Monday, July 30, 2007

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Dad arrived early yesterday afternoon and we decided to grill up some steaks. My weather guy, Jeremy, said that we should be good to grill since any rain that might come our way would be gone by evening, so we went ahead and fired up the grill. At some point while we were eating, it began raining. Over the span of about 2 1/2 hours, we ended up with 3.4 inches of rain. Our backyard was flooded and I decided to take some pictures and sent them to Jeremy over at our NBC affiliate. A couple of e-mails back and forth and one of the photos I sent him ended up on their blog. I ended up the big winner for rainfall, which is a first. You can see it by clicking here! (you'll see my comment as soon as the page pops up, just scroll up to the top to see my backyard!) It's kind of fun to read the comments because it shows the progression of the rain.
You can also see the whole blog by clicking the link at the left or by clicking here. The kids had a blast running around in the rain and in the flooded areas. They were soaked by evening's end, but what's better than playing in the rain when you're a kid?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Evening Out

Mike and I had Paige babysit again last night (she would have babysat multiple times last week if we'd let her). We had a nice dinner at a place we've been wanting to try for a while. At one point, the server comes over to ask us how everything is and Mike and I both say "phenomenal" at the same time. She laughs and asks how long we've been married. LOL! Later, she gives us the check and we hand her our card. She comes back and says, "so I have to ask. Where are you from that you bank with ...?" Mike tells her that we moved here from Virginia. She tells us that she's from South Carolina and she's not happy here because people are rude. LOL!

After dinner (and this is the real story here), we went bowling. Our first game was awful for both of us. The second game we bowled was the best game of my life. I have no idea what happened between the first game and the second, but I was on fire! Take a look... Did you see my 4 strikes in a row? I'm considering going pro! LOL!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I think the kids have really let themselves go...

Butterflies Galore

This made me so made last night. I thought that the storm was heading for us but it moved just south. Jacob and I watched as it passed by litterally at the end of our subdivision. Luckily, it began raining a little later and we ended up with about .75" of rain.
I think that it's becoming butterfly season. We're definately seeing more and more in the yard. I took a picture of the two that I saw this afternoon. I'm not sure what kind this is but I think it's an Orange Sulfur butterfly. I can't be sure, though, since I didn't get a good picuture of it's wings open. I was actually surprised at how close it let me get. It really loved the Black-eyed Susans. This one, I think, is a Silvery Checkerspot. It was eating the clovers in the yard.

Friday, July 27, 2007

First One!!!

I just had to blog about how we've spotted our very first Monarch!!! My neighbor across the street (I used to think she was a crazy cat lady but I don't think she is) told me last night that she's excited about seeing monarchs and will be keeping a lookout for them. I'm just so excited!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monarch Waystation!!!

I was crazy jealous of Deb and her monarch caterpillars. I have everything we need to be certified...except milkweed. Until today! On a whim, we stopped by Lowe's this afternoon and I found milkweed! I bought 16 plants (10 is the registration minimum) and registered to have our yard certified as a Monarch Waystation!

I got this e-mail just a little bit ago:

Dear Barbara,
We are pleased to inform you that your Monarch Waystation application is currently being processed. The milkweed and nectar flower habitat you have created for monarch butterflies will be registered and certified as a Monarch Waystation - congratulations! You will receive your certificate and site ID via mail soon. You are now eligible to purchase an official Monarch Waystation sign - any number of these signs may be ordered for display at your certified site(s). Displaying these signs will educate others and with your help encourage your friends, neighbors, schools, and others to create additional Monarch Waystations. Monarchs need our help! Details about submitting additional materials (photos, complete plant lists, comments, etc.) for your Monarch Waystation record will accompany your certificate
Thank you for your interest in monarch conservation!

