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Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Do

"I do." These are words you normally hear at a wedding ceremony. For us these days, we are hearing them often, but no one's getting married. Lucy has hit that oh-so-wonderful stage where she wants to do things herself. When we try to help her with something that she thinks she can do on her own, she says "I do." It's a predictable part of toddlerhood and only frustrating when we're in a hurry or her attempts at 'doing' cause a mess. As in this morning, when she decided to take her cereal bowl to the kitchen after breakfast. Unfortunately, the bowl wasn't empty, and she's two. In the process of getting down from her chair it was impossible for her not to spill it, and I was left cleaning up the milk and Cheerios off the floor (even better--we have a carpeted dining room). Last night she brought her bowl with macaroni and cheese from the table to the kitchen, and in trying scrape her food into the trash, some of it landed on the floor (but in all honesty, that happens when our 5, 7, and 9 year olds clean their plates, too, so maybe we should cut her some slack.).

She especially likes to dress herself--with both feet in the same pant leg almost every time. She also thinks she's supposed to put her shirt on like her pants--legs first. We try to show her how to put it over her head, but you must remember that as soon as we try to stop her from putting her feet in the shirt she starts fussing at us, "NO! I do!"


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Freedom Rink: Some call it a Steam Cleaner - I call it a Zamboni

I have been lucky so far that the Ice has stayed in good shape. Part of my research told me that I would have to spend considerable time taking care of the ice. Various tools were described on the internet as ways to recondition the top layer of the ice. As I come into contact with people who have had homemade rinks in the past I ask them what they have done. It usually comes back to a simple water hose technique. That has always scared me because I don't want busted pipes - or anything close to it by running water from my spigot in the winter.



After days and days of hockey mixed with some warmer temps I could tell the ice needed some attention. One of the lessons I've picked up is to use warm/hot water instead of cold water. It helps to make a smoother surface and adheres to the ice better when it refreezes.

Knowing this made me wonder about a tool we had available in the house. I asked Kristi a few times if she would mind me using the Carpet steamer. Usually she just rolled her eyes and didn't say much. Well, yesterday I decided to take the Hoover for a spin. The thing I like about it is that it lays down a thin layer of hot water. The brushes help smooth the surface as well. It is very portable and the water mess is mostly contained in the house (in the sink) and not outside where pipes can freeze and cause major damage.
The down side is that the tank of hot water is very small and I have to keep refilling it. I also have to manage power cords out to the ice, but I think it is a better trade than the water hose (I already have two of those frozen in the garage thanks to this project). This picture helps you to see the difference it makes. Kind of a before and after shot.

During one of the tank refill trips, I heard Kristi grumble, "If I could just get him to use this in the house!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good Question

Cory regarding our futon: Mommy? Why can't couches that turn into beds be called transformers?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Epilogue to Suicide Hill

One of the neighbors shared the following picture of Ted and other parents enjoying themselves on Suicide Hill. Poor kid sandwiched in the middle.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Suicide Hill

After I cleaned off the last of the 12 inches of snow we received this weekend, I took the kids sledding. There is a great hill on base that has a long drop off and clearing at the bottom. For many years this hill has provided entertainment to military kids. It is affectionately known as Suicide Hill. The kids have begged us many times to go over and we've always said no. Today we made the trip. I went armed with 3 sleds and 3 kids. We also picked up another sled close by that allowed for the 4 of us to all ride down at once.

video

With today being a holiday many of the families on Freedom Circle also made the trek over to sled. It was a perfect day with powder fresh snow and bright sunny skies. We built a ramp/jump, tried many kinds of sleds and even convinced everyone on the hill to line up and lock arms for a gi-normous all sled down the hill (there were easily 20+ all in a line).

I think I may have had more fun than the kids. On one of the runs I decided to take some video. Sometimes avoiding the other sledders was quite a challenge.


Here's some pictures from my highly scientific snow measuring device (8 inches

Sat-Sun and then another 4 last night). Note the cutie in the window watching me in the second picture.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bar-B-Yum

In our past 6 duty stations we have always enjoyed searching the area for the best barbecue joint--it's our way of finding a little taste of home. Luckily we have usually not been disappointed (however they are definitely not all equal).

Dayton, Ohio 1994-1998

Burbanks -- yummy, yummy. We really loved Burbanks. Probably my favorite part was their music. They always had good blues playing. They also had some fantastic barbecue potato skins (remember that Jeffy?). We returned to Dayton several years later for a visit and were eager to return to Burbanks, but, alas, they had gone out of business in that location. Who knows, perhaps they were not as good as our memory of them was.

Las Vegas, Nevada 1998-2000

Memphis BBQ -- This restaurant was located right outside of one of the Nellis AFB gates. After Riley was born we would often meet there for lunch. I don't necessarily remember it being too noteworthy, but it was BBQ and it was convenient.

Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Florida 200-2003

Loggerheads in Niceville -- This was a cute little place right along the bay on our way to and from church. They had these fun stone loggerhead turtles at the entry. Again, I don't necessarily remember anything noteworthy on this place's food, except that it was decent BBQ and they had fabulous sweet tea.

Washington D.C. 2003-2006

Red Hot and Blue -- There were several of this chain in the area, and one just up the street from Ted's office building. They served their sodas in miniature pitchers, and the potato salad was A-W-E-S-O-M-E! No one's has ever compared.

Dayton, Ohio 2006-2007

City Barbecue in Beavercreek -- This location opened while we were there, and we couldn't have been more excited. After our first visit we knew it was a winner. They have the absolute best BBQ of any places we've been to. And the sweet tea was to die for. Yum. Yum. Yum. Last summer I went to Ohio for a visit just before Ted came back, and a stop at City BBQ was paramount. Oh my, it was even better than I had remembered it being, and it made the BBQ we found in Boston just pale in comparison.

Boston, MA 2007- ?

Tennessee's BBQ -- We went to Tennessee's BBQ last night for the first time and were actually quite impressed. They had won several awards, but then again their competition up here is probably less than stellar. First and foremost, they offered sweet tea. That's a must. There's a BBQ joint called Lester's that has a little stand on base. It's okay. Ted and I have never been to their actual restaurant, and we suspect that their food would be better from there. It has to lose some of it's goodness being virtually catered to the base everyday. I think we might need to take a little field trip and get back with you on that one.

I don't know that we really qualify as food critics, but there's our 2 cents (or in my case, 5 cents).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Favorite Day

Thursday is currently my favorite day of the week...it's Pajama Day for me. It's a day that I have no where to go, so I usually putz around the house reading to the little kids or doing chores here and there. Clean a bathroom or two, fold some clothes, tidy up the sty that is our bedroom/craftroom/family gathering spot. It's Cory's day to clean his room, too, so I usually help him do that. In so doing, he put away his laundry and found his "cool clothes" (he had looked earlier and told me he didn't have any "cool" pants to wear). So he is dressed--as an Army guy, of course. We have yet to convince him that the Army isn't as cool as the Air Force. And I have yet to convince him that the airplane on his shirt isn't an Army plane. Once again, he's 5--if it's brown/gray camouflage it's Army. I read him a story this morning--an adaptation of the Emperor's New Clothes. There was a brief mention of the Emperor's soldiers, so for the rest of the story he was searching the pictures for pictures of the soldiers. That's my guy, for you. For any of you with little 2-4 year olds, I highly recommend Hug by Jez Alborough. That's another book we've been reading. Lucy loves it. Actually, Mr. Alborough has several books that I really like. Look for one the next time you go to the library.

It really is a great morning, and makes me long for those days before anyone was in school and we could do this pretty much every morning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Odds and Ends

I walked outside to the rink the other day and found 4 boys playing hockey--it was perfect! Cory was the only one with skates on and he ended up on his backside a lot. But the boys were out there playing 2 on 2 hockey, and it was exactly what we had hoped would happen. So, I leave them to their fun to check on the girls sledding at another house. We had gone a few days since snow, so the snow we had left was ice covered, making for some fun sliding. When I returned to the boys I found them on the ice without their sticks. They were fighting. As I begin to tell them to stop, my brain registers what they're doing...it's hockey--they're having a fight! I told them they needed to stop, but they argue that the fight is a part of the game. Yeah, well not on my ice! :) Boys.


Back in December we mentioned that Mary Beth got her American Girl doll. Here is a picture of her and Mia. The American Girl store here wasn't nearly as fun as the store in Chicago, but it was a great afternoon, nonetheless. Mia was last year's Girl of the Year. This year is Chrissa--I think she's great--she has a crafting table and sewing machine!


Cory's Pirate birthday party was something else. Note to self--don't micromanage boys. Just let them play. When I let go of the planned activities and let them just play everything went swimmingly. Here is a picture of his cake. I did not make it...a sewing friend of mine offered to do it for me, and I was glad to take her up on that offer. It was a pretty neat cake, though!
Lucy found trouble to get in to today...namely one of Mary Beth's markers from Santa (we're going to need to talk with Santa about his gift ideas). It's now all over her pants, hand, face and toes. Oh, yeah, and the floor in the playroom and her stove. What is most frustrating about it is that she had gotten a bath already today, after getting sick during nap. My fresh, clean baby is no longer fresh and clean.

A weather report the other day showed that the average snowfall total for the Boston area is 13.4." Last year's snowfall totals were 27." Already this year we have had 32." I blame it on global warming.











Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Light" Colonel


I was officially notified today that I have been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. I won't actually be promoted/pin-on until sometime this summer, but today was the official release of the list. It is customary for units to do a funny pin-on with large paper rank to symbolize the selection when it is announced. My office was no different.

I came home and gave Cory my paper rank. He was pretty excited. He said, "Now I have two things from the AF. Your hat and now this!" I had given him an old dirty flight cap and he loves to wear it around the house. I guess he's slowly collecting a full ensemble.

We went out for celebratory pizza for dinner. Here's an obligatory ice-rink pic as well.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ted the Ice Man



I must admit I was skeptical. Very skeptical. So skeptical, in fact, that it caused a rare moment of tempers flaring across the room between us (as guests at a friend's house, no less) during the early discussions.

However, I am happy to admit that I was wrong. Very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I'm willing to publicly announce it to all of you.

The ice rink is terrific, and Ted has done a fabulous job of working on it and making it a fun place to play. I love that the kids have a chance to ice skate without a trip to an indoor rink (mostly because it means I can stay inside where it's warm! Those ice rinks are COLD!). I'm also glad that Cory can "play hockey" without us having to fork out the big bucks to "PLAY HOCKEY." When you're five you don't know the difference.

There's still a lot of winter to go, and Ted and I have both noticed/commented on a significant bow in one of the boards. I hope that the ice doesn't break it before the kids have gotten their full thrills.

So, Ted, if you happen to read this, you are amazing. Freedom Rink is fabulous, and our kids are lucky to have a dad as crazy as you (because, honestly, this was a crazy idea).
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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ghosts of this Past Christmas

A few days ago we did what most of you have been doing recently...began the process of taking all the Christmas decorations down until next year. We store our stuff precariously above the van in our garage--using some plywood across the rafters, we're able to make a decent amount of storage for the ever growing collection of STUFF. Unfortunately, once it's up there, it's kind of a pain to get back to, and we avoid it for a good 10-11 months if possible. Therein lies the problem. You take all the ornaments off the tree; you gather the garland and stockings, bows and village pieces; you carefully store them in boxes and totes (neatly labeled if you're that sort of person). Everything is neatly tucked away. Or so you think...Here is what we have found since putting all our boxes and totes in our garage rafters:

Christmas CD's (Ted says that they don't count--although I think he wanted them in the Christmas boxes, and they're obviously not):

One placemat...the other five are in a box. No, the milk is not leftover from Christmas Eve.

One Santa hat. Again, there are three others in a box

Surely this has happened to you, too.

On a brighter note, while we were cleaning stuff out, we decided to work in the kids' playroom, which also serves as a guest room, to make it a little more user friendly. One of the pitfalls of moving frequently, is that when we're unpacking boxes we oftentimes just put things into places without ever really making good places for the things. We've been here over a year, and finally came to the realization that we weren't using the space we had in there very well--specifically the closet. So, with a little shelf work here, and a little condensing there we were able to neatly store all kinds of my stuff as well as the kids' toys, and have made the room so much nicer. Nice enough that I finally got around to making curtains for it--using some of the fabric that I found stuffed in the closet. Yahoo!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Freedom Rink - All Skate


After a few days of sub-freezing weather the ice is as good as I hoped. There were many kids out there today enjoying Freedom Rink. I meant to get a picture while the crowd was big, but missed it. We had at least 8 kids and a few adults on/around the ice at one time. The girls now have figure skating competitions, Cory and I played Hockey, and some of the others just struggled to stay upright.


video

I've mentioned the deep end and shallow end. It's all frozen now, but the shallow end is the smooth end. The deep end is cratered and bumpy. The girls developed a pattern where they turned some tight corners into a small oval track. It looked like one of those speed skating contests where they jockey for position. I know it won't be long before the first major crash. We've had a few spills--mostly just bruised bottoms and pride. Mary Beth did draw first blood the other day--she fell and someone's skate caught her in the head. Oww. It's just a little cut, but I think she's happy to wear a helmet out there now. Kristi generally makes Cory wear one--he's the dare devil and the least coordinated on the ice. One of the other Dads asked me the rules...I thought for a moment then said "skate at your own risk!"

I need to zamboni. There are lots of scrapes, cuts, and pits that need repair. I was planning to use my water hoses and use a mist sprayer to lay a thin layer of water. That is until I realized my hoses are all frozen (from the flood I guess). I asked Kristi if I could use her carpet shampoo machine. She was not too happy with that idea. It is supposed to sleet/rain/snow. That may help add a new layer until I come up with a proper maintenance plan.

One of the unpleasant aspects so far has to do with the kids' inability to put on their skates by themselves. This on/off business stinks.

Back to work tomorrow - blech!