Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Question for You

I have a question for you. Yes you. My dear reader.

Let me start off by saying that I am the type of person who has many varied interests. I enjoy drawing, knitting and scrapbooking. I've been interested in photography lately. I also love to cook and bake.

I enjoy learning and developing new skills. Whether they be creative, academic or any other. If it's new, I like to learn more about it. I just love to learn.

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to hone my writing skills. I bought a book called Wild Mind on the recommendation from a friend. This book has many writing prompts and ideas scattered throughout the book for the reader/writer to try out.

One of the suggestions in the book is to have a writing group where you each exchange your work and critique one another's writing.

So...I was wondering if anyone would be interested in doing this through our blogs. We could call it Wild Mind Mondays. I was thinking we could do one writing exercise from the book each month, maybe on the first Monday of the month. I could set up a Mr. Linky so we could all link up and go read and critique each other's writing. Almost like exchanging papers but virtually.

The only thing is that either everyone would have to purchase a copy of the book or I could set up an email list to send out the writing exercise of the month.

Does this make sense? Is anyone interested in this type of writing group? Let me know what you all think.

Also! Please don't forget to post your Wordless Wednesday: The Boots Edition tomorrow and link it up here! I can't wait to see all of your pictures! If you missed the announcement about this you can find it HERE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb

Title: Sewing Circles of Herat

Author: Christina Lamb

Publication Date: February 2004

Publisher: Harper Perennial Series

Pages: 384

ISBN: 9780060505271

This review is my opinion and I have not been compensated for it in any way.  

I think I'm going to try a different format for my book reviews. Usually, I just kind of give a synopsis of the book but I don't really talk about what I think of the book. I think this book review is the perfect book to try out this new format because it elicited such an emotional response in me that I just have to talk about that. But I do want to let you know a bit about the book too. So let's see how this goes. Please let me know if you like this format or the old way better. 

Christina Lamb is a journalist from England who has traveled to Afghanistan several times in her career. These visits to this country have ranged from before and after 9/11 and the terrorist attack on the United States.

This book is checkered throughout with letters from a young lady, Marri, in Afghanistan who explains of her love of dancing and red lipstick. However, Marri's letters are also full of fear, anger and hurt because of the men who force her to hide beneath the burqa.

In this book, Christina provides pieces of Afghanistan's history; the beauty the country used to possess. She speaks of interviews with members of the Taliban. She discusses wars and how children are brought up, not to play and love, but to fight, hate and win. Christina explores and writes about every side and she does so unbiasedly; as a good journalist should.

This is the book The Hubble chose for me for July. Yes, I've been reading it for 2 months. This is not a page turner by any means. In fact, when I finished the book I simply sat there holding it for a good 5 minutes before taking it back to The Hubble in the other room. When I walked out and handed him the book he asked me "how do you feel." The only answer I could give was "drained."

This book made me feel many emotions. I felt anger toward the men who beat Marri's mother because she removed her burqa to look at a swatch of fabric. I felt sad for the families who found their loved ones hanging from tree branches. I felt scared for the women who would have secret lessons so as to continue educating the young girls in the country.

It amazes me to see pictures of women walking through the streets of Afghanistan with heels, skirts, books and their hair done in modern styles. I can hardly envision the landscape when the country is described to have been a paradise with trees, gardens, birds and exquisite beauty. Afghanistan once was a tourist destination!

But 23 years of fighting has definitely marred our memories and perceptions of this once great land. But if I feel that way, how can I imagine it would feel to be a child brought up in that environment. Can it ever change??

When I read this book, I kept thinking this is why we are there. I couldn't help but be touched by Marri's distress or the tales of men being forced into the Taliban by being threatened. On the other hand, Christina Lamb described, in such amazing detail, the hatred some people in Afghanistan feel for Americans that I found myself wondering why the Hell should we help them?? They just want to kill our people!

I don't know if this country will ever have peace. I keep thinking about the movie "Lady in the Water." There's a part in the movie where they talk about the author of a book. This book will be written and it will be found by a young boy. This boy will take this book and read it. This boy will change the world because of this one book. I keep thinking we need that one book and that one boy. But even if the book and the boy were to meet, that boy wouldn't be able to read that book. Education in that country is gone.

When The Hubble was in Afghanistan last year, he got to talking with his interpreter during a recon mission. The Hubble asked his interpreter "Will Afghanistan ever have peace?" To this, the interpreter replied "Without education there will be no peace."

