Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fear

Fear is a great motivator. Fear is also a great equalizer. Fear can also freeze time and stop everything - no forward nor backward movement.

Most people fear something.  

Fear of sounding or looking stupid; fear of falling; fear of bugs; fear of flying...they range from those that sound silly to others to those most people can agree are worth fearing. The list of fears is as endless as there are creatures who can know the feeling of fear.

I've been thinking of fear and how it limits us (me) quite a bit the last couple months, even more so in the last day or two.

Those who know me, know for the last 8 years or so, I've had recurring headaches and migraines. I've tried everything from pills, to acupuncture, yoga, more pills, relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, supplements, hot/cold packs, more pills, etc...in other words, just about everything the doctors, well-meaning friends/family, and the internet can throw at me.

I was lucky enough that during my pregnancy and my son's first year I only had three or four migraines and even those were very mild (compared to what I had in the past). Over the last 6 months or so, they've been coming back with a vengeance.

Yesterday was probably the worst one I've had in years. To top it off, I was home alone with my 18 month old son. My husband came home as early as he could but with an hour long commute (not to mention work) he didn't get home until early afternoon. This was the exact fear that plagued me when we discussed having kids in the first place. What would happen if...?

By the afternoon I felt a bit better, but that's when the fear hit. If I go outside with them, will it get worse? If I get out of this bed? If I eat something? If I don't eat something? Round and round trying to second guess what may or may not have caused the migraine or what might bring it back. 

I decided that the fear of doing something to make a migraine strike again or make it worse is almost worse than the pain itself. I know that to get rid of a migraine I need solitary, cool, dark, silence - and sometimes meds. But what kind of life will I have it I let the fear drive me into a life of constant solitary, cool, dark, silence? 

While I sometimes joke that I go into my cave when I need to get away from life or stress or worries...I don't want to live there. I don't want fear of migraines to force me to live there. Yet, that's all I've known for so long. I had accepted it as my lot. Until I got pregnant and realized that it was possible to feel better and to have a real life with people, outside, in the light, with laughter, music and noise filling the air.

The fear is so much worse and the pain more frightening once you catch a glimpse of what life can and should be like. I want it back.
Read More......

Monday, August 29, 2011

Surveys

Does anyone else out there do surveys on line?

Years ago, when I first got out of the AF I joined several different on-line survey forums. It seems ad if it might be an easy way to make some money from home. In the meantime I have completed hundreds of surveys and have gotten about $100, four free books, gift cards, free magazine subscriptions, and other things.

There is one survey group NPDOR that I have taken surveys with for almost 5 years. I have done almost 100 surveys. Yet, I have not once won a prize or gotten any kind of reward. The survey forums where I have received something seem a little more credible, but it's hard to think of these things as anything but a scam when you don't get anything in return for your time.

So, do you do any of the survey forums? Which ones? Either way, what do you think?
Read More......

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Taggie

Over a year ago, while in the fabric store, I saw these cute baby blankets with tags. At the time, Bubba was about 4-5 months old and really enjoyed playing with tags on just about everything. I thought this Taggie was something he might really enjoy so I took a picture of the one in the store. They were selling them for $20-25 each! After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to buy one of their kits for two reasons: 1) I would get the instructions as well as fabric and ribbons to make the first one and 2) it felt a bit like stealing to take a picture of it knowing I was going to try to make them.


I made Bubba the taggie from the kit but it was too big for him to hold when he was small. He still slept with it all the time and liked to hold on to it but couldn't really carry it around. Now, he still sleeps with it and I think enjoys having it. It hasn't turned into a "lovey" or something he absolutely has to have (which is good) but I think it helps to have a bit of home with him wherever he is.

Recently, I made several more for new babies and/or baby showers. I changed the pattern a bit and made them smaller so the babies could hold them more easily. I also used flannel for one side instead of the minky fabric on both sides which is how Bubba's was made. 

