Friday, June 29, 2012

I've been featured!

I completely forgot to post earlier... but I am the featured blogger at Scattered Seashells today! Thanks Chantal! Go check it out HERE.


Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Memories

I saw something on another blog and it made me smile. A woman did her top 10 memories of her with her husband. It was cute. Although I can't really "rate" my memories, I felt like doing a bit of reminiscing myself and chose 5 of my favorite memories I have with Ryan. He also had some input. It was good to look back and smile.

When selecting, I intentionally stayed away from obvious things like when we first met, began dating, first kiss, engagement, marriage, pregnancies, births... those sort of things. These are memories that are specific to us and, therefore, special.

  • Our trip to California. This is back when we were dating in college. I saved up a bunch of my money over the summer. Ryan had been at field training. That fall, before classes started up again, we made a trip to California. Ryan had never been to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, or Universal Studios Hollywood so we made a vacation of it. We loaded up my parents' fancy car and drove to Fresno, CA to stay with my sister. Then all three of us went to the Anaheim area and stayed with her friend. Disneyland was a blast. Knott's Berry Farm was also wonderful (and where we discovered both of us loved roller coasters). I think the best was Universal Studios, though. Neither of us had been before and it was only him and I. We went on nearly all the rides, did the back lot tour, and laughed and screamed our way through the Van Helsing Haunted House! Ryan always wanted to experience the Back to the Future Ride... and we did it together! Such good times. We were young and free. Sadly, to this day I cannot find all our pictures from that adventure.

Knott's Berry Farm -- waiting in line for the Perilous Plunge ride (2004)
meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland (2004)

  • Our vacation in Hokkaido. To this day we say this was our best vacation! It was B.C. (before children) and both of us were working. My paycheck was split between student loan payments and a vacation fund back then. One of the experiences I wanted in Japan was to see the Sapporo Snow Festival -- snow statues, ice sculptures, international competition, COLD, snow maze, blizzard, etc. The best part was the fact that the whole thing was PAID FOR! I had plenty of money in our vacation account at the time that we could eat where we wanted, go wherever (within reason), and not worry about a budget. It was here we accidentally came across a true Japanese Grill with the crazy fire on the food! We took our time wherever we went and just enjoyed the experience and each other.
in front of the ice sculptures (2007)

at a true Japanese Grill with our chef (2007)
  •  Sauna dates. Yes, you read that right. In college Ryan and I didn't exactly "go out" on dates that much. We were poor college students. He had to study a lot. There wasn't a lot to do in Ellensburg when you don't drink (and you're underaged anyway). So we went to the city pool and it cost, I believe, less than $3 to get in. We'd go and mostly sit in the sauna. We were there so often we became regulars and built some friendly relationships with a couple other regulars. At that time we would go in the sauna and sit for about 45 minutes, sometimes a bit longer, just chatting and seeing how long we could hold out in the heat. Occasionally there would be some swimming as well. We would invite friends with us from time to time and then we would all play in the water. Good times for sure.
  • Returning home from Katrina. Ryan and I were newlyweds (married 5 months) when the Air Force sent him to Keesler AFB in Mississippi for some training. For those that don't know, Keesler is by Biloxi. Unfortunately he got stuck there when Katrina hit. It was a nerve racking time to be sure. He was lodged in an office building with who knows how many other people. Unsanitary conditions. No real food. No real access to the outside. When he was finally "free" he made it out of Kessler and got to an air port to come home. While all the craziness of the hurricane was happening we lost contact because Cingular (remember them?) signals weren't working. After stressing out over the weather news I drove home so I wouldn't be alone at our little apartment. He made it back to Seattle and I already had reservations at a hotel between the air port and my parents house who graciously changed our reservation with the delay from the hurricane. My brother didn't know why we were staying at a hotel --- ummm... we hadn't seen each other in over a month, newlyweds, didn't exactly want to be at my parents' house. Anyway, it was our first "homecoming" and it was nice to be together again. (And I want to say, don't believe the Wikipedia site about Keesler and Hurricane Katrina: the students were NOT evacuated from the base and in fact were FORCED to stay there to "ride it out".)
image source

