Week with the munchkins, Day 1

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

After all the things that happened on Monday, we finally got home to our house at 9pm. The girls were so wound up from being at the doctor's office, the hospital and the car for hours. They never really got to play so we knew there was no way they were going to bed soon. We were able to get them to go to bed around 10:30 and luckily, they let us sleep in Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, I really didn't have anything planned for them. I decided to have in impromptu picnic lunch at the little park down the road for us. And me, as smart as I am, thought that it would be great exercise to walk! Well, the park was a little farther down than I thought it was and it was 100 degrees outside.......again. I should have known this was going bad when I kept hearing, "How much farther? I'm hot!" But I pressed everyone on.

We arrived at the park and ate PB & J sandwiches, bananas, apples and apple juice. I didn't bring enough juice, so the girls were still thirsty after that walk. We convinced the girls to play in the park to expend some energy.

Hailey, the one in the pink, got in a mood and didn't want to play. She went in circles around the pole (no laughing!) most of the time. She retreated to the swings until her sister decided to join her. I did get one picture of her:

I had dressed her in play clothes, so the pants aren't exactly a perfect fit. Excuse Aunt Stephanie's poor taste. Hannah, on the other hand, is pretty good at entertaining herself. She played in the playground and then climbed a tree.

Seriously, how much cuter can she get without teeth? This child is able to eat an apple quickly with no front teeth! I can't even remember those days anymore.

We left the park after a very short play, sweating and thirsty. The walk wasn't too bad on the way back, but we chugged water after we got back into our nice air-conditioned house. The girls spent the rest of the day playing inside. For dinner, I made them artichokes and chicken. They loved peeling away the layers of artichoke leaves, although my floor did not appreciate the mess. We let them watch Tinkerbelle on TV and then sent them to bed and Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Jason got some much needed quiet time.


Weekend in Boro

>> Thursday, July 30, 2009

We had a very eventful - and scary - weekend. Jason & I were supposed to take our nieces, Hailey and Hannah, back with us on Sunday. However, things didn't go as planned. When we arrived on Friday, we found out that my sister (their mom) was very, very sick. Her entire office staff was out and one was in the hospital. We thought it was the flu, but it ended up being an awful virus. My sis couldn't get out of bed and hallucinated on Thursday night from such a high fever. She talked to grandparents that aren't around anymore. My parents kept the girls at their house while we were there so she could rest.

Friday night was fun! My parents, Jason & I sat on the back porch and watched the girls ride their bikes and play while we drank wine. And we drank lots of wine! Wine tastes so much better when you have good company, a good back porch, and a good breeze. We stayed up really late and all went to bed a little buzzed.

Saturday was Hannah's 7th birthday, so my sister dragged herself out of bed to throw a small family party. We forgot to take pictures...sorry! At some point toward the end of the party, my mom disappeared. We found her asleep in the back bedroom. She caught the bug. Hailey (the older niece) was also sick, so I took her in to have her cough looked at. When we got home, Mom was still not moving well. By Sunday, she stayed in bed and planned to make a doctor's appointment for Monday.

Monday morning came and she was able to make an appointment at 2:45. Jason & I had already planned to take the girls to get their shots for school that same day at 1:30 (it's an hour from my parent's house), but I had Jason stay home so he could drive mom to the doctor. Thank goodness he was there because she passed out in the office and they rushed her to the hospital. She was there for about 8 hours and was treated for dehydration. They ran a lot of different tests on her including at least a CT scan (they thought it might have been a seizure) and a flu test. She was negative for flu and she didn't have anything abnormal with her brain. My Dad sent us back home before she got out so that we wouldn't catch anything.

I felt so guilty for leaving Mom in the hospital even though Dad was there. However, I'm glad none of us caught the bug. Dad caught it and is still running a fever off and on today. Mom is still not up to par, but is better. My sis went back to the doctor today and got a steroid and an inhaler. She was originally diagnosed with bronchitis, but I think she had the bug, too. We came back fairly healthy with the girls just having a little runny nose and cough. Thank goodness we came back that healthy!


Gone to visit the parents

>> Thursday, July 23, 2009

Well, we're off to visit my parents in the old hometown. We haven't been down there in so long because my parents have come up here a lot recently. I'll be MIA on the blog until Sunday or Monday most likely. We're coming back Sunday with these two monkeys in tow. That's right, Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Jason are braving the kiddos for a week! Will we survive? Stay tuned to find out! Have a great weekend everyone!


Book Review!

I'm way behind on my book reviews. I've read several good books recently. The first is The Chronicles of Narnia.

