About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


today was the day i had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. thanks to all of you who prayed for me, and thanks too for respecting my wishes for no visitors. i appreciate your care but really wanted to do this with some degree of privacy - although those gowns do not afford too much of that.

i am home and very grateful for the nerve block that has my shoulder and arm totally numb - i know i'm in for a lot of pain when that wears off later tonight. i am also bundled up in a crazy get-up and also have a sling that resembles half of a straight jacket - i guess i'm only half crazy afterall.

surgery went well as far as i know - i slept through it. after nurse rachett finally got the iv in the happy meds were great - made me feel drunk and gave me the hiccups

tomorrow i go back to the doc and then begin the long and brutal process of physical therapy - that will be the really hard part.

also thankful for brian who is sleeping om the floor in the living room so he can be available to help me during the night.

i have some good pain meds and a lot of them andd am glad for that. my doc is one of the best - they work in pro athletes so i'm in good hands. recovery for this is long and i'll be in this contraption for about 6 weeks but i should be better and have 2 arms ready to hold the twins by the time they arrive.

not sure if i will blog or facebook more - tonight it is easier to do that with a little window of pain-free time

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Our House

Wishing each of you a joyfilled Christmas.
"And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2: 10-11
If you click on the link below you will see a 360 view of our neighborhood with the first snow of the year, courtesy of Brian's new toy.
If you have Java you can see it, if you don't, you can download it for free.
Drag the mouse over the image to to move around

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Best Gift

I know this is Christmas Eve and I should post something about Christmas I suppose, but instead, I'm going to post about my best gift. No, its not the Jeep.

This year and for the past 26 years, my best gift has been my husband Brian. I know, that sounds really sappy and believe me, I'm not the sappy type at all, but this week he has gone WAAAYYYYY out of his way ... for me. I've heard him tell people that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and be willing to die for her so if being married is killing them, good. Well, its all about killed Brian this week.

This week Brian has put in hours ... long .... cold.... back-breaking ....hours building and reinforcing the fence to keep Gunner in our yard and out of the neighbor's yard. He has done that for the neighbors, who, although they haven't complained - yet, surely do not appreciate our dog being in their yard. He has done this for Gunner too so that he doesn't get into the street and get hit by a car, because think what you will, last night he was curled up on the couch with Gunner mumbling something about "daddy's baby". But mostly I think he has done it for me. He knows he'd have to deal with a very distraught wife if we lost Gunner.

Then, when that was all over, Brian took the past 3 days and the better part of two, to drive all over Cincinnati, haggle with dealer after dealer, and finally paid more than he meant to for a Jeep for me - just so I can have reliable transportation and be happy driving what I'm driving. We've driven a lot of Jeeps and talked to a lot of dealers, some nice, some not so nice, some willing to deal, most not. We were even test driving one Jeep when we along with the salesman witnessed a wreck. We stopped (not that we had a choice, we were very nearly involved in the wreck when the car spun toward us), prayed with the lady who was injured, gave our statements to the police, and then went on for the rest of the test drive. In the end, they wouldn't budge on their overpriced Jeep so we traveled on.

Finally to his delight and mine, he was able to haggle a pretty good deal ... we got this baby, an '08 Jeep Sahara in grey-blue with 27k miles for less than the blue book value of it.

Its fabulous! I love it. Its a nice gift under my tree this year - even though its not really a Christmas gift. But the real gift is Brian. Check out his brand new web site if you want to get to know him a bit more. http://www.brianburiff.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Don't Want To Scare You But ....

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that line lately, I could probably go buy a new Jeep. I've got about a week before what by all accounts is a really bad time. So, I'm getting ready. Actually I don't mind when people tell me their experiences with rotator cuff surgery. I like hearing it. It doesn't scare me - just the opposite. I feel better if I have a vague idea of what's ahead. I realize everybody's injury is different, everybody's surgery is different, and everybody's experience is different, but knowing in general what to expect makes for less anxiety for me.

Since this began I've been all over the place. I've gone from "I don't want anybody to know until its all over" to "hmm... maybe I should make a video blog of the whole experience". My reasons for not wanting to tell others were simple - I don't like being fussed over. And I like my privacy when it comes to certain things. I think maybe because I live a lot of my life in public I like to keep some things private - like surgery when I feel and look and probably act my worst. The last thing in the world I want is people coming to "pray me in". Its nothing personal. I just will have less stress if there aren't people there. For that reason I wasn't going to tell anyone. BUT ... then I thought there would be a handful of people who might be hurt by that. And then I'd have to deal with their hurt feelings. SO ... I decided I'd just tell people and hope they respect my wishes. Either way I'll have to deal with people - this way seems to be the less troubling way for them and hopefully for me.