This book was difficult and emotional to read but I'm glad I did. I've been having trouble understanding why The Hubble is SO passionate about these people and why he wants to get back as quickly as possible. After reading this book...I get it. I absolutely get it....

So there it is. My unfiltered thoughts of this book. I'm so glad I read it. It may not have been a page turner and it may have taken me two months to read but I'm changed because I have read it.

5 of 5 stars.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Word of the Day: Random

Do you ever get stumped on what to title your blog posts?? I just did. I knew I wanted to post but I couldn't figure out what to call it because my post is going to be a jumbled mess.

I couldn't stop thinking about Penny at I Could Be Fake posting one word last week. Hence, my title was born.

And in that comes a warning. This post is going to be kind of random and jumbled so bear with me. If it counts, it's also kind of an update.

Let me start by saying I am so glad I posted recently about my weight loss struggles because I had several friends here contact me about it and we've been going to the track on post 3 times a week. I haven't lost anything but I'm definitely not gaining anymore. Though I may have to bite the bullet and buy a larger size jean soon, I'm glad I'm not gaining anymore. And I'm okay with the size up I would have to purchase. It's still smaller than my pre-baby size jean.

Last week I got the chance to meet the lovely and sweet Emily from Scatterbrained Wife of a Soldier! She is seriously so nice and sweet and adorable! She's so new too! Her and her husband, J, have only been married 4 months! And most of that time he's been here (in a different state from her) attending school. Luckily, he graduates soon and they are going to PCS to Germany!

I was nervous about meeting her at first because I had Little Butt with me. We went to lunch at Cracker Barrel (because that's basically all we have here) and after we ate Emily sat on the floor with me and Little Butt while we explored all the bins of toys in the shop outside the restaurant.

After that fun time, and me buying the best frog toy ever (the eyes pop out when you squeeze it!!!!) we went to the only other happening place in town...Wally World! Sounds like a blast right?!?!? Actually, we had a lot of fun! Little Butt found the hula hoops and the three of us stood in the middle of Wally World (down an aisle of course) playing with the hula hoops. Those suckers are NOT easy! How the heck did I do those when I was a kid?? If you haven't tried a hula hoop in years, please go try it and tell me how you do! I was only able to get a few pictures:

I've been trying to take Emily around with me to give her something to do in the middle of nowhere and to introduce her to different military type things. She's gone to the track with us a couple times and she went to a friend's house for coffee with me. She even attended story time at the library with us! LOL! She's a great girl and if you don't follow her...you should!

And finally (for now) I would like to thank Sarah at Confessions of an Untenured Teacher who gave me an award:

With this award I am supposed to share 7 things about myself. Yikes! Let's see...

  1. I have 8 tattoos.
  2. I have 2 sisters (ages 34 and 25 with me in the middle at 30) and a brother (age 17).
  3. I love quotes! I have a quote journal in which I write quotes that strike me. These can be lines from movies, books, conversations, songs, you name it. If I like it, I keep it.
  4. I love, love, LOVE coffee. I take mine black with 2 sugars or if it's from Starbucks I take it with hazelnut syrup. Actually, all the coffee I drink is from Starbucks. I buy the pounds of whole beans and grind my coffee fresh.
  5. I am passionate about literature and I love to read. But this wasn't always the case. I didn't get into reading until my late teens. When I was little I hated reading!
  6. I collect shot glasses. I have shot glasses from all over the country and the world. People usually find out I like them and bring them to me. 
  7. I'm fascinated by pin-up girls. Our dining room is decked out with pictures, books and calendars of pin-ups. Gil Elvgren is one of my favorites. I would like to be a pin-up girl! 
Thanks again Sarah!

Oh shoot! One more thing. I told you this was going to be random!

Jessica Lynn over at Jesstagirl and Her Officer is hosting a Bake-N-Blog and I think more people should get involved! Basically, you choose a cupcake from a site that she has listed and you bake it and post about it on September 15th! You will also be entered to win one of my favorite cupcake books: Hello, Cupcake!

 Photo and recipe from Ming Makes Cupcakes

I am going to bake cupcake #24: Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream Frosting. Sounds delicious right?!?!? Well head over there and sign up for the cupcake you want to bake and blog about! It should be fun!!!

And don't forget to get your pictures ready for the Wordless Wednesday: The Boots Edition that I'm hosting. If you don't know about it...look at this POST!

