Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm Thankful...

I thought about this post long and hard yesterday, I wanted to make sure I didn't leave anyone out, or hurt any feelings in my "thankful list". 

I think that the things I'm most thankful for are the things that make my heart swell with pride, the names that make me grin when they light up my phone, and the people who call and text on the hard days.

So, thank you to the US Army for finally allowing our soldier to come home.  Thank you to my amazing husband for putting up with the insanity that has been 2011.  Thank you to my best friends, who love me even though I seem to always call with more bad news.  Thank you to my awesome staff that help me through the hard times, and celebrate little milestones along the way.  Thank you to god for allowing my mom to have pneumonia, so we could diagnose her cancer before it became terminal.  Thank you to the wonderful ladies who take care of my grandmother each day, as though she was their own family. 

I don't think I could list each and every thing that I am thankful for, even if I tried.  But these few are the ones I continued to come back to, time after time.  Thank you <3

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

He's Home!

I have started this post several times over the last 5 months, but today it is official.

My little brother is home from deployment!

Christopher has been gone for 486 days.  He has been in Korea for more than an entire year, 16+ months spent in another country.  I have trouble expressing what Christopher's involvement in the Armed Forces means to me, and our family. I am not sure how to properly put our feelings into words. I tried to make a list, but I know that it is lacking so many things.  I'm going to go with it as a start, and know that it's just the tip of my heart.

  • how proud we are that he is so dedicated so our country
  • how ecstatic I am that he is now safely in Fort Drum, NY where is safe
  • even with the wonders of Skype, how much he has missed
  • the enormous relief that he is no longer in danger from North Korean Nationals
  • a need to hug my brother, and never let go

Christopher and I have not always been the closest of siblings, I will freely admit that.  Shoot, he's 3 years younger than me, and a giant pain in the ass (if I'm being honest). But not having him here, and explaining and sharing moments of our day and lives over Skype, Text, Facebook, and the Phone has brought us so much closer.

After several failed attempts to have him home, the fact that he is finally here is an amazing feeling.  I would have loved to have had him home for a whole week in July to join in our family vacation to Maine.  At one point, he would have been home to celebrate our second wedding anniversary.  But now, to know that he will be home for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, means more than anything. 

I am so proud of you soldier, you are an amazing little brother.  I am thankful for the sacrifices you have made for our country, the men you have stood by in the worst of times, and the man you have become.  it means the world to me that you are finally in the same time-zone, and I can't wait for a hug - 486 days is a long time to wait <3

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vacation Inspiration (Brandywine Valley)

I think that I've been pretty good at visiting most of the local attractions to where we live, but I'll admit that VisitPhilly did a great job at compiling a weekend agenda.  Personally, I think that this is a little too packed, as there are several activities that I think need more time to be dedicated to them - Philadelphia Museum of Art - Brandywine River Museum (honestly a 4 or 5 hour project) - Chadds Ford winery. 

My three favorite attractions in the Brandywine Valley are Longwood Gardens, Hagley Museum & Gardens, and Brandywine Battlefield.  I usually visit Longwood at least once per season, especially since it's almost walking distance from the house! I cant wait for Lights at Longwood to start (Thanksgiving through the first week in January), as the lights are gorgeous and taking a warm break in the Conservatory is always welcome! 

via - Credit: L. Albee for Longwood Gardens
Anyone have any questions about the Brandywine Valley?  Any must visit cities you'd suggest for a weekend getaway? 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Operation Baking Gals (OBG)

It is no secret to my friends and family that I am a huge fan of this organization, and the things that it stands for.  Honestly, anyone I'm friends with on Facebook is probably sick of my incessant postings, but I'm doing what I feel needs to be done. 

I started participating in July 2010 when Christopher was first deployed, and I am continually amazed by the support of complete strangers.  People that I have never met before, never spoken with outside of the Internet - these are the women that continue to sign-up for Team East Coast Love month after month.  

We send little boxes and big boxes.  We send toiletries, water balloons, and junk food.  We write letters, send cards, and use miles of packing tape.  We can fill out a customs form with our eyes closed, and can tell you how much a flat rate shipping box costs without a calculator. 

This is an organization that I'm proud to be involved in, excited to continue to develop, and hope I'll be a member of through round 100.  

*If you're not a member yet, visit and sign-up soon! The next round of sign-ups will start November 22nd! And if you join Round 37, you get to bake for our troops over the holidays! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photo Challenge - days 9 - 12

I know, I complained about the computer long enough ago - and I'm still slacking on getting these pictures posted! My revised goal is to have the pictures loaded, edited, and posted by the end of the week! So, here's Photo Challenge Catch-up Edition. 

Someone you Love - I couldn't chose just one, so here are two :)

A Childhood Memory - This has to do with the two people in the photo, and these silly blocks! Becky was our babysitter for years, and my little brother is in that fort somewhere! Those Lillian Vernon blocks lasted for more than 20 years, and are one of my favorite childhood memories!

Something Blue - that's our soccer star Maddy! 

Sunset - along Route 926 

Slow Cooker Meatballs

This is officially my new go-to meatball recipe, thanks to Can You Stay for Dinner

I'll give you a few tricks that I used, but it was 99% straight from the recipe! I made enough meatballs that I froze it into two meals, each for two adults.  This way, the meatballs are frozen, can be thawed while you're away at work, and you're just some boiled water away from dinner! 

1. I used 97% lean beef - since I wanted to use the sauce, and not have the whole thing be too greasy
2. I used 1/2 cup parmesan - since we like ours cheesy!
All the ingredients (Notice the LARGE pile of Cheese) 

3. I used 1 whole onion
4. **Most Important** Use one of the Crock Pot Liners and safe yourself hours of cleaning time

 Have fun, and happy dinner!