Then as things get closer I've been doing research about what to expect, and since I do live pretty much in the open, I thought maybe doing a video blog might help someone else who's facing this to know what to expect. Maybe I'd share some tips - like how in the world do you get dressed with this massive sling? You know, just stuff that might be helpful to somebody. I've still not decided whether I'll do that or not ... but its a thought.

So, I've got about a week. There are two things I would really like to take care of before surgery. I want to get my freezer full of some meals since I wont' be able to cook for while and even when I am feeling better I'll only have one arm to use. I have no idea how I'll cook with one arm but I'm guessing I'll come up with some creative ideas. Apparently I'll be in that sling for 6 weeks.

The other thing, and I'm seriously doubting this will happen - I'd like to get a new Jeep. Not a brand new one, mind you - those start out at about 25k. But my current Jeep has become a problem. Earlier in the year it gave me fits. We replaced part after part (it should be almost new by now) before we finally found that the little bitty part that was causing all the trouble was the air intake control valve ( or some such thing ). Our GOOD friend replaced that for us and she ran fine for a few months. Last week, it died again. Guess what, that same stupid little part went out again. So, its a '99 Jeep with 90k miles on it and I'm going to have to get rid of it at some point anyway, so may as well get rid of it while its still worth something and get a different one. Its really not a good time to do that but is it ever?

Some people think I'm crazy to get another Jeep. Yeah maybe, but I LOVE my Jeep. Love it! Other than my '67 Mustang its the only vehicle I've ever had that I truly LOVE. It'll go anywhere, snow isn't a problem at all (I used to park it in big snow piles just to have fun). I can see everything I need to see, unlike most cars that sit so high in the back you can't see out of the back window. My Jeep will turn on a dime too. The maneuverability is awesome. I can take the backseat out and haul cargo (backpacks and school supplies), or I can put the backseat in if I have to take the twins somewhere. And of course, I can take the top off if I just want to have fun.

Ideally, I'll get it back in the next day or so and then can sell it on Craigslist and then go buy another so that's one less thing to deal with when I recover. I won't be able to drive for a while after surgery so test driving won't be an option for me. With Christmas and all though, I doubt I'll get this all taken care of before surgery. Maybe the best I can do is go shopping and pick out a few and then while I recover, let Brian do the dealing.

Christmas 1991

This is still one of my favorite family Christmas videos. Gotta love the bed head going on in this one - and I have a lot of it with my 90's big hair.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Would Mary Say?

“Okay God, I’m trying to serve you here, so what’s up with this?” Ever felt that way? When you’re doing your best to follow Jesus and serve Him and things just keep going wrong and you can’t seem to catch a break? I have. Sometimes it seems like the more I work to help other people, the more things break around my own house. As it stands right now, my Jeep is broken down and its really not a good time to go into debt to get another one, we’re going to need a new roof in the next year or so, the living room furniture is getting pretty nasty (duct tape is holding the chair together), the carpet upstairs is as old as the house and way beyond nasty, and the dog keeps escaping the fence. I could go get a job. I might have to do that. The thing is, if I do, a lot of stuff for the Lakota people will have to go by the wayside. I’m not sure I’m ready to see that happen just yet.

That has been bugging me lately. I’m just getting tired of things not going right. I just getting tired of shabby. I’m getting tired of working harder to get further behind. I want to say, “God come on … give me a break here … I’m doing all this for You.” And then it occurred to me….

If anyone had a right to feel like a break was due her, Mary was. I mean, really, think about it …She chose to submit to the will of God for her life by bearing His son. She didn’t have to do that. She could have said “no, sorry, this isn’t a good time for me. I’m planning a wedding and people will not understand and it’ll be a really bad witness for you God. You’ll have to find somebody else”. But instead, she chose to submit to God’s will, trusting that He knew what He was doing.

And what did she get … trouble! The pregnancy came at the most inconvenient time possible, almost costing her her marriage to Joseph and even her very life. Jesus birth came at the most inconvenient time possible – after a long, grueling trip with no family or friends nearby. And it occurred in the most inconvenient place possible – a foul smelling stable filled with animal manure. Not one person in the town of Bethlehem had mercy on them. To be sure people saw the young couple and new that they had traveled far and that she was about to deliver a baby, yet not one single person offered them a helping hand. Every single person they approached for help turned them away. I don’t’ know about you but if I were Mary, I’d have a word or two with God about all that. I mean it was HIS son and He is ALL POWERFUL so I’d have to be wondering, “what gives?”.

