Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Chocolate Oat Squares

As promised, the next best thing to Hobnobs. This recipe was from "Great American Home Baking."

Mix together:
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Press into greased 9x13" pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes at 350*. (That's 160* C on my convection oven) Leave to cool while you prepare topping.
Melt 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use about 1 1/3 c chocolate chips); add 1/4 c heavy cream (I use whole milk); stir smooth; spread over cookie.
If eaten hot it is gooey and you need a spoon. After it cools you can hold a piece in your hand to eat it. (The recipe says to cool cookie completely before frosting, then chill 30 min to set the chocolate. I never do this.)

I tried this once at my grandma-in-law's house, using self-rising flour instead of the flour and soda, and it was NOT the same at all.
That's about all the tips I can think of. :-)

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The North

Last Monday Bob and I looked at each other and said, "So you wanna do something this weekend?" We did "wanna." Wednesday I really started trying to put something together, looking up destinations and drive times, and called Bob to ask about spending the night away. He called back later and said he would have Friday off from work, so we could go Friday and come back Saturday. Cool! I was on the computer ALL day Wednesday and all morning Thursday, getting a plan in place. Thursday night we went to Mildenhall for gas and a shower curtain rod, which we want to use to hang backdrops on in our new studio (used to be the storage room, but I cleaned it out this week). Well, they were sold out of shower rods, but we did fill up with gas.

Friday morning we got our pillows and food, and Naysha only just remembered the toothbrushes, and headed out (we had the clothes, playpen, and sleeping bags already in the van Thursday) by 8:15. We stopped in Newmarket for a minute to get cash (we realized a week or so ago that the banks in town give a better exchange rate than the one on base), and then onto the A14, to the A1 headed for The North.

Our first stop, just over 2 hours later, was in Blidworth. Ever heard of it? It is the legendary home of Maid Marion (in whom I've never really believed, since Howard Pyle didn't write about her), and the final resting place of Will Scarlet. We found his grave with a little trouble, and enjoyed the view from the cemetery, as Blidworth is on a hill.

About 30 minutes from there is Bolsover Castle. Not related to Robin Hood, but it's part of English Heritage and therefore free for us, and it was close. It's an interesting place. The "little castle" - like the keep - is a maze of rooms, and most are highly decorated. The children's audio tour warned them that there may be some "rude" pictures and they should try not to giggle. Hmph. We just didn't go into 3 of the rooms because the paintings were quite "rude." The fountain out back was also pretty rude, so we tried to avoid that as well. We each bought something at the gift shop - the boys finally got a bow and arrow.
Oh, I nearly forgot! There were no signs for the castle from the main road, so we made a guess when Bob saw a street named "Castle Lane," but we went the wrong way on it. We were tired, hungry, and stressed from the traffic, so found a parking place which just happened to be in front of the city park. So we had our picnic lunch there, before heading up to the castle, and the children got to play a little bit.
The view from the castle was pretty terrific, but the weather, though sunny, was hazy.

Then came the highlight of day one - Sherwood Forest! I'd been there once before, but it was on New Years Day (or New Years Eve) and it was FREEZING and I had a cold and the trees were all bare and it was just miserable. This time it was hot but worth it. Very foresty. The path down to Major Oak was nice and wide and smooth, but we didn't know if it would be so we didn't take the stroller. Beside the path were blackberry thickets and ferns that could have easily hidden a hundred bandits, ready to spring out at unwary travelers. The trees were green and bushy, and Bob spotted a bee hive in one. The area around Major Oak was park-like, with picnic tables and even an ice cream truck, and just off to one side was a really picturesque area where we could imagine the outlaws going to lay down (or have private conversation) after a feast in the clearing around the oak. Then Ella announced that she had a dirty diaper, so we headed back to the van for a change. After that we went to the visitor's center, but it was 5 o'clock and they were just closing. We got to see the statue of Robin and Little John fighting on the bridge, but the shops were closed. We thought about walking more, but we were tired and hungry so back to the van again. As we were standing around there, a van went by and a plastic sword came clattering down. Intentional or not, they didn't stop or come back, so now the boys are proud owners of both a sword and a bow.
Oh, Bob gave the children each an archery lesson upon arrival at the forest. Naysha was the first to actually launch an arrow. It reminded me of the "Men in Tights" movie where the villagers are first given their bows. They had another lesson at Major Oak (yes, they carried the bow and arrows all the way down the path), and a final one at returning to the van.

