I promised myself I was “recommitting”. Basically putting my focus and energy back into the things that were most important to me. Being a good wife, mom, friend, employee, etc. I’ve been working on this for the past year and a half. It’s been a bit of a journey…

I spent almost 15 months as the Chapter President of our local Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter. Actually from starting the journey, doing the research, getting the Chapter installed, etc., it was more like 17 or 18 months. The days I spent with each of these women, were some great days and I learned so much from each of them. I truly love many of the friendships I have formed and hope to continue to stay in touch for years to come. Unfortunately, there came a point in time where I had to excuse myself from the group. It’s sad…I was sad, but it was the right decision for me and my family. 


Since joining the newly formed Book Club last year, I have really clicked with some of the other women in the group. Everyone is a mom…everyone is local…most are wine drinkers…for numerous reasons we just click. It’s good for me. We are good for each other. Book club and these relationships have been feeding my soul. 


From January 2016 until about a month and a half ago, I was coordinating a monthly dinner at a men’s homeless shelter in Chicago. This too feeds my soul, but more importantly feeds these men and let’s them know how important they are to people out there. I’m on a brief hiatus (I’ll get to that in a second), but hope to pick back up in August. These dinners come together through the generosity of others – friends, family and some times practical strangers make contributions to pull together a themed dinner of sorts. Good quality food. It’s a real joy to put these dinners out there!


Our second dog, Tanner, passed away in March 2017. He was a heck of a dog…he was my dog. We got along like peas & carrots. We just got each other. He is definitely missed every day. 


On the great news front, my best friend is getting married!!!  I’ve been so honored to be part of her planning and everything that comes along with it. Her venue is in Door County, WI and it’s just lovely!  She said yes to the dress!!  All of her bridesmaids did too and as a matter of fact, everyone’s dresses are in and ready to be altered. I’m excited to see how my dress looks once it’s not too big on me. 🙂 Her shower and bachelorette party will be here before we know it!  And the BIG day is just over three months away…time sure does fly!


My hubby accepted a new position in his industry this year and it’s been exciting for him. He’s in freight and I know more about the industry than I ever imagined I would. It’s through the business that we met and subsequently adopted, Felix. He’s been a great addition to our family and he gets along with Scooby quite well!


My son has a day job he likes, he’s keeping busy with his Marine commitments and he’s working on deciding what’s next for him. Being 20 offers a lot of opportunities, so we’ll see which path he chooses. 


Throughout many of my adult years, I have been doing for other people. That’s a good thing and I think everyone should do what they can for others when they can. Sometimes it’s been to my own detriment. Book Club is for me. It’s been fantastic and it made me realize I wanted to do a little more for me too. Along came the Brunch Girls. So that’s not what they’re really called, but that’s the gist of it. Once a month, a group get together for brunch that someone picked out and give it a try. It’s been a fun few months so far and it’s all for me. I’ve met some super, sweet & sassy (and sometimes a little smart-assy) gals through this group. I’m grateful to my friend Aimee for getting me invited and excited to continue to build these new relationships. Oh and nibble on some yummy eats once a month. 


Finally, we are buying a house. After seven long years of renting a bitty condo, we are buying our first single family home. We couldn’t be more excited!!  More to come next month when we close escrow…

Posted in BAM Book Divas, Blogging, Book Club, Family, Friends, Homeless, It's New to Me!, Marine, Military, Parenting, Random, Uncategorized, United States Marine Corps, USMC, Yelp | Leave a comment

BAM Book Divas Meet & Greet

  

Last night marked the official Meet & Greet for the BAM Book Divas. I think we picked the name for the group because it sounded good because these women are the furthest thing from divas!! They are sweet and soulful and funny. A winning combination if you ask me!

At present, we have eleven members but unfortunately only nine were able to join us last night.  We grabbed the biggest table at Panera Bread and got settled in. I happened to bump into someone I used to work with at Edible Arrangements back when I was working two jobs. It’s always nice to cross paths with the kind people over and over. 

It was a true “meet & greet” as we went around the table and gave the full introduction. We are a pretty diverse group, but we all actually had two things in common:

Everyone has children and everyone is married. 

I was not expecting every single member to be married. I don’t know why, but it was a pleasant surprise. Another tie that binds us perhaps. 

Since not everyone was present, we decided to pick names for the first three months for book selections. We will pick the balance of the year when we are all together. I was able to select the book for February, Jodi (my newer friend through cookie exchange planning) was chosen for March and Lisa (a teacher and mother to a one year old) was chosen for April.  