I have found patterns for taggies on various websites and blogs (just google it or let me know and I'll get you a link and/or the pattern). I wish I had found them sooner so I wouldn't have had to pay for the first kit. It all worked out in the end though so it's all good. 
Read More......

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birthdays

At this point in my life, it feels a little silly to get excited about birthdays. Every year, I tell myself it's really just another day, nothing special. Then, the day comes and I'm disappointed that it's just another day, nothing special.

It's been forever since I had a birthday party - sophomore year at the Academy is the last one I really remember. My friend Carrie tried to have a party thing for me once when we were Lts...no one showed up except Carrie, her husband and a sort of friend. That kind of turned me off having parties - the fear of no one showing up is a great motivator. Not really the right word, since it motivates me not to have a party but somehow seems to fit...

I opened a box this morning thinking it might be a birthday present (it arrived yesterday after all) and instead it was magazines and books. Stuff I want to read/look at but not really what you want to receive on your birthday. Then, I opened a card thinking it was going to be a birthday card and it was probably the saddest, most depressing card I've gotten in a while, if ever. The fact that it said "Happy Birthday" doesn't really change that it wasn't a birthday card and the content was not happy nor birthday related.

Luckily, I woke up this morning with my wonderful husband and amazing little Bubba - and all is well with the world. Bubba was in a  great mood and we found a couple good Elmo songs to watch on You Tube as Daddy was showering. Then we all had a nice breakfast together before my husband left for work.

Yesterday, Bubba and I were taking a nap when I was rudely awakened by an EARTHQUAKE. My first one. I was a bit shaken up :) but otherwise OK. Bubba pretty much slept through the whole thing - he woke up briefly when I picked him up to take him downstairs but then went right back to sleep.

A few things fell off counters but the only real casualty was a David Winter cottage. Unfortunately, it was one of my favorites. Abby Ruins - I got it when I was TDY to England about 12 years ago. It got smashed pretty good - no hope of fixing it. Gouged the antique hutch as it fell too...It could have been much worse though. I'm sorry it was something that had special meaning for me but I'm glad it wasn't something I really cared about or that couldn't be replaced. 

Now, I'm off to check Facebook and respond to random birthday wishes. 
Read More......

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flag Quilt - It's Finished!

I've been working on my flag quilt for years (read about it here). I finally finished it last week! While my parents were here, we got a bar to hang it and got it hung up (with a little straightening help from hubby). Personally, I think it looks awesome! It's not perfect but I'm so happy to have it up. Not only does it look great but when I look at it I feel a huge amount of pride in knowing that I started and finished such a cool project.

I've got a ton of other projects waiting to be started and/or finished: stacking alphabet blocks for Bubba, place mats and runner, a quilt for the guest bed, another flag wall hanging...and that's just a few of the quilting projects I'm thinking of. As I've mentioned numerous times, I also want to get back to scrapbooking. I enjoy looking through the books I finished on my USAFA years, so I'd really like to do books for the rest of my time in the AF - as well as finish Bubba's baby book. I need a couple more hours in the day, the ability to sleep less without getting a headache, and/or a better schedule for my day...or all of the above! 
Read More......

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nook

My parents came for a visit this weekend. My dad was part of a motorcycle trip for Victory Motorcycles and Wounded Warriors and came into town Wednesday afternoon. It's always great to see them and see how much they love Bubba...

Since my birthday is coming up they gave me my present a few days early. I got a Nook! We've been debating which to buy: a regular Nook, the new color Nook, or the Kindle. As much fun as the color Nook might have been with Bubba - I'm kind of glad the decision is out of my hands. Now I have an eReader and can read where ever I want. It's awesome. They also got all kinds of extras including a cover - it's pink which is nice change from always buying black and/or blue stuff.

I already had a ton of books on my Nook account from the iPhone app (which was another reason we were leaning towards the Nook). They are all classics I got for free during a Barnes & Noble promotion last year. Every week you could get up to 10 free classics - I got all of them! Looking forward to reading some new (for me) classics such as "The Time Machine" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" as well as rereading others. 

