✍ All sorts of new and exciting things coming up for the cast of L to the Third so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The suck is about to get even suckier


Captain Husband called me the other day; this came as a bit of surprise because we had already Skyped that morning and we usually only talk at most once a day.  "I've got some good news and some bad news," he said.  "I've spoken with branch and they gave me the list of my PCS* options...the good news is that they think I can get command almost immediately after we PCS."  "Okay," I said, "but what's the bad news?"  "We have to go to Fort Bliss."  "Wait, WHAT?!?  What about Fort Bragg?"  "North Carolina isn't even an option for us, babe."  I then proceeded to let loose with a torrent of expletives that I will not reproduce here. 

I should have known better than to get my hopes up about Fort Bragg, which was my top choice of places to be PCS'd.  I had let myself get swept away by the thoughts of still being within a day's drive of our families and friends and of still being able to work as a decorative arts consultant (the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts would have only been a two-hour drive away).  Now I must deal with the very real prospect of moving halfway across the United States to a region of the country that I know nothing about, other than it's hot, like really HOT, most of the year.  CH actually lived at Fort Bliss six years ago, before he left the Army, and is excited to return to the area, but then again, he knows what to expect and has friends out there, whereas I'm starting at zero.

I know that this is something we have to do, especially if we're going to be serious about CH's military career.  In the interest of being proactive, I'm reaching out to my readers in the hope that you can direct me to some positive things about the new place that I'll likely be calling home at some point this summer (I've had all sorts of luck finding negative things, and well, that isn't really helping with my current state of mind).

*Permanent change of station for those of you unfamiliar with milspeak.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vloggin' Vednesday: How to speak Pittsburghese

Welcome to this week's edition of Vloggin' Vednesday; I've been sick with a nasty, snotty head cold since Friday, so I apologize for sounding especially nasal/congested in this video.  Also, if my "how to" doesn't seem to really make any sense, it's likely due to the fact that I'm totally whacked out on whatever over-the-counter-remedy I decided to try last night.  Fun times!




For those of you who want to get your nerd on, you can learn more about the regional dialect of western Pennsylvania by clicking here; if you'd like to see what Kennywood looks like when it's actually open (and no, this link won't take you to photos of people with their flies down), click here.

Want to join in, too?  Visit the official Vloggin’ Vednesdays page to find current themes/ questions along with the corresponding Vednesday and then link up at Adeline’s Daddy Blog each Wednesday Vednesday.  C'mon, you know you want to!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nine-month update (just a few days late)


Sammy had his nine-month well baby appointment yesterday; he currently weighs 21 pounds, 7 ounces, and is just over 29" in length, which puts him around the 85th percentile for his size.  Sammy is wearing eighteen-month clothing and already some of his onesies are getting tight.  I think his nickname should be "Tank."  It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?


Sammy's now getting three meals of solid food a day and taking his bath in the "big boy" tub.  At the moment, Sammy still seems to be pretty open about trying new foods--in the past week he has sampled strawberries, tomatoes, steamed and mashed broccoli and raw onions (!).   He still only has two teeth, but I have a feeling that a top tooth (or two) will be making an appearance soon (with any luck, it will be very soon, as a teething Sammy is a whiny Sammy and I am not that big a fan).


Looking back on the past month, it seems as though my baby has turned into a little boy overnight.  In just the past few weeks, Sammy has figured out how to crawl, how to clap, how to pull himself up, and how to feed himself little bits of food here and there.  Now that he can crawl, Sammy's become even more independent; when he tires of the toy that he's playing with, he simply crawls over to his toy box and pulls out a new one.  It's awesome.  I'm can't wait to see what milestones the next month will bring.



P.S. Dear Sandy, you can run and you can hide, but rest assured, Sammy will find you. Consider yourself warned.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A weekend of firsts

This weekend's recap involves a number of firsts, beginning with my personal favorite--Sammy's first shiner:


This is why you're not supposed to catch toys with your face.  Sammy's friend, Samy, accidentally dropped a toy bus that he was holding as he walked past Sammy, whacking him right in the noggin'.  Fortunately, Sammy shook it off pretty well and didn't seem too bothered by the whole incident.