I had been flipping through book selections online and came across The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion earlier this week. It sounded like a fun, lighthearted book, so I suggested it. Both Porsche (another newer friend from cookie exchange planning) and Hannah (a mom to two boys and originally from Texas) had both read it previously. It turns out they both liked it so much, they agreed to read it again and our February book had been chosen!  We agreed on a meeting spot and time and decided to move things over to Chili’s for drinks. 

We had a great time!  It was a little loud which kinda stinks because then I miss some of the conversation at one end of the table or the other. Our server stunk and was non-existent. But one Tito’s Punch (which reminded me of my early years mixing Very Fine Fruit Punch and Malibu) and some fun company made for the perfect end to the evening!  

Posted in 2016 Challenge, BAM Book Divas, Blogging, Book Club, Friends, Funny Stuff, It's New to Me!, Random, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Her Mama

  

I didn’t know her. Susannah’s Mama that is.  But every time Susannah writes about her or shares an anecdote, I wish I did. And then I call my own Mom. 

Here’s to fond memories… May we make them, may we have them and may we remember them always. 

Posted in Blogging, Random, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Recommitted

Earlier today, our VP came into the office and asked us to recommit to our careers for 2016. I stood there thinking about how important that word can be: Recommit. I don’t hear it used often, but when someone pulls it out, they mean business. 

Thankfully, I already had started the recommit process in all aspects of my life, so I had no trouble swallowing what she was asking of each of us. There’s always room for improvement and that includes in my work life. 

So I’ve recommitted to doing my job more effectively and efficiently. I’ve recommitted to mom-ing my Marine less and listening more. I’ve recommitted to being a good friend to anyone who seems to need one. I’ve recommitted to working on my own health and fitness. With lots of people around me doing the same thing, this one is definitely doable. I’ve recommitted to spending more quality time with my husband. Tonight, I didn’t pick up the phone once to check Facebook or look at anything else while we were eating together. This may not sound like much, but my phone may as well be glued to my hand for as much as I use it. This was a huge accomplishment. 

I’ve recommitted to me. I need to keep me as a high priority in my life, so I can be at my very best. Sounds like a good plan to me. 

Posted in 2016 Challenge, Blogging, Family, Friends, Random, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

VietNow/Chicago Sandwich Run

  
Today, I finally made my way over to see what the VietNow volunteers have been up to originally under the watchful eye of United States Marine, Jim Proffitt, and now dutifully handled by his wife, Virginia, since his passing in October 2014. 

  
On Thanksgiving Day about 26 years ago, Jim took 30 sack lunches and a thermos of coffee to the city of Chicago to feed Veterans experiencing homelessness. He just wanted to brighten their day. They enlisted the help of their four children, friends and basically anyone who would listen to grow this idea into something bigger. Now, the Chicago Sandwich Run volunteers serve lunch to over 500 people weekly and they serve a hot meal at a Mission on that same night. (It blows me away how familiar this story is!)

  
On Saturday, they prep the lunches (everything but the sandwiches), sort donations and get ready for the Sunday run. Then on Sunday, they whip up just over 1,000 sandwiches (two per lunch), pack the box truck with lunches, coffee, juice, clothing, blankets and toiletries. They hit the road in their mobile unit and make sure to visit all of the same spots every week as there are people who have come to appreciate and expect their arrival. They even make sure to make their way over to Maxwell Street where two men wait every week. This was Jim’s original hotspot and so it stays on the route even with only two men waiting. 

  
I learned so much today. More than I can even remember to be able to share with all of you, but Virginia gave me the grand tour and shared tons of stories in the few hours we were together! They have a small warehouse setup in Lombard that could definitely use some organizational wizards (although I think trust will need to be earned to be able to help with that part). Much of what goes out the door is self funded from the family’s own pocket. When I originally spoke with her and asked what I could bring, I was told that she “didn’t want to put me out”. I showed up with bologna since that’s their main protein source. They use cheese (a real luxury, right?) and they have a bread guy who delivers right to them. 

 

Jim Proffitt is shown in red.

 
They have a handful of volunteers on Saturday (it can vary from one to twelve) and there are about six of them that handle Sunday’s because there is only so much room on the truck. It’s a lot of Veterans helping Veterans. 

  
As I was leaving today, I asked if I could grab a few pictures for Michael because I wanted him to see the legacy that Jim left behind in the hope that he will want to volunteer the next time he’s home. I was snapping away and noticed an interesting item sitting on a shelf and asked Virginia about it. She told me to bring it over to her. I did and it kinda looked like a homemade “award” of some sort. She laughed and told me that it was a gag gift from someone to Jim. Basically it’s a heavily decorated paper towel holder. It’s kinda cheesy, but absolutely awesome! She wanted another Marine to have it and so it was sent home for Michael to enjoy. I was really honored to be able to bring this home for him. 

