Life · Writing & Publishing

Celebrating with Edgar Allan Poe

Today we celebrated!

Yesterday, after hours pounding away at my keyboard, I finished….

I finished my novel.

I landed at 84,344 words. I was thinking it would be closer to 90k, but the story has been told and now we start editing. I have to go through it once, then send it to my mother. I know there are a few places I need to add some things, so I think this is close to the final number of words, which is ideal for a first novel.

After a quick trip this morning to the birth center to check on Liam (all is well!), Bill, Talia, and I headed out to Sullivan’s Island to have lunch. The famed Poe’s Tavern serves up the most AMAZING burgers, and given the theme of the tavern, it seemed an appropriate place to celebrate!

Bill insisted on riding his motorcycle out to lunch, with Talia and I following behind in my truck. When we arrived, we had a short wait for a table (the place is always packed!). We were seated and then approached by the manager (of course my first thought was “crap, what did I say???”). A patron, and Army Veteran must have seen the patches on Bill’s riding vest. He has one for his purple heart, another one for his time in Afghanistan, and one for his three tours in Iraq. The man had given the manager a $50.00 bill to pay for our lunch!!! I seriously almost started crying. It was an amazingly sweet gesture and Bill and I will be sure to pay it forward!!

If you’re ever in Charleston, SC, you need to visit this place. They recently opened two more locations, but we are excited to have ours be the original. Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie, which is on Sullivan’s Island. It’s been long debated, but I really think when Poe refers to “The Kingdom By The Sea,” he is referring to Charleston!

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The picture is crooked because the sun was in my eyes! I had to take it blindly! Notice the Raven in the logo?

These two always love a trip to Poe’s!

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The Goldbug! (Goldbug Island is right up the road!)

 

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My handsome husband posing with Poe.

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The menu. Sorry the picture isn’t great. It’s a tavern, so the lighting isn’t the best. If you can read it, you can see all the burgers are named after his poems. I had the Hop Frog burger while Bill had the Amontillado. I gave him cr@p in front of the server (Jordan, who was awesome) about the way he pronounced it. Turns out he said it right, I said it wrong, and apparently a “Redneck can read” as he proudly announced to everyone in our section! Love him!

Talia loves dipping. She JUST eats the fries. She might eat a burger, but we didn’t bother offering her any…they are so good! This is my Hop Frog burger!

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Bills burger.

Talia checking out the art on the wall (all Poe themed.) The second picture is Talia looking like Ms. Hollywood…apparently I caught Bill off guard.

We had a great time celebrating, are really appreciative of the great meal and the vet who paid for it, and now it’s time to start editing!

Military Spouse Life

My Child The Rock Star Fish

It’s official, Talia can no longer go out without her sunglasses….she’s famous!

Sort of!

With all the pets we have, we should really have our own parking space at our veterinarians office. I LOVE our vet. He and his daughter take the absolute best care of our zoo.

We stopped in the other morning to pick some items up and The Citadel mascot, a bull dog named “Boo” was there for a checkup because she is pregnant with some pups. The local paper was there taking pictures, and Talia got in on the fun. Yesterday, we saw the article on the front page of the local newspaper!

Of course, the timing could not be funnier. I JUST got finished a four month fight with The Post and Courier and now my kid is in the paper. The P&C has an insert they toss in everyone’s driveway every Tuesday morning in a plastic bag (because of the perpetual rain in Charleston.) We do not read this insert. It’s not an actual paper. It is essentially garbage. I guess the idea is they want to entice you to subscribe to the paper. About 4 months ago I started calling each week and asking them to stop. If everyone who did not read the silly insert did this, we would cut down on the waste in our area. I’m not a super tree-huger or anything, I just don’t like paper being wasted, not to mention the plastic bags. Every Tuesday they threw it in our drive, and every Tuesday I called. Then I started emailing. Then I started calling supervisors. FINALLY, this past Tuesday, no paper. By Saturday, Talia was IN the paper! Anyway!

Here is the link!

