Remembering our Veterans at Christmas Time

By Tina M. Cameron

Recently a friend of mine Beryl posted something on Facebook that she had just signed up for as a volunteer. She shared the link and I opened it to see what it was about. It is called Wreaths Across America. It is an annual day to honor our veterans by laying a wreath on their grave. According to the Wreaths Across America website, Congress voted December 13th, 2008 as Wreaths Across America Day. On that day over 100,000 wreaths were laid by over 60,000 volunteers. This occurred in 300 locations and included cemeteries in every state as well as 24 overseas cemeteries and Puerto Rico.

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Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or a volunteer can go to their website (which I will include at the end of my blog).  Arlington Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries that wreaths are laid at.  Wreath laying at military cemeteries began when the Worcester Wreath Company had a surplus of wreaths leftover and decided to honor Veterans. It began small and has now spread worldwide. This eventually led to the non-profit Wreaths Across America.

This opportunity to lay a wreath to honor our military is a great way to include your children in volunteering and to teach a valuable lesson to them on what it means to give back, to honor someone who fought for our country and to spend time together. When wreaths are laid at each grave site, you are to say the person’s name out loud to remember them and to let them and their families know they are not forgotten. I am looking forward to this on December 15th at Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia, SC.

If you want to participate, simply go to the Wreaths Across America website and either choose volunteer, your location closest to you and sign up. If you are unable to volunteer to lay wreaths, you can choose to sponsor a wreath and donate money. I plan on making this a yearly experience and would love to eventually go participate at Arlington National Cemetery. My friend and I are trying to get a group together so if you are interested feel free to contact me via email and we can discuss meeting up on Saturday, December 15th.

To learn more: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

(On the right-hand side, use the drop- down box to choose volunteer and follow instructions from there)

Here is my email address if you want to join us at Fort Jackson National Cemetery: tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu

 

 

 

 

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

By Tina Michelle Cameron

Well, my 6-week healthy eating and working out is not going as planned. I have lost 6 lbs and zero inches. I am disappointed in myself—again. I have not been walking and have used my new stationary bike only three times. I am stressed with school, overly fatigued and no energy. And, have no self-control when it comes to Halloween candy! I am one that stress eats, happy eats and in general have a very sweet tooth. There, I said it—all my excuses. When I usually get started on a “diet”, I am focused and usually obsessed about it, but, if I slip up, well, I slip up in a big way. I was keeping track of everything that went in my mouth and well, after 2 weeks of that along with my brain saying, I’ll log it in when I get up tomorrow or when I get home and one day leads to two, then 3 weeks of no logging my intake.

So, starting November 1st, 2018, I will once again, begin my one thousandth diet and I have promised myself to start keeping my food journal logged in on my phone as well as a daily exercise program. I am beyond upset and disappointed with myself—again. I am tired of being tired, tired of being overweight and unhealthy and tired of staring at the cute clothes in my closet that I cannot fit in. I am like Oprah in that I have a whole range of sizes. I am in disgust at my body, my thighs especially and my sagging skin.

I will once again try the Keto diet. My goal for now is to lose 10 lbs by January 31st, 2019.  I think that is a doable goal. If you would like to join me, please email me at tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu. I do better if I have a partner to keep me in line.

I will keep you guys posted once a month on how I am doing and would love to hear from you all. So, in the meantime, please feel free to send me any advice, recipes or workout regimens. I am posting one of my favorite recipes from Weight Watchers for those that like Little Debbie Snack Cakes or chocolate cupcakes.

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1 can pumpkin and 1 box Devil’s food cake mix.

Mix both ingredients, bake as ordered on cake box to make the cupcakes, refrigerate after baking, they last for 5 days. You can also slice open and place a tablespoon of fat-free cool whip in it and reheat for about 10 seconds in microwave. Yum-yum—enjoy!! Depending on the size and quantity they are 2 to 5 points each.

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Paying It Forward in a Small Way

By Tina Cameron

Today was a good day. It has been 4 months and 1 day since I had to put my precious 9-year old Yorkie—Haley Michelle to sleep. I wrote about her in my first blog. She lived longer than she was supposed to according to her vet –she had been in liver failure since the age of 2. However, she ended up being diagnosed with a rare Pancreatic cancer 12 days before I made the painful decision to let her go as she was rapidly declining.

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Haley Michelle

Haley’s birthday was on September 20th and I have been paying it forward since then in little ways to honor her. I donated to a pet charity on her birthday and have been looking to pay the adoption fee for someone. Well, today was the day! I happened to be at the Humane Society in Columbia picking up a voucher for my grand-dog Hanks neutering appointment this Thursday. While waiting I noticed a woman petting and loving on a Pit-bull mix breed dog named Clayton. He is approximately 2 years old. I overheard the woman give her name—Savannah to the lady at the counter and told her she would be back tomorrow afternoon to pick Clayton up. When she went to return the dog to his room, I asked if I could pay the adoption fee for this young lady. I excitedly sat back down and waited for her to leave. I explained about my sweet Haley passing and that I wanted to pay it forward. The two wonderful ladies who helped me were so excited to be in on this secret. They also explained to me that Clayton had been there longer than the other dogs who were already adopted out.

