Friday, July 31, 2009

Swimming today

. . . but not in our pool! Or at least not only in our pool. There are public swimming pools scattered all over our city and at least a couple of them have fun things for kids to play with. Today we are going to a park in the south part of the city that has a lot of those things at the pool. The admission price is cheap beyond belief, so I'm gong to feed the kids lunch in a little while and pack us all off to the pool. It'll be our first time this summer to go to a general swim at a park.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wonderful Monday

The best news of all--


I can't even express the relief I feel over that. This has been an awful month, what with family things, the heat, and then the uncertainty about where we were going to be living. I finally feel like I can settle in to our house, register the girls for school, and feel like we'll be here for awhile.

Next, I had a letter in the mail yesterday. It was from two of my former students (husband and wife) and was a very sweet thank you note. It was very much appreciated. It also had a Target gift card included that will take care of all the school supplies my daughters will need for school this year.

Lastly, our baby birds are looking a lot like teenagers these days. Instead of being nestled down in the nest last night they were perched on the edge of it. They didn't budge when I put the camera up there, but I'll bet they'll be gone in a day or two.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The air museum

One of Kevin's friends came for a long weekend. His mom works for an airline so it's relatively easy for him to travel. He chose us over Paris, France, where his family is this week. :-) Hehe.

Dh, Kevin, and the friend went to an air museum yesterday. Lots of walking, lots of heat, but they had a great time. The first picture is the amazing Super Guppy. The first time I drove by the air museum I about drove off the road when I saw it. That is Kevin and dh next to it.

Kevin playing around.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monday 8:15 am

That's all I can say about it.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The best cheesecake ever

Fry's had Philadelphia cream cheese on sale for 89 cents this week and last, so between a couple of visits, I ended up with 6 packages of it. Obviously that called for a cheesecake!

I used the recipe found at :
Prep Time: 15 min Total Time: 5 hr 25 min Makes: 16 servings

What You Need!

6 HONEY MAID Honey Grahams, crushed (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
5 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream 4 eggs 1 can
(21 oz.) cherry pie filling Make It!HEAT oven to 325°F.

MIX crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Bake 10 min.

MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

BAKE 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with pie filling.

I would double the ingredients for the graham cracker crumb crust because it was pretty skimpy and I wouldn't change another thing. It was absolutely smooth and moist, honestly the best I've ever made or even eaten.

Kinda filling too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New babies

We've been watching a mama dove sitting on a tiny, tiny nest for more than a week. Haven't seen her budge an inch. This morning C came running in to tell me the mama bird is gone so there must be babies in the nest. Right she was! However, the birds are a lot bigger and have a lot more feathers than I expected so she must have been sitting on babies for a few days and not just eggs.

Here is what the camera saw, as the nest is at about eye level for me and I couldn't really see down into it:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dishwasher trials

How exciting, I know. ;-) Here's the thing--since I've been basically washing the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher, they've been coming out shiny clean. Obviously I don't want to keep double washing, but I do want them clean. At the start the dishes had food on them as well as a mineral film (I think that's what it was anyway). I had already filled the rinse agent dispenser.

Here is what I'm doing now:

water washing dishes first
adding Lemi-Shine to the main dispenser
adding a gel pack of detergent to the main dispenser
throwing a gel pack of detergent into the main body for the pre-rinse

Since starting the Lemi-Shine everthing is coming out without the dull film. I will eliminate steps and products until the results are not acceptable, then come back up just until I'm happy with the results.

Today's load is not being rinsed, just the big stuff is being scraped off. I'll evaluate the results of this washing and go from there. It would be nice if the dishwasher actually is a good one and it was just some odd quirk of the dishwasher the first few cycles. There are so many weird things about this house that scream "delayed maintenance" that it could just be something the previous resident didn't bother to keep up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

They come out clean if they go in clean

Dishwasher problems. The water here is the hardest I've ever experienced and the dishes just aren't getting clean. I washed them by hand for a few days because it seemed easier that way. Dh accidentally loaded the dishwasher with dishes I had soaking in soapy water for washing and I decided to just run the load and see what happened. I used a water conditioner that was recommended and the dishes were already almost clean and lo and behold . . . they came out clean!

So now I have to decide what is easier--to just wash them from start to finish or to rinse them completely, then run them through the dishwasher. I think the second option uses more water, but it does sanitize them.

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pictures out my window

The first is the pretty yard across the street. It's what I see when I sit at my computer or talk to my students. The second is, unfortunately, what I see when I look up at the eaves right outside my window. Obviously when the former occupant patched the water damage she didn't actually REPAIR the source of the problem. This patch fell down within a week of our moving in here, after the first good rain storm. There is also a wet patch in the ceiling in the hall . . . .


