Friday, August 31, 2012

An El Paso Adventure


Last Friday morning, I couldn't sleep.  I woke up at 2 a.m.  Who does that when they have strep?  Me.  Feeling like ass, throat closing, I couldn't swallow, and my antibiotics were not kicking in fast enough to suit me.  That's ok, I got all packed, loaded, and played around on the internet, loaded myself a book, Blood, Bones, and Butter, which I got to read for book club on this trip.  My book club met tonight, and we discussed it, and I was happy to say I'd read it.  Didn't like it, but read it.  I am tired of reading stories about characters I don't like, people that make really stupid decisions. But this blog isn't about stupid people, this one is about the Brave and the Crazy.  To start, my sister moving to Texas, to live at last with her husband  in a happy little army base house, like Betty Crocker. But first, we had to get there.  We learned a lot of things about each other on this trip, and I've learned some things since I got back.

Anyway, to start, for some crazy reason, we had an early flight.   We were at the airport at 6.  OK, I was, and Lisa and the girls were running late, but with all the cuteness, that's understandable. 

First thing we learned was that Charlie is not a morning person. 

Annie could've cared less.  

Though as it turns out Lisa doesn't like flying.  Though we haven't flown together in probably 2 decades, so I did not realize this until she broke out the wine at 6:30 in the morning to take the edge off.  Gotta get rid of it before Security somehow, right?!

Annie loves flying.  And with dueling ipads for each girl, the flights were successes for both.   It was weird to pack just for me.  I may have overpacked to have enough toys, games, snacks, for children that weren't mine.  That's not weird is it?  Either way it was a good thing to have so much crap, it kept the girls pretty content.  A lot more content than that horrid flight when Sam was 15 months old and heinous in my lap on a trip to Florida.  

Nothing like this kind of crazy fun!

Charlie started to get a little punchy.  And crazy.  But even her level of punchy and crazy was still pretty adorable.  On the second leg, from Atlanta to ELP she started playing Peet Bu behind the chair to Annie and I.  She kept popping up, laughing hysterically, I'd try to take her picture, and down she'd go again.  For this one shot, I got 4 empty chair pictures.  I was ready to throw that little point and shoot off the plane.  Turns out I had inadvertantly changed a setting, causing a delay.  Didn't find that out until I was ready to return the camera to amazon when I came home. 

Lisa found a way to calm Charlie down.  Aren't they cute?  So totally related.  I have sworn Lisa, Charlie, and Sam all look alike when they sleep.  It's still true.  

Our landing in El Paso was bumpy, it put Lisa on edge.  But the girls thought flying was wonderful, and they were even more excited to see Daddy.  James won the 'race' of Truck vs. Plane.  Just barely.  But the girls' enjoyment of the flight was Nothing compared with their joy of seeing their new home.  

It has a surprising amount of storage space, every time we turned around, we'd find more.  There was this giant storage closet off the living room, much better than the 2.5 assigned shelves that James told us that the army declared necessary.  We found another closet out back, and a cabinet out front.  Hooray for hidden storage!  

First stop: The P/X.  We needed Everything.  So much had been gone, trashed, lost, that we kept making list after list, so after we made beds, crash napped, we got up and went to the store.  Turns out the P/X was huge.  I'd only been to the Comissary at Fort Ben once, and this stuff is Huge.  There are 30K people at Fort Bliss, so they Need this giant Kohl's/Sears to buy Stuff.  It rocked.  Even better it was connected to a mall, indoor/outdoor.  And all within walking distance of Lisa.  Now we didn't walk it, it's like 3 blocks, but that's because a. it was hot, and b. we were buying a lot of crap. 

After shopping round one, we had to stop and rest.  In the cushy seats inside the mall.  And then we found some awesomely stereotypically Texan Cactus Gardens outside.  I was really loving the stereotype stuff, cowboys in their boots, and people saying y'all....

And cactuses, something just wonderful about all the cactuses.  Really I loved the location.  Sure, it's hot, but it was pretty nestled in the high desert between a few mountains.  Really reminded me of L.A.  

