Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

I'm suffering from a case of pregnancy-induced insomnia this morning, so I've been up since about 4:00 a.m., when Camden appeared at our bedside, exclaiming, "I didn't pee my bed!" He's now fast asleep next to Steve, and I'm actually about to do some ironing - - something I have a hard time doing with a nearly three-year-old cyclone at my feet most waking moments.

Today I am thankful that my husband is alive and well - - that he survived a year in Iraq, and that he came home mentally and emotionally intact. Now that he is home, I find myself "forgetting" sometimes that he was gone for 17 months - - we kind of picked up where we left off when he came back, and got on with our lives. Then again, I often find myself wondering what it was like for him over there, day after day - - what did he think about, what did he worry about? When he went out on a mission, did he worry each time that he might die, or did he just go about his business? Knowing Steve, I'm guessing the latter. I actually think about these questions (and many others) quite a bit, but I don't ask him, mostly because I'm guessing he won't want to rehash all of that, and partly because I just don't want to know. It scares me to think about what he must have seen, felt, thought, and experienced. Maybe a bit selfish on my part, but I'm just happy that he is home and that I don't have to spend every day wondering what may or may not be happening to him, every waking minute.

No matter what your political views are, keep in mind that the majority of the soldiers who serve are extremely proud to do so. When I read about or see protests, with people demanding that our soldiers be "sent home" immediately, I find it almost irritating. Don't get me wrong - - I wouldn't wish a deployment to a war zone on anyone - - it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I guess what I am trying to say is that when someone joins the military, nobody is forcing them to do so. They do it because they are proud, strong, brave, and there is something within them that sets them apart from the rest of the population, whether they consciously know this themselves, as they are signing on the dotted line. I know my husband is one of those people - - he loves the Army and he is proud of what he accomplished while he was in Iraq. When someone joins the military, they don't do it with the stipulation that if they don't agree with the particular war, or their president, that they can opt out. They give of themselves unconditionally.

So, while you are enjoying friends and family today, and hopefully cooking out, please take a moment, whether publicly, or just in your head, to remember and thank the thousands and thousands of men and women who have given so much, to protect our freedom. Thank you, Steve and Rex, you are my heroes.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Steve and I just returned from Boise after a "night out" on the town. Camden is spending his first night away from home (and us) - - he's with Gramma and Grampa-Grampa (Steve's parents) in their camper. It was hard to leave him, especially when he started crying and said, "Mummy, don't leave me!", but the last time Steve and I had a date was last December, when my parents were here visiting. Pretty sad. When we got home tonight, we both admitted that we'd like to go and get him, because it felt weird not to have him in the house. Anyway, back to our date....
We decided to keep dinner low-key so we went to Tablerock Ale House. Steve had paella, and I had fish and chips...delish. After that, we decided to walk a few blocks over to Le Cafe de Paris for coffee and dessert. They make a great cup of coffee there, and have the most elegant French pastries. We rounded out the evening with a stop at WalMart (yes, we are pretty exciting), and now here I sit blogging, while Steve assembles his "commuter bike". This makes bike number three - - I do believe the man has a slight problem.
It was so nice to have adult conversation tonight, without constant interruption. Camden is at the age right now where it seems his mission in life is to prevent anyone (mostly Steve and I) from carrying on any type of conversation. We are working on breaking him of this, but it has been rather challenging. Steve and I are both quite bad at making time for each other, but neither of us seem to realize it, until we actually spend some time together alone. We'll need to work harder at that.
Have you heard the new Dixie Chicks CD? If not, go out and buy yourself a copy. Very, very good. I was telling Steve tonight that I find it quite annoying that because of a comment that Natalie Maines made about three years ago (about the President), their popularity has plummeted. She said she was ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush. That's all she said. Yet, earlier this week, Madonna kicked off her latest concert tour, where, at one point in the concert, she stages a mock crucifixion of herself, and at another point, superimposes Hitler's face over Bush's. However, Madonna is seen as simply risque, while the Dixie Chicks were made public enemy number one. Makes no sense to me. Then again, society in general kind of boggles my mind these days.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Random Babbling