What a great present! Thanks, Mom & Pappi! :)
_________

I'm trying something out with the links - I only did it with the first two (Victory and Wounded Warriors). Let me know if they open in a new window for you. Thanks!
Read More......

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Farm

We spent the weekend at "The Farm" with my husband's brother and his family. The Farm is an estate owned by my sister-in-law's family. It's been in the family for generations. This was our second time to visit. We had a blast. It was great to see family and for Bubba to meet his Aunt and cousins and see some cows and horses. We also got to swim in the pool both days which the whole family loves to do. The only part that really sucked is that the three hour car ride took us almost six - typical sucky I-95 traffic. The pool more than made up for it in my opinion.

While we were there we talked a lot about family histories. My sister-in-law had all kinds of stories about her family. In fact, she said one side of her family has a family tree painted on the wall of a nearby golf course clubhouse (the house used to belong to family) and it goes way back. There is also a painting of one of her ancestors in the Pentagon. Pretty cool to know stories about different people in your lineage.

I've been working on my family tree on Ancestry.com for a few years. I'm not getting too far since no one knows (or is telling) very much about certain parts of my family. In fact, past my grandparents, I'm not sure of anything. Kind of stinks.

My husband asked a good question on the way home yesterday - what makes some families keep track of relatives, stories, family ties, etc. and not others? I think part of it has to do with the ancestors themselves. It seems as if family was really important to my sister-in-law's relatives so they kept track of things like lineage and made sure to tell family stories to the next generation so they could be remembered and passed down. 

I remember my grandmother telling me stories when I was young about the family but I can't get her to write them down. Since it was 25 years ago or more, I don't really remember them. And to be honest I listened to them as bedtime stories, not as stories I might want to remember. I was young, what did I know?

I've given both of my parents and my living grandmother "My Life" type books that ask questions or have room for family stories - I did this years ago and none of them have done anything with them. Of course, other than periodic journal writing, I haven't kept very good track of my own life story. Guess I should probably start if I want to be able to remember enough to tell Bubba stories...
Read More......

Friday, August 12, 2011

Contentment

The word "content" has been cropping up around me lately.

I've been reading "Reshaping It All" by Candace Cameron Bure (more on that later) and she talks about being content quite a bit. Last night I spent some time cleaning out my inbox. In an e-mail from 2008 (!) there it was again. It was a prayer, supposedly by Saint Teresa, saying among other things to "trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be... be content knowing you are a child of God."

I'm getting the idea that maybe I should be thinking more about being content now instead of trying to fix/change things so that I can be content later. Makes sense. You always hear people say if you can't be happy with what you've got what makes you think you'll be happier with something else and bloom where you're planted and other things like that. It all boils down to being content, doesn't it?

So what exactly does it mean?

One of the many online dictionaries defines it as being "mentally or emotionally satisfied with things the way they are; assenting to or willing to accept circumstances; peace of mind.

Does being content mean that you should accept the status quo or that don't want to improve or change things? I don't think so. I think it means to be OK with how things are right now even as you seek change - whether through learning, training, moving, changing jobs, etc. That you don't sit around and complain about how bad things are or how you wish things were different but that you make the best of it and move on.

I've thought quite a bit in the last year or so about doing my own Happiness Project but haven't done much with it other than read the book and many others, highlight important passages, and essentially just think about it. Maybe a good way to start would be to practice contentment. Be content with where and how I am now. That doesn't mean I won't continue to work on improving myself and my surroundings...just that those improvements won't be so much a measure of who I am or my present state of happiness. Whether I take a step forward or two steps back, I can be content where I am so that it doesn't seem a failure to not be going further or faster.

That all sounds good, right. So, just need to figure out how to get that contentment (along with the self-control and willpower I discussed yesterday). Sometimes it really does seem as if Egypt would be easier, but that's not where I want to be now or in the future...
Read More......

