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A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle: October 2012

A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle

"I cast my lot with a Marine and where he was, was home to me." ~ Anonymous.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stretching Yourself Thin


I’m have this really terrible problem.  Don’t laugh.  I love too many things that I do. 

It’s a terrible problem because having things in my life that I’m good at and are passionate for means that I’m often feeling stretched thin.  Life, by its very nature, is a precarious balancing act.  I don’t know how it is for my husband (he has a wife who takes care of most things) but for me, I have a lot of roles to fill and often find that it’s a challenge to constantly meet the expectations of others, let alone the ones I set for myself.

At work, I’ve been (unbeknownst to me) put in charge of helping train new people.  This came about because a number of new employees mentioned that they appreciated the help I was able to give them during training and my fellow employees voiced my proficiency.  I have a lot of experience training at previous jobs, so it’s not a bother to me, except when I get terribly ill and miss 2 weeks of work while I’m supposed to be training someone. 

In my private life, I have a number of professional groups I have joined.  These are mainly forum type places to “meet” other techs and learn and share and talk about work.  I had no idea that I would be asked to become an administrator of one of the groups… Of course that has lead to my desire to help further the group and has, thus, added to some of the tasks I have taken on in my free time.  I don’t mind this at all, I rather enjoy it, but it makes it challenging to add more to my plate at times.  Luckily, the other two admins do not expect, nor require, me to complete any of these tasks in a specific time frame.  That’s the nice part of being an admin to a wonderful, but fairly informal group. 

But when you start to add that to my everyday roles of dog training/nanny, house keeper, personal chef, gardener, and life organizer, it can be challenging to not feel spread thin.

Sadly, I was in the process of becoming more active in a state level professional organization and ended up having to decline the position.  Luckily, they were very understanding and it’s unlikely to have negative impacts on my future with them.  But it goes to show that I LOVE too many things to be of any good to anyone.

I think I’m incredibly fortunate, not to mention extremely flattered, to have people interested in what I can offer.  I really wish I could do more, but one of the very valuable life lessons I have come to learn in recent years is that good intentions do not replace good actions.  Being over committed and unable to produce results is not only damaging to your personal stress level, but can be damaging to others.  It may not result in their personal injury, but when others are relying on you, it can hurt them if you fail to follow through.  My problem is that I never failed to follow through, even if it killed me.  But it didn’t make me very good company to my husband, friends or the people I was committed to. 
I’ve made strides to decrease the level of thinness I have been spread.  By all means, it’s still quite thin by normal standards, but it’s manageable for me since many of the things I’ve committed to have no deadlines (such as this blog).  But it can still be a source of stress for me when I feel the need to give people what they want, but don’t have the time or inclination to do so.  Learning to say no is something I have been working extremely hard to do… But it’s not always that easy. 



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Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Already Tomorrow In Australia


I posted this the first year that I had this blog, but I felt like now would be a great time to re-post it.  

***
The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point. 

1.Name the five wealthiest people in the world

2.Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3.Name the last five winners of the Miss America

4.Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 

5.Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. 

6.Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners


How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields. But the applause die. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1.List a few teachers who aided your journey through school

2.Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time

3.Name five people who have taught you something worth while

4.Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special

5.Think of five people you enjoy spending time with

Easier?

The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.  It's already tomorrow in Australia - Charles
Schultz


Always remember that you are special to someone and you are making a difference in someone's life, whether you realize it or not.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Grandpa, I am sorry.

Dear Grandpa,

You were diagnosed with terminal cancer and they tried to be optimistic.  I was not.  Stomach cancer has no bright side.  It always ends the same.  And while the rest of my family may love to live in a world fill with denial, I do not.  I do not choose to live in a world where waiting for additional tests means that I can tell myself that you are not dying.

When Grandma got sick, no one wanted to accept the truth.  I remember having dinner at your house and hearing my aunts and uncles say that the doctors said she could have up to 5 months to live.  Though for her illness, that may have been true, anyone truly looking at the gaunt woman who could barely eat and was losing the ability to walk in the face of ALS, could tell that she would not.  I sighed when I told my husband (then my boyfriend) that I didn't think she would live to see the end of the month, let alone 5.  She died just three weeks later.

You have already beaten the odds grandpa.  You have already lived a month longer than the average person with your diagnosis.  Though you have lost your hair and you have lost the roundness in your cheeks, you have beaten the odds.  But Grandpa, I'm sorry, I have not visited you.  I have not seen your bald head, and have only witnessed the thinness in your cheeks via photograph.

I'm sorry Grandpa, but I am having a hard time.  You see, you have never spent a single moment trying to get to know me.  You have spent my entire adult life treating me like a child who doesn't understand the ways of the world, and maybe you are right.  Because I do not understand why the only time you speak to me when I am at your house, is to show me the gifts you have purchased for my cousins.  Gifts that are for no reason, other than that you thought they would like them.  An act that you have never once done for me.  I do not understand why, when my parents told me of your "bucket list" you said you wanted to visit my uncles ex-girlfriend and be present at her wedding this summer, you wanted to see Europe and you wanted to spend one last week on the coast, spending time with my aunt and uncle who live near by, so that you may see my cousins one last time, but I was not on your bucket list.

You have never seen my house, you have never met my dogs, you have never sent me a birthday card, or listened when I tried to tell you of my accomplishments, but my cousins made your bucket list.

I have not explained to my family why I have not visited.  Though they have assumed it is due to distance.  I have not explained that, while the rest of the family is gathering around your dinning room table to have family meals, I am not.  I have not explained the hurt I feel when my family, and you, knowing that I must ask for time off of work in advance, wait until the day of to invite me to family dinners.  I have not explained the pain of having received a picture via email from my mother, of your birthday dinner titled "all of the family together again," in which every one of my aunts and uncles and cousins were present, but I was not... And I was not, because I was not told of the event until the day of and was unable to get the night off of work as a result.

