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Feeling blessed! (and summing up the year to date)

Monday, November 24, 2014

I don't get to spend a lot of time Sparking these days, but I am feeling fortunate and this week is always a good week to remember good fortune.

Little Jackson is a joy. He is such a good-natured little guy! He smiles, plays with toys to amuse himself, and continues to have good health. He's very big for his age, just like his dad. He turned 9 months earlier in November, but I just bought him 18 mo. jammies because the 12 mo. size is just too short. Even though he only lives a half hour away, I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. Kids these days have so many commitments - not like when I was a young mom and spent every Sunday with my folks. But I am excited that he'll be doing his first sleepover at my house in a couple weeks.

My Mom turned 91 earlier this year. A few weeks back I traveled to Massachusetts to help move her into a different assisted living for "memory care." Her dementia is fairly mild most days - she's in the "high functioning" group at her new home - but her physical abilities have dwindled and the extra nursing available at this assisted living allows her to stay in assisted living in a studio with her own belongings, instead of transferring to a nursing home. Here she is at their Thanksgiving dinner yesterday:

I have a whole bunch of projects going on at my house, simultaneously, with almost none completed. I find that stressful but I need to remember that they will all get finished in time. We realized early this Fall that our roof has to be replaced, which is a huge expense that we hadn't really wanted to do since we hope to move next year. But there is no getting around a new roof when it's time! I'm also almost done updating lighting in my kitchen and a few other rooms, adding some wood blinds instead of heavy window treatments, having various pieces of furniture reupholstered after fifteen year, etc. etc. I feel like a general contractor!! The most annoying part is when you find another project buried under an existing project - like having a small list of things for the electrician that runs into "complications" and delays the whole project. Some of the things are meant to make the house more appealing to buyers, while other things like my furniture is for "me" and will move with us. Here is my partially done kitchen project:

At the end of July, my husband and I finished an outdoor enclosure for my three adult box turtles (all rescues), and they moved outside. They are hibernating now - it makes me a little nervous, but I know I did it right and they are well insulated under their substrate, with several feet of leaves on top of that. Here is their home while it was still summer:

Later in August, my husband and I went backpacking in the Flat Top Wilderness with another couple. It was a lot of fun - and the emphasis was indeed on WILDERNESS. One night we were camped at a lake, several miles from the closest other campsite with people, and there was a horrific storm - worst one I've ever camped in. Wind, rain, hail - it was crazy! It kept circling around, trapped by the mountains. Here we are at the end of the trip (looking a little rough, LOL):

My professional life has been very interesting this year. Our company was sold in April and so it's an exciting time. As part of the new ownership, we are getting a new CRM data base and website. Super exciting!! Last week I spent the entire time in Massachusetts at my company, doing training on the new data base with all my colleagues. The vendor rep was there and very helpful. On January 1st we'll switch over and also have a new data base, website and logo. Woo hoo!

My younger nephew and I have joined a crew that will be going to backpack at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico next July. This is the trip I did with his older brother in 2012. We are excited!

Anyway, that is what I've been up to lately! I'm still growing out my hair. I figure another six months and it "may" be where I want it to be. I still am getting rid of layers in the front.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Hi Sweetie! Just came across your update as I've been on spark break but am now passing out Holiday hugs to friends LOL. LOVE reading your blogs and enjoy the updates so much. The turtles, the hiking, your beautiful Mom, everything! We're hair twinsies- I've been growing mine out too. Want to be able to pony it up next summer when it's hot. Have tried having it cut really short and I end up looking kinda like Ernest Borgnine on a good day. Wish I had a pixie face doggone it! Yours is looking good right now. Handsome hubby and WOW Jackson is quite the dude. SO darn cute. Your home projects will be so worth it- the labor part IS like labor though isn't it. emoticon Your face looks nice and slim and I'm so proud of you for taking care of yourself and being such a great role model here. I really look up to you as a great example of how someone can turn their weight/ lifestyle choices around and make the choice to keep it off. Don't worry I don't have you up on a pedestal but I DO think you deserve to be at the very top of Santa's nice list! emoticon (had to add a treat)

Comment edited on: 12/20/2014 1:22:18 PM

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KANSASROSE67 12/1/2014 1:37PM

    Thanks for the updates. Jackson is SO cute!

