27. September 2010 · Comments Off on Let The Games Begin — Vollmer PCS* 2010 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

*Glossary: PCS: Permanant Change of Station

Don’t fret, we still have a few weeks.

Eight, to be exact. Almost exact: 8 weeks from Tuesday the 28th.


My brain has officially shifted into “Prepare to Move” mode.

This is becoming old hat for me. Let me set the stage here. I grew up a military brat. This means I’ve experienced all or part of military moves 3 times as a kid. I was pretty young during those moves, but my sister can tack on the two she experienced in high school while I was in college.

In fact, I blogged during our previous move from North Carolina to here in 2008.

Since I joined the Air Force and married Dave, I’ve experienced 6 moves, and this move from Nebraska to Florida will be move #7. So goes life in the military.

I’ve developed somewhat of a routine to prepare the family for these moves. Today I will cover the first two of those items in my routine, and I’ll be blogging about the next several actions in the next 4 weeks or so.  Stay tuned for fun stuff like househunting, choosing/registering the kids for their new school, removing batteries from toys, getting the “do not pack” room ready, and arranging to transfer utilities/change addresses.

1.) Clear out the extra stuff. This meant meticulously going through clothing, linens, books, toys, and kitchenwares and purging the extra stuff. Clothing and toys are pretty easy…if it’s outgrown, it’s going. Same for books. Nothing breaks my heart more than getting rid of books…but it’s horrible on the weight (we have weight limits on military moves). So I have to get rid of all but the most popular books, reference books and professional journals. For linens and kitchenwares, I ask “Did I need this while we’ve been living in this house?” If the answer is “No”, it goes. The new climate needs to be considered too…obviously we won’t be needing space heaters, winter boots, sleds, snow shovels or 20,000 pair of mittens in Florida, so those items go also.

While I’m cleaning out the extra stuff, I’m also keeping an eye on out of place items. When the packers come through the house, they’ll arrange things by what room they’re in. So if one of the boys’ toys ended up in the kitchen, it would get packed as a “kitchen item”. I have to go through the house and get all linens in one place, all toys in one place, books in their appropriate places, etc. Especially the out-of-season clothing I’ve been keeping in our basement. I have to put it all together in their respective closets.

2.) Consider how to get rid of this stuff. Lots of options here. Take it to Goodwill, take advantage of one of those charitable organization’s trucks that will take items right off your porch, bundle it into lots and sell it on eBay or Craigslist, or have a garage sale.

I chose the latter. This is the 3rd home in a row where we’ve been able to have a yard sale to help get rid of our stuff, and I HAVE to give props to the Eastern Nebraska yard/garage sale subculture. They’re the most polite and most respectful of start and end times.

A week ago we marked off our garage into areas (i.e., “clothing”, “toys/games”, “electronics”, etc.) and set out all of the items we planned to sell. This past Friday and Saturday, I had a yard sale. In my opinion, it was very successful. We made nearly $600 and I had spent about $80 in advertising/signage and other supplies. This blogger has a great article with tips on successful yard sales. I just now read this blogpost and I can say that I followed many of these tips.

Day 1 (Friday) had fabulous weather and I was graced with several dozen parents who were dropping off/picking up their kids at the school around the corner. The only earlybird I had was only about 5 minutes before my advertised start time, and I had a steady stream of customers from 6:55am till 3:45pm. I was able to put about 2/3 of my stuff outside on the lawn and in the driveway and it made things really easy to show. We made about $450 of our money on the first day.

Day 2 wasn’t nearly as good. The day was plagued with thunderstorms and a chilling wind. My first customer didn’t show up until 90 minutes after my advertised start time! I could only put waterproof stuff outside the garage, and stuff everything else into the garage to keep it dry:

From 2010 09 25 Garage Sale
From 2010 09 25 Garage Sale

Only made about $125 on the 2nd day. I had marked just about everything down to 1/2 price, which was a contributor to the low total.

