31. May 2012 · Comments Off on Wrapping Things Up for the School Year · Categories: Uncategorized

This week has been filled with the boys end-of-the-year activities.  Next week is the boys’ last day of school.  Between Cub Scouts, baseball and piano, we’re ready for a fun relaxing summer!

Last Thursday night the boys had their Cub Scout crossover ceremony.  They walk across a bridge, and once they cross they get to change their uniforms from this past year’s rank to next year’s.  Timmy is now a Wolf Cub Scout, Jacob is now a first-year Webelo Scout.

Jacob crossing over.

Timmy crossing over.

This past week we also celebrated the boys baseball seasons. Jacob’s team had a slip ‘n slide pizza and ice cream party, and Timmy’s team celebrated at the local fire station (his coach is a fireman) with pizza and cupcakes. The boys had a great time just plain playing with their teammates…

Jacob showing off his "game ball" trophy. That's Coach Trebor at back right.

Each player was individually recognized, and Timmy took over telling stories of the teams' great plays. Good thing he was the last one recognized (alphabetical order)!

A better shot of the trophy.

Finally, the boys had their piano recital this past Tuesday. They enjoyed hearing the other kids playing, and it’s been wonderful hearing the progress they’d made this year. Click this link to see the blog post of their performance videos.

Pardon the darkness and the redeye issues. That's their teacher, Miss Ashley, standing behind them.

31. May 2012 · Comments Off on Spring 2012 Piano Recital · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

The boys performed at their Spring piano recital this week.  Most of Ms. Herbstreith’s students are beginners, so we had perforances as simple as Old McDonald, but she also has a couple middle school students who play more advanced sonatas.  The songs are short, but you can get an idea of the skills the boys are developing!

Dave has been very busy this week: wildfires just north of base came very close to the north end of the base and the hazard caused the Air Force base leadership to have to prepare for evacuations from housing and nearby neighborhoods.  Dave was able to break away from work just long enough to come to the church and watch the boys, and then had to leave right away to return to the base.

Enjoy the videos!  First is Timmy, then Jacob.

Has anyone else noticed the prices of laundry detergent skyrocketing?***

How about Tide for nearly $12 per bottle (24 loads)??? Or $12 for 40 of those new Tide Pod thingies? I’ve been paying about $7-8 for a bottle of All Free & Clear, which advertised 64 loads of laundry for the size I bought. I only use about 1/2 of the recommended dose (really, it doesn’t take much detergent to cut odors and do cursory cleaning). So lets say I get 100 loads of laundry for $8. So $0.08 per load, right?

I figured I’d try this classic recipe for homemade laundry detergent, using less chemicals and additives than what’s in the popular commercial laundry detergents. I first saw this detergent referenced by the Duggar family several years ago…they had made a documentary years before TLC picked them up for a reality show. In the show, the Duggars covered some of the basics of their household: how they did laundry, how the kids chose their clothes, how they grocery shopped and how they cooked. They made brief mention of their homemade laundry detergent.

The cast of characters. “Washing soda”, Borax, a 3 oz. of soap of your choosing and a 5-gallon bucket. Fels-Naptha is a popular choice for its stain-fighting power. I ended up not using a Firehouse Subs pickle bucket, it smelled too pickle-y, but you get the idea of the size of the container needed.

There are several variations on this recipe, and there are different schools of thought on using a liquid vs. non-liquid version of this recipe. If you want to keep it easy, just run the bar soap through a food processor (get one at a thrift shop expressly for grinding up soap so you don’t have to have soapy food) and combine it with the washing soda and borax. Store it and use about 1 TBSP per load of laundry. The thing to watch for with the non-liquid detergent is that the soap may not dissolve too well in cold water washes. If you use cold-water for laundry, I recommend you proceed with making the liquid version.

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These past two months have been a blur to me.  I was busy with both boys in baseball, and my responsibilities with the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club ramped up, as I was in charge of organizing the elections of next year’s officers and a biennal review of the Constitution and other legal documents.

