Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both 🙂

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets — he’s very active on social media! 🙂

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young — it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made — that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time — it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

Chattahoochee River flooding

April Fool’s Day brought a lot of rain to the Fort Benning and Columbus area. My friends from home flew in for a long weekend and planned to sit by the pool all day while I was at work, until it stormed all day. Needless to say, that did not happen.

After I got out of work, we decided to take advantage of the rainy day by going to the National Infantry Museum. We then went downtown to go to dinner, and that is when we saw the results of the storm.

The Chattahoochee River completely flooded the riverwalk and its surroundings. I quickly tweeted my video of the flood to The Weather Channel and other local news stations. My tweet was picked up by The Weather Channel, ABC News, storm chasers and a local news reporter. I was SO excited to get a “favorite” and mention from The Weather Channel on Twitter! You can see the video and tweet by clicking here.

Below are some pictures I took of the flooding from my phone. You can see how much rain fell if you look at the lamp posts.

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Prepare for upcoming intense heat

It’s the first day of spring! While some of us may be rejoicing that warmer weather will soon be here, the rest of us are not looking forward to it — especially Southerners.

After living in North Carolina and now Georgia, I’ve experienced the extreme heat and humidity. It is not fun, and it can be very dangerous.

Typically from March to September are the months to be weary. This is when you start to hear the sad news about people leaving their pets or children in their cars and they die of heat illness. You may also hear of people working outside and suffering from heat strokes. Soldiers, construction workers and many others are at a disadvantage with their uniforms and heavy gear.

I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing for the heat before it gets here. I just wrote an article for my job regarding heat safety (information provided by the Fort Benning safety office) for Soldiers and the heat mitigation tools they use: Soldiers urged to prepare for upcoming heat. This can also be put into life outside the military. Please read the article by clicking here and educate yourself on how to keep yourself and others safe.

I wrote a blog post last year about keeping pets safe in the heat: Keep pets safe in extreme heat. Again, please read this article to prepare yourself, your family and pets before the heat and humidity arrive.

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Photo source: www.uab.edu

This is a crucial and scary time of the year, and I hope you take this blog post seriously.

Time for an update!

So, there have been a lot of things going on lately that have been keeping me extremely busy and unable to post, and a lack of any unique weather scenarios. With that said, I thought I would bring my audience up to date on my life and let you know where I stand today. (Side note: I apologize for the strange spacing in this post. I tried fixing it, but not sure why it won’t adjust!)

Before I get into details on updates, I wanted to mention that it has now been one year since we lost our dog, Toby. He was taken from us too soon due to a rare medical condition. In lieu of March Madness approaching us, I’m sharing this photo of him in his Syracuse gear. He always had fun cheering on our favorite teams with us! We miss him every single day, and we can’t wait to see him again.

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Speaking of March Madness, Selection Sunday is today! My alma mater, St. Bonaventure, had a great basketball season — both men and women. The men lost to Davidson on Friday in the A10 conference tournament, but they should still be able to get a decent seed in the big dance. We found out about the women’s team on Monday. I can’t wait to watch; it’s my favorite time of the year!

Here are my updates:

  1. Surgery. Last month, right after my last blog post, I had to get sinus surgery — a septoturbinoplasty. This put me out of work for awhile. I’ve always had issues with my allergies and sinuses, and never really had a day in my life without sinus pressure or pain. My left nostril was completely blocked.

    Well, I can now say that I can fully breathe through my nose now — especially after getting my splints out. I never felt so much air! I have still been feeling a bit of sinus pressure, but that is normal for the first few months following surgery. I go back next week for a follow-up, and hopefully everything is good so I don’t need to have anything else done. I would share the hilarious and somewhat disgusting photos of my mask, splints, etc., but figured it may be too much for the blog 🙂

  2. Etsy. I finally was able to dedicate time to my Etsy shop: MagicCatDesign. I offer graphic design services and various paper printables. I added some invitations and wall art, and I will be adding some more items very soon! I also created an Instagram account for the shop, and you can follow it at @MagicCatDesign. Below are some items available in the shop.

     

  3. My job. Several things have happened at my current job as a Journalist for the Bayonet & Saber newspaper on Fort Benning. First, two of our writers recently left — Noelle, who had been there for over a year, got a job in Savannah and Anna, who had been there about a year, just moved to Fort Drum, New York (where we are going soon!) Since they left we got two new writers, Danielle and Kellie, and they are great! So I’ve been busy with taking extra work as well as training. It is definitely exhausting, but lots of fun … I am happy to work with them! 🙂

    Second, one of my stories served as the lead story on www.army.mil for a few days! This was the first time one of my stories became top news. It was very exciting! You can read the story here: British and US troops collaborate in technology experiments.
    Third, another first for me was designing the layout for the newspaper. Check it out below! It could use some work for the next time, but I’m learning!