But you know what? That kind of thinking comes from a feeling of entitlement. We think we’re entitled to a better way because of who we serve. Even though we may know better, we somehow think that things should be easier for us. Somehow the fact of the crucifixion escapes our memory. Yeah, even Jesus had a tough time here on earth.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:8-10 (The Message)

So, why in the world would anybody ever choose to serve God? Well, for starters that's not the whole story. Trouble isn't all you get. Sure, there'll be plenty of that but there are rewards too. And besides, I'm betting people who don't serve God have trouble too. In fact, I'm sure of it. And then there's the fact that there is simply no greater joy. You can't find that kind of joy in things. Not even your family can give you the joy that serving God brings. Yeah, things are tough but that's only part of the story. Maybe that’s why I’m not in a big hurry to go get a job and join the rat race of gathering more and nicer stuff. I’m just not convinced that’s better.

Wanderers Never Cease

Wanderers ... not wonders.
For the past 3 days Brian has been working hard at reinforcing the fence around the back yard to ensure that Gunner doesn't jump or climb over the fence anymore. It was a cold job. It was a hard job. For three days he worked on it and finally finished up last night just before dinner. We let the dogs out and sat down to eat. And within minutes Gunner was in the neighbor's yard. Somehow he managed to get under the fence. We thought we had that problem taken care of by placing lovely cinder blocks all around the base of the fence, but apparently with the over-the-fence option taken away from him, Gunner just worked a new way under.

Needless to say, Brian was exasperated, physically and mentally exhausted. He sat on the couch with a cup of coffee and shut his eyes. I think he was praying ... or maybe begging God to keep Gunner in our yard. He opened his eyes and Gunner was happily sitting on his lap drinking his coffee.

Gotta love that dog.

This morning I was at the grocery store and saw one of our neighbors. She just said, "hey" and laughed. She is all too aware of the trouble with Gunner.

Good thing he's a lovable dog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not Sure If I Should Have Watched This

but it is interesting to see what happens during rotator cuff surgery. Freaky stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mamma Said There Would Be Days Like This

Life is good - generally speaking. We've got it way better than a lot of folks. But, lately things are not going great for us. Its one of those times when no matter if you do try your darnedest, you just can't catch a break.

I wont talk about the other folks in my family who are having troubles but trust me, they're having them in a big way. I will tell you about mine though.

Yesterday I tore up my shoulder - again. I am scheduled for surgery and though I'm not looking forward to it, I'll be really, REALLY glad to get on with it and begin to put this behind me. Yesterday afternoon I was walking up the stairs - the dogs were going up with me and they were excited because we'd just come home. Somewhere amongst the 10 legs on the stairs I lost my balance and instinctively stuck out my arm to grab hold of the banister to catch my fall. OUCH. I shouldn't have done that. It ripped. I was instantly nauseous and got very dizzy and thought I might pass out. Live and learn, eh? Ice helps. Surgery will help more. Bring it ON already!

Today I went out to do some grocery shopping. I made it all the way to the next street when I noticed my Jeep wasn't sounding real good. It sounded a lot like it did this summer when we sank $1000 into it to keep it up and running. I decided to turn around and go back home before getting out on the highway when, just about then it died. Right in the middle of the street. Now the last thing I probably should be doing is pushing a dead Jeep, but ... what else are you going to do? So I put it in Neutral, got out and began pushing. An old man came out to help. I had my doubts that he'd be able to push it, but he did. Eventually I got it home my not taking my foot off of the accelerator until I was home. That was a ride and a half. No stopping or slowing down at stop signs. Thankfully it was just 2 streets with no traffic.

While I was making that crazy drive home my cell rang. No, I didn't answer it. It was my son who later told me that he bought a bogus gift card on Craigslist. Even though he met the person selling it at the store and went in the store to have the value verified, by the time he got to the checkout they had sucked all of the value off the card. NEVER buy a gift card on Craigslist. Its a scam - even if the store verifies the value is what they've told you it is. They have another code and can spend it before you get the stuff in your cart and get to the checkout. And of course, the police say there's nothing they can do.

So, I'm still sitting here with a sore shoulder and no Jeep.