Today, I converted the garage back to its intended purpose…a place to keep our vehicles. I packaged up the clothing (about 1/2 of what I started with), housewares and books and stuffed it all into the back of the truck. I was thrilled that everything I needed to go to Goodwill fit into the truck (with all the back seats down, of course!):

From 2010 09 25 Garage Sale
From 2010 09 25 Garage Sale

Tomorrow I’m off to the Goodwill shop right up the street to drop off the remains of my yard sale, then to the bank to deposit all the quarters and singles I’d accumulated over the weekend.

Until next time!!!

14. September 2010 · Comments Off on Jacob’s Birthday Cake · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This past weekend my oldest son turned 8. I had a great time working on his birthday cake. Since his 4th birthday, I’ve always taken on his cakes as a challenge each year, and this year was no exception. Jacob’s first soccer game was this past weekend also, so I thought it would be fun to do a soccer ball cake.

I picked up this Wilton Sports Ball Pan with a coupon at my local Michael’s Craft Store. Looked like a fun cake to make…

But seemed sort of small, so I decided to make a field to sit the ball on…

So here’s the field, a 9″ x 13″ cake left in the pan (I’ll explain why in a minute).

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Then I had to put the ball hemispheres on, one piece at a time, sealed together with some icing. You can see the 3 dowel rods I used to support the ball…so the ball wouldn’t smash down the field.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday
From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Next, I iced the ball with a “crumb coat” which is a thin coat of icing just to keep the artistic stuff from getting messy:

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Next, I used the guides in the directions to trace the soccer ball pattern. This got a little messy, the crumb coat came up as I peeled the paper.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

The plan was to pipe in blue and red pentagons, and all the hexagons would be in white. The blue icing wasn’t as well mixed, and clumps of powdered sugar kept blocking the piping tip. So I didn’t use the blue as much as I’d hoped.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

The finished cake:

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

I kept the cake in the pan to make it easier to transport to The Amazing Pizza Machine, where we celebrated Jacob’s birthday with the family and two of his closest friends here, Dean and Drake.

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

I have to introduce this to the masses. I just have to!

When Dave and I were visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, we enjoyed visiting the little grocery store up the street from our hotel. With the continental breakfast being $13.50 CD per person, per day, just picking up a loaf of bread, a block of butter (Canadian butter, yum!), and a small bunch of bananas at about $8 total took care of breakfast all 3 days we were there.

From 2010 07 06 Anchor Bar & Niagara on the Lake

We also picked up souvenirs at this same little grocery store. Little stuffed moose for the boys, maple cream candies and cookies…mmmm….

And that’s also where I came across a blast from my past: Bovril.

My Mom used to keep this stuff on hand. I guess she incorporated in a lot of our cooking, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what. I think I might have had it in broth beverage form as a kid, but I don’t remember. What I do remember is the distinctive beef flavor Bovril has, and when I saw it in this Canadian grocery store for the first time in several years, I decided to pick up a bottle.

When we visited my parents the following week, I showed them my purchases and they were intrigued that I got Bovril with beef in it.

Huh? Why would it NOT have beef?

My parents showed me the bottle of “British” Bovril they bought at a gourmet grocery store recently, and lo and behold, there was no beef in it. Mine was made in Canada, and there it is in the ingredient list, “BEEF EXTRACT”:

From 2010 09 09 Bovril
From 2010 09 09 Bovril

Want some Bovril of your own — with the beef? You can get it here.

Okay, enough exposition. Time for the meat and potatoes of this blog post. Except we aren’t discussing meat or potatoes — we’re discussing GRAVY!

Jacob LOVES gravy. His favorite dinners are the ones that include some sort of gravy. And it could be just about any gravy. Chicken etouffee — served over rice with gravy! Beef curry — served over rice with gravy!

Not long after we got back from our Canada/Penn State trip, we were having steak and potatoes for dinner, and I wanted to put together an easy beef gravy. I figured I’d hop online and find a “Bovril Gravy” recipe, but I didn’t. Nothing. All the recipes were for how to make the broth drink.

(Why does that even need to be a “recipe?” It’s Bovril in hot water.)