For Further Reading Check Out:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Box Edition (With a Random Hot Dog and an Assignment)

And for the assignment!!

I was inspired by Jessica at {Mis}Adventures of an Army Wife to have everyone share their boot pictures! You know the ones...most of us have them! We have pictures of our kids (whether human or furry) in or around our soldier's boots. If you don't, get them! I would like to have a linky party next Wordless Wednesday where we all share our boot pictures!

If you aren't a military spouse, take pictures of your kids with yours or your spouses boots anyway. Any kind of kid, any kind of boot.

Then meet back here next Wednesday and link up!!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to Support a Friend During Deployment: Part 3

A couple weeks ago I did a guest post for Kris Goes Crazy because she was looking for answers about how best to help her good friend who is deployed right now. I think this is such an important topic that I wanted to feature this post on my blog as well. After writing the guest post, I realized it was a lot longer than I had anticipated so I'm going to feature it in a 3 part series of posts. If you have already read it, feel free to skip over these few posts. Thanks for your patience and support of not only me and my blog but also our military!

Part 3:

In the last two parts of this series I have talked a lot about how you can support a soldier and the soldier's spouse.

Let's face it though. As Amber from Goodnight Moon put it...everyone gets wrapped up in their own lives and these soldiers and spouses aren't always at the forefront of thought for most people. And that's okay too.

All we ask is that those around us be a bit sensitive and understanding of our different situation.

With that being said...there is no reason that you (whether you are a spouse, family member, friend  or stranger) do what you can and only that. So this leads me into part 3 of my support series.

Photo by Jhong Dizon

Here are some tips on how to support a friend during deployment if the friend is you.
  • Give What You Can ~ I know I’ve talked a lot about what you can give to a soldier and a spouse during deployment. But you can only give what you can give. No more. No less. If you are being pulled in too many directions, do not try to give more than you are able. People can tell when other’s are not being genuine. If you are trying to support someone because that’s what you are supposed to do, not what you want to do, then please let someone else do it.  

  • Know Your Limits ~ If you have never been involved with the military it can be difficult. Heck, it’s difficult for me. Do not be afraid to set boundaries and know your limits. Let the soldier and or the spouse know the type and extent of information you would or would not like to know. If you do not think you can handle knowing that the soldier was in a fire fight, set that boundary. You are well within your rights to set those boundaries and to expect others to maintain them. One important question The Hubble asked me during one of our early phone calls during a deployment was how much I wanted to know. I made the right choice for me and you can make the right choice for you. 

  • Fill Your Time ~ If you ever really analyze how a soldier’s spouse and or children fill their time during deployments you will often note that they hardly stop moving. Parents enroll children in almost every activity and sport imaginable. During a deployment pre Little Butt you would rarely find me at home. I would work longer days. I would go out at night. I would hang out at work after my shift just to not be alone. Just to not stop and think about the situation. It never gets easier. You just do what you have to do. At a certain point your life develops a new routine. But the ache never stops.

For Further Reading Check Out:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Support a Friend During Deployment: Part 2

A couple weeks ago I did a guest post for Kris Goes Crazy because she was looking for answers about how best to help her good friend who is deployed right now. I think this is such an important topic that I wanted to feature this post on my blog as well. After writing the guest post, I realized it was a lot longer than I had anticipated so I'm going to feature it in a 3 part series of posts. If you have already read it, feel free to skip over these few posts. Thanks for your patience and support of not only me and my blog but also our military!

Part 2:

Many people are needed during a deployment to help the deployed soldier. These people range from friends, family, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances and even strangers. A myriad of support systems and programs are in place to help the soldier "muscle" through deployments.

However, the other side of this are the loved ones who get left behind. What happens to the soldier's spouse and family when the soldier deploys?

Yes, there are FRGs (Family Readiness Groups) but spouses often need just as much support from friends and family as the soldiers do.

I recently read a post by the beautiful and amazing Mowenackie where she answered a question about what she wished she could teach civilians about deployment. Her answer was spot on. We spouses (and significant others) have trouble reaching out and asking for help. In times of need we are often left feeling lost to be able to lift our heads above water and say "I need someone, I'm lonely." We would never do it.

A few days before the post I just talked about, Mowenackie wrote a heart wrenching post about how she had A Hard Day. She definitely could have used a friend to call her up at that time and invite her out for ice cream.

