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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 11/6/11 - 11/13/11

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veteran's Day Parade Revisted

You know that picture from yesterday where I showed the kids getting interviewed for the Pensacola News Journal?  They led off on a small online story today!

Here's the picture below, and here's the story!  Enjoy!

And yes, the title really does say "Pensacola parade attracts hundreds."  Hundreds.  Small town living we have here. :-)

PS: I'll give a Dave update tomorrow.  Hurrying to get this published before midnight!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Happy Veteran's Day friends!  I am just getting this in under the wire for my daily post, trying to keep with my NaBloPoMo challenge!

Dave Update: First of all, it got pretty tough for us last night with Dave's back.  He started getting some intense muscle spasms that weren't resolving with the medications he had been prescribed.  So we ended up at the ER, he was so uncomfortable.  They were able to give him stronger muscle relaxers and that seemed to help him out.  We were only at the ER for 1 hour, 45 minutes, which has to be a record for us!

Today Dave took it easy, similar to how things were the day he came home from the hospital last week.  The doctor recommended some changes to his medications and how often he wears his back brace to help with the muscle spasms.  This seemed to help and today was MUCH better than yesterday.  The officer who's acting commander for Dave's squadron came by this afternoon -- brought us a HUGE cheesecake variety sampler -- and visited with him for a while.  It was nice to see Dave have visitors.

This morning the boys and I were part of their Cub Scout pack participating in the Pensacola Veteran's Day parade.  It was a 1 mile march through historic downtown Pensacola.  The boys were very good, nicely taking turns carrying the pack and American flags.

After the parade, we visited Pensacola's new Veterans Memorial Park, which includes the nation's only replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Scouts took turns carrying the flag.  I had my phone timer set for 5 minutes after every handoff (just to play fair) but the boys rarely lasted more than 5 minutes at a time.  Their arms got pretty tired....

Before we started...they were having fun!

This is a reporter from the Pensacola News Journal (local newspaper).  She interviewed the scouts about the parade.

We had to walk behind this giant Pinewood Derby car.  Yes, the boys noticed.  Yes, the boys asked "When do we get to ride?"  No, it wasn't an option.

The replica Vietnam Veteran's Memorial that's now in downtown Pensacola.  It's really nice...

These are the GEICO Skytypers, who were performing at the NAS Pensacola "Welcome Home" Airshow that the Blue Angels gives every Veteran's Day weekend.  You see the words "Naval Aviation" here, they were writing "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", which is what Pensacola calls itself.

Sorry this is upside down, but I thought it was cool.

Look what we found!
It isn't very big,  I'm afraid.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Could I NOT Talk About It? The Penn State Sex Offender Thing.

It's worth discussing.  And since I have to come up with 30 days worth of material for this month's NaBloPoMo, this presented itself at an opportune time.

The web world is all aflutter with the Penn State Athletics Sex Scandal.  Or whatever you want to call it.

This makes me ashamed for all the times I've called Florida State's mascot the "Criminoles" and equated red sweater vests with "Liars".  What Penn State's leaders have done makes all those NCAA violations child's play.

Via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook, I'm commiserating with my PSU classmates.  We're convincing each other that the university will dust off, move on and continue to move forward.  We're pondering amongst each other what the leaders must have been thinking to cover up something like this, whether JoePa will receive any traditional retirement benefits, and all those great Linebacker U players who regarded Sandusky as a mentor right up through this year! The alumni association is pleading with their membership to continue support to the association and university.  Ironically, we received an Penn State Annual Gift letter on Tuesday.  We typically give a modest amount every year, specifically targeting the meteorology department and AFROTC.  This likely won't change...those departments still need support.

But other thoughts have entered the mothering side of my brain.  I had these same thoughts in 2008, which is when we learned through our local TV station that Jacob's soccer coach in Apex, NC was arrested on sexual misconduct charges.  Thoughts like "How can I trust any other athletic coach?" and "How do I know that ANY adult my child interacts with isn't a sexual offender?"

So now I'm getting nervous thoughts about my kids going off to school each day, going off to college in the future, headed out to Boy Scout camp -- without the parents -- by the time they're in 5th grade.

I won't want to go through life like this.  I want to trust people.  After all, I trusted a 19-year-old with my sons for a few days in September while Dave and I traveled to Omaha on AF business, right?  I trust my sons on a school bus every day, I trust them at birthday parties, at school, and at those occasional trips they take with friends' parents.  Other parents trust me with their kids.

