Fairy tales and four-days

I’m thankful that today, the day after a fantastic weekend, was not a let-down like so many days after holiday weekends are. We had a FABULOUS weekend!

For starters, we’ve been watching the first season of “Once Upon a Time”, a show based on all the fairy tales we learned as children. I admit, I haven’t even seen the full lengths of Snow WhiteAlice in Wonderland or Pinocchio. I was more of a Lion King and Beauty and the Beast kind of girl. And I didn’t even really know other versions besides Disney existed until I took a storytelling class at Bradley. Anyway, the show is good and wholesome. No sex, no gory violence. We finished the first season last night.

So, onto the weekend:

Friday – I had to nanny (work? babysit?) all day. These kids wear a girl out! I haven’t made it to “Queen Babysitter” status (the last babysitter they absolutely LOVED is sitting on her throne in Kansas), but I’m doing fine. 😉 We cleaned out the horse pen, played Army, ate MRE’s in the “valley” and jammed out to CMT. Good times. This city girl has at the very least country music going for her.

I will ride by the end of the summer!!

After “work” (hard to believe I get paid for having FUN!) I met up with Aaron and some leaders and kids from our youth at church to do some paintball. So fitting that I played Army earlier in the day… I was training! Ha!

I didn’t last two minutes.

Saturday – We got up early, picked up Jess, and went to the farmers’ market in Sunland Park. Honestly, it was a bust. Aaron got some jerky and chow chow (new to me!) but there was next to no produce. I really wanted some tomatoes! Hopefully my plant will produce some good ones.

We headed to the church picnic at Veterans Park in our side of town. It was nice to not have to drive across the mountain for a church function… the picnic was specifically for people in the northeast part of town. It was a great time! Aaron got sunburned from playing volleyball. I played for a few minutes and then ended up chilling in the shade. Thankful for great church friends!!

Sunday – We went to Cloudcroft for the day. I’d been looking forward to this trip since we decided to do it a couple weeks ago. It was nice to have a Sunday off of our normal responsibilities. Cloudcroft is a little mountain town (population 750) in the mountains of the Lincoln National Forest.

We got there mid-morning and checked out an arts/crafts fair. We went in and out of all the little shops downtown. We ate lunch at a diner… how I miss diners!! We hiked off our lunch on a short 2-mile trail. We were hoping for a more strenuous hike, but the Osha Trail worked out just fine.

Monday – We got up and ran 5 miles each for wear blue:run to remember around post. It felt good! I really pushed when it came to the last mile. We ran some errands around post and then stayed in for the rest of the day. I made a big breakfast when we got home. We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, packing and finishing up Once Upon a Time”.

Today we were up at 3:45. I took Aaron to the airport (25 days for this TDY and counting!) I decided to go ahead and run before “work” on the west side, since I’m doing the Runner’s World Run Streak (run at least one mile a day between Memorial Day and Independence Day). I. FELT. AWESOME. 3 miles in 27 minutes!!! That’s unheard of for me in El Paso. It was crisp and cool (well, probably 60 degrees), the sun wasn’t up over the mountains yet, and I just clicked them off. I ran with music, which is something I haven’t done in at least a week, and that kept me motivated. I felt joy when running, so much that I think I even smiled. Of course, when you have this ahead of you, how can you not? Trees, panoramic views, fields and JOHN DEERE TRACTORS!

I now have several days before I need to nanny again, so I’m going to get a TON of homework done despite the week extension for one of my classes. I have to get a bunch done before mah BEST FRIEND AMELIA COMES TO VISIT!!! WOOHOO!!!

Summer nostalgia

I know it’s not *technically* summer  yet, but it’s in the 90’s in El Paso, so it feel like summer. Crazy to think we have over a month until the actual solstice! Anyway, I digress.

Summer has great memories. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Here’s a list of things I love about summer (which lasts for 6-7 months here. Haha.)

