Open Carried at Lobby Day 2012

General Assembly Building

In January 2012 I had the opportunity to go to Richmond for Lobby Day on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As I’ve blogged about previously, this is an important event to meet with the legislators and let them know what we think about certain bills up coming.

Honestly, I am the type of person who becomes frustrated with a lot of political talk; I don’t really feel like it accomplishes anything. However, it is incredible to meet with my local delegates and tell them that I like certain bills or don’t. It provides the opportunity to actively be involved in the political process.

Lobby Day is special because it is a day designed specifically for any of the lobbying groups to meet with their state legislators. It is also possible to meet otherwise but then you’d have to schedule an appointment. Usually, on this day they try to make themselves available, though they are often in other meetings as well. According to the rules of the General Assembly, someone who has a concealed carry permit can carry their firearm either concealed or opened. Being able to display our gun ownership as something normal helps to solidify our impact as a gun lobby group.

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In Virginia this political action is best organized by VCDL, Virginia’s Citizen Defense League. They are a really great organization and more effective than the NRA for helping to produce and pass pro gun legislation.

One of the neatest moments this past year was our lucky timing of one meeting. Visiting our different legislators we decided to visit one politician; he already had a scheduled appointment with Philip Van Cleave the president of VCDL, so they ushered us into the meeting with them. It was incredible to watch them talk like peers (the way that government should be) about the importance of Virginia’s citizens being able to protect themselves!

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Other fun aspects are being asked to have a picture taken since my Glock 19 has a pink hogue grip on it. I stand out not only because of my pink firearm, but also because I’m usually one of the few females in the crowd.

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If you are sick of the political “talk” and want to something more active, then you should really come to Lobby Day in Richmond in 2013. It is always on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and is an excellent way to make your voice heard. According to the facebook invite on the 21st of January the event takes place between 8:30 am-noon, but it could last longer. Generally, everyone meets out in the yard and splits into small groups. The first few morning hours are spent meeting with the legislators, and then around 11 or noon there is a giant rally in the square. Afterwards, we usually grab lunch, and may return to the General Assembly meeting if there were any people that we missed meeting with.

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I would definitely encourage you to come to visit your representatives in person to let them know how serious you are about your rights! This is especially important with firearms bans that are being talked about.

 

 

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Made Shotgun Shell Christmas Lights

Husband and I had some free time around Christmas. This led to me scouring pinterest for awesome decluttering ideas and diy ideas. I kept seeing pictures of shotgun shell decorated Christmas lights. Due to Husband’s reloading supplies that take up a good chunk of the office he had several buckets of shotgun shells that he offered for this craft project. He even offered to do it with me (which more so led to him doing the entire project).

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 – How to Make Shotgun Shell Christmas Lights –

Needed Item 1 – Christmas light strands. For our wedding we purchased like 8 white strands, so we had extras on hand. However, I’m sure with after Christmas sales you can find another inexpensive strand. Ours are one colored “yellow” lights, I don’t know how well this project would work with multicolored lights.

White Christmas Lights

 

Needed Item 2 – Shotgun Shells. These were already de-primed and I liked the look of those (lets out a little more light). We happened to have three different Christmas colors on hand, so we decided to make a pattern out of those. Note to self: the lighter red looked more orange in the finished product. You can get these in all types of colors online! (Even pink!).

Shotgun Shells

Needed Item 3 – Hot Glue Gun. Husband used his industrial man hot glue gun, instead of my craft mini glue gun.

Process

Step 1 – Design the pattern. We decided to put a shotgun shell on every other light, so that way the strand would have some variety. Our pattern was dark red, light red, and then green. We had less green so were trying to space them out.

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Step 2 – Put glue on the individual light careful not to put any the light bulb. Then press the shotgun shell over the light. Press firmly for about 15 seconds.

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Step 3 – Repeat until the entire strand is finished. At this point (as we had 100 light strand to decorate) most of the glue would have been fully dry, but we decided to lay it out the dry for a little while to make sure anyways.

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The Beagle was not impressed with the lack of attention given to her.

 

Affixing the shotgun shells via hot glue makes these somewhat permanent additions to the light strand, which makes it complicated if you need to replace a bulb. However, according to Lifehacker using rubbing alcohol can dislodge hot glue, so that may work.

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I really enjoyed the added color this gave our lights and tree! We would need two strands to decorate the tree…so I’m sure we’ll be trying out a second strand soon!

