Monday, May 21, 2018

National Treasure

Honor the Fallen

The official start to summer "Memorial Day" is almost upon us. For people in parts of the country that were hit with an especially hard winter this year like yours truly, most likely it cannot come soon enough.

I'm all for packing up the winter stuff and breaking out the flip flops, but I have to say it always kind of rubs me the wrong way when I start to see so much emphasis placed on the change of season to summer, sales, and parties, rather than focus on the real meaning of the holiday.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good sale (hello I'm Greek which is also code for you must buy it on sale or at wholesale) but I just don't see how getting a good deal on a car honors our nation's fallen heroes. In a time when history is given less focus than ever living in the "I want it now” digital age I think we should give less attention to sales and more attention to giving honor and respect to those who have so dearly earned it.

For our nations entire history there have been men and women who left their homes and everything they loved and held dear to go off to distant places to stand up for freedom. Men and women who lived in uncomfortable situations so that we could live in comfort. Think about that for just a moment.

Photo taken by the Mr. at Memorial Day event I had the
honor to perform the National Anthem for. 
So this year instead of hitting the mall, the car lot, or nearest backyard party, maybe find a Memorial Day parade. Find a ceremony in your local area; there are so many organizations that will be holding events to honor the fallen at Memorials all over the country. Check your local paper, find a VFW, a Purple Heart chapter, a first responders organization.

Photo taken by the Mr. at same event.
This one melts my heart. 
There are so many things that will take place, but sadly many don't garner the attendance they should. So this year be the difference and take a little time out to honor those who have given everything.

America's greatest treasure is those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families. We owe a debt that can never be repaid, thank you. Remember to give gratitude, respect, and honor to those who have made that ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day. May God bless you and yours, and keep you safe this holiday and always.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com



Monday, March 26, 2018

Hello Spring






If you live in a part of the country where old man winter has over stayed his welcome, and you're anything like me you are probably long over winter by now. I'm so over it, in fact I would actually love to get my hands on that groundhog.

I know my complaining about winter taking too long to get on out of dodge is nothing new, but seriously this winter was taking this whole "out like a lion" thing a little bit too far. Us folks on the east coast had the pleasure of being bombarded by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Nor’easter’s in a row this year. Which does not make for a happy Greek Girl if you know what I
mean.

So instead of working on learning the new music a colleague sent me to learn for a new project we're working on like I had planned to do. The Mr. and I spent nearly the entire month of March cleaning up the mess that one of those lovely Nor’easter’s left behind. We are thankful it was not worse, but it did leave a big impact nonetheless and loads of fun and follies for us to deal with.

It all started on March seventh, everything was pretty much shut down due to the impending storm. The Mr. was off from work and so we decided to go play in the snow. We put our snow gear on and went for a long walk in the afternoon. No big deal, it was beautiful, we took some photos and came back inside to get some lunch. We sat down turned on the news to see all the power outages across the northeast. Then it happened, we heard a "boom" and then the TV went dead, and all the power went off.

The Mr. & I playing in the snow before the muckery began.
I looked out my window and a branch had taken out the transformer on the pole by our house.  This transformer just so happened to supply power to our entire street. So the next thing you know all our neighbors are outside talking to each other asking if everyone has power or not. So then the Mr. decided we best go get a generator just in case the storm turns out to be as bad as the weather channel had predicted. Good thing he did. We jumped in the Jeep and arrived at Lowe's just in time.

 He literally got the last of the two generators they had in stock. He got it just as two guys walked up wanting to buy two. Luckily he already had one of them on his cart, so we got it. So we got home, and after about an hour of the Mr. doing a bunch of rigging with a flashlight, extension cords from the major appliances all over the house... voila we had power. Archaic as it was, it was power all the same.  It was dark by then and the furkids (three dogs and two cats) were all looking at us like the world was ending.

So then we settled in to have dinner and hunker down for the night. I was starving by this time and wanted to eat. The Mr. on the other hand thought he should go snowplow the driveway instead. I was too hungry to wait for that to be over, in fact I was getting a bit on the "hangry" side, so I insisted that we eat first, and then he could go clear the driveway. There is a lesson to be learned here... men always listen to your woman.

So we got dinner ready, sat down to eat listening to SiriusXM on my phone when all of the sudden we hear another boom coming from the other end of the house. Only this time is it so loud it shakes the entire house. I'm thinking, "Oh boy this doesn't sound good". We went outside to find his Jeep buried underneath a gigantic more than fifty-year-old tree. Had he not given in and let me eat dinner before he went outside, he could have been in that spot and not the car. See he had planned to move the Jeep and that is where he would have started clearing the driveway, ov vey!

Thankfully he listened to me and it was the Jeep under that tree and not him. Then came the four days without power, and seven days without Internet and TV. Then the glorious task of dealing with the cleanup of the mess the storm made. See this tree that fell, it was in a bundle of four trees. So when the one went, it caused the entire bundle to be compromised. It left two of the remaining three leaning so far out to the side they were almost sideways being held up only by another tree.