Luckily, I can use Mowenackie and her wonderful blog to illustrate today's part of my series.

Here are some tips on how to help a friend during deployment if the friend is the spouse of a soldier:

  • Be Present ~ One of the most important things to me was when a friend would be there for me. Each of us has our own way of dealing with things. But each time The Hubble has deployed, that friend that comes over the first day he’s gone and orders pizza and answers the door for me is the one that means the most. A spouse of a deployed soldier needs to fill time and having a friend to share that with is very important.

  • Call ~ When a soldier is deployed, a spouse is lonely. Amazingly lonely. Sometimes a simple phone call and a “how ya doin’?” is enough to get us through another night, another day. Just as the soldier should not be forgotten, neither should the spouse.

  • Be Sensitive ~ This one is an extremely valuable lesson to learn. Please be sensitive to the situation the spouse is in. Let me tell you about a phone call I received from a “friend” while The Hubble was gone. One day, around 8 months into the deployment, I posted on Facebook about how much I missed The Hubble and wished he was there right then. Now, I don’t do this often, but sometimes it hits you harder than others. So, this “friend” calls and proceeds to tell me how I should not miss The Hubble because men are nothing but trouble. She told me about how she was annoyed at her husband and I should be happy The Hubble wasn’t around. Really? Please, do not ever, under any circumstances call a spouse of a deployed soldier and tell them they should be happy. To tell you the truth, I would give anything to have every piece of The Hubble, especially the annoying parts, just to have him safe and home. I will never find myself lucky or be happy that he is fighting for his life every moment of every day. 

For Further Reading Check Out:

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Support a Friend During Deployment: Part 1

A couple weeks ago I did a guest post for Kris Goes Crazy because she was looking for answers about how best to help her good friend who is deployed right now. I think this is such an important topic that I wanted to feature this post on my blog as well. After writing the guest post, I realized it was a lot longer than I had anticipated so I'm going to feature it in a 3 part series of posts. If you have already read it, feel free to skip over these few posts. Thanks for your patience and support of not only me and my blog but also our military!

Part 1:

Growing up in the military I have never thought about what it meant to be an “outsider.”  This lifestyle has always been a part of me. Though I never intended to become an Army wife, sometimes life deals you the hand you are most capable of playing.  Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to me or anyone else in my family that the college boy I fell in love with turned out to be a soldier through and through.

Though I have always lived this life, I must tell you it still isn’t easy.  Being the daughter of a soldier and being the wife of a soldier are two completely different animals.  However, I do believe that my childhood experiences helped train me, so to speak, to embrace and succeed within my role as an Army wife.
The military’s acceptance and inclusion of a soldier’s spouse and children has come a long way in recent years.  Once upon a time the idea of a FRG (Family Readiness Group) was unfathomable.  Nowadays spouses and children have a plethora of resources available to assist and support them through PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves, military living, and deployments.

Unfortunately, the system is not perfect and most times friends and extended family are left spinning without knowledge of how to survive a loved one’s deployment.  I think it is important that we acknowledge and value the integral role friends and family play in not only a deployed soldier’s life, but the lives of the soldier’s spouse and children’s lives as well.  Sadly, many friends are just not aware of how they can help or what they can do to support the soldier, the spouse and themselves during times of deployment.

Night assault

Photo by The U.S. Army

Here are some tips on how best to support a friend if the friend is the soldier:
  • Communication ~ The old saying “communication is key” is a lesson that should definitely be heeded. Most of the time, the soldier just needs a little piece of home. The soldier needs to know that the people left behind love and care for him or her. Communication is often a life line for a homesick soldier. Even if the soldier does not respond, keep writing…they are reading. Communication can be implemented in several ways and only takes a few minutes a day or can be something as simple as a half hour each week. Here are some ideas to keep communication open with a  soldier during deployment:
    • Hand written letters
    • Emails
    • Cards (birthday, holidays, etc)
    • Pictures

  • Care Packages ~ Nothing says “I’m thinking about you” like a box full of goodies. Care packages should be personalized to the particular soldier. If you ask for a list of interests there are many things that can go into a care package. If you work in an office, you can hang a list of interests and people can donate goodies to the soldier. One tip is to get a flat rate box from the post office and grab a handful of customs forms. The flat rate boxes will cost the same amount no matter the weight so you can stuff them as full as possible. Also, as you place items in the box, write them down on the customs form so you won’t have to go back through the box to fill it out later. Here are just a few ideas of items to send in a care package: 