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Merry belated Christmas! Let me know if you have any fun Christmas themed DIY!

For more DIY check out this blog hop.

 

Asked For a Kitchen Tool For Christmas

Close to Christmas husband asked me what I wanted. I realized that it’d be too late for him to order something online and despite the fact that I really enjoy the mystery of unwrapping a present on Christmas morning. However, being married to a guy, I’ve realized that its much easier for him, and much more likely that I’ll get something that I want/is useful if I simply tell him. Plus, he already surprised me with tons of sweet things for my birthday. Therefore, I let him know that I wanted a mandoline slicer for Christmas.

Oneida Mandoline Slicer

This past year I’d been working our with my friends watching a Pilates video twice a week, and trying to get healthier. I found out that the more that you eliminate unhealthy foods and eat (at least somewhat) healthier foods then you begin to crave healthier foods. For example, I’ve been eliminating french fries out of my diet, simply because they come in large deep fried deliriously yummy bad for you bunches. Oh I cheat, and when husband orders fries I steal a couple, but at least I avoid the majority of them.

Sweet potato fries (at least as far as I’m concerned) taste healthier and therefore are allowed. In randomly browsing pinterest I found recipes for all types of vegetable fries and apple/vegetable chips. Even using regular potatoes baked items are much healthier for you than if they are deep fried. Hence the longing for the mandoline slicer. Also, when I read a recipe it reads “food prep time 10 minutes” meanwhile it usually takes me closer to 30-40 minutes depending on the amount of cut veggies.

I got my present the day before Christmas Eve! Mainly because I wanted to try making some apple chips, and husband wanted to sample them.

I copied this recipe: http://theframedtable.com/2012/11/07/apple-chips/.

Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, spray a pan with non stick spray (I forgot that part and had to peel off the apple slices after the first round!). We cut the apple in half to make it easier to slice, then we sliced it carefully using the mandoline. I would definitely recommend cut proof gloves, I just don’t have any yet.

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The pile to the left is where we sliced them “too thin” in our opinion, then increased the thickness.

Step 2 – Brush Maple syrup over the apple slices, then sprinkle with cinnamon. We used legit maple syrup from upstate NY.

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Step 3 – Bake for an hour.

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Step 4 – After an hour, flip, brush with maple syrup/sprinkle cinnamon and bake for another hour. (Again, this is the point where it is crucial that you use the non stick spray…otherwise you’ll be peeling them off the pan due to the maple covering).

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Step 5 – Eat! They turned out pretty crispy, but they were still a little chewy due to the thickness of the apple chips.

IMG_2877Husband and I loved them, they tasted very good. Next time, we may try a different thickness. There are also other recipes that involve cooking the chips/fries at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. While there may be more danger in burning the chips, it also takes MUCH less time, plus they may turn out more like crispy chips.

Got any yummy mandoline recipes? Feel free to comment them to me!

 

Celebrated my 25th Birthday

25th Birthday CardThis was actually much earlier this month, but in the midst of suddenly working a full time schedule in the office of my internship location, learning the job while trying to answer three different busy phone lines and training our new office manager while I was still learning it myself was a smidge crazy!

I had hoped to have more time at home to continue cleaning and preparing for my counseling schedule, but in the absence of an office manager I was our back up. I’d only observed the previous office manager a few times, so I was beyond nervous, but by the end of the first week I could tell my supervisor and the Director were really impressed with me. Due to my previous office experience (and no doubt, help from Jesus) I was able to rise to the crisis situation of the occasion and get our office back on track.

That Tuesday I didn’t tell anyone that it was my birthday, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it when our center was already going through transitions etc. I was grateful that our potential hire was there to learn and to potentially be taken on. During my lunch break I was overwhelmed by the calmness I felt. I knew that God had answered my prayers about providing us a new office manager, and helping me to have a stress less birthday.

We ended up making plans to go out to dinner with some of our closest friends. Ruby Tuesday sent me a coupon for a dessert on my birthday, so we got two cupcakes. Decided to give the other cupcake to said pregnant friend :0).

Ruby Tuesday Cupcake Afterwards we went to a local frozen yogurt location and talked for awhile. (I have missed those hanging out moments where you get lost in conversations for hours–we used to have them more frequently while we were in college). While there, I saw these ribbon wrapped vases on the tables. The inner crafter (and semi ocd person) inside of me was aghast at how it was simply knotted in less than pretty fashion. I finally succumbed to the temptation, un-tied it and wrapped its short lengths into a fairly decent bow. Not going to lie, I was pretty proud of myself.

