Can you feel that?

Oh yes, just ever so slightly, the hint of Autumn is in the air.  This morning it was just a little crisper; the air had a bit of an edge to it.  Before long the leaves are going to start to turn blazing crimson, orange and yellow.  The smells of damp  leaves, cooling pies, and smoke from fireplaces are right around the corner about to come into view.

I can’t wait for our hikes now that we are heading into fall.  I anticipate that cool mountain air mixed with the changing leaves will give us something new to behold.  For years I’ve wanted to go out to Shenandoah to see the leaves change color.  We never have made it, but this year will be different.  Not only are we going to be hiking in Shenandoah, but we are taking a trip to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains in late September.  Who knew that we would embrace hiking like we did.  I never imagined that one hike planned as a bit of an after thought would prove to be so life changing.

Fall Foliage Photography
Fall Foliage Photography by ForestGladesiWander, on Flickr


Totally Committed Community Outreach Center

This is short promotional video that I produced for a friend’s Non-Profit organization, Totally Committed Community Outreach Center (TCCOC).  This was my first attempt at editing and producing video on a “semi-professional” basis.  TCCOC was founded by my friend, Mr. Larry Hill.  Mr. Hill is the Director of the Outreach Ministry, Restoration Christian Fellowship Church in Washington, D.C.  Larry’s work has taken him to the poorest areas of Africa; however, he was committed to helping those in need in Washington, D.C.   TCCOC was born out his desire to serve the less fortunate by instituting an outreach program striving to feed, clothe, educate and minister to their spiritual needs.

Longest Quest… EVER!

Seems like has been some time since I’ve been able to write. This thing I do a couple months of the year got in my way. Its called college. I feel like I’ve been going to school for the last 5-years. Oh, wait, I have. Aside from one summer session I took off, I’ve been at it, rep grinding, since 2003. Its the longest quest of my life.

I’m in the final stages of my quest, its a pretty long chain. I took the final test of the semester and I’m just waiting on my grade at the moment. I collected the first two purple drops from the other two bosses in my semester dungeon, now I just need the third. I had to farm that last class pretty hard. At first the boss only dropped a green (a B), and while that will fulfill the quest requirements, I’d love to get my last purple drop (an A) to complete the set.

I have experienced some spouse aggro along the way, and my kids feel like they should be Children’s Week orphans. I’m hoping that when I complete my quest in May ’09, I’ll get some phat loot and some gold. I think I’ll finally be able to get my epic land mount, but no guaranties.

I hope that the final part of the chain isn’t as hard as this last one. I had to raid 4 nights a week, and that is a pretty intense schedule, so I’m looking for a more casual raiding schedule for the next phase.

My Cancer Story

EDIT: July 14, 2010

I just wanted to share this story again because a fellow blogger friend of mine has unfortunately experienced a personal loss due to Leukemia.  I would like to urge everyone that is able, to register with the National Bone Marrow Registry so that maybe more lives could be saved.  While all ethnic backgrounds are welcomed to register, there is always a desperate need for African-American, Caribbean, Asian and multi-ethnic donors since these blood characteristics are harder to match.  To learn more about Leukemia research and other ways to help, please see the Leukemia Research Foundation.  Please read my personal story below….

In January 2003, I received a phone call from the National Bone Marrow Registry. They called to inform me that I was a possible match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant.  This story actually began back in 1999 when I was stationed at Camp Humphreys, South Korea while I was in the Army.

Representatives of the NBMR were conducting a donor drive and I volunteered. All it took was a swab of my cheek.  Knowing that non-familial matching is not that common, I never thought that I would receive “that” call. So after I registered, I went on my way.  I moved twice since I had registered, so when that call came in January ’03, I was astonished and amazed.

I agreed to come in and give a more substantial sample for testing. It was determined that I was, in fact, a match. The bone marrow donation was actually going to happen.  Although most people think of large needles being drilled into the hips of donors to extract the marrow, I donated through a process called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) collection.  I received injections of a drug that boosts blood production, called Filgrastim.  I received the drug for 5-days.  On that 5th day I underwent a process known as Aphaeresis; they draw blood off from one IV, filter out the stem cells and platelets, and then return my red and white cells to me through another IV. The process took about 6 hours.

While the PBSC process was substantially less painful the traditional bone marrow collections, there were some risks.  I have to go once a year to have blood work done to monitor my status. The drug that I was given is called Filgrastum, and it’s a drug given to cancer patients that are going through chemo to boost the red blood cell count so they aren’t as tired.

I had to wait a year, but I found out that the recipient of my bone marrow had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and lived in Guatemala.  To this day he is alive and doing well.

I just want to share my story to encourage others to participate in Sarcastic Gamer’s Extra Life charity event to raise money for childhood cancer research.  I would also like you to check out the National Bone Marrow Registry on how to become a bone marrow donor.  This is especially important for non-Caucasian ethnic groups.  The number of registered donors is low and the registration process is usually free.

Why didn’t I think of this before?

This was an idea that was so simple, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before:

Family Business Cards!

As a parent, how many times have you met the parents of your child’s friends?  It’s all handshakes and rushing to do what ever it is you do, and you can’t remember even your name after the meeting. Or your son or daughter just brought home a new friend and you know nothing about how to contact his or her parents if there is a problem.

