Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lessons from my brother

My brother, Joe, is home from the Army for a little while. It has been wonderful having him home again. I am probably closest to him out of all of my brothers-probably because we have that perfect age difference-7 years.
Joe made a surprise visit to my second job last night (it's ok, the boss is one of my best friends and Joe's former roommate) and he kept me company and taught me some cool stuff.
Joe is in Special Forces, aka, he is a badass. What comes with him being a badass is me getting to learn some badass tricks too. Self defense if you will. Last night he taught me some pressure points. Simple little tricks to use if I were to get attacked. Things that would level the playing field if a 6' guy came after me. I'm pretty scrappy on my own, having three brothers, but I like knowing these little tactics. It always amazes me how one-two fingers and be so painful. The overall point of these tricks in SF is to allow the soldier to gain the less than a second he needs to access his pistol. What it would do is allow me the extra seconds to make a get away or to put me in a position of better defense.
After showing me some tricks, Joe pulled out the 9mm he was carrying and showed me some proper shooting techniques. I have always been around hunting guns. There is a HUGE difference between hunting weapons and tactical weapons and I learned this last night. This insight also showed me why I was such a poor shot with my friends 9mm this past summer.
He showed me the proper way to hold a gun. Amazing how THAT alone can change everything. He then told me the most important words..."be surprised every time a bullet leaves the chamber." I didn't get it at first. He said it again. I mulled it over in my head. Then it clicked. If you don't anticipate the bullet being fired, you won't flinch. If you flinch, you will cause the gun to pull in a direction away from the target without even realizing it. I pull to the right and up. It explains why I have always been such a terrible shot with hand guns.
Joe is going to show me more tonight and let me shoot his weapon for real instead of just handling the gun unloaded. I think I am going to convince him to take me to a shooting range every time he is home so that I can get more comfortable with hand guns.
Kevin has been wanting to get me a hand gun for years, but I haven't let him because A.) I have been slightly afraid of them B.) I feel more comfortable defending myself with my hands and my breakstick C.) I don't want the gun turned on me.
But, I believe that if I work with Joe, I will become very comfortable with a hand gun. I believe I will become a great shot and actually ENJOY shooting. Who knows, maybe I will get to the point where shooting is a past time.
Amazing what little brother's can show you and teach you. Amazing that he knows this information. Amazing that he is such a great shot and teacher.
But, as he put it, this is his job and it is a job where he NEEDS to be good at what he does.
It makes me feel a lot better about what he is doing...seeing that he is most comfortable and confident when holding a weapon. That is something I never thought I would say, but it is the truth.
More on Joe later...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Homecomings and Mattresses

It is hard to believe that Christmas is already over.
Kevin and I had a wonderful time celebrating the season with our family. Momo got to come home from the rehab unit to spend time with us and see all the renovations we have been making to her home. She seemed very happy with all the painting and rearranging and cleaning we have done. This came with a great sigh of relief. It is hard to make so many changes, yet keep her sense of "home" that she has made intact. But she loved every room and we were able to discuss with her moving her laundry room from the basement to one of the spare bedrooms upstairs.
I think her trip home was much needed. She seemed more relaxed there, even though she was still exhausted.
It was wonderful having all the family together again. It is something we don't get to do very often and I enjoy those times the most.
Christmas day, Kevin and I made a nice brunch for the family and took it to my mom's house so that Momo could enjoy it too. After that, we hurried home, changed and went up to Steinbauer's. We didn't get to stay there as long as I would have liked, but wood needed to be brought into the house, so we had to leave early.
Kevin and I decided that it wouldn't be a proper Christmas holiday without spending some time with friends. We invited over our little group and ended up having a hillbilly good time. Jake and Kevin went and picked up an old king sized box spring and our friends were introduced to the new sport that Kevin, Jake, and John invented called mattress sledding. Basically, hook an old mattress behind the truck, load it with people, and go for a ride.
I am sure that we looked ridiculous; all bundled up, 2 lines of 3 people sitting bobsled style, being dragged behind a truck, but it was loads of fun. I don't think I have laughed so hard in my life. What made it better was that 2 of my best friends were able to come out as well as my 2 younger brothers. I believe the best point of the night was when our friend, who is a state highway patrolman, came screaming up behind us with his spot light on us. Our friend, Johnson, had no clue that we knew him and started freaking out. He became extremely confused when we bum-rushed the cop car to say hi to our friend. I'm not sure how many laws we broke that night, but it was a good time. The most fun I have had in a while...which I am sure most of my friends can say as well.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got to spend it laughing with the ones you love.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Girls weekend 2.0

