*Happy New Year*

So, it is a new year and one of my many New Year's Resolutions is to blog more.  However I am also finishing my college career (for now and hopefully forever) in May.  Therefore I will probably not be blogging as much as I want to but hopefully it will be more often than once every 6 months.  Last year I started off doing really good and then it jsut kind of faded away.

Another New Year's Resolution is to get to the gym more often.  I want nothing more than to tone up before the wedding.  You can follow my progress on here, instagram and twitter :)

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions? How have you been doing with them?  Are you still going strong?!


** .. coming back ?! .. **

I have been incredibly busy with summer classes and have not had much time for the blogging world.  Which makes me very sad because I was doing very good, blogging everyday and then I just quit.  I hope to get back into the swing of things soon.  For now I just wanted to say hello!  Drop a comment and let me know how you all are doing, I miss you!


**.. renovation ..**

As you can tell my blog is all kinds of messed up right now.  I really want to blog about our trip to Chicago and our ENGAGEMENT!  However this is driving me crazy and it needs to be taken care of quickly.  Sorry for the inconvenience hopefully it will be fixed soon!


**.. Is That a Lot? ..**

My dad wrote this about a year ago and it really meant a lot to me.  So, I wanted to share it with you.  

Is That a Lot?
By Anthony Johnston

After a lifetime of learning, from kindergarten to college, boot camp to 14 overseas military deployments including three tours in Iraq, I should not have been surprised to be reminded that not all learning - or teaching - is done in a classroom.
I drove down the road with my son, listening to the news and talking about life.  Of course the 'surge' in Afghanistan has received a lot of coverage, and arm-chair quarterbacks debated our two wars. A little later on in the newscast they talked about death tolls, the decline in Iraq and the increase that was anticipated for Afghanistan.  That was when my 12 year old son Jack got serious.
He asked about the people that had died in Iraq and Afghanistan. He asked about the ones that I had known personally, and then he added them up.  I knew it was 4380 killed in Iraq and guessed around 1000 (at the time) killed in Afghanistan and he came up with 5380 dead Americans.
Then he hit me with a question I may never be able to competently answer.
He said, "Dad, is that a lot?"
It took me a moment to recover enough to fumble for something that would pass as an answer. The next few minutes are still a little hazy to me. But in the meantime several thoughts bounced around in my mind.
I remembered that about 20,000 US service members were killed in a couple months in the Battle of the Bulge, and that we lost an average of 600 Americans every single day in the Civil War, I also thought about the 400,000 that gave their lives in the World War Two - 1450 of them on D-Day alone. I thought about the nearly 3000 killed in the Chosin Reservoir in two weeks during the coldest Korean winter on record back 1950, and the 52,000 men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
But before you think me a hawk, or try to guess where I'm going with this, let me say that I've held onto the hand of a young Marine, as heroic medics and doctors fought in vain to save his life. I looked at his 19 year old face and wondered who he was, and what he could have become? These days I speak regularly with his family and I know as much about him as I know about my own nephew who served with me there. I know that he had a girlfriend and that he wanted to be a chef, together they wanted to start a family and open a restaurant. I know that his mother was a Native American and that had great influence on his life, and his culinary skills, and that she had recently died. I realize-as much as a stranger can-that he had so much to offer and that the hole left where his life once was will never be filled.  
I've seen the faces of dead young men while working in the hospital in Iraq, and they all stay with me every day, (and more nights than I'd care to think about.) I remember, as I documented and packed the belongings of one young man, wondering where his dad would be when he got the news? I thought about his reaction later when his sons' personal effects arrived at their home? I envisioned his dad viciously tearing apart the package that we had carefully prepared looking for that picture of the two of them at the lake, or the Saint Christopher medal that I had folded into a sheet of paper that contained my feeble words of sympathy and my dried tears.
I've also witnessed firsthand the carnage of the innocents caught between the forces of good and evil. I've seen entire Iraqi families killed by insurgents, their penalty for believing that we could help them to live free. I worked with a young girl who was the lone survivor of another attempted family execution and still to this day think of the mental anguish and physical pain she lives with- if she is still alive?
I've also seen the physical and emotional aftermath of combat in the faces of some young men and women I've met during my own 18 month treatment at the VA. Our arguing only serves to further isolate them from what they most desperately need - the support of the American people.
I believe that despite all the rhetoric, we are fighting for freedom for the Iraqi and Afghan people and the suppression of those thoroughly committed to terrorize us. There isn't much middle ground in the War on Terrorism. When our enemies are committed to our annihilation as a Nation there isn't much room for discussion.
Civil War General William T Sherman supposedly coined the phrase "War is Hell." He is also credited with "War is cruel and you cannot refine it" and "War at best is barbarism." I say he was an optimist. I believe that for each "Nuke 'em till they glow" there is an opposing "Make peace, not war" and in the end, like almost every other subject ever debated, the truth or the solution probably falls somewhere in between?
I have a great friend and mentor who is a doctor, we both root for Notre Dame, we both enjoy a good cigar and we have had occasion to sit down over a cold beer and talk about life. But we are polar opposites on many things like war and politics. We have had great exchanges over the years, we respect each other's opinions and in the end, we always walk away friends. Why we can't, as a Nation, do the same is beyond me. 
But for now, we are where we are and the lack of sacrifice in these current wars - at least for the great majority of our Nation, contributes in my humble opinion, to the disconnect between both sides.
So as much as I believe in what we are doing, I also understand and appreciate those who disagree. For I have seen firsthand what war can do to your soul.
I awkwardly tried to put all these emotions into words; I tried to explain to my son that if he, or one of his sisters, were one of those 5,380 lost lives that I just can't imagine that sacrifice. I stumbled around the conversation awhile longer. I talked about the historical references a little more and the personal losses I've witnessed and finally just decided to drop it. I thought that maybe when he was older he may be more prepared to try to understand what cannot be understood.
Then he asked what I would do if it was him? I told him I didn't want to talk about it anymore.
And I pray to God each day that we never have to know the answer to the last question.
 "5,380 lost lives….yes Jack, that is a lot."