Ribbons Before and After

The next day we had a staff meeting and were recognizing the birthday of another counselor there. Upon seeing the ice cream birthday cake I stated, “oh! I didn’t know cake was involved, otherwise I would have told you that my birthday was yesterday!” To which my director questioned me about not telling her. I told her, “It’s okay, you got me an office manager for my birthday” and I teased our new office manager about being my birthday present!

Note to self…ice cream cake must be thawed in advance of cutting. Picture several professional licensed counselors standing around cutting this frozen cake with a teeny pocket knife and learn this life lesson.

Seriously though in some ways I feel like this birthday was lost in the shuffle of daily life, but it was still really special and exciting, mostly due to my very sweet husband. I feel like I especially was spoiled for this birthday! I got my old faithful inside the waistband holster (review to follow soon), my tshirt quilt from The Running Stitch,2 pairs of pretty earrings, and 2 pink AR mags. The latter was mostly just because he saw them there at the store, but one day we’ll be creating an AR-15 for me with pink furniture. I’m a sucker for anything in tactical pink!

Pink IWB Old Faithful Holster

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Giant Pearl Earrings 4mm White Topaz Earrings

Pink AR Magazines

This birthday does give me pause for reflection. I’m finally 25! I don’t feel any different, but this is one of “those birthdays” for me. This was meant to bring with it a sense of accomplishment. I hope now I’m leaning more towards the age break down of adult instead of how some classify young adults as teenagers or “kids.” Getting older does scare me in a sense though as there are several “big life” things that await us in the future. Things like owning a house orhaving our own children. Things that I know I’m not selfless enough, but also that I do want someday. Ideally, I’d want to have children before I’m 30, probably no later than 27 (but that is scary to think about because it is only 2 years away!!!).

We’ll see, God is in control, and He knows our futures.

Been a Counselor

This week was the first week of my internship! It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Monday night I couldn’t sleep. I kept feeling like I should have prepared more in some way. I didn’t feel like I had any information in my head. I tossed and turned, before finally turning on my cell phone and scrolling through Pinterest. There was a pin from a student who was on the Thailand 2009 trip, she posted a quote “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” In 2009 on that trip her and another leader wrote a song with a similar theme “God doesn’t called the equipped, He equips the called” and I began to sing the lyrics.

Finally, I could sleep. The next morning my outfit and bags were packed, so I overestimated the amount of time I would need, and still ended up getting there ridiculously early. I settled into the office and played Christian worship music on my phone to continue to calm my nerves. Reading over files, I felt ready for this, knowing that God is going to help me through this process. However, the nerves came back as soon as I heard the “ding” on the door announce the entrance of a client.

I simply took a deep breath and launched into the sessions.

In counseling we must face the depravity of man, and it has been heart breaking. Counseling brings one face to face with sin and its destructive path. People either become victims based on sin in the lives of others, or get caught in destructive habits and victimize others.

Again, I’m also very lucky to be working at a Christian private practice, that particularly draws clients because they want to incorporate Christ into their healing process. It is easy in those instances for one to realize that they need to improve their relationship with Christ.

Please be praying for those I’ll be working with, that God will work in and through me.

 

Won NaNoWriMo

I won!

As I announced to you awhile ago, I happily participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in my life! For the first weekend of November, and thus the first weekend of NaNoWriMo we had a few friends in town and decided to host a write-in event! There were snacks and laughter galore.

 

It was a fun experience to write with people. Most of the time during our 30 or 45 minutes sprints we would set a challenge to see who could write the highest word count to spur us towards our daily goals. This helped me to be two or there days ahead of where I needed to be after that weekend. It was a nice feeling to be so far in advance.

Me, writing!

One of the weirdest experiences that I had while typing out my story was how the words seemed to continue to flow. I had no idea if they were well written words or not, but at least I was meeting and surpassing the daily word count goals.