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    Fourth, I had the pleasure of meeting Brigadier General Malcolm Frost, Chief of Public Affairs of the United States Army. Frost talked to Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course, Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course and Maneuver Captains Career Course students about leadership and public affairs. He had a lot of great information! He explained how when sending the message of the Army to those outside the Army, it is important to talk about all the good the Army does for its Soldiers and families. He mentioned the misconceptions people have, such as it being a “last resort” for most Soldiers, and that the Army does not take care of families (but it very much does … more than any other employer, in my opinion.) He was an excellent speaker and really motivated all of us to help brand the Army. He also took some selfies with the Soldiers!

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    Fifth (last by not least), I had the opportunity to attend another Ranger School graduation. I covered a story on a fourth generation Ranger — very cool experience! That story will be on the www.BayonetandSaber.com website soon. Below is a slideshow of some pictures I took at the graduation. You can view more at www.fortbenningphotos.com — a website that is always updated with the happenings around Fort Benning. Markeith and Patrick are great photographers!

  4. Creating an animal rescue business. I unfortunately can’t give too many details on this, but my friend, Sandy, and I are working on creating an organization that raises the awareness of animals in need. We still have a little while until we go live, but I’ll be sure to post updates as they come … stay tuned!
  5. Moving. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are soon moving to Fort Drum! Hours after work have been filled with trying to find places to live. Hopefully we find something soon!

Those are the updates on things that put a stop on my blogging lately. I hope to have more time to post with all that is going on!

In honor of Toby, always remember to keep your pets close. You never know when something can happen. I think of Toby and all my other pets every day, and the big impact they had on my life. It is a love like no other!

I hope everyone has a great Selection Sunday! Go Bonnies and Cuse!

 

 

 

 

Winter Storm Jonas

This is about a week late, but I finally had time to upload some Winter Storm Jonas photos my friends and family sent to me. According to The Weather Channel, “Winter Storm Jonas produced prolific amounts of snow in parts of the East, rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past. Snowfall totals from the storm topped out near 42 inches in West Virginia and at least 14 states in total received more than a foot of snow from the storm.”

This storm was one for the books, that’s for sure!

Many people sent me these photos since I couldn’t experience this storm for myself. My family and friends never let me down!

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We recently found out we will be moving back to Central New York this spring, and I can’t wait to be back up north to experience these crazy winters!

N’awlins … for the third time.

So I went to New Orleans for the third time in a year and a half last weekend, and I loved every second of it (as usual). I don’t know what it is about NOLA, but it definitely has my heart. It may have to do with all the beignets, live music, Garden District homes, swamp creatures, spooky history, Bourbon Street, and overall just fun culture and people!

The one thing about this trip that was different from the others … I FINALLY got to do a swamp tour! The last two times I went, only a couple of us wanted to go and we couldn’t ever get everyone on board. Luckily this time I went with my two good friends, Megan and Jocelyn, and they were totally on board with the swamp tour.

Unfortunately we did not get to see many alligators due to the off-season, but we did see some interesting sites. We saw a baby alligator, which was neat, but the most hilarious and exciting part was seeing a random goat. As the guide steered us into the swamp village, where people can only get to their homes by boat, we saw one dock that had a goat on it. We moved in closer and saw the house actually had land. The goat was so confused and it was the cutest moment of the swamp tour to say the least. The scene got even more hilarious when a chicken and a peacock showed up. It is a pretty interesting choice of pets for a family living on a swamp.

While this blog is dedicated to mostly weather occurrences, I have decided to add more travel to it. I think it is important to share experiences and inspire others to travel and see the world. Only two significant weather events happened while we were in New Orleans: 1) a random downpour right before our ghost tour (we had to buy ponchos) and 2) a beautiful sunset, which you can see it below along with some other great photos from the trip!

 

I love NOLA and I can’t wait to go back! 🙂

 

 

 

Winter finally hits Upstate New York

We didn’t end up having a “White Christmas” — instead it was 67 degrees — but I did get to see some snow and ice before I left town. Of course, now that I’m no longer there, the snow has hit hard and is staying (just my luck).

It had snowed a couple times before Christmas, but nothing stuck. So now that the snow is finally hanging around, I would say winter has finally arrived up north.

