Wednesday, July 30, 2008

a day at the Huntington

We went to one of my favorite places today. I'm glad that it's so close to home. (I wish that I lived within walking distance...but I'm not a bazillionaire)
The Huntington Library is a beautiful place. The art galleries are amazing, but we spend most of our time touring the 120 acres of botanical gardens. I have been there numerous times, and I don't think that I have seen everything.

A few photos from the recently-opened Chinese Garden:

Magnetic sand in the Children's Garden

the Fog Grotto... Children's Garden

A tunnel and a cave made with plants...Children's Garden again:

the rock formation (pic #3), is limestone from Lake Tai in China

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

another day...

The girls are enjoying Vacation Bible School this week. E2 was a bit apprehensive the first day, but she was excited to go today. E3 and I hung out at a friend’s house and visited Target this morning.
On the way to retrieve the girls, I felt the car swaying… wind? flat tires?, then I remembered Stuntman telling me about driving during an earthquake and it feeling like 4 flat tires on the car. I looked around and saw streetlights swaying. Yep, an earthquake. Almost immediately, the radio station mentioned the quake and its epicenter. Not that close, and not that big… “moderate” I think is the word.
The girls were only a few blocks away. It sounds as if the staff and children handled it well. A few items fell over, water spilled, but no one panicked. I guess that wasn’t the case at the Target I had just left. My friend was still there, checking out, and people were screaming and running for the exits. Wow, calm down people, if it was the “Big One”, you need to be CALM!
We went to the uniform shop and picked up school uniforms. They should still fit by the time school starts. E2 looks so cute in her little uniform. Still need to sew on a few buttons on E1’s hand-me-downs, but looks like we’re a go for school clothes. Man, I LOVE having the uniforms instead of free dress.

When I returned home, I spoke with my neighbor. It shook quite a bit up here during the quake that was centered a couple hours away. A great big jolt then rolling. Her cats bolted out of the doggie door and water splashed in the pool.
I saw that my house was a mess, stuff off of the shelves, toys out of the toy box… wait... it was like that when I left this morning.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Road Trip is ON!

It looks like the road trip to Minnesota is a go!
Whoo hoo!
It'll be the third time that we've taken the drive, but we plan to take a different route this time.
Neither of us have been to Yellowstone, so we'll be hitting that destination on the way. We plan a stop at Mt. Rushmore as well.
Any "must-see's" that my faithful readers (all 3 of you) suggest?

We're taking Roxie and Emma as well. I'm sure that they are as excited as we are. They will see their crazy cousin, Reggie, the annoying Welsh Corgi.

I budgeted for $5/gallon gas, anticipating that it may continue to rise. I am very happy to see it down to $4.19/gallon today. Whew!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I need to write this down

...even though I don't think that I'll ever forget it.

A little girl said to me today...
"I have lots of freckles.. freckles are angel kisses you know. I have lots of them because my mom is an angel now"

...she's 5, and recently lost her mom to breast cancer.

Experiment with 550 cord

This is the chair that I fixed. The fabric seat and back had ripped, so I asked Stuntman to pick up 550 cord next time he was at the surplus store. We had some lying around the house, but not enough to weave an entire chair. It's a kids chair, but it still took quite a bit of cord.

I weaved a few lawn chairs using macrame cord when I was in college. My step-father had some old chairs that were falling apart, but had good frames. My sister currently has those chairs and I hear that they are still in good shape.

I didn't really have a pattern for this little chair. It was a little experiment. We have a couple lounge chairs by the pool that are falling apart, but have nice frames. That project will be next.
I see that there are websites that sell all different colors of 550 cord.... interesting...

*update* 7/25
The E's fight over the chair, so it looks like I'll be weaving a couple more of these. I made the mistake of showing the girls the website with all of the different colors available. I now have orders for a pink and purple chair.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today and tomorrow

I cruised down Sunset Boulevard today, listening to my music as loud as I wanted since Stuntman was watching the kids.
Sounds fun, except I was only going to the doctor's office.
In May (or was in early June) I had a biopsy of a mole. It came back as basal cell carcinoma, which is what the doctor described as "if you get skin cancer, this is the one you want". In other words, it's the type that does not metastasize.
I finally had a referral to and an appointment with a dermatologist today.
She removed another tiny, but suspicious-looking thing while I was in the office.
E3 kissed it and made it all better when I arrived home.