And along our theme of mocking all things stereotypically Texan, deep fried jalapenos at dinner, and a giant tub of peppers at the commissary.    

The last one from that first day in El Paso, I tried to capture the Blue Moon with my little point and shoot, not much to shout out about, but it was a Beautiful night.  

Once in a Blue Moon, you get to have an adventure like this, I'm so glad this was mine. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Better than Baubles


This arrived for me yesterday.  My new Camera.  

Usually when we go on Vacation, I get myself a little bauble of the trip.  I like to get earrings or something, like my silver maple leaves from Canada, or pearl studs from Sea World, when we went to DisneyWorld I got a silver ring to match earrings I bought before.  Anyway, I wasn't sure what I was going to find in Wisconsin, but fate (in the form of Christopher) intervened, and Chris threw my point and shoot camera over the balcony on Bohl's wedding day.  I have found that I miss that point and shoot.  Having to carry the Beast around all the time, is bulky and inconvenient.  So Eric picked out a sweet pink point and shoot for me.  It's a Pink Powershot.  It is Stinky Adorable, and mighty handy.  I've missed having a  pocket/purse camera. 

This morning Chris and I gave it a test run.  

It captures Sweetboys pretty nicely.  

The flash tends to automatically go off, but it doesn't wash out sweetboys too much.  

I popped up to Lisa's to pick up a couple things she had set aside for me (like a nebulizer for Eric, woohoo).   We took a walk around her garden.  It was wonderful to visit some of my favorite people this week.  

Yum Yum!  Those tomato plants have taken over, but Lisa can still find a pepper or two to sample. ;)

Annie loves to come in and help, we put her to work to "catch the moth" before it laid eggs, her method was to clap at it, until it flew away. 

Sister Golden Hair Suprise. 

There were some roses gone wild that had opened up and were blooming happily in the sun.  

You know how much I love to take pictures of flowers.  I'm pretty impressed with the Skillz of this little camera. 

Now Sam gets to spend tomorrow with Grandma, but I haven't spend much time (where I'm not distracted by kids gone crazy) with her (or any fam) in a while, so we met for lunch today.  Awesome!   Sam was in a great mood, he's feeling much better on his drugs from strep.  On the down side, he seems to have given his strep to me this evening.  Luckily, I had put a call in this morning to get drugs, Just In Case.  Well, after naps, Just In Case, came true.  Hope these drugs kick in before my flight in the morning.  Wish us all luck.  

But spending time with my family this week, and this weekend with Lisa, I'm just feeling abundantly Blessed. I have wonderful friends and family, and the sweetest husband who gets me pretty things, even things that sparkle in a way that wasn't diamond cut.  I don't really need more stuff, but I'm so glad he got me this, now I don't have to take the Beast to Texas tomorrow.  It's better than jewelry, this camera will capture some great memories.  

As happy as I am, I love my new camera, but I love my family more.  Even though I'm coming down with something, I got to spend nice quality time with my family, surrounded in their love.  I am so Blessed. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bless the ipad


Sam took it easy today.  Last night he woke up from naps, and he wasn't hungry.  I know, it's weird, right?  Sam is my child, if he's "not hungry" there's something wrong.  He was a little warm, not full feverish, and his face looked a little swollen.  I thought it was a sinus infection.  So I ran him into Dr. Cooper today, and he surprised me with the diagnosis that Sam has Strep.  Poor baby.  Luckily, I think we caught it on the starting end, his throat was red, but he wasn't complaining, he just wanted to drink a lot.  He only wanted fruit in various forms: juice, fruit snacks, dried fruit, applesauce.  That's  pretty much all he ate today.  But he wasn't miserable, he was happy as a little clam playing Mommy's ipad.  I guess it's a Blessing in disguise having this thing, the games challenge him and keep him happy, even when he's feeling so crummy.  I'm loading it up with goodies for the girls and our all girl plane trip this weekend.  I suspect the boys are going to miss the ipad more than they'll miss me. 

Snappy Hapdragons


After the rain stopped, and after we finished weeding the entire front walk last week, our snapdragons got Very Happy!  