Here is Talia going out of the house in style…

So to celebrate, we had lunch at Olive Garden….because, bread sticks…

Daddy is serious about Talia’s coloring skills. Also, big shout out to my goofball cousin, Joey, whom Talia calls “Uncle Joey.” He was drinking a martini the other night and did not give Talia the olives. So, in pure Talia style, she took the extra bowl of olives the server brought her, and then proceeded to put the ones she was not going to eat, in daddy’s drink. I guess she thinks olives go in drinks now. Thanks, Joey…..

Today we were invited to a pool party at my friend Missy’s house. Missy and I took Talia to meet Trisha Yearwood and her sister when the Garth and Trisha concert came to town. Sadly, I did not get to go to the concert. I was so so busy with the bakery, we had to give away our tickets (it was Valentine’s weekend….we were slammed!)

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Missy and her hubby have an in-ground pool, and Talia firmly believes she is a fish….

Also, it is worth mentioning, we gained a new family “foster” this weekend. I say foster because I’m still fighting to not keep it.

Last night our next door neighbors called Bill at about 9:30. They wanted to know if one of our cats got out because they had a “cinnamon colored” cat over at their house. All three of ours were accounted for, but because they are older, Bill offered to take a few pictures to post on the Facebook page for our neighborhood. I told him to not dare come back with a cat. He kept the promise he made to leave the cat there as he ran out the door. When he came back, he revealed a picture of a kitten only weeks old and NOT cinnamon colored.

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The kitten could not be any cuter, but I was instantly sure it was a stray. It’s only a few weeks old…maybe 8?

I was relieved Bill had not brought the cat home….but sure enough, at 11:00 pm, the damn phone rang again. I didn’t even have to ask…I knew it was Ted next door. He told Bill his cat was trying to kill the kitten and asked us to come get it. Bill tore out the door, carrier in hand, and brought back the cat.

One of the things I LOVE about my husband is his caring heart…..that caring heart however has already brought home too many pets. It’s been here 24 hours now. No one on the Facebook page is claiming the cat and Bill went and named it. He’s calling it “Puck” like a hockey puck, because he’s all over the place! He also let Talia play with it. I have a feeling I am going to lose the battle of the Puck….

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Despite all the activity around our house, I’ve managed to get a LOT of writing done on my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo. Tomorrow (Monday the 4th) I will talk a bit more about it during Book Club. I will review the book I read over the week and talk about the passing of Elie Wiesel. Be sure to sign up to get notifications in your email box each time I post!

For my American friends celebrating this weekend, please have a SAFE and fun weekend!

Military Spouse Life

His Giving Heart

One of the things I love most about my husband is his heart. Saturday, he and my cousin Joey participated in a motorcycle ride to raise money for kids in our area with cancer. When they were done with the main part of the ride, Talia and I caught up with them to follow to the last stop for the after party.

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I don’t know the numbers, but it was cool watching at least 100 bikes pull out.

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One of the local fire departments provided an escort.

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So I got to follow from John’s Island to Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, (USA).wp-1466965960829.jpg

Beautiful, right? I can’t wait to move!!! Haha!

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These are just SOME of the bikes…..keep in mind, there were a lot of 2 passenger bikes.

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Bill on the left, with Talia (who just woke up) and my cousin Joey. Yes, I know he looks like Corey Feldman….but we are Italian, so I imagine he’s much shorter.

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I have no idea what was so funny here, but everyone had a good time….even if we didn’t know there was a pool and bring someone’s swimsuit. Talia got upset each time she saw the pool. Kid thinks she’s a fish!

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After dinner we headed home……

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with these professional pictures!

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We even had enough time for a bedtime story. Grandma sent a new book and we have only ready it about 200 times!

Military Spouse Life

The War On Mental Illness (Not Guns)

Let’s talk about mental illness for a second.

I had a great post planned on writing for today, but in wake of the terrorist attack last night, I’m going to get on my soap box for a moment. It’s my blog, and I can do that!

I feel for the people of Orlando right now. Even though I am from Newtown, CT where 26 of my townspeople were murdered by Adam Lanza, and I was less than an hour from NYC when the towers fell, and I worked a block away from where the Emanuel AME nine were murdered, I cannot fathom how the families and friends of this tragedy are dealing with this. I have an idea, but not first hand knowledge.