Being quite worn out, we made our way to the hotel, about 30 minutes from the forest. Google maps had us go the wrong way up a one way, restricted access road to get there, but we got there. The hotel was at a "services" exit off the M1 (major highway), and the services were intended purely for people to drive down the M1, take the exit, and get back on the M1. You aren't supposed to get to it from any other road or direction. So we had to cut through the gas station the wrong way to get to the hotel, but we didn't get run over or anything. I checked in, and then we walked across the gas station to the food court thing. There was Burger King, KFC, and "hot food." So we got a family deal at KFC, and it was pretty good. Cost about $30, which is the same as we pay for a filling meal on base. After dinner we went back to the hotel. As we came in the door, the receptionist gave us the stunned look and said, "I didn't realise you had so many children," and offered us a room on the ground floor. Sure. She had the key already in hand, and by the time we got in our room - two doors down - she had our name on the TV welcome screen. She said something to Bob as he brought in the stuff, but it was more like she was worried about us having enough towels and things than like she thought we didn't pay enough.

We hung out for awhile in the HOT room, and then got ready for bed. Bob and I had a double bed, Naysha and Ella shared the sofa bed, William had his playpen, and the other three were in sleeping bags. I had a shower before bed to cool off, but it was still hot and hard to go to sleep. We did have the windows open, but they only opened about 6 inches, so it wasn't as helpful as we would have liked.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early, had our breakfast of cereal that we brought with us, packed up and were out by 8.
We got off our road at one point, choosing to follow the signs rather than rely on google maps, but in one town we came to a roundabout with NO signs, street names, or anything. There wasn't a "straight" option, and we didn't know which way to go. So Bob pulled over onto a convenient wide spot and we tried to figure it. No such luck. I noticed we were right in front of a post office, and got out to ask directions. It was closed still, but there were two people inside, so I rang the bell and the man came over. I asked if he could help, as we were lost. I don;t know if he was afraid or what, but he didn't open the door. He did, however, ask where we wanted to go, and proceeded to give me directions by gesturing and speaking through the keyhole. It was pretty funny to be standing on the street talking through the door, but he got us going the right way.

It was 45 minutes to our first stop - the town of Hathersage, for another graveyard. Here we saw the tomb of Little John, and it was well marked. Bob paced out the grave, and it is 12 feet long. Just for effect, we had Riah, Cedwryck, and Ella lay down toe-to-head beside the grave. The three of them were about the length of it. We went inside the church there, and they had a honor-system book store in the back of the church. We bought 2 books of pictures (one of churches, one of Derbyshire), and a couple of postcards. One postcard was info on Little John, and it said that the tomb had been opened, and the human thigh bone inside was 30 inches long. As Little John said in "Men in Tights," "Don't let the name fool you; in real life I'm very big." In the church was an old tomb (1490something?) of somebody Eyre, which is the inspiration of Bronte's Jane Eyre.

I had found, on a website that Ganieda sent me (Thank you, Ganieda!!!), that down a footpath behind the "Langshaw cafe" was a 'well' (more like a spring) called "Little John's Well." So we drove up and down Hathersage looking for this cafe. We saw 4 pubs and a Deli, but no cafe. So, down a residential street, we stopped and asked a man. Oh! Langshaw is a public park operated by the National Trust, about 3 miles out of town. Good thing we asked. So following the excellent directions given by the man, we found Langshaw, paid to park, and walked down to the visitor center/cafe. Bob went in to ask about the well while I took the children to the toilets. Having obtained directions to the right path, we went for a walk. It was beautiful weather again, and Everybody was out. Every village was full of people just walking up and down; the car parks were full; the paths in and off the park areas were all well used. But anyway, it was a nice walk (we took the stroller this time) through some woods and out across the side of a hill. We would have walked right past the well if I hadn't seen pictures of it online. There were rock steps going down from the path, but as the whole area was rocky, it would be easy to miss. I did see it, however, and we walked down the steps to see a rock trough full of moss and water, which trickled in from under another rock. According to the website, there is no known connection to Little John, but it has always been called that. Riah really enjoyed this time. He climbed rocks, chased sheep, and followed a noisy insect (by sound) around the field.

Then on to the town of Castleton. It was only 10 minutes down the road, and I thought we'd have a picnic at Peveril Castle before walking around, and then go down one of the caverns in town. We found the castle, but it was walking only to get to it (up a quite steep hill); they supposed visitors would park in the town car park at the foot of the hill. So we found the car park, but it was full, due to the aforementioned lovely weather. We circled the area 4 or 5 times, saw a car pull out and went around the loop again to get the spot, but someone else went the wrong way down the one-way isle and got the spot before us. After a couple more laps we saw another car leaving. Bob was able to back into the spot, but we couldn't get either door open - the space was just too narrow. So we sat and considered for a minute, and decided to go on to the cavern, as it said it had parking.
We found it easily enough, and even got the next to the last open parking space, and ate our picnic lunch in the car as we watched the line of people heading into the cave. This cave has a river in it, and you tour it by boat, which sounded cool. Tours depart every 15 minutes, according to the brochure, but it didn't say how many people per boat. Anyway, it looked like a 30-45 minute wait in line, so we decided to come back in the "off" season. Having paid for the parking spot, we went for a walk down the hill into town. It was hot in the sun, but nice in the shade. Words cannot well describe the beauty of this area. In case you didn't look up the town names as you read, we were in the "Peak District" - a national park. There were steep hills, rock outcroppings everywhere, smooth round hills divided by rock fences, pretty towns along hillsides all covered with flowers and sheep.
After we got back up the hill to the parking lot we were HOT, tired, thirsty, etc. There were public toilets at the parking lot, so we made good use of them, and then back to the car where we made a good impression on our case of bottled water that we'd brought with us.