I'm not happy with how one guy's evil, and the witnesses who did nothing about it, turned into a huge Joe Paterno drama.  Joe Paterno may be part of the cover-up problem, but he is NOT the child rapist.  Last night CNN was airing stock footage of JoePa while discussing the graphic descriptions of those terrible things Sandusky did.  I call foul on that, CNN!

JoePa was fired first, while even Sandusky continues to receive benefits from the university for his defense, since he's "innocent until proven guilty".

Pardon the babbling here, pride in my alma mater has been shattered just a little.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Nice Surprise! Hammond's Pretzels!

Dave Update: Yesterday and this morning Dave was quite sore.  He called it "new pain", a lot of which was bone pain in his back, where the surgeon had to drill through his vertebrae.  He had to increase his muscle relaxers and pain medication a little from what he was down to over the weekend, and today he had a much better day.

Dave's been enjoying getting to work on his model railroading again -- he hadn't done much with his layout at all since he took command back in July.  Getting back into his train room really cheered him up.

He's also enjoying endless DIY Network shows.  He seems to particularly like "Bath Crashers" and "Renovation Realities".

We took a family walk this afternoon with the dog and Dave was almost walking "too fast"...he seemed to be moving as if he had no work done on his back.  He had to remember to slow things down some.

Pretzels!  Today we got a nice surprise from Dave's parents.  Hammond's Pretzels shipped from Lancaster, PA.

A huge box of Hammond's Pretzels!
Many of you have had Hammond's Pretzels before, perhaps because we brought them to you as gifts.  Perhaps you're already in Lancaster County and can get them at your local Stauffer's or Weis Markets.

Yes, the pretzels are individually wrapped, which will be shocking to many folks.  After all, that's a lot of plastic!  But I've received the pretzels both individually wrapped and not individually wrapped.  The latter will arrive as a box of crumbs.  Trust me, if you want the goodness of Hammond's, you need to tolerate the packaging.  It's worth it!

These are very hard pretzels, and most of them don't have too much salt on them.  You'll definitely taste the baking soda flavor, which I personally like.

Today I was able to get a lot of housework done, and I plan to do more tomorrow.  Since the weather is cooling down, I'm able to move some of the boys' toys back out to the back porch.  Things got crowded in the boys' rooms this summer -- I had to move a lot of items inside so they wouldn't warp and get moldy from the heat and humidity.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Since I Haven't Shared a Recipe in a While...Cincinnati Chili

Dave Update:  Yesterday Dave got the 5 little staples out of his back.  That helped him to lie on his back more easily.  On the way home from the doctor's appointment, he made a brief visit to the squadron to say hello.  I promise, he didn't do any work!  He only logged on to his computer long enough to free up space on his e-mail server so he wouldn't get those "Your mailbox is over its size limit." messages.

However, he's also trying to back off of his muscle relaxers some so that he can think straight.  After about a 1/2 day not on muscle relaxers, Dave was able to do some much-missed model railroading.

But this morning he awakened in a pretty uncomfortable state.  So he's back to the 1/4-doses of muscle relaxers for now.  It makes him groggy and less-focused.

He was alone for much of Tuesday while I went to a doctor's appointment at the Pensacola Naval Hospital (why there and not Eglin AFB, I don't know) and took the Prius for some maintenance.  Somewhere in there I need to fit a grocery store run!

And now, on to the cooking!  In the meantime, I'm going to share with you a much-loved dinner option in our house, especially in the cold weather months: homemade Cincinnati chili!

For those unfamiliar, Cincinnati chili is quite unique.  The chili itself is little more than meat, tomato sauce and a spice blend.  There's cinnamon in the spices, which gives it a unique flavor.  In southwest Ohio, where Dave and I lived 2000-2002, you'd see Skyline Chili and Goldstar Chili restaurants all over the place, nearly as common as McDonald's.  You can get the chili in cans at Ohio grocery stores, and on the Internet now.  It's so yummy, but very fattening and high in sodium.

My parents shared a recipe with me several years ago that they used with ground turkey instead of ground chuck to keep things a bit healthier.  We've done it this way for years and have never looked back!  With all the spices, does it really matter what kind of meat it is?  Some might say yes, but none of us here care!

This is not quite the same recipe as what my parents use, but this is the one I use.  It's called "Cincinnati Empress Chili", based on the chili recipe from Empress Chili Parlor in downtown Cincinnati.  I invite you to click for the link, since it's not my recipe exactly.