Image courtesy of here.

I read this series as a kid once before and loved it. It is a Christian-themed book although I never realized the parallels as a child. I remember loving to read about the Talking Animals and the adventures that the children would have spontaneously. Each book is an easy read for an adult and I breezed through them. Of course, I breeze through books anyway since I can never find a stopping point. I haven't seen the newest movies on these, so I can't tell you how accurate they may be. When I was a kid and we didn't have cable (can you imagine such a thing?), I used to watch Narnia on PBS. I may just like these stories because they put me right back in third of fourth grade when I read them. Worth the read!

The next book I read was Eragon.

Image courtesy of here.

I saw Eragon the movie a couple years ago and surprisingly, really liked it. I didn't even know it was a book first until recently. I had been waiting for a sequel to come out (which will probably never happen) anxiously! This book is about a boy and a dragon egg he found. He learns how to be a dragon Rider and fight for things he believes in. This book was really LONG! Like, somewhere between 700-800 pages long! And it was written by a 19-year-old. Can you believe that? The book was a little hard for me to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It's very much a mythical fantasy-type book which I normally wouldn't read, but it was good. Be prepared to read an immense amount of detail, making eveyrting the writer talks about easy to picture.

The next book I read was Shopaholic Takes Manhattan.

Image courtesy of here.

I read the first Shopaholic book a few months ago. You can read that review here. When I first started to read this book, I was highly irritated by the silly and flighty ways of lead character Rebecca Bloomwood. I think this was because I had just finished reading two "heavier" books so the switch to a "lighter" read was a bit more difficult. After I eased up and read further in, I became less irritated but still never truly loved the story. It's a typical girl has boy, girl misreads boy, fights with boy and wins boy back. Blah blah blah. It wasn't a bad book, but I definitely wasn't in the mood to read it. I'm not sure I'll keep following this series. But if you like light reads, do give it a try!

The next book in line was The Other Boleyn Girl.

Image courtesy of here.

I LOVED this book. Completely LOVED it. I've haven't read many historical-based books, but this one is a must-read. Never saw the movie, so again, I can't tell you how well it follows, but it can't be as good as the book. It was a nice, long novel that gave insight on how the conversations must have gone between Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary and her brother, George as Anne makes her rise to the throne of King Henry VIII. I couldn't put this book down and even Jason was trying to sneak a read off of my shoulder. The basic history stays true as the author did much research while writing. I highly recommend this book!

The last book I have to talk about is Hide.

Image courtesy of here.

This was another great can't-put-it-down-until-I-finish-book. It's about a girl who's been hiding and running from them her whole life but doesn't know who they are or why she has to hide. This book grips you as soon as you begin the first page and you won't want to put it down until you've read the entire story. I highly recommend this book as well!


Greek Bulgur Salad With Chicken

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This turned out to be such a yummy summer recipe, found online at Cooking Light. It makes a TON and can be used as a stand-alone dish or as a side dish. I think it's even better the next day after all the flavors had melded together. If you've never tried bulgur (and I hadn't), it's kind of like a larger-grained couscous.

Greek Bulgur Salad With Chicken

*makes 10 servings at 1 2/3 cup a piece

4 1/2 cups water
3 cups uncooked bulgur
3/4 fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons), divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 1/2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken (I used 2 baked chicken breasts)
2 1/2 cups chopped, peeled cucumber
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese (or as much as you darn well please!)
1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (or as much as you darn well please!)

Combine water, bulgar, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and cool to room temperature.

Combine remaining 1/4 juice, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add cooled bulgur mixture; toss well to combine. Cover and chill.


Happy Anniversary to Us!

>> Sunday, July 19, 2009

One year ago today, Jason & I exchanged vows......

And rings......

We kissed......

We danced......

We had cake......

And we left to begin our life as husband and wife.......

I love you so much my love. You mean more to me than you know. I look forward to spending the rest of our lives together!



>> Friday, July 17, 2009

Look what was in my in-law's tree!!!!!

Baby raccoons! Aren't they the cutest things ever?!? I just wanted to pick them up and snuggle with them. These two seemed to like to hang out together while this guy was kickin' it by himself pretty far away in some branches:

I'm not sure how Jason spotted either of these. The first two were well above our heads. Jason said he just saw something move out of the corner of his eye. When we realized how small they were, we started looking for the mama in the tree. We never found her, but Jason spotted the third little guy REALLY high above us. You can tell how hard it was to see him since we only got one eye in the picture. He was a sneaky little thing!


