Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Reflection..

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  I can't help but be so grateful for my wonderful friends who have been there for me all these years.  They made this holiday one of the best ones to date.  I was surrounded by friends and family every day, so much there was no down time, no time to get sad, etc.  But mean old mister roller coaster of emotions came out at my birthday dinner.  Reared his old ugly head, and got me teary eyed for about 5 seconds.  Thank goodness it was just me and my guy..I love him dearly.  He offered to call my friends and cancel my birthday drink gathering, but I couldn't do that to them.  With all the memories of Christmas past, and old traditions fading, and starting new traditions, this holiday was one of the best.  And the all those thoughts came to me at dinner..and poof.  Tears.  Not sad tears, but tears of joy.   I have spent Christmas in many exotic places: Hawaii, Oman, San Diego, Japan, Seattle, just to name a few.  This was the first holiday since 2005 that I have spent in Chicago.  My mother passed away in 2006, so I didn't feel the need to stick around for holidays anymore.  I would travel where the Navy told me to, or where my oldest brother was living at the time.  He has kids, and well..who doesn't love to spoil little ones?!  This year I saw almost all of my friends in Chicago.  I got to see my siblings that live in the city, and spend the holiday with my guy and his family.  His family is so inviting, and they make me feel so comfortable and loved.  I loved seeing my friends...just sharing a cup of coffee at Starbucks, having breakfast, or even grabbing an Irish Cider at my favorite pub just made our visits so much fun.  For me, happiness isn't material, it is being healthy, being surrounded by people you love.  My guy thinks I am crazy, that I love the Christmas card he gave me more than the gift.  Ok..I love the gift, but a handwritten note is just the best to me. 

I can't wait until I get to celebrate more holidays like this.  I feel like 5 years later, I have finally found my niche.  I have grown a lot, emotionally and spiritually.  I am happier.  I have a puppy..and she has taught me a lot about life and love.  I have also made a lot of new friends, strengthened those relationships, and had some fade.  All these thoughts came to me after I had an amazing brunch with two of my friends.  We know that we love each other, and  no matter what, we will be honest with each other, and look out for each other.  I am quite lucky to have people like this in my life.

This past holiday season, I am grateful.  For so many things.  My job, health, family, friends, faith, love, and traditions.  I hope that no matter what happens the next couple of years, I can look back at how happy I was this week, and continue to live my life to the fullest. 

Christmas 2011

Until next time...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inspiration for the Week..

I heard this story a few years ago, when a small town in Illinois reached out for a toddler with cancer.  The people in town did some amazing things, to give this little boy a Christmas.  They decorated their houses, in the fall, to ensure that Dax, who enjoyed those lights so much, could enjoy it.  Dax Locke passed away a few days after Christmas in 2009.  His parents are huge advocates for St. Judes hospital, and are currently raising money to run the hospital for one day.  It costs millions of dollars to keep that hospital running, and they do amazing work for little kids!

You can get to the webpage here, which also has previews for the movie made in Dax's memory. 
Here is the link to his momma's caringbridge site for him. Julie still updates it on her family, and more fundraising for St. Judes. 

This is one Christmas story I will never forget.  If you missed the movie on GMC, the DVD will be out next year.  I don't have cable, or a tv right now, so I am looking forward to seeing it. 

I sometimes get down at this time of the year, because of many reasons..reading a story like this makes me realize I need to appreciate what I have, love who I have in my life,  and continue to love and remember those I have lost. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buying American Made..

I wrote this post last month...and I have stuck to most of my buying American practices this holiday season. 

I got my boyfriend an American made tie at a local clothing shop, along with some art work from ETSY.  I love the etsy shop I bought the print from..I bought a print for myself too!

I got one niece a handmade bag, and an art kit from a local shop in Newport. 

I got my infant niece made in the USA onsies, as well as handmade ABC blocks.

I also purchased a family game for my niece and nephew..Presidents of the United States.  I stuck with handmade, and educational gifts for the most part, and to be honest, it wasn't hard.  A lot of folks think it is difficult to by just have to look at a label and do research.  Seeing how awful unemployment is in Rhode Island, I couldn't think of going any other route. 

CNN just did an expose on this today, like it is a "new" idea.  I love the idea of supporting local shop owners, and trust me, they love the business.  I am residing in a resort town right now, and any business is great for these folks. 