    • Magazines
    • Books
    • Music CDs
    • Snacks (candy, chips, gum, crackers, beef jerky, etc.)
  • Listen ~ Though we don’t have a lot of control over how much the soldier can communicate with us, you can still make sure the soldier knows you are there to listen. Try to answer the phone as much as possible when he or she calls. When the soldier calls or writes, be responsive. Even if you don’t know what to say, just listen. And if you have to say anything, say “thank you.” Thank you for fighting. Thank you for standing the 125 degree weather. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for doing this so I don’t have to.
  • Talk ~ Please, whatever you do, don’t stop talking! Let me share my experience with you. When The Hubble would call home I felt guilty every time. All I would do was sit on the phone with him silent at the other end and I would babble. Or I would be busy talking to Little Butt. After each phone call I would kick myself because I never really let him talk. I thought “doesn’t he need to get things off his chest?” I finally came to realize that he needed me to babble on incessantly. He needed me to converse with Little Butt. Me talking about my, what I deemed trivial, day-to-day life allowed him a kind of escape from the daily horrors and frustrations he was facing. It gave him a sense of belonging. Of being part of the family.
  • Share ~ Don’t hide things. I have been known to be guilty of this as well. There is a fine line here though. Let me explain. A soldier is under a tremendous amount of stress when deployed. He or she does not need to hear about the things that are inevitably falling apart at home, right? In a way, yes. But in a way, no. They need to know. You don’t want to hide things or leave them out. But instead of crying your eyes out and unloading on the soldier, fix it first. Deal with the problem then unload and let them know you got it. One of the most frustrating things for a soldier is not being around to help when the going gets rough. We just need to be able to do it tactfully. Make them feel included, but not overburdened.
For Further Reading Check Out:

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    An Opinionated Post: Enter at Your Own Risk

    On July 19th I joined up with the SITSgirls and Problogger for the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Challenge.

    Take the Problogger Challenge with SITS and BlogFrog

    It's hard to believe that the challenge is already 25 days in!!! Especially since I'm still stuck on Day 19. Actually, I've been a slacker on a couple other days too but Day 17 is the post on which I'm stuck.

    See, for Day 19 we are supposed to have written an opinion post. Sounds easy right?? Well, it hasn't bee for me.

    I've been having trouble figuring out what opinion I have that is worthy of an entire post.

    Darren provides a few ideas for opinion posts such as an opinion on a book or something easy. Well, I've already done that.

    I happen to be one of those people who believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and as long as it doesn't hurt me or mine then I'm good with that. I honestly believe everyone should have opinions. However, I've always been the type of person who refuses to share my opinions because I don't want to argue my thoughts with someone else. My opinions are mine and I don't need to be challenged on them.

    Also, some people become irate and just plain out mean when he or she does not agree with another persons opinion. So why should I open myself up to that? My friends and family know where I stand on certain things and they respect me for or in spite of them.

    Another reason this has been so difficult for me is that I don't want to be known as that girl who believes that one thing you know??

    So I think I'm going to do things a bit differently. I'm going to tell you some of the things I believe in. That way, if you choose to disagree with them and stop reading my blog because of them, at least it will be because of many of my opinions as opposed to just one. Because let's face it, I am not one thing. I am many. There are so many things that make up who I am and what I believe.

    So here are a few of my beliefs and opinions:

    • I'm thrilled prop 8 was overturned. 
    • I believe love chooses you, not that you choose love.
    • I believe too many people give up on relationships too easily.
    • I believe sometimes you have to choose to love the person you are with to make it through bad times.
    • I believe it is more important to be spiritual than religious.
    • I believe people have the right to choose what is best for their bodies.
    • I believe the entire human race needs to learn to be more accepting and loving of differences.
    • I believe it takes a village to raise a child.
    • I believe too many parents are neglectful of their children.
    • I believe technology will be the death of individuality.
    • I believe the movie Wall-e becomes more and more real every day.
    • I would choose a good book over a movie or a television show any day.
    • I believe that hard work and perseverance are being drown out by laziness and taking the easy way out.
    • I believe politics turn good people into bad people.
    • I believe that we all do the best job we can.
    • I believe that we often hurt each other instead of help.
    • I believe in your right to disagree with any of these opinions that are mine and mine alone.
    • I also believe in being respectful of your right to disagree with me as I believe you should be of mine. 
    • I believe that differing opinions, thoughts and beliefs are what make the human race as magnificent as it is.
    And that's it for now. I happen to really like people. I like knowing that not everyone agrees with me and that's okay.