Our foods

In preparing to do NaNoWriMo I got index cards and wrote out scenes on them, which most scenes were individual chapters. Writing flowed the most when I had scenes at least sketched out, later when I did not add more index cards it was more difficult to picture the novel in my head. Simply, because I knew each of my characters needed to be fleshed out throughout their introductions in order to share depth during the group counseling phase of the book I let my mind wander as they were in their scenes, adding any adjectives or random back story that I could think of. Often I cheated using personal items or experiences from my own life. Likely, much of this will need to be edited out, but it helped as a writer to picture and develop the characters more. Seriously, I spent 30,000 words before they ever got to the counseling retreat location to begin their group counseling (i.e. the entire point of the novel)!

My writing materials

I felt very encouraged throughout the process. At the Bible Study I attend, I shared my plans, and the reasons for wanting to see if I could accomplish the goal of 50,000 words. They were very curious, and then moved to hysterics as I described that I was writing about the Disney Princesses.

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Writing was the toughest when I was sick for a few days, I lost my advantage of being ahead. Then, we traveled to NY to visit my in laws and I found it more difficult to write after I got behind. I ended up just trying to make myself write whatever I could to make up for lost time. I didn’t want to give up after so much work! However, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Then, when we returned home, I found out that I was desperately needed in my counseling office, leaving me time to write only in the evenings.

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I pushed myself, writing whatever I could and found that I had reached the 50,000 word goal! However, my story wasn’t finished, I really hadn’t fleshed out the counseling aspects or the climax of the story at all! Understanding that this is supposed to be the first draft, I allowed myself to skip some scenes and chapters, and wrote an ending. This brought my word count to 51,900!

I still have no idea if it is any good. If you’d like to read and edit it feel free to let me know. I’ll certainly let you preview the 150 + double spaced google doc pages. Because I don’t really know how the story is, its hard to know how I feel about “winning” and meeting the goal. I think I thought that I would feel more accomplished than I do. I may not feel as accomplished until I’m able to edit it, and maybe publish it digitally and physically via the prizes for the winners, not sure. But at the end of the day, I did it!’

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Thinking about it further, maybe I didn’t necessarily win the feeling of accomplishment, because the story isn’t finished yet. However, I realized that I’ve been very patient with myself while beginning this phase of my education, the internship. Whereas I would normally have the tendency about failing or doing the wrong thing, not doing 100% what I should do the first time, I have not had that anxiety. Instead, I’ve been able to go into my sessions knowing that this is the “editing” time period and that I’m likely to speak as an unseasoned counselor and that I can continue to refine those skills over time. Maybe that is truly my winning prize, to have continued the evasion of my perfectionism tendencies in other areas of my life!

 

Here is a synopsis of the novel “Disenchanted”

Belle is a hipster: she likes her toms, her apple computer, and adores paranormal romance books. She worries about her Grandfather, and her future. Ariel is an anthropologist who likes to study other cultures, but struggles with anxiety of talking with people. Cinderella was a poor waitress/server recently was married to a wealthy businessman and was whisked into a rich lifestyle with her daughter. Her new husband also has two children of his own and he lives with his mother. Cinderella struggles with feeling like her shoes “simply do not fit” in this new life of blended families and worries about becoming the “wicked stepmother.” Aurora met her knight and shining armor husband while questing in an online role playing game. She was about to be fire roasted by the dragon, when he appeared and rescued her. Now she struggles with the reality of having two children and feeling emotionally disconnected from her husband. Snow White is a model, and has been in the fashion industry her entire life due to her parents’ involvement. She struggles in the limelight often having panic attacks from the anxiety, specifically having thoughts regarding her lack of beauty. Rapunzel is the youngest member of the group. When she was younger she had cancer, and because of this her parents have been over protective, really hindering her from experiencing life. Rapunzel is excited to finally be out on her own, but can’t expect what she discovers!

All of these characters find a flyer and realize that there is a problem in their lives that they want fixed. They want their happily ever after, and they want help to get it. The counselor who will be working with them is intimidated and worried about this group of women who may become “desperate housewives” and whine and complain about the men in their lives. He is a recent Christian who struggles with shame and guilt over his own past, and is learning more about God’s grace, and what he feels is God’s calling on his life to help others. Then, of course, there is the Fairy God Mother. She is the mentor/supervisor of the Christian counselor, as well as the director of the group counseling retreat weekend. The Fairy God Mother interacts with each of the guests, helping them to find enlightenment and wisdom throughout their self reflection journeys.

