Sunday, January 16, 2022

Happy Belated New Year (again!)

I was reading thru some old blog posts and my first post of 2021 was January 18!  

2021 wasn't a good blogging year anyway with a whopping 9 posts - let's hope 2022 is better!

Actually, I saw a post from the A to Z Blogging Challenge peeps and I was thinking of checking out some other blogs to get ideas for this year and their website is down...?  WTF!  At least the FB page is still going, so I'm sure they'll update us once they get it back up & running.

So the beginning of December was pretty quiet.  I wasn't motivated to decorate much, since we didn't get any of the Halloween stuff put away until *after* Christmas!  Usually when we put the skeletons away (in the back corner of the garage) we pull the Christmas totes out and put the Halloween stuff away first, so when I'm ready to get into the red & green totes - they're handy!  Not this year.  
Normally I'd have the blowmolds staged, clean & lights all checked.  

But I did eventually get them out.  
And since the skeletons we all still out on the patio, one made it to the front yard! 
This is one of my favorite Christmas displays!
I found these lights in with the Halloween stuff, but they might be the ones we got last year for the big tree....
which was my dilemma this year!  Last year we had the baby gate around the tree since BabyBoy wasn't too mobile.  This year, the gate is up to keep him (mostly - he knows how to climb over it!) contained in the living room so he doesn't bother the Spouse, who is still working from home.  I didn't know where to put the tree!  I ended up dragging out the small tree from a couple years ago and put it outside of the Boy containment zone on top of a coffee table. 
And then I couldn't find the ornament hooks!  So all of the ornaments are ones that came with ribbon loops.  Couldn't find the garland, either!  I thought it was in the tote with the tree last year, but it wasn't.  So I grabbed some quality garland from the dollar store. It's green so it kinda fills in the tree a bit. 
My Mom got him a sled - it's a big hit!
4 generations!

On Christmas Day, we went up to Frankenmuth for dinner, which seems to be trying to become a tradition.  The Spouse and I stopped by to pick up Sis1 since she's along our way.  Afterward, she and I went out to the barn to get some pics of the critters.   We had some good laughs! 
Kisses looking mildly concerned with this thing hanging off her ear.
Ghost looks quiet handsome with the hat & scarf. 
He was are concerned with the beard!
I tried to get a good pic of them all, but this is the best I could get!

The Spouse left for Arkansas on the 27th, to stay for the whole month of January again.  
Sigh - 2 more weeks without him!

On New Years Eve, the Spawn asked if I wanted to go with her little fam to a kid friendly NYE ball drop.  
The "Mitten Drop" happened at 6:30 pm so I was able to be home and getting my pjs on by 8!  She managed to talk me into keeping BabyBoy so her & babydaddy (with BabyGirl since she's still nursing) could go over to some friends'.  That was fine - he's usually in bed way before 10 and sleeps thru the night, so he's a good NYE date. 

On January 2, besides BabyBoy's 2nd birthday, I went to the VFW district awards banquet for the Teacher of the Year / Voice of Democracy / Patriots Pen.  It was a nice ceremony, even if I didn't really know anyone.  When I got home from that, we'd asked my mom if she wanted to go out to dinner with the birthday boy.  So we just went to this little diner by her house. 
I really liked how all the flags were lined up. 
When I got home, this is what I found.
There's a baby under all of those Legos!

Last weekend I went with the sisters to see a Bon Jovi Tribute Band in concert.  
It was pretty comical to watch, with wig and costume changes, but they did sound really good.  And they played for a solid 3 hours!
"80's Jon"
Us with "90s Jon"
Us with "Richie"
Chuck the skeleton went with us and I'm holding him behind my back here. 

It was pretty fun and in a couple weeks, we're going back to the same bar to see a Journey Tribute band, who we've heard is really good, too. 

We - thankfully - haven't had any more call-out with the search & rescue team since July.  We've been asked for assistance with evidence searches here & there, tho.  Basically those are recovery searches, since they no longer expect to find a living person.  And we're always training.  We had a drill yesterday - in single digit degree temps.  At least the sun was out and we were mostly in the woods at a campground.  it's good to have drills like that so you know what kind of gear you need when an actual call out in winter happens.  

So that's all the excitement around here. 
It's getting late and the alarm happens pretty early!