Sammy attended his first playdate at the Soft Playroom in Alexandria for his friend, Gabe's, second birthday.  Sammy  was a bit overwhelmed at the beginning (it was pretty noisy in there), but he warmed up quickly to the ball pit.  [Insert off-color joke about the apple not falling far from the tree, etc., here.]


Having recently conquered crawling and clapping, Sammy decided to go for the hat trick and pulled himself up into the standing position for the first time yesterday evening.  I had my camera out in an attempt to capture some no-pants cuteness and was a bit surprised when he crawled right over to the chair and then used it to pull himself up as though he's been doing it for months.  Sheesh, give this kid an inch and he takes a mile.


And that brings us to the last of this weekend's firsts: the first time the dryer attempted to eat an item of clothing.  What you are looking at is the twisted remnant of one of Sammy's overall buckles; the rest of it is lodged somewhere in the dryer.  I have no idea how in the world this happened, but fortunately the dryer seems none the worse for wear (apparently it hungers for corduroy).  I wish I could say the same for the overalls--they were my favorite pair.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A new Foto Friday hostess and Momma in Focus

For those of you not in the know, Ann Marie, aka the Household 6 Diva, has decided to no longer host the popular Foto Friday feature on her blog (she's got a lot of stuff going on in her life at the moment, so I can totally understand); but fret not!  Kim, over at Mom Tried It, has taken over the linkup, so that it may continue.  This week's prompt is yellow, and I had just the perfect shot of some lovely forsythia that was in bloom on Duke's campus:

Forsythia at Duke

And now on to this week's Momma in Focus; Casey came up with the prompt of dessert for this week.  I tried to get a cute candid shot of Sammy and me while I was eating wedding cake last Saturday, but it just wasn't happening.  So I'm afraid I'm going to have to deviate from the theme (GASP!) and do something completely different:


When I said different, I meant it.  Sadly it was really, really bright when this photo was taken, so Sammy's face is almost entirely hidden by shadows.  This was a real fun one to pose; I'm actually balancing him on my knee, which I have raised up to about waist level.  My brother was trying to get a good shot while I was yelling, "HURRY BEFORE I LOSE MY BALANCE," so all in all, it turned out pretty well once you take all of those factors into consideration.  Here's a slightly better one from our trip to Zoo Atlanta (don't worry--I plan on dedicating most of next week to tales and photos from our recent trip to North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia):


A special thank you to my brother for working as my personal paparazzo on this trip (he definitely had his work cut out for him).  Be sure to check out the other lovely photos this week by clicking below--and don't forget to show Kim and Casey some love.  Have a great weekend everyone!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #35



In an effort to learn more about fellow MilSpouse bloggers, Wifey from Wife of a Sailor started this weekly meme;  here are this week's questions.

1. What is your must have gadget? submitted by Flying High With My Flyboy

My iPhone.  I am addicted to it.  A close second would most definitely be my laptop.

2. How does your adulthood compare to what you imagined it would be like when you were a little kid? submitted by L to the Third

Crap.  I submitted this one so I better give my answer some actual thought.  Well, I certainly didn't grow up to be a mover, a carpenter, a marine biologist or a Japanese teacher--all occupations I thought I have as an adult at some point in my childhood; I never would have guessed that I would go on to find a career focusing on the decorative arts.  Ultimately, I wanted to fall in love with someone and start a family with that person; granted, I also thought I would meet that person in college and get married shortly thereafter, but better late than never, right?  At the end of the day, I'd have to say that my adulthood is pretty close to how I imagined it would be (minus the crushing student loan payments, of course).  However, I never imagined in a million years that I would find myself married to someone in the military; it can be really rough at times, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else.

3. What is your favorite chocolate recipe?  submitted by Our First Deployment

Triple chunk brownies. It's a little recipe I picked up from someone named Betty Crocker.  And by recipe, I mean a box from Target.