I was a little concerned when the biopsy came back, even though I know that it really isn't a big deal. I just don't like the term "carcinoma" or "cancer" when spoken by my doctor.
I have so many family members that have died from various cancers. My dad, my brother, many cousins, uncles, aunts (all on my father's side). My mom's side all have high blood pressure, strokes or diabetes. I seem to have avoided any blood-pressure issues and my blood sugar levels are always normal. One more reason to continue my commitment to healthy eating.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Still got it

While at the beach today, I saw a cute guy walking on the sand toward me.
"Nice abs and chest", I thought.
Then I realized it was Stuntman :)

the Weekend

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their heart-felt thoughts regarding Sparky. I know, just a dog, but for those of you that have or have had pets, you know that they become part of the family.
Stuntman and I were laughing about some of Sparky's antics over the years. We still can't decide if she was extremely intelligent, or an idiot dog. She really was one of a kind and we miss her.
Roxie and Emma are doing well, and so are the kids.

We went to the beach today. I should be uploading photos right about now, but my camera battery was dead. dang.
The kids (and Stuntman and his brother) spent most of the time catching sand crabs and putting them into a bucket.
I need to clean and vacuum the car tomorrow, I think we hauled most of the beach home with us.

Friday, July 18, 2008

and then there were two... again

Sparky the Space Dog
October 1994- July 18, 2008

We said our final goodbyes to Sparky today... end-stage renal failure.

Sparky, I knew that when you didn't notice the rooster in the vet's lobby, that you were very, very ill.
Almost thirteen years ago I saw you at the shelter. A timid, but obviously intelligent dog... stuck in a cage for over 6 months and terrified of your bully cellmate. We brought you home, let you into the back yard and you ran. and ran. and ran. I've never seen a dog with so much energy. Your vertical leap was amazing! You almost hit the ceiling every time the doorbell rang.
You were the healthiest dog that I have ever had. That's a good thing, since you turned into "Evil Sparky" when you saw the vet. It took him ten years until he became your friend.
After Pumpkin died last year, you began to show your age. You must have missed your friend. I didn't even think that you liked each other.
I'll miss your boundless energy and your cuddles (you pillow hog) :)

the 3-musketeers a year ago

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sparky is really sick. She's eating, but barely, and seems so confused.
Earlier in the week, I made an appointment for her tomorrow for a routine vaccination and checkup. I'm really anxious for the appointment now. I wish it was in the morning instead of the afternoon.
She's been going downhill and finally showing her age the last few months. After having her age as 12 years on my sidebar, I remembered that we got her at the same time we bought the house, and she was a year old at that time. So, I updated her age to 13 (almost 14).
I'm worried about her.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's been a year

I've been blogging for a year. A year…
Actually, 13 months, but I finally have a chance to review...
It began as a way for me to document the deployment and it’s ups and downs. I never really thought that anyone would read what I wrote. Still, not very many do, but that is still more than the zero that I predicted.
I’m looking back at what has happened during the year. Some feelings that I wrote about seem so foreign to me now, and some seem so fresh.

my very first entry
I’m glad that I didn’t get my wish of a year-long hibernation. I would have missed so much.

I still cringe when I remember our trip home from San Diego.

There was a time when E3 was easier to catch . Man, that seems like ages ago!

A typical time of rest during the deployment, and a summary of all days.

I forget how much work was done around here in the last year. Now, Stuntman is home to enjoy it.

I finally told Stuntman my blog address.

We lost a furry member of the family. I still miss Pumpkin , she was one of a kind. Sparky’s health has really deteriorated since Pumpkin died. She must miss Pumpkin as well. I didn’t even think they liked each other.

I met a good friend face-to-face. She does exist
Later that month, I was tattooed.

My typical thoughts about the unit with whom Stuntman was deployed… I didn’t mention them a lot just in case anyone was reading. I didn’t want to rock the boat when Stuntman was with them, but the leadership totally sucked. There, I said it.

Stuntman returned home for R&R. R&R was just an odd experience. Stuntman was home, but not really here. We did the best that we could, but couldn’t forget that it was so temporary.

A memorable trip to Legoland, not.
… and I got old .

Stuntman’s love for me easily survived the distance.