I'm so happy it is Thursday - - I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so today is my "Friday". It has been a busy week and my house is a disaster, so I am itching to be home tomorrow with Camden, and have a chance to get some order back into our lives. As I get closer and closer to staying home full-time (it looks like August 31st will be my last day of work), I am beginning to see what a good decision it is for all of us. It seems to be getting more and more challenging to get us all out the door by 6 a.m., then commute for an hour, drop Steve off, drop Camden off, and then get myself to work on time. By the time we get home at night we are all tired, and it is just a mad dash trying to prepare for the next work day. But enough about that...

Laugh if you must, but I love American Idol. I'm so happy Taylor won last night. It was also rather exciting to see Prince perform on the show. I told Steve this morning that I am glad the season is over, because now I've just gained back two hours of my life each week. Sad, but true!

Thought I'd mention a few more noteworthy items I've come across recently:

*Starbucks Banana Mocha Frappuccino - whoever invented this drink is an evil, evil person. I'm quite sure I could drink at least three per day.

*Maybelline Superstay Lipcolor - my coworker, April, told me about this stuff...stay-put lipcolor with a stick of solid gloss to wear over the top - - it looks great and lasts all day. I love it!

*Rachel Ray's new magazine, called "Everyday With Rachel Ray". Great recipes and all kinds of great tips.

That's all, folks!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Recipe Monday (a day late): Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti

I love to make biscotti, and this is by far my favorite recipe.

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheet. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; mix into the egg mixture. Stir in the hazelnuts. Shape dough into 2 equal-sized logs, about 12 inches long. Flatten the logs into approximately 1/2 - 3/4 inch thickness. Bake for 30 minutes, until edges are golden and center is firm. Remove from the oven and cool on pans. When cool enough to handle, place log on cutting board and slice with a serrated knife into 1 inch slices. Place sliced side down, back on cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip to other side; bake 5 more minutes. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (if you own a vacuum sealer, these freeze beautifully when vacuum sealed). Enjoy!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Banzer Pake is here!

In lieu of recipe Monday, I will instead post that our nephew, Banzer Pake, was born a little over an hour ago at 7:25 p.m. He weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and is 20 inches long. The proud parents are Rex (Steve's brother) and his wife Kasey. Rex reports that Banzer has lots of hair, a cleft chin, and is "as cute as a bug's ear". I'm hoping to be able to go to the hospital on my lunch break tomorrow and see him.

Today, Dev and Steve worked on the house all day. Steve put the trim up in preparation for the new siding which is going on around the new kitchen window. Dev knocked the entire outside wall out of the 3rd bedroom. The doorway that leads into the house has been boarded up, and it is kind of weird to look at the room from the outside. Next weekend, they will fix the foundation and frame the wall and new window, then hang the sheetrock. We should have a room ready for tape and texture by Memorial Day (we hope).

Our other bit of excitement is that we are beginning the process of purchasing our nextdoor neighbor's home, and hope to begin moving in around the first of September. It is about twice the size of the house we are in now, and it is just beautiful. Our plan at the moment is to keep this house as a rental property. So, we have a lot going on here!

Camden is still missing his Nana quite badly. He's been a little off kilter all weekend, but I'm hoping he'll be back to his old self, once he goes back to Preschool tomorrow. Steve and I had our first experience with "night terrors" last night, when Camden woke up around midnight, shrieking bloody murder. Scared us both about to death! Camden never really woke up, but babbled a lot, was hysterical, and remained that way for about 10 minutes until all of a sudden he was sound asleep. Hope that doesn't happen again any time soon.

Griffin did lots of kicking all weekend, and now I can actually see my shirt moving when he is kicking. Earlier this evening, Camden came running up to me with a piece of biscotti and said, "Eat this, quick!! Griffin is starving!!" I just about died laughing.