Orley R. "Chip" Taylor
Monarch Watch Create, Conserve, and Protect Monarch Habitats

How cool is that? And I didn't think we could do it until next year! Yay us!!! I ended up putting the milkweed in the front, since I had pretty significant butterfly host plants there to begin with, so that's the part that's certified. Next season, I'll add that back rectangle to the habitat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pretty Pretty Flowers

I've been working really hard on the yard this year. It's not how I want it, but this is my first growing season here, so I've got time. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with how it's been coming out. I've also learned what I like and what I don't in the yard. I just had to share some pictures (click photos to make them bigger). And, yes, I know I've got some weeding to do! LOL!

The backyard patch. This is where our monarch waystation will be. It looks better in person.

It's hard to see the flowers, but I've planted all annuals here. The ornamental grass came with the house.

This is my favorite part of the yard. In the spring, I got those rolly flower mats and this is what came up...zinnias, marigolds, black-eyed susans, just to name a few. It took almost two months for everything to bloom but it was worth the wait!

I let the kids pick out flowers to put in the empty bed by the driveway. The petunias (these are regular and not the wave) are going nuts! In the middle is a blushing bride hydrangea.

The hedge roses I planted along the side of the house. They're not fully mature yet but they are still pretty. Our newest addition...Hopper. We picked him up at the botanic gardens in Omaha. He happily guards a patch in the front yard.

Oh What A Night

Last night was a completely horrible night. I'm watching TV when Daniel says that he wants to sleep in our room because he can't sleep. I thought that if I slept with him for a few minutes, he'd be fine. Well, we just get inside the room when he says his stomach hurts. He then makes a mad dash for the bathroom where he proceeds to get sick everywhere. I go in search of some Pepto (that always makes them feel better) but couldn't find anything. Nothing like a midnight run for medicine. Anyway, I get back and he's sleeping. About 5 minutes later, he's saying he has to throw up again. At this point, Jacob wakes up (he had been sleeping in the same bed as Daniel) and flees from the bed. He's all curled up on the floor, trying not to hear what's going on in the bathroom. Daniel comes back in and tries to go back to sleep. At this point, Hannah's calling me. She's thirsty and can't breathe very well (she's been having some attacks lately). She gets a water and a breathing treatment. I go back to Daniel's room and see that Jacob's made it up to the top bunk. Good, he's not sleeping on the floor. I decide to sleep in their room and lay down on the bottom bunk. I just get to sleep when Daniel's up again. This situation went for most of the night, the last round being around 5 am. I heard Mike leave for work at some point this morning and soon after, Hannah was up. I have no idea how much sleep I got last night but I'm exhausted. Daniel's fine today and is all peppy and full of energy. Hannah and Jacob, too. Ugh.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Croppin' Again

It's been a while since I've sat down and scrapbooked. I've been putting it off since Daniel's birthday in February (most of my problem is scrapbooking the photos from Mom and Dad's visit in March and then the other photos from the beginning of April). I've gotten 85% of the pictures that need to go in an album printed, organized and ready to go but that hasn't helped (the other 15% are from late June through now). I decided it was time to get going on it before I got too much further behind and got 4 pages done. Not spectacular, but it's better than nothing. Not surprisingly, I stopped at the photos from the visit in March. If I continue at this pace, it should only take about 16-17 more days to get caught up. Of course, that would also be if I don't take any more photos, which is highly unlikely. LOL! I'm hoping that my average jumps to at least 6 pages a day. I think it will once I get past the ones of Mom. I just can't wait to be caught up!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!!

Today is my little man's birthday. Can you believe he's 8? His party was a hit. Lots and lots of Pokemon from his friends. He's proclaimed this the best birthday and can't wait to have home made macaroni and cheese with spinach cakes for dinner tonight (his favorite). Here are some photos...

Jacob holds the bowling pin that all of his friends signed for him

Jacob walks back after his turn

All of the party kids

Jacob blows out the candles while his best friend, Zephan, watches

We broke down and bought Jacob a Nintendo DS for his birthday...he sits on Paige's (our babysitter but apparently, our newly adopted daughter) lap while everyone watches.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Weekend Update

Wow it's been a few days since I've posted. Sorry about that. Mike's been home on vacation this week, so that's thrown things a bit. It has been nice to have him home, though.

