The Flight Wings

These…are my brother-in-law Gene’s flight wings:

Flight Wings - A Gift

They were a special gift to Boo last week after she said the pledge of allegiance at his retirement ceremony.  Imagine all the missions those wings have been on.  Boo was brought to tears when Gene gave them to her.  She also teared up throughout his whole farewell speech.  We all did.  It was so moving, and funny, and moved us all from tears to laughter to tears.  I asked him for the transcript and have shared excerpts of it throughout this post.

First of all, Gene has the best sense of humor. He had us all laughing at the start:

“Not sure I’m on my A game. Christy changed my yogurt and it’s the “fruit on the bottom” kind. Would it kill them to go ahead and mix the dang yogurt. Program note…for my fans, I will not be playing the guitar during the ceremony, sorry.  For my family, I will not be river dancing. I’m sure you are all relieved to hear that.”

I was really bummed that there wouldn’t be any irish dancing….Gene has mastered his imitation of Michael Flatley.

It was a super quick trip to Niceville, Florida…we drove down just for a few days. The only thing I really remember about the long, long drive is passing a bonsai tree store. (Must return to bonsai tree store.)  The road to Niceville is very nice:

Niceville, Florida on the way to Eglin Air Force Base

The morning of the ceremony we were whisked off to a really big hanger at Eglin Air Force Base and given strict instructions about photography.

Me: So…no selfie from the cockpit?
Man-with-official-looking-badge: No.

My nephews told me that if I took an unapproved photo men would come out of holes in the ground to tackle me within seconds.  Is that true? I love secrets!

Restricted Area at Eglin AFB

Boo got a personal tour of the F-35 from her Uncle Gene who has flown quite a few Air Force planes in his career. I learned that the finish of this plane is top secret…but I’m pretty sure the concoction may include Annie Sloan “Paloma” chalk paint:

The F-35 Lighting II - Eglin

“This is truly a bittersweet moment. I didn’t realize how bittersweet until the day finally arrived. It is scary and exciting to start a new chapter in our lives but at the same time when I stop to think that I will no longer be on active duty in the Air Force that I love it is a bit hard to take. Almost exactly 22 years ago I was driving cross country out to Vandenberg for Missile training. Then 18 years ago about an hour away at the Pensacola Naval Air Museum I was getting my wings.

As I was putting my notes together I was listening to some tunes and a song by the band “Third Day” came on, it is called “This is who I am.” The first verse is:


You see, this is all I ever wanted to do in my life. I take that back, I would have liked to have been the lead guitar player in KISS, but that’s not going to happen so… In 1986 my fate was sealed when Top Gun came out. I saw it 16 times in the theater went to the Army/Navy store and bought a flight jacket and a motorcycle and was ready to go. I think I even used the line on Christy when we met that “if the government trusts me, maybe you could.” It probably didn’t sound as good when I said it…

I’ve clearly passed that gene on…when Duncan was about 18 months or 2 years old one day he was in the car with his grandmother Kathy going by Barksdale AFB on I-20 and some airplanes flew over the car. Kathy said “Look Duncan, some F-16s or something.” Duncan’s reply was   “A-10 Hogs Grandma, A-10 Hogs!” I think his first three words were Porsche, Dada, and A-10 Hog.

Seriously though, I have truly lived a dream.

As Tolkien wrote:

This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so;
and not a mountain of gold can amend it.
Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils – that has been more than any man deserves.

The ceremony was held in the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin. We got there really early and Boo had a chance to practice her pledge:

Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin

“For as long as I can possibly remember I wanted to fly in the Air Force, but, like most people in uniform, I never did it for me.

I never did it to get medals or free meals on Veterans Day.   I did it so others didn’t have to. I did it because I believe in the greatness of America, for that flag, for the Constitution. I did it to make my mom and dad proud, and to confirm that they raised me to make a difference.

Christy and I were fortunate to attend the Special Operations Warrior Foundation dinner a few weeks ago. They raise money for SpecOps warriors who have paid the ultimate price for their country. AFSOC/CC Lt Gen Heithold spoke about something interesting. We are the real 1%. There are 300 million people in this country and only about 3 million men and women serving in the military.

We have been at war for more than half of my career and this war is not going away anytime soon. A few months ago we got a briefing on ISIS. We saw a propaganda video that had 6 to 9 year old kids being trained for and shouting Jihad against America. All of you in uniform and those who will be continue to answer the call, I for one am grateful.

I get it honestly.  On the 7th of October 1780 Arthur McFalls and his brother John fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in the Revolutionary War, on September 19th, 1863 his grandson and namesake Arthur, my great-great grandfather, was killed fighting with the 58th North Carolina Regiment on the field of battle at Chickamauga in the Civil War. My brother David left our home for the Navy when he was 17 years old and served on the USS Nicholas. My uncle, Lt Col Robert Abernathy was a fighter pilot. He flew 3 of the airplanes in this room. The P-47, F-105, and perhaps the most legendary fighter of all time the P-51 Mustang. I idolized him growing up as he would regale me with stories about shooting down ME-262s, strafing boats along the Rhine and flying Thud Ridge in Vietnam.