So I made one up — butter and flour in a roux, then I poured in the Bovril broth in the concentration recommended on the bottle (2 teaspoons per cup of boiling water). I messed up the proportions (too much butter and flour), so I had to add extra water and I ended up with a yummy buttery gravy, with just a hint of Bovril flavor. It was popular with the family, so I’ve attempted it a couple more times with higher concentrations of Bovril.

Tonight, I made this again with meatloaf and I think I perfected it! And I even measured the ingredients. We all wanted to lick the gravy off our plates!!!

Homemade Bovril Gravy
Makes 6 servings (1 1/2 cups)

3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. Bovril Liquid Bouillion (from the 250ml bottle…not the concentrated paste in a jar)
1 1/2 c. boiling water

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour.  Ta da!  Now you have a roux!  Heat the roux over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just starts to brown. 5-7 minutes.

(The darker this roux gets, the less thick your gravy will be…different people have different tastes…experiment and come up with what you like).

Add the Bovril to the boiling water, then slowly whisk it into the roux. Allow to come to a gentle boil (you shouldn’t have to raise the heat at all, the heat of the roux will bring it to a boil quickly). Boil for 1 minute or until thickened.

The beefy-buttery flavor is so rich and delicious! A little goes a long way, but you won’t want just a little.  I’ll now close with a gallery of fun retro Bovril posters:

07. September 2010 · Comments Off on My Blog Before the Blog: Some Memories of the Apex Chlorine Fire… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Today I was uploading recipes to the Pioneer Woman’s public cooking website: Tasty Kitchen. A pretty neat website — like a Facebook for amateur cooks. Or Ravelry.com, which is a community for yarn craftsmen.

Anyway, one of the recipes I had uploaded was the Linguini Salad that I make for pot lucks and picnic. I wanted to add a picture, so I was scouring this blog, my picture libraries and old Facebook posts for one of the beautiful close-up pictures I’ve taken of that salad, which is very handsome with all the colors.

So far, no luck, but one of the things I ventured across were my old My Space Blog Posts, still out there for the world to see! My first post was in July of 2006, and discussed my boys fighting and arguing all the time. Lovely.

But of note, I am going to cut and paste the narrative I wrote about our Apex Chlorine Fire evacuation experience. That was fun to read, and I’m glad I recorded the event and it’s still available for me to share with you on this particular blog.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dave and I have oftentimes joked that there’s some sort of weather disaster that’s happened in every place we’ve lived since we’ve been married.  Ice storms, tornadoes, 100-year monsoon flooding events, and (most recently for us) 4 hurricanes to strike FL in one season.  Granted, a toxic chemical fire forcing mass evacuation isn’t a weather disaster, but we’re thinking we need to add it to the list of wackiness that seems to plague the Vollmers at least once during each PCS/military move.

If you’ve been living in a bubble, there was a large explosion at a hazardous waste treatment facility in an industrial park near the center of Apex, NC.  That explosion led to numerous fires and subsequent explosions as the fires spread to other hazardous material storage units.  The fire started around 10:30pm Thursday and was fully extinguished overnight Friday night/Saturday morning.

First and foremost, know that we’re all okay…we were given permission to return to our homes at 9am this morning and we were among the first to go through the entrance to our development at 9am on the nose.

Our house is about 2/3 mile from the building pictured above.  We could easily see the smoke from our front porch.

We heard several of the explosions while Dave and I were watching ER on TV Thursday night, and we also heard wave after wave of fire and police sirens…but it wasn’t till the 11pm news that we learned that there was a potential chlorine gas cloud floating around over Apex.

Dave and I had to act quickly…rumors were rampant, and Dave and I did some quick checks of wind conditions around Apex to see if we were in more or less danger.  That was hard to do because at the time there was a cold front just to the north of the area and winds were quite erratic throughout just ahead of the front.

By 11:30, Dave and I decided to leave.  By this time, they deemed everyone in a 1 mile radius should leave their homes.  As the crow flies, our house is well within 1 mile.  So I called every phone number I know in the neighborhood, alerting them to turn on their TVs and decide whether they were going to leave.  Most of those families I had called were actually outside the 1 mile radius…so for them (at the time) it would have been more precautionary.