Brian is outside reinforcing our fence. Gunner, our beloved dog has taken to climbing the fence. He doesn't do it to run away. He just likes to go visit the neighbor dog and he comes right back when we call him. Thankfully, we have a great neighbor who doesn't mind, but we figure if he can climb the fence on that side of the house, he can climb it on other sides too and the neighbor across the street isn't so nice. I think he might own a gun and he has a very bad temper. He used to stand in the street waving his arms with a red face and swearing like the jerk he is because one of my son's baseballs ROLLED into his yard. This is the man who actually told us to stay off his property even if he is laying in the yard having a heart attack. OK. Suit yourself. So anyway, we don't want to find out what this idiot might do to Gunner should Gunner should wander into his yard and say, take a leak. So Brian is out there raising the fence another foot and building a "shelf" into it that Gunner will hit his head on if he tries to jump over or climb over.
Pretty isn't it. I'm guessing this means that next Spring I'll be planting some big bushes in front of our version of doggie Alcatraz. (by the way, the lovely cement blocks around the bottom are to keep him from digging under the fence) Good thing he's adorable or he might be looking for a new home.
So, this too shall pass. And then there will probably be another problem. But good things will come around too. Eventually. Because life is neither all bad or all good.

A Conspiracy

There is a conspiracy at Christmastime. Are you part of it? I found out about it last year but its really not all that new. Its been going on for years among those who follow the real meaning of Christmas. But its making headlines now ... maybe you're heard of it. Its called The Advent Conspiracy.

Its all about how Christmas can still change the world - you know, like the first Christmas did.
The idea is to worship fully
spend less
give more
and love all.

For a lot of folks Christmas has become just a time of stress and debt. We buy gifts out of obligation, set expectations way too high and then are disappointed when it doesn't work out the way we imagined. You know the drill. I bet you've had a Christmas like that.

Somebody decided to remind us all what its really all about - kinda like Linus in a Charlie Brown Christmas. The idea is simple. Enter into the Christmas season with the purpose to worship God fully, to love the way He loved. Jesus loved the lost and the broken and the forgotten. By giving ONE less gift we can use those resources to give in some way that will benefit those who are less fortunate. We can give presence, rather than presents.

Now, like a lot of things, people can go all legalistic on this. I don't think that's the idea. Its not about making people feel guilty for buying their kids Christmas presents. No, the idea is really just Love.

Well shoot, they can explain it a lot better than I can. Check it out. Advent Consiracy

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't You Wish You're Girlfriend Was HOT Like Me?

OK, you know I'm kidding. But ya just gotta laugh at life sometimes. Here are a few of the oh so fashionable accessories that I'll be adding to my wardrobe in the near future.

Yeah, isn't that a lovely sling? Do you think they could possibly make it any bigger? That's obviously not me in the pic, but it is a pic of the sling I now have in my possession and will be taking with me to surgery. I'll wake up with it on ... oh, and here's the good part - I get to get dressed with it under my shirt for a while. That's just gonna be too cute. I asked the lady at the doctor's office yesterday how to dress for surgery and she told me to get a really big man's button up shirt to put on over the sling. Hmmm... I don't know when I get to graduate to wearing it over my clothes but hopefully I won't be walking around looking like a freak for too long.

And I'll be adding some hats to my wardrobe too. Hats are cool. I have a Sturgis baseball style hat, a Jeep hat, a "Life is Good" hat - I wear these on the Rez when I don't have time to do hair. I also have a cute little black hat that I got in Ireland when the wind was just too strong to deal with as we walked around Derry. And I've now added a black newsboy hat like the one pictured here. Do I like hats? Not so much really but I like them better than I like my hair when I can't fix it. Now I don't know if its true or not but I've heard that I'm not going to be able to move my arm into a position necessary to fix my hair for, get this, 6 WEEKS! That's a lot of hats.

Will I be blogging during this time. But of course. I only need one hand to type. :]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dashing Through the Snow in a ... Jeep and Ford Focus!

Its COLD here today. Really cold. And there is some light snow dancing around out there too. The perfect setting for playing Santa.

Brian and I loaded up the Jeep and his Ford Focus with 4 GIANT boxes filled with gifts for a family on the Rez and then started on our way to the Post Office where we received lots of strange looks from people and met a guy with a real white beard, a healthy size belly, tiny glasses, and a Santa hat! Kids, Santa is real - I saw him today at the Fairfield Post Office and he's going to be really busy delivering lots of presents this Christmas.