With A/C blaring, we tried to find a path home. I had a route planned, but considering our success with following the directions up to this point, we decided to wing it. We headed generally south and east til we were back to the M1, which we followed south to the A14, which is the road that runs from Newmarket to Cambridge (and beyond, of course, but that stretch of it is familiar to us). We passed within a few miles of the "Nine Ladies" standing stone circle - it's supposed to be an "important" monument - but the road down to it isn't marked in any way, and I knew better than to try to find it, after the trouble we had in Castleton, so we went on toward home.

Running at 1/4 tank of gas, we thought it'd be a good idea to go to RAF Alconbury, an American Air base to the west of Cambridge, to fill up and have dinner. We found it without any trouble, and got there just in time, as it closes up early (being a teeny tiny place). We got over $80 worth of gas, and asked the station attendant where to eat. They have an Anthony's Pizza and a Subway next to the BX. Just for kicks, Bob went in the BX, which is smaller than the Lakenheath Shoppette, and whaddaya know? They had shower curtain rods. So we went to the food court and ordered a pizza (and chicken wings, and cheesesticks), and went outside to wait at the picnic table while the children played on the grass. Good cheesesticks.

Another 45 minutes or so and we were home, to find our parking space taken (well, the place we normally park on the side of the road), so we pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of our house and called that "good enough." It was good to take off our shoes and socks. Good to open the windows wide enough to let the breezes in. Good to sleep on a bed with a sheet instead of a duvet. Good to have my computer again. :-)

I'm sure I left out something important and interesting, but I think I hit the highlights, anyway. Bob is putting pictures on - click the link on the right of this page.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

You did it and I found it

The children have a book of "reward" stickers, intended (no doubt) to be placed on school work as a motivator. They like to have them on the back of the hand, or whatever.

Yesterday Cedwryck picked out a sticker and asked me what it said. I read it to him, "You did it!"
His defensive reply: "No, I didn't!" Azariah wandered by and heard Cedwryck's statement, so he asked, "You didn't do what?" Cedwryck insisted, "I didn't do anything." :-D

And, cool stuff today... I walked the children down to the village shop to get bread and see about fruit (We are planning a fun weekend). The fruit didn't look that great, but I found PLAIN CHOCOLATE Hobnobs!!!!!!!!! Now this is only spectacular news if you've ever had a Hobnob - they are a British "biscuit" that is really an oatmeal cookie, and have chocolate on one side. Now, I've been to England before, and learned enough to know that "plain" chocolate is "dark" chocolate, and that it goes great with Hobnobs. But since we've been here this time we've only seen the milk chocolate hobnobs, and they are good enough, but not like the plain ones. So I was thrilled to see this tube at the store (honestly, I'd decided that they must not make them anymore and had given up on it). They also have Fry's Peppermint Creams - a dark chocolate candy bar filled with creamy peppermint - that are pretty good, and also hard (but not impossible) to find. AND they sell my favorite ice cream bar (I posted about it when I first had one) individually, so I had to get one. I got each of the children a vanilla something (small and not too messy) - Taryn said it was like the pudding pops we made recently. My bar cost as much as all 4 of theirs. It is warm today. I'm glad we made the walk in the morning - it's over a mile there and back, and we were sweaty by the time we got home.

How cool is this - I typed "feet in a mile" in my search window at the top of my Firefox browser, and it popped up "= 5280 feet" - I didn't have to search for a webpage and then look it up!

Anyway, have a blessed weekend. I'll tell you all about it when we get back.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Last night at Bible time, when we had all the children stand to sing, Naysha did her classic "shy" look, scrunching up her shoulders and putting her hands in her face, all the while grinning and signing "I love you." to me. So Bob called her up and said, "What are you thinking when you do that?" There was a small pause while I thought of good answers like "I'm embarrassed to sing" or whatever.
Naysha's answer? "I think I look cute."

Oh, boy!