When we came back from Nebraska, I went around and checked all of my plants. The ones that are planted in the ground were doing fine, the potted ones were a little wilty but it was nothing that a little water wouldn't fix. I was looking at my tomatoes and my cherry tomato plants were light on leaves. I looked down on the deck and saw all of these little poopies all over the deck. Ugh. Tomato hornworms. I searched and searched, but couldn't find any. Hannah comes out and spots one. Then another, and another. She found four and I managed to find 2. One was huge. Almost 6 inches long. Little bastards.

Hannah's still set on quitting ice skating. That's okay. Not only would it make my life so much easier, but then I wouldn't have to deal with her teacher anymore. I really don't like this lady. I don't think she's very good with kids in general and she never seems to want to be there. Thursday, Hannah fell while walking out and was crying...her teacher walked her to me and says, "she fell. I didn't see it." Then she walked away. Miss Charmin (yes, her name is Charmin), one of Hannah's teachers last spring and one of the heads of the rink, knows how much I hate this lady but there's not much she can do. I think there's only 3 more classes and then we're done. Hooray.

Hannah's really jumped into her new gymnastics and has said that's all she wants to do. She's discovered that she can do front rolls and does them all over the house. On Friday, they were working on hand stands and has been doing those wherever she can find an empty wall (they start out by walking their feet up a wall and holding them there). She's at the point (after only one day) where she can hold herself up really well. She's too cute. I am so glad that she's enjoying it and the bonus is she's learning a lot. I did have to laugh yesterday. We were driving down 151st, heading to class. 151st is a major road (think War Memorial, Knoxville, University...or for those of you in VA, Jubal Early or Pleasant Valley), of course, all of the roads here are major roads like that, unless you're in a subdivision. Anyway, we're driving along and there's a woman walking along the sidewalk. As she's walking, she's waving to every car that passes. I don't know why I found it so funny...I guess I could never imagine myself walking down University, waving at everyone.

Tomorrow is Jacob's birthday. Eight years old. Where has the time gone? We're having his party at the bowling alley and a lot of his friends are coming. He's really excited. Once again, everyone RSVP'd and we only had 2 "no" responses. I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Mike and I are going out for dinner tonight. Paige, a girl from Tae Kwon Do, is babysitting for us. It's so funny how much effort we've put into cleaning the house for a 15 year old. LOL! The kids are excited (they love babysitters) and Mike and I are looking forward to getting out for the first time in a while.

So, I guess that's it from here. Boy, this week's been pretty boring.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nebraska...Experience It! (and Happy Birthday Mike and Ev!!!!)

(I saw this on a wall at the Air and Space Museum and had to take a photo of it)

We left for Omaha earlier than I had expected to on Friday since Mike skipped lunch. We arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm and the kids desperately wanted to go to the pool, so that's what we did. The pool was perfect for them because it's deepest point was 3 feet. They had a big slide that the kids loved. (Don't forget that you can click on photos to make them larger)

Saturday, we went to the zoo. Aside from having the world's largest indoor desert and awesome aquarium, it wasn't any more special than any other zoo. That's okay, though. Hannah had a little toy camera with her and apparently, she was trying to take pictures right along with me. At one point, Daniel tells Hannah to take a picture of a shark and she yells, "I already did!" It was too cute. We all had a great time.

Jacob, Daniel and Hannah feel the sand
Meerkats!!! ( Because they are the coolest animals ever!)
The aquarium was cool. They had a tunnel you could walk through and the sharks and rays swam right above your head!

An outside view of the indoor desert. Hannah goes for a ride on Mike's shoulders.

We asked at the front desk about where good places to eat were and they directed us to Austin's Steakhouse. Jacob thought it was funny that they essentially gave him a fried chicken breast as his tenderloin. After dinner, we headed back to the pool.

Sunday, we were going to do the gardens and the drive-through wildlife safari but we didn't realize they were on opposite ends of the city, so we went to the safari, not knowing what we would do after. The safari was really cool. We saw bison and elk and got really close to a black bear. They had a gorgeous wildflower garden and Daniel dropped his hat behind a viewing fence. Mike wanted to jump in to get it but I told him no. He went to get help and while we were waiting, a group told him to just get it, so he did. LOL! They even helped him back over the fence.

