Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue Angels are Cooler than Thunderbirds

We've been living in Monterey for about six months (holy crap, has it seriously been that long?!) and really feel comfortable here. Proof of our conversion to the California lifestyle came in the form of a sunburn...or lack thereof.My parents came for a visit over Mom's birthday, so the hubby and I took them on an overnight trip to San Francisco. It's been chilly lately (and by chilly, I mean the 50's or 60's, how crazy is that?) so not only did I tell my folks that they should bring sweaters, I also didn't think they'd need sunscreen. A few hours on the harbor and a lot of walking on day one meant shopping for sunscreen on day two. Not for me, though. Oh, no. My skin is apparently California-ized, and less susceptible to sunburn. Woo hoo! Bummer for the parentals, though...they were both a bit red.

While we were in the city, it was Fleet Week! It just so happened that we were on Alcatraz during the air show, so we got to experience the magic of the USN Blue Angels. They were amazing! Also, free. Win! They literally flew right over our heads and we were able to get some amazing pictures.

After enjoying the city, we got down to business and started enjoying the wine. Ah, wine. Have I mentioned I drink reds now? Indeed. I couldn't pass up all the tastings, and clearly, red wine is an acquired taste. I have acquired it. Mmm yummy.

We've had so much fun showing our families our new home, and we are proud to be Californians. With Oregon licenses. :-)

Enjoying wine in Carmel

Steve wants to be a photographer when he graduates from the Navy.


Go subs. :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ode to My Bladder

I heave a sigh of bliss
When making my bladder gladder
I love the great pee-ness
Of making my bladder gladder.

Life would be lots badder
If I couldn't make my bladder gladder
I would be much madder
If I couldn't make my bladder gladder

I get so very scared
When I have to climb a ladder
There's no one underneath me,
So I'll make my bladder gladder.

I am always so relived
To make my bladder gladder
Now I just wish
I could make my belly fladder!

The preceding poem was written during a lull at work a couple of years ago. You've gone far too long without experiencing my brilliant poet-ness. Enjoy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Roller Coasters and Corn on the Cob

I might be growing up. Finally.

Prior to this past June, I did not eat corn. Ever. Why? I had a bad experience. Let's just leave it at that. (Thank you, Italian Job.) But then I decided I needed to simply grow up, and try corn again. Holy cow, I can't believe what I've been missing all these years! Corn is delicious! Gets stuck in my teeth, but whatever. YUM!

Another thing I've always hated is roller coasters. You know that feeling when you drop suddenly and your stomach is in your throat? I hate that feeling, so I don't go on roller coasters. Until, that is, I went to Disneyland last week. My brother in law convinced (ok, let's be honest, he basically forced) me to go on scary rides at both Disney and California Adventures (ie, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc). Thank goodness he did! Roller coasters rock! I still don't like the big drops, but the speed and quick turns are so fun. We had a fantastic day on rides, eating funnel cake, and taking pictures.

It's fun learning about my changing tastes. Can't wait to discover more new things about myself.

Right before we went on the rafting ride. We all got soaked! Such a fun day with my hubby and brother. :-)

This would be before the Tower of Terror. I'm already terrified/excited (note the excited fingers). Eddie is bored.

This was taken at the top of Tower of Terror. You can't see it, but my fingernails are creating dents in Steve's arm. The boys look so nonchalant. I was freaking out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Military Wives

The following story appeared in my inbox today. One of my very good friends (who is not, in fact, in the military) sent it to me and another friend, and added her own simple words: "Love you both!" Everyone should read this.

To Jen: Thank you for sharing this with me and for being one of my best friends. I love you too!

To Sally: Thank you for being another of my best friends. As a fellow military spouse, you understand this story completely. I love you!

It was just another harried Wednesday afternoon trip to the commissary (grocery store on military bases). My husband was off teaching young men to fly. My daughters were going about their daily activities knowing I would return to them at the appointed time, bearing, among other things, their favorite fruit snacks, frozen pizza, and all the little extras that never had to be written down on a grocery list. My grocery list, by the way, was in my 16-month-old daughter's mouth, and I was lamenting the fact that the next four aisles of needed items would wait while extracting the last of my list from my daughter's mouth, when I nearly ran over an old man.

This man clearly had no appreciation for the fact that I had 45 minutes left to finish the grocery shopping, pick up my 4-year old from tumbling class, and get to school, where my 12-year-old and her carpool mates would be waiting.

I knew men didn't belong in a commissary, and this old guy was no exception. He stood in front of the soap selection staring blankly, as if he'd never had to choose a bar of soap in his life. I was ready to bark an order at him when I realized there was a tear on his face.

Instantly, this grocery aisle roadblock transformed into a human..."Can I help you find something?" I asked. He hesitated, and then told me he was looking for soap.

"Any one in particular?" I continued.