I'm sorry that I have not visited... And I'm sorry that you sent an email out to the "family" regarding your plans for the next few months, as your life is winding down, but I was not included in that email list. I'm sorry that my pain from a lifetime of being ignored has prevented me from seeing you during this time, but I fear it will only serve to further torture me.  And because you will die soon, I will never be able to get closure from being ignored in your dying days.

You see grandpa, while I have not gone to visit you, you have not bothered to include me in anything at all, during this time, your dying days, or any other time prior.  And while I have tried multiple times to get time off of work last minute, or trade shifts the day of, you have not even bothered to include me in your email updates.

I will always be sorry for our lack of relationship.  I will always look back and wish that we had had that special bond that exists between so many grand daughters and their grandfathers, but we didn't.  And it wasn't for my lack of trying.


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Confessions of a Smiley Face User

Hello, my name is A Girl and I have come to realize that I am a smiley face addict. It was a harsh realization that I may even over use the smiley face icons...

Everyone is familiar with the simple :)  which happens to be my favorite smiley face to use.  You can like the  :P   ;)   :'(   or whatever other one you use, but I'm a simple girl who likes a simple smiley face. The problem is that Facebook recently updated their stuff and now, my hearts are pink and my smiley faces are actual little yellow faces smiling back at me when I hit enter on my comment.  This means that I have had to look my over use of the smiley faces in, well, the face.

I'm working on cutting it out, but there is no way I will be able to go cold turkey.  That would be like quitting LOL cold turkey, which may or may not be another over use addiction of mine.  But that is a confession for another day.

In the mean time, I will look at my smiley face usage as an indication that I'm a fairly happy person who would like to smile at everyone... And that I'm a crappy typist who can rarely think of something better to do other than smile and nod.

I can beat this, yes I can!


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Engagement Story

Do you have one of those super romantic, everybody says "AWWW" to, gushy, jealousy inspiring engagement stories? Well, then I have two things to say to you:
1. Lucky you
2. Bite me

I have a fabulous engagement story, but not for a single reason listed above. You see, my husband proposed to me THREE times.  To be fair, I said yes all three times, but I only choose to tell people one of the times because it's the super romantic, everybody says "AWWW" to, gushy, jealousy inspiring story.  But it also took my husband three tries to get it right.

The real story of how we got engaged goes back to his birthday.  He was turning an age that was not old by any means, but for some reason he had decided it indicated he was getting older and, thus, was feeling very depressed about it.  So, I planned a super fun surprise party.  I bought ferry tickets for all of our friends and invited them to Tiki themed BBQ complete with flower lei's and strippers.  Yes, you heard that right, I asked everyone to give him dollar bills for his birthday and surprised him with strippers.  It was actually rather hilarious.

On the way to return some borrowed tables to my parents house, he said we should get married.  This isn't a big thing because for the year prior he had developed a strange delight in joke proposing to me while we were places like in the car at the drive through for a fast food joint, or pumping gas at a gas station.  As a result, any time he made any mention of marriage that could be construed as a proposal, I took to saying, "Yeah, well, it doesn't count if you don't have a ring."

So, while driving back towards the freeway from dropping off the previously mentioned tables, he said it again, "We should get married." And I said, "Well, it doesn't count if you don't have a ring." To which he replied, "Well, I've got a friend in the diamond business."  For those of you who do not have a Shane Company in the area, that is their slogan.  He drove me to their location and I picked out a ring.

That may be the least romantic engagement story of all time.

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Stay tuned for the second and third proposal stories...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Martha Stewart Couldn't Have Done it Better

By now you are all probably well aware of my OCD when it comes to organization, my love of all things crafty and the obsession I have known as Pinterest.  We've all heard the horror stories of pins gone wrong, but I'm here to tell you that my Martha Stewart tendencies are fueled by Pinterest wins.

Win number 1: A delicious baked tomato recipe. I make them all the time now.
Win Number 2: Magnetic Picture Frames as seen on my I'm Practically Martha Stewart post
Win Number 3: Wedding Card Album as seen on my Wedding Card Album post

So, in light of all of my wins, I decided to do a few more things I'd seen on Pinterest.

I started with the organization tip of putting all of your manuals in a binder.  I used page protectors I already had (remember my OCD thing) and inserted my manuals into the page protectors and into a binder.  Now, it makes for a rather thick binder which, of course, is not what it looks like on Pinterest, but, I'm going to buy large binder and put them all in it and hopefully it will look less full. YEA!

Now I'm sure you've all see the pin about using plastic shoe organizers as storage. As seen below:



Well, I decided to give this a try and would like to share with you what I learned.
1. Town Homes do not have anything that is of "normal" size.  This means that this super amazing idea must be cut to suit the itty bitty cabinet doors.
2. They can't be cut to fit just any cabinet door, and, thus, I was only able to use these for under the kitchen sink.
3. Soup packets and such fit perfectly in them and I now have part of one hanging in my pantry.
4.  Lots of other random stuff fits in them too and now I have a full one hanging on the back of the storage closet in our garage.
5. Have an eyelet tool.  Simply punching holes to put on the hooks means they won't be able to hold much weight.
6.  I love using my eyelet tool!  (I bought it for a project that I haven't finished yet and thus hadn't had a chance to use it yet)

And there you have it, my Pinterest wins.  I know I'm a nerd but, you know what? I don't care.  Someday people will come to my obsessively organized house and tell me how lovely it looks.  In the mean time, if you happen to visit, please don't judge the mess.  I'm only organized some of the time.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Letting go of the "Just in Cases"


It’s an interesting realization to have when you begin to look around your life and see all of the things you are hanging onto for no reason.  We have become such a society of the “just in case” variety.  “I need to keep that old shirt, just in case I want to wear it again someday.” We keep friends on Facebook that we don’t really care about, we keep clothes, movies, trinkets, and people. 

