Friday, January 28, 2011

Heroes and Childhood

Well, I was going to wait until next week to start this, but today seems appropriate. I hope to spend a good bit of time over the next month talking about heroes.

Why, do you ask, do I want to do this? Well, there are so many different definitions for the word “hero”. There are big, monumental heroes, and every-day minor heroes and then everything else in between. I want to share some of the people I define as heroes as well as try and focus on something positive and good. I’ve been having a rough time, especially at work, lately and well, I think a nice big dose of positive will help. Also, it’s the middle of winter and we’ve been hit with several bouts of snow in recent weeks and something to take my mind off the weather and the gray would be nice.

Why today though? Why is today an appropriate day?

Well, this day in 1986 was an earth shattering day, especially in my recently-thrown-into-upheaval 10-year-old life. It was supposed to be a tremendous and exciting day. Not only was there going to be a launch of the space shuttle, but we were going to watch it in the library and they were launching a teacher into space! Yep, a teacher, a real human being, not some super human into space.

Just moments after launch, disaster struck. I was sitting in the back of the group watching, and couldn’t really see and I had no idea what was going on. It took me years to be able to actually watch the footage. I still try and avoid it whenever I can. This was an extremely traumatic event at an already traumatic and stressful time in my life. I was in my second school of the year and had just moved halfway across the country to what seemed like a foreign land.
So, why if I want to talk about something positive like heroes, to I start with the explosion of the Challenger and the loss of 7 lives? In my 10-year-old life, astronauts were heroes. They were larger than life. They got to be weightless and do cool things and see beautiful sites.
Anyone who knows me knows as a kid I was a real “space case”. I loved anything that flew and anything about space and space travel. I couldn’t get enough of it.  I even scrimped and saved and babysat every weekend I was asked to for one of the brattiest boys I knew so that I could go to Space Acadamy with my Girl Scout council (and where I met my best friend...) I wanted to be an astronaut for many, many years in the same way that some kids want to be fire fighters or cops or doctors. If I’d been able to keep that drive all the way through high school, I probably could have. Or at least been involved with the space program in some form.  But, by the middle of high school, well, I’d begun to have doubts about being an engineer, the surest way I’d ever get into space. By the time I was a senior, I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want to go into engineering or physics at all. (I indirectly blame dad for this, but not because of anything he said, but because of how miserable I saw him at his job…)

But that doesn’t mean my love of space and flying is dead. No, it just slumbers a bit and wakes now and again to make me look all starry-eyed up at the sky and wonder.
But back to the theme of this post, or what it’s supposed to be. This is supposed to be a post about heroes, not a look at my childhood dreams.
Astronauts, at least in my world, were and are heroes of the capitol “H” kind. Sure, a lot of it is just image. But for many, that image is important. There is a reason why John F. Kennedy challenged us as a nation to get to the moon by the end of the decade. There is a power in the image of the drive and the audacity and the sheer guts and imagination that it takes to achieve something like that. That is the image that the U.S. holds dear and wants to be. The country needed that at the time. (And I believe we need something like it again…) The country needed a common goal to try and heal and put some purpose behind our actions. Things were a mess then, and they’re even worse now. Of course, the “Space Race” gave us the goal of “beating” the Commies, but that was just an excuse to get us going in the same direction. To use the innovation and the drive that America is so famous for.

And the astronauts were the face of this project. They were the names that everyone knew. They were the heroes putting their lives on the line in the name of exploration and science (and the good ol’ U. S. of A!).

But the engineers that keep them alive and sheltered from the radiation and freezing temperatures and extremes of space are the real heroes. They’re the quiet, behind the scenes heroes. They’re the ones that you call in a pinch. They’re the real heroes behind the successful end to the Apollo 13 mission, the astronauts were just along for the ride at that point.
So, yes, this week there is a lot of sad NASA news. Yesterday is the anniversary of the Apollo I tragedy. Today is the 25 year anniversary of the Challenger 1 tragedy, and February 1st is the 8 year anniversary of the Columbia disaster (1 day before my Gram’s 80th birthday…)
But the men and women that keep pushing the boundaries and exploring and questioning, even knowing the hazards of the job. Those are heroes. Those are the kind of heroes that every parent should be able to point out to their kids for inspiration. Those are the ones that make you feel pride as a group, to be part of something so much bigger than yourself.
So, I must wrap this up here. This isn’t the most polished of posts and would need some serious re-writing to be turned in as an English assignment, but I think it’s a good start to something I’m going to try and keep up throughout all of February. It’s reminded me a little bit of the innocence of childhood and the power of dreams.
Peace to all and may your childhood dreams have at least a small place in your heart and never be truly lost.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now where was I?