That said, it is easy for me to look from the outside and point fingers. While the topic of gun control is HOT right now, especially in the wake of Orlando, IT’S NOT THE GUNS FOLKS!!!!! I firmly believe we are dealing with people who are dealing with mental illness.

I could literally go on all day about Adam Lanza who is responsible for the Newtown massacre and  how the gun was not at fault! Adam Lanza was actually denied a gun from Walmart. Interestingly, when I went home in May, we went to said retailer, and no guns were for sale there. The gun was registered legally to Lanza’s mother.

Lanza had a mental illness. He had a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication for his mental illness. He opted not to take the medication or follow up with his health care providers. Allegedly, his mother was instrumental in his decision not to continue to seek help.

Why?

Probably because America as a society shames mental illness. Look at what happened in the 1970’s when we started deinstitutionlisation? We started closing down mental hospitals, shoving pills down the throats of the mentally ill, and tried moving on with life while people are not getting the proper treatment for the issue at hand.

When you deal with cancer, you get support from friends and family. You join support groups, you seek out others who are dealing with the same/similar illness and build each other up. You wear pink, tattoo a “survivor” ribbon on your ankle, and the “save the ta tas” car magnet.

When you’re diagnosed with depression, mania, schizophrenia, you don’t tell people. You pop the pill and sweep it under the run. It is perfectly acceptable in our society to have diabetes,  but God forbid you have a personality disorder.

In some instances, our mental illness helps us in other areas…such as say creativity, because you see the world differently. I am dedicating a lot of time and effort to showing this in my book Literary Crazy. I also want people to start embracing the world of mental illness, and stop shaming it. We need to see the beauty in having a mental illness and stop shaming it. You know why? Because people with mental illness deserve a fighting chance at a normal, happy life. Someone who is happy with life, does not walk into a school, church, or nightclub and open fire on innocent people.

Medication is not enough. Mental illness needs support. Mental illness needs to be as accepted as cancer, lupus, diabetes, endometriosis, etc. Maybe once we start embracing mental illness, and treating it fairly, we will stop having mass shootings of this caliber.

Life

Talia’s First Kiss!!

At just four weeks old, I wasn’t really ready for Talia to have her first kiss, but alas, she did.

The Stingrays won their 18th straight game last night, which happened to also fall on the ULTIMATE Pi Day (3.14.15…which is exciting since we own Mudd PIE Girl Bakery and PIE is my thing!!!!) and Military Appreciation Night with the Stingrays.

Talia and Bill both had to represent the United States Marine Corps! Here we are getting ready for the game.

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After dinner with Brian and Michelle (Michelle runs the rescue group where we got our sweet Buddy and Tremor dogs from), we headed over to the game together.

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Bill insisted on holding the cowbell all night. Ugh!

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After the game there was a post-game jersey auction. Then Bill spotted one of our favorite players out with fans. Patrick Gaul (we have his bobble-head doll for Talia when she gets older) was more than happy to hold Talia and pose for a picture. How sweet is this photo???

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THEN it happened. My absolute favorite player, Scott Ford was walking around. I asked Bill if he thought Scott would take a picture with Talia. Not only did he take a picture with her…..

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HE GAVE HER A KISS!!!

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It was Talia’s first kiss from a man not daddy. Since Bill doesn’t read my blog, I can safely tell you…I’m a bit jealous!!!

Today it was back to the ice and the Stingray’s won the 19th straight game, making history AGAIN! It was also “Undie Sunday” where the Stingrays collected undergarments for charity. Look who helped during cleanup, right in front of us. Yes, Talia’s first kiss.

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After the game was free-skate time with the Stingrays. Ford saw us, recognized us, and waved. Swoooooooon.

Here is Patrick Gaul with some of the kids. How freaking sweet is this? All the guys are really great with the kids. I can’t wait for Talia to be old enough to skate. Sadly, it won’t be with the Stingrays, since we are moving in August. Hopefully the Hershey Bears do the same type of skate after the game!

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Here the Junior Stingrays were able to come out for the National Anthem before the game.