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Self-Discipline

Is self-discipline something you can learn?

I used to think I had self-discipline but now I realize I probably never really had any. Back when I was in Junior Miss and I messed up the talent portion and apologized in front of the audience and on live TV - it was because of a lack of self-discipline that kept me from being as well-prepared as I should have been. When I went to basic training and couldn't keep up on the runs - it was because I lacked the self-discipline while in high school to prep enough for the rigors of BCT. When I start and fail diet after diet it's because I lack the self-discipline to follow any plan for more than a week or two (days in some cases).

People used to say I had dedication and perseverance because I never gave up on my dream of attending USAFA. What happened to all that? Where did it go? I fell as if I've lost what little I had and now can't find it...

I've read in several places that people say willpower is like any other muscle in that it has to be used &/or exercised or it will be lost. It seems to me as if that can/should apply to self-discipline as well. Looking at definitions of both they seem pretty darn similar:
Self-discipline: training and control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement
Willpower: the ability to control oneself and determine one's actions, the strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes or plans

So, really it seems as if you either have it or you don't. If you don't, you can train yourself to have it. Kind of like kicking any habit - you do it one breath, one decision, one minute at a time until those minutes become days and the days become weeks...? It just seems a bit daunting when you feel as if you're starting with nothing to try and get willpower and/or self-discipline.

Bubba is already 18 months old and repeating almost everything we say and mimicking everything we do. I don't want him learning bad habits from me - whether it be words that I say, the way I react to things, or dealing with food/weight issues. I feel as if I need to get myself under control before I can be a good example for him...not an easy task but I think it is definitely a worthy one.

So, there you have it - one of my many secrets...admitting it to myself and now to you will hopefully help me get started. One breath, one decision, one minute at a time. Read More......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Life List

It seems as if in the last few years everyone has written a bucket list. I like the term "life list" better. It's stuff that someone wants to accomplish during their lifetime - not just stuff to do before you die. I guess it's really the same thing but maybe a more optimistic way of looking at it.

I wrote out a life list years ago - I remember waiting for a Boston Pops concert to start and just started scribbling stuff I wanted to do on a piece of scrap paper from my purse. I kept that list for a really long time. I'm pretty sure I actually still have it somewhere. As my husband would attest, I keep all kinds of odds and ends thinking I might use/need them someday.

I'm pretty sure most of the things on my current life list were on that first one. Since I wrote that list almost 20 years ago, it would be neat to see how many things I've accomplished in those two decades and how many things are still undone.

So here's my current life list (not in any particular order):
Be the best mother I can be     Be the best wife I can be
Learn how to improve my blog     Write at least four blog posts a week     Write something every day Do the Happiness Project challenge     Learn some constellations     Stop wasting time/procrastinate less Grow my own veggies     Grow an herb garden     Set up weekly menu plan with healthy food Take voice lessons     Read the entire Bible     Become a yogi     Quilt more     Go to church regularly
Make scrapbooks for time in AF     Scrapbook Bubba's life annually
Learn how to play poker     Learn how to do my makeup (right colors, application, etc.)     Be less judgemental
Start a children's lit book club     Exercise at least 3x/week     Lose weight     Run 5k without walking     Try Pilates     Complete the Body for Life challenge     Take flying lesson     Ride in a Stearman/biplane  
Fly a glider again     Learn how to kayak     Learn how to sail     Learn how to rock climb (indoors first)
Learn how to snorkel (and then maybe scuba diving)     Visit each state     See northern lights     Paint/draw regularly     Visit Scotland     Visit Russia     Visit Albania again     Visit Africa (go on a Safari/see elephants) Visit Portofino and Rome (Italy)
Visit Croatian coast/beaches     See more of Germany     See more of England     Visit Ireland again     Visit Norway     Visit Australia and New Zealand      Visit Vietnam     Walk on Great Wall of China     See pyramids in Egypt     Participate in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo)
Read More......