I immediately felt a sense of happiness in my heart for doing this for this dog. I am terrified of Pit Bulls and I know that a lot are put down because of either waiting for their fur-ever home and never getting it or because of their temperament. Last week, I hugged and petted a beautiful Pit at Pet Smart. This was a first for me.

While I was waiting to get my voucher, I could tell that the woman was already falling for this dog and the dog seemed to be so excited for someone to be paying attention to him. After I paid the $35 adoption fee and was waiting on my receipt, I wrote Savannah a sweet little note that will be given to her tomorrow when she returns to pick Clayton up. I wish I could see her face when she picks up her sweet dog. Happy Gotcha Day Clayton!! Wishing you and your fur-ever family nothing but happiness. I know my sweet Haley is smiling down on me today.

If you would like to help The Humane Society, they take newspapers, old towels and sheets. Their address is 121 Humane Lane Columbia, SC 29209. Their phone number is 803-783-1267. Also, if you are a Richland County resident and are having your cat/dog spayed or neutered, you can get a voucher to use to help with the cost of the surgery at Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic located on 1275 Bower Parkway Columbia, SC 29212. Their phone number is 803-465-9150. You are allowed 2 vouchers a year. This is a great thing that these two organizations do.

My love for The University of Alabama

By Tina M. Cameron

Despite what some of my family members believe, I have always liked Alabama football. You see, I’m from Knoxville, so growing up, I went to Tennessee football games with my dad. These are some of my favorite memories. I love the Vols and always will, but, my heart fell in love with The University of Alabama in Fall 2009 when my older son Corey became a Freshman as an Aerospace Engineering major. He changed his major during his junior year to Mechanical Engineering. I made many trips a year while he was there for 5 years. He had so many opportunities and made some wonderful lifelong friends. I fell in love with the campus, the school and the amazing people that I have met there. Oh, and we have a pretty good football team!

13116341_10153813275391645_4307474500324260944_o  I am now a student there full-time. I am a Registered Nurse and have always dreamed of having my BSN degree. That is now becoming a reality. In March of this year I was accepted at The University of Alabama and then 2 weeks later found out that I had been accepted into the RN to BSN Online Distance Learning Program. I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019, exactly 4 years after my son graduated. I will also be wearing his cap and gown.

One of the main reasons I love this school so much is the way the students and parents support each other. I belong to our Alabama Parent Facebook Page, which has over 10,000 members and even though my son has graduated I just can’t unfollow the page. We refer to ourselves as “Bamaly” because it is one big family. We answer questions, give support, help each other’s kids out. We have a map of the U.S. where each parent has flagged themselves on it in case our kids are traveling and breakdown or have a wreck; there is someone always close.

20180108_165108            The University of Alabama is one of the top public universities in the country. My son received an amazing education and is thriving as a Mechanical Engineer. He now lives in Charleston, SC and works for Mercedes-Benz. The nursing program I am enrolled in is also one of the top programs in the country. It is very competitive to get into and I feel blessed and proud that I was admitted. I have dreamed of having a 4-year degree since I was 18 years old and I will graduate 7 months from today. I cannot wait until I can call myself an alumnus. And, one final thing—Roll Tide!!

Its Time to Get Off the Couch

By Tina M. Cameron

As you know from my blog introduction, I recently turned fifty. Well like momma said, it all goes south after forty (regarding vision, metabolism, hearing, etc.). Well, let me say, she is right. Recently, I have been reading online and hearing from friends about the Keto Diet. So yesterday, I filled out a free online form about how to determine your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake. Well, once I completed the height, weight, age, activity level sections, it calculates your BMI and your metabolic age. What an eye-opening, upsetting response I received. My metabolic age is 69!! I know in the past several years I have “let myself go”. I do not workout like I used to and I am at my heaviest weight that I have ever been. My sons are worried about me not taking care of myself.

I know what I need to do. I need to put down the snacks, the remote and get off the couch and get moving. Everyday, I say, I’ll go walk tomorrow, or I’m too tired to workout to a DVD at home. I have been struggling with Bulimia with Anorexic tendencies (at times) since the age of twelve. I will admit, I love snacks—cookies, chips/salsa and Chick-fil-A are my weaknesses. Well, after seeing what my body’s metabolic age is, I need to make a change and I need to make it now.40545204_2292454834102750_450966734241792000_n

So, starting September 18th, I will start my journey. According to my height, I need to lose 67 lbs. Despite having a broken rib and a broken toe (don’t ask, I’m very clumsy), I am going to start walking tomorrow morning and again tomorrow evening. I will weigh myself and take my measurements also in the morning. I have a journal to start recording every single food I put in my mouth. I would love to find someone to do this journey with me, so, if you read this and want a walking/workout buddy, please feel free to email me. I will update in my blog in thirty days my progress. I am not going to post my weight as I am very embarrassed by the number. I think besides making healthier choices for eating, I am going to try the Keto Diet for a month and see how I do. I would love to hear from some of you what has worked for you regarding weight loss.

