Tuesday, May 31, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #44 and Throwback Thursday

A busy week coming up so here's a combo post for tomorrow and Thursday.  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, pulled out of the Battle of Jutland on his doctor's advice and was described as being "frustrated and disappointed" at not being able to attend.  I can just imagine, no doubt someone at the Palace is getting an earful tonight.  Prince Philip will be 95 on June 10 and is as strong a force as he's always been.  Never known for his tact, he has, however, been at the Queen's side (well, ok, a couple of steps behind as protocol dictates) for almost 70 years.

So, how appropriate so close to Mum's birthday and the Duke's that I found this when I was digging through a box of photos.

22 June 1954
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh visited Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe where he was briefed by General Alfred M. Gruenther, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and members of the staff.
(Left to right:  Aileen Meagher, Sylvia Evenson (Mum), His Royal Highness, General Gruenther, Colonel Cross
Military history buff that I am led me to Google General Gruenther.  Turns out he was an American career military officer, Red Cross president, and internationally known bridge expert.  At age fifty-three, he became the youngest four-star general in U. S. Army history.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-21

It's been a stressful week.  My replacement did not catch on as well as I thought she would and that has left me very on edge.  My new job starts tomorrow and I feel so unsettled about what my co-workers are going to have to deal with.  I know that she's new but she has had administrative experience in our organization so there is really no excuse for the pace she worked at during the week.  I talked myself hoarse telling her over and over again how to do simple tasks - a couple of my co-workers commented on how difficult she was finding things.  I'm doubly frustrated because the Mentor/Trainer wants her to work through the tasks herself and doesn't plan to sit with her or have anyone else sit with her.  Tomorrow, she's on her own.  I am more than willing to help as much as I can from my new position but I'll be working my way through my own training, how things are done in my office and what is expected of me.

Frustration, that's my word for the week.

On to the weekend.  I tried to be lazy and sleep in but I'm pretty much in the groove of waking up with the chickens so by about 6:00am on weekends, I'm awake and ready to face the day.  I puttered around the house, did some chores and some paperwork, watched a lot of Netflix and You Tube, and then headed out to run some errands.  I stopped at Macy's to look for a top - how hard do you think it would be to find a solid color, short-sleeved, jewel-neckline top?  Impossible.  I ended up with something along those lines but I'm still on the lookout for what I really want.  On the positive side, I bought a pair of pants and a few casual tops, all two sizes smaller than I used to wear!

Today is Memorial Day - I'm getting a little annoyed at the people who are posting "Happy Memorial Day" or talking about how proud they are of their military spouse.  Today is not the day for that.  Today is all about honoring those who died while serving their country.  I guess some people just don't realize that there is a difference between Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day (and don't even get me started on the people who put an apostrophe in Veterans).  I found this little gem, posted it on my Facebook page, and it's being shared by many.

It's Day One at the new job tomorrow.  How do I feel?  Cautiously optimistic, how's that?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May Rudolph Day

It's Rudolph Day and it's been a year since I've put up a post - tsk, tsk!  What is Rudolph Day?

Here is the definition according to Organized Christmas:
A few years ago, members of our Christmas community began to observe "Rudolph Day" on the 25th of each month.
On that day, we take a few moments to plan some simple tasks for the month ahead, in order to get ready for Christmas Day with plenty of time to spare. By starting early--and working a bit at a time on each month's Rudolph Day--it's easy to prepare for Christmas, save money on gifts, and cut holiday stress.

Sadly, Organized Christmas doesn't seem to be posting any longer.  There hasn't been an update since February but all of the Rudolph Day posts are still there so I'm going to draw from them as long as they are available, in condensed form.

May is the month for catalog shopping.  Does anyone save catalogs or catalog pages of things they'd like to buy for Christmas gifts?  I still have two things that I cut out last year and didn't get round to purchasing.  I'll keep an eye out for them this year.  Did you know that summer is a slow time for catalog vendors so they court business with clearance sales?  I never thought of summer catalogs in that way.  I am certainly going to browse through the pages a little more carefully.   The catalog layouts can also be inspiration for home decor ideas and homemade gifts.