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mental Snapshots

Recently, a name from my past cropped up in a conversation. She was a friend of mine while I was at the Academy and for a few years after. Then something happened, I still don't know/remember what it was, and she stopped talking to me. We got back in touch through e-mail a year or so ago but then she deployed to Afghanistan and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure if she's still there or back home or what...I feel as if I can't really go looking for her again because she seems to have made her choice pretty clear.

Anyway, thinking of her made me think of the four or five rolls of film she offered to get developed for me (she had a place to do it real cheap and then she could get doubles made for both of us to have prints) that I never got back. I know what's on at least one of those rolls - pictures from the day of and week leading up to the USAFA class of 1994 graduation. Since I started out with that class, and their graduation day was the day I re-entered USAFA, there are a lot of pictures on the roll of people/events I cared about. So instead of having lots of pictures to record the year I spent in Colorado Springs, I have about five. I've asked this friend in the past if she ever found the pictures and that I would like to see them. She always said she didn't know where they were since she's moved so much. At least I have the mental snapshots...

I have a horrible memory. That's why I like taking pictures and now scrapbooking. It helps me to remember people and events. Yet there are times where for one reason or another I don't have pictures to help me remember. For example: it's been almost 15 years since my USAFA graduation and I've never even seen, let alone gotten my hands on, the video my father took...On several deployments while in the AF, I didn't want to look like a geek (or too girly) by taking pictures, so I didn't pull the camera out...on a trip to Poland, I dropped and broke my camera - I didn't get a new one for most of my assignment in Germany...most recently, while at the beach with my husband and Bubba - I wanted a picture of our three footprints side by side in the sand but had forgotten my camera up at the house...

Despite my bad memory, I've got some mental snapshots from these time periods and these events. I cherish those mental images even more than the pictures I can put my hands on. Mostly because those few images are all I have from those moments. Do I wish I had something more concrete? Yeah. But since I don't, I'll treasure what I can remember. I just wish my mental snapshots weren't so few and far between...
Read More......

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Books Rock


What a fun, fabulous Friday! I opened the front door and there upon the stoop was a box with my name on it. I love getting mail. Getting packages is even better.

A while ago I got a tweet from Military OneSource (@Military1Source) saying they are ending their free paperback and audio books program. In the past there was a 10-book limit per year but now they're trying to get rid of everything so there's no limit. They have a lot of titles to choose from. I got 11 paperbacks and 3 audio books.  Now I just have to figure out where these books will fit into my "To Read" pile. The audio books will be good to listen to while I'm walking.

The first book I cracked open was "Incredible Edible Science." It retails (on Amazon) for $21. It's full of all kinds of experiments and activities for kids (though I think adults would enjoy them as well). There are activities in six categories: observing (further broken down into sight, smell, taste, touch and sound), classifying, communicating, measuring, inferring and predicting. It seems to be geared more towards a group of kids/classroom instead of just one child but everything can be adapted for one.

The audio books are really cool too. They come with everything you need - a strap to carry it, earphones, and a note to pass it on to another military family when done.

I'm not sure why they're suspending their library program but I'm happy I was able to take advantage of what they had to offer. I am looking forward to reading the books I got (and/or using them as reference materials as needed) and listening to my audio books. I will definitely pass them on when I've finished...

As of today, they are still filling orders. So, if you qualify (Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard, or family members) go over and see if they have any titles you might like...Happy reading!
Read More......

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Children's Shows

One of my pet peeves (even before I had Bubba around) is people letting their kids watch TV/movies that are not really age appropriate. I realize every kid is different and every parent is different but it seems as if the only way to know if something is appropriate for your child is to watch it for yourself first. I know these days, if you want your child to see something in the movie theater, watching it yourself first can get kind of expensive. However, it would seem as if the extra money spent by the parent seeing the film first is a small price to pay when you consider the possible nightmares for a small child who sees something they shouldn't. I know for me, once I see something I can't get the picture/scene out of my mind - even years after the fact.