Click here for the recipe.

I always make a 1/2 recipe for the family, so I will share how things are done at the house.  I tend to make this on Sundays, when I can start it up around 2-3pm and let it simmer during the late afternoon football games.

Start by dicing two big onions.  The sweeter, the better!  I dice them down nice and fine.  I've gotten pretty good at this over the years.  Toss them into a Dutch oven that has 1-2 Tbsp. of hot olive oil.  "Sweat" them for a couple minutes.

Add 3 minced garlic cloves.  I used a Pampered Chef Garlic Press, it was much easier that way.

Next, add 2 lbs. of ground turkey.  We have Butterball-brand here.

I know...ew, right?  Like my Pampered Chef Mix 'n Chop?  It's magic for making browned meat super-fine!  Perfect for this chili!
In Sunday's case, I had a 1/2 recipe worth of spices already mixed up from earlier this year.  I had accidentally set up to make a full recipe, and then only had 1/2 of the meat available.  So I kept 1/2 of the spices for another time.  Here it is:

Chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, ground coriander, ground allspice, ground cloves, mace and a little oregano.

Stir it into the meat/onion/garlic mixture and inhale deeply.  The smell is divine!
Now we sauce things up:

8 oz. of plain tomato sauce.

1 Tbsp. molasses.  Pardon the mess.

1 Tbsp. of wine vinegar.
Mix that all up with 1 1/2 cups of water, place a splatter screen on top, and let it simmer for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, you'll want to chop some more onion, shred some cheese, break out a can of red beans and get some oyster crackers ready.  Boil up some spaghetti while you're at it.

When the chili is nice and cooked down to a slightly thicker consistency (still ladle-able), serve it up:

  • on a bed of spaghetti (two-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese (three-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese and onion (four-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese, onion and kidney beans (five-way)

Offer up some hot sauce and oyster crackers, and you're set!  Here's Jacob's "four-way" Cincinnati chili from Sunday night.  He's been waiting since last May for this meal and he devoured all of what you see here...and asked for more!

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Dave Update & Chuck E. Cheese's Birthday Party

Good Monday morning to you!  Today is Dave's one-week check up for his back procedure...most of what we're going for is to get those staples above removed.  That entire cut is about an inch long and is healing very nicely.  But those staples are driving Dave mad and he can't wait to get them out.

We're starting to see a trend -- Dave awakens in really good shape, he takes it easy during the day, with a walk or two up and down our street (about 1/2 mile at most).  Most of the day, he's in decent shape and in decent spirits.  By dinnertime, Dave get very sore and his muscles begin to seize up.  He isn't as debilitated as he was on his first day home from the hospital, but we're hoping the evening discomfort eases up some soon.

Dave is craving visitors.  Big time.  He wishes he can sit at his model railroading workbench and work on all sorts of projects, but he can't.  He wishes he could get going on the next block of his Air War College studies, but he's on hold until they grade the test he took the week before his surgery (he can't move forward unless he receives a passing grade on the test).  So he's watching a LOT of TV.  Mostly movies on HBO and Showtime.

The kids and I took it easy yesterday morning, and in the afternoon I took the kids to our local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Pensacola for a birthday party.  We were invited to a set of triplets' birthday parties...for the first time, the girls were getting three small separate parties.  We go to church with the family and the triplets are in Timmy's Sunday school class.  You could see their separate personalities come through even with the themes of their three parties: one at a bowling alley, one at a local pet shop and one at Chuck E. Cheese's.  Since we live about an hour away, the boys chose one of the parties and we brought Littlest Pet Shop gifts for all 3 girls.

The birthday girl is in the hat, one of her sisters is on the far left, and I don't know where the third sister is.  The little boy to Chuck E. Cheese's left wasn't part of our party.  
Now that I'm feeling better from my cold last week, I think I can start on my household to-do list: organizing closets, sorting through toys and clothes, and washing/waxing our vehicles.  I hope to take a Honda-Pilot-full of stuff to the Hurlburt Thrift Shop by Thursday or Friday for donation/consignment.

Tomorrow I'm planning a long-overdue recipe post!  Cincinnati chili made with ground turkey -- a family favorite!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Timmy's Scrapbook, Day 2

Dave Update:  With the kids at home to help Dave (most of the help he needs now is picking up stuff that he's dropped, by the way), I was able to go back out to the weekend crop on Saturday and take advantage of a few more hours of making pages.  Dave had a really good day, although he's really starting to get bored just sitting and watching TV.  He's having trouble reading with the drugs he's on, but hopes to get into reading a bit more once he's off them.