May's Rudolph Club's reminders are to check your crafts.  Do you have supplies for planned gift or home decor items?  Rumor has it that Hobby Lobby has Christmas items out so now's the time to get a little motivation as you browse the aisles.  Also, you should be adding to your Christmas letter that we started in February (oops, must have missed the memo on that one - thank goodness for my planner, all the monthly activities and key events are listed there so I can catch up).  Keep up with the Gift Closet Inventory so you know what you have stashed away and keep socking away those Christmas Club Savings.  And, finally, in the Frugal Finds you should be able to pick up canning jars for those Gifts in a Jar plans.

May's Rudolph movie is The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz - Christmas and England all in one place, with a side order of Jude Law, it's going to be a cozy evening.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-20

Another week and what a week it was!  Pretty standard - work, home for chores and errands, a Family Readiness Group meeting that's time to connect with a few people I don't see the rest of the month, pay day, bill paying, catching up with Sophia, talking to Vic when he can get a call through, the usual stuff.  I really thought Friday would come and go and then the weekend and then it would be Monday again.  Well, it did and it will but what a twist Friday brought!

I received a call from my Team Leader (I'm part of an Admin Support Team and our Leader is our Trainer/Mentor) offering me a promotion opportunity. It came out of the blue - one of the Executive Secretaries was offered another job and they need someone asap to fill in for her. It is a 120 day temporary placement but after that time, it can become permanent, all parties being agreeable. It's a promotion as soon as I start the 120 days and it's in the Administration building so it's a beautiful office. I'd be working directly for the Executive Director, I would consider him the number two man in our organization. It's so funny - he spoke to my orientation class (which just so happened to be ten months ago on that day) and in the back of my mind I thought, I would really like to work for that man. He's so articulate, such an amazing public speaker.

Anyway, I was so lucky that I had my password handy to get into my resume so I whipped out two copies and headed up to meet with him and his deputy. They looked at my resume, we chatted for a while, and they said I was more than qualified, when could I start? May 31 is the date. I'll spend a week turning over to my replacement in my office and then I'm off to my new spot.

I am very sad to leave my co-workers, they are an amazing group of people but they are very supportive and happy for me. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time.

Vic is in port in Manila and armed with a long shopping list.  He's going to check into a hotel for a night of relaxation in a real bed so I'm hoping that maybe the wifi will be such that we can Skype.  Sophia is busy getting ready for finals and longing for summer horse camp to begin.

I visited our local Home Goods store for the first time on Sunday.  Oh, my, that is a dangerous place.  I couldn't resist the glass heart piece even though I probably won't use it until next February.  The red and blue crocks are perfect for holding my long utensils near the stove, the glass bottle is for vinegar (and I'm hoping that I can find another one to match for soy sauce), I couldn't pass up the red napkins with anchors on them, and that's my new china cup for my new office.  Makes me think back to when I started in the Chief of Staff's office at the VA; the Nurse Administrator came in and saw my china cup and said "Finally, someone's bringing some class to this office!"

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Happy Birthday Mum

Today Mum would have been 90 years old.

She was an amazing mother, grandmother, aunt and friend, and so much more…a child in Post-Great War England, a Land Girl during World War II who went on to work for NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes), first in Egypt and then in Paris, France where she met and married her American GI. Countless trips back and forth across the Atlantic and two daughters later, she spent her golden years enjoying the English countryside, retracing her roots, and holding hands with the man who would be by her side until the very end, 47 years later. Kindness was her greatest virtue; she always had a kindly word for people and animals alike, she was a firm believer that a pot of tea would make any situation better, and we, those who loved her, miss her terribly.

Good night and God bless, Mum, you’re forever in our hearts.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-19

Halfway through May already but who's counting?  ME!