For example, when I went to see Disney's "The Lion King" (way back when) there were quite a few kids including some very young ones in the audience. At one point there is a lot of fire and hyenas are attacking a lion. It's quite a scary scene. Needless to say, there was a lot of crying going on in the theater. How many of those kids had dreams about fire or scary hyenas after seeing that? And if the parent hasn't seen the movie before they can't very well prepare their kid for certain scenes or even know when to cover their eyes/ears. Don't get me wrong, I love "The Lion King." I'm just not sure it's right for very young kids.

I was really surprised when I read that Angelina Jolie took all six of her kids to see the last Harry Potter movie. The oldest is nine years old and the two youngest are only three years old. Harry Potter is rated PG-13 for "intense action violence and frightening images." I can only imagine what kids that young might think of some of the images they saw on the screen. It seems to me as if they wouldn't even know what to make of those images and thus might be even more confused, uncertain, and/or scared. That doesn't even take into account the partial nudity and/or other age inappropriate scenes/themes.

We've tried to limit TV for Bubba. Just within the last month or so have we let him start watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (one or two episodes a day max). Recently we watched an episode ("Donald and the Beanstalk") that really surprised me. The episode starts with Donald telling Mickey he "accidentally" traded his Boo-Boo chicken to the giant for magic beans "that don't do anything." First, I'm not sure how you accidentally trade something - especially your friend/pet. Second, whatever happened to "buyer beware"? Anyway, at one point Donald throws the beans and they grow into giant beanstalks. At which point, doesn't that mean Donald has used the beans? It's not as if he can give the beans back since they don't exist anymore - he has used them up.

So, Mickey and the friends decide to help Donald steal Boo-Boo chicken back. They go up to the giant's house and take the chicken. To top it off they then trick the giant so they can get away from him with "his" chicken. What is that teaching kids? If Mickey thinks it's OK to steal, why not them? The show could have taken the opportunity to teach young kids some kind of mediation-type thing or how about just being honest and telling the giant that Donald regretted trading the chicken and would like him back? There were many ways to resolve the issue without teaching kids it's OK to steal something if/when you want it back.

I won't even get started on the problems I see with both Minnie and Daisy flirting and batting their eyelashes when they want something. It's a kid's show! Any question why little girls are growing up way too fast!?

What do you think? Do/did you let your kids watch TV/movies even if you hadn't seen them before? How old were they before you stopped monitoring what they watched? (and yes, I realize I probably need to loosen up...I've been told that before...many, many times.)
Read More......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PW's Perfect Iced Coffee

The other day I tweeted about Pioneer Woman's "perfect iced coffee" and how much I wanted to try making it. Yesterday, I finally did it.

I went out shopping with Bubba before reading time yesterday to buy a big glass container to use for soaking the coffee grounds. I spent about $18 on what seemed to me a pretty big bowl. Pioneer Woman must have containers the size of Oklahoma to fit a whole pound of coffee grounds and two gallons of water. My "huge" bowl only fit a quarter of her recipe. I can't even imagine how big her pots are or where she keeps them. Oh wait, maybe she keeps them in "the lodge." How awesome would it be to live in a place like that? I can't even imagine it and yet it's their "guest house"!!

Anyway, so I made the iced coffee concentrate yesterday. Pretty easy considering you just pour cold water over coffee grounds and let them sit. We had to go buy some cheese cloth and then try to figure out what to do with it. I meant to take some pictures but it got messy and I already felt bad needing my husband's help to finish my "project" after he'd been at work all day. Pioneer Woman has awesome pictures on her site - see link above.

