Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome home!

Right now, as I type this, my husband is sleeping the bedroom. Normally not something to write about, but when your husband has just returned from a 14 month deployment to Iraq, it is not only something to write about, but something to celebrate! I wish I had the words to describe how happy I feel! After being separated for such a long time, it seems a bit surreal that he is actually home. I keep thinking that he is going to leave in a couple of days to go back. But he's not! He's here to stay!

I am so proud of my husband and what he has done. He is truly my hero. He has served his country well. He has done what thousands have done before him and are still doing. I have always had a great respect for the men and women of the military and since my marriage to a soldier, that respect has grown. I admire the men and women who willing put themselves in harm's way, day after day. (Look for a blog about this in a week or so)

Husband and I have always talked about how extremely blessed we were during this tour of duty. Husband was able to phone my on a daily basis, and email me regularly. I was able to send packages to him and he would get them in a relatively short amount of time. I feel so lucky that Husband was on a Base that enable him to have access to communication.

I am especially grateful to God for keeping Husband safe from harm. Everyday I would pray for his safety, but realized that he was in a war and I was acutely aware of the dangers that were around him. Thankfully, he was very safe, and he was able to come home to me.

Below is a picture of one of the best sights in the world to an army wife: her husband's boots in the middle of the floor after a deployment!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The final tally

10 inches (25.4cm) of snow! That's a lot of snow!

First snowfall!

Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. The first snow of the season always seems so magical. I love it! As I am writing this, it is 25 hours after it started to snow, and it is still snowing! I am not sure exactly how much snow we have gotten, but I have heard reports of 8 inches (20 cm). I had to get out and take some pictures. I hope to get more once it stops snowing (if it ever stops!).

Snow hanging off the back of our car

Look at all that snow!

Snow piles on top of our trash can

Dude! Where's my car?

Snow-covered vines on a fence (this is also the view out of our kitchen window)

Snow clinging to a chain-link fence

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In a pickle

Last weekend, I was at a friend's house and she had really cute halloween decorations. I absolutely loved one she had made out of a jar of pickles and I decided to steal the idea. (I don't feel too bad stealing it. She saw it in a magazine). I bought the largest jar of pickles I could find and figured I could all the pickles in a few days because I love pickles. Well, 5 days later, I was so sick of pickles! I put the rest of the pickles in a tupperware, washed out the jar and made the decoration:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More River pictures

Today was a beautiful fall day here, so I walked down to the River, hoping to get some great foilage pictures. Unfortunately, the leaves that had already turned were past peaked and the other leaves are still green. But I took some pictures anyway. I've been trying new settings on my camera. I think I am doing pretty well, but don't ask me what settings I used to take each picture. I just turn the dial, press buttons and take a picture!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The answers Americans need to know

I have made an effort to keep politics out of my blog, but tonight I have to write something. As I was watching the CBS Evening News, with Katie Couric, (which, by the way, seems so pro-Obama that I almost forgot who the other candidate was! Which leads me to question why it is so hard for news shows to be completely unbiased. But that is another blog for another day), they had a segment called "Presidential questions". Finally, I thought, a place where the candidates will be asked the questions that we want answered. You know the questions I am talking about: "What tax reforms will you implement as president?"; or "What is your plan to end terrorism?" and questions such as those. Well, my dear friends, the questions they were asked were "What do you see as your opponents strengths and weaknesses?" and "When was the last time you cried?" Are you serious?? We are less than 2 weeks away from an election and Katie is wasting our time with these questions! What about "Do you prefer smooth or chunky peanut butter?" or even "If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?" Come on people. We need to know where the candidates stand on the issues that will impact our lives. Do I care about the last time John McCain cried? NO! But I do care about whether or not he will raise my taxes. Do I care about what Obama thinks is McCain's biggest weakness? HECK NO! But I do care about whether or not he is going to keep this country safe.

Maybe it's the Canadian in me coming out again. As Canadians, we have very little interest in the personal lives of our leaders. I remember a political culture class I took in University (in Canada). Our professor started the first class by asking us who the president of the United States was. We answered. Then he asked what the president's wife's name was; if he had any children and their names; where he was from; what he named his dog; and where he went to University. We, as a class, were able to answer all of these questions correctly. Then the Professor asked us who the Prime Minister of Canada was. We answered. Then he proceeded to ask us the same questions about our Prime Minister as he asked about the US president. After the question about the his wife's name, we were stumped. We had no idea where he was from, if he had children or even if he had a dog. I think it is because Canadians are fairly private people and we respect the privacy of others. It is rare that a politician's personal life makes it on the evening news. But here in the United States, the personal life seems to be just as important as the candidate's stand on the issues.