Three of my girlfriends and I have decided to start doing short trips together all over the place. We are hitting Chicago in February but are having a hard time figuring out where best to spend our time.
We are for sure going to the Shedd, but we want to hear some great live blues while we are there. I am trying to convince them that we NEED to go to Buddy Guys...he is a living legend and if we can see him while we are there, we need to take that opportunity. Tickets haven't gone on sale yet, but I am going to be watching like a hawk from here on out.
We are checking out the Chicago based websites, but it is always so hard to know what is actually good and worth going to. So, we need your help!
Have any of you been to Chicago? If so, what do you recommend? We are only going for 2 days and want to try to keep it cheap.
Any recommendations would be appreciated!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I began reading the book, "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein about a week ago after a friend suggested I read it and gave me his copy.
I read the first 2 chapters and thought, "Kevin would love this!" So, I told him about it and he suggested that I read him the first chapter.
He loved it. And after reading Kevin the first chapter, we decided that it would be fun for me to read the book to him. This way we can enjoy the book together. So almost every night, we crawl into bed, I sit and read and he cuddles with the dog and I read a couple chapters.
It is nice. I'm sure that most people would consider it weird, but I really enjoy it. I used to read books onto tape in college for kids with learning disabilities, so I am used to reading aloud. I still get a super dry mouth though.
Kevin isn't the strongest reader. I think he has read 3 books in his entire life. He was one of those kids that had a learning disability in school and instead of his teachers taking their time with him, they told him he was lazy and wasn't trying. They couldn't see that he had a disability and needed extra help. He still has major hangups because of these teachers. Kevin is the farthest thing from lazy, and he takes great pride in the fact that he is such a hard worker, so I can appreciate how hurt he was when the teachers told him this.
Because of these teachers, Kevin has a rough time opening up to activities that he considers "academic" because he is worried what people will think. Things that I truly enjoy doing he has a hard time dealing with, and sometimes it puts a damper on our marriage. I enjoy things like museums, theater, reading...basically, the arts. He does not. We will go long lengths of time doing the things he enjoys but I request to go to the art museum and it is like pulling teeth-and we typically end up not going.
Me reading him a book is a great way for me to satisfy a craving. The craving to have "academic" conversations with my husband. Talk about a book, discuss the characters, what we like, what we don't, what we think will happen next. Foreshadowing. Anything.
I love this time that we spend together. I hope that we can continue to do this after we finish this novel...perhaps move on to more challenging readings where you have to think outside the box. I was a literature major...I like the things that catch you off guard, that require in-depth thinking, re-reading passages, things that really provoke the mind.
But for now, we are learning about Enzo and his master and family...and how to race in the rain. The author does a great job of mixing comedy with heart-breaking emotion, complex thoughts with the complexity of racing. All in all, mixing my world of emotions and thought with Kevin's world of mechanics and things that go fast. And dancing, sex-crazed zebras.
I will have to thank the author some day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Warrior in Me

My friend Beth and I have decided to do a little thing called the Warrior Dash this year. The extravaganza will take place June 4th and I am praying to be alive June 5th.
The Dash is a little cult following that is coming to Ohio for the first time. It is basically a little less than a 5k with an obstacle course involved. They call it a run from Hell. It should be interesting. While I am excited about it, I am also extremely nervous. Aside from being completely out of shape, which I am hoping to correct as soon as my treadmill arrives, I am missing a key ligament in my knee, so some of the tasks are a little scary to me. However, I am reading a book called "The Art of Racing in the Rain" and there is a chapter where they talk about racing, of course, in the rain, and basically if you fear the rain you will wreck; if you think too much, you will wreck; if you live in the moment and just do, you will be fine. So that is the mind set I am trying to have. It isn't going to stop me from trying to duplicate these tasks in my backyard to practice...however, I don't think my neighbors would appreciate me putting 1000 tires in my backyard, or creating a giant rope wall. My biggest fear is actually a couple of straw know, the giant round ones that you see out in the fields? Yeah, we get to climb over 3 of those...piled on top of each other. What I don't think people realize is that straw is chaffing...I used to bail straw when I was younger. You wear long sleeves and pants and gloves...on race day I will be wearing shorts, a tutu covered in feathers, and a tank top...this will do little to protect me from the straw....which I know I will have a problem with. I'm going to be wet from an earlier event, not to mention sweaty, therefore I will be slippery. If I can make it up and over these bails, I think I will be ok. I can handle the giant mud pit no problem, I can handle pulling my butt over some walls, I can handle jumping over some fire...but those straw bails are freaking me out!
It will be interesting. This is for sure.
I want to do something out of the box. I am going to be 30 this year and want to continue to live a spontaneous and active lifestyle. I believe this event will push me beyond belief, but also be a ton of fun.
Check out the pictures on their site...great stuff...

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's been a while again...I apologize, but a lot of stuff went down and I didn't want to be the debbie-downer blogger. No one likes someone that is negative all the time.
But things are starting to look up, so I may be back.
Lots has been going on, mainly with family. Momo, my grandmother, had surgery on Oct 27th and hasn't been home yet. It has been an up and down game of doing well to being rushed off to Cleveland Clinic and back again. She is doing much better now and I know she is feeling more like herself because when I went to visit her yesterday, she had makeup on and was worried about how her hair looked. I'm just ready to get her home.
It is hard to believe that Christmas is Saturday. I will be doing some last minute shopping tonight. We still do a low-key Christmas, thanks to never fully recovering from the economic downturn, but things are much better and Kevin and I have found ways to save money here and there.
I decided that this Christmas I was only supporting local economy. I think it was a good choice and the proprietors of the stores seemed very appreciative of the gesture.
Kevin and I have only been shopping locally for several months now. We get almost all of our groceries at a local farm market, and in turn, have become friends with the owners. They now purchase their firewood from us, so it is coming around full circle. I love the little farm market, Hall's Garden Gate. If there is something that we need, they find a way to begin carrying it in the store. I love knowing where my beef and chicken comes from along with all the dairy and baked goods. The owners only carry items from Ohio and try to carry as many locally grown items as possible. Of course, certain items require them to go out of state...pineapples, citrus fruits, tomatoes...Ohio can't grow everything. But it feels good to help support the local economy.
We have completely boycotted such stores as walmart and Sam's club. I don't care how good of a deal I can get at one of these "super stores," I would rather go to my local, family owned store.
I challenge you to all do the same. It's a great feeling when you are greeted by the owner of the store when you come in and they are truly happy to see you and they thank you each and every time.
I promise to write again later this may be crazy busy at work with year end, but I am back. For sure this time. I miss my blogging friends and family!