"Well, I'm trying to find my wife's brand of soap." I started to loan him my cell phone to call her when he said, "She died a year ago, and I just want to smell her again."

Chills ran down my spine. I don't think the 22,000-pound Mother of all Bombs could have had the same impact. As tears welled up in my eyes, my half-eaten grocery list didn't seem so important. Neither did fruit snacks or frozen pizza.

I spent the remainder of my time in the commissary that day listening to a man tell the story of how important his wife was to him -- how she took care of their children while he served our country. A retired, decorated World War II pilot who flew missions to protect Americans still needed the protection of a woman who served him at home.

My life was forever changed that day. Every time my husband works too late or leaves before the crack of dawn, I try to remember the sense of importance I felt that day in the commissary.

Some times the monotony of laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and taxi driving leaves military wives feeling empty -- the kind of emptiness that is rarely fulfilled when our husbands come home and don't want to or can't talk about work.

We need to be reminded, at times; of the important role we fill for our family and for our country. Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses...how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing is; most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself...

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms.

Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or a year, or longer. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for having the hose reconnected. Military spouses have to cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "goodbye" to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city...again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events...birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

The television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says, "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card, and the wall is the Vietnam Memorial.

I would NEVER say military spouses are better than other spouses. But I will say there is a difference. I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands and wives.

Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ashlee Comes for a Visit

After spending most of the summer in Australia and Korea, my sister decided to grace California with her presence. Since I hadn't seen her since June, I was overjoyed! A day in Santa Cruz, a day in Monterey, a lazy day at home and a wicked 24 hours in San Francisco later, she was flying back to Portland. Sad, I know, but we had a fantastic time.

We discovered that both Ash and Steve close their eyes when smiling for pictures. Don't believe me? It's true.

Steve also opens his mouth, apparently...I have the coolest family ever!

Steve is in finals week, but thankfully only has one exam and one final paper, so it's not too stressful. Well, let's be honest. It's not stressful for me at all. He seems a bit nervous, though. Hopefully everything will go well and he'll pass with flying colors. After his last exam, we will be heading south to visit his relatives (most of whom I've never met). Should be a fun trip!

I, in the meantime, have put aside new novels in exchange for old favorites, including (but not limited to) Wicked and Anne Bishop. If you haven't read Wicked, I highly recommend it. Even more so, I recommend the musical. Gregory Maguire is, without a doubt, brilliant. His novels are fantastic. If you haven't already done so, read his most popular book, Wicked. And see the musical. You won't be disappointed.

Anyway, as I was saying before I had to sing the praises of both Wicked and Maguire, I haven't read anything new lately. I've just been enjoying the books I own, many for the fourth or fifth time. There are so many books I want to read, but often I find myself reaching for a well-worn spine over a crisp new one. Ashlee is of the opposite approach; she never reads books more than once. Her list is longer than mine, but I know more details about many of the books, so I say we're tied.

Already I miss her, and she's only been gone for a few days. She's an amazing sister, and an even more wonderful friend. I'm lucky to be in her life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Recent Accomplishments of Food Adventures:

Today, I purchased 10 avocados for $5. Sure, they're a bit small, but they were only 50 cents each! There is nothing better than deliciously cheap avocados. Thank you Monterey!

It's not soup weather, but I wanted to make soup anyway. I opted for a recipe I found online for an Olive Garden look-alike. (Taste-alike?) Their Zuppa Toscana has potato, kale, sausage and bacon in a light cream broth. I couldn't find kale at the market, so I grabbed some green swiss chard instead. The recipe produced a result remarkably similar to the Olive Garden original, and it's definitely one I'll make this winter.

Perhaps my most notable accomplishment was the garlic ice cream. Don't knock it 'till you try it! It turned out remarkably well, though the recipe called for a bit too much garlic in my opinion. The only problem is that garlic ice cream isn't something you can just eat a bowl of; it's best in small scoops with a cookie or cone to make it more of a dessert. I thought I had some Nilla Wafers on hand, but apparently someone ate them (ahem, Steve!), so I came up with Plan B. I pulled the first recipe I could find on the internet for homemade ice cream cones and whipped them up. While they didn't hold a shape at all (it was more like a sweet crepe), they were delicious with our ice cream! Definitely a dessert to remember.

Steve had a rough test today, so I decided to make him his favorite treat: chocolate chip cookies. Relatively simple, sure, but my cookies are uncharacteristically soft and delicious. I'm currently resisting the urge to help myself to a few, but Steve has already given in to temptation.

With all the yummy food in the house, it's surprising I haven't gained more weight. Must be all those walks with Kenai. :-)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recent Pics

Teaching Kenai to jump on command. He's so cute!

Yeah, we let him chase birds. We find it entertaining.

Loving being so close to the beach!

Enjoying the Garlic Festival!