  
I’m planning to go back on January 23rd. Virginia does not have a Facebook page for their work or keep a webpage updated. It’s all by word of mouth. I promised to share what I learned today and let her know that I was going to ask for donations. Here’s what they could use on an immediate basis:

Blankets (new or used)

Socks (new or used)

Men’s underwear – any size (new in package)

Adult Tshirts and sweatshirts (new or used)

Adult pants/jeans (new or used)

Large heavy duty brown paper lunch bags

Zipper and/or fold over sandwich baggies

Bologna

Snacks – basically anything. They will put it into smaller baggies if the packaging is too big. 

Homemade treats (cookies, brownies, etc.)

All used clothing donations should be freshly laundered and in usable condition (zippers work, no holes, has all buttons, etc.). 

You can drop off in Lombard on almost every Saturday or Sunday from noon until 2pm (Reach out to me for the address) or I will take any donations you would like on 1/23/16.

Posted in 2016 Challenge, Air Force, Army, Blogging, Coast Guard, Family, Friends, Homeless, It's New to Me!, Marine, Military, Navy, Random, Uncategorized, United States Marine Corps, USMC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BAM Book Divas

The BAM Book Divas are forming and I felt the need to get involved. I know, I know. Stop shaking your head at me. I will strictly be a member. I’m not making any decisions or taking on any additional responsibility. It’s going to be a form of fun for ME!  

It’s a book club that will read one book every month and meet one evening a month to talk about the book, eat and drink wine. Sounds easy enough. And like a lot of fun. We have 11 women committed at the moment (none of which have any book club experience) and we are all going to attend a meet and greet where we suggest a book to read and then meet in February to discuss. 

Herein lies the issue. I haven’t picked out a book to read in many years. I read The Fault in our Stars at a friend’s suggestion last year and then we went to see the movie. I enjoyed both. I’ve read some random John Grisham and James Patterson novels over the past ten years mainly due to grabbing a book while walking through an airport on my way to a business event. 

So what do you suggest? What should I suggest? I need to come up with something within a week for this local meet and greet. The only genre that appears to be off the table is anything overly risqué aka no 50 Shades of Anything. By the way, I haven’t read that yet. Do I bother? I will anxiously await your suggestions!

Posted in BAM Book Divas, Blogging, Book Club, Friends, It's New to Me!, Random, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My 2016 Challenge

2015 was really a notable year for our family. My son turned 18 years old and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from high school and just a few short months later from Boot Camp. Mid-year, my husband accepted a new management position within his field. I supported them through all of this change and was their biggest cheerleader. 

Some crummy stuff happened too. Our first dog, Katie, got sicker early in the year and we had to send her to wait for us at the rainbow bridge. Then, our new puppy, Cali, had a neurological disease and we had to make the tough choice for her too. My Aunt/Godmother passed away after a lifetime of fighting illness. And finally, Sack Lunch Sunday came to an official end in November. 

This morning as we looked at a new year in front of us, I challenged myself to keep doing things to help other people. I thought about someone I had heard about a couple years ago who dedicated his life to helping others and decided to learn more. His name was Jim Proffitt. Mrs. P, a teacher from my high school, had mentioned him to me a few times and so I reached out to her to see what she could share with me. She suggested I call his wife, Ginny, as Jim had passed away in October 2014, but she still heads up the weekly Sandwich Run for the homeless with a focus on our Veterans. 

I called Ginny and I think I startled her. Apparently strangers call her Virginia. Well, I won’t be a stranger for much longer because I am going to volunteer at their warehouse tomorrow morning to learn about their mission and how they do things. They meet every Saturday to make lunches – 1,000 of them weekly – and then a small group meets on Sunday to deliver the lunches. They’ve been doing this for 26 years and it turns out it that Mr. Proffitt was very concerned with veterans transitional housing as well. He actually has an apartment complex/housing unit named after him. 

I am nervous and excited. I know I cannot commit to do this every weekend, but I am very interested in what they do and how I can help. So I will show up with my ten pounds of bologna tomorrow ready to lend a hand. 

I challenge you to do something outside of your comfort zone to help other people. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be photo worthy. It just needs to warm your heart and affect someone else positively. I guarantee if you do things like that enough times that you will miss it when the opportunities don’t seem to be in front of you as frequently. You will scout them out. And you will show up with bologna somewhere to try and make a tiny difference. 

Posted in 2016 Challenge, Blogging, Homeless, It's New to Me!, Marine, Military, Random, Uncategorized, United States Marine Corps, USMC | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment