Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time for a change....

Restaurant's "Sorry we're Closed" sign
I've decided the time has come to make a few changes to my online presence. Five years ago when I started this blog I didn't sew, I didn't quilt, I hadn't discovered Flickr, or Pinterest or GoodReads or Twitter. I didn't own an SLR camera and I didn't have a photography blog to maintain. Other than Facebook (which hardly anyone was on) my blog was pretty much my only way to communicate with the world. Over the last half decade I have been spreading myself more and more thinly and I've decided to do an audit, which means the time is right to stop blogging here.

I'm not disappearing entirely. You can still follow my photography blog at and if you are a Flickr user I'd love you to add me as a contact and keep up to date with me and my family's activities through my photostream (I'm making a conscious effort to post photos with more text) I have considered doing a Tumblr blog, and may yet, but for now this blog is being mothballed. Thank you for all your support and comments and for stopping by and reading, it has always been much appreciated...

PS - For those of you who have been hanging on to see if I was correct about my blogger-friend's baby name, she's still yet to have it, but I shall post an update on my Flickr photostream to let you know if I was right when she does!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Theo at 10 months!

Doggy walker
So another month gone and a steep learning process has begun, as in the last week Theo has begun to pull himself upright. Those extra few inches of elevation over the world have made him rather keen to view things from that height more permanently, but the leg muscles and the confidence are not quite there yet!

We bought him a doggy walker second-hand, which he has really taken to and there's a push along brick trolly I had as a child on the way to us from my sister too.

Talking of wooden bricks, I'm pretty convinced they are the best toy ever. Theo spends a lot of his day chasing them round the house, chewing them or banging them against things and I still have memories of playing with mine when I was about 10! Nice that some toys never go out of fashion.

Theo in sunnies...

Last week Theo's paternal grandfather came over from Cyprus to visit, it's the first time he's seen him since he was less than a month old, so quite a change. Theo just loved having a new person in the house to entertain him and provide a new distraction. As always it brings home how far away we are from all his relatives, but nothing is forever, and though we're still 600 miles away from the closest ones, we have gradually been creeping closer over the last 5 years!

Theo & Grandpa

Food wise, Theo is starting to get bored with being spoon fed which is challenging our well honed system of freezing portions of meals for him. Last night he had fish fingers and carrot slices, but we need to raid the kiddie cookery books for ideas of quick and simple meals. Fortunately there's one thing we can always get down him no matter how tired or bored he is. He's absolutely addicted to blueberries and strawberries, I swear he'd eat them all day if I let him!

Unsurprisingly with his new exertions, he's still sleeping pretty well. Anything between 90 minutes and 3 hours at lunchtime and about 12 hours overnight. I don't want to jinx things, but it's been a long, long time since we've been woken at night...

And finally his impressive flight tally continues to grow, as we shuttle backwards and forwards between the south-coast and Scotland. There's another flight booked for a fortnight's time and we'll be spending his birthday down south too, so that'll be 10 flights before he's one. In comparison, I don't think I'd managed 1 flight before my 10th birthday, but of course that was long before Easyjet!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So close, yet so far away...

Wheat grains
Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

The last couple of days of my course at West Dean went well. On Saturday the sun came out and we spent the morning on an assignment at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. It's the kind of thing I have done a hundred times before for radio, but this time I had to reeducate my brain to look for pictures and not listen for audio. So the main interview became a "general view" photo and vox pops became close up pictures - simple! 

By the end of the weekend I honestly felt like there couldn't have been a better course personally designed for me and where I am right now. Given that the timing worked out so well for our trip down south and that it was the first time they had run it, I was pretty lucky!

However, flying back to Scotland on Sunday was not straight-forward. After first discovering my driving license had flown 24 hours ahead of me (in Jim's wallet) I then lost my boarding pass in departures and finally endured an hour delay to the flight with absolutely no information (though not as bad as Jim & Theo's 7 hour delay the day before!) It was almost as if fate was trying to stop me going back...

And guess what? After all that time learning how to sell photos of a news story, the very next day my home village hit the headlines with torrential rain and flooding! Can you imagine how frustrating that was? Have a look at my mum's Flickr photostream to get an idea of what I missed out on!

So back in Scotland I'm now on the lookout for a good photo story. Preferably one that fits around childcare and isn't too far away - Not too much to ask surely?!

Friday, June 8, 2012

In which I get my brain working again...

My brain may explode...

We're down south this week. Visiting family, attending a wedding, and (for me) doing a course. The first two were the reasons we booked the flights, and then by chance I spotted the photography course at a local college, which happened to not only bridge my old and new skills, but also fitted the dates we were in the area.

So I am back learning for three days! The course is being run at the beautiful West Dean college, which for my overseas readers, is probably every cliche of an English college you can possibly imagine.  It's a beautiful historic building in the Sussex countryside, with formal gardens and rolling hills full of sheep.

West Dean College

There are four other students on my course and it's run by an excellent tutor with 25 years experience of press photography. It is a VERY steep learning curve, with very talented fellow photographers and a mind-boggling amount of crucial information about the way papers work (who knew that one newspaper has strict rules about the way women dress, and another bans photos of people on sofas?)

Included in our agenda today, we had 10 minutes to do a portrait session of a fellow student for a news piece. I became completely distracted by the building and came out of it with a photo that was more about a nice door than the person I was photographing. I think this is what living in a military quarter, with absolutely no architectural features does to you!

Tomorrow I return for the second day and (weather permitting) a field trip to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Already I feel like I'm going to need to lie down for a week to absorb everything I've learned - fat chance of that!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nine months and counting...

Summer's here!

Theo is now three-quarters of the way through his first year of life and crawling! One Tuesday morning about three weeks ago he suddenly worked out how to shuffle his legs forwards and he was off. We now spend most of our days pulling him away from the broadband router, the fake coals in the fire, the stack of cookery books in the kitchen or the cord of the iron. Why is it that with all the experience and money behind the big toy brands, no one has yet invented something that is more alluring than the forbidden things in a house?

Although the summer has generally been disappointing so far, there have been a few warm days to get him out in the garden, an experience which has met with mixed results! He's still extremely unsure about the feel of grass on his skin and left on a rug will remain marooned until someone returns to save him!

On the move and causing trouble...

With a new way to burn off energy he's appetite seems endless. As his menu expands, we even tried him on a recipe containing lamb's liver (much to Jim's horror!) and he seemed to love it. Bouncing up and down in the high chair, murmuring sounds of appreciation!

Talking of high chairs, as I mentioned a while ago, around Christmas I took on the task of repainting our inherited Tripp Trapp high chair. It very rapidly turned into one of those things I wish I had never started! I bought two types of paint (spray and regular) and two types of sandpaper and spent most of the winter trying to get a proper finish on it, and failed. So Jim came home from Afghanistan and took over, he bought an electric sander, undid all my work and then varnished it. Four months, a lot of money and effort later (and with the addition of a £50 play tray and £30 harness) we ended up with a chair that looked identical to the one we had when we started - Gah!

All of this was even more frustrating when we saw the high chair my mother bought for him to keep at their house, which cost £15 from Ikea! The moral to this story is if you are ever in need of a high chair, and are near an Ikea, simply do not bother even considering anything other than the Antilop Chair, I cannot fault it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wedding gift cushion

Wedding season is upon us, and I'm sure I'm not the only one swamped by invitations over the next couple of months. I know most bridal couples these days prefer gift vouchers, but I almost always deviate from the list and do so for several reasons. Firstly if you can do homemade it helps bring the cost down slightly (cost so far of attending one wedding this year with flights, hotel, car hire etc. is nearly £1000!!) and secondly my absolute favourite part of a wedding is picking (or making) a gift, and without that opportunity I actually get quite grumpy.

So there you go, first wedding of the year is the weekend after next and I knew I wanted to part-make and part-buy the present. The purchase part was easy, I got them something we had when we were married which has been an enormous success, it's a 25 year Christmas journal that you get out every year and write in. Ours has only been going for 5 years, but it's fascinating reading it every year.

The homemade part was trickier. Alongside a bought present, a quilt was going to be too much, so I had a vague idea of making a cushion. I saw this on Flickr which got me thinking about some sort of cushion personalised to the couple, but I wanted something subtle. So after a lot of thinking and not much sewing I eventually came up with this...

Cushion made for a wedding gift

Originally I was just going to have the surname, but in a rare moment of creative input, my husband suggested adding their initials, and he was so right! The letters are appliqued, the red ones which are felt are attached with a straight stitch  and the white lettering (which is cotton) is sewn with blanket stitch. I would have liked to have used the same grey linen fabric on the back but I didn't have enough and I have no idea where I bought it from (!) so the back is made from the felt used on the front, I just hope it wears ok...


I added a layer of batting to the appliqued front and quilted around the large letters then lined it. I think if I do it again I'll skip the quilting stage, it looks good, but it's unnecessary extra work and just made the whole cushion a bit bulky.

Anyway, this is one rare project that turned out so much better than I was expecting. I love it and I just hope the bride and groom feel the same!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hello summer!

Silver Cross

It feels like we have been waiting FOREVER for summer this year, but finally it arrived yesterday and despite being five hours north of the border, we were the warmest spot in Scotland - wow!

When the sun came out again today, I decided to dig the Silver Cross pram out and take it to the Post Office (where it always gets a warm reception!) Theo was last in it when he was a couple of months old, so I wasn't sure what he'd make of it now he's sitting up, and whether he'd try and climb out. I needn't have worried, he loved it!

Not only was he up high enough to see everything that was going on, but he also had 360 degree views of the world.

When we got home I took him into the back garden, and parked the pram next to our fence where he was at just the right height to join in with a chat with my neighbours and keep an eye on what their children were up to.

Having spent most of the weekend in the house trying to keep him away from the broadband router or the fake coals in our gas fire, it turned out to be a very simple and easy way to keep him entertained, so here's hoping the warm weather continues tomorrow...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's been keeping me...

I've been pretty bad at posting over the last few weeks and that's mostly been because of a little project I've been beavering away on. Now that most of the initial work has been done, I thought I'd let you in on it.

But first an explanation. A year ago I went on maternity leave from my job in radio, and then in February this year (partly influenced by the 3,000 miles that now stood between my new home and my old job!) I resigned.

Since then there's been a lot of thinking about what comes next. Do I want to work? If so how much? What options are practical given that with the Army, we change location every two years, and that being far from family, childcare can sometimes be difficult.

I spent many months thinking about sewing/quilting related options, I did a (pretty disastrous) craft fair and even bought a semi-industrial sewing machine (it looks beautiful, but I've still not used it) and eventually concluded sewing is a lot of hard work that rarely pays what it deserves. Finally I started to dare to think about doing the one career I have always fancied and come very close to doing many times, and I realised not only was it what I wanted to do, but it was also the only practical thing for me to do.

Sooooo... I am cautiously and nervously stepping into the world of natural light family photography. It is something I am passionate about, that combines the creative and the technical in a way that my previous career also did.


I have so much to learn, but I am reading, experimenting and educating myself all the time. There are many wonderful photographers out there and it is their beautiful photos that inspire me everyday.


If you'd like to support me and are on facebook, I'd really appreciate a like on my page. In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed seeing these early photos as much as I enjoyed taking them, and I hope (really hope) they'll be more to show you soon...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Theo at 8 months


With Theo's eight month birthday he reaches a milestone - I'm pleased to say he can at last sit up... although he still wobbles and crashes sometimes.

He is embracing solids with great enthusiasm, it really astonishes me how much he can eat. I'm sure there are many grown adults how eat less for breakfast than he does! His favourite meals at the moment are spinach pasta (an Annabel Karmel recipe known as "Popeye Pasta") and Courgette Gratin - both smell great when they are being cooked! We have just ordered a new freezer for our garage to create more space for a rotating stock of little boxes of Theo food (and quite a lot of homebaked bread.) He eats a banana a day too and will make a grab at almost anything that anyone else is having. Apparently this is pretty typical of boys? I only have experience of this chap, so know no different...

Daddy does teatime

Having been getting out and about a bit more since Jim has been home it has also struck me that not every baby smiles and giggles their way through the day. Again it is only what I'm used to, and I just assumed every baby was like that, but Theo really rarely stops laughing - what a funny boy he is! Or maybe he just thinks his parents are really hilarious!?

The arrival of some belated Christmas presents has also seen an influx of new toys in the house and he is exhibiting excellent taste! His favourites are a wooden bear charm from Germany (a gift when he was born that clips onto his clothes) some soft fabric cubes my sister made, and a handmade sock monkey we bought in Canada. All of which sound quite strange, but crucially they are all handmade! The plastic toys make great noises, but are apparently not quite as alluring at the moment - That's my boy!

Seasoned traveler

And finally he is still sleeping well. He wakes up around 7am, has a morning nap at about 10am, a couple of hours at lunchtime and in bed by 6:30pm. He even slept through most of our most recent flight to Inverness. It was flight number six for him, just over an hour long between England and Scotland, but as you can see he's very laid back about air travel these days - He even reached out and helped himself to an infant seatbelt as we boarded!

So with all that sleeping you'd think mummy would be updating her blog a bit more? Oh dear, where do the days go?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A dog that sits still...

Molly Dog - Duffus Castle

We had a doggy visitor today. Our friends Heidi & Billy are moving away from the military patch into their own house <sigh> and so Molly came to visit us for a few hours while the removal men were doing their job.

Unlike our two dogs, Molly will actually sit still to have her photo taken - especially if there is a ball that might be thrown included in the scenario! She also doesn't roll in mud or run round with seaweed hanging from her mouth, which definitely helps. She was extremely well behaved with Theo too, who spent most of the day trying to grasp her wagging tail (without success) and playing tug of war with her - at her insistence.

Meanwhile her owners are settling into their own home tonight, something that we are all a teeny bit jealous of. Now they will be able to paint the walls a colour other than magnolia, hang more than six pictures in a room and plant things in their garden. One day, one day!

PS - For my Nova Scotian friends, look at that grass!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nova Scotia

Who says bleak can't be beautiful?

Finally a slightly overdue post on our trip to Nova Scotia!

Although we got back to Scotland on Tuesday, the whole week seems to have disappeared in the blink of an eye and at feels like nothing has been achieved. I am behind reading blogs, behind on uploading photos and behind on sewing! I honestly think it's because I've spent most of the week washing clothes - where does it all come from? There's more than two suitcases worth, that's for sure!

Anyway, I am hoping that this update marks the start of some progress!

We flew off to Halifax on 6th April. It's a trip we have been wanting to make since we lived in Alberta between 2007-09, but because internal flights are expensive we decided to wait till we were back in the UK to do the trip, and then along came Theo, and a Afghanistan deployment, and it started slipping out of our grasp, but to cut a long story short, my parents offered to have the boy for a week, we booked the flights and off we went!

Fisherman's hut, Peggy's Cove

It is fascinating going back to a country after 3 years away and seeing what you have forgotten and what you have remembered through rose tinted glasses. The one thing that immediately became clear is that Nova Scotia is not Alberta! For those of you who don't know Canada well, Alberta has a lot of oil and gas and with it, a lot of employment, money and low taxes!

 That aside it was still the same country. Tim Horton's Boston Creams still taste amazing (particularly the first one after 3 years eaten in the sunshine on Halifax waterfront) and Canadian Superstore (or Atlantic Superstore as it is in the east) still stocks brilliant cheap kids clothes (just don't ask how much I spent!)

We had forgotten that spring comes late to Canada and that this does not just mean it is cold (we were ready for that!) but that the grass is brown and the trees are completely bare. In contrast coming back to Scotland has been an absolute explosion of greenery!

Peggy's Cove lighthouse, Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove lighthouse

Halifax was absolutely fascinating. We hadn't planned to visit in the run up to the Titanic anniversary, but as it turned out it added a really interesting angle to an already interesting place. Not only was there all the Titanic stuff to see, but lots on the Halifax explosion (telling a friend about it yesterday, she said "but why doesn't everyone know about it?" - quite!) There was fascinating information in the museum about laying the transatlantic cables, Pier 21 which was the Canadian centre for immigration and the Swiss Air memorial. For a small city, Halifax has seen an incredible amount of sadness and we both found it very moving.

Of course any holiday is not complete for me without some photo opportunities and this time I bravely left my SLR camera at home and relied entirely on my new compact camera and I was not disappointed! In fact it was quite liberating to know that all the kit was thousands of miles away and there was no decisions to be made about which lens to use!

Adams & Nickle


So, apart from the bare trees, it more than lived up to our expectations and we will definitely be going back. We already have the summer of 2015 penciled in, when Theo will be old enough to appreciate it and this time we'll factor in some ferries and Prince Edward Island too.

There are many more photos, but not enough time yet for post-production twiddling, so I may do another post later in the week...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Theo at seven months

Tummy Time - 10 March

And he's on the move!

At seven months old, Theo has decided to bypass the sitting stage and go straight to rolling, and so now he rolls everywhere, sometimes by design and sometimes by accident! I think he's like me, why sit still when there is so much to explore!?

This week he also got a few more air miles under his belt, with his fifth flight. The first four have been with me alone, but for this one he had his daddy to keep him company and a little girl in the row behind who was 10 days older. It all went pretty well though he wanted to know why there was nothing on the refreshments trolley for him! He made a good attempt at grabbing my sandwich and maneuvering it to his mouth!

Gatwick bound

Talking of which after a slow start with weaning, about a week before Jim came home, he suddenly got the hang of it and has been eating in ever increasing quantities since. Lots of porridge for breakfast, something from a vast stash of homemade frozen meals for lunch and then a mashed banana for tea. Though he's not sitting unaided, he's been sitting in a high-chair with a harness and enjoying it (I'm still painting our one though, just don't ask...)

First beaker

Last week we had a lovely few days at a holiday cottage in the Cairngorms, enjoying record high temperatures before the weather changed from 22c and sun to freezing with snow! We had no bath in the cottage, so T had the treat of kitchen sink bath-time! Such good fun for him and much kinder on my back! If ours wasn't normally full of washing up I could introduce it as a regular thing!

Bath in the kitchen sink

Tomorrow another big milestone for the boy - we're leaving him! Jim and I fly to Nova Scotia for a week's holiday and Theo will be staying with my parents. I'm sure he'll be fine, but will I? I haven't been apart from him for more than a couple of hours since he was born, I'm sure I'll still imagine hearing him crying or look in the backseat for him when we're on the other side of the Atlantic! But on the other hand... Goodness, a whole week with no ties... what will we do with ourselves!!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shooting squirrels (but not with a gun!)

squirrel collage

My poor husband! When he suggested a holiday to the Maldives after his return from Afghanistan, I told him that no, I'd much rather go to Nova Scotia... in low season. Likewise when he proposed a spa day as a Valentines gift, I said I'd rather spend a morning photographing squirrels in the Cairngorm mountains. I like to think I'm different, but sometimes I think he thinks I'm just difficult. Tropical beaches and massages are what we are supposed to like surely? But after 5 years of marriage he should know that the problem is, I can't do sitting still very well!

Red squirrels in the Cairngorns 1
Red squirrels in the Cairngorns 2

So he conceeded and last week I had my Valentines treat - a morning spent with another man... and lots of squirrels - Ha!

I think like most people I can count the number of times I have seen a red squirrel on one hand, and it's always been at a distance, but all that changed last week...

Red squirrels in the Cairngorns 7

Scottish wildlife photographer Neil McIntryre has created a spot in the woods near his home that the squirrels now recognise as a feeding station and he offers people the chance to spend a morning photographing them under his tuition. I have to say that after 4 and a half months being pretty tied to the house, even the opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the woods in the sunshine and peace and quiet, was a real treat!

A lovely spring morning spent photographing red squirrels in the Cairngorms...

The squirrels weren't tame, but were confident enough to come closer than normal, and there was nothing to scare them off. Neil also does a full day wildlife photography workshop, and I'm quite tempted to go back and continue building my photograph collection. The variation of wildlife in our part of the world is quite wonderful.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chocolate Philadelphia cupcakes

Philadelphia cupcakes (take 2)

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to review some of the newly launched Philadelphia with Cadburys chocolate. As well as being great on bagels, I have discovered that chocolate philly is great both in and on cakes. If you fancy trying it, feel free to use my recipe, and I'll let you into a little secret, this recipe is just my normal cupcake mix (handed down from my mum) with approximately the same quantity of Philadelphia added to the mix as you use of flour/sugar/butter and the addition of a tablespoon of milk to loosen the mix.