I'm back in Costco-land after a five year hiatus and when in Rome . . . . Yesterday was our first time to nose around and things have changed a little but not much. I saw postage stamps (25 cent discount on a hundred of them--I passed), a women's trunk show, and a LOT more wine than I remember from earlier times, but everything else was about the same. Here is what I got:

Kitchen trash bags
A pint of vanilla
Baking powder
Bag of fancy salad mix
A two-pack of frozen lasagne
Corn dogs
Shredded mozzarella
4 pounds of butter
Toilet paper
25 pounds of white flour
2 gallons of milk
2 pounds of coffee (had a free coupon, dh will use it as an incentive prize at work)
22 gallons of gasoline

I looked at prices on other things we use regularly, especially as I get closer to school lunch-making time again and have a mental list for next time. There sure were a lot of other bargain-hunters there too, and the parking lot has recently been expanded or I can see parking would be a challenge. It was fun but boy, you sure could spend a lot of money there if you weren't being careful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leaving early

"A" came for a month this summer and had a great first week. Then we noticed incessant phone calls and the next thing we knew she didn't like it here, didn't feel like she fit in, and wanted to go "home." Dh told her if the person she was on the phone with wanted to buy her a ticket "home" and the ticket was out of our town, not the bigger airport two hours away, she could leave any time she wanted after the youth activity on Wednesday.

We fully expected this behavior but what surprised us was that the other party actually ponied up for a plane ticket. This is the first time EVER.

I think it is really interesting that a child can be having a great time and after just a few phone calls learns that she is having a terrible time and is being treated badly. I guess a person a long distance away is better able to determine a teenager's happiness than the teen herself?

If I hadn't read a certain book I wouldn't even know how this kind of brainwashing is done. However, I have read the book and since the systems have been in place more than 14 years, it actually isn't hard to do. I assume this is the last summer time with us as I'm sure she will know even before the scheduled visit next year that she'll have a bad time and she'll be treated like the maid or in some other "unfair" manner.

Good job, Audrey! And amazingly enough, you even paid cash for it this time instead of making us pay for it as usual.

I forgot to mention yesterday . . .

. . . how much C liked her hair the day we went to Tombstone. She is the only straight-haired sister of the three little ones and of course they all want the opposite of what they have. A couple of days before I had French braided her hair and it had gone through a couple of swimming-pool-then-drying cycles. When dh brushed it out she thought it looked just like her sisters' hair. :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tombstone, Arizona

Dh is much better about planning day trips than I am. He wants to go see things himself, but what he really wants is for the children to have good memories about the things we did together as a family while growing up. Being a Western fan, of course the first trip was to Tombstone.

There was a bit of western gear in evidence . . .

The day was really hot. It was 106 in our town and since Tombstone is at a higher elevation, it was a little cooler there, but still over 100 (38C). We loaded up our Omaha Steaks cooler (the one that our Christmas steaks from Mom were packed in for shipping) with lunch, cans of soda, bottles of water, and ice, put on sunscreen and headed out.

Tombstone is only about a hour from home, closer than I expected (keep on triangulating) and has lots of history. It's where the OK Corral is and its famous gunfight in the 1880s.

Today it is a commercial (oh, how commercial!) Old West Town and you can see gunfights and take tours of things like an underground mine, the old courthouse, the town via stagecoach or covered wagon, the biggest rose bush in the world, the OK Corral, and places like that. Everything except Boothill Cemetary costs. Bill and the kids did more of the tours while I walked around town and poked into antique shops, book stores, local art galleries, and fudge shops. ;-) Here is the artists' cooperative sales lady:

I bought that boot-shaped porcelain Christmas ornament she is reaching for. I bought some fudge in a shop (peanut butter chocolate as well as maple-walnut) and ate some of it while I watched the world go by from a bench out in front. The last thing we did was take a stage coach tour around town. Since there were seven of us and it was a real stage coach from the 1880s, it was pretty small and Kevin had the privilege of sitting up front next to the driver. Here is the stage coach:

As we headed out of town we stopped at Boothill Cemetary where some of the famous old gunslingers were buried. Most of the graves there are from the 1880s. The sign said the cemetary fell into disrepair and in the 1920s it was researched and new signs made for the graves. Lots of them are still marked "UNKNOWN" but quite a few have signs. Although the picture is blurry (*I* didn't take it!)and everyone looks tired, here is dh's favorite marker. I assume this is a modern copy of what was there at the time.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swimming girls

When we put the girls in the pool for the first time none of them could swim or really even coordinate their movements for locomotion. Ten days later C can swim and E and S can coordinate well enough to move around the pool with their swim wings on. I'm surprised! C starts swimming lessons in about 10 days and I hope I can grab two walk-in slots for the other two as they would all benefit from some lessons. We are all starting to get tan lines but we usually swim late in the day to avoid the sun so we haven't had much in the way of sunburns. Having a pool costs $$$ so we are making sure we use it and enjoy it so the money isn't wasted.

