Friday, November 19, 2010
After the run we collected Greg and Ben, then returned to the parade area to stake a seat in the bleachers. We waited in the cold, on the bleachers, for over 2 hours for the coin ceremony to begin, but it was necessary because a lot of other people did that too in order to be seated where they could see their airman. When Jim's squadron came, they stood directly in front of us. The coin ceremony is where each airman receives a special commemorative coin that signifies he is no longer a trainee, but an official Air Force airman. This was the first time I saw him, but while I was in the gift shop during the waiting period, the rest of the family saw him walk right by our bleachers. He told us later he was walking to the auditorium to practice for the honors ceremony.
After the coin ceremony we were able to down to where Jim was standing, and that was the first time we were able to touch him and speak to him! It was wonderful! From there we went to the honors ceremony, then off to our day together--but we had to stay on base. We went to lunch together at mini mall food court. It was crowded, and we had to split up, but I was able to watch Jim throughout lunch from my vantage point! Next we went to the PX and the Commissary, first time most of us had ever been in those military installations. From there we went to pick up Jim's military photos, but they were closed, so that will be a tomorrow task. We sat and talked with Jim for quite awhile at a picnic table--he wasn't allowed to come to our rooms, but he said he thinks he will be able to do that tomorrow. He isn't allowed to drive, so he asked us to take him to a store where he checked out suitcases, and then it was back to the barracks for him. Bri walked him to his dorm, and then called us to come pick her up where Jim dropped her off. I'm glad she had that opportunity with him.
In the evening we were all pretty exhausted from the emotions of the day, but we enjoyed some pizza (not the best!) together in our room and then played several rounds of Uno before calling it a day. Looking forward to graduation tomorrow!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Greg was a big help packing. He found the bottle of oil Steve made us take along for our poor old 2001 van, in case it gets thirsty along the way. He also remembered a few things that I would have forgotten, being the rather ditzy person that I tend to be in excitable situations. Mom has been indispensable all along the way as well. I'm glad to have them as my travel partners.
We left home around 1:50 PM on Monday, Nov. 15. The GPS, which Gram has named Maggie, guided us expertly. I drove most of the way, but Greg took over when I had a meeting to attend online at 3:00. Around that time we ran into some heavy traffic in MD including major truck traffic, so Greg was happy to give back the steering wheel.
We found a Shoney's at dinner time in VA. Greg had never heard of Shoney's, but Gram and I were familiar with it from our experiences in the South. It was an ok meal. Greg and I were at the buffet at one point and when we came back, our seat was damp. Gram said the waitress had been filling our waters and had made a major spill. I was disappointed that I wasn't seated at the time; I might have ended up with a free dinner (although I guess my clothes would have been uncomfortably damp for the remainder of the trip!)
I wanted to snap pictures of the state signs as we approached them, but Greg was usually driving and refused me this pleasure since he was afraid we'd get annihilated by an 18-wheeler while out of the vehicle. I did get some photos of the traffic and a few water towers along the way.
Around 7:00 in the evening my cell phone rang while I was driving and Greg excitedly announced that it was Jimmy! I practically screamed into the phone at the poor boy because we hadn't heard from him in 4 weeks (other than a few letters during that time). I believe my exact first words to him were, "Hi Jimmy! We're in Virginia! We're in Virginia!" It was great to hear from him, especially on an unprecedented Monday evening. He has always called on Saturdays before that. He told us that it's getting colder and wanted to make sure we were dressed warmly. He also said he needed us to bring $65 because he owes people money. When he left, they told him not to bring more than $20, so I'm not sure who he got the money from or what he needed it for, but his mommy and daddy will supply his needs!
Steve had determined that we would stay in Kingston, TN the first night, and we made it there before 11 PM. It was a welcome sight--and a wonderful place to stay! High ceilings, two rooms in our suite with French doors--very nice. Really comfy beds. We didn't want to get up in the morning! Hence, our 9:30 departure time on Morning 2. The best part of all was that it was a free stay due to Steve's massive number of Holiday Inn Express points gained over the years.
All in all, a four-star first day on the road.
Monday, August 16, 2010
So about the chinchilla thing. We've been hearing a lot about chinchillas lately from Ben. Keep in mind, he's an animal lover. That's why at the tender young age of 14 he is happily working at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Since he's only 14 and this is his first year, his working options are limited to the souvenir shop and the petting zoo, but that's ok with him. He is on a first-name basis with the guinea pigs and is a self-proclaimed baby goat protector when the little kids get too aggressive with their attempts to pet the animals gently!