Last night as we were cleaning up the coffee ground mess, we were talking about how good the iced coffee will taste. When my husband came up to bed he mentioned how the whole fridge already smelled like coffee. Good thing he really likes coffee...and since it was my idea/project I can't really say anything. He got up a little early to have time for a cup of coffee before getting on the bus/metro and texted me that it was really good. So, of course I had to try some too. While Bubba was eating his yogurt I mixed my ice, coffee concentrate, skim milk (sad, I know) and sweetened condensed milk (hooray!). It was awesome! As I added the milk I noticed how pretty it looked and thought about taking a picture. Then I decided to stir it and drink it before Bubba needed my help. Luckily, I had more than one glass and got a picture of the second one (or was it the third!?). Holy cow was it totally worth the mess of last night.

I don't think I'll be able to have it around all the time. I like my coffee sweet which is why I stopped drinking Starbucks...too many empty calories and fat. However, having some of this every once in a while would be heaven - and so much cheaper than Starbucks too! If you like coffee, I hope you take the time to look at Pioneer Woman's post showing the recipe and try it sometime - you'll be happy you did.
Read More......

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Libraries

This weekend we went to the library on post. They have a children's reading hour during the week that I want to try out but I wanted to do some reconnaissance first. As my husband, a former AWACS pilot, always says, "Time spent in recce is time well spent."

As soon as I walked in, I felt like I was both home and in a new magical place. It reminded me of how much I used to love going to the library. When I was little my mom would take us to the library and we were allowed to pick out any three books we wanted. I loved that time spent in the library. I loved the smell of it, the cool and the quiet, the vastness and the rows and rows of books. The library was always the same, yet at the same time there was always something new and different to be found. I realized it has been way too long since I've been in a library. How come we allow ourselves to get so far away from things we love..?

We have been reading to Bubba since he was born (I actually read out loud to him while I was pregnant). He loves being read to and looking at books. I hope that by taking him to reading time every week we can build on that love and give him some good memories too. I know he's a little young (18 months!) to remember things right now but maybe something like the library will stick with him, even if just in the back of his mind. Like it did with me.

Update: we went to reading time and I think Bubba really enjoyed it. He sat nicely on his little alphabet square, listened to the stories (loved the one with the ball), sang and clapped along with the "Babies on the Bus" book and colored a picture after story time was over. It was fun to watch him watching the other kids. We're definitely going back.
Read More......

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quark

When I did Immersion Language training in Germany (many moons ago) I learned to love quark. The family I lived with used it for everything - main dishes, desserts, snacks, etc. It was awesome!

My husband has had to live with me extolling the virtues of quark for years as well as listening to me gripe about why you can't find quark here in the US. After all, quark is a dairy product (kind of a mix of sour cream and cottage cheese without the curds). American cows are no different then German cows, right? It's the same milk which can be used to create the same kinds of products - so why not quark? (That line of thought also happens to lead to all kinds of other questions - why does Kellogg's make different cereals for the European market that one can't find in the US, why does Coke taste different in Europe than in the US, etc.). Quark is actually pretty healthy - it's very low sodium. For example the carton of quark in my fridge says it has 70 mg of sodium (3%) compared to 380 mg (16%) in the low-fat cottage cheese. So if it's relatively easy to make and good for you, why don't American dairy producers make it?

The other day, while shopping in the commissary, I saw cartons of quark! Not just quark but low-fat quark too. I obviously had to buy some. Not just to have it again and to introduce my husband to the wonders of quark but to let the commissary know (through my purchase) that people appreciate having the opportunity to buy it. All day I was excited to get home and try it.

Imagine my disappointment when the berry quark dessert I made was horrible. Despite honey, vanilla and sugar mixed into it, it was bitter. Un-edible bitter. Or as my husband so gently put it, "this stuff burns." What went wrong? Did I not let it sit in the sugar long enough or too long? Was it bad quark? Is my memory of it completely wrong? Aargh...I was so looking forward to it - not just for eating it again but as a way to bring mack some of my good memories of living in Germany. Of course I still have those memories, I had just been hoping to share them with my husband through this one food.

I still have about half of the carton of quark left. I've not completely given up. I just need to find the right recipe...
Read More......