Stuntman came home. Seeing him in person, and knowing that he would be staying home indefinitely, was one of the best feelings that I have ever felt.
… and life goes on.

After a year of trying not to worry each other, Stuntman and I have had many open conversations .

The last year has been a crazy and memorable experience. I’ve learned more about myself in one year than I ever have. Sometimes exciting, sometimes boring, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes full of love… and life continues…

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things missed (not by me!)

When Stuntman was deployed, this photo would NOT have been taken.
He caught a snake in the walkway (while it was busy eating a lizard). E1 retrieved the snake book and they all found the photo of the snake in the book to identify it before they released it.
A California King snake, I guess.
A good snake to have around since they eat rattlers... but I prefer to not see them this closely.

Helicopter Show

We attended the Heroe's Airshow on Saturday. We attend every year. It's a fun, free day for the family with a ton of great photo opportunities. This year, it was extremely well-attended. It was somewhat disappointing for us, because usually it is not crowded and easy to park, walk around, etc.. Luckily, we arrived early, so we had ample time before the crowds descended upon all of the displays. It took 30 minutes to exit the parking lot. 30. minutes. arrgh. We were laughing and cracking jokes most of the time while we were waiting in line, so that helped us avoid the frustration that could have been.
Here are a few pics from the day:
E3 inside one of the helicopters

E3 was looking for "the key!" for this SWAT vehicle.
Then spoke into the radio "niner, niner... I need a tank!"

What every toddler needs

a rescue demonstration

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My new method of BBQ Grill cleaning

Step 1- Remove all grill grates and place them on the patio

Step 2- Go into the house to retrieve cleaner to clean the grates

Step 3- Return outside to see all of the burnt on crud removed by the dogs

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

E3 has been an eating machine lately. I swear he eats more than his sisters do, combined. He awoke at 0600 today, again, starving, and has eaten his way through the day. He stuffed his face with grilled asparagus tonight at dinner, whoda thunk?
I’ll need to get a second job in order to feed him when he becomes a teenager


E1 had her very first sleep-over on Monday night. I saw that her friend was a little tired after she arrived, but didn't think much of it. Just after the girls went to bed, E1 comes running into my office saying that her friend was throwing up. Poor girl. I cleaned her up, tried to reach her father on the phone, no luck.
So, she spent the night on the sofa with a bucket in front of her. She was much better in the am with only one vomiting incident during the night. Still couldn't reach her father in the morning. Eventually, her father received the messages when he left his apartment (poor cell service and no land line). He felt horrible that his daughter became sick at our house, but I reassured him that it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't the first, or last, time that I'll need to nurse a sick kid through the night.
Hopefully, E1's next sleep-over experience is a bit more fun.
Thankfully, the mattress pad on the bed was impervious to liquid, so the mattress wasn't ruined, whew! Just a bunch of nasty laundry, yuk. I almost puked myself when I was doing the laundry.
So, we're waiting for the incubation period to be over in case the virus was transferred to the E's. fun. can't. wait.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rainbow Jello Recipe, plus bonus Margarita Pie

I meant to post this recipe earlier, but just haven't had the time.
Here is the recipe for the Rainbow Jello. (or whatever colors you decide to make it)

Begin with 7 packages (3 1/2 oz) of Jello. (I've only used the regular, never tried the sugar-free)
and 1 can of evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)

Layer 1: Dissolve 1st package of Jello in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Pour into 9x13 pan.

Layer 2 (creamy layer): Dissolve Jello in 1 cup boiling water. Mix in 1/2 cup evaporated milk.
Let cool to almost room temp and carefully pour onto first layer.
Refrigerate again.

Continue alternating Layer 1 and 2 , finishing with a Layer 1. You will have 7 layers in all.

- Use whatever colors/flavors you want in order to create your desired effect, Rainbow; red/white/blue; red/white/green; school colors, etc...
-I often use the following flavors (in this order) for rainbow layers, black cherry, cherry, orange, lemon, lime, berry blue, grape.
-Make sure each layer is firm before adding the next layer, and cool the liquid Jello before pouring onto the previous layer or they will mix.
-The flavor that makes the best white layer (for red, white, blue) is pineapple because it is a very light color. The 2nd best is peach (peach is used in the photo).
-Use another pan such as a Bundt pan if you want. When it's firm, place the bottom of the pan in warm water for a few minutes then invert it onto a plate.
-Ensure that your refrigerator shelf is lever, or use a towel under one side of the pan to keep the pan level.
-It may look like it takes forever, but it is super easy and doesn't take long. You can complete it during an evening of TV viewing or an afternoon of housecleaning. Make a layer, next commercial break start another layer, next commercial break pour that layer, next break begin another layer and so on. You can wait hours between layers if you need to.

