Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Working In Hawaii


 Ben and Emily are having a blast in Hawaii.

At least, judging by the pictures they are tagged in on Facebook.

There is often no caption to the photos so I just have to guess what is going on based on past experience.

Ben turned nineteen in Hawaii.  Emily will turn sixteen in Hawaii.

I've never missed their birthdays before.

Their first two weeks in Hawaii, they were at training camp learning this year's Bible lessons and how to teach them to children.

 They had to study a lot before they left and they have to study a lot while they are there.

 They have to go to a laundromat to wash the clothes they took with them.
 
 There's just no way to pack for a two-month trip in one suitcase without doing lots of laundry.

They held practice clubs so they could work with kids and get hands-on experience.

 They have chow lines.


 Dishes to wash.

 Kids to carry.
Songs to learn and sing over and over and over.

 It's not all work and no play, though.  They also get to spend some time relaxing.

 Hydrating.

 Eating.....string?  Giant tennis balls?

 Um......demonstrating how to throw a small person?

 Getting dirty.

 And taking baths.

 Posing.

And.......your guess is as good as mine.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Shoes

Katie and I both needed new walking shoes.  We took Kerry shopping with us because he is our expert on exercise footwear.  Being a serious runner, the man has been through so many pairs of running shoes, he knows what works and what doesn't.

His favorite brand is New Balance, so that's what we went hunting for.  I'm all about saving money though, and New Balance can be on the pricier end of the scale.

At the shoe store I found one pair of New Balance in colors that I liked - white with light blue trim.  Unfortunately, that was also Katie's favorite pair.  I didn't want us to wind up constantly wearing one wrong shoe (her foot is slightly longer than mine) so I decided to try on a cheaper brand.

I walked around in the cheaper shoe for a few minutes while Katie tried on several hundred different sizes of the one we both liked trying to find the right fit.  When she finally became disgruntled that they didn't have her size, I decided to try one on in my size.  

Wow!  What a difference!  While I had been pleased with the cheaper shoe I had been stomping around in, once I had the New Balance shoe on my foot, I knew I had found a winner.  It was like having a group of tiny angels on my feet carrying me around.  That shoe was glorious.

And about the time I put a ring on its finger and said "I do"...........
Katie found it in her size.

Uh oh.  I could see the constant problem of us looking inside the shoes to try to find the size only to discover it was no longer legible, realizing we each had on one incorrect size about the time it started to rub a blister, battling over who left their shoes downstairs and who left them upstairs.

The problems would never cease, the war in our otherwise peaceful home would tear us apart, and one of us (not me) would wind up on the street barefoot and homeless before it was all over.

Then my wonderfully brilliant husband came up with a marvelous idea which solved the crisis.....

.....we bought neon green laces for Katie's shoes.

Problem solved!

AND I had a coupon that let us buy both pair of shoes for half of what I would have paid for one pair at the PX.

But.......

......now I want neon laces too!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bowling

We've signed up with the "Kids Bowl Free" program where your children can bowl two free games every day all summer.  This gives us a way to get out of the house and do something different without having to spend a small fortune.

Today's session was interesting as there was a middle eastern group in the lane next to us.  The women were all wearing black burkas.

Katie looked at them and then looked at me and said, "I can't believe there are nuns bowling!!"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Promotion's A Comin'

Kerry made the promotion list!  It will be a while yet before an official promotion and ceremony, but it's on the way!  Woo Hoo!

The Best Movie Theater In Town

Kerry and I went to see a movie at the nicest theater I've ever been to!  It was date night and we actually went out with another couple from church so it was double-date night.

This theater had leather recliners instead of regular theater seats.  It reclined by way of a power button like the power seats in a car so you don't have to reach over the side and haul on a handle to get the footrest up.  Each seat also had a movable tray and waiters could be called to bring you an appetizer or a drink with the push of a button.  Kerry and I ordered the spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chips and happily crunched our way through the movie.  We may have missed some dialog while chewing.