  • Fresh starts. The military gives us the wonderful opportunity of picking up and causing drastic change to our lives every couple years. Despite the stress, the frustration, and trying to rebuild our support system it is a blessing for us to "start fresh" yet again. We think back to our time in Japan and also our move here to Ohio (we don't like to think back too often on our "fresh start" in New Mexico since it didn't go very well). Anyway, this is a time when life is still fairly slow and we have the time to spend with each other. In Japan we were living in the Kanto Lodge and making plans on getting in better shape, eating healthy, traveling, and beginning our real life as a married couple. And now at our new base we have been making plans, finding things to do with the kids, getting into a new routine, joining a new church, and meeting new friends. Things aren't perfect, but it is such a joy to re-connect with one another and later to look back at how these fresh starts changed our lives.


Friday, June 22, 2012

USAF Museum

As I mentioned in my last post, the kids and I went to the National Museum of the Air Force.

I had heard bits about the museum -- it was big, it was nice, it was free... all good reasons to go. Turns out we can see the museum from the entrance to our neighborhood, it's THAT close. About a 5 minute drive.

And yes, it is FREE. For everybody, not just military people. That also explains why there was nearly no parking close to the building.

Anyway, we got a late start so the kids ate their packed lunch in the air conditioned car before we went inside.
outside at the memorial garden on our walk to the museum
Outside there is a memorial garden which is over an acre of grassy area with many shady trees and picnic tables. As you wander through the paved path there are different memorials, monuments, and statues for squadrons, battles, flight schools, air disasters, etc. We didn't really take the time to go through it so we'll take that on during another trip.
Once inside I realized the magnitude of this place. Wow. The facility is VERY nice, this is no rinky-dink free place. There is an IMAX in the front part! We went to the right and briefly glanced at the shops lining the walk and then actually entered the "Museum" part.

I will just say now that we were there for over 2 hours and only saw (maybe) a third of what there was to see -- probably less. And I wasn't stopping to look and read about all the amazing things they had on display!
It starts out with the beginning of flight (of course, we're in Ohio and the Wright Brothers are pretty big here). Then it goes into World War I and what they call the Inter-war Period. There are planes on display everywhere! Neat artifacts and stories too. The kids thought the place was intriguing and would point out different things that interested them.

Lana liked a blue and yellow plane best (a Boeing P-26 Peashooter replica). Will's favorite was an old Model-T Ford that had been turned into an ambulance for WWI. I told him it did not use keys and pointed out the crank. He was just amazed it didn't require keys!
the kids next to the old Model-T Ambulance

Interesting story on this plane, a Douglas O-38: it crashed in Alaska and after almost 30 years it was recovered and then meticulously restored and placed on display. Believed to be the only remaining model.
That was the first part of the first hanger. We then went into the passageway which brought on WWII. As soon as you enter you are immediately brought face-to-face with the holocaust. To be honest, I was surprised with my emotional reaction when I saw some of the displays (then again I'm reading a Corrie ten Boom book so that might be why it's so fresh). I tried to tell the kids in toddler/preschool words about it: "A bad man had all these people taken away from there homes and were very mean to them. It was just because they were Jewish. The Jew's are God's people. They were hurt and many died. It was very sad." I mean, how do you explain it to such a young age?
actual concentration camp uniform worn in Buchenwald 
Then you actually enter the second part of the hanger. Planes EVERYWHERE! I found it was a pretty cool room, personally. But I kinda have a thing for the WWII time period.
Will checking out the Women in Flight display

My favorite piece was probably the 80 specially engraved silver goblets for the Doolittle Raid men. When the surviving Raiders meet up at their annual reunion they hold a private ceremony and toast their comrades who passed in the last year. Cups still upright are the living members (only 5).
Before we could finish with WWII I could tell the kids were already done. There is still much more to see in the other 2 hangers, including the Missile and Space Gallery at the end of the museum, the Presidential aircraft display which requires a tour bus offsite, and the outdoor display exhibits behind the museum. They are currently raising funds to build another hanger to put the Presidential aircraft displays "in" the museum.
But we decided to call it a day. What an incredibly fascinating thing to have close by! With such affordable fees I can easily just go and wander around more whenever we have the time. I'm looking forward to going back again.

