Saturday, July 31, 2010

A few more "old" photos from "the archive"

I was searching for some photos for a Memory Lane Friday post a few weeks ago, and found some "old" photos from the '90s and early '00s. They're not the best quality, but they're good enough. 

Here they are . . .

Sir Rafa's in the van. I'm getting ready to drive us somewhere. Breakfast? The zoo? I don't remember.

Uncle Hector and Oma (as she's making her "Ugh" face) at the El Paso Zoo.

The Uncle and Sir Rafa, again, at the zoo.

A mountain view of El Paso, as seen from one of the shoppettes at Ft. Bliss (it's the one near the fitness center - as a matter of fact, you can see the outdoor track's bleachers in the center of the photo).

Andrew's "paying his respects" to Mr. Sniffer the West Highland White Terrier's "final resting place."

My grandparents' wonderful backyard on Mountain Walk Drive.

Ah, saudade . . .  you always seem to find me, somehow. That's okay, saudade; I suppose an occasional visit is normal. Until next time, ate logu.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - Chore Time

This week's Memory Lane Friday theme is "Chore Time."

I don't remember having any regular daily or weekly chores assigned to me, such as "put the trash can out on the curb the night before 'trash day'" or anything like that.

What I do remember is expecting to be "on call" for that moment when my mom said something like, "Clean the kitchen after dinner tonight" or "Here - take these (the clean, folded towels for example) and put them in your bathroom (or wherever the item belonged)."

I certainly wasn't chore-less, but I just didn't have anything assigned specifically to ME. It was basically whatever came up. However, I do remember having to clean the kitchen after dinner a LOT. And sometimes, when I was old enough, I would have to make dinner, too.

Anyway, since I'm the oldest sibling, I ended up getting the chores with the most responsibilities.

For instance, if my parents went out for dinner or to a movie or a special function, I got to be the babysitter. Of course, since I was also the sibling, I didn't get paid for my babysitting duties.

When I was old enough to drive, and since I was the first kid to get a driver's license (being the oldest), I got to run the errands (go to the grocery store, go pick up x, y, or z at the pharmacy or Target, etc.).

I remember occasionally helping my brothers with their homework -  a specific science project for my youngest brother comes to mind. This one was where he we had to collect various bugs and such and put them in the "critter box" (a wood box with mesh sides for air flow).

However, we always seemed to have at least one family dog in the house, ever since I was very young. When I was old enough, and since I was the oldest kid in the family, I found that the dog care responsibilities started being fulfilled by me.

I guess the grooming, feeding, watering, and . . . uh . . . the "poop patrol" . . . are "chores."And I was expected to do all of that.

I actually found that I liked all the dog care stuff, so aside from poop patrol, I didn't find it to be a chore.

I do, however, remember a time in the middle of summer on a hot, humid day, that I had wanted to go swimming instead of doing poop patrol. I complained so much and made such a big deal about the stink and the gross-factor that my grandmother became flabbergasted and just went out there and did it herself.

I'm a little bit embarrassed now, just thinking about how my Oma went out there and did it that gross chore, but it had to be done; I guess she thought it would be easier if she just went out and did it, just to get it over with, right?

 Here's Toby, our German Shepherd - one of the many dogs our family had:
 We had Toby through the early to mid 1980s. When I was in high school, she went to live with a family with a huge plot of land, so she could have room to run a lot. This is the photo of her at their place.

So there you have it - my view of "Chore Time" in my family, when I was growing up.

Click on the "Memory Lane Fridays" button to check out this week's other posts:
Then come back next week when the topic is "It Was My Friend's Idea."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Liv's entering an Iowa State Fair contest!

The other day, I was looking at the Iowa State Fair website.

As I looked at the kids' section, I noticed there was an Iowa State Fair Coloring Contest for kids ages 3-10. There are four age divisions: 3-4 year olds, 5-6 year olds, 7-8 year olds, and 9-10 year olds.

A-ha! Livie is 4-years-old. She likes coloring and doing art projects. She likes the Iowa State Fair and is looking forward to going to the Iowa State Fair this summer. 

Anyway, each age division has its own coloring sheet that parents can download and print. Then kids color it, and the parents send it in along with the entry form to the appropriate address by August 1st.

So I printed out the 3-4 year old coloring sheet: a picture of a calf and a young farmer out in a field with a big ol' tree in the background.

Well, since I just found out about it, I needed Livie to color it soon so I could get it in the mail before the deadline. It usually just takes one day for 1st Class mail to get from our house to Des Moines, so I could send it in Friday, and it'll get there by Saturday, July 31 - just in time to meet the deadline.

But I didn't want to take any chances, so I really wanted to get it in the mail by this afternoon, just so it has a couple days to get there.