4. How do you deal with military life when it gets to be too much or too hard? submitted by Combat Boots And Pointe Shoes

I'm pretty lucky in that I can always give my family a call when things get to be too much, and I also have a great network of friends who are ready and willing to help out when things get rough.  I've also been known to turn to retail therapy when things get really bad (nothing cheers me up quite like a trip to Target), and brownies are great, too (see #3).

5. What piece of advice would you give a new Military spouse facing their first deployment?  submitted by The Albrecht Squad

Don't be afraid to actually take people up on their offers of help.   People sincerely do want to help--they're not just saying it to be nice.  I promise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shoot and Edit Challenge: Flowers (after)

The lovely and talented Ashley and Jill have teamed together to share their awesome photo editing tips and tricks; this week’s prompt/theme is flowers so I decided to use a photo that I took on my recent visit to the gorgeous campus of Duke University.  I'm always in awe of the photos that have been edited to have that fairy garden effect, so I gave it a try, low-budget style.  Here's what I did in Picnik:
  1. Manually adjusted the exposure.
  2. Manually adjusted the color temperature ever so slightly.
  3. Added the layer, Garden Lights No. 1 (Thanks, Ashley!); applied the "screen" setting at 50% opacity.
  4. Added the layer, Snowy Bokeh Texture; applied the "overlay" setting at 75% opacity.
  5. Combined everything.
  6. Applied "boost" at 20%.
  7. Applied "vibrance" at 35%.
  8. Cropped it ever so slightly (the dark spot in the lower left corner was distracting to my eyes).
Here's a side-by-side comparison:



I initially attempted to create this effect in Pixlr, but for some reason I simply couldn't get the layer mask function to work properly and gave up in frustration.  All things considered, I think the edit turned out pretty well using Picnik's tools.

If you'd like to learn how to make your photos go from good to wow, be sure to click below:


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crawl forth, young man!

Today Sammy turns nine-months old.  He chose to mark the occasion by finally figuring out how to crawl forward (he's been crawling backwards now for over a month).  The best part?  We were Skyping with Captain Husband when it happened this morning, so CH got to see Sammy crawl for the first time as it was actually happening.  I was so happy I nearly cried.  Seriously.


Vloggin' Vednesday: Guilty Pleasures

Welcome to this week's edition of Vloggin' Vednesday; I'm finally home in Virginia after what felt like an eternity in the car yesterday.  Sammy and my brother and I all managed to survive without having to resort to threats or violence, so it was a successful trip as far as I'm concerned. So without any further ado, here is this week's vlog (I apologize in advance if I seem especially goofy and don't make any sense--I made this way, way, way past my bedtime last night):



Want to join in, too?  Visit the official Vloggin’ Vednesdays page to find current themes/ questions along with the corresponding Vednesday and then link up at Adeline’s Daddy Blog each Wednesday Vednesday.  C'mon, you know you want to!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shoot and Edit Challenge: Flowers (before)

The lovely and talented Ashley and Jill have teamed together to share their awesome photo editing tips and tricks; this week’s prompt/theme is flowers.  This was probably the first time since I've been participating in these challenges/tutorials where I actually had entirely too many options to choose from thanks to all of the lovely spring flowers currently blooming in the south.  I finally decided to go with a shot that I took on the campus of Duke University last Tuesday:


If you'd like to learn how to edit your photos so that they go from good to wow, be sure to click below:

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge: Green

This week's theme over at the Paper Mama is green; Sammy celebrated his first St. Patrick's Day in Georgia and I even remembered to pack the shirt that I had bought him for just this occasion:

Sammy's first St. Patrick's Day

Today is our last day in Georgia and I'll be said to say goodbye to all of the lovely spring flowers but I know that they'll soon be making an appearance in Virginia in just a week or two.  I have so many great photos to share with all of you from this trip!