In the words of Gregisms (look him up on Facebook, he's hilarious!)
Find Your Joy! 

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Hey, at least I didn't wait until the first day of winter for this post!

How's it all going?  I have lots to catch up on!

First - the most exciting news...
grandbaby #2
Kennedy Rose aka "BabyGirl"
was born on October 18 at 2:28am
8lb 3oz, 20 inches long
so much for the doctor & midwives being concerned about her being small!

I took Spawn to the hospital shortly before midnight and less than 3 hours later, BAM.  
She came out, pooped on the scale and demanded to be fed.  
She's gonna rule the world!
BabyBoy's first impression. 
He's a blur because he just looked for a second and was turning so I could pick him up.
He's better now.  He calls her Bean.
Super adorable doll baby!

Of course, Halloween is a big thing around here. 
BabyBoy was excited to check out the Spirit Halloween store.  
I don't know if he picked up on Spawn's anti-clown vibes, but he wasn't a fan of the clowns, but he liked the jumping spider and other monsters.  And thanks to me & my little skeleton Chuck, he loves the skeletons!
When I went to get my critter skeletons out of the little loft in the shed, I found a squirrel's nest in with them!  I didn't realize at first what it was until I moved a skeleton and 2 little faces popped out of the mess of coco fiber flower pot liner stuff.  Something leaped out at me and I *thought* it was gray, but this little guy who fell out of the loft clearly isn't gray!  He was on the ground under the lawn mower for several hours, so I scooped him up, took a quick pic and tucked him back into the nest.  
He's such a good helper.  He had a toy hammer, helping drive rebar into the ground for the fence. 
Safety first!  He put on my gardening gloves to help me screw this floodlight (with a toy screwdriver) into the wood support. 
I haven't made the "official" video yet, but here's the daytime walkthru 
and at the end of trick or treating with the township sirens going off. 

In mid-October, my search & rescue team (affiliated with the Sherriff's department) were invited to ride on the Polly Ann Trail Ride Fundraiser they have every year.   
Some other riders had a good laugh because they saw Chris & I (with our matching 'painted ponies' and orange shirts) but never saw us with the Sgt. until we came back to the parking lot.  They thought we "found" him! 
After the ride, I met up with the rest of the family to go to the Fire Department Open House.  
BabyBoy is totally going to be the next fire chief!  
I love this picture of him with all the turn-out gear - and the ones he tried to grab were the chief's!  And when we went in their classroom to get hotdogs and snacks, BabyBoy picked the chief's office to go into and tried to steal a pen off his desk!  And of course he was caught - by the Chief!

Another event I went to was called "Fantasy Forest" - basically all these businesses and groups set up booths along the trail in a park and kids went along and trick or treated!  
They had us on the ball field, since in the past we've taken horses to give pony rides.  Well, none of the equines currently on the team are small enough to give pony rides!  I'm 5'8" and can just barely see over Kisses' back and the other 2 are just as tall, if not taller!  It had rained all night up until time to set up, so I'm sure the park people were glad we didn't have horses out there anyway - that would have destroyed their infield!  So they had to make due to with another of my skeleton K9 units.  I have 2 skeletons that Sarah and I put SAR gear on, 3 dog skeletons and Chuck sitting in the stokes basket, buried in candy. 
By lunchtime on November 1.
I feel that's part of the magic.  My cemetery is out for all of October, but the day after Halloween, it's gone!  
Just don't look in the back yard.  All the skeletons are still out.  We didn't get them put away before he left for Arkansas and hanging them all back up in the rafters is at least a 2 person job!  My knees can't handle stepping up and down on a chair 20 times!

I'm thinking of taking the life-sized horse and putting him out in the front yard with garland and a skeleton wearing a Santa hat..... 

