My Hero Wears Camo

I never planned to be an Army wife, yet my husband wore dress blues in place of a tuxedo on our wedding day.

I said "I do" to the Hubs and to the Army.

I said “I do” to the Hubs and to the Army.

I never planned to be an Army mom, yet my son wears ACUs in his college classrooms as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

My favorite cadet on his way to class.

My favorite cadet on his way to class.

I never imagined the Star Spangled Banner would bring tears to my eyes or that I would be compelled to watch every homecoming video posted on my news feed…or shed tears for those joyous reunions that will never happen.

Since becoming a part of a military family, I feel my heart thump at the sight of an American flag flapping proudly in the breeze and a lump in my throat when it sails at half-mast.

American Flag

I found this flag on the beach last year.

I am humbled to know heroes fight for me every day. I see their pictures in my Facebook feed as my Army Mom network pledges to stay Army Strong. Some of the names I know and often the face is familiar as I read the pleas for prayers and support as a momma sends her child into harm’s way and asks for prayers for a safe return. But most days, the heroes who fight for me are strangers.

They are anonymous men and women who have raised their hands, and with words ringing of commitment and allegiance, they have entered the most honorable of professions. They leave their wives, their husbands, their children and their parents. They put their country above all else, and sometimes they make the greatest of sacrifices.

These are my heroes. They wear digitized camo. They have boots on the ground and courage in their hearts.

In return for their selflessness, I pray…keep them safe…keep them brave…bring them home.

Do you have a hero serving in the military? Give them a shout-out in the comments.

Five Minute Friday***This post was brought to you today by the Five Minute Friday and the word “Hero”. Join us for some frenzied blogging on Lisa-Jo Baker’s site every Friday.

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Momma’s Best Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Polar Vortex? Arctic Blast? Bitter Wind Chill? Let’s just call it what it is.  It’s COLD!

As the Young One says, “C-O-L-D spells Brrrrrrr!” While I waited with her at the bus stop this morning (warmly sheltered in my cozy SUV), the thermometer on the dashboard told me C-O-L-D also equals three. That equation, however, proved to be indefinite because 30 minutes later when I checked my phone’s weather app after returning from a brisk (although abbreviated) walk outside with the Fluffy One,  it told me C-O-L-D = 1.

This is how the Fluffy One rolls on cold winter days.

This is how the Fluffy One rolls on cold winter days.

Fluffy is now snoozing by the fire. The sun is shining brightly, and the temperature has soared to a balmy seven degrees! However, when you factor in variables for wind speed and “snow pack” effect, C-O-L-D now equals some value that is less than but not greater than -1…or something like that.

Any way you calculate it or spell it, it’s just plain cold outside, and at least in my part of the country, the Bluegrass State, we are currently experiencing the third wave of bitter temperatures. During last week’s negative temps, I resorted to everything in my arsenal in an attempt to keep the family warm–thick socks, high-necked sweaters, layer upon layer of just about anything in the closet.

By day three, I peered out at the Hubs from beneath the blanket I reserve for chilly football games, looked him in the eye and declared, “It’s time to bring out the big guns.”

Something in my voice must have told him I was serious. He met my eye, gave one quick nod, and said, “Do it.”

I pulled myself from my chair, reluctantly tossed the blanket aside, and reached for the book high on the shelf. I was determined, and I knew I was doing the right thing. This is my family. A momma has to do what a momma has to do, no matter the consequences.

With the book clutched to my chest, I turned to the Hubs for reassurance. “I need to do this.” I saw the gleam in his eye and felt a wave of exhilaration. I smiled, raised the book one-handed to the heavens and cried, “Chicken and Dumplings for dinner!”

Okay…it didn’t happen exactly like that, but I did make our favorite cold-weather one-pot meal for dinner, and it had the desired effect. It warmed us from the inside out, and the leftovers proved to be even more effective on day four of the cold blast.

My chicken and dumplings recipe is really a mashup of ingredients pulled from three or four dogeared recipe books and cooking magazines combined with some wise advice from the personal chef of my childhood (aka my momma). I’ve taken the best parts from each source, added my own high-heeled twists, and come up with a cold-weather comfort food sure to thaw even the coldest snowman.

If your toes are cold and just looking out the window makes you shiver, give this a try. When you factor this into the cold weather equation, all you get is, “Mmmmmm!”