Be sure to check out the rest of this week's entries by clicking below:

The Paper Mama

Friday, March 18, 2011

Momma in Focus: Week two

The following photo was taken of me and Sammy by my brother, John; we're sitting in front of the gorgeous Duke Chapel in North Carolina (we stopped and stretched our legs there on our way to Atlanta--such a beautiful campus!):


Break out your camera and join in on the fun by clicking below:


one day at a time

Have a great weekend everyone!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #34



In an effort to learn more about fellow MilSpouse bloggers, Wifey from Wife of a Sailor started this weekly meme;  here are this week's questions.

1. What are some of your ideas for staying connected with family...you know, those people we moved thousands of miles away from? submitted by Live it. Love it (or not). Write About It.

Thanks to things like blogging and Skype, I manage to stay pretty connected with my family; sorry--not a very helpful answer.

2. What's the most romantic gift you have GIVEN? submitted by Painting My Canvas

I don't do romance very well...most of my gifts are of the humorous variety (think along the lines of novelty underwear); however, I did buy Captain Husband an antique pocket watch and had it engraved with "Welcome Home Sloth Bear" (it's a long story) for when he returned from Afghanistan.

3. Would you encourage your child, if they came to you and wanted to join the military? submitted by Perfectly Imperfect

To be honest, I wouldn't encourage my child but I wouldn't discourage him, either.  I would listen to his reasons and and then we would discuss the ramifications of his choice as a family.

4. What is your least favorite bill to pay and why? submitted by A Little of This, A Little of That

My student loan bills...ugh.  My stomach ties in knots just thinking about how much I owe and how long I'm going to be paying for my higher education.

5. What is the proudest moment you've had as a military spouse? submitted by Our Okinawa Life

I wasn't technically a milspouse when this happened (I was a milgirlfriend) but one of my proudest moments was when Captain Husband told me that he was volunteering for a year-long mission in Afghanistan; initially I was pretty conflicted about the whole thing but once I had time to process everything, I was just so incredibly proud and in awe of this man and his convictions.  (And I still am!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shoot and Edit Challenge: Yellow (after)

The lovely and talented Ashley and Jill have teamed together to share their awesome photo editing tips and tricks; this week’s prompt/theme is yellow so I used a photo of some pretty yellow pansies that I took in the garden section at Lowes.  To be honest, I really liked the SOOC, so I only did a few minor tweaks in Picnik:
  1. Manually adjusted the temperature balance to make the overall tones a little warmer.
  2. Ran an action in which the shadows were darkened slightly (I am totally spacing on the name).
  3. I then applied "boost" at about 40%.
  4. Lastly, I attempted to erase some of the flower tags using the clone function; it's not the best job but I did this late last night after a full day of driving and let's just say good enough was totally fine by me.
Here's a side-by-side comparison:



If you'd like to learn how to make your photos go from good to wow, be sure to click below:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vloggin' Vednesday: Q & A Day

Welcome to this week's edition of Vloggin' Vednesday; this week presented a bit of a challenge as I'm currently on the road with Sammy. I should have taken care of this earlier in the week when I had some free time, but I'm a procrastinator and waited until the last minute, so as a result my vlog is something of a hot mess that is seriously lacking in Sammy screen time.



And here's the recipe for my Aunt Linda's casserole for those who are interested:

Aunt Linda's casserole

Want to join in, too?  Visit the official Vloggin’ Vednesdays page to find current themes/ questions along with the corresponding Vednesday and then link up at Adeline’s Daddy Blog each Wednesday Vednesday.  C'mon, you know you want to!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shoot and Edit Challenge: Yellow (Before)

The lovely and talented Ashley and Jill have teamed together to share their awesome photo editing tips and tricks; this week’s prompt/theme is yellow.  Sammy and I stopped by Lowe's the other day to check out some possible home improvement projects; apparently spring is almost here, as the green house section was filled with row after row of pretty pansies just waiting for their next home.  If I only had a yard!