The only down side:  You know that creaky noise that leather makes?  That can be very distracting every time someone adjusts their seat.  CREEEAAAAAK when they lay back.  CREEEAAAK when they sit up.  It's sort of like fingernails on a chalkboard.  They may have to put up one of those signs like they have that say, "Turn off cell phones" but this one will say, "Get your freaking seat where you want it and keep it there."

Or they may not.

Monday, June 17, 2013

HeroScape


We try to have a family game night every so often.  Unfortunately, we end up bored with a lot of our games after we've played them over and over.

Before Ben and Emily left for the summer we suddenly had an epiphany and pulled out Ben's old HeroScape set.

HeroScape was Ben's favorite game for years when he was a pre-teen to early teen.  Everyone gave him figures and board pieces for birthdays and Christmas.  He has so many that we had to buy him a trunk to keep them all in.

Whenever we would move to a new state, Ben would insist that we take all his HeroScape pieces in the car with us instead of letting the movers pack them because he was so worried something would happen to them.

He actually hasn't played it in years now and they no longer produce the game or any of its pieces which is a shame because we really had a blast playing it.  Despite the fact that Ben hasn't played it in so long, he still remembered every single character and their special abilities in the game.

He said he used to while away the time reading all about each character and he did it so often it's still stuck in his head.

If only he would use that power for good.

We played two games, each of which took a couple of days to complete.  The game can be made large or small depending on how many people are playing and we went for large every time.

The hexagonal board pieces can be rearranged to make the board different for every game.  There are pieces for lava, water, dirt, grass, and ice.  There are also trees, bridges, icebergs, and buildings which can be added.  It's like a different game every time you play it!
Of course, Ben won the first game because he knows how the characters work and how to use that knowledge to his advantage
.  
Also, he's pretty darn ruthless. 

I actually won the second game but it was more of an accident than skill on my part.  The kids don't like to attack me because, well, I'm the mama.  And Kerry doesn't like to attack me because he has to still live with me when the game is over.  And I don't like to attack anyone because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  So my characters just wander about the board smiling at people and only engaging in warfare when there is no other choice. 

HeroScape.  There is no substitute.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Iron Barley

 
 Another interesting restaurant that we've tried is Iron Barley in St Louis.
It's been featured on Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.


One of the things that they are famous for is the Monte Cristo Dog - a grilled hot dog with swiss cheese and strawberry jam.  I know, it doesn't sound good.  I didn't have the nerve to order it, but Kerry did so I took a bite of his.  And wow was it good!  I've actually been craving it ever since and wondering if I could replicate it at home. 

They also have a sandwich called the "Ballistic Elvis".  It consists of strawberry preserves, crunchy peanut butter, grilled banana, and hot pepper flakes on Texas Toast.  None of us had the nerve to order it, but if they had been passing out samples I would have taken a bite just because I was so surprised at how fabulous the Monte Cristo Dog.  

Man, I want another one.



I went with a safe bet and ordered the Oak Roasted Chicken Sandwich.  Also very yummy, but I was wishing I had ordered that hot dog because Kerry only let me have two bites and it was good!

The only down side of eating here was that the neighborhood was dicey.  Lots of boarded up windows and abandoned buildings; signs saying don't leave valuables in your car.  I'm not sure I would want to be in this area at night, but definitely go for lunch!  And order that Monte Cristo Dog!

And bring one back for me!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Renaissance Faire




We recently took some time out to go see the Renaissance Faire in St Louis.

Unfortunately, it was cloudy and gray which put something of a damper on the day, but at least it kept it from being overly hot.  We had to take refuge a few times in various buildings to escape the rain.

We tried a lot of the fun foods they offer at these events.  We ate roasted corn on the cob, pulled pork sandwiches, a fried Twinkie, a fried oreo, and an elephant ear.  We somehow missed the turkey legs this year.  They also had a fried pop tart that we wanted to check out, but we were stuffed.

We don't normally eat like that, but part of the fun of a faire is a good heart attack at the end of the day.

We always look forward to the jousting at ren faires, but unfortunately this wasn't a good day for it.

It wasn't safe to bring the horses out because of the slippery mud so they used toy stick ponies.

But even without horses, the knights kept falling in the mud.
Apparently, it wasn't safe for man nor beast.