Oh... and I found out at AFIT spouses orientation --- Ryan's graduation, just under 2 years from now, is to be held IN the museum! How cool is that?!?!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Everything Under the Sun

As I am writing this there is a major storm raging outside my windows. The thunder is loud! The rain is intense! And I'm hoping the hail stays small because both of our cars are parked outside...

I thought I'd give another update on life in our new place.

Overall things are going well.

Ryan is gearing up to start classes for real, so his time at home will be less, and I have a feeling life will become increasingly more stressful. I'm proud he has this opportunity and I know he truly wants to do well. My concern (like many other spouses here) is that the family will get lost in the ambition of the husband. I've heard it's quite common.

We have memberships at the local YMCA so we've been spending good chunks of time there. The kids have LOVED swimming (they start swimming lessons next week). At first both kids were a bit tense, but with every visit they've become more comfortable in the water and, therefore, increasingly more brave. In addition to the kiddie pool time, I have started a 6-week fitness course which consists of cardio and weights. As I build up more endurance I'll add in some classes that are offered. After the 6 weeks are up I hope to re-assess and keep up the hard work. I can't tell you how great it feels to be back in a gym regularly -- it's been nearly 4 years! The 2 hours of free childcare daily that come with our gym membership really helps!

I'm involved with the AFIT Spouses Book Club and look forward to reading the next selection -- Fatherland by Robert Harris. Actually, I have quite the stack of books I have lined up to read. My bookmark break challenge page is updated so go check that out to see what I've been up to.

Other than Book Club there is Recipe Club that I hope to start going to as well as Bunco Night and Spouses Night Out. I'm already a part of the Playgroup.

We did go to the hospital over a week ago to meet Will's pediatrician and get a referral for speech therapy. It was not the best appointment. Apparently all of our medical records from Kirtland have not arrived. On top of that, our appointment was cancelled but the hospital did not contact us to tell us... so the doc agreed to see us anyway. She briefly looked at Will's record that had been kept digitally, but she admitted that without his full record and no time to prepare she was not aware of all that his case included. Come to find out that Will's medical record from birth to now has NOT been consolidated so that's another hurdle to jump through.

Anyway, the referral came through and Will has his initial appointment for speech in about a week to decide what level of therapy he will need and then schedule recurring appointments.

Other things going on... well, my face is breaking out as bad as a Jr. High band geek. I'm thinking that the change in environment has a lot to do with it and the humidity is awful. I don't know what in the world is going on! My skin has not looked like this in years (if ever)! One breakout clears up just as another reappears somewhere else. I've thought about changing my skin care routine, but maybe I just have to adjust to the different surroundings???

I realized I never mentioned it before, but we DID get Will his new bike to go along with the new house. He loves it. Ryan also picked up a bike at a neighbor's yard sale so the guys should begin riding together sometime soon.
Lana doesn't ride the trike yet, it's a work in progress
he loves it!
Church shopping went better this week. We found a church that we feel interested in, but they are not the "traditional" Assemblies of God. That's not a good or bad thing, just different. We liked how the pastor preached. They are well equipped for ministry with children. The facility and equipment is very updated. There are talented people in ministry. There were actually many good things we liked; but the MAJOR drawback is that it is a VERY large church, and I'm not a fan of huge churches. I like to get involved and get to know my pastors and a lot of people in the congregation but with churches that have a membership of over 2,000 people it is easy to get lost. We're going to check them out again next week and see how it goes.

