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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 12/30/07 - 1/6/08

Saturday, January 5, 2008

RIP Steelers!

Maybe next year...I think I'll dig out my Giants jersey for tomorrow, though.


Well...back in the day, before that other Manning boy came into the NFL, they were fun to watch:

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Snap Crackle Pop!

Today I'm at the commissary with my friend Paul. He's to blame for things like why I now have a GPS and this addiction to the Pioneer Woman's website!

(Military 101: The commissary is the grocery store on the military base. By regulation, it provides groceries to authorized buyers at cost + 5%.)

Anyway, we're looking for snack foods and I see those packaged rice krispie treats...and it reminded me of one of my other attempts to give some homemade goodness to my boys.

Which do you think tastes better? This:

Or this?

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Since when is KFC the authority on family values?

Bring Back Dinner <-- Click the link to see more! This isn't meant to specifically pick on KFC. I don't mind the occasional (read: 1-2 times per year) fried chicken dinner from a no-kidding friend chicken establishment. (But I'd prefer to go here.)

I've been seeing KFC's TV ads about how they can help you re-establish those good-old-fashioned daily family dinners. I admire the company's attempts. I also have sympathy for families who are attempting to balance the kids' busy schedules, the parents' work schedules and the need for sustenance.

But there's something about suggesting that KFC at the dinner table is the definition of "family dinner". It just doesn't seem the same...

I have a serious soapbox about kids' fitness and kids' weight. I'm not the model mother, I'm not super-organic, zero transfat, 8-10 servings of fruits and veggies kind of gal by any stretch. I consider myself a moderate...for the most part, my kids have a healthy diet. And it's important to me they get lots of playtime...and Jake's starting to venture into organized sports, and I'm thrilled he's enjoying his soccer.

Many times over the years since Jacob was born, I've seen Jacob and Timmy show interest in a particular food or dish. Let's start with Kids' Cuisine:

I consider this the first food that Jake "noticed" at the grocery store. You know what I mean -- he's about 2 years old, I'm pushing him in the cart, and we're in the frozen foods section. He sees the cartoon character and starts asking for it.

So I get it for him.

And he loves it!

And he asks for it again...and again...and again.

And I want to see my little boy happy, so I'm happy to get it again, especially when it's on sale for $0.99 apiece at Super WalMart!

Well, in my opinion, these meals are pretty gross. So after a few weeks of this [no, I wasn't giving these to him every single day -- probably 2-3 times per week, though!] it was high time Jake started eating the family dinners, so it was right about when Timmy was born that I started my "Mom can make anything from scratch" campaign.

Starting with Betty Crocker home-baked macaroni and cheese and hand-breaded, baked chicken nuggets. (Pictures are representative only, not my own!)

"Mommy, I don't like this!"

Let the games begin!

...To be continued! I'm tired!

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Am I Being Watched????

Greetings from South Carolina!

You'll be pleased to know that my blog yesterday about my Air Force life generated some interest from HQ Air Force and HQ Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). I have a background statistics generator (, it's pretty cool!) collecting info about which domains are checking out my blog. No, I'm not NSA. Just a statistics geek who enjoys numbers!

I'm wondering if the 60th Anniversary of the AF Reserve image I put in the post (which is linked from prompted the military to check that I didn't say anything I shouldn't have.

But I could be wrong. It could be a friend at the Pentagon who checked it out for all I know.

Part of me is thinking, "Am I really so important that someone at the Pentagon has to check on me?"

Another part of me is thinking, "Does the Air Force have TIME to go into us little peoples' blogs?"


Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Musing About Maryann

I get an e-mail that looks like this every night.

Is it Spam? (How many Nigerian millionaires ARE there who want to share their inheritances with me????")

No no no...not spam at all. These are cool! This is my friend Maryann's daily photo album and daily message. In fact, if you linked all these'd have a BLOG!

Which is what she recently did -- she and I set up our blogs on the same day, in fact!

This woman takes a LOT of pictures. I know many of you get my albums routinely and say "How the heck does Patricia get the time to take/upload/caption/transmit all those pictures????"

That's only because you don't know Maryann.

Some of you wonder "Where does Patricia have the energy to do all this stuff?"

That's only because you don't know Maryann.

Susan, if you're reading this, you're a close SECOND to Maryann!