  • Having more daylight, especially in the evenings. I love taking the puppy for walks right after the sun goes behind the mountains. Kids are playing in the street and people are outside. It’s nice. (P.S. She’s not really a puppy, but who cares?)
  • Having more daylight in the morning, which forces me to get out of bed
  • Tomatoes!!!! Can’t wait to get some of these from the farmer’s market, and hopefully my back yard. Tomatoes + cottage cheese + cracked black pepper = heaven.
  • Iced tea. Fresh brewed, unsweetened, with lemon. Yes.
  • Lazy days where you stay inside, watch movies and enjoy the A/C. We have a swamp cooler, but it still gets nice and cool in here!
  • Birds chirping
  • Green grass. Don’t get much of that around here, but when I do see it, it makes me really really happy.
  • Staying up really late and reading in bed with a cool breeze coming from the window. Okay, this is mainly something I’d do when I lived at home. I really should read more…..
  • Summer foods that don’t need to be hot… pasta salad, BLT’s, potato salad, Jell-O, fruit.
  • Burgers/steaks/chicken on the grill. We have a charcoal grill and it makes things taste so yummy
  • Asparagus!!!
  • Shorts, t-shirts, maxi skirts, SANDALS (Ughhh I hate socks and shoes), flippy-floppies, tank tops
  • Getting a tan. I haven’t been trying to, because this sun is hella strong down here, but I do wear SPF 15 lotion daily and some sun gets through. WEAR SUNSCREEN!
  • Thunderstorms. Ahhhhh. I miss these so badly!!
  • Running in the rain. Again, can’t really do this… I mean, it’s a big deal if we have a 10% chance of rain.
  • The fact that I’m not cold 24-freaking-7. I’m still that crazy person who takes a sweater into BDubs or Chili’s in the middle of SUMMER.
  • Hanging clothes outside. Again, another memory from living at home, but sheets always smelled soooo good.
  • Bath and Body Works’ Berry Vanilla body spray from last season. It’s summer in a plastic container.

So, friends, there’s my list of reasons I love summer. I really love all the seasons for their own reasons. I just have to say something to the people who give the desert crap for being hot: IT’S A DESERT. Of course it’s hot. But youuuuu also live in Georgia/Tennessee/Illinois/MIssouri, where it’s ridiculously humid and therefore makes it feel like 147 degrees Fahrenheit. At least our relative humidity is 6-8%. I’ll take that over 85 degrees in Illinois. Seriously. And by the way, we have some kickbutt tumbleweeds out here. You win some, you lose some.

A challenge for every day of the week

I have to say… I quite content right now as a stay-at-home wife/nanny/tutor/seamstress/entrepreneur????/short-term missionary/volunteer “Sunday school” teacher/dog trainer… I think some of the best jobs are ones whose titles you really can’t pinpoint to a couple words.

Even with Husband Man being gone for almost three weeks (he comes home in two days, wheeeee!!) I’ve managed to keep myself quite busy. I’ve been working out 4+ days a week, hanging out with friends, sewing like a mofo, grocery shopping, cleaning….

The other day in my whirlwind of such exciting domestic activities, I got a call from a private school organization here in El Paso asking if I were interested in a part-time Spanish teaching position through the end of the school year, with a  possibility of full-time employment next year. Ehhhh. For once, I didn’t feel pressure to jump on a teaching opportunity. Besides, I’m already committed to the family I’m nannying for, committed to the trip to Honduras, and I love spending so much time with Aaron when he’s home.

Truth is, I am content. I’m truly excited for the next few months, as they’ll be super busy and challenging! I think for me, being challenged is a requirement for contentment. I feel challenged in my workouts, in training my dog (I got a Gentle Leader and it’s working well so far!), in creating something for someone when they send me a picture and say, Hey! Can you make something like this?

Just yesterday I made a messenger bag, and while I didn’t have a pattern for a smallish messenger bag, I had one for a purse with a long strap. So, with my super-awesome mathematical skills, I used proportions to make the pattern bigger and guess what? It totally worked! I may make one like this for myself….

I also finished my first legit quilt this week, with squares cut with my fancy-schmancy rotary cutter, batting, and actual quilting stitching on top! That took patience… and then I had to miter corners. Phew. However, I believe this is just one of many quilts I will make in my life.