A Rainy Day


I was exhausted for most of the day on Monday.  For no other reason than because it rained for half the day.  We haven't had a good 6 hour solid drizzly rain, in I don't know how long!  I read that we are almost equal for the amount of rain in August, 6 + inches, to all the previous months, April, May, June, July Combined!
And there's the leftovers of a hurricane headed our way due this weekend.

It's been so dry, we're still pretty unaccustomed to being outside when it rains for more than 5 minutes.  The boys wanted to suit up to wait for the bus before school.  And we couldn't get Princess outside.

She's such a princess, she couldn't stand to get her tootsies wet.  We finally talked her into coming out on the front porch with us, instead of pushing her off the back porch to go potty.  She still didn't want to go.  Poor Prinny. 

Sam went for his favorite corner to get dripped on.  At least he was still in his jammies under the raincoat so when he got wet, all I had to do was change him.  Silly goose. 

Drip Drip Drop, Little August Shower. 

Sweet boys waiting for a bus.  And enjoying the rain.  Happy Day. 

Go West, Young Wests


My sister is moving to Texas.  For Real.  It's real now.  James left with the truck this morning. There was a truck, with stuff in it.  Sunday, they brought the truck down to my Dad's house, and invited us down to lunch and say goodbye.  So we went.  

And when I saw the truck it got real.  

As usual my stepmom put up a Fabulous spread, filling us with such goodness, it was hard to turn away, even though we were hosting our own cookout later.  She and my Dad had gone to Alaska at the end of July, and though we saw them, they had some goodies for the boys.  My Dad was showing his book of photos, they had met Santa in North Pole, Alaska.  They reported to Santa that Chris and Sam were being very good this year.  And overall, yes, I can confirm that is true.  

The kids got to play together for a while.  

And climb all over Opa for a while.  It's hard to get 4 yahoos 6 and under to look at the camera at the same time, so I have started playing Simon Says with them.  Simon says lift your hands up.  Simon says put them down.  
At least it keeps Sam from picking his nose for about 2 seconds, but it doesn't make them look/smile for the camera any better.

Aren't they sweet?! 

Although trying to get them all to smile together, at the camera is like trying to get cats to... do anything.

Mommy says, Arms Up! 

They are so Cheesey by Oma's flowers.  

This one was taken by my Dad, whenever we get together, we have to take a mass photo.  Lisa and I expect it, and though they rarely turn out great, I find these mass photos comforting when I look back on days gone by.  I'm sure we'll all remember how hot it was standing by,  waiting for all the various hiding family members to line up, all of us trying to stay in the shade of the truck.  Ah yes, I remember it well. 

It's not exactly West for the Wests, but West by Southwest, and far away.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Brewpub


There was a time, when we used to go to the Broadripple Brewpub semi-regularly, when we were in college, even on the occasional date night after we got married.  But since kids, I can count on one hand how many times Eric and I have been to this old haunt of less than that.  Twice.  Twice.
Anyway, as it turns out, our old haunt is just around the corner from where we started our couples therapy this summer.  I don't know if I've talked about that.  The last few years have been rough, on me, on Chris, on us as a family.  And all the crap has rained down on Eric and I too.  My wonderful mother in law volunteered to watch the boys so we could go to therapy.  We've averaged going every other summer.  It's been right around the corner from the Brewpub, but we usually go on Friday nights, and Broadripple is CRAZY on Friday nights.  We are definitely old fuddy duddies and we can't stand crowds.  So when we drive by and see no parking, and people standing on the stret to get in, we go the other way.

However, this weekend we were busy Friday night, so we got an appointment on Saturday morning.  Blessedly Mom watched the boys, and we found ourselves in Broadripple at lunch time, a WHOLE lot less crowded.  So, in an ever-strengthening effort to Avoid the Crowds, we stopped at the Brewpub for a lovely lunch date.

Isn't he cute?!   Nice and relaxed.  I got some sort of Michigan Cheery Ale, and Eric got a Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.  Brews followed with their infamous beer cheese crock.  Their own microbrews infused with cheese and fresh bread, how can you go wrong?  Answer:  You can't.  