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At home I’m working on some articles for publication. I write best at night. They say creative people usually are night owls. If I could sleep all day and be up all night, I would be one happy chick! Talia, however, has now slept through the night two nights in a row!!! I’m not really sure why everyone makes such a big deal about having children. Everyone made it sound like I wasn’t going to sleep for 18 years, but I’m fine!!

Tomorrow I have a TON of baking to do for some special orders this week!!! I’m so sad to have to abandon my clients here in SC because of the move, but look forward to meeting new people in PA. August can’t get here soon enough! The five year plan is to have an actual storefront bakery in Harrisburg, instead of baking out of the house for private clients!!!

With school, baking, writing, and Talia, I’m sure to have a busy week this week. I hope you have a good one!

Ciao for now!

Military Spouse Life

How Carrie Underwood and I are Twinsies

Okay, the title might be a bit misleading (it was meant to be funny). While we both love country music, Jesus, and ice hockey, our only other connection (that I know of) is our new-found motherhood. While Talia and I were up at 3 am this morning for feeding, I happened to look at Twitter and see she was also up feeding her little boy.

Besides the fact our babies are only a few weeks apart (are arranged marriages allowed in the US????) we are both working our way through new motherhood. Personally, I’m sure the 3 am feedings will get old soon, but for now I don’t mind. This time with my little one is magical, and I’m enjoying it. Talia is exactly a month old today, so it’s still new!

We went for her one month checkup today, and while she’s still small (5th percentile) she is doing well!

We then headed over to school so I could apply for graduation. I filled out the paperwork and ordered my cap and gown. I’m still waiting for my graduation audit to come back saying I met the requirements for my Professional Writing Certificate, but I’m confident I have everything complete. Bill met us at school and held Little One while I took care of all the paperwork (picture below) for graduation. Having missed my high school graduation, I’m overly excited about this, even though it’s just the certificate for now!

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After getting home around noon, I’ve bounced back and forth between taking care of peanut (Talia) and writing. Today I’m working on some article ideas to pitch to magazines, and of course, finishing up the sample chapter for my book “Literary Crazy.” My goal is to have everything done this week for the book proposal and sample chapter so I can send it to my English professor for review before trying to find an agent. Talia is such a good baby, I’m able to get a lot done while at home….though the pediatrician said today to get ready for the crying for no reason starting at week six. Um, I don’t remember signing up for that! I’m hoping he’s wrong!!

Back to writing.

Ciao for now!

Military Spouse Life

Settling In

Mommyhood, Day 13:

Talia will be 2 weeks old tomorrow and I’m trying to figure out how to slow down time. Everyone keeps telling us to enjoy this time because they grow up too fast. I can see that. I wish I could change it.

Since I can’t, I’ll do my best to enjoy it all. Talia sleeps A LOT right now, so I am anxious for her to be a little older so we can all do stuff together. In the meantime, I’m reading more than I have in the past, and getting more writing done!

I did start reading The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius. The book so far is talking about creativity and how to measure creativity. It’s absolutely fascinating! I was hoping the book would help me with my research for my own book, but instead it has me asking more questions and wanting to know more about how the brain works and what defines creativity and what defines genius. The most interesting part of the book (so far) is where the author has first hand accounts of known genius’ (i.e. Mozart) talking about their creative process. To hear how he thought in his own words was fascinating!

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This is what the book looks like, if you’re interested. I was able to start the book on Saturday while my good photographer friend started doing Talia’s newborn photo’s.

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It took about four hours, and I’m glad Selena and I are friends, because Talia urinated and defecated on her, the props, the blankets, and basically everything she touched. She did NOT want to go to sleep at all. Several times, daddy had to step in and sooth her. She is absolutely my (Sicilian) daughter!

In the end, she did get some great shots, and I can’t wait for all the pictures to come back!

I then was able to continue reading while Bill got his hair cut. This is not normally something I’d share, but as I sat there with Talia waiting for him, I knew as a writer, I had to share. The place where he gets his hair cut is a goldmine for writers.

