29. September 2008 · Comments Off on Relaxing Weekend · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Not quite that relaxing.

I figured I’ve give a little briefing on our weekend…we didn’t do a ton, but we had a nice time.

On Saturday, we started with a family bike ride. Dave wanted to step up his workouts a little, so he volunteered to pull the boys in the trailer on the trail. It was really tough since both boys together are now about 90 lbs…and it’s a tight squeeze for the boys, too. After several instances of fighting and one hitting episode in the trailer, by the end of the ride Dave and I we so frustrated that we decreed that if Jake wants to join the family on any more bike rides, he has to supply his own transportation.

We started near Offutt AFB and rode towards the northwest into Papillion. I’d say we went about 10 miles total.

Afterwards, we joined our neighbors Steve and Alissa, who lives behind us, for a smoked brisket dinner, cupcakes for their daughter Dawn’s 4th birthday, and Penn State football on Pay-Per-View! ABC was nationally televising the PSU-Illinois game in part of the country, but here ABC was showing Nebraska-Virginia Tech. Go figure. Steve is a Michigan State grad, so we can all say “Let’s Go State!” together, no matter who! We had a nice time hanging out drinking beers (and Woodchuck Cider) with our new friends, while the kids played and watched videos in the basement.

On Sunday, the family slept in (anything past 7:30am is “sleeping in” for the boys). Mom and Dad weren’t out of bed till after 8am, and we wanted to be out the door by 9 for Sunday school! Yikes! We quickly dressed and had breakfast and were out the door for church about 5 minutes late. That’s okay…Jake’s Sunday school class started late today anyway.

After church we hit Home Depot for the supplies for Timmy’s R2-D2 Halloween costume. A small bullet garbage can, white, silver and royal blue spray paint (the trash can is this iridescent beige color) and some masking tape. More on the costume later this week as we get to work on it. Dave will need to cut the bottom out of the trash can, then we’ll have to craft some sort of suspenders out of white duct tape (left over from Jake-the-Astronaut from 2006). Timmy’s arms will be R2’s side legs.

This afternoon we had visitors from NORTH CAROLINA! Yes! Some friends from our church in Cary, Kathryn Vollmer and her sister Ruth Schwasinger, are in town this week and paid us a visit. To our knowledge, Kathryn’s and our Vollmer families aren’t related going back several generations. Her part of the family is from the midwest, ours is from Pennsylvania.

So Kathryn and Ruth are both U. of Nebraska graduates and next weekend is Ruth’s 50th reunion! So Kathryn and Ruth are here for about 1 1/2 weeks visiting friends and family, and next weekend they’ll get to enjoy (?) the Nebraska-Missouri football game. Since Missouri is ranked #4 this week…we’ll see.

Kathryn and Ruth stopped by for about 2 hours…they’re quite a pair. If you are a fan of the movie “A Room With A View”, Kathryn and Ruth remind me of the “Miss Allens”, “Catherine” and “Teresa”. Two older sisters who enjoyed life to the fullest, traveling and spending time with friends. We spent the time talking about a wide variety of topics: books, movies, the economy, and our recent travels.

(Side note: “A Room With a View” is my favorite movie in the universe, for those who didn’t know.)

Made steaks for dinner, and enjoyed a relaxing night of watching “The Amazing Race” (beekeepers?) and the final episode of “Feasting on Waves“.

I think I’ve officially recovered from this crazy busy week — I have 3 days of further catching up before I head to South Carolina for 4 days of work.

25. September 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Timmy has recently started asking me to swaddle his favorite Webkinz, Thomas the Yellow Lab. I give him a nice tightly bundled Thomas right before bed every night and he cradles him like a baby.

So tonight I gave the boys a digital photo album tour of when they were swaddled as babies:

This is possibly the only picture I have of Jacob successfully swaddled. He couldn’t stand it! In a matter of minutes he’d wriggle out and arm or a leg.

Timmy, on the other hand, LOVED it. Perhaps it’s because Timmy was born in January and it was a little chillier…yes, even in Florida. Both boys were born in Melbourne, FL.