I too, have been feeling blessed.

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MILLISMA 11/24/2014 9:18PM

    You sure have been busy! Jackson is such a little cutie and must really be your pride and joy. What fun the sleepover will be.

Glad to hear about the move for your mom. It has to be comforting to know that she is safe and still feels like she has her own place. The memory care facilities have a lot to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your family.

hugs...Mary Anne

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JOYINKY 11/24/2014 8:45PM

    You've got a lot going on! Grandson is a cutie; I love being a grandma! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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1CRAZYDOG 11/24/2014 7:52PM

    Jackson is a cutie pie! Enjoy your Grandma time!

What an awesome pic of your DH and you. Neither of you look rough around the edges!

Your turtle habitat looks awesome! I did not know that turtles hibernated!

Your kitchen project looks beautiful!

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UMBILICAL 11/24/2014 7:10PM

  So blessed.

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WESAPHILLIPS 11/24/2014 7:04PM

  Adorable son!!! Keep working but keep enjoying as they grow up so fast!!!

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MELYROD18 11/24/2014 7:01PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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I got new glasses!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

I've been kind of stealth for 2014 because I've been growing out my hair from short layers to "something else" - but not really sure where the something else has been going. Considering how short my hair was to start, it has been extremely PAINFUL going through this process and most days I look in the mirror and just roll my eyes and hate it.

Growing out my bangs is the hardest part. They aren't quite long enough to tuck behind my ears and stay there yet, but I'm getting closer. I actually like the look of bangs, but I have so much hair that my bangs are not wispy and light - they are big hanks of hair! And my hairline in the back in really low, so my short hair just kind of pastes to my head when I hike or backpack. By growing out my hair, I can get it off my neck and forehead when I'm doing my favorite outdoor stuff.

I decided that I would wait until summer and get new glasses, and finally went last week. I noticed that all the young 'uns are going back to glasses that are a bit bigger. That helps me out since I wear progressives as it gives me a bigger viewing area. It's also good since I have transitional lenses, i.e. they turn dark in the sun. My old glasses could do that, but they were so small that it didn't really keep the sun out.

Anyway - the new glasses were ordered last week and ready today. Here goes...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DUXGRL1 9/2/2014 6:49PM

    You look great!

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GRAMMIEOFTWO 8/31/2014 7:47PM

  Nice look. I need to get new glasses and I am not looking forward to it. I always have a difficult time making up my mind. I am letting my hair grow out but I am not sure if I am going to stick with it or not. emoticon

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_JODI404 8/9/2014 11:17PM

    Love your new glasses! It's hard to decide on "the" pair... I like your choice!

You will enjoy being able to pull your hair up. Sounds like you are getting close! Hopefully you are through the worst of that pain.


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MILLISMA 8/9/2014 10:31PM

    I think they look great! emoticon

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SERENE-BEAN 8/9/2014 3:04AM


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CHALLENGER15 8/8/2014 4:40PM

    I like the new glasses!

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    Awesome! You look so pretty- and SLIM!! I've been growing out my hair too- just enough to "pony it up" like you. It's at that awkward stage as well- especially the bangs. We're twins! Well not exactly LOL but the hair thing is an ongoing crisis in my life as well. I think we've had this conversation before. emoticon Since I'm older than you I can also tell you......this issue will never be resolved emoticon emoticon I like yours- looks good. Glasses too. emoticon emoticon

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ANNEMAC5 8/8/2014 1:53AM

    Looking good, reminds me I need to book an eye test.soon you will have enough
Hair to tie back in a pony tail. emoticon

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JOYINKY 8/7/2014 10:26PM

    They look great on you! Hair is looking good too!

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COLUMBINE2 8/7/2014 9:57PM

    Very pretty! Nice choice!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/7/2014 9:37PM

    Very nice! Great picture, smile, glasses, hair and all! emoticon

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FITMARY 8/7/2014 8:14PM

    The glasses are great, hair fashionable, smile wonderful!!!