It's been an interesting week and I'll have to go back twenty-three years to give you the beginning of the story.  When Vic and I were in Saipan working for the cable company out there, one of our technicians came into the office with a bag of mangoes that a customer had given to him.  I had never eaten a mango and I more than made up for it that day.  I don't know how many I ate but they were so delicious.  Big mistake - I had a severe reaction that caused my lips to blister and it took weeks for me to recover.  No more mangoes for me.  Fast forward to last year when Vic and I were in the middle of our first Whole 30 (and craving something sweet), we found dried mangoes at Trader Joe's.  I thought perhaps I'd try them so I had a few slices, and a few more, and a few more, with no problem at all.  So, I'm cured, right?  When Costco had champagne mangoes last weekend, I picked up a pack and ate one on Monday and one on Tuesday and on Wednesday, my lips started tingling.  On Thursday, I broke out in red patches on my face and my ears started to itch and peel, and I was so self-conscious that I called a friend and had her pick me up from work.  I didn't go in on Friday either as I was able to get an appointment at the clinic and came out with an antihistamine and some cream for my face and ears.  Lesson learned - I am allergic to mangoes and a fresh one will never pass my lips again!  I'm slightly less red and itchy so I've made progress and am back at work.

I had a much higher note earlier in the week - do you remember the Girls' Night Out I attended last week?  I came home on Tuesday from work to find a voice mail saying that I had a Golden Ticket and I won a $100 gift certificate.  I can spend it at any one of twenty-ones stores downtown - three of which are high on my list of favorite shops.  I can't wait to go on a little shopping spree.

Sophia came down for the weekend - she was working at the Girl Scout camp on Saturday at a one-day horse camp and the timing was perfect as it was a particularly busy Saturday for me.  We went to the movies on Friday, "Mother's Day" with Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson, very cute, and then she headed off to camp on Saturday while I went to my Navy Wives meeting, had lunch with a friend who moved to Florida but was here for a retirement ceremony, got a manicure and my bangs trimmed, and was home in time to barbecue before Sophia got home.  We watched some Game of Thrones and then headed to bed.

Sophia headed back to school on Sunday while I went to the Family Readiness Group's Halfway party for families.  It was such a trip down memory lane - all the little ones running around having fun.  Took me right back to Vic's first deployment when Sophia was almost two.

This is us during Vic's first deployment in 1995 - Sophia, me, and my friend Brenda's son Ricky (Ricky just graduated from the Air Force ROTC program at Indiana State University and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant)
The rest of the week was a blur of laundry, chores, errands, grocery shopping, and meal prep - Day Fifteen of the Whole 30 today.

I've also managed to post every weekday this week on the Magical Holiday Home Forums - so great to reconnect with my Christmas-loving friends over there.  I've been very remiss about Rudolph Day posts this year and hope to remedy that situation starting this month.  Christmas in July is coming and I need to prepare.

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Following up on last week's Six Years Ago Today post, here is when Sophia's love of horses began, a visit to her preschool by Patch the Pony.

Straight from the pages of her preschool scrapbook, this was the year she was anti-smile but I think it's adorable anyway.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #43

The British Summer Social Season has started without me - I totally forgot that May 4th through May 8th was the Badminton Horse Trials, arguably the world’s top three day event and a welcome addition to The Season. It takes place in the Cotwolds and is often frequented by the members of the Royal Family. This event is not just for equestrian fans and many people attend so they can visit the fantastic shopping village, which offers every countryside product you can imagine.  You can read all about it here.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-18

Happy May everyone!  Are those May flowers that the April showers were supposed to bring blooming in your area?  The tulip fields in Western Washington are glorious.

Another week closer to homecoming!  We are past the halfway mark and it's all going to fly now (power of positive thinking right there!).  Work was busy last week - started out routine with the prospect of being a bit slow but something popped up each day to make the clock whiz toward 4:00pm in record time.

I spent Friday away from work at a Business Writing class - amazing!  The instructor was so dynamic, she got everyone working as a team in no time and for grammar and punctuation and all those tricky spelling rules, it was a great class.  Training on a Friday is awesome because we get out a little early and I'm home before all the Friday night traffic.

Our town holds its annual Girls' Night Out event on the first Wednesday of May.  You pay $5 for a goodie bag of coupons, $5 that goes towards a community service project, and then you go through the downtown shops where there are drawings, special offers, displays, and goodies.  This year's project is a fundraiser for a planned eight-unit residential community for the survivors of domestic violence.  My friend Christine and I had a very enjoyable evening out.