Must get to bed. Speaking of biscotti, I'll post my recipe for that, tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The silence is a little overwhelming this morning, now that we are back home. We all piled into the car at 5 a.m. today. First we dropped Steve off at Gowen Field to catch a flight to Montana for the change of command ceremony for the unit he was attached to while in Iraq. He was excited to go, as he'll get to see a bunch of his buddies from the deployment. He should be arriving back late this afternoon. Then, we took Nana to the airport to catch her flight back to Maine. After we'd left her at the security checkpoint, we rode the elevator back down to the ground level, where Camden proceeded to burst into tears because he "missed his Nana". On the ride back home, he kept telling me that Blue Bunny had "tears comin' down" because Blue Bunny "missed his Nana", too.

Mum's visit was really great - - it was so good to have her here, and I was so happy that Camden got to have some bonding time with his Nana. I worked two of the days while she was here, so they were able to spend lots of time together. Mum is the perfect Nana, and Camden loves her dearly. Here are some great pictures from her visit:

Nana and Camden decided to try the sidewalk paint set, but Camden thought it was more fun to paint Nana

Nana took Camden to the Rumor Mill one morning for milk and donuts

We met Steve one day for a picnic lunch out at Gowen Field. Camden loved all of the "retired" army vehicles that he could climb in

Before "Girls Day 2006"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tea for Two

Today was a great day. Gramma Arnett came over to watch Camden so that Mum and I could go out and spend some quality girl time together. For Mother's Day I planned a trip to Miss Tami's Cottage and Tea Room. I'd never been myself, but have heard great things about it, so I thought it would be fun to take Mum. We had the best time! We had the Full Afternoon Tea. When we arrived at Miss Tami's, we were asked to pick out hats to wear while we had our tea, then we were shown to our table. The tea room was beautiful - - very Victorian and frilly - - just the way I like things. We chose a tea (mandarin orange green tea), and our hostess returned with a hot silver pot full. She showed us how to serve it properly, and educated us in the finer points of the tea party. Our first course was a delicious fruit cup. Next came a blueberry scone with cream. Then, she brought out a tiered platter with a wide assortment of tea sandwiches, fruit, petit fours, lemon squares, and tea bread. To end our meal, we each were served a demitasse cup filled with moulton chocolate cake. We were stuffed. It was such a fun, unique, and delicious experience.

Mum, serving up the tea

After we were finished, we had a great time looking around in the beautiful gift shop. We both found a couple of things we had to have (of course).

A little post-tea shopping

From there, we continued to shop for the afternoon. It was so much fun buying some things for Griffin, treats for Camden, and of course some things for ourselves. We had so much fun!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Baby News

Today was our 20-week ultrasound, and it was wonderful. Baby is doing great. Steve, Camden, Bev (Steve's mom), and Roberta (my mom) were there to see the ultrasound, too. We were not planning to find out what we are having, but about two weeks ago I began to have a strong urge to know. No good reason, really - - I just wanted to know. So, today we found out that we will be having another beautiful boy, and we couldn't be happier. I really didn't have a preference one way or the other, but the moment that the sonographer said "boy", I was so completely happy. I love Camden so much that I just cannot wait to have another little boy running around. After the appointment, we ladies (and Camden) promptly ran out and purchased a few "boy" outfits - - we had a great time.

We have also scheduled Baby's birth - - I had a c-section with Camden and will be having another with this baby. My doctor likes to perform c-sections during the week before the actual due date, and so we were able to choose any day we wanted, the week before October 3rd (Baby's actual due date). He will be born on September 26th, which we chose because my brother Kevin was born on the same date, back in 1968.