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1CRAZYDOG 8/7/2014 7:29PM

    Looking gorgeous!!! The glasses look really nice on you!!! I like your hair. I think of growing mine out too, it's so fine, wouldn't work well.


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Two teeth

Saturday, August 02, 2014

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Soooooo cute!! Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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MILLISMA 8/4/2014 8:57AM

    He is so cute!!!

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IMEMINE1 8/3/2014 7:52PM

    so cute.

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JACKIEWALKS4FUN 8/2/2014 11:25PM


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JOYINKY 8/2/2014 9:52PM

    Too cute!!

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1CRAZYDOG 8/2/2014 3:46PM

    OH my gosh . . . off the charts on the cute-o-meter!!!


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ONEKIDSMOM 8/2/2014 11:40AM

    And I didn't think you could top the last one for cuteness... but you did! emoticon You just want to scoop 'em up and cover 'em with kisses!

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JUNA89 8/2/2014 11:27AM


Comment edited on: 8/2/2014 11:27:49 AM

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ANNEMAC5 8/2/2014 11:12AM

    Soon have that full mouthfull, hope no teething problems

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LJCANNON 8/2/2014 10:32AM


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_RAMONA 8/2/2014 10:21AM

    So sweet!

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Action Jackson - Shades of Cool

Friday, August 01, 2014

I couldn't resist - just got this from my DDIL.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Way too cool for words! Luvva Luvva. emoticon

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CHALLENGER15 8/2/2014 7:21AM


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ANNEMAC5 8/2/2014 1:43AM

    Sooooooo adorable.

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JOYINKY 8/1/2014 11:03PM

    Yes! Too cool!

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MILLISMA 8/1/2014 9:44PM

    That is just so cute!!!!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/1/2014 7:11PM

    Waaaay too cool! emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 8/1/2014 5:52PM

    O . . . M . . . G!!!!!! He is absolutely adorable. They'd better be prepared for him to have his own phone line when he gets older for all the girls that will be calling him!!!

HUGS and so glad you shared!!!

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LJCANNON 8/1/2014 4:09PM

    emoticon Completely Off The Charts ADORABLE!!

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JANET552 8/1/2014 4:02PM

    Very cool!

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July in retrospect (with pics)

Monday, July 28, 2014

I spent quite a few days this month without much data access, and I didn't even try to Spark. Suddenly the end of July is here, so I decided to do a synopsis.

- In mid-July I made two separate trips to Colorado and New Mexico. That's because I was taking two groups of 80+ scouts and leaders for a big backpacking adventure at Philmont Scout Ranch. Unlike the last time I was there in 2012, I was not also taking an individual crew and backpacking myself. I decided that it was too confusing to be the person in charge, plus take my own scouts. Therefore I'm signed up to do that in 2015 when my pal Richard is in charge of the bigger group. In July 2015 I'll be taking my nephew Devin plus a group of boys from his scout troop in MA.

- My first trip, I flew into CO and handed the 83 people over to our tour group. They took them to the Air Force Academy, the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Finally they checked into their hotel and then went to dinner at the Golden Corral. I actually left them at the airport and spent the afternoon with my best friend from high school. Here we are, back in the day. I'm the one on the right.

- I stayed in Colorado Springs at the hotel with the scouts and then drove my rental car to Philmont, meeting the first group there as their buses arrived. We were in for a big surprise - we had arrived on "Millionth Scout Day" - the day the millionth camper arrived at Philmont (from the beginning of time). No one knew exactly when that day would occur, as numbers fluctuate. We all got a one-of-a-kind patch (only 1500 in existence).

- The scouts met their rangers who would train them and hike with them the first two days. At that point I was pretty much all set until the second group of 82 arrived two days later. I visited some of the women who run businesses in the small town of Cimarron, plus the women who "run" the scout camp administration - all long-time friends. I stayed in a beautiful B&B that is on private property but surrounded by the scout camp.

- As you can see, there are great views! They have their own hiking trails on the property, so I got in a lot of hiking at the beginning or end of each day. One day I ran into some cows (and one grumpy bull) who were meandering across the hiking trail. I stayed clear of the bull!