 

Owned a Tshirt Quilt

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Ask my husband, I am a terrible pack rat. I’m hugely sentimental so I tend to collect anything that could have a memory associated with it. Seriously, sometimes this could be a receipt or candy wrapper. This means in my drawers I tend to have tshirts that I’ve collected from various organizations/occupations etc. I actually have a giant trash bag filled with tshirts from middle school, high school, and a few from college that I’ve saved in the hopes of turning them into a tshirt quilt! Some of these I preemptively cut into squares and they sat, waiting for me to get around to turn them into a blanket and find a sewing machine. Enter my friend LC and her new Etsy business “The Running Stitch.”

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I’ve known LC since middle and high school, we even attended governor school together! We had our tumultuous moments as we explored the not so fun time of adolescence and high school, but we survived. We went to different colleges and so we fell out of touch. Recently though, because she’s also in the blogosphere, we’ve been back in contact.

Her husband is in the military, and so she’s moved often and struggled to find employment. Therefore, on their recent move to Cali she decided to turn her crafting inclinations into a business! Her shop is called “The Running Stitch.” The name is indicative of her sewing capabilities (as that is a type of stitch) and of her passion for Running. One of the main purposes of her sewing business is to help pay for race fees and running gear as it can get expensive.

In opening her business, LC decided to host a tshirt quilt sale, where they would be half off! Well, I couldn’t avoid that and hurriedly sent her my tshirts. I sent her my Xtreme Impact shirts as they were the quickest to organize together, and dearest to my heart at the time.

My Instructions

First of all, I must say that LC is simply a sweet heart to work with! Throughout the process she was quick to communicate with me sending facebook picture messages to double check before cutting. She would ask where to cut the design if it would not fit in the 12 x 12 square, and to make sure that I was okay with the layout. She even agreed to send me pictures of her progress throughout to feature it on my blog. (I’m currently living vicariously through her, since I can’t make it myself, but would like to learn one day).

 

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The quilt was finished within a few weeks of receiving the tshirts, even despite the fact that her sewing machine was malfunctioning. I returned home from surprising my inlaws for Turkey Day, to find the quilt at my door!

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I’m impressed with the size. When we were planning it I asked for a rectangular shape, as I pictured myself  laying with it on the couch. It was hard to tell the actual length from pictures, but it is about as tall as I am, so perfect for cuddling with.

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The back is a flannel blue plaid that she was able to find at a local craft store, again communicating via facebook to ensure that I was completely satisfied with the purchase. The flannel was a little bit more expensive, but is warmer. The buyer also has the option to purchase backing and send it with the tshirts, otherwise you’d be invoiced for it later.

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One thing that I enjoy about the blanket is how light weight it is. This makes it easy to fold and store, but does not compromise on its warmth.

I am extremely satisfied with my order from “The Running Stitch” and I would happily order from her again. She understands the importance of such a customized product and she initiates questions, not waiting for you to feel neurotic for asking for a change in the layout, etc.

Make sure to “like” her facebook page as she will be announcing an “End of the World” sale soon!

Solved the Gun Massacre Problem

This post originates from a random tweet that I came across a few mornings ago from a twitter account about Italy (followed because I miss Italy and like to stay updated about it!)

Because I have become so educated about these types of arguments, and they’ve become common place in my life…I actually decided to respond. This was probably not the wisest decision of my life, as arguments on the internet rarely amount to good. I, at least, always tend to get involved in them with people who don’t really care about listening to your side of the debate and throw it in your face. :-/

This back and forth on twitter quickly degenerated to:

At that point I was beyond frustrated, but realized that pointlessness of that specific conversation. It was difficult that this person decided to push this terrible tragic problem back in my face when I was already proposing a solution, reminding me that precious young lives were taken unfairly.

So, that person wanted me to provide solutions? Well, here they are, here are my individual personal solutions for America’s Gun Massacre problem. This problem is so widespread that it often feels like a single person cannot make a dent in such tragedies. However, this is my attempt.

1. Pray. I will pray for those families, for that community. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of pain that they are suffering through right now. Likely, those parents were probably having a busy morning, just trying to rush to get their children to school or to the bus stop, and had no idea those rushed moments may have been their last with their kindergartner. It breaks my heart. I pray for all of the parents who have to explain to their children that such evil exists in the world, and to try to learn how to make them feel safe and secure again.