Best Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Momma’s Best Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Broth and Chicken

  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • One 4-pound chicken, quartered into two leg pieces and two breast pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced, leave roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Add broth and water to a large soup pot, and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  2. While the broth is coming to a simmer, quarter the chicken (Or do what I do, and buy it pre-quartered at the grocery store, but be sure to use only the leg/thigh pieces and the breasts. You can save the back bone to make stock if you are ambitious.) Remove the skin. (Use a paper towel to help grasp the slippery skin, and pull it off easily.) Sprinkle each piece with Kosher salt.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook until the breast and tenderloin start to separate (about 10 – 15 minutes), then remove from the broth and set aside to cool. Continue simmering the leg pieces until the meat pulls away from the bone (about another 10 minutes). Remove the legs from the pot, and cool.
  4. Add the carrots, celery. Season to taste with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and continue to simmer while you make the dumplings.

Dumplings

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 1/4 cups skim milk
  1. Combine all ingredients, and stir until smooth. (The dough will be sticky.) Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Spoon the dough into a one-gallon zip top bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal. Cut about a half of an inch off one corner of the bag.
  3. Squeeze the bag over the simmering broth, and pinch off about a half inch of dough for each dumpling. Continue until all the dough is pinched off into the broth. (To keep the dough from sticking too much to my fingers, I keep a small bowl of flour on the counter beside the pan and use it to coat the tips of my fingers as needed. As an alternative, you can roll the dough out to a half-inch thickness, use a pizza cutter to cut out half-inch cubes of dough, and drop one cube at a time into the broth.) As they simmer, the dumplings will partially dissolve and thicken the broth into a nice thick gravy.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often to separate the dumplins.

Bring It All Together

Directions:

  1. While the broth thickens, shred the chicken by hand into bite-sized pieces.
  2. When the broth has reach the desired consistency, drop the chicken pieces into the pot. Simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the fresh parsley prior to serving.
  4. Best served in large bowls and enjoyed on a frigid cold winter day with your favorite people.

What’s your favorite cold-weather recipe?

Highly Recommended Reads

Adoption

That’s me and the Young One just a few days into this Parenting-A-Girl thing.

On the anniversary of the day I met my daughter, I thought I would celebrate with a trip down memory lane (which I did earlier today with my Five Minute Friday/Flashback Friday combo post) and a roundup of things I want her to know…written by people who have said it better than I could hope.

For My Daughter on Her 4th Birthday – I could have written most of this post to my own daughter. I need to remember she is not just a short person, she is a kid. But at the same time, I need to remember she is a kid who is trying to be her own person.

The Bully Too Close to Home – This one has really been on my mind since I read it a few days ago. If you have ever snapped at or said harsh words to your children, you must read this. I think your kids will thank you for it.

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated – The Young One swears she is never getting married. I suspect that is a phase she will eventually grow out of especially when she finally learns boys don’t really have cooties (at least the good ones don’t). I’ll save this post for her and pull it out when she starts dating.

I hope you enjoy these Highly Recommended Reads and learn as much from them as I have. Now, it’s your turn. Leave me a comment with your own recommended lists.

Visit of a Lifetime

Six years ago, I made my first visit to snow-encrusted Novokuznetsk–an industrial city in Russia’s western Siberia. I had spent the week prior, googling the temps in the area and trying to decide which of my heaviest sweaters would travel best in my suitcase. The Weather Channel promised me I could expect an actual temperature of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills that would plummet it to negative 50.

Baby Home #95, Novokuzketsk, Russia. January 24, 2008.

Baby Home #95, Novokuzketsk, Russia. January 24, 2008.

I would definitely need warm clothes, but soft ones…definitely soft ones. I wouldn’t want to wear wool or any scratchy synthetics for this visit. Cotton would work. That would be soft and comforting.

Bright colors too, red or bright pink or maybe even a contrasting color block pattern of white and black…anything to attract the eye and make it focus.

I carefully chose my softest, brightest, happiest clothing. I folded and rolled them and wedged them in the crevices among the toys, books, photographs, blankets and files filled to bursting with paperwork.

Soft sweater...check. Visual interest...check. Happy momma...check!

Soft sweater…check. Visual interest…check. Happy momma…check!

That visit six years ago was the most important visit the Hubs and I had ever made. A visit half a world away where we would finally meet our child. After weeks of looking lovingly at a single photograph, we would finally hold her close…so the clothing she would feel against her baby cheek needed to be soft like a mother would wear.

She would finally see us, and I needed her to focus on the strangers in the room…to look at us and see brightness and happiness and the joyful wonder as we looked back at her.