I don’t know when or how I began to fall into this category, but I have noticed that as time has moved forward in my life, my “just in case” list has steadily grown into an emotional hoarding problem.  Looking back, I see that growing up, we didn’t have much, and thus I was taught to use what I had, be frugal and repurpose what I could.  Somewhere, I began to see that I didn’t have many friends, so I began to cling to the ones I had with such a frenzy that I often failed to admit when the friendships had become toxic, or non-existent.  I have kept clothes because I might fit them again, I have kept items because I might like them again.  I have kept my emotional life stock full of just in cases.

But why? Why do I need 300 friends on Facebook, when most of them are people I don’t give two straws about? Why do I need all of those movies on my shelf simply because I liked it when I saw it a year ago? Why do I need to hang on to people, simple because they have always been there? I don’t have a fantastic answer, other than to say, I think having these things makes me feel like my life is full, when in fact, most of these things are empty and devoid of any real meaning.

So, I have gone on a large mission to de-clutter my life.  I have de-friended people on Facebook.  Chances are they won’t even notice and why am I so concerned about the hurt feelings of someone who, even with being friends on Facebook, I haven’t talked to in years? I have purged my Tivo of shows I no longer watch.  Why do I need to keep recording them on the off chance that something good happens in the episode when I haven’t consistently watched it in ages? And I have taken a long hard look at my life, my stuff (both emotional and physical) and am taking stock of what things truly matter and what I can let go of. 

I think it’s important to constantly re-evaluate your priorities. 

You can always buy new stuff, but can you make up for lost time? No.  So, get rid of that dress that you wore once that has been sitting in your closet for the last 3 years.  Get rid of those people in your life who have failed to be there for you.  Throw away all of those “just in cases” and remember that those who matter will fight to stay in your life, those who don’t will never notice you left and all of those things that you use to fill your world to make it feel less empty are probably holding you back from something that could make your life truly spectacular, if only you would make room for it. 



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Friday, October 19, 2012

Greatest Hits: Reservists Face a Broken System

Reservist Face a Broken System was one of the first real "opinion" pieces that I've ever written.  It was also the first time I submitted an article to an actual website VS simply guest posting for other bloggers. It was featured on Spousebuzz.com in August of this year.  This is the unedited version that is more similar to what I would have published if I were to have posted it here on my blog.


***

We are facing a broken system.  I have said this many times to my husband, a USMC reservist with two deployments and 10 years of service under his belt, and he scoffed at me.  Me, a spouse, couldn’t possibly understand “the system.”  Having heard the stories, met the spouses, held hands with those who have been effected, I have seen first hand how broken the system that was built to support our service members is.  But now, in light of a recent situation, my husband has told me that he sees it.  I’m going to share with you a story of a young Marine, who has served his country and how we have failed him.

This young man has never seen combat, he has never deployed, he was not injured in the line of duty, but he is ill.  He cried for help one weekend, away from home, to the only man he trusts, my husband, his superior.  He created a plan to take his own life, but my husband intervened.  My husband sat with him for hours at the hospital, supporting a man who felt he had no one else.  He was released from the hospital and sent home. 

A few days later, my husband had not heard from this Marine in 36 hours.  He grew more and more concerned with each hour that passed.  He finally received a phone call from a doctor, but panic rose in his system.  Had this young man finally succeeded?  No, he checked into a hospital to seek help, but not a VA hospital, a civilian one.  You see, this man, who loves his country enough to freely sign a contract binding him to serve his nation, was told that his nation would not help him.  Because he has never seen combat, because he was not injured in the line of duty, because his illness is not PTSD from combat related stress, and because he is a reservist, the military has denied him help. 

My husband and a fellow Marine spent hours calling every resource they could, from the VA all the way down to Military One Source.  Each time being told that no one would help them find this young Marine help because he is a reservist who does not qualify for psychiatric care benefits.  Were he to be active duty, it would be a different story, he would not only get counseling, but long-term psychiatric care.  But, this young Marine, the hardest worker my husband says he has ever known, has fallen through the cracks of a broken system, because his civilian insurance does not offer mental health coverage and the military does not deem him qualified for the benefits.   When what this young man so desperately needs is long-term psychiatric care, he was told that a few free counseling sessions though Military One Source was all he could hope for.

A commonly unreported statistic is that the reserve side of the military faces nearly as many suicides as the active duty side does.  This epidemic does not care what type of contract you have signed, what your rank is, what unit you are attached to, nor does it care what benefits you are entitled to.  And we do not know, based on these reports that we read, if all of these suicides are combat related, but I’m betting they are not.  I’m betting that many of these men and women have also fallen through the cracks of the broken system that was put into place to help them.  The fear that if you seek help for PTSD it will negatively effect your service record and your career, and the men and women who try to seek help for non-service related issues and are denied, is proof that this safety net is not, in fact, a safety net. 
This young man did the right thing.  He reached out to a superior he trusted, and sought help.  But in spite of his courage, he was denied because of his status as a reservist who has never seen combat.  It is possible his service record will have a blemish now, it is unknown at this time how this situation is going to effect his career in the Marine Corps, but I have to wonder: If this can effect his record, if his mental status can blemish his career, why does it not also then qualify him for help?

I fear what will happen if the system in place is never fixed, but who is going to stand up and shout for change?  When will the voices of those who have been failed by our military be loud enough to be heard?  I’m not sure if they ever will.  As long as we are afraid to speak up when our spouses need help for fear of what it will do to their careers, as long as those who seek help and are denied are too wounded to fight back and as long we continue to accept things the way there are, there will never be change. 

I can only hope that this Marine can get the help he needs.  It much more important that he get treatment, than he worry about his career, but it’s sad to me that he has to worry about both at all.  And it pains me that the only person he trusted, his superior in the Marine Corps, was unable to get him the help he deserved.  