Some of the Newport area shops that make "handmade" include: 

Alex and Ani, amazing jewelry and bangles
Style Newport, nautical jewelry.  The owner is amazing, and extremely helpful!
Only in Rhode Island.  Food, you name it from Rhode Island.  I sent a box of goodies to my family..ranging from chowder from the Black Pearl, to soy candles. 
Resails.  A store that uses old sails to make bags, etc. 
Scrimshanders.  Scrimshaw and other artisan finds. 
Art on the Wharf.  I got a few paintings here from the artist, Anthony Gill.  Amazing sea scapes..

I am hoping to add to this list soon.  I am drawing a blank on some of the stores, but just off the top of my head, this isn't too bad!  Do you have a favorite "buy American" store or gift?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New England Christmas

I took Bella for a walk yesterday, and stumbled upon these beautiful homes.  I love how they decorate so minimally around here.  It is gorgeous.

Taken by Megan Gill. 

This is the Thurston House, built in 1800. 

Taken by Megan Gill

Taken by Megan Gill
Josiah and Stephen Southwick House
Famous Newport Boat Builders

I had the most incredible time walking around.  I only got a few shots because it was cold, and I had an unruly pup on a leash.  She was so eager to walk!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gift of Life

Take a look at this wonderful short clip. Robyn was my boss while in college. Such a wonderful family, and an even better story.
Amazing how this came up on my facebook feed just after I called the DMV about renewing my license.  I have always been an organ donor, but if you aren't, this may change your mind!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Inspiration this Week..

Please take a look at this video.  One strong Sailor.  May she continue to have faith, and stay strong along her journey. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Operation Gratitude

I have spent a lot of time at the post office lately mailing out gifts to family.  I saw these marked boxes with "Operation Gratitude" written on them.  Operation Gratitude is a service that assists in sending care packages to service members overseas.  How awesome is that?  What a great way to support the troops. 

Operation Gratitude Home Page

The website also includes info for smaller donations, such as a letter to the troops.  Any teachers out there who want their students to write letters?  They have instructions on that, too! 

Such a great organization, especially right around the holidays.  Keep praying for our men and women overseas...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Weekend!

I am beyond excited it is the weekend.  After a long week with school, I am ready to decompress, study a bit (crazy I know?), hang with my pup, and watch some football.

Go Navy, Beat Army!

Here is a spirit spot to make you laugh.  I love how the mids  make these.  They get more creative every year. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Back in October I wrote this post about cooking more often at home, and trying new recipes each week.  I have done a pretty good job about it, but this week I have to say, I may have nada.  Been busy, but will catch up.  I tend to bake and cook up a storm if I get stressed out.  Win win for everyone, because my classmates get tasty muffins as a result.  If anyone has any recipes I should try, put a link in my comments.  I am always looking for new ideas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Finding Inspiration.

This week has been pretty long.  Quiz, Test, Quiz, etc.  Just a lot of knowledge, to prepare us to fight out in the fleet once again.  I have been in class so many hours each day, trying to get it down. 

My class is tired, a bit demoralized, and ready for the holidays.  Today, after a trainer, a few of us walked through one of the hallways of our schoolhouse.  We found a Hall of Heroes.  It had the names of everyone in our line of work, Surface Warfare Officers, who were killed in the Pentagon on 9-11.  We walked to each picture, looked at their lives, read a book about what their mothers, wives, children, friends, and shipmates said about them.  As we looked at a poster that has the names of all of the Sailors killed in the Pentagon on 9-11, I told my friends the story about Bernard Brown.   We all looked at each other, said we should come down to this hallway more often, and then went back up to our classroom and studied.

I took a break tonight to relax, enjoy a nice dinner, and sit with my pup.  I then found a movie on NETFLIX that I have been meaning to watch, Restrepo. What a brilliant documentary.  If you ever get a chance, to just sit down and watch is an hour and a half you will enjoy.  Just seeing what this platoon did, went through, and still is going through, makes me realize why I am doing what I am doing.  I am studying to become a better leader.  I hope my classmates and I can continue to help each other, learn, and decompress with each other.  I know this time in school is definitely tough, but I am so lucky and appreciative of the friendships I am making.  Proud to be here, and proud to serve.