That first visit to Baby Home #95 in Novokuzknetsk, Russia, was everything I ever imagined meeting my daughter would be. It was cold. It was foreign. It was exhausting. It was happy. It was heartbreaking. It was the visit of a lifetime.

Five Minute Friday**This post was brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “visit”. I’ve been participating in FMF for about a year and a half, and this is the third time, I’ve opened my email to find a prompt that was made for me. Today is the sixth anniversary of the day the Hubs and I met our daughter during our first of two adoption visits to Russia. I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’m extremely happy today’s word inspired me to tell you about it. If you’d like to see how fast you can write a blog post, check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s site every Friday. Maybe you’ll find a word meant for you too!

zero-to-hero-badge**With today’s post I can also check off the latest Zero to Hero assignment to participate in a blogging challenge.

Coaching Changes and Life Lessons

I started my writing career as a sports reporter for my hometown newspaper. I was all of 19 years old, in my sophomore year at Penn State, and on the occasion of my first by-line, my total firsthand experiences with athletic events totaled exactly one–the girl’s high school basketball game on which I had just reported.

Despite my lack of athletic prowess, I went on to be a constant presence in that gymnasium as well as local baseball fields and natatoriums, proudly flashing my press pass at the admissions gate. A year later, I moved from the sports room to the newsroom and never looked back.

I never covered a football game, but I know an awful lot about a certain football player!

I never covered a football game, but I know an awful lot about a certain football player!

Earlier this week, in response to a Zero to Hero blogging challenge assignment, I posted the Army Black Knights 2013 football highlight video introducing new head coach, Jeff Monken, and I briefly flashed back to my days on the sports desk. Later that day, I answered my ringing phone to hear my son on the other end–my very own Black Knight football player. We talked about school and roommates and care packages.

Then we talked football–not plays or practices or games. We talked about coaches. More specifically, we talked about coaching changes and the uncertainty that surrounds the Army football program as the new head coach takes over. That was when I realized the 2013 football highlight video is more than just crashing shoulder pads set to booming music and a brief hello to the new guy in charge. It is a life lesson for every Black Knight who walks into that locker room wondering how their team and their place on it will change.

Change, in my opinion, is always good. It may not seem like it at the moment, but a fresh perspective is rarely a bad thing. We can all benefit from new experiences and grow with our responses to them. My son and each of his teammates, however, are about to learn change can also be very frightening.

No matter their opinions on the previous team leadership, each player is uncertain of how this change will affect him. The complete picture of the new regime is still a question mark. Which assistant coaches will stay and which will go was determined early on in the transition, but the full staff has yet to be named, and new procedures and schedules have yet to be set.

On the phone the Older One expressed concerns about rumors of late night practices and lack of study time. “Has the coach told you that?” I asked.

“Well…no,” he admitted.

“Then just wait. Don’t let rumors keep you awake at night,” I said–the voice of experience.

I’ve been through re-organization several times. Some of the re-orgs have been good for me, others not so good, and others didn’t have much of an affect at all. In all cases, the post-announcement upheaval was a cycle of uncertainty, rumors, changes, more uncertainty, more rumors, more changes, and eventually a new normal.

The difference in this case is that the Older One gets to experience it for the first time at the age of 20, before he truly enters the work force. One day soon though, he will be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. He will be given men to lead, and to them he will be the “new coach”. Eventually, whether he stays in the Army or joins corporate America like his momma and his father before him, his commanding officer will move on or his boss will be replaced. Before he knows it, he will be right back in that locker room wondering how he will manage the rapidly shifting emotions of change.

But this time, he’ll have experience in his arsenal. In the midst of the chaos, he might feel the fluttery fingers of uncertainty in his belly, but he’ll know to take a deep breath for calm. He might hear a rumor from a colleague or listen to the concern of an anxious soldier, and he’ll stop him, and say, “Just wait. Don’t let the rumors keep you awake at night.”

In those instances, he will be able to look back on the day he got a new football coach, and he will be able to see it for what it is–a life lesson. Whatever the outcome of this change may be, how he responds to it will shape how he responds to the challenges yet to come.

Go Army!

Army Football Highlights 2013

Video

I love a man in uniform, even one in a football uniform. The Hubs played once upon at time at our Alma Mater Penn State. Now it is the Older One’s turn as an offensive tackle for the Army Black Knights. 2013 may not have been the greatest season for our gridiron warriors, but I never miss an opportunity to talk about my oldest and all the great things he does. So, take a look at the 2013 Army Football highlights, and keep an eye out for #57. I’m extremely biased, but he’s my favorite!