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Greatest Hits: Perceptions

Perceptions was a post I wrote and held onto for a while before finally submitting it to Homefront United Network.  It was featured in August of this year.

***


When my husband was deployed, I noticed a stark difference in how my life was suddenly being led. I had always thought of myself as a civilian and it never occurred to me how the perception of who I was might change, in my own eyes or others. But it did change. And it changed very quickly.

We had a big military wedding, complete with uniforms and a sword detail. We asked other military members in attendance to wear their uniforms (if they felt so inclined to do so) and we had representatives from every branch present. But even after walking down the aisle with a man in Dress Blues, I still thought of myself as just another girl who loved a boy and married him. 

The first time I noticed how others perception of me had changed was shortly after that skip down the aisle. I was at a close friends house and her sister-in-law commented on our impending and fast approaching deployment. She kindly looked at me and said, “I just don’t know if I have that kind of strength.” My friend chimed in with the now all too familiar, “Well, they knew what they signed up for when they married into the military.” I was literally so taken aback that I simply agreed with her, being unable to fully process what she had just said.

You see it never occurred to me “what I had signed up for.” It never crossed my mind what lay ahead in our life. We married in a race against the ever-changing date of a deployment, but that deployment didn’t define our love. His uniform, his branch of service, his rank, none of that ever seemed to be associated with who WE were. 

WE were just a boy and a girl. We were in love. We wanted to get married. And that was all that was ever in my mind until that day. That was first day I realized that who I was to me and who I was to my husband would never be who I was perceived to be by the rest of the world. And, from that day forward, I related much more to being a Military Wife, than just a wife. It has not defined who I am, but is has changed my perception of myself, right along with the rest of the world.

In my private thoughts, and my private life, I still see myself very much as that young, newlywed girl who was naïve enough to think that being married to a Marine wouldn’t change anything. But it did. The deployment changed who we were as a couple, it changed how I relate to the general public and it changed who I know I can trust. This military life changed my definition of weakness and strength, and how I view myself in those terms. I’m am not as weak as I once thought, nor am I as strong as I wish to be. But I am one thing. I am a military wife. And whether or not I let it define me, or even want it to, it is how the rest of the world sees me. And it changes how they see me. 

The tag line for my personal blog is “I’m just a girl, who married a boy, who is married to the Marine Corps.” And that is still who I see myself as, just a girl. My husband is in the military, he is a Marine, but I’m just a girl who fell in love. And sometimes I really wish the rest of the world could see that too.  



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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DIY Chlorox Wipes with Bonus Color Safe Bleach Recipe

I know I promised to have this post up for y'all ages ago, but being sick really put a damper on my blogging.  I'm sorry for the length of time that has passed, but it's here now!

As many of you know, I love to make my own homemade cleaning products.  This came about initially as a means of saving money, but I've always been interested in using as few chemicals around my house as possible.  I already use Starfiber to clean the bulk of my house and have for years, but I began to grow more interested in MAKING my other products as I began to see how much money it can save and how much better I can control the chemicals used in my house.  Having sensitive skin means that it's always ideal for me to know what I'm using.

I started with laundry soap and have since been making my own for a year and loving it!  Not to mention loving the money I save! I've now moved onto a number of other products, which leads me to my latest DIY: Cholorox Wipes.  I've always been a big fan of this product.  I'm not big on disinfecting everything regularly, but I do like being able to conveniently being able to disinfect small areas (like a counter I've cut raw meat on).  But Chlorox Wipes are expensive, not to mention pretty wasteful.  Enter: One Good Thing by Jillee.  She has a fabulous DIY wipes recipe and I've been waiting to try it.

Here's what I did:


1. Gather all suppies: Dawn Dish soap (no substitutions, it has to be Dawn), Rubbing alcohol, tap water, ammonia (optional, so I left it out), a container of some kind, and an old T-shirt.

2. Cut shirt into pieces about the size of a baby wipe.  You can make them bigger if you would like, but I found that my husbands large T-shirt made roughly 15 baby wipe sized pieces.  But I hate to waste, so I cut up the remaining shirt pieces and sleeve pieces for a handful of smaller ones too. 

I use my fabric cutting mat and a rotary cutter, but this would not be a hard project to do by hand if you don't have these things.  No need for anything fancy to do this project. 

3.  1 cup of water
1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol
1 Tbsp. Dawn dish soap (Jillee's recipe calls for 2, but I found that to make it much too soapy for my personal taste.  But feel free to play with the recipe as needed)
2 Tbsp. ammonia (optional)
Stir and pour over cloths

I personally saved an old container from my purchased wipes to use for this project.  You can use an old baby wipes container or anything other container you might have.  Be sure it has a lid and seals pretty tightly as rubbing alcohol evaporates very quickly if left in room air. 


Test out your new wipes!  

It takes just a few minutes to do this project and the best part is that the cloths simply get washed and then reused! 

I have now tested these out and made more batches of them and I will NEVER go back to store bought.  1.  Since I use a scented Dawn for this project I have control over what they smell like and I LOVE the way my house smells after.  2. They actually work BETTER than the store bought ones.  I tested this out by cleaning my dogs pee pad tray (I spared you the act of having to look at before and after pictures LOL!).  You can say ew if you want, but my little one is paper trained since it snows here and gets too cold for her to walk outside.  I regularly cleaned it with Chlorox Wipes, but never felt like I could get it clean enough, even if it was "technically" disinfected.  These wipes took off ALL of the staining and the tray looks brand new now!  I find that I use them way more than I ever did the store bought ones since they work so well without way less elbow grease needed.  

Please note that 1. the rubbing alcohol helps disinfect, so you can't substitute it for hydrogen peroxide or anything else. 2. The Dawn helps cut any grease on the surfaces you are cleaning, so again, no substitutions allowed. 