Pardon the blurriness. I was recognized by Hurlburt Field earlier this month as a nominee for the annual "Angel Award". I didn't win (I didn't hold a candle to most of my fellow nominees!) but I was incredibly flattered to be among such amazing volunteers.

But now it has all wound down, with the new Hurlburt Spouses’ Club officers installed a couple weeks ago, the boys’ baseball and Cub Scouts having come to a close and I have a summer season that I can dedicate to my family.

One of the things that really came to a screeching halt in April and May was normal cooking for the family.  Our dinnertimes became dominated by the “quick and easy”, from chicken nuggets to Firehouse Subs.

With the help of some inspiration from several friends who have embarked on similar cooking/eating journeys, I am going to try to go “back to basics” with our eating.  Not a “fad diet”, per se, but just trying to reset my cooking and eating habits a little.

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20. May 2012 · Comments Off on Nebraska Discoveries 21*: The Keystone Trail in Bellevue · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

* I plan to renumber/redesignate my Nebraska-sightseeing-related blog posts into something more mangeable for search engines. Stay tuned, if you subscribe via RSS you might get inundated with updates. I’m not changing the text of the posts, just the titles and tagging.

The Keystone Trail parallels Papio Creek in Bellevue.

On Friday I took a short run on one of eastern Nebraska’s awesome running trails: The Keystone Trail.  I used to run on this trail a LOT when we were living in Nebraska, and I’ve written previously about the great views it gave us of the Offutt Air Show in 2008.  This is how I did my 10K and 1/2 marathon training when I lived in the area.

From where I’m staying in Bellevue for my reserve work right now, it was about a 1/2 mile run to a trailhead off Capehart Rd.  It was so easy.  So I set my Nike+ for a 5K run and ran out 1.5 miles or so on the trail.  On the return trip, once my Nike+ told me I had run 5K, I stopped to enjoy the views.  I could take some pictures too.

The markers are approximately every tenth of a mile. They are a bit misleading on this marker: the "K" is for "Keystone" and not "kilometer". The numbers posted are miles.

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16. May 2012 · Comments Off on Seen at the Offutt Field House · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

The Offutt Field House.  It was my second home when we were living in Omaha.  It seemed to be a shorter drive from our house in Nebraska to the Offutt Field House than our current drive from our house to the neighborhood community center’s gym.

The Field House is one of the largest gyms in the Air Force.  It is a converted aircraft hangar and even with everything in the fitness center, there are still large parts of the same building dedicated to other missions.  The Field House has several basketball and volleyball courts, three tennis courts, a 0.4 mile running track, a soccer pitch, indoor golf driving range training cages, several cardio training areas, several weight training areas (both free weights and machines) and even a kid-friendly area where parents can do both cardio and weight training on the perimeter of a full-sized playground structure.

I was half-marathon training on my last visit to Nebraska in January so I was running outside, and I wasn’t in Nebraska on my previous Air Force Reserve stint.  So I hadn’t set foot in the Field House since last September.

There were some pretty significant changes after not having visited for 7 months.

There are Fathead wall decals throughout the facility now.  I hope those were donated to the Field House and not purchased with government funds.

This huge Crossfit gym appeared. While I didn't capture it in the picture, there were over a dozen people doing Crossfit workouts while I was running laps around them on the track. http://totactfit.com/

This area used to be a kid-friendly cardio area with basketball hoops available for kids. It's now the Offutt Combatives Club training area. There is also space for MMA training. Boy, times have changed. I'm awaiting the return of a square boxing ring.

Finally, I thought I'd show off some of the Fatheads that were gracing the blank walls around the track. This is Troy Palomalu (from his USC days). To the right of him is Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers. There was also a huge Nebraska Stadium Fathead.

My reason for the trip. Dave had a dark green Cabela's hat that disappeared recently. I offered to get him a replacement. This one was on the clearance rack for about $4.75!