 

So we had to get a bunch of tree people to come in to estimate the cost to remove them. Along with figuring out with the insurance who was going to pay to get the tree off of the car so the adjuster could come survey the damage. Who knew if a tree falls on your car the auto insurance does not pay to remove the tree. See, you really do learn something new every day, even in a Nor’easter.

After a few days we worked it out and found the Jeep had in fact been killed that night. Then came the fun task of replacing it. So we immediately got on cars.com and started running all over the Tri-State NY/NJ/CT area to find another certified used Jeep with all the stuff he had on his with low miles, yes, good times for sure. Not really because anyone who knows me knows I would rather stick needles in my eyes than go car shopping. Who also knew that in NYS when a car is deemed a total loss you only get five days of rental reimbursement. Again, more learning going on for the noggin here in this situation.

Jeep murdered by Winter Storm Quinn
and replacement Jeep. Thank you cars.com
Then came the wrecking crew we hired to remove the remaining trees that were in danger of hitting the house. See after years of trees falling every time a hurricane or major storm comes along it was time to just get them out of the way. So the same day we picked up the replacement Jeep, we had a crew here taking trees out like nobody's business, I bet they could even give Paul Bunyan a run for his money.

It worked out in the end but by now, you can imagine I was and am ready for spring. Heck I'd be happy to even skip spring and move straight to summer. I will not complain about having to have the air conditioner on all the time. I will not complain about how hot it is. I will instead savor drinking iced cups of happiness all dang day long, and enjoy my flip-flops as long as Mother Nature will allow summer to stick around.

Why does it always seem like summer goes faster than winter does?

Hope you enjoy your day not matter what the weather is.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com



Monday, January 22, 2018

"But what about the Dreamers?"

Happy Monday! New day, new week, first blog of the New Year for me and I was all set to write a nice cheerful positive blog about my new song. That was until I made the mistake of calling my mom before I sat down to do it. That was mistake number one. Mistake number two, putting the news on in the background while I wrote. Mistake number three, not having my Dunkins before I did it, must get coffee. Oops, I’m doing it again…

WARNING: This blog is not politically correct, sensitive individuals who tend to melt should an opinion different than that of their own should appear (aka snowflakes), read at your own risk.

By now you have probably heard about the “Government Shutdown”, that is unless you’ve spend the last few weeks under a rock. One thing is certain, regardless what channel you’re watching I can sum it up in three words: “It’s their fault”. Apparently congress never learned the lesson as kids that whenever you point a finger at as someone else, it’s good to keep in mind there will always be three more fingers pointing back at you.

Seriously though, there are many places people can garner information from. It’s no secret that many channels that like to call themselves “News” are more opinion and less actual facts. It’s also no secret that Greek girl rolls to the right on most everything related to politics. However, this whole congressional temper tantrum being led by Chuck Schumer isn’t about left or right or any of the negative noise the talking heads in the news are spending so much time yapping their traps about. At the end of the day the only thing in my opinion that should matter boils down to one word… Military.

So here’s the thing, the only thing that should matter in this whole debacle is, when did a non US Citizen become more important than legal citizens serving in the United States Military? I can hear it now, it usually goes a little something like this: “You’re a racist, how insensitive, how could you want to send kids who have lived here their entire lives away and deport them, you heartless monster.” Well, let me tell you how. See there is a word people seem to keep forgetting in this whole debate, “illegal”.

Let me ask, what happens if you break the law in another country? That’s right you face the consequences of that action, and in many instances you go to jail. In many countries that is a very unpleasant place to be, and in fact some don’t even make it out alive. Just ask Otto Warmbier who died after being released from a North Korean prison last year.  

Why do we have laws if we are not going to enforce them? Heck why not just let all the people locked up for things like murder and drugs go free? Why are we spending millions of tax dollars a year supporting people in the prison system that are incarcerated? Why are Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi not worried about those poor souls who have to spend so many days locked up in a lonely jail cell? Don’t they matter? Good gravy.

At the end of the day they are dragging something into a bill that has absolutely nothing in the world to do with spending. DACA and Dreamers are literally being put ahead of active duty Military personnel. Don’t believe me? Check Military.com for yourself and see what happens to active duty military and their families in a shutdown: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/01/18/how-government-shutdown-would-impact-pay-benefits.html

I’m sorry, call me crazy but I was raised (by a legal immigrant mind you) that American Citizens especially our active duty Military should be more important than someone who broke our laws to come here. Never mind the strain and financial burden the illegal immigration situation puts on the healthcare system. I know how heartless of me to think that working Americans who cannot or barely afford their Obama care premiums should come before someone who broke the law.

Gee, I wonder what would happen to Americans who illegally immigrate to another county and expect to receive free healthcare, schooling and in many cases yes even housing. I’m sure that would go over well. All sarcasm aside, I really cannot even wrap my noggin around how it is legal for Democrats to hold the entire country hostage and drag a non-financial related issue into a financial spending bill.

