Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This is why I haven't blogged in a while

I've been working on a big project the last few weeks. I have become known around work for my sewing abilities. A friend from work asked me a few weeks ago if I could make a dress for her daughter's 2nd birthday party. She showed me a photo of a dress that she found on Etsy. The dress was made with Dora fabric and had lots of puffy ruffles...perfect for a 2 year old!

I'll admit that I was very scared to take on this project. I feel comfortable making pillowcases and baby blankets...easy stuff. But I had never made a dress...or really any kind of clothing. I told her I would try my best and worried about it for a week before I finally cut into the fabric.

Now that the project is done, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it! I had some frustrating moments and do-overs, and had my first experience with sewing elastic, but even I was impressed with how cute it ended up!

Nilma says she likes it even better than the one she first saw on Etsy, which was being sold for around $90. We figured that the actual cost of the materials for the one I made came out to about $20.

Now that I know making clothes isn't too scary...I finally have the confidence to start on some of the clothes I have been planning to make for myself.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Popcorn Ceiling

When we moved into this house, one of our first projects was supposed to be knocking down the popcorn ceiling. Over 2 years later, I finally did it while Jake was in California for a TDY.

While I had the furniture out, I went ahead and painted the walls as well. I ended up choosing Warm Gingerbread by Valspar.



I did not worry about painting the edge where the wall meets the ceiling, because I'm hoping this will encourage Jake to put up trim very soon.

If you too were cursed with nasty popcorn ceilings, the take down isn't too bad. Get a spray bottle of water, spray a 2x2 section really good, and scrape it off with a spackling tool. Then spray a little more water, scrape again, and move on to the next section.

It's VERY messy and time consuming. You will for sure want to take out as much furniture as possible, then cover large furniture and carpet with plastic drop cloths.

Now that the room has been painted, I get to proceed with my redecorating ideas! I'm making the pillows today so I'll post them as soon as they are all done.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Preliminary Baby Plans

Way too often I hear "When are you going to start a family?" or "You will be next to get pregnant!" I usually just answer by saying that I'm happy with my independence or we don't have plans for a baby anytime soon! Here are my real thoughts on having a baby and the reasons I'm putting it off.
I am READY to have a baby. But that doesn't mean that I WANT a baby right now, that is something completely different.

A few years ago, I started thinking about having a baby. I had dreams of baby names, and nursery decorations, and cute baby clothes. I wanted all of the fun and cute things that come with having a baby, but I didn't really want the challenge or responsibility of being a parent. I wanted a baby, but I was not ready for a baby.

Those dreams have changed into thoughts of how we will fair financially and emotionally, through not only the infant stage, but also toddler through teenage years. I understand the challenges of being a parent and realize there will be months of exhaustion, no more freedom to make last minute plans, and no extra money to buy all the cute nursery decorations, but I also realize I am up for the challenge, scary as it may be.

There are two things keeping me from make that big step.

For one thing, so many people have warned me to wait. Sure, when we first got married lots of people started to ask when we are going to have a baby, but on the other hand, many people also told us to spend a few years together, to build our marriage first. They warned me that parenting is hard and there is no reason to rush it. long should we actually wait? We both turn 28 this year.

The other thing keeping me from having a baby is Jake. He says he isn't ready right now, but is open to the possibility soon. He has set some clear goals and believes that once he achieves those goals he will be ready. I have to agree with him that achieving those goals will make us more financially ready. We have had some real heart-to-heart talks and have set a time that we may possibly start trying. There is no rush.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Night

I'm amazed that I am writing this post after 9pm...and it is still light outside! Summer is coming soon and I'm excited for it! Jake is at training in California for a couple of weeks, and when he gets back we will be preparing for a camping trip at Glacier for Memorial Day. We have a few other plans for this summer as well.

I scheduled a week off work in June so Jake and I could go to Chicago. We haven't been on a vacation together since...well...I guess never. Unless you count Whitefish weekend getaway last August as a vacation. It was only 2 I don't think that counts as a vacation. My last full week off work was February 2011, when I went to visit my sister after she had her twins. Jake hasn't even been back to Missouri since June 2010. Wow...that sounds depressing. Anyway, I have a full week off in June, so Jake and I were planning to go to Chicago, we even have money set aside specifically for that trip. After checking airline ticket prices, we decided that type of trip is just too expensive. We'll have to put off Chicago plans for a time when we live closer and won't have to pay so much just on travel. So...I still have that week off work, any suggestions of where we should go that is within driving distance from Great Falls, Montana? I was thinking Edmonton, Alberta, or Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. Edmonton would have lots of shopping and restaurants, whereas Coeur D'Alene would be more relaxing on the lake. It's just a few weeks away so I really need to figure something out.

In July, we will have our 4th annual 4th of July party. The 1st annual 4th of July party was our wedding, then the last two years we had friends over for a backyard BBQ, so it's become a tradition.

In August, my parents are coming to visit. I'm looking forward to showing them beautiful Montana.

On a side note, the lilac bush beside my driveway is blooming. I get to smell that wonderful scent everytime I walk to the garage.

