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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 8/10/08 - 8/17/08

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Big Red Gamble

Would you do this? This is a Nebraska Furniture Mart promotion between now and the end of the month.

Fortunately we aren't in the market for a new TV. Our existing one, circa 2004, came through just fine.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Okay, I'm Officially Excited About Nebraska!

The Thunderbirds are practicing and I can watch the show from my backyard!

Offutt AFB is having an airshow this weekend.

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Taking Stock!

I get to blog about cooking again, yay! Vegetarians, avert your eyes!

Incidentally, the Offutt AFB commissary just so happens to be the nearest grocery store to our house. How cool is that? There's a store called Baker's nearby, but it's just a couple more traffic lights away. I take 4-lane divided highways to the base, and an exit dumps me out about a mile from the gate nearest the commissary in 10 minutes.

So I check out the selection -- not the biggest commissary I've been to (that distinction goes to Ft. Bragg), but definitely not the smallest (NAVMAG Lualualei, where I lived from 1977-1980, wins that one). They carry local produce (sometimes) and has a sushi bar and a decent organic foods selection. I see that whole chickens are only $3-4 each, and they're sized perfectly for our family. About 1/2 the price per pound compared to the Tyson "Whole Chicken Cut-up". So I pick one up and dissect it for a couple of meals. The breasts went into chicken soft tacos, and last night I oven-fried the leg quarters. Yum.

I'm left with the carcass and wings. I stuck them in the freezer over the weekend and today I started to think about making a chicken ettouffee either Friday or Saturday. My favorite recipe in the whole wide world!

So I decided to break out the carcass and get it simmering on veggies for some homemade stock. I don't do this often, I typically take the lazy route and use the Swanson's stuff. I also delved into the blogosphere a bit to see what folks are saying about making chicken stock. Holy cow -- who woulda thunk there was so much to say about it?

But I was particularly interested in this posting -- everything you EVER wanted to know about chicken stock. Enjoy! It's definitely rated PG-13 for some frank discussions of chicken parts.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Craft Time is Back!

Well...I'm trying to bring it back! I can't even remember the last time I blogged about a craft I've done with the boys...

Timmy and I interrupted our crayon-peeling session to pick up Jake from school. When Jake got home he was excited to get to help out. I told the boys we could make multi-colored crayon "muffins" and they thought that was cool.

I used my oldest muffin tin, which I wasn't really using for real food anymore anyway.

So they chose which colors to put together, I tried to ensure the color combinations weren't too ugly (i.e., no teal and bright red together). And into the oven they went.

So here's the before:

And after:

And a close up of one of the "muffins". Note the white top to the crayon. That's essentially clear wax and it separates from the coloring in the cheaper crayons. Crayolas don't do that, but I had mixed in a number of Quizno's, Bahama Breeze, Fazoli's, Cracker Barrel and Rose Art crayons in with the Crayolas.

Finally, some shots of the boys coloring (Jake's making a rubbing of a yo-yo string) , and look how cool Jar Jar Binks looks with red and yellow stripes! That's all from one crayon!

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Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up!

Today, after a VERY long bike ride during which I got extremely lost in an effort to help find Dave a safe bike route to work (by the way, it can't be done without riding all over highway interchanges), I continued the finer points of unpacking our house.

First off, the moving company made it over this morning to pick up all of our packing material which had been filling our garage. We now have a garage ready for our vehicles!

Yesterday I received a request from Jake's Kindergarten teacher for "spare" art supplies, plus scraps of ribbon, yarn, sponges, wrapping paper and CDs. Well, Jake's class will hit the jackpot from us! I found a wad of craft ribbon, tons of yarn leftover from my scarf and blanket projects and several duplicate bottles of paint.

I had been planning to consolidate two plastic drawer bins of art supplies into just one, so I've been gathering the pencils, markers, crayons, paints, crayons, paper, crayons, glue sticks, crayons and glitter.

Did I mention crayons?

The original Crayola crayon boxes don't last in our house. One of the boys will open the box with too much gusto and "poof!", the top rips right off. Of one of them will empty all the crayons onto the table, and the box falls to the floor. Then I walk past the table and step on the box on the floor. So early on I decided that when the kids got crayons, they'd go into one of those plastic Ziploc containers.

But I now have 4 of those containers, filled to the brim with crayons, plus a good-sized wooden cigar box.

Timmy was on a "must break all crayons" phase this past spring and today I was picking out the pieces of crayons. Timmy is currently on a "must peel all crayons" phase. I was about to throw out all those pieces of crayon and it hit me that I could recycle them into "chunky crayons".

All you have to do is peel crayon scraps, pop like colors into Dixie cups in a muffin tin and then warm them gently until the scraps melt together.

Chunky crayons will be good for doing rubbings, so says one mother on the link I offered above. Good idea!

Timmy will be tasked with peeling several dozen crayon scraps. He'll be thrilled! Hopefully he'll never want to peel a crayon again!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hi Southern Girl!

I'm excited that another one of my friends has made the jump to the dark side. Southern Girl is one of the Original Playgroup* Mom friends from when I first moved to North Carolina in July 2005.

She's your classic North Carolina-born-and-bred lady, and her storytelling is all the proof you need that's she's a Southern Belle through and through.

I'll definitely miss her from way out here in Nebraska, and it's made my day that she now has a blog.