Since we were out of town until Tuesday afternoon, and I printed the page out on Tuesday afternoon, I figured Livie could color it either Tuesday or Wednesday. I also explained the difference between entering a contest and winning/earning a prize, versus being given a prize just because she wanted it.

She was intrigued by the idea, and was almost understanding the concept of winning a prize versus simply getting a prize, just because she submitted an entry.

If she doesn't win a prize, I know she'll be disappointed, but I hope the light-bulb goes on over her head about the concept of earning the prize and not getting one just because.

But she didn't feel like coloring the page either on Tuesday or Wednesday (she was too distracted by the library books she just checked out).

So this morning I got her to color the sheet.

Here's how she colored it:

Yep, you're seeing it correctly - she colored the calf lavender. She also added its tongue sticking out of its mouth, and saliva dripping off the tongue. She would've colored more drops dripping off its tongue, but I talked her out of it. Oh, and as you can see, she added the sun as well as a flower at the farmer's feet.

I'll get it in the mail this afternoon. 

According to the website, all entries will be displayed in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Fair (August 12-22). It also says that a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner will be selected for each age division, with each winner receiving a rosette.

Of course, now that I look at the website, it says that entries should be postmarked by August 1st. The entry form says that entry deadline is August 1st, which seems to me like they want it by the 1st. Just to be safe, I'll get it in the mail today, as planned.

So keep your fingers crossed for Livie's contest entry!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Okay, so Little Merry Sunshine gave me this idea . . .

Some of you may know that I enjoy reading a blog called Little Merry Sunshine, authored by fellow Lake Forest College (LFC) alumna and classmate of mine, Jessica Gardner, LFC Class of 1993. I know I've mentioned her (and her blog) before, but I have to mention her again, because she gave me the idea for this particular blog post.

A few days ago, she posted her "Bucket List" - a list of things she wants to accomplish in her lifetime. Click here for her "Bucket List" blog post found on her Little Merry Sunshine blog.

Well, after reading her post, realizing I'd accomplished a few things on her list, and wanting to accomplish a few other things on her list, I decided that was a sign I'd better do my own bucket list.

So here's my list, in no particular order - keep in mind, it's a work in progress, so I may have to add things as I go along, and definitely check things off as I go along:

1. Travel to Italy (specifically, Positano, among other Italian destinations), Spain, France, Greece, England, Scotland, Wales, and other European destinations with Livie and Andrew. See the sights, eat some tasty local cuisine.
2. Travel to Mexico (Oaxaca, Puebla, and other locations) with Livie and Andrew. Again, see the sights, and eat some tasty local cuisine (mole poblano comes to mind).
3. Travel to National Parks around the country with Livie and Andrew. The Grand Canyon, Acadia National Park, Minute Man National Historical Park, Bryce Canyon, Glacier National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park are at the top of the list.
4. Take a cross-country family trip with Livie and Andrew in a nice RV.
5. Take Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. – maybe this one could be in an RV.
6. Learn the ins-and-outs of Santa Fe and learning it by heart by spending lots of time there. Same with other Southwestern locations.
7. Get reacquainted with Tucson, with Livie and Andrew.
8. Take Livie and Andrew to the Hoover Dam.
9. Record our travels in photos and writing.
10. Buy a horse that I can ride (hunters/jumpers/trails) and show.
11. Swimming lessons for Livie.
12. Take photography classes.
13. Earn M.A. in English or Creative Writing.
14. Write a novel (preferably a mystery) and have it published.
15. Earn a “living” by writing novels.
16. Run the Army 10-miler.
17. Become a better cook.
18. Figure out how to make my grandmother’s tasty, homemade tacos.
19. Successfully grow my own garden, so my family can have fresh fruit and veggies in the summer.
20. Be completely debt-free.
21. Have a vacation home in the Southwest.
22. Get reacquainted with the Chicagoland area with Livie and Andrew.
23. Take Livie and Andrew to “Viva! El Paso” in McKelligan Canyon in El Paso, TX.
24. Spend a long weekend with Andrew in Las Vegas, NV, while Livie spends a fun long weekend with her Abuelita.
25. Take Livie to a Blackhawks home game.
26. Take Livie to watch a big horse show.
27. Be Livie’s groom when she rides in a big horse show (if she wants). 
28. Go to Disney World with Livie and Andrew.
29. Take Livie and Andrew to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
30. Ride in a helicopter.
31. Ride in a hot air balloon in Albuquerque.
32. Take a Grand Canyon helicopter tour.
33. Have a "herd" of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
34. Take a ride with the Hurricane Hunters in one of their WC-130s.
35. Take Livie to an air show to see all the aircraft and watch a Thunderbirds performance. 
36. Take Livie on the big slide at the Iowa State Fair.
37. Take Livie to Concord, MA, where she was born.
38. Take Livie to Mike's Pastry in Boston's North End for some tasty cannoli.
39. Play polo again.
40. Have a great 40th birthday party (November 2010).
41. Take Livie and Andrew to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. As a veteran, it would be nice to see my name there. Plus, we can see the other memorials - like the WWII Memorial, in honor of my grandfather and great-uncles and take a few moments for quiet reflection.