My friends, Laci and Dan, live on Lake Delta in Rome (as I stated in my Fall foliage on Lake Delta post). I had the opportunity to take some pictures after the storm hit Monday night into Tuesday morning, Dec. 28-29. Unfortunately the WordPress website isn’t allowing me to upload all the files at this time, so I picked a few photos from Christmas Eve and the storm and posted them below. The Christmas Eve photos were taken from my cousin’s house.There is nothing like fall and winter in Upstate!

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It was a full moon and 60 degrees on Christmas Eve.

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Ryan and I enjoying the warm weather and full moon on Christmas Eve.

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Foggy Lake Delta after the ice storm hit.

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Looking down the icy staircase leading to Lake Delta’s brisk, cold waters.

My next adventure is to New Orleans (for the third time in the past year and a half)! The “Big Easy” is one of my favorite cities I’ve been to. I can’t wait to go back and experience all the fun. I hope to get some great weather photos while I’m there!

Will you have a white Christmas this year?

Ah, it has been a little over a month since I last posted on my blog! While I am sad I have not posted, a lot of things have occurred in the last month that held me back from writing.

This past month I have been traveling to visit family and friends in New York and in Florida (since I was without a full-time job.. why not?!). But when I returned to Georgia from those adventures, I landed an interview with a local newspaper and was offered the job. I happily accepted!

I am a journalist for the Bayonet & Saber newspaper on Fort Benning. I have learned so much already, and I am having lots of fun so far. I have always been interested in working with a media company, so it has really been such a great experience. I get to contribute my marketing skills to the job, too! I really love marketing, communications, writing, editing, social media, etc. All of it truly excites me. While I really enjoyed working at a credit union/nonprofit, I am thankful for a different type of experience to enhance my knowledge in these areas.

With all that said, I have barely had any time to write and build my personal social media presence as much as I have in the past. I spend many nights working on stories when I come home from work. Once I get a good grip of my current job, I’ll be able to post more frequently.

Well, enough about me! Let’s talk about Christmas… will you have snow in your front yard this year?!

In the words of Bing Crosby, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

Temperatures have been quite warm for this time of year. Even my hometown of Rome, New York  has not had any snow (besides a few flakes back in October, but nothing stuck).

I will be going home for Christmas this year, and I am truly hoping there is snow on the ground for the holidays. I look forward to winters at home every year I can go!

Meteorologists say if there is at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, that is defined as a “white Christmas,” according to The Weather Channel’s website.

“This year, we have one of the strongest El Niños of record in play. That and a persistently warm East and Midwest, along with a cold, wet West, is setting the table for what we may see Christmas morning,” the website’s article adds.

So, who will have the one inch of snow or more this Christmas? Below is the map The Weather Channel put together showing where snow is most likely to be on Christmas.

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It looks like I do have a possibility of seeing snow on Christmas! I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed. Today it was almost 80 degrees here in Georgia, so I am really wanting that cooler weather so it feels more like the holiday season.

Click here to read more about the white Christmas forecast, and click here to read more about El Niños.

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Toby

It has been awhile since I have been able to write a lot on here. Life has been a little rough. We lost our angel of a dog, Toby. It was very unexpected as he had a lung lobe torsion which came quickly out of nowhere. He was about to go into surgery, but he went into cardiac arrest before they could do anything. They were unable to revive him. It was, and still is, such a shocking and terrible feeling. My fiancé is deployed so that has made it even harder. He couldn’t be there to say goodbye.

Toby was our first dog together. He was a rescue from a local shelter. He was extremely abused by his previous owner and needed a lot of help. He had come such a long way. It is terrible he is gone. He deserved to live so much longer. Our other dog, Scrappy, has been very depressed. He misses his brother. We know it’ll never get easier to miss him; we have lost so many pets over the years. We can’t wait until we see our Toby again.

Toby really was an angel. Everyone knew that. Now Toby is up there giving us this beautiful sky tonight. We know he is looking down on us!

Please honor Toby by spreading awareness about lung lobe torsions and animal abuse. Although the torsion is rare, someone can be saved from knowing what it is.

We love you, Toby!

 

HUGE Hail Stones!

Last night, there were several areas in central North Carolina who were hit with major thunderstorms. The hail that came down with theses storms was gigantic. Some reports said the hail stones were about the size of a golf ball, where others reported some as large as baseballs! The photo below was submitted to ABC11’s website by an eyewitness viewer.

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The lightning and hail from these storms was quite the show. ABC11 Meteorologist Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker said there were over 1,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the Cumberland and Harnett county areas around 6:00 a.m. this morning.

We will expect to see more storms tonight into tomorrow. Friday is shaping up to have some severe storms, too!

Click here to read more about these storms and see pictures of the dangerous hail that was reported.