*History lesson: I call it the "Original Playgroup". When I first moved into our NC neighborhood, the first thing I did when we were over the unpacking stresses was take our boys to the neighborhood pool. This was about a week after our furniture was delivered. Within an hour I meet Dawn and her two sons who were the same ages as my two sons. Within another hour the boys and I are invited to join Dawn and several other neighborhood Moms of 2-3 year olds in a once-per-week playgroup. Through this playgroup I also met Wendy, Southern Girl, Julie and Carrie. We've watched our kids grow up together since summer 2005 and I'm glad for e-mail and blogging to keep up from across the country.

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My Kindergartener!

This was Jake when I picked him up from school today. He had a great day and is really looking forward to tomorrow.

I can't believe my baby is in school now!

Jake gave a nice debriefing about his day, to include even the details of how he gave 50 cents to the lunchlady for his milk and she gave him 10 cents change :-). He also made a couple friends.

For those blogging Moms who have been showing off their boys' super-cool backpacks, I'm going to show this picture! This is the LL Bean Junior Bookpack and it's a perfect size and a fun, unique pattern. Jake's backpack was hung up among a sea of Spongebob, Speed Racer and Star Wars backpacks. His definitely stood out!

Got the matching lunchbox, too.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Criminy Pete, Woman, Where've You Been?

"So, besides the photo of a fire and an announcement about your weather station being back, you've been pretty incognito!"

Yeah, I suppose I have.

"Are you okay?"

Yes, I'm finally coming down from the incredible stress of this move. The car accident on August 2nd didn't help, either. One might argue that one contributed to the other, but I won't lay blame one way or the other. I'm very glad that the woman I hit was okay, and I'm pretty well recovered, too. I'm still a little sore in the shoulder if I try to scratch my back with my left hand, that's all.

Dave and I have been crazily unpacking at a feverish pace. If we don't put in the effort now, we tend to slowball things and we end up like in North Carolina: presenting our packers in July 2008 with boxes that weren't even opened from when they were delivered to NC in August 2005!

Very little TV, very little Internet, very little interaction outside of the house. I'm catching the Olympics when I can (how about that Men's Swimming Freestyle Relay Sunday night????)

I'm pleased to say that we've unpacked all but about 5 boxes...we have most of the rooms well-organized, and it's mainly books and wall hangings that are still pending. We have bookcases scattered throughout the house, and I'm still deciding on which bookcases will hold which books.

Having a basement is quite wonderful, Jake's layout and many of the boys' toys are fitting in the basement very nicely. We also have ample storage for our camping gear, my craft supplies, and winter stuff.

We can finally free up our garage for its intended use: storing our vehicles!

Dave started at his new job on July 31st and is really enjoying things so far. The programs he got to work with for his PhD are relevant in this job and he likes getting to translate the research work to the warfighters.

This past Saturday, on Dave's birthday, we had our first real day out, enjoying some of Nebraska/Iowa's offerings. The IMAX theater at the Omaha Zoo was showing the film Fighter Pilot free for military families and it was very good. Timmy only got a little worked up at the very end at some air-to-ground training explosions.

Then we went to Quaker Steak and Lube in Council Bluffs, IA for dinner -- where I experienced some of the best wings I've had in YEARS, followed by a trip to the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World next door. Outdoor World was incredible, with a shooting arcade on the 2nd floor! While I'm not condoning 5-year-olds wielding rifles, I have to admit Jake had a really good time attempting this. It has a really nice camping section, and I can see the family doing a LOT of camping while we're here.

From 2008 08 09 Ou...

The boys are definitely emotional about what they've left behind in N.C. Timmy still asks for his friends Daniel and Johnny, and Jacob has complained a lot about there not being much to do in Nebraska. It's just that we've been so busy unpacking, we haven't been out much except to go shopping for furniture, home improvement stuff and school clothes.

Which brings me to my next point: my baby (Jacob, my oldest) starts KINDERGARTEN tomorrow! This afternoon we attended a "Meet the Teacher" event and Jake teacher, Ms. Brockhaus, seems very nice and down-to-earth. Jake was told he could explore the classroom (it's enormous, compared to his Penguin classroom at Resurrection Preschool) and we went on a scavenger hunt for his name. Items throughout the classroom were already labeled. Here's Jake at his table:

From 2008 08 11 Ba...

His name was already marked for his art cubby, his coat hook, his "circle time" spot, and his lunch marker, where he'll put his name magnet on a poster depending on whether he's buying lunch or bringing lunch.

I was sent home with a stack of forms to fill out (homework for Mom?), including PTA registration, publicity consent forms and Room Mom/party helper solicitations. Since I'm taking a trip to the Middle East in early 2009 (oops, I guess I haven't blogged about that news, huh?), I'll have to shy away from being a Room Mom, but I will volunteer to help with the Halloween events and Field Day at the end of the school year.

"Thanks for the update, Patricia...I'm glad things are looking up for you guys."

If you've noticed, I'm not jumping up and down celebrating Nebraska. It's a nice state, I'm always game for a new place, new adventure, a new part of our great country to experience. But celebrating Nebaska...not quite yet.

For those who aren't familiar with my passion for all things Penn State, my senior year at Penn State was that of the 1994 NCAA Football National Championship that should have been Penn State's, and not Nebraska's. And we're in serious Cornhusker country here!

But I'll give them credit, Nebraskans are the friendliest people! We've been presented with babysitting offers, plates of cookies and several "If there's anything you need...." offers from our neighbors. Most of our neighbors are military, and there are a billion kids on our street. There's a new family right behind us, and the Mom there is a piano teacher -- whoo hoo! I was planning to start Jake on piano lessons around his 6th birthday. He can just hop our fence...

So with this extremely long post, I'll close here. Stay tuned for photos of Jake's first day of school. I hope I don't cry.

"You'd better give the skinny on the Middle East, woman!"

Okay, okay...soon!

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