It’s called “Ed’s Barber Shop” and it sits in a semi abandoned strip mall. The owners are trying to bring it back to life, but the only worthwhile place in there is the Barnes and Noble. Most of the stores are empty, even though it is at a busy intersection with a great anchor store. Apparently, Ed’s has been there longer than Bill and I have been alive. Directly next door is a Supercuts, though this doesn’t seem to be a problem for Ed’s. As I sat there reading, I noticed a steady stream of customers flowing in and out of the door. Customers came in and sat in one of the old plastic chairs which seemed to be from a left over school auction. They were greeted by the staff and promptly sat down, waiting for their turn in the old metal chairs with the original leather. They must be from the early 60’s.

The rest of the fixtures appear to be the originals as well. Old wooden cabinets with mirrors starting to cloud. On one wall sits several taxidermy heads protruding over the cash register. There are no hair products for sale, no up to date fashion magazines, and the hair dryers were clearly left over from the 80’s. It doesn’t matter though, Bill enjoys going there. Sure there are no plush comfy chairs to sit in, no head rinse stations for a quick hair wash, and you can’t buy overpriced shampoo made to smell like botanical gardens, but who cares? Ed must be doing something right, because the chairs are always full, and the customers are clearly repeats.

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It’s one of those places I really hopes survives. I would much rather see a small business owner succeed, than the giant next door with the corporate logo and shiny new floors.

Anyway…

Because our school has decided to split semesters into 7 week courses (you take either two or three and then two or three more instead of four to six over 16 weeks) we are about to end the first set of classes for this second half of the year. I’ve managed to hold a 100% in my Creative Writing class so far, but I have one more assignment to hand in today, so I best get on it.

Ciao for now!

Writing & Publishing

Do Not Pass Go, Please Return to First Grade

It happens every semester. It seems to alternate between professors and students. Someone posts something, sends an email, or posts on a discussion board, and I lose my $h!+.

Last semester I had a professor for psychology, who holds a Masters Degree, and sent an email misusing YOUR and YOU’RE.

I freaked out. You need to know how this works before you leave third grade, let alone, before you have a Master’s Degree bestowed upon you!!!

I know my grammar and spelling needs work. The entire reason I’m working on this Professional Writing Certificate is to improve these things. Even if your overall goal is a degree in something else completely, you need to care about the work you turn in to your professor.

An assignment for my Creative Writing class asks us to “Show instead of tell” something. The person to first respond turned in work with the following:

  • NO capitalization
  • Quotation marks only at the END of each sentence
  • Spelled college with an “a” to write “collage”… (This isn’t art class, honey)
  • I think she meant remember when she wrote “rember”
  • The use of God was lowercase…”god”
  • I believe “gauys” means “guys”
  • Food was spelled foood
  • Casserole became “casterole”
  • And of course she used “your” instead of “you’re”

This is not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mistakes on this 250 assignment. Yes, it was only 250 words.

I spoke with my father earlier today, and we had a frank conversation about children and technology. It blows my mind to see parents stick NEWBORN children in front of iPads and cell phones. (Go to any restaurant and look around). They know nothing but staring at a screen all day. They don’t understand proper grammar or even the English language in general.

Friends of my step-mother came over with children who were about eight or nine, and my father could not even get them to tell him how they were that day, because they sat at his kitchen table tuned into their tablets. We are RUINING our children by putting all these electronics in front of them for babysitters. Trust me when I tell you Talia will NOT be getting a tablet until she’s ready to leave for college!

Parents have become lazy and they are only ruining their children! Our future depends on these children, and they can’t even write “I’m” (this girl in my class wrote “i” or “i’m.”)

Why become a parent if you’re not going to facilitate their education? It’s not the job of the education system to raise your children!

Part of me wants to write the professor (whom I adore as a writer) and ask her just how she can accept this work in a college level class? Part of me wants to blast the student and call her out on her piss-poor excuse for homework. The rest of me is just shaking my head and wondering where the USA will be in 20 years when no one can carry on an intelligent conversation, let alone read or write a book, run a political office, or enlist in our military to protect this country.

I’m so disappointed in parenting today (or lack thereof) and can only find solace in the fact Talia will be so far advanced when measured against her peers!

