Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I still read my hometown newspaper as part of my morning routine---take the dogs out, wake Sunshine, fix our breakfasts, pour my Diet Coke & sit down to check email/news.

This morning I was greeted by very sad news when checking the obituary section of hometown paper.  My US History teacher from high school died.  The news spread fast on Facebook where friends shared the link.  My hometown's "You Know You're From . . ." page was flooded with posts about his passing.  People shared stories of how he impacted their lives.  He was a teacher & coach to many of them in high school.  As adults, he was a friend, someone who frequented their businesses, a neighbor.  

My father knew him growing up & they both shared a love of baseball.  My father played varsity ball while Mr. B was in junior high & he looked up to my Daddy.  When I was in high school they'd rib each other about the old days.  

When I was in his class I was a good student---honor roll, gifted program, varsity athlete, activities queen.  If I liked your class, you had my undivided attention.  And I loved Mr. B's class.  I wasn't terribly interested in History but in his class I was.  My love of History, which I still have today, was born in that class.  My interest in politics would come a year later when he taught our "Government" class.  

Teachers, be they good, bad or mediocre, leave such an impression on their students.  They inspire.  They instruct.  They change lives.

So tonight, as I sit here crying (as I have done off & on throughout the day), I'm grateful for a man who not only touched my life, but the lives of hundreds, probably thousands of kids from my hometown.   There's a line in "It's A Wonderful Life" that goes  Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?    

I'm grateful that Mr. B was in my life for a brief period of time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where is Baby Jesus?

Every Christmas my Mom puts out her Creche (Nativity Set/Scene for you non-French Canadians).  The big names are there:  Mary, Joseph, 3 wise men, as well as the supporting cast---the angel, the shepherds, various stable animals, etc.  But Baby Jesus is NEVER there.  

Why you ask?  Because he hasn't been born yet, silly.  
This is a tradition I've followed as long as I've put out any sort of Creche/Nativity as an adult.  Today, it irked the holy hand grenades out of Sunshine.  "Mommy, where is Baby Jesus?  Where did you hide him?  WHERE IS HE??? WHY do you hide him???"   So when I spoke with my mom this evening, I told her she needed to explain to Sunshine that SHE is the one who taught me that Baby Jesus doesn't arrive on the scene (so to speak) until Christmas morning.  It's the first thing I do on Christmas morning, after I check the clock to see what time Sunshine's woken up.

So, what does my Mom do tonight?  Does she tell Sunshine that Jesus' birthday is December 25th & that's when we put him in the Creche?  No, the woman dimes out my father!  "Oh Laurie, your father was the one who would argue that Jesus wasn't born yet & it wasn't right to put him out yet"

So, as you can see, Sunshine was allowed to put Baby Jesus into her Creche & into Hunter's.  Mine?  No way.  Baby Jesus is hiding in a tea cup in the hutch until Christmas morning.  

Just the way my Daddy would want it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Our first Thanksgiving  hosted in our house and in our newly renovated dining room.  

My compliments to my super wonderful husband who stuffed the bird.

Our table---the place mats & napkins are were Hunter's grandmothers, as was the china.  It made for a very special table.  

Hope you & yours had a safe & happy holiday.  We're putting our tree up tomorrow & Sunshine just can't wait!  

And if you go shopping this weekend---be kind to those poor souls working in the stores.  They deserve nothing but kindness from you.  While you were sleeping last night, they were at work because people HAVE to have that deeply discounted tv!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dining Room Redux

When we bought our house we knew that there were many "original" features---the original vinyl floor in the kitchen, the 1991 wallpaper in the kitchen, dining room (pictured above), Sunshine's bathroom & our bathroom.  We took care of various rooms before the dining room as we used the breakfast nook for meals.  The dining room was what Sunshine referred to as the "game room"  If you look in the far right of this first pic, you can see the scary kitchen wallpaper.  It was a pain to peel.  

I knew that eventually I wanted to do something with it----I didn't like it as a game/play room & when Hunter's grandparent's hutch arrived & suddenly I felt that I really had to get the dining room finished.  And since we're hosting Thanksgiving this year, why not get it done now.