Since a guinea pig can be obtained at Lake Tobias for the low low price of $5, we figured Ben would start asking for one his first week of work. Amazingly, it has taken 4 months before he's asked--but last week he did mention that he has his eye on a guinea pig with black feet. However, this request was short-lived because he started thinking about chinchillas again. He said this week it's either a chinchilla or a monkey. Since I don't like the price tags attached to monkeys OR the care they require, I'm opting for the chinchilla. So let's review what Ben has learned about chinchillas.
- can live to their 20's
- multi colors
- need a fellow chinchilla so they don't get lonely
- dust baths rather than water baths
- can't have the environment overly hot
- need a place in the cage to hide
- eat chinchilla chow
- like to gnaw and have to do it to keep teeth short
We have also viewed Youtube clips of chinchillas getting massages. Then Ben explored Craig's List and found a pair that have to find a new home together--can't be separated. They are five years old. One's a male and one's a female. Makes me wonder how many little chinchillas they've created over the years.
I was looking forward to getting this huge dog kennel out of our front hall now that Lexi has stopped chewing our shoes when we're away, but it looks like it's inevitable--I will have to replace the kennel with a chinchilla habitat. I just hope the chinchillas, being a little bigger, fare better than the hamster we had that got stepped on by accident and was renamed PopEye. Or the hamster that was accidentally left outside in its glass cage and got baked in the sun (that was very sad!) Or the white hamster that disappeared in the drain pipe in the backyard and never came back out (I hope his fate was less traumatic than the sun thing!) Of course, those mishaps occurred ages ago when everyone was a little less responsible. I think the chinchillas will be happy here as long as they can handle the German shepherd drooling at them through their cage bars. That could be a little intimidating day in and day out if you're a fuzzy little fella.
At least Ben hasn't developed a love for reptiles. They do have alligators at Lake Tobias...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
On the way home we navigated through temperatures of 110 degrees at 5:30 PM. Before that we toured the USS North Carolina which was docked in...North Carolina. :) Steve especially enjoyed that side trip. I think it was his favorite part of the week. He's been talking about teak decks, torpedoes, and gun turrets ever since!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
So anyway, after all of that, we finally head home which is a half-hour away, and Steve texts me and says it's raining at home. I ask him how he knows this. He says he looked out his office window and noticed it was dark up our way, so he went online and checked the Clarks Ferry Bridge traffic cam, and the roads were wet. (How many people do you know who would know to do this?) So with Greg at the wheel we headed for home to try to rescue those clothes, but by then we could see how dark it was getting "up north" ourselves, and I figured we wouldn't make it in time, so I tried calling Ben to tell him to run out and get the clothes off the lines. Couldn't reach him. I knew he was downstairs playing xBox, and since Jim sleeps down there sometimes, the ringer is turned off on that phone extension so it doesn't disturb Jim's beauty sleep. I also couldn't reach Ben on his cell phone because it is malfunctioning, and the new one is on order. But then the light bulb went off, and I thought to call Mike, Ben's xBox buddy. Sure enough, he confirmed that they were playing a game online, so he was able to notify Ben for me. But when we finally got home through the driving rain (with an inexperienced driver at the wheel, no less), we saw that most of the clothes were still on the lines. Ben was only able to get a few items in before the rain hit full force.
That really was quite the rain storm. We had thunder and lightning too, and a barn near our home was struck and went up in flames. We saw this on our way home and it about made my hair stand on end.
So the next day was really humid and soupy and the clothes still didn't dry by evening, so you'd think I would have checked last night's weather expectations to see if more rain was expected. I did not do this. I am not always a fast learner. So all last night and so far this morning, the clothes have enjoyed a second soaking. :( And I guess later today I will enjoy bringing in dripping clothes to re-wash them. Lots of dripping clothes. I can hardly wait for that chore.
In the meantime, I am taking Ben to work and going to breakfast at the local coffee house with my mom before she heads for home today. Dripping clothes can wait. Cappuccino and muffins cannot. :)
Friday, June 4, 2010
Over Memorial Day weekend we camped with the Coldirons at Camp Swatara. Love it there! A nice family-style campground. We didn't get to stay nearly as long as we would have liked due to Ben's work schedule, but we are definitely glad he has a summer job, so we'll take the occasional drawbacks his schedule incurs.