Ok, Ok, so yet another week plus has gone by without my paying any attention to this little corner of the world.
I think mostly it's because I've been stuck in a rut of work, snow, sleep and work.  Oh, and don't forget the snow.
I just haven't felt like I had anything to say recently.  I am working on a bit of a project/challenge for February, but it's in the percolating through my brain stages and doesn't have any real form yet.
Let's see here, what interesting things have been going on in my life?
My group moved upstairs to be with the software development team.  I think it'll work out in the long run, but it's a bit of a switch that'll take some getting used to.  I've both been more and less productive, so yeah, nothing new there.  I have to come up with my annual goals by the end of the week and I have to have 4.  After my review and knowing what's expected of the group, I'm still having problems coming up with 4 measurable and meaningful goals.  And no, my manager is no help on this one... we have to come up with them and then submit them to him for approval. Yeah, not so happy with this.
Working out:
Well, I joined the gym at the beginning of the month.  I've really enjoyed the switch, but the stupid weather keeps getting in the way of my plans.  (For example, as I'm writing this I'm supposed to be wrapping up my workout, but I just wasn't going to deal with the snow before I had to today...)  Hopefully I'll get firmly into my Tuesday/Thursday morning routine like I'd like.  It really helps with the cabin fever I get this time of year if I can be physically active in some way.
I'm currently in the middle of two blankets and a scarf/wrap.  I've been able to get a few minutes here and there with them and am quite happy with all three.  I'm not 100% sure who any of the projects are going to eventually end up with, but I'm enjoying them.  I've got major start-itis though right now. I've got some really yummy, fuzzy, bulky yarn to make a small baby blanket with (no, I don't have anyone in mind for it) that I really want to start just because it's warm and fuzzy and another pattern I really want to try again because it defeated me before and a couple of hats and scarves I'd like to make as well.  But I've got to finish at least one project before I start anything else.  Or at least that's what I keep telling myself...
This past weekend was pretty uneventful as far as that goes.  There is a good bit of drama going on in part of my clan of friends.  No, I'm not going to write about it here.  At least not yet.  There are two, or more, sides to every story, and I don't have all the info yet and haven't processed it all to make a coherent statement.  In all that vague language, I'm trying to say that big things are going on that are troubling me deeply, but can't share it yet.
Dad has his up days and down days.  The business continues to roll along in fits and starts, but seems to be hanging on at the moment.  Mom's had some really good results with her chiropractor and it seems to be helping.  I love the fact that she can still come up just about every Monday to spend with Boo.
Gak and Boo continue to do well.  We've all had our moments recently with bouts of sinus ick, but over all, we've been healthy this winter.  Boo just keeps amazing me every day.  His vocabulary is HUGE and he's just too darn cute.  Boo really loves his new back pack (but not so sure about the chest-clip modification I added...)

But... I've got an awake boy who wants some snuggles, so I'd better sign off.

Peace to all and may things go well for you and yours.

P.S. I do have some new photos, but they're still on the camera....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fun Family Weekend