The first thing we did was peel the wallpaper below the chair rail & above.  Our original plan was to put in wainscoting below the chair rail.  Hunter ripped out the chair rail & base boards so I could have at it while painting.  Until I decided (after painting the kitchen AND dining rooms) that I didn't want to paint the wainscoting.  But the chair rail & base boards were gone.  UGH!  He didn't bat an eye, returned the wainscoting & bought more chair rails & base boards.  I finished painting on Thursday of last week & he installed them over the weekend.  BTW, that table?  SO heavy!!! I am not meant for furniture moving!  Pardon the scruffy looking dog in the picture---she needs a bath & grooming desperately!

Remember my post about art work?  These bird prints hung in his grandparents house in VA.  They're not really my style but they work well in the dining room.  And they provide memories for Hunter.

This is our new/old maple dresser that we found at one of my favorite antique stores Gina's Junk here in Columbus.   Gina owns her building/property so her prices are better than any shop I've ever been in.  We have several pieces from her (a Thomasville writing desk, Bassett sideboard, a wicker chair, wicker table & a beautiful painted basket.  Oh, and some vintage bud vases to replace mine that were accidentally broken when they met granite counter tops!).  Gina's got a great eye, knows her stuff & like I said, the price is right!  This piece needed very little work---a good cleaning & a quick fix on one of the drawer pulls.   The painting above it was done by Hunter's great aunt.  The lamp & candy dish are vintage.

We're ready for the ILs to invade later today & are doing some last minute tidying up.  I've made my Memere's meat stuffing & am hoping to make MIL's cranberry relish tonight so there's less work for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Things that should be personal

no, nothing like *that*.  I'm talking about art.  Art that you hang in your home & look at everyday.

Many years ago, when Hunter & I were engaged, I was tasked with redecorating our apartment.  He was in Kuwait for 6 months & felt the apartment needed a woman's touch.  My touch.  I poured over magazines, HGTV, DIY, you name it.  A friend told me to look in the Penney's catalog, find a page I liked & order everything down to the art on the walls.

Excuse me?  The art on the walls?  Some random pictures?  Just thrown up there, because?  Ugh, no.

I grew up in a home where the art that graced my parents walls had meaning.  Whether it was the portrait of my sister that my aunt (a very talented artist) painted after my sister died or whether it was a sketch of my grandparents homestead that my brother did in a college art class.  When you looked at it, it evoked a feeling.  It brought back memories.  It wasn't just *there*.  It meant something.

Our living room is our "Paris" room.  We have an oil painting that Hunter inherited from his grandmother when she died 4 years ago.  I remember it being in her home & always commenting on what a beautiful piece it was.   She'd smile & say that Hunter did too & that she wanted us to have it, eventually.  When Hunter went to Paris years ago, he came home with a sketch of the backside of Notre Dame that graces our mantel.  When we went in '08, we came home with two watercolors that represent 2 of our favorite places in Paris:  Monmartre & the Left Bank.  The Monmartre print has been framed but the price of custom framing has left our Left Bank print rolled up & stored away.  I really need to find a Michael's coupon & get it done as the wall behind our sideboard is bare!

This past week we've (I've) painted the kitchen & dining room.  This means new art--or updating the artwork we have.  Over the summer, I bought a beautiful Katharine Montstream print of Burlington & Mount Mansfield as seen from the waterfront.  It's hanging in our kitchen.  Several years ago when I was home I discovered a watercolor of the Chateau Frontenac that I bought in Quebec City many, many years ago (1985!!) during a weekend visit in high school.  I was able to find a frame to fit & had a matte cut.  Now it's hanging in our kitchen as well.  We have a beautiful P. Buckley Moss print that MIL/FIL bought us for Christmas 2 years ago that I'm embarrassed to admit isn't framed yet.   What is it with me & custom framing? Again, Michael's coupon.  Eventually the Moss print will hang in the kitchen.