Maryann has two sons like I do -- our older boys are about a month apart in age, our younger ones are exactly 6 months apart. And they're buddies!

Maryann: I raise my Frappuchino to you! I need the caffeine to keep up with you!

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Patricia's Other Life, A Q&A Session

The crisis seems to be averted for now.

"Which crisis? A sick son or a sick computer?"

Oh yeah -- both! Jake had a late lunch which seemed to have the same effect as watering a wilted houseplant. He perked right up and enjoyed an afternoon playdate and then even went to his soccer game tonight!

The computer is also back in action, in a rather abbreviated form. I've yet to install those little nice-to-have things like Google Earth and Adobe Acrobat Reader, those will come along whenever-the-heck. The anti-virus software is back and is working fine, and actually everything is running much "fresher" than before. Nice!

So this weekend I drill.

"You what?"

I drill.

"What are you drilling for? North Carolina doesn't have an oil reserve, does it?"

Well...since you mentioned reserve...

I am a Major in the Air Force Reserves. It's a great way to serve. Catchy recruiting jingle, isn't it?

"I think that silly blog title is finally starting to make sense..."
I'm a meteorologist...

"OH! That explains the uber-nerdy Weather Underground ActiveX control in the upper right of your blog!"

ahem...I'm a meteorologist for a unit at Shaw AFB, near Sumter, SC. Once a month I get in our Prius and make the trek 3 hours south, through the Carolina Sandhills, for 2 1/2 days of adult interaction. Those 2 to 2 1/2 days per month constitute a drill weekend or, if you want to be Air Force Reserve-y, it's technically a Unit Training Assembly (UTA).

"Wow, you commute 3 hours each way to work?"

Well, for one weekend a month it isn't bad. The paycheck I get for that one weekend per month, plus the fact that I can make the entire trip on about 3/4 of a tank of gas when it's a Prius makes it not-so-expensive. As for the travel time, I happen to enjoy driving so it's quite peaceful for me to enjoy a drive listening to the music I want. Or NPR.

"How long have you had this other life?"

Well, before the kids came along, it was my ONLY life. I went straight into the Air Force after college in summer 1995, and remained on active duty until January 2005. The day my youngest son, Timmy, was born was my last real day of work. I rode out my maternity leave and vacation days until I started a reserve job in April 2005.

So, the answer is that this May, I'll have had this "other" life for 13 years. I love the Air Force and I'll tell anyone who asks that the decision to leave active duty was the most difficult in my entire life.

"I was just about to ask about that..."
But the Reserves is awesome and is one of America's best kept secrets -- it's a wonderful part time job (read: vacation money) and it's a great way for me to keep current in my field, which is always evolving. If you've ever thought about how you might like to further serve your country, being able to fit in one weekend per month and two weeks per year to help protect your neighbors is a great way!

"But I see on the news about all those Reservists and National Guardsmen having to serve 12-15 months in Iraq..."

Okay, that's for another discussion. In my field (weather) my service (Air Force) it stands right now (things always change), Reservists couldn't spend 12 months over there if they wanted to...and I know folks who want to!
Anyway, this weekend I drill. The family is coming with me this weekend to get to see the base and do some shopping at the Commissary, BX and Military Clothing Sales Store (i.e., uniform shopping). Dave is still active duty, and being stationed at NC State means our trips to military communities are not too often.


Slowly but surely... took till nearly midnight to convince my laptop that YES I wanted the hard drive formatted! It isn't as easy as you might think, and I don't have the wherewithal to go into it here, so I won't!

I'll just refer you here, which is one of the many geeky sites I had to refer to to figure this out.

As of this writing, I've installed Windows XP (circa 2002, meaning once you get it going, it has to download a billion updates), plus the Service Pack 2 from a CD I have. Then I configured the machine back onto our home wireless network so I can start downloading the anti-virus software -- the culprit that got me in trouble in the first place!

So it's downloading...we'll see from there.


I got to bed about 12:30am last night after I got the laptop to start formatting the hard drive. I've done worse when faced with rebuilding our computers, so I was pleased with that.

2:09am: Jake comes to my room to tell me he got sick. All those cinnamon rolls. Why did I let him have 3??? At least his barf smelled like cinnamon -- really, it did.