Anyway. Today I had this idea of a shop I’d like to open someday before I die. Call it a bullet on my “Bucket List”, whatever… but a shop like the pottery shops where you can take your mom, grandma, BFF, whoever, and paint pottery. Except mine would be a sewing shop, where you can make a project in one sitting, or have your daughter’s ninth birthday party, or take a class, or buy a coffee (an in-house cafe would be essential!), or purchase supplies for a project… wouldn’t that be fun?? Maybe someday, after we are done traveling and serving around the world, and our children are grown and have given us beautiful grandbabies, and we’ve purchased that $590,000 property in the New Mexican valley, and opened our animal rescue….. and my husband would work next door in his used bookstore…. someday. 🙂

Tales from the farm

Seriously. I think I need to start a new blog just about the things that happen while I babysit.

Yesterday on our way back to the house from school, we stopped by Grandma and Grandpa’s to wet down the pig. 1) They have a pig. 2) They have to wet it down??? Okay. So. Anyway. They introduced me to Gibbs, which is apparently a name off of the TV show NCIS. I don’t know these things! I don’t even know what that stands for…

Anyway. Gibbs is such a small and cute little piggy! He’s all black and white and has a little piggy nose. I really should get a picture. I asked A what they do with the pig when he’s all grown up and they’re done showing him at 4-H.

He said that they eat him. Gasp! The little piggy??? Then I was okay with it, because the pig grows up to be a massive, well, pig, and also because I. LOVE. BACON. So. Pig issue resolved.

Then, after homework, we had to go clean out the horses’ water. And by we, I mean they. While I watch with my sandals… SANDALS. Really, Elizabeth?! I need to get me some boots.

So, I helped A dump out the trough, and we started cleaning it out and filling it back up. Again, by we, I mean they. This mix of water and sand made mud, and before I could say anything, A and H had jacked up their pant legs to the knees, taken off their socks and boots and started playing in…the… gulp.. mud. It was brown and squishy and… muddy. And there was horse poop not too far away.

Anyway, I was a lucky girl that they didn’t start lobbing mudballs?? (???!?!!) at me. Then they cleaned up and went inside and changed and you never would have known the difference. Whew.

I never really thought I was THAT much of a city girl. I mean, my grandpa was a farmer, and my dad worked on the farm too, so that means I’m somehow by blood a country girl right?! I mean, my grandparents had an address in Farmer City, Illinois. And I went through two years of initiation when I taught at a school in the middle of a cornfield…. but I guess this “city” girl has a lot more to learn!

And then after Mom got home, I drove home a different way through the country, and it was so pretty. I’m pretty sure I saw the $590,000 house/property that I want. HAHAHA. Yes. Keep laughing with me. But it looked like it was on a farm…

The early bird gets the… workout

A certain husband of mine left for TDY (temporary duty) this morning, so we were up at 4 AM to get him to the airport. He was supposed to leave yesterday, but on our way to the airport he got a call saying his flight had been cancelled. I’m thinking it’s because of the crazy winds we’ve had this past weekend. In any case, it was nice to have him here for one more day! (By the way, whether he’s gone for 18 days or 205 days, I hate saying goodbye.)

The gym on post opens at 5 AM, so I was there and on the treadmill by 5:15. I’ve had such a running complex recently. I think that if I can’t run 3 miles and xx:xx pace, then it’s not even worth it. Well, we all know that’s a load of rubbish. Yes, pure rubbish. While I haven’t gained weight, I can feel my body composition changing since I haven’t been working out. Since Bataan I’ve been suuuuuper lazy. Horribly lazy. Making 571853 excuses to not work out lazy.

how true is this?!

This morning I walked/ran for 30 minutes, and then got on the bike for another 30 minutes. It’s about moving and burning calories, which in turn give me happy endorphins for my morning. While I hate getting up early, I love the feeling of having my workout, being showered, and drinking coffee by 7 AM. While he’s gone for the next couple weeks, I’m going to get back on this proverbial horse. I need to.

I’ve been working on a couple of orders over the past few days! I opened my Etsy shop and also started a Facebook page for the things I make. On Saturday I went to JoAnn’s to get more fabric. I’m excited for the next few months; they’ll be busy! I start a couple online classes at Indiana State University for a graduate certificate in ESL on May 14, and I still need to get my books for that. Once school is out, I’ll be watching the kids all day rather than just after school. There’s also the possibility of going to Honduras in August with a group from church. A busy summer is ahead!