Packing wasn't bad this time. Nobody got mad enough to throw anything, and we didn't forget anything major. Remembered the camera, the tent, the food...but turns out we didn't need much of the food because we mooched off the Coldirons a LOT. Hey, I can't help it that they remember every minute detail! They even had flour for frying the freshly-caught fish! If they are this good while tenting, I can't imagine the stuff they'll bring when they graduate to their camper!
One of my favorite things to do that weekend was go out on the pond in the Coldirons' kayaks. I would love to get some of those of our own. I'd like to take them out on the lake at Gifford Pinchot. SOOOO peaceful while you're paddling out there on the water, and the kayaks are really manageable unlike a bulky canoe.
Another favorite thing was just sitting around the campfire with our friends. There's just something about the smell of the smoke and the crackling of the fire, which is blue and green because the boys have thrown things in it that make it burst into color! And of course there were s'mores the first night--with peanut butter, which again the Coldirons introduced us to. I nag Steve about being "rut boy" because he never wants to do anything daringly out of the ordinary, but I am 40 something and never put peanut butter on my s'mores before now! Sheesh, I wonder what else I am missing?!
And I loved all the picture-taking. Seems like everyone had a camera and was snapping pictures everywhere. Once I saw Jimmy lying flat on the pond deck to get a better shot of something out on the water. It's always fun, later, to see the photos arrive on FB and see the different perspectives that the various photographers had. I loved the picture of Caleb with the box turtle, and Greg appearing "headless" in the doorway of our tent in the morning! Or Ben, Jim, Caleb, and Mike enjoying the Coldirons' hammock. Wow, that thing never got a rest the entire weekend!
I was glad that I wasn't along when they found the copperheads. It seems that wherever the boys go, there go the copperheads too. They seriously seek those things out, I swear! I guess that's part of being a boy, because I had fun as a kid too but it never involved copperheads!
One reason I had so looked forward to camping was to get away from home and away from the computer for awhile. It's been a little stressful at work lately, just your typical end-of-year stuff I suppose. A little more worrying about things this year, and like one of the questions on that personality assessment I recently took--"Do you worry about things you can't change?" Yes, I always have! But when you can admit that you do that, it can also force you to think of ways that perhaps you CAN change something. In that case, you can stop worrying and start working to enact the change. So even though it is now mid-year, my New Year's resolution is to stop worrying so much and stop procrastinating too. Procrastination is something I am totally hung up on and need to get over. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this is something I'm quickly becoming convicted about. (Did I just end a sentence with a preposition??) In my life, procrastination tends to lead to mishaps that cause me to have something to worry about. (Preposition again!) So, to eliminate the worry, I have to eliminate the procrastination. Thanks for letting me talk through that on here!
So all in all, it was a great camping trip. The only way it could have improved would have been to make it a little longer. Of course Susan didn't stay much longer than we did, but I think that will change when she gets to bring her camper next time! I don't know though...I really like waking up on a sunny morning in the tent, bundled in a cozy sleeping bag. Unless there's a spider in the bag with me, which this time, luckily, there was not. I am hoping we can camp at least one more time this summer.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
It's shaping up to be a busy weekend with all 3 kids going in different directions. Greg's going to a movie with friends, Ben's supposed to be going paintballing with a group from school, and Jim will probably be with his little female friend. Also, I am taking Mom to a ladies' lunch at our church on Saturday. It's been great being home for a change this week to sort of get back to the normal routine, but after this weekend I think I'm going to need to get back to work on Monday just to take a breather!
This past Monday I had the privilege of accompanying the Harrisburg Christian School high school choir to a performance at the Forum. They sang "You Lift Me Up" in a memorial service for the PA officers who fell in the line of duty in the past year. It was a very touching service. There were many state dignitaries there, including Governor Spendell who came in late (I understand he did this last year too). I realize that as Governor he must be very busy with many obligations, but to come in near the end of the service rather than being there at the beginning seems to me as if he was trivializing the service. Or maybe just wanted to make a grand entrance? I was further irritated when he sat there on the stage in full view of the audience and talked, smiled, and laughed with the gentleman beside him during the somber proceedings. The choir members had received a good "talking to" prior to their arrival so that they would understand the solemnity of the service. The kids were so much better behaved than the Governor! Spendell also used his speech as a political rally for Obama and gun control. I would have loved to stand and walk out during that part. :( Despite my feelings toward the Governor's political stance, it was somewhat gratifying to see my children on the stage with him and the other legislators. It was quite an honor for the choir to be asked to perform for the grieving families, and I was thrilled that my boys were able to be a part of this event.