Good luck to anyone reading this that is also struggling with their weight. You are not alone. We can do this!!

My Day at Magic Kingdom

by Tina M. Cameron

I have always been independent and not wanting to miss out on things because of being single. I attend NASCAR races alone, rock concerts, college football games and today, Magic Kingdom. I had friends say that I was crazy, and some said I was brave to travel from Columbia, SC to Orlando by myself. The trip to the Magic Kingdom came out of wanting to go to Orlando for The University of Alabama’s season opener on September 1st. You see, I am a huge college football fan-moreover the Crimson Tide. This is where I am presently a student in the RN to BSN Distance Learning Program and the university that my oldest son earned his Mechanical Engineering degree from- so, it holds a special place in my heart. So last year when they announced that the season opener would be in Orlando I decided I had to attend. I also decided I wanted to go to Magic Kingdom. I arrived at Disney’s All Stars Sports Resort at 1:45 p.m. today and stepped into the Magic Kingdom at 2:30 p.m. I felt like a kid in a candy store. 20180830_203132

With the help of friends who have recently gone and my cousin Christy, I planned my rides carefully using my three Fast Passes. I was also able to make a reservation nine days before arriving at The Crystal Palace Restaurant which is a buffet style restaurant with the Winnie the Pooh and friends’ characters.

The last time I was at Disney was 20 years ago with my children and parents. My, how things have changed. There are Magic-bands that you are given to use as your ticket, your hotel key at the resorts and to use as your Fast Pass to skip the traditional waiting lines. It is fascinating to me the way that technology has changed even a trip to Disney.

In writing this blog post today, it was not my intent to promote Disney, or college football, but, to inspire people – including women – in getting out and doing things. It doesn’t matter if you are single, if there is something you love to do or dream of doing, then do it. You only get one life and I am trying to make the most out of mine. I do get tired somedays and I don’t get out of my pajama’s. But, fifty years have now gone by and my life is half over. I think that is why I am trying to do as much as I can while I still can. I am finally getting my four-year degree. So, go live your best life. Do things you are interested in and don’t be afraid to travel alone or be the only one in a restaurant surrounded by Winnie the Pooh characters and families. As tired as I am while I am typing this, it was one of the best days of my life. And, tomorrow, I’m off to Animal Kingdom!

Volunteering Does a Heart Good

By Tina Michelle Cameron

Ever since I was young, I have always had the desire to help others. I became a nurse in my early twenties and have been an oncology nurse since 1994. Helping others either professionally as a nurse or by doing volunteer work makes my heart smile. Volunteering can and will change your life as well as those you are helping.

Throughout the years I have volunteered with different cancer walks as well as being a yearly volunteer for the past 10 years with Fight Like a Girl here in Columbia. It was started by 5 amazing twenty-something’s who were diagnosed with breast cancer. They help raise money for unfunded, under insured patients at a large oncology center that I use to work at here in Columbia. I have also been a mentor to at risk youth at Dutch Fork Elementary School.

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Feta, my favorite goat at the zoo

I now volunteer four hours once a week at Riverbanks Zoo. I work in the Farm, zebra/ostrich area as well as the Education Center with snakes, rabbits, opossums, turtles, frogs and Madagascar hissing cock-roaches! It is the highlight of my week to be a “pooper scooper”, to feed and water them, to clean out their homes and to give these sweet babies hugs. I have been a volunteer for 13 months. It is hard manual labor and my doggy can’t quite figure out the different smells on my clothes and shoes when I get home, but, I absolutely love doing it.  I also enjoy helping the wonderful zookeepers at Riverbanks. I have a great love for all animals and it makes me smile to know I am helping them.

Despite my hectic schedule between two jobs, being in school full-time and volunteering, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After I finish my degree next May, I want to become a volunteer at Palmetto Health Richland Children’s Hospital.

There are numerous places to volunteer a few hours a week at. It will change your life and you can impact someone else’s life. Please consider volunteering either at a women’s shelter, the zoo, cancer walks or at a shelter handing out food. It will make your heart smile knowing you have given back to your community and to those who need help. I have listed a few links below for volunteer opportunities.

To become a zoo volunteer, go to https://riverbankszoo.org and complete an application. To help at the yearly breast cancer fundraiser hosted by Fight Like a Girl follow them on Facebook (The Ta-Tini’s)-the event is held every year in April or May.