Well, this was a whirlwind of a weekend.  We had a great time over all.  Yes, there were some bad spots, and no, I'm not going to talk about them here.
Brian got here uneventfully around lunch on Friday.  I was working, but Gak and Boo went and picked him up at ABE.  They then had lunch and the boys went to work and day care and Uncle Brian got a well deserved nap.  He then came and got me when work was done and we rescued a boy and headed over to Gak's store.  We ended up picking up steaks from Lee's for dinner.
Saturday was a real adventure.  We'd promised people we'd stop by bowling because Rachel (and others) wanted to meet Brian.  Well, when we get there they're all planning on heading up to Camelback to take the older girls skiing for the first time.  Well, we decide to tag along.  This meant a quick stop at Walmart to pick up snow bibs for Brian and a few other odds and ends.  Lunch was at the diner in Wind Gap (no $12 burgers, thanks!) and was a lot of fun.  Boo was happy, he got to sit next to his uncle Brian and Randy.  The rest of the ride to the mountain was uneventful.  When we get there we get lift tickets (and rentals for Brian, everyone else rented down here and Randy still has his own) for the skiers and decide when we were going to meet back up.
Boo, Gak and I head over to the tubing area.  Well, Boo didn't nap on the way up since Brian was in the back seat and he really didn't want to miss anything.  So, by the time we are in line to pay ($75 for all 3 of us!) he's wanting up and being super fussy and cranky.  So, we decide to bail on the whole paying an arm and a leg (to me at any rate) for something that may be more trouble than it was worth.  Boo had a blast playing in the plow pile at the corner of the parking lot instead while we waited for the shuttle to take us back up to the lodge.  Overall, I'd say that was a success (and much easier on the pocket book...)  I would love to go tubing at some point, but we'd have to plan it better with Boo's nap time in mind.
Anyhow, after we all met up back in the lodge, we end up taking the girls back to Kat's house.  (Oh, the girls are Mel and Rachel...)  Boo finally naps for about 30 minutes until we get to dinner.  Amazingly enough he stayed awake the whole ride home and then went to bed just about his normal time.

Sunday was another bit of an adventure.  We head over to Kat's just to see what was up and to coordinate things.  We all head over to the QFR for what is now lunch.  It took us forever and a day, which is unusual there.  I mean, it's not the fastest place in the world, but usually it's better than it was.  Oh well.  After lunch the four of us head up to Cabella's just because it's kinda close.  The only thing we got was a new backpack for Boo to carry his toys/books in when we go on adventures.  I'm pretty sure I can get a small dog leash to attach to it and rig a chest clip so he can wear it instead of his puppy dog one when we go places.  (Yes, we leash our son.  Mostly just to give him some boundaries and freedom at the same time and also to make it easier on both him and Gak...)
We got Brian to the airport uneventfully and a bit on the early side.
So, yes, overall it was a great weekend.  Brian said he had fun, and I know I enjoyed it.  Boo really enjoyed seeing his uncle.  He was a bit quiet at first, as he usually is, but warmed up pretty darn quick.

Anyhow, it's icky out again (snow and now freezing rain/drizzle) so I've got to grab a shower and get the boys ready to go.  Gak's opening and this makes it easier on all of us.  I just wish the weather would start cooperating with my new workout schedule.  I was really hoping to start going Tuesday and Thursday before work, as if I have to miss one or the other, I'd rather spend more time with my boy-o at bed time than when he wakes up in the morning and I have to dash out the door.  (He's not always awake then anyhow.)

Peace to all and may your family visits be fun and the weather on your side.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random... Again.

Well, the week has all but come and gone again.
It was a bit off an odd week.  If only because we had more snow on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning).  So, of course that means that my schedule was totally out of wack again.  Oh well.  But my boy-o loves to play in the snow.  We got about 5 inches give or take.  What I really could do without is the wind that we've been getting after the snow moves through.  It can take itself right back to the arctic where it came from.

Other than that, there really hasn't been much of interest going on this week.  I actually managed to go swimming at the gym Tuesday morning, because the snow was supposed to start around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  (Thankfully the snow held off until after 6:00 or so.)  It was great and I really hope to make that part of my routine from here on out.  Today I had a free session with a trainer at the gym.  It didn't feel like I was working hard most of the time, but boy was I!  I'm sure my arms will be hurting tomorrow.  My legs will be better.  I will need to add some core exercises as well, but I think I'm well on my way to a well rounded set of workouts to keep it interesting.  I'm really hoping that I manage to follow through on my exercise goals this year.

Anyhow, sorry this is a short and disjointed post.  I'm a little scatter brained tonight.  I think Boo gave me his bit of a cold that he had over the weekend.  This weekend should be interesting though.  Gak's brother is flying out here for the weekend.  He gets in tomorrow around 11-ish, that is if he's lucky going through O'Hare... I so don't miss that airport...  He's flying back Sunday afternoon, so he's only in town for a few days.  I'm sure we'll do something interesting Saturday or Sunday morning.

I'm going to wrap up this ramble and head to bed.