Elk lounge in the water.
Cranes cross in front of us.
The bison try to cool off.
Hannah and I wait for help to arrive.
Mike jumps back over the fence with Daniel's hat.

We then headed to the Air and Space Museum which was just across the interstate from the safari. What a find that was! All three just loved it. They had a flight simulator that Hannah wanted no part of, so Mike and I took the boys. Funny story...Mike takes Daniel and they are struggling to keep it from rolling. Mike finally can't take it anymore and hits the stop button. Jacob and I get on and had requested auto pilot - Mike was mad because he didn't know that was an option. Needless to say, Mike and Daniel had a bad experience and Jacob and I had a great one!

Hannah enjoys a much tamer ride.
Mike and Daniel practice for their flight.
Jacob and I get ready to take our turn!
Jacob and Daniel rest on a plane tire.
This was the cutest plane I've ever seen! It was actually a running airplane, about the size of a small car.

Monday, we had planned on going to the gardens and then to the Western Heritage Museum. Little did we know that the Museum was closed on Mondays. So was the Children's Museum. Anyway, the gardens were really nice. They had a replica of Omaha with a mini train running through it, which was cool. They also had a koi pond that the kids loved.

A photo of Hannah and me on the tram (there are a lot of me on this trip!)
The mini Omaha.

Some wildflowers.

So, after we struck out with the two museums, we traveled to the Crook Museum. Apparently, this guy was an officer in the Civil War. It was very interesting.

As our last activity, we went to the Mormon Winter Quarters. We thought it was going to be something other than what it was. We ended up getting a history of Mormonism and their flight from persecution in Navoo. Hannah and Daniel got to dress up and Daniel decided to volunteer for everything that was asked (it was a guided tour). We then got to see a thing on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Hannah and Daniel have 15 seconds to load their wagons for travel!
Daniel has to count how many times the wheel turns ("1, 2, 3, 5") to judge how far they've traveled.
Hannah and Daniel try the hand cart.

It was a great vacation and it's sad that it was over so quickly. Hopefully, we'll take more trips like this!

Also, it's Mike and Ev's birthday!!! Happy birthday to both of you!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007


So, I'm reading a local parent's magazine (I actually look forward to picking this one up every month) and an article caught my eye. The title was Found Yourself in a Strange, New Land? Make Kansas Feel Like Home. As I'm reading, I'm getting ideas for stuff to do and whatnot and the author begins to share her own experiences moving here from California a couple of years ago. She then starts to talk about her neighborhood and how great it is because it's such a melting pot from around the country. Here's a line (my thoughts as I was reading are in parenthesis):

"'ll find that with a little effort, you can enjoy some camaraderie with your neighbors. Our street is dotted with families from St. Louis, Jefferson City, Indiana (hey! we have neighbors from Indiana), Ohio (we have neighbors from Ohio, too), Virginia (wait a minute! Who wrote this? Do I know a Jessica?), and California. The neighborhood has been blessed by different families planning Christmas caroling (we caroled last year! Does this girl live on my street?), housewarming parties and summertime playdays."

Turns out, the girl that wrote the article lives a few doors down from me! Too funny! Unfortunately, she's one that tends to not come out very often so I've never actually met her. I've waved to her a lot, though.


I have to say that I'm so happy that Dad warned me about the virus thing that pops up with something like "You've got porn on your computer." While I don't think that's what it said, that was pretty much the gist of it and I immediately knew what it was and yanked the power cord to the computer. It doesn't appear that any damage was done but it makes me so mad!!!! So, thanks, Dad for the warning and you all need to be aware that if you get a pop up that says something about porn on your computer, stop reading immediately and don't do anything except yank that cord...hit the power strip...whatever you need to do to turn your computer off as quickly as you can. I know it's hard...I really wanted to read what it said but if you do, it'll be too late, right, Dad?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Yay Me!!!!