So, this is home.

Tonight for a change in view, I decided to get my $10 Walmart patio “furniture” (just a chair and cheapo table) and bring it out front and sit like an old lady with my iced tea and my…. laptop. Yes, like an old lady… who’s up to date with technology. Anyway.

how quaint.
and to your right, you'll see an oasis in the sand.

A friend of mine posted recently about her feelings in her family’s cross-country move, and how she looked at the calendar and it felt like it was just a vacation. We’ll be going back anytime, right?

I think because I’m in a new environment, which isn’t nearly as oven-like inviting as “home”, I revert back to things of comfort. For me, that’s corn and bean fields, sounds of locusts and crickets, tornado warnings, days of rain and clouds, coldfronts that leave you feeling refreshed, and not being in the minority of language or culture. It’s homesickness, but it’s strange because I have my family (my husband), and my bed, and my blankies.

I stare down El Paso sometimes like it’s the bane of my existence, when really, the attitude is all mine. People here are very polite and welcoming, for the most part, and the roads are open with great views of the mountains, sky, and well, desert. I also stare it down like I’ll be in battle with it for the next five years… who knows how long the Army will keep us here.

I just want it to feel like home. I want to transport the comfort of even our third-floor apartment that overlooked a parking lot into our spacious house. I want it to look like the desert, but feel like I could cuddle up on my couch with a blanket and hot tea and welcome in the fall air. I want to see it get dark at 6 PM and see the snow falling… and then I think that and I ask myself, WHAT?! Didn’t you want to get out of the snow and cold that lasts for months? Well, of course I do. Digging my car out of a freakin’ blizzard with a dust pan and shovel were not my idea of fun. But at the same time, no. Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s what I’ve always known.

I’m already thinking of where I want to live after he gets out. On my list is not really the desert, but I could still see myself settling somewhere like El Paso… it’s home, for right now. And when we move on to the next place, I’ll take away memories from here, too.

(Like this little guy, named Jack. We’re watching him for a friend of my husband’s. Cuuuuuute.)

Well, it’s a dry heat.

Really. The heat isn’t that bad. We’ve been in El Paso for about two hours… and it’s not so awful. At least not humid! Oklahoma was waaayy worse.

We have been up the last two mornings to work out… go us! Before we left for El Paso this morning, we also went to the botanical gardens in Albuquerque. Very pretty.

We got to our hotel, right off I-10, and got settled in our room. It’s a nice room with a microwave and fridge, and good thing because we don’t know how long we’ll be staying here. We already have a few appointments to see houses over the next few days. We drove past one today and it was in the ghe-ttttt-o. Well, what I perceived to be the ghetto. Just not a very safe-looking place. I hope not all of El Paso is like this.

We can literally see Mexico from the view in our hotel room. We saw exits for Juarez, and lots of Mexican license plates. Being a Spanish major, this was fascinating to me. I’ve never been to Mexico. I know, I know, bad bad Spanish teacher. (Honestly, I’m not sure if we’re even allowed to go right now because of the military.)

We’re sitting at about 4,000 feet and it’s really not all desert-ish. There are trees and a little grass… the Rio Grande is, like, right there. We actually crossed it a couple times today on our way from Albuquerque.

I had a little freak-out this morning… or maybe I’ve  had a lot of little freak-outs over the span of our trip. I’m in a new place, and know virtually no one except my husband and a couple Army wives. So many people are fluent in English and Spanish, and I’m the gringa from up North who doesn’t remember slang from my first semester at Bradley….

All these doubts and fears could really run me over and cause so much anxiety, but I just have to go with the flow. I won’t know where to go or what to do but that’s okay. That’s what it’s like to live in a brand new place. It’s exciting because guess what: My husband and I actually get to live. Together. For longer than three weeks at a time. Really?! This shall be interesting….

at the botanical gardens in Albuquerque this morning

 

yeah, so there's mexico, waaaayyy beyond.

 

relaxing side by side... finally here!

 

kitteh's relaxing too.

The Fourth of July Blur!