*****

Bonus recipe! 

I have had a number of people ask me about my color safe bleach recipe.  Yes, I do, in fact, make my own color safe bleach to go along with my laundry soap. It's so easy it's should be illegal. (sorry, there are no pictures because it's so easy, it's ridiculous to take the time to take pictures of it)

I make my batches in 32 ounce increments because I used a left over 32 ounce laundry soap bottle to store it in. 

1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
The rest water to for a TOTAL volume of 32 ounce

It's that simple.  You can adjust the amounts to make any volume you would like though. 

Now, I use the cap from the soap to measure it out for the laundry, but it's likely roughly 2-4 TBS per load (or 1/8-1/4 cup) depending on the size of the load.  I use it on EVERYTHING, including my delicates like my bras.  I hear you can use it on wool and silk, but I don't own anything made out of either of these materials, so I can't personally vouch for that. 

I can, however, vouch for it being HE machine safe.  I have an HE machine and it works just fine in it. :)

Enjoy!  

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Greatest Hits: Broken Teacups


Broken Teacups was originally posted on June 5, 2012.  It was one of the first times I had posted about something so personal and I received a number of emails about it. 

***

When my grandmother was alive, she was someone I thought was the best kind of person.  She made me giggle as a child when she would chatter her dentures together and never shied away from taking them out and showing me how she cleaned them and how they stayed in her mouth.  I was fascinated. 

I was also fascinated by the fact that she had SOOOO many grandchildren and yet I always felt special.  I always felt like our time together was just ours.  I would help her pick plumbs to make fruit leather and watch her make cakes.  She never told me she didn’t have time to make me another blanket when the one I had was starting to go to ruins.  I still have my buhbye and my nighnight.  I still have the last blanket she ever made me.  But most amazingly, she had a collection of teacups.  They were the most delicate, beautiful things I had ever seen in my short life.  I wanted to touch them, but somehow knew that I was not supposed to, even though she never told me I couldn’t.

I asked about them once.  There were just enough of them that she could give them to the grandkids if she wanted (our family was big, but not as big as it is now).  She gave me one.  The one I always wanted, the one with the delicately painted red roses.  She didn’t hesitate to say that someday, that one with the red roses could be mine.

When my husband and I moved into our house, it broke.  My heart stopped.  I looked at this delicate rose that was split in two.  I looked at the saucer that was cracked and felt like it was my own heart that had broken.  My grandmother is held in that cup.  And it felt like I had broken her too.  She’s been gone since I was a child.  She died during a risky surgery when I was in junior high.  She had been so sick and she would have died without the surgery, but she wanted to risk the surgery knowing she might die during it.  I miss her dearly, and that cup was my way of remembering the delicate life she showed me, and the special moments I had.  She had an amazing way of making each grandkid feel special even when she had so many.

This teacup is still broken.  I have tried and tried to fix it.  Super glue, glass glue, nothing works.  I don’t know why I can’t fix the saucer.  I don’t know why it won’t come together.

I have asked the husband multiple times to help me fix it.  I have told him what I have tried and that I don’t know why it won’t stay put together.  He still has not tried to help me fix it.  He doesn’t see the importance of this teacup.  He doesn’t understand why something like a teacup is worth saving.   He doesn’t understand the fragile balance of love and memory held in the bottom of the cup with the roses painted on it.  He doesn’t understand that without the saucer, the cup is just a cup.  He doesn’t understand that I need help restoring the cup, so that I may mend my broken heart with it.  He doesn’t understand how so much love can be held in something so small, nor how broken you can feel when that love is slowly leaking out. 

He doesn’t understand the importance of broken teacups or broken hearts.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

What's a Sick Person to Do?

For all of you who are not on my fan page via FB, I'm sad to inform you that I have contracted some form of flesh eating amoeba that is slowly eating the insides of my sinuses and my brain.  In other words, I got sick right after coming home from the Tough Mudder with the deadly crud that I was fending off prior to the event.  I have since spent the last two weeks stuck in my house, mostly confined to my bed.

They thought it was turning into pneumonia and treated accordingly, only to have it then swerve and turn into bronchitis.  I used to get asthmatic bronchitis quite regularly, but it has been a few years since my last bout with it.  The sad thing is that I ALWAYS end up in the ER once I do get it and this time was no exception.  The newest update is that I have developed a sinus infection, just to add insult to injury and the antibiotics that I had been given (and finished) didn't do anything for me.  So, I'm on new meds, lots of codeine cough syrup and bed rest for a bit longer.

This means that I will likely be fairly absent from my blog.  You all have been decently lucky that I had a bunch of prescheduled posts, but I have since run out of those and have nothing all that exciting to say because I have only seen the inside of my bedroom for nearly 14 days now.

So, I have decided to do a greatest hits so to speak.  I will be posting some of my more popular posts and/or guest posts for others.

I'd also like to take this time to ask a large favor:

I would love to know what types of content you are all interested in.  While I am sick, I figure I might as well take some time to work on my blog, since I've been too busy as of late to do so.

What types of posts do you really enjoy?
What do you love to hear about?
If you could ask me for advice, what would you want to know?
Are there topics that you wish I covered and don't? Or that I have in the past that you would like to read more about?
What are your feelings on controversial topics?

I'm looking to see where I might be able to branch out and also to be sure I'm offering my readers what they like, while also having this as a personal space to voice my thoughts and feelings.



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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Importance of Dog Training


There are few things in this world that make me worry about my dogs too much.  The fact is, being the pet of a Vet Tech is like being the child of a Nurse or EMT.  You only get to go to see a doctor when you are dying.  The cycle goes something like this: "Oh, you have a little diarrhea? I’m sure you’ll be fine, here’s some canned pumpkin with dinner.  Oh, you still have it? You’ll be fine in a day or two.  Oh, now it’s bloody and you are dying? Oh, NO!  You probably have cancer or some other serious/deadly ailment that I don’t have enough money to treat!” Cue uncontrolled sobbing as I drive my dog into work. 