**.. frustrated ..**

There have been some times recently when I really neeeded the blogging world to lean on.  Whether it was my parents trip to San Antonio, the vote NO campaign, just some advice, a day that's really difficult for me or some blog lovin.  
I think I blog sometimes for the wrong reason, just to fill space or something to occupy my time and keep me from studying.  Then there are the times, mentioned before, when I could really use some help and I feel like no one is there.

What am I doing wrong ?! 

I try not to complain too much, I try to keep things light and fun to read with pictures and funny quotes, etc...

Any advice or is this another post that will go unread ?! 
I know that it shouldn't matter but who doesn't love to read a nice comment ?! To know that they are talking to someone other than themselves !? 


**.. VOTE NO ..**

My dad discovered that there was some bill passed that is going to cut or take away the benefits for Children of Disabled American Veterans.  This is something that helps pay college tuition for kids of Disabled Veterans.  My sister and I will not be affected by this however my brother is quite a bit younger than us and it will most likely affect him.  

PLEASE vote NO here for the Jack Johnston (by the way I got some love for this post about my brother, you should definately read it, I think I might just copy and paste it bellow too) goes to college with military benefits fund.  Military people, wives, husbands, kids, grandparents, family friends, etc ... please vote because this could some day affect you and your children as well.  You can also join the facebook group here.   

Here is the post for my brother .. It looks long but a lot of it is pictures :)  


Jack Johnston **

I have not been blogging much lately, because I have been exceptionally busy && I don't always know what to say to keep people interested. So, I have finally decided to blog a little bit about my brother .. hopefully you will learn to enjoy him as much as I do :)

Jack is 11 years old and he was born when I was 9 & 1/2. Growing up I was a very responsible young lady and my parents trusted me to watch their two children, when they went out for dinner or to run short errands, etc .. At the time Alexandria (I will blog about her some other time) was 6 & 1/2 and Jack was a newborn.

Jack && me at Bandido's !

I think that since he and I are so far apart in age, that he was more of a son to me (not literally, but we never argued or anything like that && my parents were always around. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about this.) I was always there to help, whether it was to feed him, change diapers or put him to bed. I loved helping out!

