up.  In my last challenge (2015), there was a list of bloggers who planned to participate and after each blog name was a two-character category chosen by the blogger to identify their blog style.

ANIMALS: (AN) 
ART: (AR) 
BOOKS/REVIEWS: (BO) 
CRAFTS: (CR) 
CULINARY: (CU) 
EDUCATION: (ED) 
FASHION: (FA) 
FILM/MOVIES: (FM) 
GAMING: (GA) 
GARDENING: (GR) 
HISTORY: (HI) 
HUMOR: (HU) 
LIFESTYLE: (LI ) 
MEMOIR: (ME) 
MUSIC: (MU) 
MYTHOLOGY: (MY) 
PERSONAL: (PR) 
PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH) 
POLITICS: (PO) 
SCIENCE: (SC) 
SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO) 
SPORTS: (SP) 
TRAVEL: (TR) 
WRITING/STORYTELLING: (WR) 
ADULT CONTENT: (AC) 

I found this very helpful - there were a lot of participants (1500+) and I wanted to zero in on the lifestyle bloggers as that is my blog style and what I enjoy reading most.  I was able to make up a blog list and add to it as I discovered other styles that interested me - crafts, travel, and fashion mostly.  I knew right away that I would have no interest in gaming, adult content, or politics among other styles.  I have a limited amount of time to visit other blogs so I wanted to make the most of it.

This year, we were asked to post a link to our letter of the day post and then visit other bloggers by going through the comments to click on the links.  In a word, tedious.  In addition, many bloggers didn't indicate in any way the topic of their post.  I spent a lot of time clicking a link, and reading a paragraph only to find that I had no interest in reading any further.  What a waste of time and after a few days, I gave up.  I made a blog list of several blogs that I knew would be participating (through another meme where we discussed the upcoming A to Z Challenge) and I stuck with those.

I enjoyed coming up with twenty-six posts on a theme.  It's a great way to get your creativity flowing.  I'd love to participate again but it would only be if the list and the categories are used again.

I appreciate all the hard work that went into the development and the administration of the challenge.  It was fun in 2015 - I met some bloggers that I still follow today - but this year, I was disappointed.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 307


1.  Share a favorite memory of your mother or share a favorite something from your own life as a mother.  If you're a mother (or stepmom), tell us how your experience as a mom differs from your own mother's experience.

My Mum was a firm believer that a pot of tea would make just about anything better.  Whether I was happy or sad, had a good day or bad, or just because, she would always say "Hello, darling, let me put the kettle on."  Whenever I have a cup of tea, I think of my Mum and how much I miss her.

My experience as a mother doesn't differ that much from my own mother's experience - she was an Army wife, often raising her children (I have a younger sister) on her own as my father worked long hours, was on a mission, or deployed.  I am a Navy wife and have raised Sophia largely on my own as Vic works the same type of schedule.  I had a very happy childhood, Mum was always there when we came home from school and her life revolved around us and my life has pretty much followed the same pattern.

2.  In May we celebrate teachers (May 9) and nurses (May 6) both.  Most every family has at least one in their midst, so tell us something (of a few things) you appreciate about the teacher or nurse in your family tree.

I'm not sure we have any teachers in our immediate family tree although Vic has been an instructor twice at Navy schools.  He was a mentor to many young sailors, sailors who still remember him to this day (it's been 14 years since his first instructor duty and 7 years since the second one) when he runs into them at the various duty stations we have lived at since that time.  He's remembered fondly, as being dedicated to his field and always willing to share his experience to help others succeed.

My Dad's half-sister is a hospice nurse.  We are not particularly close but I know that she sees much sadness and heartbreak in her work and I cannot imagine how she handles it.  She's always been a bit gruff, perhaps that's the outer shield to protect herself from all of the emotions she must feel every day.

3.  Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad...which would you go for if all three were on the menu?  On bread or a bed of lettuce?  If you answered bread, what kind of bread would make it the perfect sandwich?

All of the above, not together of course, but on three separate sandwiches.  White bread, preferably English like Mother's Pride.

4.  Do you have a desk?  Is it organized?  If so, share your secret to keeping it that way.  If you don't have a desk, where in your home do you take care of family paperwork and business?  Where do you normally sit to blog?

I have a desk and it's where I take care of the family paperwork, business, and blog.  It's very organized - I file or shred papers as they come in, and it has lots of little containers for bits and pieces - tubs for pens, a set of egg cups on a tray for pins, paperclips, and clamps.  If my desk is not clear, I am not happy.

5.  When I was nine years old...

We lived in Mons, Belgium where my Dad was stationed with the U.S. Army at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.  We lived on the third floor of an apartment building, across the hallway from a British Navy family, the Lees.  On the second floor was my best friend, Michelle Cross, and her father sold cuckoo clocks out of their garage.  I think he got into trouble, something to do with running a business from his garage or not paying the proper export fees.  I was in the second half of my third grade year, in Mrs. Stone's class and then I moved up to Mrs. Sunderland's fourth grade class.  We spent every weekend, April to October, at our caravan on the Belgian coast.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Last week, one of the Hodgepodge questions was about things we just didn't get.  When Vic and I went out to breakfast on Saturday, and I was looking through the menu, I found another one - chicken and waffles.  This concept I do not get at all.  Do you put syrup over the chicken and the waffles?  Where did this craze come from?  Have you ever tried it?  It certainly doesn't appeal to me.