2. Understand that evil will always exist in the world. Unfortunately evil is in the world because humans sinned. Our world is broken, and the human heart has a propensity towards awful things. I will pray that God can bring more people to Himself, and change those hearts. I will live my life as a witness to Him, sharing His hope and salvation everywhere that I go, in as many of my actions as possible. Unless we deal with the root issues about the desire of violence and destruction anyone can use any tool to hurt anyone else.

3. Learn about mental health. I am specifically gaining an education to be able to help those who are stressed, distressed, or mentally ill in this world. However, we can all do our part. We can reach out to those around us, to create fewer alone people. Also, we can make mental health check ups and counseling seen as a normal process. If it were less stigmatized I think that more people would go to counseling and get help. I would also weep with those who weep. Those people affected by this tragedy don’t need to hear your words, or how “you know” how it feels, because you don’t. Unless in that specific situation we’ll never completely feel or understand their pain. When those around us are in a crisis we need to shut up and simply be with them, let them know that they’re not alone, and allow them the freedom to grieve at their own pace.

4. Point out logical fallacies. Unfortunately  we tend to not care about issues as much until they are personal or tangible to us. Therefore, the prime time to discuss this and make decisions about how to prevent such tragedies in the future is when such tragedies have just occurred. It is important that this be attempted as sensitively as possible, but is necessary for us to process this tragedy in our action oriented minds to progress towards prevention in the future. This includes: awakening people to the evils of the millions of abortions in this world, as well as the fact that our government uses drones overseas and destroys school houses filled with innocent children. To be logically consistent we need to believe that all life is precious and sanctified and work to protect it.

5. Protect one’s self from evil. Personally, my husband and I (and several of our friends) means that we’ve decided to carry a firearm daily in order to protect our lives, our future children, or others around us from such terrible acts of violence. I pray to God to never have to be in a situation to use my firearm, but have that tool in order to protect against the inevitable evil in the world. Much like Christian author and missionary Charl Van Wyk who was sitting in a church service in South Africa, and was able to defend his congregation against a terrorist attack, minimizing the effects of the terrible shooting. His accounts are recorded in an excellent book entitled Shooting Back: The Right and Duty to Self Defense. I would highly recommend it, and book review is located on my book blog!

6. Train yourself to be able to defend yourself in such horrific situations. Its not enough simply to own a gun or defensive tool (like martial arts, a baseball bat, a knife, or pepper spray) you need to know and feel comfortable enough to use it if necessary. One way that I train is to participate in local gun club competitions that simulate real life situations. International Defensive Pistol Association is a great example and you can read more about my experiences with that.

7. Get involved in local politics to defend your right to defend yourself. Sadly, after these debates instead of focusing on the the tragedy, it is used to highlight agendas citing that handguns equal violence and we should remove them all. However, logical fallacy again…those who were ruthlessly murdered were in a “safe” gun free zone. I really hope this is the last brutal massacre that we need to convince us that our current laws and restrictions aren’t working about guns. When citizens do not have access to guns, criminals, and mentally ill people know that they will not be unhindered in their cruelty. Some of the ways that I work to protect my legal defense rights are to participate with Virginia Citizen Defense League. It is a wonderful organization that works to show the state legislature how the gun owning community feels and represents us well. One of their main events is to head to Richmond for Lobby Day. Here we meet with our representatives while openly carrying our legally held firearms and discuss the policy that is being proposed for the next session.  Previous to that experience I’ve always hated politics believe it to be an inefficient process. However, meeting with my state representatives gave me a way to be actively involved in the process.

Specifically, what I would love to see happen is a law passed that enabled teachers and administration to be able to legally carry concealed weapons within a school. This would not prevent tragedy, but at least would offer some level of defense against such an event. One day I’ll be a parent, and right now I would have a hard time wanting to sent my child to a school outside of my own home, simply for their safety. Interestingly enough, these massacres are not only a US problem, but killing sprees are happening all over the world. I just discovered this article from 2009 about a recent mass shooting in a school in Germany following other such massacres in 2002, and 2006. This article shared the fact that teachers in Israel have been carrying weapons since the 1970’s and that in 2004 Thailand adopted a policy that allowed teachers to be issued firearm licenses if they desired. The article quotes:

The report stated that though Thailand’s government was extremely hostile to gun ownership in general, it recognized that teachers ought to be in a position to safeguard themselves and their students.

Even more recently the Virginia Governor and a former NYPD police detective are advocating teachers and administration be allowed to carry read further here, and here respectively.