Washington, DC - Part 3

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?

As we finished with the Smithsonian and walked outdoors, I briefly considered raiding the ice cream vendor in front of me and hiding under a shade tree. DC has hardly any shade for the sidewalks. We almost threw in the towel, but I really wanted to see the National World War II Memorial which was a little walk away. This was definitely worth the trip.

As you get to the memorial, you see this sign etched in stone and near it, the dedication:

This is what the memorial looks like in it's (almost) entirety:

If you look at the small waterfall, you'll see a large archway. Above it, it's inscribed with Pacific. On the opposite side of the memorial, there's the same archway that says Atlantic. They stand for the American victory on land, sea and air. The columns you see lining it bear the names of the 48 states, 7 federal territories and the District of Columbia. It celebrates the unity between these places. I wondered why they were in the order they were in. They weren't alphabetical nor were they in order of the years they joined the United States. I asked a Park Ranger and she said to face the stars you'll see below. Picture them as the hosts of a dinner. The person seated to the right is the guest of honor. That state is the state that joined in the fight first. The guest to the left is the next most honored and by now you're probably getting the picture. You know Jason & I had to represent the home state:

This was below each archway (I have no idea why it turned out sideways here):

Look closely at the picture below:

In the photograph below, there’s a wall that says “Here We Mark The Price of Freedom”. You can’t tell in this picture, but that wall is lined with just over 4,000 stars. Each star represents 100 men and women that gave their lives to the war. Can you believe over 400,000 men and women died in that war? There were also quotes all around the memorial.

This memorial was so beautifully done. I felt proud to be a granddaughter of someone who served! I hope we never forget what these brave men and women did for us.

After paying our tributes, we turned around to get a silly Washington Memorial shot:

You see, the World War II memorial is located right behind the Washington Monument. We wanted to visit the monument, but they were sold out of tickets. They have tours every 30 minutes and was sold out until July 15! But after walking right past it, I'm kind of glad we didn't have to sit in a stuffy elevator. I think you can see it perfectly fine from the ground.

After passing the Washington Monument, we started walking to the Metro. Our feet hurt and I decided that it was Beer:30. Luckily, everyone agreed! We stopped into a Mexican place (I know, I know....we're not in Texas) and got ourselves some Yuengling beer, chips and salsa and nachos. If you're in the DC area, make sure to drink some Yuengling....it's so good! We filled up on snacks then drove a mile (which took over 30 minutes!) to Sequoia in Georgetown and ate a yummy dinner. I had a crabcake salad and it was delish! We sat outside by the water and watched helicopters and boats go by. After dinner, we walked to a little french restaurant. I can't remember the name of it for the life of me, but it was super tiny and really, really good. We had coffee and desert. On the way, we passed some old locks and took a picture by one of the few boats that use it:

After desert, we were stuffed and made our way back to the car. We took the scenic way back home and then stayed up late talking! We had to come back home to San Antonio the next day (Tuesday) so we just took our time at the house and hung out on the back porch. Typical Texas stuff! It was such a wonderful trip and we can't wait to visit again! Thanks again Deb & Jason!


Washington, DC - Part 2

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

After relinquishing a certain House Representative's desk back, walking in the super-cool member's-only tunnel, visiting the Library of Congress and finally, ogling the Capital, we headed out to the Smithsonian museum of Natural History. (If you missed out on Part 1, click here)

The museum is free to the public since it is a National Park and upon entering, I wanted to run away screaming. This is what we saw:

Nope, the dinosaurs aren't the scary part in this photo. It's the people, the kids.....the strollers. It was nuts-to-butts packed in there and I had a hard time enjoying it. Did I mention that we decided to do DC on Monday, July 5th? Here's my photos from the dinosaurs, but they're not very good because I really wanted to exit out of there. I don't like being crowded and there were just too many people pushing, too many kids screaming and shoving and too many strollers blocking my way to really have a good time here.

Do you see what I mean about the crowds? It was tough to deal with. After checking out the dinosaurs and trying to regain my sanity, we realized we were a little hungry. We had dinner plans, so we wanted something fairly light. We headed toward the Smithsonian Cafe which was terribly crowded. The cafe was built as an afterthought so it's tiny. The tables seat 4 tops, with most seating 2. Somehow, 3 of us got to sit at a table while the other 2 stood up. Jason & I shared a wrap and a water which was pretty good and totaled about $12.