Welcome, Coach Monken. 2014 is our year. Go Army! Beat Navy!

Social Butterfly

I signed up for Facebook a little grudgingly about five years ago when my boss asked me to give a presentation on marketing trends. “Sure,” I said, then went to Google in search of some cool graphics and quotes to steel insert with proper attribution into my flashy Powerpoint slides.

Article after article and site after site that returned for my query on “consumer marketing trends” was telling me that if I wasn’t participating in social media, I was was wrong. Well, at the time, I wasn’t being very social. I said hello to my co-workers and carried on intelligent conversations at cocktail parties, but I wasn’t being social…not the social–social media.

The first thing I learned in Presentation 101 was “know what you are talking about.” I knew I would never be able to give a proper presentation on marketing if I didn’t at least know what this new internet fad was all about. I made my first stop at Facebook, made a quick detour to gmail to sign up for a personal email account (no, I didn’t have one I used for non-spam email), and ended the evening at Twitter. I signed up for both, took a quick tour, called myself an expert and walked away.

I didn’t go back to Facebook until a few weeks later when I got my first friend request. Curious, I clicked the link in the email, and a whole new world opened at my finger tips. From this first friend, I found another, and then a cousin, a neighbor, the girl I shared a locker with in high school.

They wanted to see my family photographs, and I wanted to see theirs. They shared their likes with me, and I shared mine. They asked my advice, and I gave it freely.

One of the pictures, I found on Facebook the summer the Older One reported for basic training.

One of the pictures, I found on Facebook the summer the Older One reported for basic training.

I had FRIENDS, and soon I couldn’t go to bed without checking in and making sure they knew the amazing things that happened to me that day. When my son reported to West Point for basic training, Facebook was my lifeline. I scrolled through post after post hoping for a glimpse of my child who was so far away. And when tragedy struck the USMA Class of 2015 during that training, their mommas, this one included, turned to Facebook for news and comfort–forging true friendships in a world where a thumbnail image is sometimes the closest you can get to a hug.

I discovered my favorite brands were there too. Some gave me free stuff for liking their page and others posted cute cat pictures I readily shared on my timeline. I finally understood the trend I read about, and I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve become an internet marketer myself…starting brand pages, running contests, begging for and celebrating each hard-won LIKE. Until now, though, I haven’t taken the leap with my own brand…my Stiletto Momma brand.

Why? Afraid of failure probably. A Facebook page with one LIKE (my own) is a very lonely place.

The extra work it entails most likely scared me off too. As a marketer, I know that for a Facebook page to be successful it needs to be a place for conversations, not just a link to a post on my site. I’ll need to like other pages, share their content, comment on their posts, reply to their comments on mine. It’s a lot of work…but it could also be a lot of fun.

So, if you’ll have me in your news feed, like my Facebook and Twitter pages. I promise to give you valuable content, share my favorite viral videos and have an intelligent conversation with you over coffee…or wine if you prefer.

I believe in sharing the wealth too, so if you have a Facebook and/or Twitter page of your own for your blog or your business, leave a link to it in the comments, and I’ll like and follow you right back.

Driving Do-Rags and Destiny

What am I doing here?

This is all kinds of “not me”. Sitting in a dark car outside some stranger’s apartment building, heat blasting through the vents of the old ’78 Ford and Jon Bon Jovi telling me the trials of living on a prayer from the cassette in the tape deck.

This better not be a mistake. I hope she knows what she’s doing. Of course, she’s half drunk already and it’s only 8:23.

Wait, it’s 8:23? I’ve been sitting here almost 15 minutes now! What can be taking so long? She was supposed to go in, find him, and come right back out. All I’m supposed to do is drive…and wait apparently.

I have no clue who this guy is. She said she met him in her chem class. For all I know he has bottle-thick glasses and buck teeth. Chemistry. Complicated math. Test tubes and Bunsen burners. It all spells “geek” to me.

When we were planning all this back at our apartment, she said he was cool, but…, I don’t know. This just feels weird.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been the driver. Or maybe it’s because we’ve never done this with some guy we barely know.

Does that clock seriously say 8:29, now? What is taking her so long?

Should I go in and get her?

No. I don’t know where to look. She didn’t give me an apartment number. She said his name…but was it Mark? Matt?

Ohhh! I don’t know!

Let’s go already! Come on. Come on. Come. On.