In addition to our illustrious Governor, I also was face-to-face with Mayor Thompson for a brief moment. She was walking out at the end of the service flanked by her guards (???), and as she walked by us chaperones, she smiled and said "Bless you". That was interesting. It happened so fast I don't think I even had time to give her a polite smile in return.
Ben seems to have made the decision to return home for school in the fall. I have to say that makes me very happy! I love being with my children during the day. I think we can create a very positive and enjoyable high school experience for Ben through Agora and local home school co-ops and events. But I am glad that he had this one last opportunity to participate in this event with his HCS peers. It was a wonderful honor, and I enjoyed seeing the boys interact with their friends. Even though I had plenty of catching up to do at work afterwards, it was definitely a day well spent.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
As much as possible, I like to take family members with me when I travel. I mean, the hotel room is being paid for anyway...may as well fill it up! Mom was my travel partner to Johnstown this week. Since she's older and doesn't really fly planes, bungee jump, or go on skiing excursions, hotel stays are a real thrill for her! One night she made us strawberry shortcake with little individual sized angel cakes and strawberries she had bought that day. When she comes with me, I work during the day, then we play in the evenings. One night we ate at a Chinese buffet which was quite good, and they had instrumental music playing...hymns, actually...the whole time. Mom really liked that. :)
The first day of testing I had a bit of a rough time of it. I tend to not pay attention to inconsequential little things while traveling like, say, exit numbers. I mean, the Gypsy (Jimmy's GPS) squeals at me every time I have to turn or divert from my forward track, so why should I think for myself? Well, this time it caught up with me. I got lost on 219 and drove back and forth a few times while getting more and more worked up. I finally figured out that I was on "off road" mode. I put the dang GPS away and didn't use it the rest of the week. The day only got worse though. I ended up leaving my computer behind at the conference center and had to go back for it. By now my contact person there...who is also named Bill!...knows me pretty well and told me they were considering trying to sell my computer on the street to see what price it would bring!
Mom and I decided that after that first day I needed some retail therapy, so we rummaged in some thrift stores and I ended up with a jean jacket with leopard print collar and cuffs that I don't think was ever worn at all. I also picked 4 like-new pairs of shoes. Now, I don't tell just ANYBODY that I sometimes shop in thrift stores, so I'm glad that like only two people are going to read this! By the time I have 1,000 followers, this post will be well buried and my secret will be safe! Anyway, the retail therapy worked. The rest of the week went great!
It has been nice to be home for the weekend. Steve had fresh flowers for me when I got home...in several different places, and with baby's breath from our own back yard! VERY thoughtful of him and so nice to come home to my family and the flowers!
Today we went to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park because it was Ben's training day. Families were invited to visit for free. It was very nice to have Jimmy along, and I think he had fun just relaxing and visiting with his old pals there...seeing the park from a visitor's standpoint rather than as an employee had to be refreshing. We enjoyed hanging out with him. I guess it wore him out though because he didn't spend much time with his little blonde friend later before he came home and went to bed. Usually we don't hear about his brief hospitalization due to mono last December unless he is using it to get out of something (I can't help Dad rebuild the brick incinerator...I have mono!) but sometimes I think it really does sneak up on him.
Tonight we had baked spaghetti for dinner, and then I spent some time stalking people on FB. I saw that Susan's camper is getting closer to being usable. I'm happy for her, but I'm still a tent dweller and I don't see that changing! I told her that when we camp together over Memorial Day, if it rains, I'm claiming the area under the camper!
Monday, April 19, 2010
I am the sole female (except for our German shepherd and our beagle mix) in a household of 3 teenage boys and one humor-loving husband, hence the title of this new endeavor. My husband has often asked me if I enjoy being the only female in our household, to which I always reply that yes, I love being the princess! If a jar is too difficult to open, there are plenty of offers to help me. If the clothes basket is too full after emptying the clothes lines on a brisk and sunny day, someone will lug it inside for me. And if I have had a long day at work (at home, as a cyber school teacher) and decide to forego a healthier dinner and choose to order pizza delivery instead, no one is going to give me a hard time about that!
It seems that many people get a kick out of the Facebook statuses I post. I'm happy to be of service in entertaining people and bringing a smile to someone's face. So when someone recently suggested I try blogging, right on the heels of my viewing of Julie and Julia, I decided to go for it. And I'm looking forward to expounding on some of those statuses. I hope you'll join me for many blogs to come. Happy reading!