Next, we headed upstairs to get away from the people and briefly checked out some flying animal skeletons. But the real gem of the museum was just ahead. We walked into the next room and saw this beauty tacked up on the wall:

It's a huge piece of copper (probably 6 feet wide) that had been found between slate underground. I seriously wanted to take it and hang it on one of my walls at home. It was perfectly preserved and gorgeous. Now this is the stuff I came here to see! As I turn around, I notice another fairly large crowd hovering around a smallish display. I somehow finagle myself in between a few people to discover it's the Hope diamond. I actually had a "hands-free" shot until this camera happy person stuck their hand in as I pressed the take button. Damn them! The Hope diamond was neat but honestly wasn't all it's hyped up to be. What makes this diamond special is the story behind it. It's got quite a history of being cut and resold and stolen, etc. Can you believe the original diamond was actually 112 3/4 carats compared to it's measly current 42 carats? Ha ha.

Behind the diamond was another cool find:

It's quartz sand that was slowly deposited and eroded by water. How awesome is that? Check out these gorgeous hunks of topaz:

The gem section of the Smithsonian was as crowded as the dinosaurs. I think every female (and possibly a few males) got a major case of the "I wants" in this section. It became nearly impossible to photograph most of the pieces. Although the Hope diamond is cool because it's big and blue, these diamonds are a heck of a lot bigger.

On the left is the Oppenheimer diamond (uncut) and weighs in at an astounding 253.7 carats. The diamond on the right is the Portuguese diamond (cut) and is the largest cut diamond in the collection coming in at 127.01 carats. How's that for bling? Or would you prefer the Logan sapphire (only 423 carats!)?

After the gems, the museum opens up to a large section of natural minerals and gemstones. One of my favorite stones are geodes:

They look like normal rock until you cut them open and get a beautiful surprise. The one on the top is almost 3 feet long. They cut off a small piece on the top so that you could look down at all it's beauty.

There were so many different minerals to see, so I didn't take pictures of most of them. I would never be able to read the labels later. However, this specimen gets my vote for Most Useless But Still Cool Item:

Yeah, it's the alphabet. In diamonds. Why anyone would need this I don't know, but it's still pretty to look at. My last photo in the museum was of a giant piece of quartz. I'm talking huge. Must larger and taller than myself.

From here I walked into a cave-like place. It showed you how minerals were mined from caves. I didn't spend much time in here since we got to see the real thing in Colorado. We then moved on to the sediment rock and space rock. By then, we'd gotten a call from our companions (we had lost them a long time before) asking where we were. We met up downstairs in the sea life section (HOW did we miss a giant whale hanging from the ceiling?) and decided that we were all at information overload. By the way, the sea life part was neat, but compared to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, TX and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, it was an easy pass. I think we might have seen half of the museum in almost 3 hours. That's about all any of us could take. If you are planning to visit them, just pick and choose what you want to see. You can't read or see it all. It's almost impossible!

We exited the museum and and got back in the heat and sun. We almost decided to turn back, but instead we pressed on to one more really cool thing. It was by far my favorite! Stay tuned!!


Washington, DC - Part 1

>> Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DC may not be a giant city, but there's more to do than you could ever imagine. Seriously. If you had a week to check it out, you still wouldn't see all the attractions and historical sites. It's both frustrating and amazing at the same time. Since Jason & I have friends there, we don't push ourselves to see EVERYTHING possible. We just go see what interests us this visit and save more for later. First thing first, our friend needed to stop by work to get some passes and things. Since she works for a certain House Representative, we get to do a few things that normal tourists wouldn't get to do.

Like sit in that House Representative's chair in his office:

Or, walk in the tunnel from one of the House buildings all the way to the Library of Congress. Yeah, we were doing our I'm-so-cool-because-I-know-someone-who-works-here-walk. Sorry, no pics of that. (of either the tunnel or the walk)

The Library of Congress was gorgeous! It is a truly beautiful building and a piece of art. This is the view from the outside. I actually took this picture last because we entered the building from underground.

Inside, there is architectural detail everywhere from floor....

to ceiling.....

I did get to see the main reading room, but no cameras were allowed in there. You also had to view it from above in a glass-encased balcony that made me both claustrophobic and hot at the same time. They keep you in glass so that they can regulate the temperature and atmosphere (germs and such) of the room. We didn't look at the building much more than this as we had other plans for DC. Here's our obligatory picture before leaving:

From here, we walked across the national mall to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. On the way, we walked right by the Capital building:

And so as not to let this post get incredibly long and to allow more bloggy time for me, I'm ending Part 1 here. Stay tuned for Part 2 - The Smithsonian Experience.


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