So Bob explained to her about standing tall and speaking to people instead of trying to be cute, and by doing that she will win more friends. hmmm, I remember doing this with Taryn a few years ago, and she now has not a single shy bone in her body. So it's time for Naysha to train in introducing herself and answering plainly.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

What I did today

Today I got out of bed at 6am. After my bathroom time, I got a pan of cinnamon rolls out of the fridge to finish rising for breakfast, then I exercised on the cross trainer for 15 minutes. By this time all 3 boys were awake, so I nursed William and talked to the other two.
By 7am everyone was awake, so I put the rolls in the oven and made scrambled eggs (17 of them!) and set the table. Ella helped set the table; everyone else helped crack eggs. Then we ate breakfast, and I gave Cedwryck a hair cut, followed by a shower. Then I took a shower, including washing my hair. I nursed William again while Bob showered and the other children got their socks and shoes together.
We left the house about 10. Bob took me by the post office so I could mail a package to this month's winner in my weight loss support group, then he went to meet a guy from work that he'd promised to help change the brakes on his car (the guy's car, that was Bob's car, that he sold to him, just so we're all clear).
I got out the stroller and took the children on a short walk over to the BX. First stop, bathrooms. Then we wandered around the store and I got a new kitchen timer since my old digital one stopped working, after being knocked from the fridge door the third time. Funny, that's the same way my first digital timer stopped working. Hmmm. I took down the information on the new desktops, since we decided not to buy one after all, and we ate lunch at Pizza Hut in the food court.
After another stop at the bathrooms (where Cedwryck was taking a long time, so I sent Riah in to check, and then he took a long time... A man came out laughing, and I knew it had to be the boys, so I caught his eye and he asked if they were my boys. I asked if he minded shooing them out, and he didn't mind. They came out laughing and saying they were drinking the sink water, which is hot. The man said they were having a good time.), we headed back toward the TLF parking lot where we'd left Bob. He wasn't there, and it started to rain. So we ducked under a picnic shelter where some housekeepers were taking a smoke break, and I nursed William while the children played on the picnic table. I called Bob and he said he was done with the car, and had picked up a new guy and was taking him to his dorm room.
It stopped raining so we went out onto the grass, toward the commissary, but no one wanted to go in there, so the children played tag. Riah climbed a tree, quite high, and scared a pigeon out of her nest. Then Bob came back and we went to the commissary. Bob got some lunch and I got some vegetables, and we checked out the Capri Sun drinks, thanks to a friend's tip. Many of the flavors were 99 cents per box of 10, and I had a coupon for $1 off two boxes. I also saw a box of 5, 100% juice, for 25 cents, so I got one of that, too.

Then we headed over to Mildenhall to the BX there, because I needed kitchen washcloths. I had gobs of them in Texas, but they have disappeared. All the babies were asleep, so I went in there by myself.
Not being quite ready to go home, we went to Tesco in Newmarket. Babies still asleep, so I went in and got some vegetables, Nutella, and bread.

As we were about to turn into our street, Bob turned right instead and we went to the park. The children all ran to the playground, and by the time Bob and I arrived, Taryn had given our life story to a lady who was pushing her granddaughter on a swing. We played for awhile, pushing swings and teeter totters and helping down slides and fireman's poles.

Then we came home for dinner. It was only 4:30, but we were hungry. The children all had peanut butter sandwiches; I had a cheese sandwich and Bob had leftovers. And then we had a slice of brownie cheesecake that I'd made yesterday. It's pretty good, but the brownie part didn't turn out like it was supposed to.

After dinner we crashed awhile and played computer games/checked email. Then Bob played to guitar awhile, I read a story, and we had Bible time. Brush teeth, change diapers, nurse William one more time. Now it's quiet.

Bob, Taryn, and I played a game of scrabble junior (basically scrabble, but you just count one point for each letter). Taryn beat us by quite a margin, and then went to bed. And here we are.

God night!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

funny boy

This morning Azariah wanted to wash dishes, and it needed doing...

After lunch today I caught him getting a Lemonhead candy (which we bought yesterday because Papa gets those), and I gave him a swat and he went to his room. He came back after a minute and said he'd prayed about taking the candy, and then "God spoke to me." He did? God told Azariah that he should do the dishes. (Fits of silent laughter.) I told him that God usually doesn't use little boys to tell Mamas what to do, but it could happen. (God is very practical and down-to-earth, but He isn't easy to box up, either, you know?) So, yes, he did get to do some dishes today. :-)

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Well, I did get to read one of my new books. Thanks to Kimba's comment, I chose The Scarlet Pimpernel. I liked the story, and I can see why it was made into movies. But I wasn't crazy about the writing. It was too short - the mystery is easily guessed, the background of the characters is summed up instead of told, etc. Some phrases are repeated too many times, and some of the descriptions of turbulent emotions remind me of Grace Livingston Hill. But it was entertaining, and did a good job of painting a mental picture; easy to visualize. I'm just glad I got to read the whole thing in a reasonable amount of time.