The fact of the matter is, when you know what is probably wrong, which is usually nothing serious, you don’t take things seriously until they get worse. It doesn’t mean that my dogs are not well cared for, they get some of the best vet care money can buy (thank you generous employee discount at a fabulous hospital that offers everything imaginable).  It means that my dogs are well trained, well cared for, well loved and that I’m not particularly over reactive to things… Sometimes I wish I were because I always feel like an ass when I let things go too long.  But such is life in animal medicine.

But yesterday, I saw for the first time something that made my heart drop.  Yesterday, while I was receiving a delivery at my front door, my naughty butthead Doberman got out the front door.  She doesn’t so this often, but she has not mastered door training just yet.  My male has, but he seized the opportunity of her having gotten out to follow her and for the first time in his life, he did not come when called back home. 

Usually, when she gets out, we actually let him off leash to go find her and then call him to us.  He comes and she follows in tow.  Today, they just ran and he didn’t come back either. They ran around our entire complex, then out the front of it into the intersection that is the entrance to our townhomes. 

Having bronchitis and what is apparently walking pneumonia meant that I did not immediately chase after then when they got out.  I calmly walked the complex calling out to them figuring they would come running back at any moment as usual.  They did not, and a few kind people pointed me in the direction of which they last saw them headed.  I headed toward the front of the complex when I could hear my male barking.  There I met the UPS guy who had inadvertently started this whole mess.  He had stopped his truck and pointed me in their direction, and they came running towards me down the sidewalk moments later… Until, at the last second, they veered off course and ran straight out into the intersection.

My heart dropped, panic rose and I screamed “Oh, JESUS!” as I ran towards the intersection screaming, as nicely as I could, for them to come back.  Thank God there were no cars coming.  The only car in sight had stopped and then motioned for me to go across the road after my dogs.  I ran, though my lungs didn’t want to, across the road praying that they did not decided to turn and run back across the street because this time cars were coming. 

They ran down the hill instead, on the grass (thank goodness!).  I bent down and cheerfully called out to dumbass number one and he came.  I grabbed his collar and wouldn’t you know, my little girl came running up too and I quickly grabbed her collar too.  I escorted them home and promptly locked them in the kitchen out of frustration and then proceeded to cough as my bronchitis kicked up full steam.

The lessons of the day is this:
  1. 1.     Practice door training with your dogs.  I have been begging people for months to come over to help me, but now I’m pretty sure people are going to start saying yes after hearing what happened.
  2. 2.     Never angrily call out to your dogs when this kind of thing happens.  This is because they will not come back if they sense they are in trouble, hence my cheerful calling out to my dogs even though I was terrified and angry.
  3. 3.     Chasing, panic stricken, after your dogs when you have bronchitis and some type of pneumonia is a sure fire way to set your recovery back… A LOT.


I rarely preach on this blog.  And I rarely preach about animal stuff.  Not many vet tech read it to my knowledge and I’ve never really seen my blog as the place to preach about dog health and safety, but today, I need you all to please think about things when dealing with your pets.  Be sure they are microchiped because tags and collars can come off.  But still be sure they have tags and collars and are licensed.  Work with them on door training and other obedience to help prevent this type of situation. 

Today, the sight of my dogs being hit by a car flashed before my eyes and it was the most horrible thought.  I’ve cared for and nursed a lot of dogs who have been hit by cars (cats too), but have never experienced it and just the little taste of what might have happened today was enough for me to know that I never want to have to. 

I pray that none of you ever have to experience it either. 


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who Am I?

Maybe it's the codeine cough syrup that I have to mix with Benedryl talking, but being sick tends to make me depressed.  Having issues with my four year old computer not wanting to connect to the internet more than 5 minutes at at time and my fancy new(er) Tivo having not worked well since we purchased it, which just so happens to be the Tivo in our bedroom, doesn't help. Being stuck in bed, with limited distractions makes you mind wander.

The question that tends to always come up is "who am I?" I'm sure this is true for many people, but for some reason this is a question that feels like it plagues me.  I feel like it's always lurking in the recesses of my thoughts, threatening to surface at the most horrid moments. Like when I sick and can't get away from it.  Typically, when I am having an existential crisis, I would throw on my running shoes and quite literally run away.  Or I would clean or busy myself with some sort of project.  Pneumonia and bronchitis do not lend themselves to any of those activities and thus I have been unable to get away from this terrible question.

I often consider a number of roles when thinking of who I am:
I am a vet tech.
I am a military spouse.
I am a dog lover/mom.
I am crafty person.

But none of those are really who I am inside. Who am I inside? I don't really know.  I feel lost in my life.  I feel like I woke up one day married, with a house and dogs and I can't really remember how I got here. I never wanted to get married, I'm much more of a cat person and I am definitely not where I thought I would be at this age. Not that I've ever been much for life goals that were to be completed by a certain age, but I guess...

To be honest... Since I've told you all that I would start sharing my heart with you... I thought I would be happier by this age.

From the standpoint of many of our friends, I have the perfect life.  I have a handsome husband who wears sexy dress blues, I have dogs, a house, a good job that I am talented at and we don't have a ton of money troubles (more because I'm frugal than anything)... But is that really want it takes to be happy? No.

I feel like I've spent most of my life wandering, trying to find my place.  There are few people in this world that I have a good opinion of and even fewer that I actually consider friends.  To be honest, I have one person who I consider a really good friend, we see each other about once a week and the nice thing is we can just talk.  She knows me fairly well, but we don't always have to share intimate details of our lives.  But I rarely burden her.  I don't burden anyone really.  I do not enjoy feeling like I have dumped my problems on some unsuspecting person, so I generally talk to no one.  So, here I am, on my super secret, public forum expressing to a world made up of strangers and internet friends that I am lonely, lost and unsure of where I belong in this world.