Yesterday was Father's Day so I thought I'd share how hubby was spoiled this year:
DeWALT 18volt driver/drill with screwdriving set and drill bits
We were tired of cheap drills that wouldn't get the job done so I splurged.. and Ryan really likes it! Love ya babe!

We have been branching out and I'm discovering things to do in the area. We went to the National Museum of the USAF, which I'll be posting about later. We've gone to the Fairfield Commons area quite a bit. And just this weekend we checked out "The Greene". It was good to get out, walk around, and do a bit of shopping. The best part was when we allowed the kids to play in the fountain. Will and Alanna loved it!

Besides shopping I'm finding some GREAT parks nearby. Many of them have free splash pads which come in handy with this heat/humidity.

There are several things in the area and for day trips that I've learned about and I think I'll be checking out sometime: The Columbus Crew, The Boonshoft Museum, SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park, The Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum, The Riverscape Park, The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum, The Louisville Slugger Museum, The Creation Museum, The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, The Dayton International Peace Museum, Cedar Point Amusement Park, King's Island Amusement Park, The Cleveland Indians, The Cincinnati Reds.... I think that's a good list to get ya'll started on what I've been looking at. Yes, I'm a glutton for museums.

So that's what's happening here. If you know of any other great attractions to see/do within a couple hours of Dayton let me know!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

USO Sesame Street Show

The USO tours a Sesame Street show that is free to military families and this past week they were at our base. I'd heard about it from spouses on Facebook, but I wasn't sure if we were going.

After debating if it was worth it then having the availability I decided to go. Ryan stayed home to study.

I'm so glad we went! The kids really enjoyed themselves (though you wouldn't know by watching Will's face during the performance).

When we showed up the kids are handed free light up Elmo toys and USO bandanas. There was other free paper stuff, pamphlets, and magnets that I perused as well.

waiting for the show to start
We got really good seats near the front on the aisle. Then the show started. It was a little, 30-minute performance with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Rosita who are talking (singing) and helping their friend, Katie, who will be moving to a new base.


Will was mesmerized. He just stared, completely enamored with what was going on.

Lana was dancing, then decided she wanted to go up to the front with the other kids. So Will and I joined her.
dancing girl
Lana stood at the fenced off area and was able to touch the characters when they came down (which she loved). It was like she couldn't get close enough!
Lana meets Rosita
Will was happy to just be near me and take it all in. He was so intense!

After it was over the kids did tell me they liked it. Will was telling me he saw Elmo and Cookie Monster... but I couldn't get it all on video. Oh well.
(this is not the video, I couldn't get it to load)
What great opportunities are offered for us military families if we are willing to take advantage of them!


Friday, June 15, 2012

My favorite-est chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies and I have a love/hate relationship.

I love to eat them. I hate when others eat them all before I get to them.

Cookies are best when they are round and fluffy but soft and a little chewy in the middle... and I found a recipe that does it!

These lovely cookies are simple to make. I shared the recipe with some other people who also adored the yumminess! My hubby can't get enough, which means I don't get as many. Since the batch only makes about 3 dozen cookies I often double the recipe 'cause they disappear so quickly!

I found the recipe HERE.

  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions (**special notes at the end):

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Using a stand mixer (paddle attachment preferred) cream together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until fluffy and light colored.
  • Add egg and vanilla, blend

  • Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
OMG, I'm drooling
  • Using a tablespoon or standard-sized scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just the edges are golden brown. Do not brown the tops and do not bake longer for more than 10 minutes.

  • Let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then remove from sheet and allow cookies to cool completely on racks.

Super Yummy, right?! Hope ya'll like 'em.

**I'm still having issues switching to an electric oven and I think the temperature reading is off so my cookies didn't turn out as well as they usually do. In addition, I used to bake them at a higher elevation which meant an extra 3/4 to 1 cup of flour. Also, I didn't have unsalted butter and I'm sure it impacted the cookies. It doesn't matter, even if they weren't as puffy as they usually are they were still delicious!