this is so dumb

Scientists have come to the conclusion that - somehow - some time - for some unknown reason - undersea volcanoes must have erupted en masse and caused oceanic extinction. Well, except for the timeline, the whole theory gets a big fat DUH! Christians, and Jews before them, have known for a few thousand years that "the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up..." "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died."
It's in the Book, man! Just read the Book, save yourself a lot of trouble guessing around. (Genesis chapter 7)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

the party

Saturday was our neighbor girl's long awaited birthday party. Lunch was to be served at 1pm, so we had the morning to ourselves. We left the house about 10:45 and went to a boot sale (sort of flea market) near Mildenhall. It was pretty cool, windy, and drizzling. There wasn't much of a crowd there, so all things considered we left the children in the van to watch a movie, and Bob and I went browsing. I bought 6 old books for 5GBP. One is The Gorilla Hunters by R.M. Ballantyne - Vision Forum has republished a lot of his books, so I am interested to see how it is. I also got The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I've wanted to read ever since Daffy Duck made his version of the story. Then there are two books published by the London Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and Snow-shoes and Canoes by Kingston (it just looked interesting). The sixth book has made its way off my stack, but it was something about Bible prophecies and how they've been proven in history.

So after that we headed back to Newmarket and found the parking garage and the market that we'd bumped into one day before we moved in and didn't know how to find it. But we didn't get out there because William was asleep and it was nearly time to find the party.

The party was at the grandma's house in a teeny-tiny village about 10 minutes from here. (I think it's the only house in the 'village'.) (It's already 9:30, so i better hurry!) They have a big, beautiful 'garden' with a dozen flower beds of all shapes and sizes. Bob left his camera in the car to just enjoy the day and not be intrusive. They had a bouncy castle, child-size croquet, "splat the rat," child's lawn bowling set, a mini trampoline, a sand table and molds to make castles, and a dozen push toys for the children. There were 4 tents (they call them "marquees") for hiding under when it rained.
The girl's father and grandfather were grilling sausages and burgers, and the baby brother was opening presents when we got there. It was his "naming day" as well as her birthday (a naming day is a secular sort of christening). So we went into the main tent and handed our present over, and the girl saw the children and lit up. "The fam'l' next door!" From that time on Taryn was at her beck and call. So we settled in, in time for the lunch. The sausages were very good, the burgers less so. Apparently Newmarket is famous for its sausages.
It sprinkled off and on for awhile, but finally quit. After a while the girl's other friends came for her part of the party. They ran and played for awhile, and then Bob set up the Pinata we bought, and the children lined up for that. They each got about 10 turns before it finally started to break. The bottom came off all in one piece so the candy spilled a bit but didn't go flying. The children rushed in, but each just got a handful and called it good. So a couple of them picked up the rest and put it back in the bottom part of the pinata (it was shaped like a layer cake) and handed it over to the neighbor. She said she will be sharing with our crew every time they go over to play.

Then they had her dinner and cake and presents, and we called it a day, leaving about 5:30.
Having had problems with our phones lately, we went to the home store (like Home Depot) in Newmarket and bought a new cordless phone. They are about half the price as the BX. Bob just finished using one, so I guess it works okay. So it was quite a long day, and we all slept well last night.

Bob guesses there were about 50 people at the party.
Oh, one time I was talking with Bob and a little girl (probably 4 or 5) came up and pointed right up at me and said "what's that?" I said, "Do I have something on my nose?" She said, "No, on your head." (OH, that. :-) ) "That's a covering." "oh," and ran off.
Splat the rat is a traditional game where one person drops a "rat" (in this case a sock filled with sand) down a steeply sloping PVC pipe, and another person waits at the end with a bat to try to splat it when it comes out of the pipe. Very difficult.

I guess that'll do for now, as it is bedtime.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

typical midweek post

Well, I added a weather thing to my sidebar, but instead of the pretty picture and instant view of my local weather, it is a link to those things. Oh well, I tried; click if you wish.

Some of the children have colds. Yesterday morning Bob's razor was missing from its place. When the boys got up, Cedwryck was coughing, and Riah said, "I think he's coughing because he put that thing that doesn't look like a toothbrush but it is, in his mouth." Yikes! He didn't seem to have any marks in the mouth area. I asked Riah to show me the "thing" and sure enough, he brought me the razor. So they got a little talk on leaving stuff alone.

Ella, while unusually compassionate for her age, is getting a rough side to her. Yesterday she kept stepping on William, and actually scratched his face. Then she'll pat him and say "'s'okay, 'sokay." Or sorry, hurt? cry... Today William was playing in an empty box (Naysha's idea, I think) and fell out, giving himself a little lump on his head. He also is stuffy.