So, my fellow, American, you can sleep well tonight, because, thanks to Katie and the CBS news, we now know when McCain and Obama last cried. Good night and happy voting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The big, comfy couch

When I quit my job in Massachusetts last year, I had a month before I started my new job in New York. This presented a slight problem since my job as a live-in nanny meant that I lived where I worked. No work equals no place to live. My good friends Alicia and Jon opened their apartment to me and all of my stuff (and I mean ALL of my stuff! I had A LOT!). During that month, they affectionately called me "the squatter". (At least I think it was "affectionately"!) After I started my job in New York, I still travelled to Massachusetts quite a bit, and they always let me stay on their couch. Both my brother and my mother have slept at their house on trips to Boston. They even let me stay there a couple times without them being there!

Well, this weekend, my squatter days officially came to an end. I made my last trip to Massachusetts without Ryan and that means that I will no longer need to sleep on the couch. I am so grateful to Alicia and Jon for allowing me to stay at their apartment, thus saving me hundreds of dollars that I would have had to spend on a hotel! I couldn't ask for better friends. Alicia and Jon are the type of people who would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. Every time I needed a couch, it was there for me. Thankfully, I never needed the shirts they were wearing! That would have made things awkward!

Me in what was my bed at least once a month for 15 months

One last drive...

In my humble and completely biased opinion, there is nothing that compares to autumn in New England. The abundance of trees makes for an abundance of colour. If things go as Ryan and I have planned, our time out East is quickly coming to an end (more on our plans once they are more solidified). As I left my friends' house in Massachusetts today for the long drive home, I realised that this was the last time I will experience New England in it's autumnal splendor. I decided to take a drive down one of my favourite roads in Massachusetts. River Road/Monument Street winds it's way from Concord to Carlisle (hence the two different names! The name changes from River Road to Monument St. when you cross from Carlisle to Concord). The narrow road takes drivers past absolutely beautiful (and ginormous!) colonial style houses. There are open fields, separated by wooden rail fences. There are horses grazing in pastures with the coloured trees as their backdrop. It is absolutely gorgeous! As I drove down the road, I watched the red, brown and golden yellow leaves fall to the ground. They swirled in the wind before landing on the road. As I drove around the bends, I would take in the open fields, surrounded by trees that seemed to be on fire. My friend Alicia thinks that there is something special about the sun during autumn, the way it shines and filters through the trees. I agree. The sunlight adds to the glory of the season. I drove past a farm selling pumpkins and gourds. I watched as squirrels scampered across the road, their cheeks full of nuts ready to be stored for the winter. I thought about pulling over and taking some pictures, but I knew that the pictures could never capture the beauty I saw. As the road came to an end, I felt tears spring to my eyes; partly because I was sad, knowing that I had no idea when I would be back to see the beauty of the New England autumn and partly because what I saw all around me was more beautiful than I could even describe. I guess when words fail us that is the time to just take everything in and try to imprint the moment in our minds forever. I hope I made the imprint deep enough.

I am blessed

This weekend I went to Massachusetts to attend yet another wedding reception. The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, the food was delicious and the company was amazing. I was able to talk with many people from my former church ward. It was nice to reconnect with the people who were my family for so long while I live in New England. While we were eating, my former Bishop told us about a conversation he had with the parking attendant at the hotel where the reception was being held. He said he asked the attendant how he was doing. The attendant's response "I am blessed". Everyone at the table commented on what a great response that was. One woman said "That is such a great way to always remind yourself that you have a lot to be grateful for." As I sat there listening to everyone's comments, I thought of how often I ask and answer that very question: "How are you?" or it's sister "How's it going?" We throw that phrase around without even thinking about it, and even as we ask it, we already know what the response will be "I'm fine, how are you?" or something very similar to that. Imagine asking that question and instead the person responds "I am blessed". I think that would cause me to pause and maybe even reflect on my own life and it's blessings. What a great response! And I plan on incorporating it into my daily life because I truly am blessed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jet Blue Rant