Wait a minute.

Is that her? Yes! Finally, we can get out of here!

Just be cool. Just be cool. I don’t want this guy to think I’m nervous or new at this. She probably told him I’m the cool roommate. The one who’s 21 .The one who has the car. The driver for this little adventure.

I see her, but where’s the chem nerd? That can’t be him walking a step behind her….Can it?

No way! Now he’s beside her, and they are both heading straight toward my car.

This cannot be happening!

If that is some geeky chemistry nerd, I need to seriously check my definitions. Here he comes…swaggering?…yep, that’s a swagger…toward me in these black leather boots that he probably thinks make him look tall, and I bet he’s at least six foot to start with. And that biker jacket! It doesn’t do anything to hide the muscles underneath it. Plus the dark scruff on his chin, and…is that a do-rag on his head???!!!

This is not good. This is not good! What has she done?

Oh, crap, they’re getting closer!

Don’t let him sit in the front. Don’t let him sit in the front. Don’t let him sit in the front. Please don’tlethimsitintheFRONT!

They’re opening the doors!

They’re getting in, and…HE’S SITTING IN THE FRONT!

I can’t believe she did this to me, but she’s back there laughing at some joke told on the other side of the door, and then there’s introductions and a sing-songy high-pitched, “Hiiii” from me and then a CLAP! as he slaps his hands and rubs them together.

“Whoo hoo hoo!” he booms in a big voice and smiles in a way that softens his entire rough face. “Let’s get this party started!”

And just like that, I’m pulling away from the curb, en route to a Friday night party with my college roommate chattering excitedly in the backseat, and to my right is some would-be hoodlum.

Me and the hoodlum at a more formal affair. (It was the '80's. Please forgive the hair!)

Me and the hoodlum at a more formal affair. (It was the ’80’s. Please forgive the hair!)

And the hoodlum turns out to be a pretty nice guy who gallantly offers to parallel park my big boat of a car when we finally get to that party…and who barely drinks the liberally flowing beer so he can carry on a coherent conversation with me…and who helps see my intoxicated roomy back to our apartment then stays to talk until 5 a.m….and who takes me out on a real date the next night.

Who was that menacing leather-clad do-rag-bound hoodlum?

He turned out to be my hubby.

Whew!

***Today’s post was written in response to the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge to write in the style of Gonzo journalism. What’s that, you ask?

“Gonzo journalism differs from typical reporting in that Gonzo journalists renounce claims of objectivity, often place themselves in the story as a first-person narrator, and include verbatim dialogue to capture and convey their first-hand experiences. The work can often have a “stream-of-consciousness” feel to it.” –Wordpress Daily Post

In doing so, I also accidentally wrote a post that addresses today’s Zero to Hero bonus assignment to explore a different blogging voice.

I hope you enjoyed the story of how I met my husband.  It’s all true…even the do-rag!

Just Like Me

I didn’t know my daughter had curly hair until I gave her a bath for the first time. She was almost 13 months old, and although I had held her a dozen times before that bath, I don’t think her hair was ever truly clean and in its natural state. She was an orphanage baby, and I can imagine that scrubbing and styling infants’ hair on a regular basis was low on the priorities for the overworked and underpaid caregivers.

When I pulled her from the tub in that tiny hotel room in Novokuznetsk, Russia, on Post-Adoption Day One, I marveled at the spirals that sprung from her freshly washed head. “You have curly hair,” I said in awe. Then I smiled into her innocent eyes and followed with, “Just like me.”

My curly girl!

My curly girl!

I knew in that moment I had something to teach this new girl in my life, and not too long after, I stopped straightening my hair with regularity. I had previously let my hair spiral naturally only during the summer months when the act of straightening proved counter productive in the heat and humidity. I wanted my daughter to have a role model, and I knew I would be sending an anti-curly girl message with a straightening iron as my styling tool of choice.

Little did I know that leading by example would be an uphill battle. Three years after that first curl broke free, I was once again kneeling tub-side and scrunching the Young One’s hair when she declared angrily, “I don’t want hair that goes like this, ” and she waved her little hand in circles.

I knew what she was trying to pantomime, but in my shock I asked for clarification, “You mean curly? You don’t want curly hair?”

“No!” she said with a splash of the water. “I want hair that goes like this,” she demonstrated, raising a flat palm in front of her face and bringing it straight down.

She’s FOUR, I thought, amazed that my positive self-image initiative had been thwarted on the preschool playground!