So the second weekend in November, I went to Halloween Camp again.  This is a half-fun / half-learning event put on by another local SAR team.  This one had a carnival theme.  We got to play some midway type games. We were in 3 teams and did an obstacle course (with K9s!) which was pretty hilarious for those of us who didn't have dogs.  We did a "board walk" where each team had 2 boards with ropes tied on them and we had to walk as a team with right feet on one board and left feet on the other, while holding onto those ropes.  And we probably walked 100 yards or more, with 2 - 90 degree turns!  Once we got to the end of the race course (my team won!!) we had an area search in the woods looking for ghosts (suckers wrapped in black, white or orange tissue paper - that was tough!!)  We played Jeopardy and the topics were things like first aid, incident command and navigation.  Then we had a scenario where one of the carnies grabbed some kids at the carnival.  So we did a night search for missing kids.  It was a training to see what the dogs would do with a set of twins. 
Then we did a relay race / building search of the carnie's "house".  It was filled with smoke and strobe lights so we had to use red lights to see.  We were given a list of 8 items, and one person from each team went in to find an item, bring it out and the next person went in and had to find something different from the list.  That's my favorite event!

I haven't seen any of the pictures from Camp yet - they need to get on the ball and post them!  Supposedly tonight.

It was a 2 day event, so Sunday morning, we had to leave the camp by 8 and not come back until 10, so a bunch of us went out to breakfast.  It was funny, I went in the bathroom and this little old lady came up and put her hand on my arm (from behind so it startled me!) She saw my SAR shirt and asked if there was something going on?  She was relived to find out it was just a "training" exercise.  She told me she'd followed me down the road and wanted to come say hi.  I was confused, since my car isn't anything unusual, other than a small team sticker on the back window.  Then she said something about the big truck.... then it clicked that one of the guys I was sitting with has an RV that he decked out to be a mobile command unit and it has "search & rescue" really big on the side.  She must have been following him! 
So anyway, once we got back to the camp, we had another set of twins to search for and also the missing carnie.  A lot of the dogs there are HRD (Human Remains Detection) so the carnie was actually a dummy hanging up in a tower and the dogs had to pinpoint where it was (it had "source" in it, or an HR sample).  So it was a lot of fun, but also really cool learning and working with different SAR teams.  

We haven't had any real call-outs, thankfully.  But we did get called to assist in another county.  I got the team text at 6am one Sunday, and when I saw where it was.... 3 hours away.... I opted to *not* go. 
My helpers.  Hope they're taking good notes!

So last weekend, I spent the entire weekend taking my ICS300 course online. Literally 4+ hours Friday night and 8 hours both Saturday & Sunday.  It's "intermediate incident command for expanding incidents" and insanely boring like you'd expect any course made by the government (FEMA) to be.  We were put into groups here & there so that was pretty cool, working with people from all over the country, in different lines of work.   

Ugh, next I have to do ICS 400 - advanced incident command for complex incidents.  The only reason I have to take these courses is because I'm a team lead on the SAR team.  We will *never* be first on a scene, so it seems kind of pointless.  We get called out by the sheriff's department so at least they will be there before us!

Then was Thanksgiving.  We went to my sister's house on Wednesday, stayed the night, then did the dinner thing Thursday.  We all contribute to dinner (and breakfast) so it doesn't stress just one person out. 

So that's about all of the excitement here.  I still don't have my Christmas & winter blowmolds out of the shed.  I meant to do that yesterday, but the winter weather advisory we got changed my mind.  I did go out & shovel the driveway today and actually worked up a sweat!  We really only got about 2-3 inches but it was wet & heavy and I wanted to get rid of it before we drove on it.

The Spouse has been in Arkansas since the 19th and I know he's not going to be excited to see snow!

Sorry for the huge gap - that's what I get for copying off the Cloud instead of waiting 100 years for pics to upload!


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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Autumn in 3...2...1

Today's post title is a nod the the *last* one!  

Ya know, I do feel guilty for not posting more.  But the Spawn's last day of work is soon and I'll have all of my evenings (mostly) free again.  I've been babysitting 4 evenings a week and as much as I love the grandson... I sure can't get much done without him wanting to help!  

And granddaughter is still on course to arrive October 13.
I also somehow adopted the titles / responsibilities of admin for my VFW post's Facebook page and website!  And whoever came up with that website template is a moron! Not user friendly at all.   

Oh gosh.  Let's recap the summer. 

Most importantly - everyone is, and has been, healthy!  

The Spouse and I celebrated our 15th anniversary in July and took a trip to the Upper Peninsula (you can read about it here - thru the googly eyes of a 3 foot tall skeleton!)  I haven't posted much over there lately, either, so it's not just this blog that I've neglected!  
It was a beautiful trip.  We had perfect weather the whole time. 
Miner's Castle
I hadn't been to Mackinac since I was a kid and the Spouse had never been there. 
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was stunning! 
Highly recommend the sunset cruise along there. 
And the shipwreck tour on the glass bottomed boat was really cool, too. 
We were about 6 feet above the shipwreck here. 