Dave and I threw some snacks, coloring supplies, diapers/wipes and empty sippy cups in a laundry basket with a couple of blankets.  We quickly loaded up the kids, dog, Pack n’ Play, jackets, dog food and hopped into the family van.  At the last second I quickly grabbed the NC State parking pass from Dave’s car and put it in the van’s window.  Good thing we did.

So we drove over to Dave’s office.  He had a key to the building and his office so we got everyone inside and put the kids back to sleep.  We put Jake on some blankets on the floor of the office, and for Timmy we planned to just let him sleep in his stroller.  Jake was taking the whole thing very well, doing what we were asking him to do without argument (lately that’s been rare).  He was really tired, though, and I’m sure that was a factor.

Dave wasn’t too keen on our going to his office because there was no TV anywhere that he could access.  But he quickly found that WRAL, the CBS affiliate, was maintaining live webcast of the news coverage, which was constant without commercials until at least 4am.  At one point the chief meteorologist, Greg Fishel, came on and was giving a forecast of how winds were acting around this cold front passing through overnight and mentioned that he didn’t have “air quality” experience so he couldn’t speak to the characteristics of the chlorine gas cloud and how it would act under the existing wind conditions.

I recommended that Dave call up WRAL and ask Greg Fishel is he could use some help from someone with experience in chemical downwind forecasting.  Dave and Greg know each other through our alumni association, and the two have played in a little band our chapter has.  So Dave called up the switchboard and offered up his services.  They spoke extensively on the phone, then Dave offered to come by the station (next door to NC State…about a 5 minute drive).

Dave was at WRAL from about 1-3am Thursday morning.  He didn’t go on the air and he made the point of calling himself a grad student with Air Force experience.  He didn’t want the media to think he was some sort of official Air Force forecaster for this matter.  Good call.  Greg Fishel mentioned that he had an “air quality” expert on hand to help him.  Even though he wasn’t really air quality, at least he wasn’t dragged in front of the camera!

Not long after we arrived, we quickly hopped onto Marriott.com and made a hotel reservation for Friday and Saturday night, just in case.  If things were bad beyond Saturday, I knew we could all go up to my Mom’s house, about 3 ½ hours from here.

Right after Dave left for the station, Timmy woke up.  And was like a tornado through Dave’s office!  He shares the office with many other grad students and Timmy was wanting to climb up into chairs and play with the computers.  NO Timmy!  NO Timmy!  NO Timmy!  So for 2 hours I was trying to keep Timmy off the computers while at the same time convince him to go back to sleep.

When Dave returned I strapped Timmy right back into the van and drove around a bit—at about 3:15 he fell back to sleep.

So I got back to the office, put Timmy on the floor next to Jake, and tried to sleep on the floor with the boys.  We didn’t bring many blankets and I ended up using them on all the kids, so I was just trying to sleep in jeans, a t-shirt and a short jacket…the clothes I was wearing all day Thursday.  Couldn’t do it.  I was SO COLD!  So after about ½ hour, I went out to the van and tried to sleep on the bench seat at the back of the van.  It wasn’t as cold but it was far less comfortable.  I was able to sleep from 4am – 6:45.  Dave came out to the van to tell me the kids were stirring and we’d have to get a move on quickly.  Just as Dave was walking out, my cell phone was ringing.


It was Lisa Coleman, an Air Force friend who teaches AFROTC on campus.  She offered us the use of one of her classrooms if we needed the space.  It turned out I didn’t have anywhere to go while Jake was at preschool.  So that was a very gracious offer!

Dave, by the way, didn’t sleep a wink that night…he had to even give his jacket to the boys while they slept, he was too cold to try to sleep.  He stayed up all night surfing the web and even set up a Facebook page.

So the family went to Chick-fil-a for breakfast, then I dropped off Jake at preschool, then Dave back at his office on campus.  After that it was a short little jog to main campus.  This is where the last-minute parking pass came in handy…I could park right across the street from the AFROTC detachment and zip right in.  Lisa met me at the parking garage and we were quite the sight on campus – not many people walking around with dogs and toddlers in a stroller.