Clockwise from top left: Cute anchor nightie; tiny, tall votive candles for a summer table; Mason Cash bowls, my favorite; a vivid interpretation of the pink theme of the evening; Annie Sloan chalk paint; Sluy's bakery; more anchors, this time in a set of bowls; advertisement for the upcoming donut eating contest on May 22
This weekend has been a very relaxed one and that's exactly what I needed.  A few small projects and a lot of Netflix.

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 265

1. What's something fun you're looking forward to on your May calendar?

The Family Readiness Group's Halfway event for the families - it's Fiesta time!

2. What are some images that come to mind when you hear the word mother?

Pots of tea - Mum put the kettle on the moment anyone walked through the front door.  Our best conversations were held over a cup of tea.  Advent calendars - Mum always bought my sister and me Advent calendars, and she continued the tradition with Sophia.  She died before my nephews were born so I carried it on for her.

3. What's something beautiful you own or have seen that's made of glass?

I have some beautiful crystal bowls and vases that were gifts from my employers or the people I worked with.  They knew me so well - I treasure each one and the memories associated with them.

4. Was today typical? If not, what made it unusual? 

Yes, typical.  Up at 4am, out the door at 6am, ride the commuter bus to work where I'm in my office by 7am, work until 4pm, take the bus home, cook dinner, check Facebook and e-mail, blog, a few chores, watch Grey's Anatomy, and in bed by 9pm so I can do it all again tomorrow.  

5. What is a quality you wish you could have more of?

Time and daylight - I could make very good use of an extra hour or two in the morning and again in the evening.  I had forgotten how little time you have when you work all day.   Wait, those are not qualities, are they?  See how tired I am because there aren't enough hours in the day!

6. What's the next major purchase you need to make? Will it happen in the month of May? 

A getaway to Victoria, British Columbia to celebrate Vic's homecoming.  Just a few days away to relax and reconnect.  No, sadly, it won't happen in May.

7. What responsibility/job/work did you dislike while growing up but has proved helpful to you as an adult?

Saving money.  I loved to spend, new clothes, a new purse, weekends away with more shopping.  How I wish I had squirreled away just a little bit each payday.  Now that have a solid budget and savings plan, I realize how much more I could have done if I'd started earlier.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

Why is healthy eating so hard?  Why do things that have so many calories taste so good?  Why doesn't someone make a powder that you can sprinkle on yummy things to make them taste awful, so awful you'll never be tempted to eat them again?  Yeah, we're getting pretty random here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Six Years Ago Today...

Six years ago today, Sophia was first place in her first class at her first horse show - what a great day!

Monday, May 2, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #42 (on Monday because it's a special day)

She really needs no words - well, ok, just a couple - precious, adorable.
Happy 1st Birthday, Princess Charlotte

Life Last Week #2016-17

Rather a quiet and uneventful week last week until the weekend.  Work times five is all that happened Monday through Friday although I went in early on Friday and worked through lunch so that I could get off a bit early.  Sophia traveled down from Bellingham and picked me up at work and we did some shopping that evening.  She is becoming quite the outdoorswoman thanks to her boyfriend's interest in the great outdoors so it was off to the sporting goods store for hiking boots and a sleeping bag.

Up early on Saturday morning to drop her car off to check why the Check Engine light was on and then over to the vet to take MudLynn for her follow-up tests from her mass removal surgery.  Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.  Preliminary results from the vet look good so we'll wait for confirmation from the outside labs and go from there.  Preliminary results from the mechanic not so good - parts needed to be ordered but the car was ready the next day so that Sophia could head home.

Saturday brought this little lovely - we are officially halfway through the deployment = let the celebrating begin!

Round one was the wardroom spouses' event - dinner and drinks (for those who were planning to spend the night at the hotel where we held the event).  I didn't plan to stay over even before Sophia arrived for the weekend.  It was a nice meal and fun to catch up with a few spouses I had not seen for some time.  It was also nice to get a bit dressed up - not the usual form of dress in this state!

The celebrations continued on Sunday with a lunch with two of the spouses I met at the marriage retreat we attended last May.  One is pregnant so it was a double celebration for her.

After all of the running around and revelry this weekend, I am looking forward to a quiet one next weekend.  I'm still working my way through Grey's Anatomy on Netflix so continuing with that may be all that's on the agenda!