I was nominated into the position of mounted team lead on the SAR team.  Not sure *who* did such a thing!  Me, the only person on the mounted division that does not own a horse???  I have a million pictures of Kisses and off her back, but she's not actually mine!  
But after speaking with Sis1, who does own Kisses, I accepted the position.  I'm supposed to be in charge of getting the horses trained so we can get them SARTECH III qualified.  Pretty much, they need to have almost the same training as a police horse, except we don't have to shoot off their backs.  But they do need to be exposed to sirens & lights. 
I had to get in front of people who know more than me and "train"!?!?  
It ended up being a group discussion about basic equine first aid and horse handling since most of the people on the team have their own pasture ornaments.  There is one guy who's not too familiar with horses, so we had him lead Kisses around and filled him in on what he should do if he came across a loose horse without a rider while out on a search.   

We were called out on several searches this summer, but only one was BIG.  Like a week long, zillions of volunteers HUGE.
That's a LOT of resources!
And it's not even the civilians in the neighborhood that came out to help. 

It didn't turn out well, tho. The last day of 'official' organized search was on a Saturday and Wednesday he was found in a pond.  The general consensus was he was underwater and it just took that long for him to surface.  And it was one of those really big ponds that was totally covered in thick algae and lily pads so there was zero visibility for the dive teams.  Interesting, tho - talking to another team who has HR (human remains) dogs, they felt the K9 might not have indicated from the shoreline, but if they had gone out into a boat, they probably would have found him sooner.  Always a learning experience.  

Last weekend was the inaugural SAR Olympics.  It was put on by the same lady who did Halloween Camp last year so I knew it was going to be fun!  There were 3 SAR teams in attendance, so we were with a lot of people we'd worked and trained with before.  We all shared gear and helped each other out, so there was a lot of teamwork that wasn't just in our teams!

We did a lot of events that we had learned in SARTECH - area search, route search, land navigation, ropes, plus we did a couple practice searches.  I was really surprised to get a silver medal in area search, where we had to search a lane 10m x 100m for playing cards, while maintaining a 110° bearing.  I got another surprising silver in ropes, where we had to make an improvised harness and "repel" between 2 trees as fast as we could.  Then I got a bronze in fire starting - I was shocked at how many people had trouble in this.  But it was mostly figuring out what we carry in our packs that might help start a fire. But we had to start it and build it big enough to burn thru the string of a balloon about 18 inches above the ground.  I managed to get mine lit but that was it.  But it got me a 3rd place!   
The 'searches' we did were pretty cool.  One team has a drone and submersible ROV operator so I took the opportunity to be his support / radio person.
He showed me the track he took the drone on over our sector and I was amazed at the coverage he got.  Too bad there were a lot of trees, so he didn't see much on the ground.
Later we all got to file out onto a really rickety dock and see the ROV's screen when he found the "subject" we'd been looking for, in the bottom of the lake.  Super creepy!

We had a night search with the K9s looking for some high school kids that volunteered to come out & hide for us.  

There are a lot of events coming up in the next couple months.  Parades and community events.  Getting our name out there mainly.  Our last team meeting the sheriff, the under-sheriff and one of the county commissioners stopped in the visit.  (We met out in a local boy scout camp and the sheriff got lost!  We had to send someone to go get him - LOL!)  But apparently a lot of people were impressed with our abilities and professionalism during that big search! And since we're affiliated with the sheriff's department, it makes them look good, too.

So yes - Halloween time is approaching!  I start setting up the cemetery next weekend!  We got the skeletons out last weekend and the blowmolds & coffin came out yesterday.  The skeletons are the worst to dig out, since they hang from the rafters in the back of the garage, which means we have to pull the snowblower and bikes and random other crap out of the way to get to them.  
Next I just have to get the headstones & critter skeletons out of the shed and clean everything up.  I know it's a cemetery, but I don't like authentic spider webs & bug corpses.  I need to check all the lights in the blowmolds, too. 

The lawn will be mowed one last time, then at least the front will be let go until November 1 when everything comes down.

So that's about it for now.   

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