I've always felt odd and out of place.  I don't generally try very hard to fit in per se, I tend to just be me, act nice and try to get along with people.  But I know that I don't really fit in anywhere, even though people generally seem to like me.  I also tend to find people dull, ignorant or irritating, so that doesn't help me want to be out with them anyway.  But then where do I go?

I dream of being something and someone different every day. Am I an artsy creative type? Am I a homemaker? Am I a dog trainer? A Vet Tech? A wife? Am I happy?

I believe happiness is a choice.  You choose to wake up and be satisfied with life, happy with who you are, or you choose to be miserable.  But lately, it's been harder for me to be satisfied and happy with life.  I've been waking up and looking at my life, anxious to do the things I want to, but unable to due to time, money or husband.

I guess we all feel lost sometimes, but lately, it's been harder to look in the mirror and know who I am. Do I lack identity, life goals, or something else? I don't know, but I do know that my "to do list," the Tough Mudder and my crafts are all things I have used to distract myself from the fact that I don't know where I am, where I am going, where I belong... And most of all, I just don't know who I am anymore.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm One Tough Mudder

The custom shirt I had made!
The Tough Mudder is over and I have survived relatively unscathed.  I say relatively because I lost the ability to walk for about 24 hours post Mudder.  I have bruises and cuts and no idea how I got them and a sense of accomplishment that can't be beat!

Ready for action with my war face on!
It's was a pretty phenomenal experience and I have already decided to do it next year! I have a number of friends who say that they were inspired by what I did and want to join me, but we'll see how many of them stick with it.

The course had 22 obstacles of which I attempted all 22, but I fell off the monkey bars and the rings, so I only completed (fully completed) 20.  I had given myself 4 hours to complete the course, though it's not timed, and I completed it in 3 hours and 28 minutes!

My adoptive team.  So nice of them to take in a stray :)
I would say the best part of the experience was the camaraderie.  A couple of guys over heard my saying that my whole team dropped out and they approached me at the starting line and asked if I would like to join their team.  It was truly amazing.  I spent the whole time with their team, which had only one girl on it, and we helped each other through to the bitter end.  It truly was an "everyone is in it together" type atmosphere.  Everywhere I turned strangers were helping each other over obstacles.

On the rings.  I ate it and fell into the ice water. 

An 18 ft jump doesn't sound that bad... Until you are standing at the top getting ready to jump.

I made it half way across the monkey bars, but muddy hands and greased bars don't mix and I fell.

Crawling under 10k volt electrical wires.  I got shocked in the butt!



Fourth try's a charm.  I finally made it up the Everest.


Crawling through mud is exhausting. 

But I finished and am officially one Tough Mudder!


It was beyond worth the sore muscles and bruise.

*** Minor amendment:
After having so many people in my life being unsupportive, the sense of accomplishment was amazing.  To complete it when so many people in my life told me I was crazy was beyond a great feeling.  The high after I was done lasted for days.
It was terrifying, intense, sometimes painful and all around AWESOME!  I'm not delusional enough to think that everyone would want to do something like this, but for me, I can't wait to do it again.



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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Free Spirit

I have a terrible time with commitment, which sounds funny coming from a married woman.  But it's true.  I never wanted to be married.  It's not that I don't want to be committed to someone or something, I really do, but it's more that I want to be committed to the idea.  The romantic ideal that is in my head.

I have a terrible time with job hopping.  I currently adore my job, but after nearly a year in one place, I am finding myself growing restless.  I love my co-workers and get a thrill out of what I do, but too long in one place causes my heart and mind to wander to other things.  It's a troublesome personality trait that makes it challenging to explain to people why I must always be on my way.  Most do not understand the wandering free spirits that still exist today.  Most are happy to find a job they love, a house they love, a friend and neighborhood they love and never move from there.

Not me.

I don't know what made me this way.  I don't know why I am so antsy to move from place to place, but it is just who I am.  My passion runs deeply, my fire burns brightly, and any other number of cliche phrases you can use to describe a person who is just kind of in love with having new experiences.  I'm constantly searching for that thing that will hold my attention, but have yet to find it.

I look at my job and know, that though I love it, no normal person daydreams of where they will be off to next when they actually do love their job.  But the tedium of office politics don't interests me and I find it annoying to constantly be feeling like my employer should be more open to better ways to do things.  I'm not really build for that.

I find it hard to hang on to friends because the same heart that has my mind constantly wandering, has little time for those I don't consider a true friend.  Very few people in my life have lived up to the simple expectation that I have set forth: I will be there for you, in any way that I can, as long as you reciprocate.  It seems a simple enough philosophy to have in a friendship, but you'd be surprised (though you probably aren't) at how few people really want to be there for you in return.  I will move heaven and earth for my friends, and all I ask is the same in return.  But so few people are interested in mutual friendship, so few people understand that being friends with someone like me means that our friendship must span distances of not just miles, but sometimes time and even worlds.

But I can't help who I am.  I can't help constantly wondering what is just over that bend, where that other road leads and never staying in one spot for too long.  By outward appearances, I own a house, have dogs, a husband and a steady life, but on the inside I'm a wild woman constantly searching for where life will take me next.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Who Will We Be?


This seems to be a question that has been plaguing my marriage in recent times.  Who will we be if he chooses to not reenlist next year?  Who will we be if he does? Who will we be when the nation officially moves into a time of peace?

The last one seems to be the heaviest of them all.  I know, or at least have a good idea who we will be if The Boy chooses to reenlist.  I’m pretty sure our world will keep spinning if he chooses not too… But should he reenlist and the nation moves into peace time, well that will be a world that we have never experienced together. 