Oh, and even though it's a government building and all they were playing real Christmas music (O Holy Night) and they wished us a real "Merry Christmas" too! What's the world coming to?

*Thanks to all of you who bought gifts for this family. This fall 2 of the seven kids were living in a car and I can tell you that this summer they were truly HUNGRY. I'm betting they've never had Christmas gifts before. Thanks to you all, this Christmas each of the seven kids will have 6 gifts and a stocking full of goodies. They are also getting cookies and hot chocolate mix!

Monday, December 07, 2009

You GO Girl!!

I don't know if you know it or not, but somewhere in a city not too terribly far from where I live, there is this lady ... she's incredible ... she's a wife of a police officer, a mother to 3 adorable kids who say the darnedest things, a photographer, a gifted writer, and now I find that she is also an athlete. You really have to read this article on her blog - she didn't write it, her husband did. It'll amaze you. It'll inspire you. It'll challenge you. And it'll give you a peek into the life of this amazing woman!

Yay!!! GO KARIN!!!!
Now where did those old running shoes go? I may just have to dig them out and maybe join her next year for the Spina Bifida 5K ....

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Merry Christmas to my Friend Who Plays a Mean Air Guitar

A Step Back in Time

Yesterday was a good day. It was a long day, but a good one. To start off with, met a friend for lunch in Dry Ridge, KY. This wasn't just any friend though - she was a friend from back in the day that I hadn't seen in 20 years or so. We somehow lost track of each other and earlier this year she found me through Facebook. Its been great catching up with her on Facebook, but there's nothing like seeing her again in person. We caught up on our families and talked over old times marveling that either of us managed to survive those days. That's all I'll say about that. ;) To think that we're now two old ladies eating lunch at Cracker Barrel is, well, pretty amazing.

Then it was back to Ohio to meet up with another friend and drive to Lebanon, OH to take in their Christmas Candlelight Carriage parade. I'm sure its something to see - if you can see it. Lebanon is a beautiful historic town that is the perfect place for a horse drawn carriage parade. The dozens of little shops brimming with antiques offer a welcome escape from the cold. All in all, it was beautiful - except for the crowd. Wow. I have no idea where all those people come from, but to be honest, I would have enjoyed it much more if it hadn't been so crowded.

It was fun hanging with my friend though. We took Brian's Ford Focus because my Jeep is lacking heat. I thought I'd show her how the sync system worked so I pushed the button and said, "USB Line In, play Christmas". Of course I got the message "I didn't understand what you said" from the nice lady in the computer so I repeated it a few times, getting louder each time. My friend who has no idea about such things started laughing because she thought I was cussing out the car calling it a "You SOB". Once she realized that I was saying USB, as in USB cable, and once I realized she thought I was saying something else, we both cracked up.

So, yeah, it was a good day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2 Baby Boys 20 Weeks

20 weeks
12 oz each

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Diaper Cake: Part Two

I couldn't wait. I wanted to. But .... I really tried to wait till tomorrow to find out if the babies are boys or girls or one of each, but ... I just couldn't. So I am working on the diaper cake. So far, this is what I've got. The tiers are wrapped in green receiving blankets with ribbons around them. IF they turn out to be girls ... I may have to go get some pink ribbon and change that. Either way I've still got a ways to go on it. There's little decorations to add ... in time. I'll post a pic of the finished product when I get there. Here's part one.

Oh Christmas Tree

Decorating the tree is kinda like a walk down memory lane. Our tree is decorated with simple red glass balls, red bead garland, homemade fabric "rag" garland, and lots and lots of ornaments that have been given to us by various people over the years. Here are a few of my favorites ...

This one was made my Helen Spradling.
Remember her and Oscar? Love those folks and miss them lots.

This is one I bought for Brian our first year of marriage because he loves trains

And then there are the ornaments made by the kids.
If they're still in one piece like this one, they go up.

Cody's first Christmas ornament given to us my the Talley's - who were really good friends
in Alabama

And Logan's first Christmas ornament. Love it!

This one was given to me by my best friend in Alabama.
I've since lost touch with her. How does that happen?

This one I gave to Brian last year. Its a pic of him and Job, the little
Haitian child he fell in love with

And this one was given to me by my cousin Phyllis. Its just too cute!

These are just a few of the ornaments that remind me of people that have been part of our lives. It makes a chore (decorating the tree) something nice to look forward to.