In reality it is like a child having a temper tantrum. “Nope, I’m not going to listen until I get my way.” Good grief Charlie Brown, but that is just not how our government is set up. Not what our founders intended, and not in any way shape or form productive for anyone, especially for the American people who are footing the bill for this entire episode.

No I’m not heartless, yes I care about people, all people, even illegal immigrants. I just do not think they should be put ahead of our Military and legal citizens who were born here. There is a way to immigrate to our country and it needs to be done legally. What in the world are we teaching these Dreamers anyway if we reward them for breaking the law. I know I can hear it now, the Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski’s of the world jumping up and down “but it wasn’t even the kids, it was a parent so why punish the children?” Again I’ll tell you why, because laws were broken. Period, end of the story. Why on earth are we going to enforce “some” laws and not others?

I really hope that this whole thing comes to an end and quickly. My heart is heavy for our Service men and women who are on the front lines and have been put to the back burner. How is the wife of the veteran at home supposed to pay the mortgage? It’s totally upside down and I for one am ready for it to be put right side up again and quickly.

Blessings, Love and Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com




Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Dogs

Not sure how it happened but it's that time again. Seems like 2017 just flew by. I know people always say that at the end of a year, but this year went by really fast (for me it did anyway). This year was not a great year in the Aston house as we lost two of our furkids to rainbow bridge. Don't know what "Rainbow Bridge" is, click here.


First it was my little Bobo-Liscious a Pekingese rescue we adopted back in 2005. Then just a few weeks ago my little fifteen year old Pekingese Pook-alina that we had since she was a baby went to the bridge too. She went literally days after we had taken this years Christmas photo. Makes this year especially hard.

In our house one of the most fun parts of the Holiday Season is dressing our dogs up in costumes. I know we're not alone in our love of seeing our furkids dressed up in silly costumes, all anyone has to do is pop on instagram for a few minutes and you'll see boatloads of pets dressed up for the Holidays.

In the last five years our little pack has changed a bit, but I thought it would be fun to share some photos of our little Christmas Dogs through the years. In the spirit of remembering the good times, without further ado here are our Christmas Dogs through the years:


IMG_3001
2017 Christmas Dogs
15774743_10154817238516069_7751457292087345783_o
2016 Christmas Dogs
christmas dogs.001
2015 Christmas Dogs
dogs.001
2014 Christmas Dogs
Aston Christmas Dogs
2013 Christmas Dogs
Christmas dogs 2012 copy
2012 Christmas Dogs 
2011
2011 Christmas Dogs
2010
2010 Christmas Dogs
a&k w dogs
2009 Christmas Dogs with their People ;o)
dogs2008
2008 Christmas Dogs


So that's a little look down memory lane of my furkids in Christmas Costumes. Hope the cute added a little happy to your day. Like our pets, our people are not always going to be here. So during this special time of year remember to cherish every minute with the ones you love because they won't always be here with us. 

Wishing you and yours a beautiful blessed Holiday. 

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

Monday, November 20, 2017

Just Breathe



The holidays are coming. Every year it seems like they arrive faster and faster. Pre Black Friday sales and deals being advertised as early as the first week of November. Ads coming at you from every which way from the TV, laptop, phone, you name it someone is advertising to us on it.

The more connected we become as a society though it can be said that all of this information overload is actually doing more to disconnect us than it does to connect us. I know some people who are so fed up with it that they just disengage from technology all together, or for periods of time to get away from the noise. I mean really, what's the point of a social media feed if it's not going to be the things you like and want to follow and instead be just lots and lots of advertising that some algorithm picked "for" you? Silly if you ask me.

So with the hustle and bustle season about to move into full swing I wanted to take a moment to remind people to take a little time to breathe. Everyone has lists of things that need to be done, goals, dreams, and to do's that at times may never seem to end. At the end of the day though, it's not about the quantity of things we stuff into the twenty-four hours we are all allotted every day, it's the quality that matters.

The Holiday Season starts with Thanksgiving. Which in my humble Greek opinion is a really great way to start. Forget about everything that needs to be done and take the time to reflect on everything you have done and accomplished in the last day, week, month or last year for that matter. Take a moment to consider your victories big and small. Rome wasn't built in a day and too many people don't give themselves kudos for all the little things they do that really add up.

Whether it's helping others at your job, volunteering, or just people in your everyday life. Look around and think about whom you have touched with your actions big and small and I'm guessing you'll have a whole lot to be thankful for. Some people focus more on what isn't going right in their lives instead of looking at the things that are. Then there are people who are never satisfied, and they are always looking to the next project or adventure and so busy moving forward that they never stop to smell the roses or celebrate the fact that they were able to walk the path where the roses bloomed.

I'm thankful for coffee, endorphins, dogs and cats. All kidding aside... I'm thankful for my faith, my health, my gifts and talents and the opportunity to use them to bless others. I'm super thankful for my amazing wonderful, gorgeous superman of a husband. I'm thankful for my family, my victories and my challenges. Because every day is an opportunity to learn something new and grow in ways we never know. My wish for everyone this Thanksgiving Holiday is to have a little time to breathe and just "be" happy.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com