Lisa put us in the classroom with a DVD player and I watched a program about the rise of China’s middle class while Timmy played with a pen and a stack of recycled paper.  Howie (the dog) was with us, too.  We stayed over there about 2 hours and Timmy was pretty well behaved the whole time.  When he ran out of paper to draw on he helped himself to drawing on the tabletop…

While we were in the classroom, another one of the instructors, named Capt. Don Land, stopped by to invite the family to use his apartment in Cary while he and his wife were out of town for the weekend.  What a wonderful invitation!  We made some arrangements, and it was nice to have plans for a roof over our heads through Monday, if necessary.

After I left the AFROTC detachment, I was able to go back to pick up Jake and then make a trip to Walmart.

Earlier Friday morning, Dave and I had to make a small shopping list of provisions we HAD to have to endure another day with just the clothes on our backs.  Luckily, I had thrown my travel toiletry kit in the van, and I always keep activities for the boys in the van in case we end up at the emergency room or something.  The toiletry was pretty good, but I realized Friday morning that some items were missing, like deodorant.

Anyway, one of the things we were going to have to come up with underwear for everyone.  Sigh…we also picked up diapers for Timmy, fleece PJs for the boys (it was in the 60s Thursday night, the low 50s Friday night), a brush, comb, toothbrush for Jake, water, caffineated soda and some coloring stuff for the kids.  It wasn’t too bad, I guess.  I noticed that the choices in men’s underwear was pretty slim.

By this time, the press conferences we were seeing on the news weren’t offering us much hope.  I figured with what we had we could last till we got to my Mom’s house…except for more changes of clothes.  My Mom had been calling several times making sure everyone was okay, and in one of the conversations she offered that my sister Margaret would have some clothes that would fit my boys.  Two of her sons are 2 ½ and 5, so they’re each one year older than my two kids.  Meaning their clothes would be a bit big, but certainly tolerable in public.

So it’s now about 2pm Friday, the media is telling us things like “residents need to be prepared to spend 2-3 days away”.  I had a phone number for the County Emergency Management that I could call at anytime and check the status of returning home.  I probably called them about every 3 hours checking.  And I’m with the boys and dog, still looking for something to do.  Most of my local friends are scattered to the winds, and obviously we can’t just go to someone’s house…most of Jake’s friends also live in the parts of Apex that had to evacuate.  So I went to the local mall for a walk.  My sister works at the mall, so it was convenient that I could talk to her and ask about clothes for the boys.

So we went to Crabtree Valley Mall in northern Raleigh.  My sister works at a “Calendar Club” franchise so I went to say HI to her and we chatted for a bit.  Timmy was fast asleep in his stroller, and Jake enjoyed looking at calendars…particularly the dog calendars.  Margaret pointed out how many other people were wandering through the mall – zombie-like – wearing clothes that resembled pajamas.  So many families were unearthed later than we were – many at 2-3am!

After visiting with my sister, we left the mall, picked up Dave at school and decided to have an early dinner, which was really an attempt to buy a bit more time for the authorities to decide to let us back into our homes.  In the back of my head I figured someone might foot the bill for this inconvenience, so I asked if we could go somewhere nice, even though the family was gross and stinky from not having showered yet since Thursday morning.  We headed to Macaroni Grill in Cary…we went early enough that (for once) there was no wait and we made it through there in minimal time.

Afterwards we headed over to Don and Lindsay Land’s apartment for a brief tour, and to pick up a key.  We agreed that we’d use their apartment starting Saturday morning, if the authorities still weren’t letting us come home.

And after ALL THAT…we placed another call to the County Emergency Management and we were once again told – no, we can’t go home yet.

So we checked into the Residence Inn in North Raleigh, got the kids much-needed baths, enjoyed nice hot showers and immediately went to bed!

As soon as Timmy’s howling woke us up at 7:40am Saturday, I called the County Emergency Management number and got great news: our neighborhood would reopen at 9am Saturday!  Whoo hoo!

Let me tell you…the family wasted NO time eating breakfast, throwing everything willy-nilly into the car and speeding back to Apex.  We rolled through the entrance to our neighborhood at 9am on the nose…many other cars were returning as quickly as possible, too.