Wowzers. The weekend of the Fourth of July. I’m posting now from our hotel room in Oklahoma City. After roughly ten hours of driving, we’re safe and sound for the night. Because of all the commotion in the past few days, I wasn’t too keen on blogging tonight, but as Aaron reminded me, the longer I wait, the harder it will be to remember everything. Here goes…

The movers came on Friday and packed everything up. Well, mostly everything. It was strange at first, seeing them touching all of our things, but then I got quite used to it and decided it was nice that we barely had to lift a finger!

sleeping arrangement from friday until last night.. ugh. kitteh not included.
box of silverware they forgot to pack.. in their defense the drawer didn't look like a drawer.
corner of crappola #1
corner of crappola #2

Friday night we went out to eat with my family (Mom, Dad, sisters Emily and Leah and Leah’s awesome boyfriend Tim) at Chili’s. The “children” then went across the street to get coffee… duh!

Saturday we saw my grandparents and then went to my in-laws for swimming and dinner.

Sunday morning we went to church at Faith for the last time for a long time. Pastor Rick, his wife Leigh Ann and lots of people prayed over us, and then we went to the all-church picnic and were able to visit awhile. We will miss our church family!

Sunday afternoon we got together with a good friend, Mila, and she took some pictures for us in the Pekin Park. We hadn’t had pictures done in almost two years, and we wanted some taken at one of our favorite spots in Illinois before we departed. Here are a few…

Sunday evening after we got pictures taken, we went over to my cousin Bryan’s house and had dinner with him, his wife Michelle (who has become a great friend and older sister to  me!) and this cute little Miss Thang…

me and my "niece" adeline (my cousin's daughter)

Monday was so much fun! We went to my in-laws’ house to swim, relax, and then go out to the fireworks. I definitely got some sun and had a great time with family. All four boys were together this weekend! Too bad I didn’t get a picture of that. Now you have to see our mugs again. 😉

After hanging out at the house, we went to the place at the park they had staked out since the morning. I never really went to the fireworks until we started dating. Last year Aaron missed them; the year before, we spent the Fourth at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.

riding on a sweet trike aaron's uncle brought
mean faces! rhianna and uncle aaron
our niece rhianna! handstand!
squinting at the sun but oh so cute! our niece zaia

Speaking of this little girl, we were all up early Tuesday morning and on our way to the Children’s Hospital for Zaia’s open heart surgery to correct her sub-aortic stenosis. The surgery went perfectly (as I knew it would!), and we’ve been getting updates today from my sister-in-law and her mom, Anessa. Zaia no longer has a heart murmur! So glad we were able to be there. We didn’t get to see her awake before we had to leave, but I still gave her a kiss! God is truly our Jehovah Raphe, our Healer.

While she was in surgery, we ran around Peoria to get a few errands completed. Last evening, we went over to my sister’s new house in Farmington. She and her boyfriend, Tim, moved in a couple weeks ago and have made the place look fantastic! I should have taken pictures. Emily came over, too, and we had a nice time just relaxing after a long and stressful day.

I was up at 4:30 this morning.. I just couldn’t sleep any longer. Our goal was to get out the door by 6AM, onto Starbucks, and on the road. We had a long day ahead of us, as we were planning on driving about 700 miles from Peoria to Oklahoma City.

whoops! one beer left, guess it needs to be drank. don't worry, elizabeth was driving!
all loaded up!
backseat.. yeah. kitteh's in there.

We got everything, I mean evvveryythinng out of the apartment. We were 30 miles out and realized that we hadn’t dropped the keys and check off at the office… whoops! We had to drive back and drop them off. So we did, and were behind schedule about an hour and a half. After I stopped freaking out and realized the world wasn’t ending, all was well.

bye bye Peoria!

Annnddd.. we’re cozy in our hotel room in the OKC, like I said. No major incidents, no major scares. We stopped in Springfield, MO, for Arby’s and man did it taste good. Aaron drove the rest of the way.  Luthor did great, even after the sedative wore off. I think he slept most of the time.

It’s still hard to believe that…

  • 1) we’re in Oklahoma. Where the wind…. (you know the rest).
  • 2) the interstates in this state are great… very clean and well-kept.
  • 3) we will be in Albuquerque tomorrow!
  • 4) we get to actually live together. Craziness!

Please pray for safe traveling and good weather. I will post later with a blog of our trip! Thanks for reading; I love sharing mundane fun all things that happen in my life and it’s a pleasure to share it with you!