8. Remind yourself that there is good in the world and appreciate life. Reports of this nature are devastating even for those not affected by the tragedy. Twitter and Facebook are filled with comments from parents of young children who were unable to sleep well. I think to work through this besides what I’ve listed above, it is important to enjoy life and to realize anew how much each moment is a gift. We are not guaranteed one more second on this earth. Therefore, hug your children close to you, spend time with friends and loved ones, reach out to those around you. Be kind to those in need, and “Pay it forward”. Live out your faith, and share His perfect love.

Surprised My In-laws For Thanksgiving

When husband’s sister and husband visited in September when we went to the Lewis Ginter Botantical Garden, she suggested that we should connive together to plan a secret trip to visit their parents. I always enjoy visiting with them (as many of our previous posts will show).

As time grew closer husband realized that he had some time off from work, but just needed to convince him to make the 8/9 hour journey up there. Eventually,  this happened! It was so much fun driving up knowing we’d get to surprise them. At one point we called his mom and he fibbed about getting home after only a half day from work.

They were in shock, surprised to see us with the puppy, standing at their front door! They just sat back on the couch for a second processing! It was good to spend time with them.

We enjoyed a yummy thanksgiving, and mostly just hanging around the house watching tv with them.

I did spend a lot of time on my computer typing away on my story. My NaNo word count was falling behind from being sick and busy that previous weekend. Then, I realized how difficult it was to write during the festivities of Thanksgiving and family time!

While there husband, his friend who’s moving down here now, and I decided to go exploring and visit a vineyard! It was called Johnson Estate Wines. They make their own wine from all of the vines on their large estate, which is unique for the area. We sampled a few sweet wines including: the Pink Niagara (which the friend had brought when he visited for the weekend), Pink Catawba, and Passion Peach. At this location, they also make the only US made sparkling ice wines. I’ve heard that these are some delicious wines, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try as such, those bottles are very expensive. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we could have tasted them there for $1.00 each which wouldn’t have been too bad.

And of course no trip to NY would be complete without some Tim Horton’s! Here I have White Hot Chocolate…one of the most delicious things in the world!

The weekend while we were there, it was threatening to snow several inches due to Lake Effect. I’ve heard of Lake Effect, but never experienced it myself. I actually hoped we would get snowed in, since I had no reason to go outside. Whenever I would say this my Mother In Law threatened to kick me out of the house!

Lucky for all of us there was only a slight dusting. It was just enough to cover the trees and make for a gorgeous scenic frosting for us to view on our drive home. I kept remarking to the husband that it looked like an enchanted winter wonderland!

On the way home, my 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis actually passed 100,000 miles. Did I mention that I bought this car in 2008 with 75,000 miles for only $2,500? When in doubt find the car that has only had two elderly drivers who don’t drive their car much.

Donated My Hair with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths

When I was a teenager it became a big deal to donate one’s hair to be made into a wig, to be given to cancer patients without hair. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but back them most of the regulations stated that your donated hair needed to be at least 12inches and it couldn’t be dyed, so I never did it. The last time that I cut my hair was after my car stalled in April of 2011, ever since then I thought it would be fun to let it grow out. Husband prefers it longer, however I tend to chop it off before my overseas trips because shorter hair is so much easier to manage! This past summer I decided not to cut it before my Italy 2012 trip, and figured I’d let it grow out and chop it off that following winter. While out with a previous co-worker from Xtreme Impact I discovered that she also was hoping to donate her hair, so we figured it would be something fun to do together! (We’re always saying we need to get together and we never do).

Before we chopped off our hair to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.

So, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we decided to go to Supercuts to donate our hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Program. Previously, I was familiar with Locks For Love. However, after some research we decided to go with Pantene for various reasons: their program’s financial policies are more transparent, all of the hair is given to the American Cancer Society who then gives the wigs to the patients, and your hair can be at least eight inches. Here are the directions on their website: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/PanteneBeautifulLengths/Details/beautiful-lengths-make-the-cut.aspx Most of my lengths ended up being 8-11 inches due to layers that were cut into my hair the previous time. Overall, this was a great experience, and exciting to be able to participate in something so worthwhile. I’ll be mailing my hair out to them soon. Also, I LOVE my short hair. It is nice that it doesn’t get tangled as easily, nor frizzy in the cold weather. I’ll probably be keeping this style for awhile :0)