I'm having trouble with links' not loading today, so Blossom, no comments on your blog today although I'm very happy to see you back!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fun in the sun

Lucky girls, they got to go swimming twice today. This was the morning swim.
All three girls have water wings that really make the pool fun for them. I'm pretty sure once swimming lessons start I'll be told to nix the wings.
A couple of friends should recognize S's suit (the original owner is Amy C. and she is now over 6' tall) and Michael should recognize E's as it belonged to his girls, my nieces). Aren't they CUTE??
Here is Anna. She's jumping in here, but is learning to dive this summer.
Kevin likes free style. Or maybe he slipped. I'll have to ask him. ;-)
Undoubtedly the novelty will wear off, but we sure are enjoying the pool.

A little more about Savannah

I got a mass email from her parents that said her funeral will be this Saturday at our church in Gallup. It will be two weeks after she died because her parents wanted to wait until her mother got out of the hospital before they made the final arrangements.

This is what happened *as far as I know*: The family was headed to Colorado to go camping. They were in their Suburban, pulling a huge travel trailer. A gust of wind caught them and rolled the vehicle. The father tried to save Savannah but in the end he was unable to.

It was a freak accident. This is the kind of thing that could happen to ANYone with a high profile vehicle.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

233 years ago we gained our independence from England. When I asked my 4th graders about that 10 years ago it took about 10 guesses for someone to finally guess England. ~sigh~ I need to talk about it more with my children too.

Our celebration involved adding a family member. Yep, we picked up dh's dd "A" from the airport. It was a pleasant trip and we managed to find a Waffle House. When we used the Albuquerque airport we usually stopped at Waffle House for a bite to eat after picking someone up, even if it was late at night. I had my usual which is two waffles with pecans. I did notice something new on the menu which was "Lite" waffles and the server said they were buttermilk waffles. I ordered them and they were really good with just a hint of sourness to them. Of course, slathering both little containers of margarine over the waffles negated any fat or calorie savings, I'm sure.

Our evening celebration was swimming and BBQ'd hot dogs, Jello/Cool Whip/cottage cheese/fruit cocktail salad, watermelon, root beer, and cinnamon rolls for dessert. Delicious. Then we went swimming again. A played games with the younger girls and came up with funny stories and ideas they loved.

After we showered off and the younger girls went to bed the other three of us went back out to the patio and finished off the watermelon, spitting the seeds out onto the lawn. Last of all was a fireworks show that we could just view through the tree tops.

Happy Independence Day and I'm glad the USA won the war. ;-)

Guess what dh killed last night in the hall outside our bedroom?

This is a stock photo, not the actual one, but I believe (from my very, very quick look) this is the same kind. This is what it says above the picture I found:
The Arizona bark scorpion is the species of greatest concern to most people in the Phoenix area. The venom of a bark scorpion can cause serious discomfort.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How I'm feeling and some silliness

I'll have to say I have felt depressed all week after hearing about Savannah's death. There are some other things going on too which are hard to bear, but I realized I can't bring Savannah back and while I can be a listening ear and a giver of advice, I can't take away the other hurts some family members are going through right now. For the sake of my husband and children I decided I have to shake the melancholy.

I thought I'd tell some of the silly things about our new house. The former owners made lots of upgrades, but they were all as cheap as they could go! I think they watched way too much "Designed to Sell." The master bedroom has two walls made out of this local concrete block called slump block. What a yucky name. I guess they didn't like it any better than I do, so they stuccoed over it. They didn't do a very smooth job of it and when they came to the electrical outlets and light switch covers, they didn't bring them out flush with the new wall, they curved the stucco in like it was adobe or something. Oh, and they trapped the covers in the stucco so they can never be removed or changed!

The master bath looks pretty good. The former owners replaced the counter and the sinks and they sit on sleek black cabinets . . . which are the old cabinets with a coat of black paint. The black towel rod . . . is the old oak one painted black. Even the door has been painted a dark color on the inside while the outside is still white.

The kitchen has newish cabinets, about 10 years old, I'd say. I can say with 98% surety they are the kind you buy at Home Depot flat in a box and assemble yourself. They aren't too bad, but still, nothing like the custom cabinets we left in our house in Gallup.

The last two tie for my "favorite" cheap upgrade. The floors look like 14" ceramic tiles, until you look a little closer and see that they are vinyl peel-n-stick squares . . . applied over Pergo.

The other "favorite" is the pool. It's an older pool and the water is a beautiful blue. Cloudy blue. We had the pool guy come out and test the water to see what he could do to clear up the cloudiness. It's so cloudy you can't see the third step where you enter the water, or your feet when you are standing in the pool. Turns out the color is so pretty because below the edge tiles, it is painted a beautiful ocean blue. You don't paint pools, you plaster pools. Because if you paint, the paint comes off in the water and makes it cloudy. For as long as the paint is on the pool walls. I guess it was cheaper than replastering though.