I wandered over to Cabela’s in La Vista, NE on Monday before I went to the Apple Store for an appointment to fix my iPhone’s back glass.

It was nice taking my time and browsing around. I enjoy Cabela’s camping and outdoor gear…especially since we’re a house full of Cub Scouts. I got to see so many interesting things that I usually don’t get to pay attention to because I’m too busy with the boys…enjoy a photo gallery of my findings on a short trip to Cabela’s.

It's a 2-gallon bucket with a 60-day food supply. I'd never seen anything like it! They were stacked in a pyramid at the front of the store as if there was a hurricane heading towards Nebraska. Dave pondered that maybe it was in preparation for December 21st?

Nebraska is in the middle of their relatively short turkey hunting season. The store was essentially "RealTree" colored throughout.

I enjoy seeing the old-fashioned candies at the checkout line areas.

Jacob has recently started snacking on sunflower seeds. A baseball thing. He also enjoys hot sauce on many of his foods. So I picked him up a package of these sunflower seeds and we'll see what he thinks when he tries them next week.

Many of you know that I have my pet peeve about rental cars. When I reserve a particular size of car, I would really like that size. I’ve been renting vehicles most of the times I travel to Omaha for my AF Reserve duty, and rarely do I receive what I’ve reserved.

Call me cheap, but when I don’t expect to do any more than shuttle myself to/from my job every day, I don’t need more than the smallest, most fuel efficient car available. Some of you may remember my adventure with the Ford Mustang that I rented in late February 2011.

This time around, I was pleasantly surprised when the car rental dealer attendant told me that they had a “subcompact car” waiting for me. That was what I had requested.

A Toyota Yaris. It starts at $14K new. Probably among the least expensive cars on the market.  And that’s what you get. It’s a very very simple, low powered, basic car. Hooray for 30+ mpg and hooray for it being nice and nimble in the tight Offutt AFB parking lots near the building where I work.

But as you can see from the picture above, I couldn’t even fit my single wheeled duffel bag in the back. I wasn’t expecting that. BOO! I was able to toss the bag into the back seat, and I guess I should be thankful that there even was a backseat. It could have been a Smartcar, right?

This car has mostly manual controls (except the power windows and automatic transmission), a very basic stereo (with an MP3 jack, at least), and the dashboard information — such as the speedometer, odometer and engine lights — was in the middle of the car…instead of right behind my steering wheel on the driver’s side. Why is it like that? I’m not sure at all.

From what I read, the 2012 Yaris doesn’t have that centralized dashboard anymore. Phew!

With a 106hp engine, you can imagine the cars trailing behind me when I am trying to climb a hill, say, near I-680 and Dodge St. in Omaha, where you’re climbing up into the elevated express lanes.

Here’s a better view of the car.

It maneuvers quite well. But not very powerful, which is evident on hills.

I know...the top of this plastic rack of drawers is sagging terribly.

As the school year wraps up around here (my boys finish on June 8th) I’ve started thinking about sorting and storage of the boys’ school papers. I’m sure other school systems are similar in that the kids bring home volumes of paperwork: completed worksheets, tests, readings, PTO newsletters, classroom newsletters, announcements about summer camps, sports, and special charity events in the community. This all takes PAPER!!

I can’t keep everything obviously. In part because I have enough “stuff” in the house, but mostly because when it’s time for us to move, we have to account for any extra weight over and above the allowances the Air Force gives us. So I have to pick and choose what’s worth keeping forever, and what’s worth tossing — also forever.

Trying to figure out what stays and what goes....

When the boys were in preschool, my friend FotoMom taught me I could staple together two pieces of posterboard to make a portfolio-like envelope. This easily held the papers as well as the larger pieces of artwork. I have these stored in our shed in the backyard, and we’re toting those from house to house. To be honest, I haven’t accessed a single one of those envelopes once the boys’ school years end…but I’ll continue to carry them from house to house.

What say you? Help me strike a comfortable medium between keeping the special stuff and not overwhelming the moving folks with seemingly extraneous paperwork!!!