    So there you have it. Those are some of the things that make me tick. I'm actually pretty scared to push the publish button for this post. However, I think you have a right to know who I am. If I'm going to put myself out there, I do it fully. This is me, take me or leave me.

    For Additional Reading Check Out:

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      Summer Essentials Swap (Finally) and Awards!

      Last month some time Nicole over at Flip Flops and Combat Boots hosted a Summer Essentials Swap. Everyone interested left a comment and Nicole paired up all the participants. I was paired with Mrs. Bear from Growing Up.

      I think our being partnered was the best thing that could have happened to either of us because we were both equally matched in the slacker department. LOL!

      The Summer Essentials Swap had a deadline dictating when the packages needed to be sent out. Yeah, me and my partner decided the next week would be best for us. Aaaaaannnnnddddd....that didn't happen either! We didn't end up sending our packages until about a week and a half or so after the "send no later than" date. But it was all good because we were both in line with one another and neither of us cared that things were late.

      But we both did finally send our packages to one another and about 2 weeks later I'm finally posting about what I received in my package!

      Mrs. Bear knows I have Little Butt and she asked if it was okay if she sent things for us to do together. Little Butt and I loved everything in this package! Looking at the fun food magazine I have so many ideas and I definitely didn't have that issue of Self magazine.

      Little Butt dived right into the goodies and I hardly had time to take a picture of the package in full.

      She was pretty excited about the drink mix. But her favorite thing was the nail polish!

      She sat right down and made me paint her toenails.

      The color even matched her dress that day!

      Then she made me paint my toenails!! (sorry you have to look at my nasty toes...I had to do it for Little Butt!)

      Then of course you can't have blue toes without pink fingers!!

      We had a blast with this package and are grateful to Mrs. Bear for sending us all this fun summer stuff!

      And...in true procrastinator fashion, I have yet to thank a couple girls for some awards so here goes.

      Nicole at Flip Flops and Combat Boots awarded me the Life is Good award:

      I honestly didn't think she even read my blog so it was a pleasant surprise to see the name of my little blog on her site. I am to award this to five blogs. I am giving this award to blogs that I think either need to be reminded of this right now or just were. I bestow this award upon:
      1. The Annoyed Army Wife
      2. jesstagirl and her officer
      3. A Day in the Life of 5...
      4. Ah...My Married Life
      5. Troop Petrie

      The Annoyed Army Wife also awarded me the Cherry on Top award!

      The rules for this award are simple. I have to thank the awesome person who gave it to you, list 3 things I love about myself, and pass it along to 5 other people.

      Thanks Annoyed Army Wife!

      Blogs I would like to give this award to:

      1. Mommie Cooks
      2. It's How She Rolls
      3. Goodnight moon!
      4. The Adventures of Mr. Superman & Mrs. S
      5. Within a Mile of Home
      Okay. Now...3 things I love about myself.
      1. My drive and determination.
      2. The fact that I have a Texas sized attitude with a New York timeline.
      3. My openness and honesty.
      I know, that's kind of like 6 things but oh well.

      Okay. I feel so much better now that I've gotten those things out of the back of my mind! LOL! Have a great day!

      For Further Reading Check Out:

      Thursday, August 5, 2010

      My Weight Loss Struggle and 5 Ways to Stay Motivated

      I have this problem...

      The first step is admitting the problem right???

      Okay...I can do this...

      My problem...

      I've gained 10 pounds in the last 3 months of living at our new duty station.

      There. I said it.

      I'm super upset with myself. I don't know why I do this.

      I've talked a bit about my weight loss struggles in My Exercise Page. However, I think I need to write about it a bit more so as to make it more relevant to me right now. Because something has to happen!

      I'm one of those people who never knew what it was to struggle with weight when I was younger. I was a string bean. When I hit my 20's I had to start paying more attention. My weight has fluctuated A LOT over the years.

      I tend to do better with my weight whenever The Hubble is not around. Maybe it's the schedule. Maybe I have more motivation to look "hot" whenever he comes home. I don't know.

      When The Hubble went to OBC (Officer Basic Course), I lost 25 pounds. We moved to NY, I gained it back.