My dad is in the Air National Guard and when he would go on trips I would help my mom out by getting Jack to and from practices and games, when she had to work. Since he started playing sports, I could probably count on two hands the games that I have missed .. and this includes the past year and a half when I have lived across town. I drive 20 minutes at least twice a week to cheer him on.

During the spring && summer he plays baseball. He currently bats 4thin line up .. which is awesome .. but he is also in a batting slump .. so I don't know how he is keeping his position! He is a great catcher, he isn't so into pitching, but they need him to .. so we try to get him more into it .. it is an insane amount of pressure on a young man though .. all those people saying, "Common Jack, just relax." or "Jack just throw strikes." Have you ever tried to 'just throw strikes'? Let me tell you .. not as easy as it looks. But he is getting better! And when he is not pitching or catching, he plays short stop.

 This picture is from last year, but you get point !

Last summer Jack && I went to Cedar Point for the day. We got up on an overcast Tuesday morning at 7 and made the 3 hour drive. PERFECT day ! It only sprinkled once around lunch time, so we went out to the car to eat the lunches that we had packed. I was exhausted, so he sat there while I took a 20 minute power nap, because I had to drive us home that night, and it was sprinkling so we couldn't ride rides anyways. THen we went back and we rode EVERY roller coaster that we wanted to, with minimal waits! It was quite possibly one of the best days ever :)

Jack && me on a roller coaster .. they wound up stopping the

ride && walking over to tell me I couldn't have my camera out :/
 Totally worth it though !

This was the line for the Millenium Force aka NO LINE ! It was so crazy !

In the fall Jack plays football, FINALLY ! I have been waiting since the day he was born for him to play football ! I love it so much ! Last year he was in 5th grade && played quarter back for the 6th grade team ! Very exciting ! He also played other positions && played both offense && defense, since it is such a young team, they are trying to figure out what everyone is good at. I think he enjoys football so much, because he never had anyone to rough house with && now he does.

Jack is number 7 with the white cleats .

 Such a bad ass !

And finally, in the winter Jack plays basketball. He usually plays in the forward position, but has been known to play both center and guard as well. I think he really likes basketball the best, but I really hope he keeps up with the other two .. (I like them the most!)

 Robert (11), Jack (12), Jonathon, cousin, (21), Seth, best friend (24)

I also took him snowboarding last year .. but somehow all of those pictures have disappeared except for one .. and it's not even of him boarding :( But he really liked that too ! We went down the black diamond at this particular park (which is in Ohio, so it is really just a big hill), but we went down that on our 4th trip down maybe, and he wiped out and took out a caution sign .. he was fine .. so it is now okay to laugh .. but I was afraid for my life!

Warming up by the fire :)

Finally, like a good sister, I like to show Jack, what not to do .. My boyfriend, Jason and his former roommates work with my dad .. so for one of their birthdays he stopped by the party with my brother .. like any good sister, I let him play beer pong .. relax he just drank mountain dew ! but now he will be somewhat prepared for what the future holds !

See, Mountain Dew !

All in all my brother Jack is an amazing young man && I would never even consider trading him for anything else in the entire world ! I love having him call me at 1 am during the summer, because he knows that I will be up too ! Just to talk, even though I saw him today. Or when he calls me to remind me that he has a game, "But,Kaiti you don't have to come to these." I love him so much and would so absolutely anything just for him.


**.. Jason's 24th Birthday ..**

Today is Jason's 24th birthday!  He had drill this weekend and there was a conflict with going out next weekend :(  So, we went to dinner last night at Smokey Bones and then Jason went out to a local bar with his friends.  I won't get into that.  This was us before dinner.  We never go out and get "dressed up" so this was fun for us! 

This was our dessert .. YUM ! 

And these are the cutest shoes ! I am in LOVE ! 

Jason and I planned our trip to Chicago a couple weeks ago and we are leaving this week!  We are taking the train and we are pretty excited about that alone.  We know we want to go to museums and The Navy Pier, etc... I have been to Chicago several times (mostly when I was younger).  What is your favorite thing in Chicago that we shouldn't miss out on ?!