10.27.2015

35: a little reflective

I have 35 Mondays left before retirement. 


Sometimes I am reflective and deep. Sometimes. 

I remember when a day at the office could mean: running for cover on the way from my CHU to the palace; near misses during celebratory fire after an Iraqi national soccer game; combat landings into BIAP; clearing your weapon on your way into the chow hall; gauging the echo to determine if it's incoming or outgoing; bracing yourself during small arms and returned fire on a Blackhawk ride across the Baghdad landscape; rolling off your rack with our pillow and covering up with your vest and helmet hoping for a few more minutes of sleep before post attack accountability checks... The good old days?

9.21.2015

40: Looking back on a thousand Mondays passed


With 40 Mondays remaining, I have been reflecting on a thousand Mondays passed. 

I don't usually look to the past. I try to focus on the way ahead. But 1,000 Mondays makes for a long history of service and commitment. It is hard to believe I have been in the military for that long. I have traveled around the world, met countless people, seen amazing things, and had experiences I would have never otherwise been afforded. 

I am ready for change and to transition out of the military but I wouldn't trade the past for anything. 

9.07.2015

42: Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.


I haven't been deep in thought this week so I figured I would let Douglas Adams have this one. 

8.31.2015

43: The process


Forty-three Mondays remaining. 

With only 43 Mondays left, it's time to begin the official process required for retiring from the military. Tomorrow, I will submit the paperwork needed to confirm my eligablity. It seems like a pretty useless step that should be included in the retirement application but it's not.

8.17.2015

45: Convincing others


I am eligible to retire in 45 Mondays. 

I know this isn't the most serious way to mark the time remaining but I am serious about my plan. It isn't the easiest thing to communicate to the people around me. Even though I have told my boss the plan, I still had to sit down with him and convince him it is a reality. 

For me and my family, moving on is the best thing. 

8.09.2015

46: There's no place like home


We just returned from a two week vacation back home. It was really nice to spend two Mondays on recreations versus in the office. 

46 Mondays left!

One of the bigfest decisions weighing on us is whether we will head back to Illinois right away or delay to keep our youngest in the same high school for all four years. To stay in Maryland, I will have to find a fulltime position that pays as well as where I am now. The cost of living here is significantly higher than the Midwest.  From housing expenses to tax on my pension, it would take quite a bit to make living here affordable after I retire. 

I guess I will have to keep plotting and scheming to see how this shakes out. 

8.03.2015

47: What a pain

47 Mondays and counting. 

With just under a year remaining, there are things that have to be done for me to break out on my own. I am standing up my own business and laying the foundations for what I hope will be a success. Some things are easier than others but in order to do this right, they all need to be done. From the top:

1. Find a name. This has got to be the biggest pain in the ass!  I am trying to pick the perfect name so I can do all the rest. I have lots of ideas but it's hard find one that no one else has thought of. In today's market, one must also consider whether the URL is available. It's enough to make me want to pull out my hair. 

2. PAPARWORK! Once I have a name I will have to file all the paperwork needed to legally operate a business. It's not complicated, but I can't really do it until the name is locked in. 

3. Tell the world. Once I have all those little details together I will be ready to tell the world. I figure if I take on a couple of clients now, I can build a portfolio and be ready to go solo. 

With time counting down, I plan to get this all knocked out in the next week so I can really start to move before I punch. 

Wish me luck!

7.20.2015

48: A change of venue


The countdown continues and I am happy to be one more Monday closer to retirement. 

With 48 Mondays remaining, this week I think about perspective. The boy is petrified by the thought of my retirement. For his sake, I have taken to calling this a "change in venue."  

He is afraid we won't be able to maintain our current standard of living. He is afraid of taking the reigns. I have been steering our path for almost 16 years after all. He is afraid that the next relocation will be bad for the girls. His fears are sound and rational. I will give him that. 

I, on the other hand, am excited by my prospects. I am exploring a couple of options right now that are quite exciting. I have taken on a part time consulting gig with a friend whose IT company need to focus on updating their image. I am only putting in 7 to 10 hours a week on this, but it is satisfying work. The pay isn't bad either - even at the "friends and family" discount. 

This experiment in consulting may lead to other things. The CEO of the company, my friend, is looking at her need for a full-time position to focus on these efforts. An executive-level position with this company would be something I would consider doing for a few years. Just long enough to get itty-bitty through high school before returning home. 

I have also been exploring the idea of taking this consulting thing to the next level. What a prospect this is!  I really, really like the idea of being in charge of my own destiny. Selecting my clients, setting my own hours, building my own image for once. The thought of that kind of freedom is inspiring. 

Although our perspectives are different, I respect the boy's concerns. I will do my best to manage his expectations and set us up for success in the future. 


7.13.2015

50: Where will I be this time next year

I have finally reached a concrete decision about retirement. Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 19th Anniversary as a military member. 

I have 50 Mondays remaining until I am retirement eligible and I plan to spend each of the here, sharing the adventure of preparing to transition. 