One of the bazillion differences between my two boys…enjoy!

24. September 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

At least for this week…

…and part of next week…

…and a teensy part of the following week.

After a 2 1/2 month hiatus, Monday was my first day of doing any reserve work. My first workday since we moved to Nebraska. I’m working every day this week here in the local area, telecommuting with my Reserve Unit I’m still assigned to in South Carolina.

So I’m sitting in an unoccupied office right downstairs from Dave’s cubicle.

Yes, I have an office…he has a cubicle.

No, not even. He has a desk in a large area. No walls. He’s okay without them…

Anyway, while it’s great to be back doing good stuff for the Air Force, this is Timmy’s indoctrination into a full-time child care center. We’re using one of Offutt Air Force Base’s child development centers, which is a top notch center…the military’s child care center standards are stricter than any of the 50 states, so you know it’s good! We will be able to use the center full time when I take my trip to the desert in January.

In North Carolina, Dave took time off to watch the kids or else one of my friends would watch the boys while I worked. When I worked in Norfolk, my Mom would watch one or both of the boys. Definitely one of the things I miss about living in the east.

Dave dropped off Timmy on Monday and when we picked him up 9 1/2 hours later, he wasted no time telling us what a great time he had. He was even okay with going back again Tuesday.


So I got a bit cocky and figured I could drop off Timmy today. I walked him to his classroom (the Purple Room) and he went right over to the circle area where a teacher was reading a story. I said goodbye and walked right out. But then I forgot to leave Timmy’s backpack with his change of clothes. Without thinking I walked right back into the room — Timmy saw me and proclaimed that I can’t leave without him. And he ran over to my leg and made quite the scene.

Thankfully, the teachers were good about peeling him off me and diverting him so I could sneak out.

When I picked him up today, he again seemed okay. He showed me more artwork and talked about some friends he made.

As for Jacob, he’s enrolled in a before/after school care program run by his school. So he goes to school early each morning, and we pick him up at the school once we get home. Jake enjoys going to Kid’s Time with his classmates.

On top of the full time work this week and the full time child care, we still have soccer this week, and I’m still trying to keep the kids fed. Monday was absolutely nuts — I feel like all of my interaction with my boys on Monday was drill sergeant style:







I was exhausted beyond recognition last night — I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and didn’t feel a thing until my alarm clock went off this morning.

Tonight wasn’t quite like that — no soccer, for starters. I was able to make a nice baked chicken dinner for the family. I did some light house cleaning and caught up on bills. And wrote this blog.

PS: Late next week Dave goes solo — he has both kids and he’s still working, while I hop on a plane and fly to SC for 4 more days of work. I’m playing major catch-up on the workdays, I shouldn’t be required to work again until December after this stint…

23. September 2008 · Comments Off on Nebraska Discoveries 6: Our Weekend in North Platte · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

This past weekend we rented a camper from the Air Force base and drove it 280 miles west of here to the town of North Platte, Nebraska. They were holding their annual “Railfest”, this big Union Pacific Railroad/Town of North Platte celebration weekend. The UP sponsors everything, lots of fun for everyone. There’s a festival at the town park, plus lots of train-related activites throughout the rest of the town.

From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE

We visited several historic UP locomotives, visited the 8 story Golden Spike observation tower, and got to ride in a little mini-train.

From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE


From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE


From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE

For Sunday morning, I made arrangements for tickets for a bus tour of Bailey Yard, the UP’s classification yard. That was one of the most incredible experiences for any railfan, and even *I* found it impressive. Dave writes more about it here.

We drove home right after the tour, taking our times by driving east on U.S. 30 from North Platte to Grand Island (about 115 miles). This way we could parallel the UP tracks and saw at least 20 trains!

As for the camping, once Dave and I got over the initial shock of (a) requiring about 40 gallons of gas to get the camper from Omaha to North Platte and (b) everything you have to do to set up the camper at the RV campsite (water, power, leveling, starting up the fridge), we figured we’d have a relaxing weekend on our hands. I made a nice chicken and rice dinner with our dutch oven, then we toasted marshmallows and made Smores with the campfire.