Naysha and Riah are learning to write. Naysha started a book on the way to church Sunday, asking Taryn "How do you spell" each word she wanted to write. So the next day Riah started, too. Today he wrote, "Azariah wants a show in the girls room." Except "Azariah" was backwards, and the page reads from bottom to top. He's brilliant. (By "show" he means when they do flips on the bed and we watch, like in one of Bob's YouTube videos.)

Monday the children were playing church, and Naysha got up to lead singing. She said, "Praise the Lord, saints!" - exact quote, with accent, expression, pitch all exactly like our song leader at chapel. I thought we had a guest in the house. :-)

I have been typing my recipes again. When the 3x5 cards get dumped out of their box twice in a week, something has to change.

Bob's new shop chief (who was his supervisor when we first got to Texas, then he moved to Iceland, and then here) told him Monday that he wanted to give Bob time for the gym every day. So far he has, though maybe not today... Bob just called and said he was leaving work (at 5:15) so he either went earlier, or he didn't get to go.

It has been mostly sunny today, but windy. Nice change from the rain since Sunday.

American politics are getting to be disturbing. I am wondering how hard it would be to learn German and move to Switzerland. :-D

Anyway, baby needs me. Happy Thursday.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Sunday and misc

Odds and ends:

I forgot to mention in the post about Saturday, but it cleared off after lunch, and though it remained windy, was quite nice all afternoon.

I stopped in Tesco for bread and overheard the cashier and the lady in front of me. The cashier said something about the weather (do you think it will rain?) and the customer answered, "I hope so. We'd get spoiled if it was nice weather all the time."

William got two new teeth yesterday.

We got ready for church with the usual difficulty of finding shoes, matching clothes, and brushing hair, etc. Ella was looking exceptionally beautiful, so I asked Bob to take her picture. So when we all got ready we went out to the grassy area between groups of houses (sort of behind our garage) to take pictures. Bob got a few of Ella, then Naysha, and had started Taryn when it came an English downpour. Nothing like a real downpour, but it tries. So we all ran to the van and got it, covering the cameras from the rain. Then Bob turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened. We checked that the lights weren't left on or anything, and then started looking for an umbrella so Bob could check under the hood. By the time I unearthed his raincoat it had stopped raining. So he got out and wiggled a wire which made the door locks go, and then another one; got back in the car and it started right up. The battery cable had come loose. With 20/20 hindsight we recognized the clues from yesterday when I noticed the radio clock was reset to 12:00.
When we arrived at the BX/Chapel parking lot and got out, the passenger side power sliding door wouldn't go. That thing is heavy to open the old-fashioned way! So I guess whatever made the door lock sound disabled the power door.

We went into the BX for lunch and to shop for Riah new shoes and a few other things. We ate first - I had a chicken salad from the sandwich place, Bob had a sandwich, and the children all had pizza. Did I mention that the gross AAFES-sponsored Anthony's Pizza and the hot dog stand beside it had closed, and we now have Pizza Hut? They only serve personal pizzas and "large" pizzas, which are really a medium. (That and wings and breadsticks.)

Then we went to look for shoes. You never know what you will find back there. Bob located a pair of boys size 2 on the clearance shelf, $35 with 50% off (for new price of $17.50) and Riah liked them, but they were a little big. So I looked on the regular shelf and they had $10 shoes. They even had cheap toddler shoes! I found one style in a size 2, and Riah liked those, too, but they were too small. (No 2 1/2 or 3 in any of the cheap styles.) So we decided on the first pair. Then off to find underwear, a billfold, and ponytail holders.

It was 15 minutes till church time when we started across the parking lot, but the previous service was still going, so ours started a little late. It was our chaplain's last Sunday so there were a few good-byes.

Then we headed home, where I made a dessert (it was a high calorie day) and Bob (who is a genius) fixed our toilet with a plastic water bottle, and it now works better than ever.

Once again I have forgotten something clever one of the children said, so I guess that's it for now.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

History Festival

Ahh, yesterday.
I'd had this festival of history on my calendar for about a month - ever since I got the flyer in the mail. Some of the children were interested and some weren't. Bob was semi-interested. So after our big day Friday we were all dragging our feet. Then it started to rain. So Bob and I looked at each other and wondered if it was worth the risk of miserable to drive an hour and a half. Finally we decided to go for it, leaving the house about 9:30.

The directions were flawless as usual, dumping us right into Dunstable High Street. Now what? The brochure said something about town center parking, so we followed the signs to a parking lot. It seemed full, but after parking behind a Dominos pizza, I saw a space in the public car park, so Bob moved the van over there. (People seem to comment a lot on my attention to detail, and how long my posts are, so I'm trying to leave out a few things, like that as we left the house I had to go back in twice for things we forgot, and about the first parking sign we followed that led us into a private alley.)