Yes, I am really counting down the Mondays. I have already served 989, and they are my least favorite day of the work week. 

Today I am putting together a checklist of things I will need to accomplish. Next week, I'll share them with you!

It may be a rocky road, but I am ready. 

5.24.2015

Girls will be girls

I had a fantastic weekend hanging out with Byrd.  We haven't done much in the way of Girls Scouts this year but, we ran off with her troop for a two night camping trip.  Despite my apprehension, we had a really great and relaxing time roughing it.
I was very pleased that the girl and I remembered how to put the tent up and had zero issues.  I, being old, did bring and air mattress for under my sleeping bag.  I wouldn't have last two nights without the extra cushion.  Percolator camp coffee was a huge help as well.
We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather or scenery.  The best part of the trip, though had to be the girls.  Each of these young ladies has been in scouting since they were very young.  Mine has been a Girls Scout since Kindergarten.  
We are so very proud of them.  This trip was bitter sweet in that it is their last one as Juniors.  Next year they will be high school seniors and finishing up more than just their Girl Scout careers.  I am so glad I was there to share this time with my girl.





5.15.2015

Luck

6-leave clover.

I am trying to figure out if I am very lucky or if there is something seriously wrong with Maryland.


Clover Patch

Before two weeks ago, I had never found a four-leaf clover. My oldest daughter found one about 3 years ago and that was the first I had seen in person. At the end of April, I found both a six-leaf and a five-leaf clover in the same day. It really hasn't been the same since. 


Three 4-leaf Clovers.

It hasn't stopped there. I have literally found a dozen. Between my yard and the lawn at work, they just keep coming. I kept thinking to myself that maybe these aren't clovers. Maybe it is a different species that resembles clovers. This week, however, the white clover flowers started to bloom so I knew they were right ...according to my internet research;)


Clovers in bloom.

So, with the inordinate amount of 4, 5 and 6-leaf clovers I have found, it's logical to conclude that I am either very lucky or there is something unusual about the soil around here. 


5.10.2015

Conquering the Festival

This past weekend (May 1 - 3) was Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I had a blast and truly feel like I conquered the festival.

Day 1:
I started the adventure off by doing something I don't normally do. I took part in some festival workshop for the first time. I am so happy I did, too. I filled my Friday with two classes taught by Jacey Boggs Faulkner of Ply Magazine. I had the pleasure of taking both "Building Your Fiber Business"; and, "Plying and Ply Structures."  

Jacey lines up our samples to demonstrate how single softness impacts final yarn.
The only thing regret is that the classes weren't longer.  Both workshops were half-day and I can only imagine how much more I would have learned in full-day sessions. 

Day 2: 
With the cooler full of water, Diet Coke and Snacks, we loaded the car with teenagers and headed out early.  As my friend Tanya and I like to do, we drove through for breakfast and got there just before the festival was to open.

Busy at the gate already, by 9 am.
Out primary goal for Saturday is always to get to the fleece sale before they open.  Our timing was a little behind this year but we were still one of the first hundred to enter.  This is my fourth Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and the changes they made to the fleece sale are fantastic!  The first two year I attended the sale was in a very small and extremely crowded corner of the main vendor building.  It was a mad rush to get in and you could hardly move to browse the fleece.  It has since moves into it's own space in one of the smaller exhibition buildings.  It is so-------o much nicer.

Much less crowded in the new layout.  Still happy we made it in early.
We finished up in the fleece sale by 10 am and I walked out of there with two lovely fleece: Second-place coated Lincoln; Second-place coated Coopworth.

That, of course was just the start of the day.  Our usual plan of attack is to head to the from of the venue to start making our rounds from the beginning so we don't miss anything.  By noon, we were half-way through and the place was packed.  If you don't like people and crowds, mid-day on Saturday is not for you!  My only other scheduled stop for Saturday was the podcaster meet-up in the lower corral at 1 pm.  I always love the meet-up.  It is a great opportunity to run into old podcaster friends and meet new.  The best part is getting to meet listeners face-to-face.  I connect online line with people but it's just nice to exchange hugs.

We stayed at the festival on Saturday later than normal.  We were there until nearly 5 pm.  Usually we are done and exhausted by 3 pm.  Our plans to attend the spin-in that night were defeated my our fatigue.  Maybe next year.  Of course, that's what we say every year.

Day 3:
Because we live close, we like to go every day of the event.  The atmosphere on Sunday is quite different from Saturday.  It's mush calmer with fewer people and you can really just stroll through the event.  Most people who travel for the event have flights to catch or have to get back home in time for work Monday.

This is the day I took my time, wandered about and really go to shop for specific items that I didn't get to the day before.

In the end:
In the end, we saw everything we wanted to, I check off every item on my shopping list and seriously enhanced my stash.

The Haul.
I love Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, it is an adventure every time.  I is a great opportunity to out with people who share the same passions and obsessions I do.