It was great to be home, but it was a short trip home – at 10:30am I had to leave with the boys for not one, but two birthday parties.  We were gone till 8pm…and we returned a little early because Timmy got 2nd degree burns on the palms of both his hands and we needed a trip to the emergency room.  But that’s another story….

In closing, we have phone numbers to call for EQ Industries if we’re interested in getting reimbursed for our “inconvenience”.  I think we could get back about $200 in the hotel and meals, and perhaps even that new underwear!

Thanks to Lisa Coleman, John and Bethany Hong, Don and Lindsay Land and the Baba Family for their gracious offers for us to stay at their homes.  I’m glad we didn’t have to impose – we can be quite the zoo!  Also, thanks to the dozens of people who e-mailed us upon realizing, “Hey, I know someone in Apex!  Oh yeah, the Vollmers!”

Finally, we would like to thank Hurricane Frances, the source of our September 2004 evacuation that provided us the experience we needed to remain calm and organized during this recent adventure.


06. September 2010 · Comments Off on Timmy’s Flower Pot — Repurposed! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

To follow up on yesterday’s panicked posting…

I went to the Apple Store today and came out of there with a new replacement iPhone. Apple has a program where wet iPhones can be replaced for $199. This is FAR cheaper than walking into the store in the middle of a two-year contract and buying a new phone: $500.

But far more expensive than if I hadn’t dropped the phone into the toilet to begin with.

Anyway, to get on with my life and put this sadness behind me…

Timmy came across an empty flower pot in our garage, where I’ve stored all of our flowerpots. It was one that he made for me at preschool in 2009 for Mother’s Day. It had a potted petunia in it. Once the petunia finished up for the season, I put away the flowerpot.

This upset Timmy. He asked this week “Can we buy some more flowers to plant in it?”

I told him “No”, but I did have a good idea…

You’ve all seen them at the doctor’s office or anywhere else where you’re having to sign paperwork and they’re attempting for you to not steal pens. The flower pot full of pens.

So that’s what I did this morning. I ran over to Michael’s and picked up a few fall-inspired flowers and some floral binding tape. I had everything else I needed in the house: the pot, the beans as filler for the pot, and plenty of pens and pencils.

I whipped this together in under 10 minutes. Cute, isn’t it?

From 2010 09 06 Timmy’s Flower Pot

And here’s the back:

From 2010 09 06 Timmy’s Flower Pot

Timmy was thrilled to see this come to life, and is happy his flowerpot is now a centerpiece at the kitchen table. And maybe now I won’t leave a trail of pens and pencils all over the house.

Although I have to say…the floral binding tape leaves a sticky residue that I hope goes away over time…

05. September 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Right after I hit “Publish Post” on that Labor Day blog post below, something dreadful happened.

I got up from my spot on the couch where I do my blogging, walked to the half bath just outside the family room, and prepared to go to the bathroom. Before I could get started (thankfully!) my iPhone fell out of the front pocket of my shorts and I heard the “Plop!”.

Oh F-U-D-G-E.

As quickly as humanly possible, I fished my phone out of the bowl, wiped it with a towel and ran back to the laptop by the couch to Google “wet iphone”.

Go ahead, Google it yourselves and see what you get…

Mostly blog posts about (a) how to dry off a wet iPhone and (b) how to scam the Apple Store into pretending your phone didn’t get wet to get a free replacement.

The phone was still on while I was reading all this…but the screen had become VERY dark.  Not off, but really dark.  I tried to make a phone call, but the phone was indicating that the SIM card was missing.

Quick!  Remove the SIM card!

I found my can of compressed air and blasted some of the moisture out of the bottom port, the top headphones and SIM port and around the home button.

The next step was to store the phone in a container filled with uncooked rice.  Just immerse the phone into the rice.  You have to be disciplined to not turn on the phone (and risk shorting out the circuits) and let the rice do its work drawing the moisture out of the interior of the phone.

So that’s where we stand right now.  I made an appointment at the Apple Store for tomorrow afternoon to investigate a replacement just in case the rice doesn’t work out…

UPDATE: The phone has been sitting in the rice for 9 hours.  I misbehaved and turned on the phone just now and Dave and I made a test call.  It all seemed to work.  Whoo hoo, right?