From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE


From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE


From 2008 09 20 Camping_RailFest_BaileyYard_NorthPlatteNE

But at 1am Friday night, we were awakened by an alarm bell: the propane detector was telling us “no more propane”, although we hadn’t used any since dinnertime. Actually, a circuit board went bad in the 3-way power converter unit (which is what seamlessly transfers power from battery to AC for the onboard fridge, water pump and lighting)…so overnight the power switched from AC to battery and the battery died.

Dave and I did about an hour’s worth of troubleshooting, between 1-2 am Friday night…and gave up and went back to sleep angry. By Saturday, we just told ourselves we have a big hardened tent. Then we went on and enjoyed the rest of our weekend.

16. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

“Woman, you did it again! Where on earth have you been?”

Yeah, even those who IM me haven’t seen me around much. And definitely no e-mails…

I’ve been on a mission since last Saturday evening.

“What happened Saturday evening?”

I had a couple “friends” contact me through Facebook. Friends from a life I’d all but forgotten.

“Okay? This doesn’t sound like it’s going in an appropriate direction…did you do prison time?”

No, not at all! I was a strolling violinist as a teenager.


(Can you find me in the picture?)

My former school system in Norfolk, VA, has a pretty elaborate music education program. Definitely one of the perks of public school (Music Education: that’s for another discussion). One of the programs offered was The Strolling Silver Strings. They had rehearsals once a week and played about 200 shows per year. You got into the group by audition, and each year there would only be about 7-8 positions available to be filled.

And the group sought more than just a skilled musician — the directors also assessed personalities and showmanship. Now, I guess most of the time my talkativeness can get on folks’ nerves, but in this case it was a plus…I’m not afraid of people, that’s for sure!

My freshman year of high school, I took a plunge and auditioned. I remember the audition being in the fall, and I found out I made it the same day as my first swim team practice in late November or early December. And the two weren’t going to mix one bit. I remember that being a rather tough decision, and I even remember writing a letter to my Dad (who I believe was out to sea at the time, or he might have been at a school in Newport, R.I. — Dad, where were you in Fall of 1987?) about the decision I was facing.

So before the holidays in 1987 I quit the swim team and started rehearsing with the Strolling Silver Strings (from here on out I’m calling it SSS). It was tough! You had to learn a repertiore of not-always-for-strings-music (such as Glenn Miller or John Phillip Sousa) and not just play it well, but play it well from memory.

And not just play it well from memory, play it well from memory while walking around your audience.

I remember my first concert in Jan 1988…it was for a Norfolk Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, we were expected to stroll throughout this HUGE grand ballroom playing while the participants were eating at a luncheon.

Our director, Frank Rodgers, was a very talented music arranger and had the best time transforming all sorts of music into something whimsical for violin, viola, cello and bass! It was so amazing!

Over the 4 years I spent with the group, I got better at the music and more comfortable playing while strolling. I’ve played throughout Virginia (including Virginia Governor Doug Wilder’s Inaugaration in 1990), along with Walt Disneyworld, and a small tour in the Mont Blanc valley in France. This link tells a little more of the story of how we got to go to Europe in 1991.

Even our cellos strolled! It was a sight to see!

I made some of the most wonderful friends, about a dozen of whom are now new friends on Facebook. A couple of them I’ve kept in touch with off and on since high school, but now we’re even finding some of our musical directors and they’re helping us find other former members. It’s pretty neat!

As you saw from the link, the group still exists today. If you’re in the Norfolk/Va. Beach area, don’t hesitate to consider the SSS for your next official function if you are looking for fun entertainment. Best of all, they’re FREE (so long as it’s during the school year).

If you’re on Facebook, check out the Strolling Silver Strings — Past and Present group. If you’re a former Stroller — especially in the first 10 years of the group’s history — reading this blog, head on over to Facebook to see more.

So my mission that’s kept me off the blog all week till now? To find, scan, and upload to Facebook the 100+ photos I have of our group from my 4 years with them. I’ve found about 2/3 of them so far, I’m still seeking my pics from Walt Disney World in 1989.