4.01.2015

Crossroads

As the summer of 2015 approaches, I find myself nearing a crossroads in my first career. I have been examining my life to try and figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I know I don't want to do THIS forever. 

So far, my career aspirations include: grow my hair out; wear jeans to work everyday; and, be my own boss. 

I feel accomplished in narrowing it down to these overarching goals. I have yet to figure out when, where and how I will get there. I have some ideas and, of course, I think they are good ones. I haven't fully fleshed out any of these ideas or tested the market. 

I need to narrow my focus. I want to succeed in the craft industry but still have to find my niche. 

3.09.2015

Turtles

Look at the shell on that bad boy!  Just kidding.  I just wanted to share a little progress I am making on a spinning project of mine.  Someone recently said, "I didn't realize you were a spindle spinner."  I found this surprising.  I thought everyone knew;)  Looks like I need to talk about it more and share more pretty, pretty pictures.


2.21.2015

Winter Wonderland


I love snow days.  I love the quite of my home when the rest of the family is sound asleep.  The peace and quiet, and ability to concentrate on a cabled sweater fireside.  This poor sweater has been in hibernation for a long time because i couldn't find time to focus on it.  As it turns out, I can't cable when my family is around.  I spent the time entertaining distracting questions like, "Mom, have you seen my shoes?"; "Can you wash my work shirt?"; and, "what's for dinner?"

I will inevitably mess the sweater up and have to rip back.  The weather we have been experiencing, coupled with my family's love of sleep, has created the perfect environment for cabling the hell out of this sweater.


This is my winter wonderland.

1.21.2015

My big project


This is the biggest project I currently have in the works.  This room is a mess.  I really need to get it organized and put together so I can start making pretty things.  I have so many things I want to sew, spin and knit but they seem impossible to even start with my space in this condition.

Oy!  My birthday is in a couple weeks and since the joyful boy has decided to through the party here I guess I have to get on it.  People are gonna wanna see this place.

I have to get the house and the craft room company-ready!

1.16.2015

Slow Lights

So, we recently moved to a new home.  It needs little to know work.  I sweat though, the biggest issue I have is the slow lights.  I hate slow light -- despise them even.

Sadly, I am cheap and not one to waste.  This house is full of lights that are the early halogen bulbs that take for even and a day to warm up and reach full light.  I can't bring myself to swap them out, though.  I won't until they burn out.

I will however, complain every time I have to wait on my slow lights.

1.10.2015

When I grow up.

Trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up is not an easy task. I guess I know what I want to do, but still haven't figured out how I am going to pull it off.

So, this I what I am sure of: when I retire from my current position, I don't want to start a second career. I want to work for my self and have a go at turning this crafty goodness into my livelihood. I know I want to wear jeans everyday and not have to punch the clock.  

I can see myself designing knitwear, getting published and going on the circuit. The problem is, I worry about having the financial freedom to pursue these things. I really want to retire in 2016 but I don't think we will be where we need to be to make that leap. 

There are so many factors left to consider. Where? The state I choose to retire in is now up in the air. I know I don't want to stay here and the boy goes back and forth about returning the Illinois. It's too expensive here for me to live off my pension. The problem with Illinois is that his family is there. I want to try Colorado but want my kids to have stability through high school. 

All these possibilities push "when?" further and further away.  Will we be ready in a year and a half? I doubt it.  If I get promoted, it will be at least 5 years. Some days I want to see how far I can make it... I could be colonel and that thought is mind blowing. That situation pushes retirement out to ten years from now. 

Growing up is hard. I don't like it... at. all.

1.01.2015

Lessons learned... My knitter's fail.

I learn a little something every time we move. The house you live in says a lot about who you are but, the house you leave reveals all your dirty little secrets. 

Last time we moved, the house taught me four lessons: 

1. Pre-soak: when you live in a house for four years with 2 kids and 2 dogs you are going to unearth some stains once the furniture is on the back of the truck. Pre-soak and pre-treat each according and you won't kill yourself trying to get them out. I learned this half-way through the clean up chore. 

2. Tape: I am pretty good at painting a room but I am down-right amazing when I take the time to tape. It's helps emensely when I become tired or lazy and get sloppy. 

3. Furniture steals stuff: I would have never imagined that that much stuff was hiding in and under my couches. It boggles my mind how many kid socks and yarn tools accumulate there. 

4. You can't drop it if it's already on the ground: in an effort to save time and energy I held a paint can and dipped the brush in directly when doing the cutting in on a very small accent wall. I was smart enough to set it down when I had to step on the ledge to reach the top edges. Unfortunately, I kicked it off the ledge and dropped the entire gallon into my tub. It would have never fell if it had never left the ground in the first place. 

My most recent move taught me one (yes, one) very important lesson. I have not crafted nearly enough over the past two years. I figured this out when, after checking all the cracks and crevasses and getting all the furniture moved out, I discovered that there was a single, solitary stitch marker left behind in my crafty wake. 

How does that happen? One stitch marker? One? It was clearly a testament to my knitting fail.