Do you see this as you go through life? Do you notice electronics as babysitters? What are your thoughts on this? Maybe I’m being an @$$hole for calling people out on this, but someone has to do it!

Life

Letters to Talia

This is the first post in a series of letters I am writing to our unborn child, Talia. Hopefully she will be interested enough to one day go read them all!

Talia,

It’s less than a month before you’re supposed to arrive! Your daddy has been bugging me daily to “hand you over.” He also keeps telling people I’m “stingy” because I’ve been holding you for nine months, and he can’t! Of course he is being silly, but there is a side of him where he is a little serious because he’s tired of waiting to hold you. The place where we are having you (it’s a birth center as opposed to being a hospital) told daddy he will get to hold you first when you’re born. He has been going on and on about this for weeks. I kind of feel like after carrying you for nine months, then birthing you, I should get to hold you first, but I also don’t want to take this away from him. I’ve never seen him so excited!

This week his chair for your room came in. We have your crib, dresser, and my glider all set up, but for Christmas, I got daddy his own special chair for your room. Eventually I will have to explain to you what a redneck is……it’s your father. So the chair he wanted is in fact camouflage. First we had to move the giant box inside….which I couldn’t help with, so he got one of his hunting buddies who was over, to help him get it inside. This is what the inside of the box looked like when we got the pieces out…

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Then Isis, who LOVES boxes, decided to make herself at home….

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I fully expect her to try and sleep in your crib with you. She is a LOVER! She loves everyone and she will especially love you! She’s also very sweet. When I had the flu over the past month, she would come in every night and sleep on my pillow. Now I’m better and she had gone back to sleeping in her cat bed, or in laundry baskets.

Here is the final product, all put together, and your daddy sitting in it. When I saw him all stretched out, I had to laugh because his clothing almost blended in with the chair!

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This, my sweet child, is what a redneck looks like. A very excited redneck who can’t wait for you to get here. He is always feeling for you, talking to you, and at night when I put the Belly Buds (Bellybuds® | Baby-Bump Sound System) on for you to listen to music, he loves feeling you wiggle and seeing what tunes you like the most (you really seem to like the silly songs on Baby Einstein and the babies version of Aerosmith and Journey (two of my favorite bands from the 90’s!) You are absolutely my child!!!

Love you more than anything,

Mom

(Wow! writing “mom” is super strange!!!!)

Military Spouse Life

Way to Wait Until The Last Minute

So here we are, 24 days away from getting married……and getting married on the ice at the Stingrays game is a no go because of insurance. We are SOOOO disappointed! Plan B? Well, we don’t really have a plan B. Bill thinks getting married in the parking lot while tailgating before the game is acceptable, but something about a parking lot hot dog just doesn’t scream wedding to me.

We are trying to keep this simple so we can just be married and have the money we would have spent on a wedding, for Talia. Then, we were planning on doing a full fledged wedding the way we want it when she (and possibly her siblings) are old enough to participate.

So I’m lost.

Before we found out we were pregnant, we were going to have the actual ceremony at the gazebo downtown because on our first date, we ended up there, laying in the middle of it, just talking. We had already applied for the permit, and technically have the right to be there from 1200 to 1300 on the day we are supposed to get married.

Bill still wants to tailgate.

All this aside, we did manage to pick up her furniture for the nursery last night. It’s still in boxes…and I’m sure it will be in boxes for at least a few weeks, before we get around to putting it together. At least we have it though.

We also discovered today, Talia likes music. They have something called Belly Buds meant for the baby to listen to music in the womb. We plugged it into my Pandora on my phone, and have her listening to classical music. She INSTANTLY started having a dance party in there. I really hope it’s because she’s liking the music and not freaking out. Bill thinks she wants to listen to country, I think we should just leave it up to Beethoven at the moment.

Other big news? Well, our baby shower is next Monday, AND the Stingrays (in a bit of a redemption move…) have selected Bill as the Hero of the Game for December 9th. Each game, a member of our military (active / veteran / retired) is selected as the Hero of the Game and Bill being my hero, I nominated him! I will try and get some video to show you!

Okay, well, it’s off to go and plan a wedding…or maybe we will just wing it 😉