Well I decided to come up with a personal business card that has our names and contact information on it.  I can give a few to the kids and they can give them to their friends’ parents, or when at a school function or soccer game, I can just hand them to the other parents myself.  Now I don’t have to worry about whether or not the other parents know how to get in touch with me.  If all parents did this, then I wouldn’t have to worry about remembering names, addresses, phone numbers.  I can e-mail to coordinate play dates and sleep overs.

I say give this a shot…

Enough is Enough…(Warning, this is a rant)

TrafficI have had it! The traffic situation in Northern Virginia is out of control.  Two-hour long commutes to go 40-miles is ridiculous; well, 40-mile commute are just ridiculous to start with.   Most would argue that living closer to work and school would be the ultimate solution to cutting out the congestion on our roads.  I say that is an impossibility.  The fact of the matter is most of the commuters in the Northern Virginia suburbs around Washington, D.C. commute because they wanted to buy a home.  Did you know that although the housing crunch has affected the area around Washington, D.C., we have by far retained more house value and somewhat maintained home sales (new and re-sale)?  The housing market in Northern Virginia is more stable then the rest of the US.  And why is that.  The Washington, D.C. are is maintained by government jobs (state, local and federal), military, and the tech industry.  Basically, if you want a job and can’t find one, come here.  But there’s the rub.  Even though this area makes more money then most of this country, it also pays over inflated housing costs due to limited supply and high demand (basic economics).  So for even the above average family ($100,000 – $200,000/year) to buy home, you can forget about living close to where you work.

Map image

For example, in 2006 the Estimates of Median Household Income and Median Family Income in Fairfax County, Virginia was $100,300 with a median family income of $119,800.  Now that sounds like a lot, but look at the distribution of wealth. Nearly 50% of the population made less then $100,000.  Put together with the average home price ($675,000 on 10 Sep 2008) one can see that even above average families would struggle.  Now contrast that with the average price of a home sold in Stafford County, Virginia (about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C.).  In 2005 the average cost of a home was $543,022.  Although still high, all in all, a bargain compared with farther north.  So it made sense, make the money, but move to where its less expensive to live.  Sure its a drive, but we’ll manage, right?

Wrong.  The problem with these long commutes everyday is that people just don’t know how to drive.  (This is where I’m starting to rant) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to merge onto I-95 and had to put on my breaks.  When did they stop teaching people that the on ramp was there for you to speed up to match the traffic already on the interstate?  Unless your car can go from 0-95 in 1 second, either speed up or stay off the interstates.

Then there are the lane hogs.  These are the folks that sit there in the right hand lane doing the speed limit.  I admit it, I am not an angle on the roads.  I consistently drive 5-10 miles per hour over the posted speed limits, but even this is not fast enough sometimes.  In those cases, I move over to the right lanes.  A word of advice to drivers out there, if the traffic is passing you on the right, either go faster or move over.  It is well within your right to drive the speed limit, just get out of my way to do it.

If I could have one wish when it comes to the drivers here in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and D.C., its that watching the old Goofy cartoon about how to drive be a mandatory requirement to getting a drivers license.  I haven’t seen it in years, but it must be around.  It had a wonderful tutorial about why you leave a car length between your car and the car in front of you for every 10 mph you drive. 60 mph=6 car lengths.  The space I leave in front of my car is NOT so you can get over and cut me off.  If you really have to get over, put your turn signal on, I will let some more room open up so that you can cut me off safely.  Leaving that space between you and the person in front of you isn’t an inconvenience, but a necessity.  Not only does it give you time to stop in an emergency (avoiding accidents) it also allows people to merger (see paragraph 3) into traffic properly.

I have wanted to vent like this for some time.  I don’t believe the problem is that we live to far from where we work, its that no one learned how to drive in the area.  Between the emigrant population that aren’t familiar with our laws, the teen drivers that don’t know what they’re doing yet, DISTRACTED drivers and folks that just don’t care, its a wonder that we get anywhere at all in this area.

If this sounds familiar to you, please share your story.  Maybe if we commiserate together it will make us feel better.  If not, maybe the laugh will do us good.

You think you know me?

I guess this is a good time for an update:

1. Still married

2. Still have two kids

3. Still working

4. Graduated from school in May ’09 (WOOT!)

5. Playing WoW as much as possible

6. Addicted to Facebook and Twitter

7. Now a band booster and a football mom

Now back to the regularly scheduled introduction…

This is attempt #3 at this blogging thing; it takes practice and perseverance for sure.

My name is Lesley, and this is my ordinary journey.  My life is by no means exciting or extraordinary.  I’m a pretty basic gal, and this will be a pretty basic site.  I have a family.  I have been married since May 1994 (you do the math).  We have a daughter and a son.

In addition to being a wife and a mother, I also work.  I’m not a work-aholic by any strech, but I do hold down a “9-5”.  I’m not management anymore and I don’t have to worry about other people’s screw ups, so my new motto is, “Not my problem”.

In used to go to school in my spare time. Ok, so I don’t have spare time, but I wish I did.  In the time that I’m slacking off from work and family I play computer games.  But not just any computer games, I play the World of Warcraft.  I’m about as addicted as one can be to that wonderful “little” MMORPG.  Oh, did I mention I’m a tech geek?

So welcome to my Ordinary Journey into being a working wife/mother/WoW playing/geek/Facebooking and Twittering/Band booster/Football mom!

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