      He deployed to Afghanistan, I lost 25 pounds. He came home, I got pregnant.

      When I was pregnant, I gained 80 pounds. I had Little Butt, lost about 50 pounds. Awesome right?

      Yeah...not really. We ended up moving closer to base, to the middle of nowhere basically, I got super depressed and I gained 30 (or more back).

      Here is me in December of 2007 (Little Butt was born in April that year):

      And in April 2008 (1 year after Little Butt was born):

      So okay. It was time to get my butt in gear right? When The Hubble deployed last year to Afghanistan I decided it was time. I had a whole year to get myself in shape, start and continue working out. I figured after an entire year I wouldn't lose the momentum right??

      This is how I looked in February 2010 a couple months after The Hubble returned from Afghanistan:

      So here are some ways I stayed motivated to workout and get fit:

      1) Prominently Display a Goal Outfit ~ Before I had Little Butt, I had my favorite pair of size 10 jeans that I was desperate to get back into. When I started trying to lose weight I was about a size 18. I had my ultimate goal jeans and I bought a special dress that I wanted to wear for my anniversary dinner when The Hubble came home for R&R (mid-deployment leave). I hung these two items of clothing in my room so I could look at them every day. Having that visual helped keep me motivated.

      2) Keep a Calendar ~ I guess I'm a visual person. I love crossing things off of lists to show my accomplishments. I will hang a calendar in a very visual place and every time I finish a workout I will write it in the little calendar box. I like seeing my days, weeks and months fill up with writing. I very obviously see when I've been slacking (blank boxes) and can also look back and see how much I've improved.

      3) Be Held Accountable ~ For some people this means to have a buddy that you have to meet. I was walking pretty much daily with my MIL but I was the main motivator. I am also a solo exerciser so I would post on Facebook whenever I would work out. I would talk about challenges and what I was doing and how much weight I was losing. People would comment and know when I was slacking and call me out on it.

      4) Become the Motivator ~ When I was posting on Facebook it also helped when I would have different people message me to tell me how much I had motivated them to start working out. I was the one who would come up with challenges for other people. How can I hold them to a standard if I don't hold myself to the same?? If I was helping someone else through a challenge, it helped me through as well.

      5) Remember What It's All For ~ I need to look back through pictures. I need to talk or write about it. I need to own up to my failures (as I am now) and call myself out on my nonsense. It's too easy to be anonymous in a new area. Other people don't know about my struggles. They don't know how hard I've worked and how far I've come. No one is going to look at me with disappointment in their eyes because they haven't been there. But I do. I remember not being able to play with Little Butt because I would get too tired. I remember walking into a store and crying my eyes out because I had no clothes to wear and hated the way I looked. I remember walking into a plus size store and wondering how I got there. I also remember how it felt when The Hubble told me how awesome I looked when he came home. I remember how good it felt to not only fit into my goal jeans but end up not being able to wear them because they were too big. I remember going back to NY after the year and my friends not recognizing me because I had changed so much. I remember how good it feels to be healthy and happy. To not be disappointed and depressed.

      I'm feeling pretty motivated right now. Going back to the way I was is not an option. I've worked out 4 of 4 days so far this week. I'm being more conscious of my food intake. I'm feeling better. This is a constant struggle but it's one that matters to me.

      How do you stay motivated? Do you have any tips or tricks?

      Tuesday, August 3, 2010

      Giveaway Winner and The Hubble Turns 32

      Today is The Hubble's birthday. In honor of his birthday I decided to give my readers an opportunity to win Lily Burana's I Love a Man in Uniform. In picking the winner of this contest I texted The Hubble earlier while he was in class asking him to give me a number between 1 and 22. His pick was number 18. That means the winner is...drumroll please.....

      Kaitlin from Ah...My Married Life

      Congrats Kaitlin! Please send me an email (mannadonn AT msn DOT com) with your address.

      I am so lucky to have this guy in my life. I am currently baking him a birthday cake and we are going to go out to dinner.

      Let me tell you how much I love this guy. I asked him earlier what he wanted for dinner tonight and he couldn't tell me. I went to the grocery store and came up with an idea. I started making dinner and he calls me from the next room telling me he just needs to finish responding to his Facebook well wishes then he'll shave his head and we can go. 


      Where are we going? 

      Out to dinner he says. 

      Oh, okay. Let me put all these things back in the fridge. 