>Summer observations

>Yes, I have summers off and no, I’m not ashamed.

I love being able to sleep in, or to come home from running or working out, take a shower, and go back to sleep. Guilt level: 0.

I love being able to hang out with friends pretty much whenever.

I love being outside and being active. Running, hiking, biking, walking, swimming, whatever. It’s fun.

I love the sun and heat, as long as there’s a way to cool off, like A/C, water, or a pool. Let’s hope the apartment pool is back on track soon!

I love that everything is so green. The trees, grass and fields. I realize that soon I will see nothing but desert, but I love that too.

Ice cream. Need I say more?

I’m not really loving taking two showers in one day, but I guess it’s necessary so I don’t smell like a junior high boys’ locker room. And my new shampoo smells pretty good. Just sayin’.

Makeup, who needs it? Today I put on only my moisturizer with sunscreen and some mascara. Confidence level? 10/10.

Summer for the past few years has meant a long visit with Aaron and this summer is the best because I don’t have to give him back for awhile!

Speaking of being active…

I went on a trail ride with Becca today. She’s 6’0″ and her husband is 6’7″, so it worked out to use his bike even though I had to lower the seat quite a lot! I’m sooo short at 5’10”. 😉 We went out to Jubilee College State Park west of Peoria. I totally overestimated my abilities. She took off ahead of me and I looked at the trail and took a big gulp. I fell within the first ten seconds, but I got right back on that thing!

We crossed the creek three times, and finally by the third time I just went for it! We walked a lot of it, but it was a great “interval” cardio workout.  She let me borrow Dave’s bike, helmet and gloves. I can see why you’d need a helmet. I also wore bug spray and took my Camelbak. That thing’s come in handy!

Anyway, I had mentioned that I wanted to get a picture in all my scratches-and-mud glory (I know this is nothing compared to you seasoned cyclists!) and so she offered to take this one after she dropped me off. Don’t be deceived; I had a bigger sweat stain than that!

It was fun and totally helped me get the edge off from Aaron coming home a week later than planned. Adrenaline and endorphins do crazy things… so… trail run anyone?

>New summer food ideas

>Last week when I went to the store, I filled up about half of my cart with produce. I should have thought through my week to realize that I wouldn’t be home a whole lot to cook, but thankfully most of it was still good today.

I had two bananas that were very very ripe and wanted to bake with them. So I found this recipe online for banana muffins. Instead of the 1.5 cups of flour, I put in .5 cup almond flour, .5 cup of my oatmeal mix and .5 cups of white whole wheat flour. I also added one finely chopped apple and used two bananas instead of three. Very yummy with real butter to top it off! To make them even healthier, I could have replaced the butter with a mix of water and ground flax seed, and the sugar with Splenda. But I’m a huge fan of real butter and real sugar. The best part is that you can have one.. or two three… and not feel horribly guilty.

Here’s what I made for lunch. I tried a version this recipe for tropical guacamole. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out… I had one avocado, a little salt, juice from a lime, pineapple and watermelon. Interesting combo, to say the least. I used the peas to dip. Overall, not a huge fan of the guac.

I had some leftover steak from the kabobs Leah and I made on Wednesday, so I cut that up and put it over some spinach (my salad mix had already gone bad) and tomato. I’m usually not a picky person, but for some reason I have a problem with the texture of the meat and the veggies together. It was still tasty, though. Maybe next time I’ll eat it separately.

I love tomato so I had the other half of the one in the salad.

The weird thing with butter in it over to the left is called a Butter Bell… it keeps the butter fresh at room temperature for a very long time. I don’t use margarine anymore; only butter.

And of course, I had to wash this all down with a big glass of (decaf) tea.

I always like to try new things in the kitchen; I get bored easily with the same recipes prepared the same ways. I also like to use leftovers and any food I already have because I love grocery shopping, but only like to do it twice a month.

Enjoy the day! It’s a hot one. I think I’ll bum around inside, finishing up some cleaning and laundry and maybe taking a nap.

Check it out…

 El Paso, TX Weather Forecast

Peoria, IL Weather Forecast
Pretty similar, if you ask me (except for the rain…)