It wasn't raining when we got out of the van, so we left our coats there and took our lunch. The first thing we noticed (even as we drove up) was the music; there was an electric organ on a trailer. The next thing was the smell. There were a dozen small campfires going, and as it was a windy day, it was pretty smoky. So we walked over towards the excitement, and there were lots of tents, and LOTS of people in costume. In the middle of the camp was a whole pig slowly roasting over a smoky fire. Riah knew that Robin Hood would like to eat that pig, but he didn't think he would care for it.

The first person we actually talked to was a Viking, who was cleaning a drinking horn. He was very friendly for a Viking, and explained all about his craft. We could hear sounds of battle from up the hill, but it was nearly over. However, one combatant escaped and was caught in the middle of camp and thoroughly beaten for his trouble. As we learned later, Dunstable was the site of a Viking raid in 915, and they were successfully driven back by the Saxons.

Then we had out picnic lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, chips, apples, and dessert for the children. We felt funny because no one else was picnicking, but later several did. Feeling much refreshed, we walked around the camp. A little way down the path we saw Queen Elizabeth 1 with her lord and lady in waiting. Taryn worked up the nerve to ask about the lady in waiting, and that opened up a nice conversation. Having learned that we were from Newmarket, the Queen asked how long the journey took. I said 1 1/2 hours and she was surprised and mentioned our horse must be very fast. I said, "yes, we have about 200 - 250 fast horses." "Oh, you must be very rich!" Funny, but yes, we are all very rich compared to even Kings and Queens of times gone by. I forgot to mention to her that Bob is (maybe) descended from her Aunt Margaret.

We watched two lady archers practice the longbow. Bob talked politics to a man who had missed his bus and decided to walk through the park. We picked sour cherries from a BIG cherry tree. We toured the church, which was part of the priory built by Henry 1, and the site of Henry VIII's divorce proceedings. Then it was time for a battle. That was pretty good. There were about 40 warriors - Saxons and Vikings again - and they had a few bouts back and forth across the field, then they called a talk and decided on a single combat. (I was watching William play on the grass and missed most of this.) When one champion fell, the armies struck again with vengeance and the Vikings were defeated. Then the announcer called on Woden for the dead to rise, and sure enough, they did! All the warriors got together for a photo op, and that was that.

We walked around again, and seeing on the program that the English Civil War was about to begin in another place we tried to find out how to get there. Bob got directions, but then we saw a "guided tour" was forming, so we decided to go with that instead. We walked around the block with a lady in a red cape, and she told some interesting stories about the town. It was fun, but as the 'walk' was mostly standing and listening, our feet were getting tired by the end. We could hear guns and canons being fired, and figured it would have been too loud for the children had we gone to the war.

Back at the church gardens we let the children run and climb trees while we rested our feet. We figured that was enough of that, so gathered up and headed for home.

Looking at the map, I saw an English Heritage site not too far off our road, and we thought we'd check it out. After following the map, and the road signs, and turning around twice, and looking for roads that weren't there we eventually made it back to a main road and continued on our way home. I have NO IDEA where that house is supposed to be.

We were getting hungry so we looked for a Little Chef, but it wasn't there. So we went into Newmarket and parked the car and walked down High Street. We went into one pub that served food all day (it was about 5, and a lot of places don't start serving until 6 or 7), but the rock music was very loud, so we went back out. Bob found an ATM to get more cash for his car, and then we decided on a Kebab house. There are two on high street, and later I though we should have got one from each to do a taste test, but we didn't. Bob and I each got a chicken kebab, which is grilled chicken and salad on a pita bread. In America, a kebab is small chunks of meat on a skewer. shrug. The children each got a hamburger. We took it home, and I'm glad. Those kebabs are huge. Bob didn't even finish his. I took off about half of my meat, and shared the other half with Ella, and it was still a good meal. The children all liked their burgers, too, and were full without wanting anything to go with it. So, while it cost over $40, it wasn't bad value.

And that was our Saturday. Now it's time to consider church clothes, and showers, and all that good stuff.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Independence Day

Happy late 4th of July, y'all.

Work has been bothersome for Bob this week. First off, he learned that he flunked the book test for promotion. Then he was told his shop chief was being "fired" - not kicked out, but moved to a position of less authority. Then he was told that his name was one of a list of 1 for possible step-promotion (this is where a general decides to let some people be promoted even though they didn't get it by the usual means), but a few hours later word came back that he was turned down because he'd failed a PT test in 2004. So by Thursday he was a little stressed out. Just after lunch Thursday the shop chief told him to go home, so he did, and our weekend began.