      That's right people! No complaining. No "hey buddy I already started your dinner." Nope. Just okay. It's his special day so why not. 

      So I am off to dinner with my Texas born and bred Hellraiser and we are going to have Mexican and Margaritas! What more can a girl ask for???

      Monday, August 2, 2010

      Ready, Set, GO!

      Oh my goodness.




      Let's just say the weekend was full of shindigs and shenanigans and this is the first time since, maybe Thursday, that I've been able to stop. (Technically Wednesday since I spent all day deep cleaning my house). Unfortunately, that means my blog and my Google Reader have been neglected for several days because of this weekend's events.

      It all started Thursday evening when I spent about 6 hours in the kitchen working on my Daring Cook's challenge then making some bacon onion cheddar biscuits for The Hubble's class the next morning. I figured they made it through a pretty stressful week of OPORD so they deserved a little something.

      The next day, Friday, we had plans for some new friends to come over for dinner. So Friday was full of cooking then hanging out with our newest friends. Many bottles of wine were consumed (2 by me) and we had a fantastic time.

      However, the many bottles of wine resulted in a very sleepy Maranda on Saturday. Luckily, The Hubble took kitchen duty Saturday morning while I got ready for my cake class that afternoon. I still had a couple things to get finished before we drove an hour and a half to "town" so I could attend my class. Yeah. I fell asleep on the way there...and the way back.

      Sitting in class was okay. I did better this time than I have the previous couple of times. Probably because I needed to focus more to get anything done. After class, we went to Red Lobster for dinner. It was pretty much the best dinner ever! By the way, if you have never tried their Stuffed Flounder, you definitely should!

      Once we got back we called it a fairly early night (that for me means before midnight) before we had to get up the next morning and start running again.

      See...I have this crazy habit of not being able to say no. Especially when it comes to challenges. So I kind of double booked us. We had plans for a cook out with The Hubble's friends at 1pm then needed to be at my friend's house for a meatball throwdown at 6:30pm. If you have ever watched Bobby Flay you know what kind of throwdown I'm talking about. Like I said, I have a problem backing down from a challenge.

      So I wake up on Sunday and have to make a pasta salad, meatballs (for the first time ever), marinara sauce, and silly me decided I would definitely have enough time to make a dessert too!

      Everything is going good. I get the pasta salad started. I get the cupcakes baking. And I start the meatballs and marinara. The marinara tasted awesome and I cooked a bit of the meatball meat to make sure it was perfect! It was delicious! I threw those in the slow cooker so they could cook while we were gone.

      I jumped in the shower and enlisted The Hubble's help to chop the rest of the stuff for the pasta salad. Then I finished up the cupcakes. We got everything done on time, early since we had to then go pick up the Polish student as well so he could go to the party too.

      The cook out was awesome. I met some new ladies and talked more with some I hadn't gotten to know very well yet. It's really a shame we won't be here very long because The Hubble has some amazing people in his course. We had a really good time. Little Butt even had fun splashing through the sprinkler with the boys then searching for tigers in the "jungle."

      Sadly, things started going down hill when the guys started chugging the beers (as guys will do). I ended up having to become that wife to get The Hubble out of there. That means, I had to get mad. When I went out for the fourth time to get the keys I heard him tell his friends as I walked away "uh-oh. She's pissed. I gotta go." Of course, by this point it was already 10 past 6pm and we had to take the Polish student home, go back to the house and grab the meatballs and cupcakes and head over to the meatball throwdown.

      Needless to say, we were late. We rolled in around 7pm. We pulled into the driveway and The Hubble quickly jumped out of the car and ran to the woodline to rid himself of his lunch...and beer. It was actually pretty funny but I think I pretty much divorced him right then and there.

      And what was even more wonderful about the day was that my meatballs...yeah...they burned. Low doesn't mean low, it means 'keep warm.' It made me sad. I didn't win the throwdown. I was so disappointed. But I redeemed myself with my dessert. You curious?? What better for a meatball throwdown than:

       Spaghetti and meatball cupcakes!!! They were fun to make and looked awesome (sorry for the crappy phone pic).

      We left there around 10:30pm and headed home for bed. Sadly, this morning I woke up to a couple days worth of kitchen mess (because you know The Hubble didn't actually finish the entire kitchen, just a dishwasher load's full).

      And that's my story!

      How was your weekend? What did you do?