Finally, our son will be named Griffin Peter - - Griffin, because we like the name and Peter, after Peter Cox, a wonderful man who is no longer with us - - a man that Steve and I both loved very much. Life is good.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Recipe Monday: Mum's Famous Whoopie Pies

Anyone who is ANYONE back in New England knows what a whoopie pie is. Just about all moms know how to make them, and you can frequently find them at your local Mom & Pop store back east, usually located at the checkout counter in a basket, along with homemade fudge or cream horns. However, in Idaho, nobody has ever heard of whoopie pies. Can you believe that? My brother-in-law, Rex, loves whoopie pies more than anyone I know. Today is his birthday, and I make him a batch each year on his birthday, so this is what I will be baking today. My mom makes THE best whoopie pies in the world, and here is her recipe:

Cream together:
6 tbsp. shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend in:
2 cups flour
5 level tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Drop by heaping tablespoons full onto a non-stick cookie sheet. It wouldn't hurt to grease the sheet lightly, but it isn't necessary. Bake at 425 for 7 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.

Filling: (I usually double the recipe for the filling, because I like A LOT of filling)
3/4 cup shortening
6 tbsp. marshmallow fluff
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Spread a heaping amount of filling on one cookie, top with another. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Can you tell, Nana is in town? Here is Camden this morning, eating breakfast after Nana unpacked her suitcase - - he's got a chocolate chip pancake (from Daddy) , a milk chocolate car in his hands, and assorted chocolate surrounding him. Nothing like a good sugar buzz at 8 a.m.

Speaking of suitcases...Mum's luggage arrived around 10:00 last night. We were all waiting to learn the fate of the lobsters, and the outcome wasn't pretty - - those suckers were dead in a major way. They stunk to high heaven, were warm, and there wasn't any sign of movement. Needless to say, they did not enjoy their trip from Maine.

Today was a great day. We enjoyed a relaxing morning (Mum and I made a Target run), and then this afternoon, we met Rex, Kasey, Dev, Bev, Rod, and Candy (Kasey's mother and stepfather) at Cobblestone Park in Emmett for a cookout. The weather was great (90 degrees and sunny), the food was delicious, and the company was fun. Kasey is due tomorrow, and we're all guessing she'll have the baby within the next couple of days. Can't wait to meet him!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Flying the Friendly Skies

Well...where to start? Mum was due to arrive in Boise last night. When she arrived at the Portland, Maine airport yesterday afternoon, her flight out had been cancelled. So, back to Topsham she went. Arrived at the airport again today to find that her flight had been delayed. When she finally made it to Chicago, she'd missed her connecting flight to Boise. As I type, she is en route to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she will have to spend the night. She will arrive in Boise tomorrow morning at 9:14 a.m., fourteen minutes after the Race for the Cure begins. I feel so badly for her - - I know how much she was looking forward to this. I told her that once I pick her up, we still have time to make it back to the race location so we can partake in the festivities, even if we don't walk the race. Ironically, as of today I have a massively pinched nerve in my back, and can barely walk. So, I wouldn't have been able to haul my sorry butt 3.1 miles anyway. I'm actually sitting here wondering what the heck I am going to do in general. My doctor told me this pregnancy would either alleviate my back problems for a few months, or make them considerably worse (like it could get any worse), and I fear I am experiencing the latter. Mind over matter, I say!
Steve is currently on his way from St. Louis to Boise - - when we wake up tomorrow, he should be here. We've missed him terribly, and it will be great to have him home. Must get to bed now - - my goal for tomorrow is to work this kink out of my back, and take extra special care of my mom, who has had a rough couple of day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Points of Interest (in my humble opinion)

Here are a few things I've read/seen/eaten, etc. lately, that are worth mentioning...

Book: A Widow's Walk: A Memoir of 9/11, by Marian Fontana

Chocolate: Terra Nostra Organic yogurt and milk chocolate -- basically, an organic milk chocolate bar filled with a creamy valencia orange yogurt....fabulous (and organic, to boot!)

Article: "What I Wish I Had Known About Marriage", by Kristin Armstrong

Movie: Match Point (I'm not usually a fan of Woody Allen films --he directed this one but is not in it-- however, this was a very good film).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Recipe Monday: Overnight Caramel French Toast

I love to cook, and now that Steve is back from Iraq, I am happy to be cooking a lot more than I was while he was away. I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite recipes each Monday.