After I got home from the crop, we took Dave out to dinner -- his first outing since he came home from the hospital at dinnertime on Tuesday.  We just went to Vinnie R's, a local Italian restaurant that's right on the edge of our neighborhood (1.5 miles from home).

At about 8:30pm last night, Dave sneezed.  He typically doesn't suppress sneezes, and he didn't with this one.  The pain started right back up again and we felt like he was back at square one, the jolts of pain and muscle spasms immediately returned.  He was on a minimum of pain medications, so he felt every bit of the pain until he went back up the recommended dosages and could get things back under control.

This morning (Sunday), he's feeling better.  He slept a little funny and had a knot in one of his glutes that took a couple hours to relax.  But otherwise, he's ready for another day of sitting and healing.

Saturday's Progress: I did 9 more pages on Saturday: 5 more pages for Timmy's 1st year baby book and 4 pages featuring our October 2004 Bahamas cruise for our family vacations scrapbook.

Angela had proclaimed "This isn't a competition...BUT....".  We didn't mean to, but we girls were definitely counting the pages we made up over the weekend.  I completed 17 pages in over the two days, which is pretty impressive for me :-)  The other ladies will have cranked out anywhere from 25-40 pages over the weekend, but they were staying at the hotel and had 18 hours per day available...I did not.

One of the ladies gave me a ton of design help on Timmy's 1st Christmas pages.  I realized how far into the stone age I am with my styles.  I broke out my circa 2002 Coluzzle and you'd have thought I was breaking out Medusa's head, lol!

Things have come a long way since the days I last did marathon cropping, back when we were stationed at Patrick AFB and I'd get together with Angie, Kasi and Suzy for afternoon crafts about once a month or so.  For the first time, this weekend I was able to try out a Xyron sticker machine, a Cuttlebug cutter/embosser, and the electronic Cricut paper cutter system (with an infinite choice of cartridges!).  I could get lots of use out of the Xyron and should probably buy one, but the Cricut scared me to death!

Dave should be proud that I did all of these pages without paying a DIME for any new scrapbooking materials -- only a payment into the meeting room at the hotel, and about $30 worth of photos that I had printed up at our local Walgreens.  Although I now want to hit up A.C. Moore and stock up on some of the latest and greatest!  With a 40% coupon, of course!

I've completed 13 pages of Timmy's first year scrapbook and probably have about 6-7 more pages in mind.  They aren't chronological (I have a traditional baby book that documents his first-year milestones), but rather fun collections of pictures I had of him in his first year, such as eating, bathtime, and family gatherings.  Jacob has a similar book that I finished several years ago.

These title letters came from the Cricut machine.  We also embellished some of the Christmas trees in the header paper with glitter.

Some captioning went into the lower left.

We took a cruise in October 2004, just after Jacob turned two years old.  Dave's Mom joined us and we had a lot of fun.  We squeezed it in between all those hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004.

That pic of Jacob in the upper left is one of my favorites in the whole world, and Walgreens cut off the word "Pirate" that was written above "Jacob" on the hat (because these are digital prints being blown up into 4x6 size or something like that).  The Carnival Kids Club had the kids dress up as pirates and "attack" one of the restaurants and cause all sort of mayhem.

This was from our visit to the Nassau Zoo.  These were the friendliest flamingos we've ever seen.

I further embellished this page with homemade stickers of gas station pumps and tanks (hence the strange caption).  We have so many pictures of Timmy eating and drinking -- always so happy.
Just before I left for the evening, we got to watch a sunset beach wedding out the window.  We had fun coming up with our own stories of how the couple met and what their circumstance was for having a wedding with only a bride, groom, clergyman, photographer and three flowergirls.  We had two hypotheses: a husband and wife privately renewing their vows with their three daughters, or a servicemember quietly marrying a single Mom of three girls just before he takes a deployment.

Thanks to my maximum zoom on my iPhone camera, you too can watch a sunset beach wedding!  The bride is just off the picture to the left.  There are three flowergirls walking from the stairs to the aisle drawn into the sand.

The bride is standing right under the pirate flag.

It wasn't that warm (upper 60s), and it was rather windy, as you can see from the bridal veil.

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