OK, here's the bonus recipe that was requested so many times at the 4th of July BBQ:

Margarita Pie

½ cup butter, melted
1 ¼ cup crushed pretzels
¼ cup sugar

Mix all together and press into a pie pan. Chill

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup margarita mix
juice of 2 limes
zest of 1 lime
3-4 Tbs tequila (to taste)

Mix filling ingredients together. Fold in one small container of Cool-Whip.

Fill pie shell with filling and chill at least 4 hours in refrigerator or 2 in freezer.

Let sit at room temp a few minutes before slicing.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, we did. Everything didn't flow smoothly, but it was great anyhow.
We went to a BBQ at the cousin's house, and everyone was happy to see Stuntman. There were no off-handed comments this time, surprisingly, since many of those in attendance spend their weekends at anti-war protests. A few difficult questions that Stuntman handled well. I had a brat, but no beer. I forgot my good beer at home and didn't feel like wasting the calories on a tasteless one. My margarita pie was a hit and I need to email my recipe to everyone in attendance I hear. I had a bite of it, it was delicious.
We met up later for fireworks viewing with a good friend that just returned from Afghanistan. Stuntman and he chatted the entire time. I think he and his family will be over in the next few days for a BBQ over here. He has a 2 1/2 year old son and E3 and he enjoyed playing together. Only a couple tears, and that's good for two 2 yr-olds that are up past their bedtimes.
So, how was everyone else's day?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday USA!

I feel truly blessed to have been born in this wonderful country. It is easy to take for granted all of what we have here; all because of the brave ones that came before us over 200 years ago.
Today I’ll celebrate like many of you: a BBQ and fireworks. I’ll eat a delicious bratwurst from Wisconsin, and drink a tasty beer from there as well.
I wish everyone a wonderful day and weekend. A great big THANK YOU to all of those that are sacrificing time away from their loved ones today in support of this great land of ours.

Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Leaf blowers, Parachutes and Jello

I would not have thought of it... aiming a leaf blower upward in the middle of the living room into a parachute.
The kids had a blast trying to hold onto the edges as the chute danced around like a giant pink squid. Yes, the parachute is pink, it was a tie-dye experiment a few years ago.
Tomorrow is Independence Day, so I made Jello. I also made a bean salad and a margarita pie to share at the BBQ tomorrow afternoon. I'm only showing a photo of the Jello. The kids love it (and I admit, I do as well).

Just evidence that Stuntman and I are still kids.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Change of Habits

Last week, I decided that I needed a new swimsuit. I have a tankini that I love, but I would like to have an alternate one that has a low back that can show my tattoo. So.... I head to nearby Sport Chalet for a look. Swimsuit shopping sucks unless you're a SI swimsuit model. I realize that I've had 3 kids, and what I see in the mirror will never look like a 20 yr old again, but I decided to wait to buy another suit. At least the good memories in the Sport Chalet dressing room outweighed any depressing feelings while trying on swimsuits.
In the first days of dating Stuntman, he took me to Sport Chalet. We were heading to Catalina to go snorkeling (I don't do SCUBA like he does), and I needed to rent a wet suit. Have you ever tried on a wet suit? The first time trying one on is an interesting experience. I'm not the most coordinated person to begin with, so I had my difficulties in the dressing room. After I fell, and I mean FELL out of the saloon-style doors, Stuntman decided to help me. We laughed so hard!
Since my Adventures in Swimsuit Shopping last week, I've taken healthy eating a bit more seriously. I've hit the gym almost every day (I took off the day I detailed the RV, that was enough exercise).
I don't really want to call it a diet, that sounds temporary. Just a change in habits that I'll need to keep up for the rest of my life. Face it, I'm not 20 any longer, I can't eat whatever I want , whenever I want to, in the amount that I want. I know that "being busy" is not the same as "being active". So I need to take that up a notch. I'm hoping to buy a new swimsuit in August.