Husband and I are going on a cruise in January. We are wicked excited about it! We leave and return from Puetro Rico. I booked our flights to San Juan weeks ago on Jet Blue. Today I get this email from Jet Blue saying that the times for our return flight have been changed. We are now leaving 3.5 hours later than the originally booked flight and we get into Syracuse 3.5 hours later than the original flight plan. I called Jet Blue and spoke to a rep. All she could tell me was that because the airlines are going through a difficult time, they have had to make adjustments. Then she says "Is this time going to work for you?" ( we have a choice?) I told her that the times weren't going to work for us and asked if we could get a refund. She said that they couldn't issue a refund because the change was less than a 4 hour difference. The best they can do is waive the cancellation fee and give us a credit. I don't want a credit! I want a refund!
Here's my complaint: If we are paying money to fly on an airline, we should get the flight we booked! We booked that specific flight because it worked with our schedule! This is completely bogus and I am MAD! I paid for a certain flight and I want that flight! How can they just change the times? First the cost of the flight is out of control, then they charge you to check bags, then they charge you for food and drinks, and now they change the time of the flight willy-nilly? You know what Jet Blue, those times do not work for us! We want our original flight back. You know, the one WE PAID FOR!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My week in pictures

Last week my mother came out for a visit. We went to Boston, NYC, Palmyra, Niagara Falls, and Salem, MA. Because I have been to all these places before I only took a few pictures. Here are some of my favourites:

The shadow of the top of the Empire State Building

Apples at a cider mill

At the Erie Canal

Autumn foilage in Palmyra

Niagara Falls at dusk

The ocean

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn in New England

I am in Massachusetts this weekend for a wedding reception. After church today I decided to talk a walk and enjoy a beautiful autumn day. Autumn in New England is absolutely breathtaking. The pictures don't capture the true beauty, but I tried.

How does 10 months turn into 5 years?

This week marks 5 years since I moved away from Southern Alberta to New England. My original plan was to stay for 10 months and then go to grad school. Now, 5 years later I am no longer in New England, but I am still out East. I remember coming out here from small town Alberta and being so overwhelmed with all the trees, the traffic, the people and the big cities! Now 5 years later, I can merge onto a busy highway at rush hour without freaking out. I can drive in New York City (But I still refuse to drive in Boston, unless it is to the airport or to the Science Museum!) I can navigate the subways system in both Boston and New York City. I can see the beauty in the trees. And, although I am still not a fan of large crowds, I can push my way through them like a true Easterner.

Over the last 5 years, I have lived with 3 different families. What an amazing opportunity! I have had a chance to see how families other than my own interact. I have been able to take care of 12 children, ranging in age from 18 months to 14 years old. I think that I am definitely ahead of the curve and will be better able to raise my own children. I know what works and what doesn't (well at least I think I do!). I have also seen 3 different marriage, and can take lessons from that and apply them to my own marriage.

I can't believe how much I have experienced since I have moved here. In the past 5 years I have taken road trips to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Niagara Falls. I have camped in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. I have hiked in White Mountains. I have driven from upstate NY to Alberta and back. I have visited Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. I walked where the American Revolutionary War started. I have been to Plymouth and seen where the Pilgrims started life in this country. I have been to Fenway Park. I have been to Atlanta and Disney World. I have spent time on Cape Cod. I have swam in the ocean. I have seen the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. I have sailed on the Atlantic. The list goes on and on. I feel so blessed to have lived in an area where travel is so easy.

I am so glad that my 10 months turned into 5 years. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have met Ryan, and I would still be single! Ryan and I met at an annual Young Single Adult conference that takes place somewhere in New England every year.

People thought I was crazy when I decided to move out here, and there were days where I questioned my decision, but I have never regretted the decision. I have met some of the most amazing people! I have had more adventures than some people have in their entire life. Coming out to New England was the result of being bored one night. But I don't think it was an accident. Everything happens for a reason. I am so grateful for my time out East. I know that I will be telling my grandchildren about the time I spent here. I will cherish my memories from here and will take a part of the East with me wherever life takes me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

At the car wash, Baby.

I took my car to the car wash today to vacuum it out. As I was cleaning the garbage out of the backseat, the guy next to me looks at me and says "Nice car!" I knew he was lying and up to something because I drive a 1999 Dodge Intrepid; not exactly a car known to make men drool with desire. Before I could say anything he says "So, you're from Kentucky?" I reply "no, but my husband is." Then he says "Oh. You're married?" (Ummm...yeah! I just said I had a husband; usually a good tip-off that someone is married!) I answered that I was, in fact, married. Then he looks at me and asks "Happily married?" (Seriously??) I once again answered in the affirmative. The guy says "Oh, okay," and turns back to his car, clearly devastated by the fact that he was rejected by an absolutely beautiful happily married woman.