Having this ceremony in this room, surrounded by these planes, with the mighty BUFF outside, is a perfect way to end this chapter of my life.”


That’s the mighty BUFF, the B-52, and Gene back in the day.  Boo got to see one up close at the Air Force Armament Museum. Any plane that needs wheels just for its wings is huge. [Read more…]

If You Like Old Stuff Like I Do

Visiting my family in Charlotte, Brett and I went to the mall today. It was like being a fish out of water.

Me: Um, what is this?
Saleswoman: A shrug.
Me: Really? What are the holes for?
Saleswoman: Your arms.
Me: I don’t get it.
Saleswoman: Are you from another planet?

Ok just kidding she didn’t ask me that. She just walked away.

After escaping the mall, we spent the day salvaging a few usable items from a house that is being torn down.  Everyone’s trash is another person’s treasure…especially if you like old stuff like I do. Brett found some old hardware and fixtures, and I found some old newspaper articles in the attic.


Tonight we went to a new friend’s house for dinner, and I warned Boo ahead of time: we are going to a fairytale house, with a garden just like the Secret Garden, gargoyles and passageways, and the library looks just like the Book Thief and it has a staircase just like the Biltmore house. And you should have seen her face when we walked into the library…it was just like when Liesel sees the library in the mayor’s house in The Book Thief.

Boo on the stairs being followed by a Bengal cat:


We ate dinner with our friends Nick and Suzie and Boo asked if she could be excused from the table early, so she could spend time in the library. I’m not sure I’ll ever hear that again. She found The Boxcar Children on the shelf and she was told she could borrow it. Suzie also had this old mail order catalog she’d found and it was in perfect condition. Circa 1915 this catalog would have been right around the time of the Titanic.  The mail order form was still in the center of the catalog, making me want to fill it out and send it in with my 89 cents.


And yesterday we spent some time with my brother and his family. It was my nephew’s birthday. And I actually have a photo of me and my brother for once, although it does look like I’m trying to get away from him, but that was only because I was trying to take a photo with my nephew Carter:


And since we are staying with my sister we’ve spent a lot of quality time with my little niece Leighton.  I get to bathe her each night and we all take turns feeding her and she’s just the sweetest baby. I might just steal her..because I’m pretty sure I’m her favorite person in the whole wide world:


Speaking of old stuff I picked up this really old metal globe last week while thrifting/antiquing. Even my thrifty hubby thought it was a find we couldn’t pass up. Not that we have the space for it right now.



And then there’s just this:



And this:


Four Projects For a Pinterest Party

I had a Pinterest party recently for a few close friends I hadn’t seen in a while. 4 projects from Pinterest….in 2.5 hours.

How to throw a Pinterest party and 4 projects to get you started. Includes free instruction downloads! via #mpinterestparty

I thought it would be fun to carve out a morning for them to try something new:

How to throw a Pinterest Craft Party via


Here’s what we made, along with four PDF downloads if you want to have your own party:

4 Pinterest Party Craft Projects: Sharpie Marker Art Ornament via #sharpie

Here’s the Sharpie station:

Sharpie Marker Ornament Station Set Up for your Pinterest Craft Party via


Ceramic ornament from Michaels Craft Store ready to decorate:

Ornaments ready to decorate! Sharpie Marker Ornament Station Set Up for your Pinterest Craft Party via

A snowflake ornament:

Make a snowflake! Sharpie Ornament Project for your Pinterest Craft Party via


Download the PDF:

Free Sharpie Marker Ornament Tutorial PDF Instructions for a Pinterest Craft Party via

1. Materials: Industrial Sharpie, Ceramic ornaments
2. Hand write lettering.
3. Use initial stencils as a guide for calligraphy.
4. Let dry.
5. Hang from tree!
6. Not a step really. Just admire my nice “H”.


[Read more…]

40 Frappucinos

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Disney Story. To find out more about this brand-new story-creation app – and how it puts the power of storytelling in your hands – click here.


Boo: I don’t understand, why would someone BUILD a Tower of Terror?

Good question.  The things we do for entertainment, right?!  We spent the last 2 days at Disneyland and California Adventure. Twenty-two of us in total for my mother-in-law Gale’s (Mimi) 60th birthday:


All twenty-two of us the day before we left for Disney….Lisa took a family photo for us….with all the grandchildren in their “Mimi’s grand___” shirts:


We spent the first day at California Adventure….where we went on some pretty tame rides. (Favorite: Soarin’ over California) Boo doesn’t really like rollercoasters or anything scary. She was so brave and tried out the rapids….and cried every time she got soaked (don’t tell her I told you that!). It was so dramatic I couldn’t stop laughing……

The second day was spent at Disney and due to a little cousin peer pressure Boo agreed to go on the Indiana Jones ride. I didn’t even see any of the ride because I was trying to hold her and keep her calm. When we stopped she was literally hyperventilating and through her tears she cried:

I just had a REAL heart attack.