The following recipe is just great for Christmas morning, or any brunch. I found it in the December 2005 issue of Cooking Light magazine. My local store sells whole wheat French bread, so I like to use that for added nutrition. The end result is a very rich, sweet, sticky baked French toast. The best part about the recipe is that you can prepare it the night before, and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. The last time I made it, I served it with a bowl of fruit salad and a plate of deviled eggs.

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
Cooking Spray
10 (1-inch) slices French bread
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I prefer Madagascar vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour mixture evenly into a 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
2. Arrange bread slices in a single layer over the syrup in dish.
3. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread slices. Cover and refrigerate over night.
4. Preheat oven to 350.
5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over bread.
6. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 10 servings. Calories: 314 Fat: 7.2 grams Fiber: 1.1 gram

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Dog and His Boy

Before Camden was born, we were quite concerned with how Riley (pictured on the left) would react. Sadie (on the right) has always been a loner, and her original owner had been a daycare provider, so we didn't think twice about her. Riley, however, has been my baby for many years, and a very needy one at that. I adopted him in 1997 from the Bangor Humane Society, and Sadie joined us in 1998, when her owner decided to move to California, but didn't save room for Sadie. Riley and Sadie lived in the lap of luxury, until I got married in 2001, and they were both abruptly knocked down a few pegs, when their adoptive father came on the scene. However, they were still my babies, so when I got pregnant I started to wonder if we would find ourselves in one of those situations where we would have to "find a good home" for one or both of the dogs, because they wouldn't be able to cope with a baby in the house. We bought a book about preparing dogs for a new baby, which suggested wrapping a stuffed animal in a blanket and carrying it around, seeing how the dogs reacted. Riley freaked. Sadie didn't bat an eyelash. We grew more concerned. Then, we brought Camden home. Sadie barely took notice. Riley, on the other hand, acted as though he'd given birth to Camden himself, and has been madly in love ever since. He loves that boy more than life itself. Camden loves to hold Riley hostage in his bedroom. Riley doesn't care. Camden likes to drive matchbox cars up and down Riley's back. Riley sits there patiently. Sometimes Camden forgets himself and pulls Riley's ears or tail, or bops him on the head with something. Riley never seems to notice. He protects his boy, and if he's not to sure about a person, he won't let that person be alone with Camden. Sadie takes occasional notice, if there is food involved, of course. Riley, on the other hand, is hopelessly devoted.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

See what I mean?

So here it is, nearly a month later. I've meant to post - - I've thought about it - - but, alas, I have not. As you can see, I have been busy expanding at a frightening rate. While riding the elevator at work the other day, a stranger said, "You must be due any day now!" to which I replied, "Um, no, not until October." Egads.
Steve is out of town on Army-related business, as has been the case for the past two months or so. He will be home next Friday, and hopefully, will not be traveling again until July. So, Camden and I have been holding down the fort. When Steve is out of town, we slide back into our "deployment mode" routine pretty easily. The hard part is when Daddy comes back into town - - we usually experience a day or two of naughty behavior from Camden as he tries to readjust to having two parents to answer to.
The weather has been absolutely lovely the past few days, ranging from the high 60's to high 80's. Things are green at the moment, but it won't be long before the landscape turns to brown, and stays that way until next April. That's the desert for you.
My mom arrives next Thursday. She's coming for a long weekend to do the Race for the Cure with us. This will be her second Boise Race for the Cure - - we did it together in 2004 also. Steve will run the 5K, Mum will walk, and I, on the other hand, will probably waddle. I seem to be doing a lot of that lately, I'm embarrassed to admit. Camden will ride in comfort in the jogger. Mum has been cancer-free for 5 years now, so that makes this year's race extra special for sure. The best part about her visit is, she will also be here for Mother's Day, and for the "big" ultrasound on May 16th.
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