Pretty pansies

I'm kind of happy with the SOOC shot and don't really know how I'm going to edit it, but I'll just see what kind of inspiration strikes me over the next couple of days.  If you're interested to learn how to edit your photos so that they go from good to wow, be sure to click below:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reeling

Kokeshi

Many, many years ago I participated in a summer study program at Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai, Japan.  During my time there, I resided with two families--the Aitas and the Izumis.  Both families opened their homes and their hearts to me and treated me as though I was their own daughter.

The Aitas and me, Sendai, Japan, 1998

Mrs. Izumi and me, Sendai, Japan, 1998

As the reports of the overwhelming destruction caused by Friday's earthquake and the resulting tsunami flooded the airwaves, I immediately thought of all of the wonderful people that I was so fortunate to have met and befriended during my brief time in Japan.  I can only hope and pray that they are okay.

If you would like to make a donation to the American Red Cross to support the relief efforts in Japan via the iTunes store, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting in the picture: Momma in Focus

I am so much more comfortable behind the camera than I am in front of it; I'm sure a lot of you know what I mean.  But I'm trying to get better so to that end I've started participating in Vloggin' Vednesdays and am making a concerted effort to break out the tripod and camera remote from time to time.  I don't want Sammy to look back at the photos from his first year and say, "Hey mom--why aren't there any photos of you and me?"  However, sometimes even the best intentions need a little kick in the pants for motivation's sake and that is where Momma in Focus enters: the brilliant idea of Casey from One Day at a Time, this is a weekly photo challenge that encourages all of us moms to make a habit out of getting in front of the camera with our kids.  Without any further ado, here is my entry for today's inaugural link-up:


I'm really pleased with how this photo turned out, our shared bedhead and all--I'm reading Sammy the new book that I bought for him yesterday at Dancing Bear Toys in Frederick called Kitty Tails (can you tell we're kind of obsessed with cats around here?). I still have a lot to learn in regards to setting up self-portraits and the like, but every journey starts with a single step, right? To all of you other parents out there, break out your camera and join in on the fun by clicking below:

one day at a time

Have a great weekend everyone!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #33



In an effort to learn more about fellow MilSpouse bloggers, Wifey from Wife of a Sailor started this weekly meme;  here are this week's questions.

1. During military separations (whether short or long) how do you keep yourself positive and motivated? submitted by Married/Single Parent 

I just tell myself over and over that this too shall pass and all deployments/separations must eventually come to an end.  Captain Husband likes to say that we're getting all of the hard stuff out of the way first; I sure hope he's right!
 
2. What is your favorite concert you have ever been to? submitted by Young but Not (Completely) Dumb 

Um...I can't remember.  I haven't been to an actual concert in almost a decade (though I've seen plenty of bands play in my friends' basements in the interim), so I'm going to have to go with the Warped Tour back in 2000--I remember having a great time there and there were a lot of different bands to take in.  Seeing Green Day perform live was definitely a highlight at the time.
 

3. What do you miss most about your "hometown"?  submitted by A Florida Girl and Her Soldier 

I miss having all of my family so nearby; most of my immediate and extended family (with the exception of my youngest brother) lives within a half an hour drive of my hometown.  I would love to be able to buy a summer house there at some point so that Sammy could spend quality time with his grandparents, uncles, and [future] cousins.

4. If you could run in any race, which charity would you choose to support? submitted by Wookie & Co. 

There are so many worthwhile charities out there that it's really difficult for me to choose just one...however, given the current political climate, I would most definitely don my running shoes in support of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

5.  You find out Willy Wonka is your father, what 3 course meal do you INSIST he create in that stick of gum?  submitted by A{muse}ing Mommy on a Pink Park Bench

Can I just skip the gum and take the great glass elevator out for a spin instead?

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Bathing cuties

    Sammy and I spent yesterday in Frederick, Maryland, hanging out with my friends, Tim and Julianne, and their daughter, Lillian. Once again, the two kiddos had a great time playing together--I'm so glad that I have friends with a baby so close in age to Sammy. After a long day of playing, Sammy and Lillian decided to have a nice, relaxing soak in the tub; Sammy is going to hate me for these photos when he gets older, but whatever--the cuteness had to be documented for posterity's sake, don't you agree?