13. September 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Quote of the day from Timmy:

“Did Daddy become a weather doctor to help the weather feel better?”

He asked us this as we were walking through a parking lot in a foggy drizzle. He’d been cooped up indoors for the past 2 days and is ready for the weather to feel better.

Many of you probably didn’t realize that Timmy had a series of meltdowns every time he heard that his Daddy is now a doctor. Timmy tends to associate doctors with needles and funny lights being shined in his mouth, eyes, ears and didn’t want his Daddy to be doing stuff like that.

12. September 2008 · 10 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,
My Jacob turns 6 today!

Enjoy the warp-speed trip through memory lane:

Jacob at age 1 month:
At age 3:

Just about age 6 (school picture):
10. September 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Dave came across the film Biloxi Blues this evening on Encore when he was surfing channels.

This has to be one of my favorite movies! Matthew Broderick in the 80s was the cutest thing in the world. He’s still pretty cute now — he was a hoot in The Producers and I wish wish wish I could have seen that show on Broadway! But at age 46, his age is starting to show.

But his roles as that guy whose life seems fine and then undergoes an incredible unraveling, like in The Cable Guy, Road to Wellville and Election…hilarious!

(Okay, you can say it: he was typecast.)

My sister will tell you about how we’d watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on VHS over and over and over and over and over again…we still quote that movie to each other, 20 years later!!!

I thought I’d share my feel-good movie of the evening.

09. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

How many of you knew that I could sew — show of hands!

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not many. Enjoy this gallery of things I’ve made. Mainly costumes, as you will see.

Jacob wants to be a Jedi knight for Halloween. Okay, that doesn’t seem too hard. He showed me his Mace Windu action figure and asked if he could be THAT Jedi. Mace Windu was the character Samuel L. Jackson played in Episodes I, II and III.

Sure, I’ll help you with that costume idea! I always am enthusiastic to help my kids when they think of their Halloween ideas on their own.

Maryann helped us out too, showing me a link to this costume.

But I did a small inventory of what we had on hand and realized that between Jack Sparrow from last year for the pants and boots, plus a Joseph tunic from a Christmas pageant last year, Jake could be a pretty good Mace with simply the addition of a purple lightsaber toy and a brown cape.

The purple lightsaber was an easy birthday purchase at Toys R Us, and I decided I could make the cape.

So on Sunday I dragged the boys to Hancock Fabrics in Omaha, and subject them to the joys of browsing pattern books and thumbing through fabric bolts looking for the perfect color/texture of a brown Jedi cape. I had a good time, I hadn’t spent significant time in a fabric store in a long time — at least not in the fabric section — and definitely not at all in North Carolina.

I found the coolest lightweight brown faux suede fabric and an online recommendation to use the Simplicity 5512 pattern. The bottom left corner of the picture shows what “view” I’d make for the Jedi cape. If you look closely at the characters, the Jedi cape has sleeves and a hood…so even though I’m going through the motions of making a Grim Reaper costume, it’ll ultimately be a Jedi cape…trust me!

I cut the fabric and started piecing panels together today, but I’m stopping till tomorrow. I need to think…I am incorporating a lining into the cape (after all, it could be REALLY COLD Halloween night here in NE!) and I have to shoehorn that into the instructions. I’m a decent seamstress, when the directions are laid out in front of me. As for making up my own thing….well, I’m not that good.

I should be done by this weekend…maybe I’ll let Jake dress up for his trip to Pottery Barn Kids this weekend to meet Star Wars characters.

06. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I can’t believe it, we’re getting Penn State Football here in Big Red Country! On ESPN2 this afternoon!
If we were still in North Carolina, we would have been subject to the Wake Forest game.
I’m sure it’s because PSU’s playing Oregon State, so you’d get the most viewers around here rooting for one team or the other. I’ll bet the next time we see Penn State football on here will be for the Ohio State game, if OSU is still Top 10, and then the Iowa game.
I’m looking into Iowa tickets, they’re “only” 3 hours from here…I might put a request in to the Penn State Alumni Association chapter back in Raleigh. They had a great ticket program.