Today has been a good day! We got the dog an appointment for her shots and boarding for the weekend and we got the hotel booked in Omaha. I also worked on getting my van plated in Kansas. The whole plate thing is a long drawn out story that starts with the loss of my title. Ugh. I'm sent away from the inspection station empty handed. No title, no inspection, no plates. This is according to the lovely lady that works the front desk. I talk to an inspector and I'm told that since I'm so close to expiring on my Virginia plates (the end of the month) they don't want me to have to drive illegally so go to the DMV and they'll help me work something out. Okay. Before that, I give the Virginia DMV a call (to get a duplicate) only to find out there's a lein on the van. Well, the bank never released it when we paid it off. Nice. A call to Chrysler and they'll send me a letter that'll come next week. I call Virginia back to find out if maybe they can fax something over only to find out that the bank actually sent the title to Iowa and they can't even help me anymore. I call Iowa and they tell me it's no problem. Fill out some form and mail it in and I should have a duplicate within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I head over to the DMV to see what I should do while I wait.

We get there and I'm terrified that I'm going to have a huge wait because the place is packed and they had just called number 148 (I had number 290). I didn't know that they had 3 seperate groups of people and numbers going so we got in and out a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Anyway, they call my number and I explain to the gentleman that the inspector said that we could work something out. The guy looks at me and says, "he did, did he?" and tells me to wait a minute. He comes back and tells me that as long as I have proof of insurance, they'll register the car. No problem. I've got the card right here. Okay. Go sit and wait for your number to be called again.

After about 10 more minutes, they call me up. The lady is sitting there with an actual Kansas plate in front of me and has me fill out a couple of forms and asks for all of my stuff. She tells me that they're going to go ahead and give me a plate (I was expecting a temp tag) but as soon as I get my title, I need to head over to the inspection station and get all of that done. No problem. 5 minutes later, we're out the door and my van has a Kansas plate on it.

I'm just shocked that they actually let common sense rule. Clearly, I had all of this paperwork saying that we own the van and was just lacking one little thing. Wouldn't have happened in Virginia. I can't tell you how much ID I had and they wouldn't give me a license because I didn't have an actual birth certificate. I really should be all inspected and good to go by the end of the month but it's nice to know that if it doesn't come before then, I'm good to go. Now, we need to get Mike's done (his should actually be easier than mine). The really funny thing is that this is the first time in about 3 years that all of my stuff matches. I have Kansas insurance with a Kansas driver's license with Kansas plates. LOL!!!

Is It Really Only Wednesday?

What a week already! The kids have been in the pool everyday and there was a little drama yesterday. Two girls from behind us have been coming in to swim and they are so annoying. Yesterday, they were fighting with each other and tattling to me about it. Sorry, but I don't care about your drama. After the third tattle, I told them that if they couldn't get along, they'd have to go home. A few minutes later, Jacob's out of the pool saying he's done because the girls are still fighting. I told them that's it - they needed to go home. They pretended to not hear me so I repeated myself. They got out and everyone (my kids included) went to Mikayla's house. Ugh.

I booked Jacob's party for his actual birthday on Monday. He wanted a bowling party so that's what we're going to do. He's really excited abot inviting all of his friends. I just hope they can make it because it's tough to get kids to come to parties in the summer.

Hannah is officially registered for preschool in the fall. The school comes highly recommended from several people and after talking with the school's director, I'm confident it's the place for Hannah. The program is three days a week which is exactly what I was looking for (many in the area are 5 days a week because of the insane kindergarten program) and is 2 1/5 hours long. Great location - right across from the kids' elementary school. The only drawback is that the only spaces left were in the afternoon. Really, it's not that big a deal, but I would have liked a morning program. Oh well. She's so excited about going to school and she'll still be able to go with me to MOPS. That's a good thing because she loves going to MOPS. I just can't believe she's going to preschool. Or that Daniel will be in 1st grade. Or that Jacob will be in 3rd!