Peace to all and may your snow days be fun and your weekends interesting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fast Forward

So, it's been almost a week again since I've posted here.  And those who see me on Facebook, also know I haven't been busy much there this week either.
I think mostly it's been a lack of motivation more than anything.  I must admit, most of the week has been pretty uneventful.  I am trying to find more things I want to talk about, not just report on my daily life, as well, that's pretty routine around here most days.
Anyhow, nothing too exciting happened over the week.  We did have some really nice snow on Friday.  Of course, with Gak working all day Wednesday and me deciding to drive the boys in Friday morning, my work schedule was all out of wack, and therefore I didn't get to the gym as I thought I would.  We'll see how my "schedule" works this week.  As it turns out, I could have let the boys walk.  They were calling for the snow to be done falling by about noon, and sure enough, by 11 it had stopped.  Of course, if I'd let them walk, we'd have had a blizzard...

Anyhow, as usual, the weekend is where the fun was.  We're still not quite back on to our "normal" schedule for Saturdays, and won't be for at least another week, but it was a bit closer.  I didn't want to do the laundry Saturday morning and Boo said to do it Sunday, so I said OK.  We dropped Gak off at work, did a few minor errands and then came home for a bit.  I was a bit of a bad momma and plopped Boo down in front of a Caillou episode.  But I had an ulterior motive.  You see, the evening before, I'd picked up a really neat mitten pattern and some cool fabric for Boo.  His hands are so tiny and his mittens so thick and big and he just doesn't quite get how to stick his thumb in the thumb, that I wanted to make him a pair or two that would work better.  Like I said, I found a really cool pattern.  I was just going to trace his hand, add some wiggle room and a seam allowance and a bit for a cuff and wing it and use some elastic to hold them on, but there was this neat pattern for baby/toddler mittens that are pretty open and wrap around their wrist and velcro close.  Yep, worth every cent.  (I'm even thinking of taking the pattern to the copier and make it big enough for me.  I know I'll have to make some adjustments, but that's OK, I can figure it out.)  So, in slightly longer than it took Boo to watch an entire Caillou episode, I whipped up his first pair of mittens.  Not perfect, but they work and were a great learning experience.
After that we met up with everyone at bowling as they were finishing and then had lunch together.  That's back to our normal Saturday.  I enjoy these little gatherings.  After that it was nap time (and time for me to make a second, better pair of mittens).
I had to wake Boo up to go pick up his Poppa.  After that we then headed to Kat's.  Boo and Zoe went playing in the snow.  My camera wasn't cooperating so I don't have any good pictures, just one I took with my phone.  Anyhow, Boo loved Zoe's red disk sled and had a lot of fun, willingly going down the hill by himself.  (He actually didn't want to go on the sled with Zoe, which is kinda funny, but typical for Boo.)
After the kids were done playing, we all head back into town to meet up with Steve and company for dinner. Well, it turns out everyone was going to go to the Philadelphia Wings lacrosse home opener.  Gak and I hadn't known about it.  At any rate, Boo and I decided to go (which meant Scott didn't have to drive) and Gak went home for an evening alone.  Gak said he'd gladly bring the boy home if I wanted to go, but I decided to take him with me.  Yes, he was up a good 2 hours past his bed time, but I had a feeling he'd do OK at the lacrosse game, and I was right.
We all had a great time hanging out.  My boy was quite the mooch though.  I stole some of Rachel's cotton candy and once he tried it, he couldn't get enough from her or Joce.  He also managed to mooch water ice off the girls too.  It's a good thing he's cute!  It was a good game, at least the first quarter.  After that the Wings fell apart and Boston won.  Indoor lacrosse is a fun game to watch, especially since they keep the tunes rocking the entire time.  We may have to do this again sometime.

Sunday was pretty uneventful.  We ended up not getting together with anyone for the Eagles game.  Which is good, as the birds totally fell apart.  I gave up actively watching after the first quarter, and fixed dinner, and by half time I gave up on the game for good and we watched The Muppet Movie instead.  (Much more enjoyable, I'd forgotten exactly who all made appearances in that movie.)

Anyhow, I've got to wrap this up.  If you want more pictures, go check Flickr.