So they ended up playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to the death!

Speaking of which, I don't know why I didn't get a picture, but I also slipped in the mud as we were walking down a slippery slope.  I managed to catch myself although I jarred the heck out of my right arm and right knee as I landed.  I was coated in mud and ruined one shoe and Kerry and Ben both looked at me and said, "We can't take you anywhere."

Two peas in a pod, my fellas.

A very nice drink vendor gave me some wet paper towels to clean all the mud off, and I just dealt with achey joints on my right side for the day.

I'm fine.  Really.  Don't worry about me.

Kerry and Katie tried their hand at throwing axes.

The fire eater!

I've always wondered how they do that.  He would pull the stick away and fire would sit on his tongue for a few seconds.  Do not try this at home.  Your face could end up looking like one of those marshmallows after you hold it over a fire.

I was very amused at the show because there was this guy eating fire, and the two little girls in the front row had found a caterpillar that had them completely entranced.

Fire Eater, Shmire Eater - look at this freaking caterpillar!

We also saw a juggling act - Thom the juggler, who was very funny.  We caught the last part of his act and enjoyed it so much, we went back later to see the whole thing.  I don't know why I don't have a picture of him.  His hair alone was worth seeing.


We also saw an amusing version of  Hamlet performed by the troup "Corsets and Codpieces".  Most of it was done in the style of The Cat In The Hat.  I know you can't imagine what that was like.  You kind of had to be there.  They called it "Green Eggs and Hamlet".

This vendor was selling knives and swords (we purchased Ben a sword for his birthday).  One sign said "Please do not be stupid" and the other said "Do not lick blades".  

It's kind of sad that they actually have to put signs up like that, but you know they have them up because people have already been stupid and people have already licked the blades on extremely sharp objects.

Can you imagine?

"Honey, I just cut my tongue off, lets go to the hospital."

Or more likely, "Oney, ah ust ut ah ong off, et's oh oo ee ahpihal."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

View From The Top

We finally made it to the Gateway Arch in St Louis!

Kerry took a couple of days off so we could spend some fun time with the family before Ben and Emily left for the summer.

I feel weird every time I tell people that my two oldest kids are gone for the summer.  I'm worried they'll assume Ben and Emily have a different dad and they are off to spend the summer with an absent biological parent.  

Trust me, they are Kerry's kids.  Katie definitely has his eyes.  Emily totally has his chin.  And Ben.....well, Ben is such a cross of my father and me there's no real visible proof that he's Kerry's,  but he's definitely got Kerry's personality.

First of all, order your tickets on line to go up in the Arch.  You can pick the time of day you want to ride.  If you wait until you get there, you have to take what's available and you may have to wait several hours before you can go to the top.

And you'll have to wait in a hideously long line to get the tickets.


While you wait for your turn to go up, there is a cool museum at the base of the Arch.  You can spend your time watching cool animatronic figures talk about the history of Missouri and looking at the various artifacts on display.

You can take family photos to show that you were there.

Sometimes I not sure why I bring them with me.

When your specified time rolls around, you get to go wait in line beside these tiny little numbered doors.

Behind the tiny little numbered doors is a tiny little space pod that seats five.

You squeeze everyone in and hope they all used deodorant and brushed their teeth.

You will notice if they didn't

Punishments can be administered later.

There is not a lot of head room.

The ride to the top feels rickety and rockety.  Not rockety like "fast as a rocket".  More like the wobbly kind of rockety. 

The ride is slow, about four minutes, and rocks like a ferris wheel ride.  Katie and I were not fond of the sensation.  She closed her eyes even though you couldn't see anything out of the pod.  I had a death grip on Kerry's arm but smiled at the kids like nothing was wrong because that's what I do.

 
When you reach the top, there is a room where you can walk around and look out windows on each side of the Arch.  The room is small and the floor is curved just like the arch.  It's not a flat, straight floor.  You can spend as much time up there as you want, but other groups who rode up at other times will be up there also.


You are 630 feet in the air!

You can see the Mississippi River on one side.


This fountain started spewing while we were watching!

Pretty cool view from the top!