2:12am: I'm hauling my Bissel Green Machine upstairs to clean up the mess. I'll give Jake credit: he leaned over and made his mess on the floor, his bed was fine! There's a couple spots on the SIDE of the bed, which I'm dealing with today, but things were good enough that he could go back to sleep right away.

2:32am: By the time I'm done with all this, Jake had gone back to sleep. Phew!

2:36am: Back in bed. Hard to sleep with computer problems and a sick son on my mind.

6:50am: Timmy's poking my face to tell me he's awake.

Jake mainly has an upset stomach, with no other symptoms of illness. He's staying home from preschool today, tomorrow's pajama day, so he don't want to miss that!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wiped Clean!

As I'm writing this on my upstairs desktop, that kitchen laptop so proudly pictured here is in the middle of a re-format/re-installation.

Sniff I have time for this. Of course, here I am blogging to all of you.

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Cinnamon Rolls, Mommy! The ones you BAKE!

Yeah. The ones I BAKE. You don't know how badly I want to try the cinnamon roll recipe featured here:

But that is NOT what the kids mean. THIS is what they mean:

I was at Target today and was looking for the Pillsbury ones, but alas, they were ALL sold out. Even the "Grands" and Reduced Fat versions. I think the orange flavor was available, but that would not have worked with my kids!

So it was Market Pantry Cinnamon Rolls...and here are some pictures of my "home baked" dessert for my boys.

Yum --

Applying the baggie of icing...actually, I like it this way better than Pillsbury's thick stuff that slides right off the tops.

Don't these look like Pioneer Woman's? Yeah, that's what I thought.

But hey -- when you have two happy boys who cares???

PS: This might lead to more posts about how my kids enjoy foods best when they're quickly prepared out of a box with a cartoon character on the front -- Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls featuring the Dough Boy...I rest my case.

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I came downstairs this morning to my kitchen laptop having all these red icons in the lower right corner. You know, down there with the clock. There's this Windows Security Alert that's red, McAfee antivirus in red, an AOL Active Security Monitor that's blinking red... I guess there's a problem, huh?

Upon further investigation, I see that my anti-virus was attempting to run and was having some problems. I spent WAY too much time trying to figure this out before throwing in the towel and uninstalling my entire McAfee Computer Security Empire software suite (provided free by AOL -- see? I knew keeping AOL all these years was good for something!)

In fact, I'm writing to you from an unprotected computer!

That sounds bad.

I'm in the middle of downloading a new version of the McAfee Antivirus suite...we'll see how this goes. Don't worry, I won't let the computer sit unprotected for more than an hour or so. Too bad the computer has to be unprotected while I'm downloading the new software -- what's up with that???

So don't send me any viruses, okay?

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Who's the latest Victim for the 13th Annual Vollmer Diet Attempt?

So...who should be our victim this year?

A better question probably is: Which of these diet programs have the Vollmer already attempted??? You'd be surprised!

Since we're not in a financial position to pay for those "We supply the food" programs, I guess LA Weight Loss, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig are out.

Did anyone else notice the number of weight-loss program commercials during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve???

One of the ones I noticed was a "free" Weight Watchers online program, that doesn't involve the meetings and weigh-ins...hmmm....

...okay, I just went to the link and it immediately kicked me to a signup page to include things like "Payment Plan"...WTF???

Off to taking the kids to school/the gym. I foresee the gym being PACKED! Sigh...

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

We put the DUMP in DUMPLING!

So how were they? With LOTS of butter, they were barely tolerable. But this batch is certainly NOT worth keeping. I guess unless we needed something to keep Howie (our dog) from soiling our lawn. The good news is that the pork loin with diced apples, brown sugar and sauerkraut came out PERFECTLY! Yum! Dave said "this one's a keeper!" (the pork recipe, not the dumplings).

I'll try the potato dumpling recipe correctly again soon. I pride myself in learning from my mistakes.


Potato Dumplings -- or ARE they?