Philadelphia cupcakes (take 2)

Of course arguably as this recipe works perfectly well without the Philadelphia added there is an argument that says we don't really need the Philadelphia in it, so those of you watching your waistline may just want to try it as a topping!

Chocolate Philly cupcakes (makes 12)

5.5oz plain flour
0.5oz cocoa
6oz margarine or spreadable butter
6oz brown sugar
3 eggs
4 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tubs of chocolate philly (one for in the cake, one for on the cake!)
1 tablespoon of milk

Method : Combine all the ingredients (reserving one tub of chocolate philly for the topping) and mix well with a hand whisk. Divide between 12 cupcake cases (or more if you don't want the muffin top mine have!) and cook in the oven at 170c for 30 minutes.

One note, I am cooking in a dubious military oven with questionable temperatures! You may find your cupcakes cook quicker, if in doubt, after 15 minutes use a finger to check the top is firm and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. If you timings vary please post a comment for others!

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Theo at 6 months...

Theo - Feb 26th

Theo's half-year milestone has crept up on me and I nearly let it slip by without a few photos. If truth be told this last bit of Jim's deployment is really dragging, and as I've had problems with my sewing machine, I've had less to do and therefore am getting less (of everything) done! That old thing about giving a job to a busy person is so true!

But anyway, a quick progress report on the boy!

Six months old and although he's performing marvelous floor gymnastics, rolling his way this way and that (and frequently waking me in the night when he traps himself in an awkward position) he is still no closer to sitting up. I momentarily thought it might be a conspiracy designed to get me to buy a Bumbo but realised that of course, it's not that at all, he's just saving all the big developments for when his daddy comes home!

Panasonic Lumix LX5 test

He's making good progress with weaning and although he has things he definitely likes more than others, he has yet to refuse anything he's been offered - he just likes food generally! He's inability to sit up is buying me a bit of time with painting his high chair too. This is one of those classic projects-you-wish-you-hadn't-started things. I've been doing it on and off since Christmas and have largely lost my momentum now because Jim made a rash promise to me about finishing it when he came home... as if there won't be enough other things to do! So wipe-clean PVC beanbag it is at the moment!

It's not all that surprising really, but I cannot believe how much Theo has changed since Jim went away 4 months ago. In a lot of ways their reunion will feel more like their first meeting, because Theo has only really developed his personality in the last few weeks, I can't wait... for so many reasons.

Anyway, that is all for now, I have deliberately not mentioned Jim's return date, because with all things military we have to be a bit vague with details, but it is this month, and once he's back, we have two holidays to look forward to in Scotland and Canada, but more on those nearer the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The beautiful Moray Firth

When we moved to Scotland from Cyprus, one of the things I was most looking forward to were the Scottish beaches.

Big Dog on Lossie beach

This might seem like a really odd thing to say given that we were living on a Mediterranean island before, but you have to bear in mind Cyprus's beaches are often covered in litter or tourists, roped off to protect sea turtles or (in the case of all but ONE beach on the island) closed to dogs.

Scotland on the other hand has miles and miles of deserted beaches which are dog friendly, and for us personally we are lucky to be just six miles from the wonderful Moray Firth.

Rock hopping
Macy eating seaweed

Over the winter we've been consistently lucky with the weather, and most weekends I've been able to get out in the fresh air and sunshine, enjoy the surf and let the dogs have a good run off the lead (or just stand around and chomp on seaweed!)

Mostly this is thanks to some good friends who I do the walks with, because one adult, two dogs and a baby is a whole lot less stressful when it becomes three adults, three dogs and two babies.

Me on the beach

Now that there's less than a month till Jim returns from Afghanistan, we are both looking forward to him being a part of this and getting back into our old routine of weekends on the beach and cooked breakfasts at our favourite harbourside cafe.

This deployment has been a long slog but I'll come out the other end knowing and valuing our friends a lot more. All the old cliches about military spouses looking out for each other are (mostly) true, and when the tables turn, I am looking forward to being the one giving out help instead of receiving it for a change! I am so almost there...

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