I'll stick with this list for now. The number of items on this list will fluctuate as I accomplish things and add others.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Random Farmers' Market photos

We were at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market yesterday. Here are a few random photos from the Market.

Here are a few flowers adorning Court Avenue:

Here's a pupusa on the griddle. This one is stuffed with frijoles y queso (beans and cheese):

Here are the finished products:
Liv's is in the foreground with the mild chile "cole slaw" and mine is in the back, with the hot chile "cole slaw."

"Hotel Kirkwood" just off Court Avenue:

Here's an alley mural that we see when we exit the parking garage:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello again, Saudade!

I've really been missing Tucson and the Southwest, lately. Saudade has hit full-force. Just feeling a bit "homesick," I guess.

Anyway, here are a few photos I found recently, from back when I lived in Tucson. 

Thunderstorm in Tucson, circa September 2001:

Storm over Tucson and saguaros, circa November 2001:

Tucson, circa summer 2000:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - That Was a First

It's Memory Lane Friday, again! Yay! I enjoy doing these posts; they're truly a lot of fun! Not only do I get to sit here and reminisce about fun, crazy, wild, fantastic stuff, I get a great reason to look through old photos.

So this week's topic is "That Was a First." Now, I could've written about the first time I drove a car (that was a funny memory). Or I could've written about the first time I rode a horse, went deep sea fishing, or the first time I rode a roller coaster.

However, since I keep thinking about last week's Memory Lane Friday - A Tourist Trap post which took place in the Southwest, I'm going to continue with the "located in the Southwest" theme with this week's post.

This incident happened along I-10 in Arizona, just about a 10-15 minute drive from the New Mexico border. (See what I mean? The first story I talked about in last week's post took place along I-10 in Arizona, too.) And the incident? Well, keep reading . . .

Some scenery along I-10 in Arizona:

 These photos are near a place called Texas Canyon in Arizona. The distinctive scenery includes huge boulders all about.

Man-o-man! Was this an incident to remember?! It was December 2001, and I was on active duty, stationed in Tucson, AZ. I'd been heading from Tucson to El Paso, TX to spend the Christmas holiday with my grandparents. It must've been just a few days before Christmas, maybe the 21st or 22nd.

Here I was, in my little black Corolla, just cruising along - literally cruising. The speed limit on this section of I-10 was 75 MPH, so I'd had my cruise control set to 80 MPH. Exactly 80. You know, because this stretch of I-10 - through this eastern part of southern AZ and most of the way through southern New Mexico until you got near Las Cruces - was desolate. Sometimes you'd have an exit with a gas station or a motel or restaurant, or even an occasional rest stop but otherwise it was sparse, lonely. Think brown, dusty land as far as the eye can see.

So here I am, cruising along at 80, no more, no less. I had it on cruise control. You know, because I didn't think I'd get pulled over for going a measly FIVE MPH over the posted speed limit.

I remember passing a car on the side of the road that had been pulled over by the Arizona Highway Patrol.

I remember thinking, at least it wasn't ME! as I smiled and zoomed past them at 80, just 5 MPH over the speed limit.

I remember being excited about the holiday with my grandparents. I couldn't wait to walk through the garage, into the house, through the laundry room and into that kitchen smelling like all the wonderful food my grandmother always cooked.

And then something caught my eye.

Oh, boy. It was flashing lights in the rear view mirror!! My heart jumped into my throat. No way!! That trooper had just pulled some other car over! It can't be happening to ME!!

Of course, there was a moment when I thought that it wasn't me. Maybe he was heading down the highway to catch somebody else and he'll pass me at any moment. Right?


So I did what I had to do. I slowed down and pulled over, putting the car in park. I rolled down my driver's side window and put my hands back on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 (somehow, I was afraid he'd think I was doing something suspicious if he couldn't see my hands, so I kept them on the steering wheel, thinking he could see them there the best).

I expected him on my side of the car, so I kept looking in the driver's side mirror, so I could see him approaching.

But a knock on the passenger side front window startled me, and I looked over to see him there.

I had power windows on that car, so I opened the window without having to lean all the way over there.

I smiled and tried not to be nervous. But my heart was pounding hard, and I could feel my forehead and upper lip getting clammy.

He began speaking and while I was listening carefully, I was not exactly processing what he was saying to me. I tried to answer his questions as best I could. Did I know why he pulled me over? "Um, was I speeding, sir?" Duh, of course I was, and I knew it, but it came out as a question.

He asked if I knew how fast I was going. I said, "Um, yes. I was going 80."

"Do you know what the speed limit is?"