POTATO DUMPLINGS: (courtesy of Food Network, click link for full recipe)

Mix instant potatoes for 6 servings
2 eggs
2 to 3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine dumpling ingredients well. Put out on floured bread board and knead more flour in until stiff-like bread dough and it isn't sticky to your hands. Break off small pieces and form into flat balls, drop into rapidly boiling water. Bring back to a boil and cook 10 to 15 minutes. Cut 1 and if it isn't sticky inside, they are done. NOTE: If you have more people - say 8 - mix potatoes for 8 and add more flour; for 10 or more, add 3 eggs and more flour. Prep time--10 to 20 minutes depending on how much kneading you have to do to get the dough not sticky. Cooking time - about 20 to 25 minutes or until the dumplings aren't doughy and sticky on the inside Yield: 10 to 12 dumplings

Okay, I'd argue that was open to interpretation. How was I supposed to know they meant "mix up everything you need for 6 servings of instant potatoes". I didn't include the milk, water, butter or salt. I did NOT make the potatoes themselves.

2 2/3 cups of dry potato mix + 2 cups of flour + 2 eggs = a dry mealy mess!

I was ready to put a comment on about what a mess I was making...I added an extra egg, some milk and managed to get to the "kneading" portion of the recipe.

The dumplings are now boiling and I'm sure they'll be bland as butter, no salt. Ugh.


Dave's ready to Bottle his homebrew.

(The label Dave came up with for his first batch of Homebrew! -- Howie's our dog...)

Dave got a Mr. Beer for Christmas. It was "given" to him by his two sons. (Am I mother-of-the-year or what -- convincing her sons to give Daddy a Home Brewery for Christmas!).

On Christmas afternoon, he took over my kitchen and started on this batch. He's following the Mr. Beer directions pretty closely this time around, although he's already consulted with several other home brewer who have enlightened him on "the right" way to homebrew.

So it's now New Year's afternoon, and Dave's taken over my kitchen once again to bottle his work thus far.

Someone already commented about all the soda bottles on the kitchen counter in my first post. Those were in preparation for today's bottling.

Good thing New Year's dinner is a Crock Pot meal -- he can have the kitchen all he wants today!


Something you don't see in Apex every day!

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"MOMMY! I 'need' you."

Timmy's new mantra. He's my 2-year-old. Starting about a week ago he decided he could say this and I'd pick him up. He'd been on an independent streak until recently -- now he wants to be held all the time and I'm just not into that anymore. He's almost 3 years old (end of January), and he had gone months NOT wanting to be held all the time. I guess I had felt used to it.

What makes it all the more emotional for me is how he actually says "Mommy, I need you." as he extends his hands out for me.

Things were much easier with convincing Jacob to walk on his own, my ob ordered me to not carry anything over 20 lbs. in my 3rd trimester with Timmy because of sciatica. He said "Especially don't carry Jake.". Jacob is from the school of hard knocks.

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The New Year's Resolution -- who thought of that???

Not to sound like Jerry Seinfeld, but it's a topic of conversation Dave and I have every year. Why do we need to have a New Year's Resolution? I think Dave put it right yesterday during the Dick Clark New Year's show when this girl was going thru the crowds asking everyone's resolutions:

"If I think I need to improve something about myself, I'll start improving immediately and not wait till January 1st."

Of course, one of things we always do on Jan. 2nd is start our Annual Vollmer Diet Attempt. We're coming up on the 13th Annual Vollmer Diet Attempt tomorrow! Yep -- lose 10 pounds by Feb. 1st! Whoo hoo, the enthusiasm is there, can't you tell???


Is this thing on?

So...after all this time of enjoying other peoples' blogs, Dave (my Weather Warrior husband) convinced me that setting up my own blog might be long overdue. After all, I've suggested other people start blogs, I've incessantly called Dave over to look at other people's blogs, my sister has a really cool one (a plug for my sister: Living in the Material World!), etc.

Actually Dave put it this way: "You're always sitting at that thing [the computer], I'm sure you have lots of things to put in a blog!".

He's right...I spend a LOT of time at the computer, and the efforts I've put into the wireless networking and file sharing in the house were all just so that I can continue to e-mail friends and surf the web while still being a decent mother. This meant not spending all my time in the computer room, instead putting our very old (circa 2000) laptop in the kitchen.

See on the counter on the left side of the picture? That's the laptop, taking up valuable food preparation space.

Sometimes it's good -- many of the other neighborhood Moms will send out "Let's go to the park" e-mails which I can receive quickly, sometimes it's bad -- letting the pasta overcook because I'm IMing a friend!

My point is: I did it -- I set up a real blog, and my next task is to somehow link my Picasa albums so that I don't have to duplicate efforts.

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