Since Jake is out of town, I should have some extra time to write on the blog. In fact, I've been thinking about finally posting my thoughts on when to start a family, so I'll work on that this week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Jake Joined the Air Force

I recently posted an essay that Jake wrote for his English class. He's written a couple more since then, but this one I found especially interesting. The assignment was to write about the event that most changed his life.

Shaping My Life

            Can you think of one event in your past that you believe shaped your life? I really never put much thought into that question, but after being given this assignment, I did put a lot of thought into it, but I can’t say I’m surprised by the answer. I can easily say that the most significant event in my life that changed who I am today was joining the military. Deciding to enlist in the Air Force just kind of fell into my plans, but am I ever glad I did. The Air Force has taught me about working hard, being a leader, and appreciating life.

            The influences leading up to my decision to join the Air Force started before I was even born. My dad was in the Air Force, and for the first 6 years of my life, I lived on Air Force bases. There are many things that I remember about that time. I noticed the camaraderie between friends seems strong within the military. We always either had my parents’ friends at our house, or went to their houses. I also realized the opportunities to travel the world through the Air Force. When I was 5, we actually lived in Japan. Even though I was young when my dad was in the Air Force, I saw enough to know that military life was a way of life that appealed to me.

            By my Junior year of High School, I started to notice that most of my classmates were getting interested in visiting and choosing a college to attend. I have to confess that I hadn’t put any thought into college. My dad died when I was 12, and my mom and I never discussed school work, or grades, or future plans. Since my mom never asked about school, I admit that I wasn’t very motivated in High School, and didn’t get very good grades. I did enough to pass my classes, but certainly not well enough to get any college scholarships. Of course, I had no other way to pay for college, so I quickly realized that going to college right after High School was probably not even an option for me. This got me thinking about the military.

            On September 11, 2001, I was a Junior in High School. I was sitting in my Business Marketing class, just sitting around chatting with friends. A teacher from a different class walked into our room and told my teacher to turn on the TV right away. For the rest of the day, the entire country sat in front of their TV’s, watching repeated footage of two planes flying directly into the World Trade Center towers. Like everyone else, I was shocked and confused, but I soon noticed the change in the United States. The new appeal of giving back and supporting a cause bigger than myself was starting to draw me in. I was finalizing a decision to join the military.

            I had to wait until I was 18 to enlist, so soon after my 18 birthday, as a High School Senior, I went to the Air Force recruiter’s office and began the process. After I graduated High School, I was sworn in and left for basic training in Texas. Soon after leaving, I realized just how much more there is to the Air Force and what I was really getting into. In basic training, you start changing who you are. Even if you do not want to change, you are made to change. Everything from the way you walk, to what you say, you start to adopt more efficient and higher quality of standards. I thrived under the discipline and liked how I was learning to better myself.

            Another facet of life truly started to come to light while I was at basic. Maggie and I had gone our separate ways at the end of High School. She had moved away to college while I went off to basic. We were realizing how much we missed each other by being apart. By the end of basic you realize how you can grow to reach new and difficult challenges put in front of you. We decided to accept the challenge to continue our relationship long distance. When I received orders to my first base in North Dakota, Maggie decided to leave her scholarship to Maryville University in St. Louis, and transfer to Minot State University to be near me. Seeing what she was willing to give up and do for me made me want to work that much harder at being successful in the Air Force to take care of her.

During my first few years as an Airman, I was changing in that I became more of a professional and learning how to managing my time to complete an overwhelming amount of work. After a few years, my hard work was starting to pay off, as I was awarded the rank of Staff Sergeant. Along with that rank, came more responsibility. I was now expected to be in charge of other people. I had to lead and train them to perform at their best according to Air Force standards. At 23 years old, this was a huge undertaking. Being the supervisor of younger Airman was a daunting task. How was I going to be able to actually give them the potential guidance and mentorship they were looking for when I was not much older or more experienced as they were?

It has taken a few years, but now I can actually say I feel comfortable with taking on the challenge of leadership. I had to drastically changing my approach to communication. I’ve learned to slow down and talk to people about how and why they are needed to complete the task given to them. Even though I really just want to tell them to stop wasting time talking about it and just do it because it could already be finished. I have changed and learned how to be more patient and understanding to the needs of others.

In August of 2008, a new challenge was placed in front of me. For my first deployment I would be attached to the Army supporting the 5th Engineering Battalion as a convoy mechanic. Seeing firsthand the struggles of life in a war torn country quickly allowed me to appreciate what I was given in life, not to mention seeing how quickly life can be taken away before you even have the opportunity to change. This experience helped me to decide what direction I wanted my life to go. Shortly after leaving Iraq, I married Maggie, making that relationship a permanent one.

            A lot of events can alter the direction your life goes, but sometimes, there can be major events that significantly form your future. As I have explained, joining the Air Force was very momentous in shaping my life. My time in the military has made me a harder worker, given me leadership skills, and helped me realize the importance of life which pushed me to solidify relationships that may have otherwise slipped away.