Which leads us to the dining room.  Our china cabinet takes up one wall in the room.  We bought a beautiful low maple dresser to use as a buffet/sideboard but what would hang above it???  Don't even suggest random art from catalogs here!  I was putting away some yarn in the guest room closet & remembered we have 4 bird  prints that once hung in Hunter's grandparents house.  Not anything I would buy, but they mean something to him.  They bring back happy memories of time spent with his grandfather & grandmother at their home.  Would he want to hang them in the dining room?  The frames match the finish on the china cabinet as well as our table/chairs so it's really a no brainer.

Today is Hunter's day to replace the chair rail & baseboards.  I could kick myself for the whole wainscoting thing, but eh.  Live & learn.

Hope you have a great weekend!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's finally over!

Three long days wearing paint splattered clothes, paint gunking up my fingernails, my hair pulled back & no makeup.

But the kitchen & dining room are finally finished!  Say it with me---PHEW!

I had painted the kitchen when we bought our house after stripping the wallpaper off.  Which was oddly cathartic.  The wallpaper peeling, not the painting.

We (I) chose a pretty blue that brightened up the room with a darker blue to go under the chair rail in the breakfast nook.  It looked great until we pulled up the floor & counters & put in hardwood & a darker granite counter.  Both of which are dark brown (dark brown/black for the counter) & threw the blue off kilter.  It just didn't look right but I couldn't decide on a color.  Just like I STILL cannot commit to a back splash.  More on that in another post.

I finally decided that going one shade lighter than the living room would allow the colors to flow without being all one tan room, one yellow, one red, etc.  I decided to go two shades darker under the chair rail in the breakfast nook as we were taking the kitchen table out of there & putting it into the dining room.  The nook will be a little home office area.

On Sunday I painted the entry area by the back door & decided the color looked really nice.  On Tuesday I went full force with the painting---the drop cloth, edging tool, skinny brush for corners, the roller, wet cloth for smudges & the 80's station on the tv.  I had planned on stopping around 1230 to get cleaned up but it was more like 130.  Same with Wednesday.  Yesterday I started at 830 & finished the dining room at 11.  Last night I finished below the chair rail as I realized that putting in wainscoting was a great idea but more work than I really wanted to put in.  Hunter would be putting in the wainscoting (as well as replacing the chair rail & baseboards).  I'm done with painting---I don't want to wait for him to finish his end so I can finish mine.  So we (I) decided to keep the same color throughout & it looks great.  Very warm & cozy.  Well, neutral warm. Now on to the furniture flipping & decorating!

Sunshine's school is having their Military Appreciation Day today so we are off to get ready to go.  They're also catering lunch for the military families which is really nice.   I hope it's something yummy!

Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Knitterversary to me!

Seven years ago I had a 7 month old baby, the weather was turning cool & there was a knitted baby hat pattern in a baby magazine that I'd stare at.  Daily.  I copied the pattern & meant to send it to my mom & MIL in hopes that one of them would make it for Sunshine.  
I never mailed it to either one of them.  It sat on our desk for what seemed like forever.  I'd look at it every day as I'd check email & my Ivillage Expecting Club turned Baby Board.  And I'd think that I was pretty sure I remembered how to cast on.  And I remembered how to do the knit stitch.  And I remembered that purling involved the yarn & needle going through the front of the stitch.  I knew that I couldn't remember how to bind off but between the people at AC Moore & various internet sites, I'd figure it out.
So one day, my beautiful 7 month old baby & I trotted off to AC Moore (oh, how I miss you!! Curse you, Joanns!  Curse. You!) where I bought 2 skeins of Baby Teri Yarn (one pink, one green) and the required size 6 & 8 needles.

As you can see, my stripes aren't even, the shaping on the top isn't right & seriously, it's the lamest pom pom ever.  But for my first project in nearly 20 years, it was pretty darn good.  So good in fact, that 2 friends requested I make hats for their babies.  And they'd pay me.  
As you can see, my hats got better.  This one was one of Sunshine's favorites.  She's pretty much always been a pink girl!