"Yes, it's 75 here." I'm thinking, Yes, I know I'm busted. Please, just give me a warning. Please. How am I going to explain a ticket to my grandparents?!

He heads back to his car, saying he'd be right back. It must've just been a few short minutes, no more than 5, I'm estimating.

It felt like forever.

Then he came back and said I was doing 82 - meaning 7 MPH over the limit. And here he was, handing me a piece of paper. I was still hoping it was a warning. And then I saw it was an actual ticket, not a warning. Yep, that was a first! I wanted to cry.

But then he mentioned something about the military installation sticker I had on the car and the uniform hanging in the back (I'd stopped at the cleaners to pick it up on my way out of town, so I wouldn't forget about it after the holidays).

"Yes," to answer his question, "I'm stationed in Tucson."

"Okay, you can go to a one-day classroom-only driving school in Tucson, and the ticket won't go on your record or affect your insurance."

And that was it.

I put the car in D and continued on. Just a couple minutes later, I came upon a rest area. I pulled in and sat there for a few minutes before I called Andrew to tell him all about it. We were newly engaged at the time, and he was stationed in North Carolina, getting ready to head to Delaware to spend the holiday with his parents.

After talking to him, I felt ready to move along.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I finally got to my grandparents' in El Paso. It seemed like forever because I was actually going slightly slower than the posted speed limit. Usually I'd go about 5-8 MPH faster.

Now, this was at a time when my grandfather had already started using a wheelchair on a regular basis to get around the house. Usually when I visited, I'd push him along to give him a hand if he wanted to go from point A to point B.

Actually, to clarify something . . . I'd push the wheelchair while he was sitting in it, and not push him. He always wanted to clarify that point when I asked "Do you want me to push you somewhere?"

"No," with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, "I want you to push the wheelchair when I'm settled into it." Hahaha! That was his sense of humor.

So when I got there, after settling in and having a snack and an icy cold soda, my grandfather asked me to push him . . . push the wheelchair as he sat in it . . . from the kitchen to the office.

As I pushed him along, still feeling really guilty about the ticket, he whistled and told me with a faint smile on his face, "Slow down; do you want a speeding ticket?"

I was shocked! How did he know I had a speeding ticket?!

He didn't, of course. It was just the timing of the question and my feeling guilty about it. It's funny now, and I'm smiling as I recall his question. And I did end up going to driving school one Saturday, so it's like I never had a ticket. ;)

Click on the button for the rest of this week's Memory Lane Friday posts:

Come back next week when the topic is: "Chore Time."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A visit with Liv's Paternal Grandparents

Liv spent a few days with Grandmama and Grandpapa, her paternal grandparents, in early July. Scroll down to see some photos of their visit.

Liv and Grandmama are checking out flowers:

Here she is going down the slide:

Here are Liv, Grandpapa and Grandmama posing after Liv bought some flowers:

I lucked out and got somebody to make them all laugh at the same time:

Here are the stargazer lilies that Livie bought:
I secretly liked that she picked out this kind of flower. I had these flowers among roses, pine, and other flowers in my wedding bouquet in December 2002. They also adorned my wedding cake.

Liv's stargazer lily, once we got home:

Here is another photo:

Liv and Grandmama are at The Secret Cellar:

Grandpapa asked for some train photos:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taking an overnight road trip, Part 3

And here are the remaining photos . . .

Liv and Daddy are posing at a Wisconsin Air Guard unit:

Checking it out:

"Look, Mama! Look at the airplane!"

Liv's checking out the "lawn dart" with Daddy.

Liv wants to touch a chock:

Liv is consulting with Daddy:

Liv is heading around the track:

Stopping for lunch:

Liv is stealing Mama's guac:

On the road again; this is in Verona, WI:

Lemonade stands are on the road. That's all I'm going to say about this one:

We're on US 151. Here's the bridge over the Mississippi River:

Here's the Mississippi:

Welcome to Iowa:

For photos from Part 1, check out Taking an overnight road trip, Part 1.

For photos from Part 2, check out Taking an overnight road trip, Part 2.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking an overnight road trip, Part 2

Heading into Wisconsin after crossing the Mississippi River:

Welcome to Wisconsin!

Daddy says "Take a pic of THIS! 'Ahhhhh'!"

On the road in southwestern Wisconsin:

We had to stop in Mineral Point, WI for a potty break. Here's the view of the Dairyland Motel as seen from the gas station:

We're finally at the hotel in Madison. Liv's having fun at the hotel's pool . . .

Warming up her feet in the hot tub. . .

Daddy got cold, so he's getting into the hot tub for a couple minutes:

More swimming in the pool . . .

For photos from Part 1, check out Taking an overnight road trip, Part 1

Just a few more photos to come . . .

. . . and the final photos can be found at Part 3, so click here: Taking an overnight road trip, Part 3.
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