Here was a little something new we'd never tried:  Scotch Egg Pizza.  The Brewpub makes these Scotch Eggs- hard boiled eggs, wrapped in sausage and fried.  So wicked.  But on a pizza, you'd think it would be funky, however the sausagey goodness really belonged on a pizza.  And hard boiled egg, that was pretty yummy too!   I would Definitely order it again!

Not much leftover! A really good lunch, and even better company. :) 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Corny Spaghetti to the Corner of Nowhere


Just when one loved one gets back from being sent away with the Army, it's time for another one to go.  My college roomie and her family are being sent to Qatar.  I must confess I had been pronouncing it caTAR, not Cutter, until I heard the Qatari team in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies the Parade of Nations.  I'm trying to change my ways.  

I had not been able to hook up with my friend the last couple times she came to town. However, I was thrilled when I got an invite to her hometown for a Farewell Open House.   It was a Pitch in party at her family's church (quite possibly the only one around), so I brought my friend Lisa's  family favorite, Aunt Doris's Corny Spaghetti, always a hit amongst the church lady pitch in crowd, once people are brave enough to try it.  The boys thought I was a little crazy packing them up to drive out to the middle of nowhere to say farewell to my friend.  I told them, you know how lots and lots of people came to welcome Uncle James home at the airport?  Well, everyone is so Thankful for our Freedom, we have lots of love and respect for those who go to defend it. You can't keep me away from giving my best wishes.  That didn't really make sense to them, so instead we said that they'll play with her boys, who are just a smidge older than mine. 

Oh yeah!  That they got.  As soon as we arrived, they didn't care about food, or snacks, or the nifty display about Qatar, nope they wanted to play ball! 

And Army Guys.  There were little army men decorating the tables, so Chris stole them off every almost every table, and commenced war.  It got ugly for a minute when the kids found a janitorial bucket full of rainwater from a leak in the ceiling, and the army became the navy.   Once disinfected, war began anew.  I never got the allure of those tiny plastic army guys, but my boys (and I think all boys in general) go bonkers for them. 

Sam didn't play ball or war as much, he was having a bit of trouble keeping up, and keeping his pants up.  He found out there were sodas available, not that he drinks soda, but he saw Mommy's Lemonade.  And he had to have some.  It's funny how his new favorite beverage is lemonade, he tries some this summer at a couple church pitchins, and now it's his fav.  He calls it "Memonade", not quite saying the L.  My friend, Carla came by and heard him saying Memonade, as he carefully sipped from my can.  She brought him a coffee stirrer straw and he was in hog heaven.  I realized it sounds like he's saying Minute Maid, the brand of lemonade I was drinking.  It made me wonder is Memonade his favorite Mimonade?  

The end of the War.  Chris and Ian played Army Guys until Chris started fighting over them, it was my sign, that after a full school day and long ride (and not eating more than a slice of cheese for dinner) he was ready to go home.  Of course, he denied it.  And flipped out. I had to make a run for it.  

Carla did take one picture of us as I was dashing out the door, so it does exist, but since I was dashing out, there wasn't a ton of time for teary farewells, which is probably a good thing.  Her boys sent mine home with Army Guys for the road, which made the drive home a lot smoother once Chris calmed down...which he usually does shortly after removal from situation and buckled in a seat.  So the ride home was great.  

I had been surprised at how little Corny Spaghetti I had to bring home with me, it had indeed been a big hit.  Even funnier was when I grabbed my dish, a lady grabbed me asking for one more helping (she said she'd already had 4!) and another ran screaming across the room for the recipe.  Literally screaming across the room, she said, it's my favorite things, all right with the world, corn and spaghetti in one dish.  
I sent the recipe back to the family, but just in case you are curious:  

Here's the recipe for Corny Spaghetti.  

from the kitchen of Doris Loseke of Leigh, NB

1 can creamed corn
1 can undrained whole kernal corn
1 cup raw spaghetti, broken in small pieces
2 tsp chopped onion (can use fresh or minced)
1/2 cup margarine (I chop it into little pats)
1 cup velveeta cheese (in little bits)

Mix all together in 1 qt. casserole dish.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered, and then 30 minutes uncovered.