Who had told my daughter curly hair wasn’t good enough? And what else have they told her? Have they said she’s too fat, too skinny? Did they say she has too many freckles or that her teeth are too big? Please tell me they haven’t pointed out to her that her left eye sometimes wonders in a direction different from her right. (Even the optometrist couldn’t verify my suspicions of a lazy eye until she turned six.)

Some days I am terrified to be the mother of a girl. I’ve been a girl. I know how hard it is. That pressure to be perfect…and to be yourself…but not at the expense of being different. My heart aches for the fact that some day I may no longer be able to wrap my girl in a big fluffy towel and hug the insecurity away. I won’t be able to make a funny face and distract her from something so heavily on her mind that she had to gesticulate to find the word she hasn’t yet learned.

Suddenly I am aware that in my greatest attempts to be my daughter’s most influential role model, I am not the only person she interacts with on a daily basis. Her life is a constant rotation of teachers and coaches and bus drivers, and now that she has graduated to Kindergarten, she interacts with even more children than she did in preschool.

Some of them have most likely had the same experience as Kasey Edwards, who wrote in “When Your Mother Says She’s Fat” about hearing her mother talk about herself in a self-loathing way  These words disillusioned her and helped to form her own poor body image. She writes:

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

I hope my daughter doesn’t hear me say things like this. I like to think I don’t say them at all, but I’d be dishonest if I said I never felt fat or never looked in the mirror to see a face I didn’t like. I wouldn’t have a love hate relationship with a straightening iron if I never had a bad hair day. Overall though, I’d say I have a healthy body image, and I want that to come through in my conversations with my daughter.

The fellow WordPress blogger behind Laments and Lullabies has it right when she makes “A Plea to Women who Know Girls”….

“My plea is that even if you don’t yet believe it, show my daughter, and all daughters, that you think your self is a good self.

We are powerful and important in every body, and like all powerful and important people, we’re being watched.”

I still don’t know how my daughter came to the conclusion that straight hair is more desirable than curly. Even though today, her hair has grown to be more wavy than curly, I will continue to tell her it is beautiful, and I will continue to wear mine in its crazy curliness too. Sooner or later we’ll both learn we’re beautiful the way we were made, and if somewhere along the way another little girl hears us talk about how much we like ourselves, maybe she will start to like herself too.

***The two blog posts linked above are powerful statements about how body image is formed. I encourage you to click through to read them in their entirety.

See Anything New?

Take a look around. See anything new…anything different…anything interesting?

I bet you saw it as soon as you clicked the link to this post because my brand new header image is right there at the top in all it’s fabulous footwear glory!

You probably see some other new things too–like a whole new theme and a new sub-title. If you click around, you’ll see some other new things too. Like the “Meet Stiletto Momma” section to the right on the home page and the brand new “About” page at the top.

The newness I like best is that header image. I took the picture myself. I spent all afternoon selecting the right shoes, the right location, the right focus. But this picture almost wasn’t because somebody stole a little pink sneaker!

I started my photo session outside on the front porch in an attempt to get the best light.

Stiletto Momma

The scene of the first photo shoot. See the two little pink shoes in the background?

My second location was a room inside just off the foyer–a mere four steps from that front porch. I gathered up as many shoes as I could and began staging them inside. On my second trip back, I noticed something missing.

A missing shoe!

A missing shoe!

In the 20 seconds it took me to walk back to the porch for the second load of shoes and return, one of my shoes (actually one of the Young One’s shoes) had vanished. I glanced around the room, but I couldn’t see it anywhere.

I retraced my steps to the porch…no pink shoe out there either.

I know I had two pink shoes. I have photographic evidence from location shoot one (see above)!

“Where’s my shoe?” I asked the quiet house.

In the hallway…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the dining room…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the kitchen…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the great room…”There’s my shoe!”

Pink Shoe

Found it!

And next to the missing shoe, I could finally see the culprit–the Fluffy One, all four pounds of her had swooped in while my back was turned and made off with the one prop I needed for the perfect shot.

Caught

Caught red-pawed!

I finally persuaded her to give it back, but not without a chase around the living room. (For a fluff ball, she sure is fast!)

As you can see, I love my new header, and I love it even more now for the doggy story that goes with it.

What do you think of the changes at Stiletto Momma? I’d love to hear what you think.

Five Minute Fridayzero-to-hero-badge***This post is brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “See”.  The changes are brought to you by several of this week’s WordPress Zero to Hero challenge assignments.