Peace to all and may your unplanned adventures be fun.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Welcome 2011

Ok, so it's the 4th day of 2011 and I'm just now getting a post up.  I've been busy.  Mostly in a good way, but busy none the less.
The new year started out on a nice note over all.  (I will just gloss over the fact that it was a cranky morning for unknown reasons.)  We headed down to Amma and PopPop's around 10:00 to get there around 11.  We had a nice lunch (even if Boo was being a toddler and not eating and just frustrating his father...).  Boo got to play with his PopPop for a few and then Amma joined the three of us on our way down to Baltimore.  Yep, we headed down to Baltimore to meet up with Michelle and her aunt Eileen.
We left a bit earlier than we needed too, which was fine because it gave us a chance to stop at Whitemarsh so Gak could stop at the Games Workshop store there and the rest of us could wiggle a bit.  Boo never did nap on the way down there, even with Amma pointedly ignoring him.  We get to the Barnes and Noble right around 3:00, but as is ever the case, Eileen and Michelle were running late.  It was quite alright though.  Boo loves the book store.  Especially book stores with a train table.  Once Michelle and Eileen joined us, we headed next door to the Hard Rock and had an early dinner.  It was quite an enjoyable meal and it was really good to be able to catch up.  After dinner it was back to the book store so the girls could actually do some shopping (and we could continue to catch up) until Boo's lack of a nap caught up with him around 7.  One of these days we'll actually make it down there early enough and have enough time to actually go to the aquarium.  I love that aquarium and haven't been in so long.
Eileen is doing well despite her recent tumble down most of a flight of stairs.  Michelle is also doing quite well.  She's enjoying her time up in Canada and has recently found out where her next posting will be.  Come August, after a few weeks of home leave and a few more of training (pending her visa of course) she'll be heading to Pakistan.  Yep, Pakistan.  Of course, the news today worries me, but I'm an optimist.  She's not going to be in Islamabad, and closer to the Indian border, so it's a bit safer right now.  She even found a guide book at the book store, so it's not all bad.  We hope to be able to catch up with her sometime in June or July while she's home.  Everyone misses her so.  I just wish I was able to tell her that yes, we'll be up to Ottawa at the beginning of May (or even March).  I feel like such a horrible friend for not trying harder to get up to see her.  Stupid passport rule.
Thankfully it was an uneventful drive home and Boo slept most of the way to Amma's and then fell asleep about halfway back to our place.  I'm glad he did wake up for a bit there in the middle, it meant that he actually slept in the next day, which is always nice.

The rest of the start of the year has been fairly uneventful over all.  Today was my first day back to work since the day before Christmas Eve.  It was a little rough to get back into the swing of things, but not as bad as I feared.  I'd checked my email at one point in the middle of last week, so it wasn't too horrible when I got in.  I managed to get a good bit done, but need to focus a bit better tomorrow and get more done.  I spent a little too much time drifting while I was working on things.  I should be able to tie up some loose ends on some projects though, if I'm lucky.

I've also changed something else.  I've decided not to sign up for this session of water aerobics at the Y.  I'm just so sick and tired of fighting with the swim team and the pool that's a little cooler than I like and being shoved in the way shallow end.  So, I bit the bullet and joined the local gym.  They've got a good sized therapy pool (not too warm, not too cold either) that's open for use.  It's a little deep for me, but that's OK, it just makes a few things a little more challenging.  I'm still trying to figure out a new schedule for this as I would really love to get in the habit of going more than one evening a week.  I may see about trying to go before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays to swim or Wednesdays or Fridays after work for a short cardio or strength training workout after work but before picking Boo up.  We shall see.  Over the winter I really need to make sure I get indoor exercise in though, as I'm just not in the mood to walk outside when it is cold and/or windy.  Yes, I'm a wuss when it comes to walking outside during the week.  (But for an O meet, I'll go out in just about any weather.... why is that?... Could be because I'm usually dealing with heat not cold and not nice clothes either.)

So, this year is getting off to a good start, here's hoping I can make this year even better and more productive than last year.  My goals are to be able to spend more quality time with my family (which is different from quantity, but related), remember to take time for me and the things I love to do and to push myself as hard as I can at work so I can fully enjoy my time away from work with no regrets and nothing hanging over my head.

Peace to all and may your year be off to a great start and have a bright future.

p.s. I don't have pictures as I'd left my camera at Kat's house.  Mom and Michelle both got good group pictures, but neither of them has sent me one yet.