The frightening stage of fun fur scarves (carried with homespun or some other yarn) on large needles followed & was quickly left by the wayside, thankfully.  I then ventured into baby ponchos.  I mad LOTS of those.  Sunshine & her little girl friends were well turned out that spring.  I also made 12 for the baby girls at our Ivillage April '04 Expecting Club's meet up in '05.  
Knitting kept me sane during 2 of Hunter's deployments, on road trips when he'd drive & is now my weekly "therapy" session when I go to Panera to knit with my knit group.  My mother taught me how to knit & was taught by her mother.  One day, Sunshine will pick up needles & continue the tradition.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

There's a comraderie that exists in the military.  It exists between soldiers & it exists between wives.  Think about it---you're in the middle of a combat mission.  Things can happen so quickly & your life can change in the blink of an eye.  The guy riding next you might be pulling you out of your vehicle &; to safety. Or you might be pulling him out.  Or treating his wounds.  Or worse.   This experience creates a bond that lasts a lifetime.  It's one that, unless you were there, you will never get.  Sure you can read it about it, you can watch the Military channel & see what happened but you will NEVER really get it because you weren't there.

Last year on Veterans Day, HBO showed a documentary called War Torn.  If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest you do.  Especially if you know someone who suffers from PTSD.  I spent the majority of the time watching it in tears.  And not just *sniff sniff* how horrible tears.  I'm talking streaming down my face, blubbering like an idiot, tears.  After dealing with Hunter's PTSD for several years, it hit me that there were other people living with the same situations as we were.  I wasn't alone anymore.

Earlier this week, I received the following message on Facebook:

Hello my name is William Fraas I read your comments about Wartorn just want to you thank you for reminding me that I and my family are not alone. And by the way I'm the one in the film and I know it's hard to live with someone with PTSD and you are very strong person and again thanks

Um, first of all, dood, YOU'RE in the film & you're thanking me?  ME??  I'm sitting here, identifying with your wife & you're thanking me?   Wow.   Goes back to that comraderie.  I replied & thanked him & his family for putting their life on film so that wives like me know they're not alone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And then the hangover set in

The Fall Festival hangover, that is.

I got home Friday night around 945 & the minute I sat down the fatigue kicked in.  Every part of my body was tired and sore.  I don't know how much running around I did over Thursday & Friday, but it was a lot.  I wish I'd worn my pedometer to measure just how much.  Saturday morning, my super sweet hubby let me sleep in until 10.  Same with Sunday.  I felt more human on Sunday than I did on Saturday & by Monday I was back to myself.  We spent an hour & a half counting money from the FF & then I did our banking.  I still need to sit down to add up our expenses vs. profits but we did very well.  Parents were happy & so far, all reports have been positive, which is always nice.  A lot of time & energy went into this event.  And then some.  We've already discussed ways to improve next year's festival but have until July/Aug. to actually implement them.

And then it was Halloween.  Sunshine's school has been raising money for Alzheimer's research & had the kids bring in $3 to wear a costume to school on Friday.  She was a ballerina princess as my inner control freak was concerned about her Cinderella dress getting torn on the playground.  The BP costume allowed her to run around freely without me worrying.  Which is always a good idea.  

Halloween night we went Trick or Treating with friends of ours.  These kids slay me.  When I was little, we ToT'ed  until our toes fell off.  Until our fingers were crippled from ringing door bells.  These kids?  Four streets later they were done.  The upshot was we were home before it was too dark & got Sunshine into bed about 20 min. past her regular bed time.  And like any good parent, I examined all of her candy & pulled aside a baby ruth as my payment.  Maybe 2 ;)

Today is boring ol' laundry & some cleaning.  And treasurer duties.  I have reimbursement forms to be signed by reimbursees  (sure it's a word) & have written out checks to said reimbursees.  I need to get up to school to make copies for our Movie Night With Dad invitation for next week but I think that'll happen tomorrow as it's already noon.  I also need to run to Home Depot for paint for our kitchen & dining rooms.  They'll be the same color which is one shade lighter than our living room.  It'll be nice to finally have all the rooms painted that need painting!