- Once the second group arrived, got processed, and went on the trail, I went home for a week so I wouldn't need to take any extra vacation time. The day after I got home, I had birthday brunch to celebrate my older son's 33rd. Jackson my grandson came too!

- Before I knew it, it was time to head back to NM. This time I flew into Albuquerque to visit my friend Sandy, who just moved there the prior month. She has a beautiful home in the foothills near Sandia Peak, and it made me want to pack my bags and move there. I was her first house guest, spending the night. I only met Sandy a year ago, but we bonded after meeting at the turtle club picnic. She's a professional herpetologist (expert on reptiles), having worked at the Baltimore National Aquarium for many years. She is the one who got me interested in box turtles, as she knows just about anything there is to know about Eastern Box turtles. She has an entire bedroom in the house devoted to her reptiles - turtles and skinks (arboreal lizards). Here are some of her amazing skink cages that she and her husband built for the new house:

- The next morning I went back to Philmont and my crews had started coming back from the trail. That night we went to the closing campfire production, and the next morning they all left on their buses. More R&R that day and the next, until the second group started hiking in. I left with them, out of Denver, the next day (last Wed.). All the travel was smooth until we arrived back in Baltimore at midnight on Wednesday, only to find that there were no gates available for 45 minutes. Once we deplaned, it was more than an hour awaiting our baggage because so many planes had landed around the same time - many of them were delayed due to earlier storms.

- Once I got back home, I got to see DH's continued efforts building my box turtle pen. I had used many ideas from my friend Sandy, such as having an actual mini-pond inside the pen. It holds 70 gallons and is fifteen inches deep, but since box turtles don't swim, it has a false floor that is perforated and makes it only 1-2" deep for them. The substrate (dirt, compost, sand mix) had been delivered in my absence and DH had also installed the doors. The designed was based off an idea I saw online, but modified by me and planned by DH.

- The next three day I spent finalizing the pen after work on Thursday and Friday, and all day Saturday. I planted all the plants - bushes and low plants like ferns and grasses. I finished setting up the pond. I painted the whole outside of the pen for aesthetics, and put rubber mulch around the perimeter. DH even ran an underground electric conduit - you can see the electric box hanging near the filter. That way I have power for the pump. Here it is!

- Yesterday DH and I did a bunch of chore. He was getting ready to leave early this morning on a backpacking trip with his pal, out in Wyoming. Meanwhile I did a bunch of weeding and did a filter cleaning and water exchange for my aquatic turtle Sandy, who is currently on the deck on her deck pond.

- DH and I are going backpacking in a few weeks with three other friends, in the Flat Top Wilderness of Colorado. While he is on this trip, I need to get my pack ready, plan my meals, etc. Here's a preview...


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Thanks so much for the update! Maintaining your weight loss must be very do-able with all of the action in your life. Love all the stuff you did in July!! Jackson is adorable~ so are you and your bestie. Really neat to catch up! emoticon

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CHALLENGER15 8/2/2014 7:23AM

    emoticon I enjoyed "catching up".

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JOYINKY 7/28/2014 10:26PM

    What great memories you are building; both for yourself and MANY others!
I really enjoyed your update! Thanks for sharing.

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KANSASROSE67 7/28/2014 9:30PM

    Love the update! Great pics.

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MILLISMA 7/28/2014 9:27PM

    Great blog and what a fantastic time with awesome photos.....especially Jackson!!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/28/2014 7:25PM

    I love seeing your Philmont blogs... they of course remind me of my Grandfather, who was a lifelong scout and went out there many years. Seeing the photos makes me realize why he loved it so.

Spark on, and welcome back to the online world!

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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 7/28/2014 2:47PM

    What an interesting month!

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LASARRE 7/28/2014 1:37PM

    Sounds like a busy month. Great pix!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/28/2014 1:09PM

    You are never idle are you! LOL You hit the highlights in Colorado Springs for sure. Lived there for 10 mths. Couldn't tolerate the altitude, but the view is incomparable!

HUGS So glad for your update and Jackson is just adorable!

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