    Babyham Lincoln


    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Vloggin' Vednesdays: Rooms in your home

    Last week a group of some of my favorite bloggers joined forces to create the latest sensation sweeping the internet: Vloggin' Vednesday.  I loved getting to see everyone in action rather than via static images (plus it was great hearing everyone's actual voices and accents), so I've decided to join in on all of the fun.  Full disclaimer: I may look as though I'm dressed for the day, but I'm still wearing pajama pants.  Baby steps, people.


    Want to join in, too?  Visit the official Vloggin’ Vednesdays page to find current themes/ questions along with the corresponding Vednesday and then link up at Adeline’s Daddy Blog each Wednesday Vednesday.  Below is the info for the first four Vednesdays:
     
    Vednesday, March 9th “Rooms in your Home” - Show a room (or rooms) in your house, could be your favorite, could be a room you want to redesign… do what you feel.

    Vednesday, March 16th “Q&A Day” - Vlog questions
    •Why did you start blogging?
    •If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
    •What is the biggest personal change you have ever made?

    Vednesday, March 23rd “Guilty Pleasures” - OK, we know you’ve got ‘em, let ‘em all hang out.

    Vednesday, March 30th “How To” - Share a “how to” video. I love learning new things, who doesn’t?

    Vloggin' Vednesdays

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Simple beauty: The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

    This is Sammy just as he was waking up from his morning nap:


    This is Sammy smiling as he realized that I was in the room with him:


    Sometimes the simple beauty of my son's smile is all I need to get through the day.

    * * * * *

    Be sure to check out the rest of this week's entries by clicking below:

    The Paper Mama

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Finials and feedsacks

    When I first moved to DC several years ago, I got a job working at a little vintage shop called Finials Antiques a few weekends a month; it was the perfect part-time job for me as I was able to put the knowledge I was gaining in school to actual real-life use.  Plus it was great having access to so many awesome vintage finds--I often joked with Barb, the owner, that it would probably make more sense for her to just pay me with merchandise since most of my paycheck wound up going right back into the store's cash register.

    After Sammy was born, I was sure I was going to have to give up my weekends at Finials simply due to the fact that I didn't have anyone at home to watch him while I worked.  But Barb went out of her way to assure me that she would be happy to have Sammy in the shop with me so I decided to give it a try.  I'll be honest--the first time that I brought Sammy to work with me was a debacle; he refused to nap and was completely thrown off of his regular routine, which meant that I had to deal with a very cranky, fussy baby while also assisting customers.  Fortunately, though, Sammy's second time at the shop went much, much better so I didn't have to call the whole thing off and am now working there two Sundays a month.

    I was scheduled to work at Finials yesterday, so I decided to try a different set-up this time around; normally, I would set Sammy up in the pack-n-play and a bunch of toys but the last time I did that, he got bored quickly so I had to spend way more time than I had expected entertaining him.  My friend, Erin, had just given me her son's old exersaucer so I loaded it into the car; I also brought my new Pikkolo carrier so I could wear Sammy if he started to get bored in the exersaucer, and then we headed off to DC.  (Sorry for the crappy photos, but all I had on me was my cell phone.)



    The new set-up worked even better than I had hoped.  Sammy had a great time playing in the exersaucer and smiling at the customers.  Then, when he started to get tired later in the afternoon, I loaded him into the Pikkolo carrier, attached the sleep hood, and then walked around a little bit to get him good and comfy.  Much to my surprise, he napped on my back for almost an hour and a half--way longer than he had ever slept in the pack-n-play.

    And because it's practically impossible for me to go home from Finials empty-handed, here's the awesome 1930s feedsack quilt that Barb gave me in exchange for some Art Deco stemware that I no longer had room for in my house.  I kind of have a thing for quilts, especially ones made from the humble feedsack; who could say no to these happy and cheerful colors?


    Today I'm linking up with the Chic Homeschool Mama in her Monday Rewind; you can link up, too, by clicking below!

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