This weekend, we're going to take a trip to Omaha, Nebraska. What's to do there you ask? Actually, a lot. They have a great zoo and museums and whatnot. The kids are so excited. I think they are more excited about staying in a hotel but I know I'm just looking forward to our first real family vacation. Not that I don't love you all, but this will be the first vacation where we're not visiting family. It'll just be us. Mike promised to leave work behind and said he won't even be bringing his cell phone. I have a feeling I'll be catching him late at night on my cell making secret calls. LOL! Seriously, it should be a blast!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Whatcha Got Cookin'?

I'm desperately trying to find new things to cook for dinner. All of my reliables are more winter dishes and don't seem appetizing when it's 90 degrees outside. So, I've been hunting around and trying some new things. Tonight, I made grilled chicken with cous cous - not out of the ordinary for us, but, I also made ratatouille. I have to say was a little intimidated since I don't cook eggplant often - okay, never, but I figured it was worth a shot. The kids were really excited about it. Jacob was thrilled, until he saw that it was all veggies. I have to give him credit, though. He tried every vegetable that went into it and almost liked the yellow pepper. He did say that he loved the seasoning.

The house smelled fantastic from it. Daniel and Hannah loved it. Daniel wouldn't eat anything else until he'd eaten it all. He kept saying, "I love ratatouille!" I guess this is one that I'll have to make often. It leaves such a good taste in your mouth. Yum.

Tomorrow, I'm making meatloaf, rice and okra with tomatoes. That just sounded so fresh and summery. Wednesday, I'm trying a slightly different pulled pork recipe with homemade coleslaw. I'm not a real fan of coleslaw but maybe if I'm in control of what goes in it, I'll like it better. The funny thing is, I like almost everything that goes into coleslaw. I love cabbage and carrots and I'm a fan of all things mayo. Hmm. I'll keep you posted.

And just in case you're feeling like something new, here's the Ratatouille recipe

1/3 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed (I used a lot more because we love garlic)
1 onion, sliced
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 tsp dry oregano
1/4 tsp dry tarragon
1/4 tsp dry thyme
1/4 tsp dry savory (I didn't have this so I omitted it)
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/8 tsp ground corriander seeds
3 cups eggplant, diced into bite size pieces
1 small zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
one pint cherry tomatoes (I actually used grape and cut them in half)
(I also used one yellow squash because I love them, but the recipe doesn't call for one)

Heat the oil in a large pan (I used a large skillet) over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, oregano, tarragon, thyme, savory, fennel seeds and ground coriander and cook until onion is soft.

Add the eggplant and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes. Add zucchini, pepper and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 more minutes. Cooking times depend mostly on how you like your veggies. If you like them crunchier, cook less. If you like them softer, cook longer. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (or you can do this ahead and reheat)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Block Par-tay!!!

Tonight, we had our block party. It was huge! Early in the evening, there were games for the kids and then a couple of neighbors grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. One of the kids on the street has a band and they played a couple of songs for us. They also hired a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band to play, which brought noise complaints from several streets over (we had a permit). I could understand the complaints if it was, oh, 10:00 or something. But it was 8:30. Give me a break. The cops were offered some food and told us that they'd probably be back before the end of the night (they were - it didn't help that a fight broke out, which I missed because I ran back to the house for a minute).

Jacob was just enamoured with the band. During one of their breaks, Mike took him up and the drummer gave him a drumstick. He ended up giving Daniel and Hannah one too and even signed the sticks for them. Jacob's so proud of his new treasure. Anyway, here are some photos from tonight.

A couple of photos of the cul-du-sac

The kids' band performs.

Our neighbor, Larry (in the yellow shirt) and another neighbor (I really need to learn some names) grill for everyone. Later in the night, I told Larry that it was some good grilling and he said to me, "I do it all for you, Barbara. All for you!" LOL!

Hannah bounces in the bouncy house
Jacob, Daniel and Hannah pose with T-Rex, the drummer.

Hannah, Daniel, Jacob and Mike dance to Freebird.

The firetruck comes down the street so the kids can get a truck tour. (And a fairly good picture of our house!)

Our neighbor, Paul, helps Daniel with the can knock-over booth while the firemen look on.

Jacob does the sack race with Courtney and Christy.