No…the home button still doesn’t work.  In order to attempt another App, I had to power off the phone, then power it back on to return to the home screen.  Then I could check out the iPod feature (which worked) and a couple of the apps.

It’s back in the rice for the night.  It has 12 more hours before I have to decide on attempting to replace it altogether.

05. September 2010 · Comments Off on Labor Day in America · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Happy Labor Day friends!

After all these years of celebrating Labor Day, taking advantage of the day off granted to most (but not all) Americans, I finally took the time to learn about this holiday’s origins. I found this from the ever-faithful (cough cough) Wikipedia and the perhaps-more-accurate U.S. Department of Labor website.

The very first Labor Day in America was celebrated in September 1882 in New York City. At the time it wasn’t a government holiday, but rather a celebration of labor set up by the Central Labor Union of New York.

By 1885, similar celebrations were held in early September in cities throughout the country.

Dave will be pleased to know that Labor Day as a federal holiday has it origins in the railroad industry. In 1894, federal troops were called to action to help suppress violence during a Pullman Palace Car strike in Chicago. But this was more than just the workers on the train cars not reporting for duty.

The American Railway Union went so far as to refuse to run trains that had any Pullman cars, switch Pullman cars and there were even some violent events that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to trains (inflated to over $8M in 2010 dollars).

President Grover Cleveland sent federal marshalls and 12,000 US Army troops to stop the strike after U.S. Mail service started experiencing interruptions. 12 strikers were killed, 57 were wounded.

In the aftermath, President Cleveland was quick to reconcile with the labor unions and very quickly proposed legislation declaring the first Tuesday of the month a federal holiday: Labor Day. The federal holiday was established a mere 6 days after the end of the Pullman Strike in July 1894.

Enjoy the holiday!

02. September 2010 · Comments Off on A Thomas-Themed Scrapbook. Really? Yes, really. · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

How crazy are we?  My next scrapbook project is to use this lovely Thomas-the-Tank-Engine-themed scrapbook I got many years ago as a gift (I honestly don’t remember where/when I got it).  I opened it up recently after several years of it sitting with my other unused scrapbooks…and counted TWENTY available pages.

Could I possibly come up with 20 pages of Thomas?

To quote our favorite former Alaska governor: “You Betcha!” (insert wink and thumbs-up here)

We’ve been to enough Thomas-themed events, had enough Thomas-themed birthday parties, and gotten enough Thomas-themed toys to make a fun 20-page scrapbook.  Over the years I’d slowly accumulated Thomas-themed decorative papers, stickers and die-cuts.  I’d also accumulated generic-train-themed items.  It was time to put them to use!  My boys have attended Thomas events every year since 2003!  I also have plenty of pictures of Thomas birthday cakes (3 of them), Thomas toys, and a photo collection of the Thomas-themed clothing they have…to include Grandma Fox’s homemade pants and the Vans-style slip-on shoes she got in Hong Kong.

Yesterday I chose about 100 pictures from my photo files and sent them over to Walgreen’s for developing.  I knocked out 6 pages and it was so much fun going down memory lane!  I predict that my boys won’t be wanting to do this for much longer — Jacob already has outgrown Thomas and sticks to “prototype” toy trains.  Timmy still is enthralled with the magic of Thomas, and lucky for us, we found a TINY little narrow gauge tourist railroad in Alabama that hosts the event in the springtime if Timmy’s still interested.

Here’s the cover of the book — it’s a cool 3-D chipboard Thomas.

From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook

And here are the pages so far.  4 years, 4 different venues.  The next page I’m doing is from 2007, not a Thomas train ride, but our trip to “Thomas Live!” in Raleigh:

This is my favorite Thomas picture!  I believe this was 2006, based on Timmy’s shoe’s.
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook
2003. The 3 pics on the left are our attempts to get J to look at the camera!
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook
Trying out my new “Toy Train” font in the title.
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook
In the upper right, J’s laughing hysterically, not crying or screaming.
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook
From 2010 09 01 Thomas Train Scrapbook