My husband has never been a Marine for a nation at peace.  I have never been married to a Marine during a peaceful time.  What will that mean for us?  I’m not sure.  You see, most of my adult life has been shaped by the events on a randomly sunny day in September all those years ago.  I was just a kid.  I look back at that time and think of how odd it feels to still feel so young, but realize that I was just a dumb teenager, fresh out of high school at that time ago. 

Here I am now, 11 years later and the only world I have ever known as an adult was a world at war.  The only marriage I have known was one constantly facing that war.  Putting up the united front, playing the dutiful wife, facing the sympathetic eyes of my family and friends who don’t really know what life in the military is like and for some odd reason think that all it is is sadness and heartbreak.  I’ve grown thicker skin, I’m less trusting of others, I’m more hyper vigilant about my security and safety, and I’m much, much, MUCH more sensitive to the true meaning of Memorial Day and the 4th of July than I ever was growing up. 

This war is as normal to my life as is making breakfast… Ok, so I don’t cook, but the metaphor stands.  Who will I be? Who will we be as a couple? What will life be like when the war is no longer on my mind every day of my life?  Will these habits be too hard to break?

When my husband was gone I spent endless hours trying to ignore the nagging, worry in the back of my mind.  We lived our life in life and death at that time.  It felt like everything I did was to avoid hearing about death, worrying about his, or trying to make it through one more day of a countdown that was never going to be a sure thing.  Dramatic? Yes, but we all have to admit that we worry more than we want to.  That habit never went away.  When my husband is in the field and unreachable, I worry, when he goes out for a beer and I don’t hear from him a fierce panic rises in my throat and it feels like my world is spinning.  It’s been three years and I have never broken the habit of worry.  Will I be able to break the habit of war?

Will he?

Will he be able to break the habits that have shaped our world for three years post deployment? Will he be able to stand down and be comfortable in a world that he now sees as full of threats at each turn? Will we, as a couple, know who we are, if he is not the warrior and I am not the warrior’s wife?

I honestly… just…don’t… know…

Though it is not all of who I am, a large part of my life is being a military wife, offering support to others and seeing the bonds that build between spouses as a way of life that is hard to find in the civilian world.  Though I’m sure those bonds will stay, new ones will become harder to find as we move farther and farther away in time from the life of a military couple, with a military life and military marriage.

Right now I say that I’m just A Girl, who loves A Boy, who is married to the Marine Corps… Who will he be when he is no longer married to the USMC?  And who will I be to him, if I’m no longer his mistress? 

I’d like to think that I will take center point in his life and we will skip off into the heavily wooded front yard of our dream home, hand in hand, happily every after… But is that who we will be?



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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Don't Be THAT Spouse

I read an article on Military.com the other day about "those" spouses.  It was a pretty short little bit about how quickly people are to judge overconfident spouses or those who "don't seem to understand how it works." Honestly, it got me thinking. It got me thinking back to my own husbands deployment when I was a newlywed, with a deployed husband and was all alone.

This judgement is a common one.  For some reason, at some point, we all grow jaded about this life.  On the one hand, we spouses are a proud and confident bunch.  There's nothing we can't face down, nothing we can't handle and are usually pretty self sufficient.  This all comes from living a life where we have no other choice more often than not.  We can either step up to the plate and swing, or sit in the dug out and sulk, but only one of those options allows the life we lead to keep moving forward when our husbands are gone.

But on the other hand, we are judgmental and critical of all of those who we feel are overly confident, or overly weepy for that matter.  Both of which are things we can rarely afford to be.  It's not often an option to sit on our couches for days on end feeling sorry for ourselves, even if that's really what we would rather be doing.  But think about it for one second.  That overly confident wife we are irked at?  What is it that she was overly confident about?  It was probably something she said about being frustrated that her spouse deployed with no warning, his duty got extended a day before he was supposed to be home or some other thing that she is now facing that she was not prepared for emotionally.  Does that really make her confident? No, it makes her human.  It makes her normal to have hoped against the odds that he would come home on time, that things would work out and that ever conceivable thing that could go wrong wouldn't.

We spouses have been through a lot in the last 10 years.  Those who have been married for longer have been through more, having seen multiple conflicts in their time with their service members.  We all know that at the best of times, when we are a nation at peace, there is still no guarantee about anything that revolves around the military, but think back to those first years.

I think back to my first year married.  Barely married.  Barely having said "I do" and already saying goodbye with a tear in my eye.  I knew I had to be strong, I couldn't tell my husband how hard it was to have him gone so soon.  I couldn't tell my friends and my family that I had no idea what to do.  I had no idea hard it would be, what to expect or even how to do something as basic as navigate Tricare.  I spend my time blogging about this strange experience, weeping when no one was looking and trying to keep it together when all I wanted to do was hide in a  dark room and sleep until it was over.  I remember it vividly because I have never felt so alone.

And I knew "that wife."  The one who told me that I didn't know anything.  I didn't know what a "real" deployment was like because so far we hadn't had any combat related injuries and her husbands last deployment had seen multiple deaths.  "This was cake," she would tell me.  I spent a year of my life feeling ashamed about my own worries and fears because this spouse, who should have been there for me, helping me navigate this strange new world I found myself in, chose to tell me how I didn't know what I was talking about instead.  She chose to belittle my feelings as a new spouse, in a new life, having no idea what to do.

She was elitist, telling anyone who would listen how she was better than they were as a spouse because of what her husbands last deployment was like, what he used to do before he got to our unit, where they had been stationed and how long she had been a military spouse.

Don't be that spouse.

So, the next time you are rolling your eyes at that spouse who's mad about this change, frustrated about that one, or is just having a rough day and crying about it, stop for a second and think back to your first deployment experience.  Think back to your first year as a military spouse.  Were you that much different?  And if you were, could it possibly have been because someone took the time to hold your hand and understand instead of judge you?


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