A little later she wanted to try Splash Mountain….the first time was scary but then she decided she wanted to do it again so that she could get her photo taken again (the first time you couldn’t see her in the back)….somehow I was tricked into being in the front. I was so worried about her you can see I tried to hold onto her…..but then if you look closely she’s smiling and making a “hang loose” symbol with her left hand.  She was determined to be caught on camera with a smile on her face:

It’s hard keeping up with her 5 boy cousins….they are all so brave and fearless.  Boo is so sensitive and doesn’t trust machinery (like her mother). But she was so happy just to be with all of them…and they include her in everything. She stays close with my nephew Jackson because he has such pretty blonde hair and doesn’t mind when Boo calls him “she” lol…..


We had a blast.  And you know I love statistics so….

10 cousins
4 bottles of sunblock

3 lost pairs of sunglasses

40 Frappucinos
124 Disney Meals
220 Fast Passes
200 total miles walked

….and then we headed home.


I put together a short story of our 2 days at Disney using the new Disney Story App…check it out’s a fun way to share multiple photos with family and friends and add captions:

Download the Disney Story app from iTunes  – for FREE – right here!
Disney Story Twitter

Disney Story Facebook




Wow Love It

I woke up this morning and Boo had a little gift for me…she picked it out herself:

little blue bird via

My sweet little girl:

mother's day ashley hackshaw via

Last night we went out to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. Early in the night, my sister-in-law Jen was using Boo’s room to get ready….she did a final spritz of perfume and walked down the hall.  Boo stepped out into the hall and said in all seriousness, as if Jen had left her the most amazing gift: 

Aunt TT (Jen), THANK you for the smell you just left in my room.

We laughed about it all night.

I don’t dress up a lot and when I walked out of my closet last night in my little black dress Boo lit up and said with amazing enthusiasm: Mommy….wow.  LOVE it.  I’d love a dress with one shoulder. She’s great at compliments.

brett hackshaw and ashley hackshaw via

I was reflecting on how much I love being a mother….the little things that Boo does that bring me so much joy every day.  I love watching her wade through everyday life…..I love recording her sayings, her actions, and every little thing I learn from her.  I love reading back on the things my mother wrote down about me at the same age….all those records are such a wonderful gift my mother gave me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage

darlene schacht quote via


That is a true story for me.   Today Mr. LBB and I celebrated our 12th anniversary: we went to church, we spent the day with Boo at home, we watched a Netflix movie, we made taco salads for dinner. It was a typical day and one where we are most content.  Over our gourmet (McCormick’s Taco Seasoning) dinner, we came up with a short list of what makes our marriage successful:


A short guide to a happy marriage via

Anything you would add to that list?


I love this collage… photo from every year since 1997….the year we met in college:


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Mr. Blashaw meet Mr. Hackshaw

Boo’s favorite show on the weekend is Yard Crashers. When she saw her first episode she insisted that Matt Blashaw looks just like Mr. LBB….as I started watching for a second I was like “wait….is THAT Mr. LBB?!” They look so similar! They also have so many of the same mannerisms it’s a little eery to watch the show. Their names even sound alike: Matt Blashaw meet Brett Hackshaw:

Matt Blashaw Yardcrashers vs. Brett Hackshaw (Mr. LBB) via


Have you ever met your doppelganger? What famous person do people say you look like? When I was little I always got: Hayley Mills.  Then I got Hillary Swank for a long time.

This Little Piggy

We went to our friends’ anniversary party today and they had a little petting zoo… took me forever to catch this little piglet and it squealed so loud I think I may have nightmares. Seriously have you ever heard a piglet squeal?  I held it so gently and whispered in its little ear (as if I were the pig whisperer)….but it still shrieked and I’m sure the translation was “crazy lady torture!”  But the babies were so darn cute I had to hold one.  I even gave each of them a little dip in the water so they’d keep cool and helped them make a little mud bath.

Oh and then Boo braved the mechanical bull.  So did I but I’m not sharing those photos.  I think I may have dislocated a few things.


P.S. The Rainbow dress I’m wearing is from a cute little line in Greece called Heel. that a friend introduced me to.  Quirky and fun! [Read more…]


10:25 a.m. at the McDonald’s Drive Through:

Me: Can I order lunch?
MD: Not until 10:30.
Me: Well, can I order lunch and then just wait?
MD: No sorry.
Me: Ok, then just a diet coke please.


…..5 minutes pass waiting for the cars ahead of me…..


10:30 a.m. at the McDonald’s Window:

MD: $1.08 please.
Me: Can I add to my order?
MD: Yes.
Me: Does your clock say 10:30?
MD: Yes.
Me: Great it’s lunchtime now.


I’m a rule follower. And now I’m happy….with my faux Chic-Fil-A sandwich….because we don’t have a Chic-Fil-A within at least 50 miles of the desert.

faux-chic-fil-a via


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