Thursday night we decided to go look at computers, to replace the desktop. In spite of previous promises of new items in July, the BX only had one desktop, and it was out of stock. So Bob asked for a deal on the display model and they offered him 10% off, and I said that was silly. So we came home, where I discovered that we could order from Best Buy and get more computer for about the same price, including shipping, and not have to deal with the BX. WooHoo!

Friday we had planned to look at an '82 Jaguar listed on Ebay and residing in Newmarket, and get a part to fix our main toilet which isn't flushing right now, come home to fix the toilet, and maybe go to Feltwell this afternoon to the July 4th thing. I looked up a "home" store, and Bob called the car owner. Turns out he's busy on Fridays. Back to the drawing board. Not having a lot of success online, we decided to just go look. It was nearly 11 when we left.

First to the home store where we wandered around looking for plumbing, until we met a nice employee who showed us. They didn't have the right size piece that we wanted, so we left there and checked out the store next door, from whom I used to receive ads, but we'd never visited. Not much there.

Then we went on to Mildenhall for lunch, and yes, I stayed on diet. While there we bought birthday presents for our neighbor girl. Then we looked at cars. And we looked at cars. And then we looked some more. About 5 o'clock Bob made a deal on one over the phone, and then we went to eat - this time getting deli sandwiches from the commissary.

Oh, the car? A 1994 Toyota MR2 like the one seen here. It has 75,000 miles on it and seems to be in good shape. I tried to talk him into a VW Golf we saw at a dealer, but it just didn't have the appeal of the other.

We took our sandwiches to the park, ate and played for awhile - until the chorus of "I need to go to the bathroom" began. Taco Bell (nearest toilet to the park) was closed, so we went next door to the shoppette, which only has one toilet. A few other customers thought our line was too long and went elsewhere. Sorry.

Anyway, then we took a deposit to the car guy, since our bank will only let us get out so much at a time, and then it was about 7 so we figured we'd go on up to Feltwell. That was a nightmare - literally - I dreamed about it last night.
The line of cars going on base stretched for a couple of miles. To keep things moving, IDs were not checked at the gate, as usual, but all cars were ushered to a field near the carnival, the people got out and herded to a HUGE line and IDs checked and bags opened before being allowed into the carnival area (which was roped off and policed). So we got in line, and were almost halfway to the gate when one of the border patrol cops called to us that no backpacks were allowed inside. Oh. I have a backpack for the diaper bag combo with my purse, and Bob has a backpack for his camera gear, and we weren't going in without them.
So we walked down the perimeter, because we'd seen a bunch of people going that way and thought maybe there was something else up the road, but there wasn't. So we walked back and thought about sitting in the car for 2 hours and hoping we'd be able to see the fireworks from there, but we'd been in the car all day, and there was no guarantee that we'd even see it. So we went home, all the while wondering what about a bag having two straps that made it more dangerous than any other kind of bag. It was very tempting to get quite upset about it, but we managed to keep ourselves in check.

Home to bed.

Today we are going about an hour and a half south of here to Dunstable to see their Festival of Living History. You can read about it at

See you later!

Friday, 4 July 2008

no good title

I can't think of a short title that would show my excitement without getting other people wound up.
So anyway, no time to chat now, but while shopping for computers last night I discovered that

Best Buy ships to APO and FPO addresses!!!!!!!!

Best Buy is an American Electronics store with great prices on computers, cameras, videos, games, etc. And they now ship "most" items to American military bases overseas. (Fewer and fewer stores will do this.)
I know this doesn't mean anything to most of my readers, but it is good news to me.

Later! I've got shopping to do. :-)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


I just saw this on another blog and a few people I know will think it's hilarious. If you don't have a goofy sense of humor you will probably not get it.

nothing new

Sunday when we were on base for church, I forgot my WIC vouchers, so we didn't stop for groceries. Which meant we were running low, so last night we rushed dinner and then went to the base. Naysha and the babies went with me to get groceries while Bob took the other 3 to check mail, wash the car, and go in the BX. William slept half-way through the store, then was awake and happy up till we got in line, and grumped all through the check out. But we made it, and I think I got all the important stuff.

Riah's cut is nearly healed. He still has a bump there, but the scab is gone. He's been praying every night for his "hurt" to go away.

After gaining a total of 3 lbs last month, I've decided to get serious about this diet thing. Bob is with me 100%. What we are doing is counting calories, with "high" days and "low" days. Monday and Tuesday are low, Wednesday is high, Thursday and Friday are low, Saturday and Sunday are high. A low day has 12-1500 calories, and a high day has 18-2000. In two days I lost 3 lbs (yes, I weighed each day), and I really wasn't hungry yesterday. Though it was hard to eat only one of Naysha's homemade strawberry muffins. yummy.

The children's computer - the desktop - is not behaving well, so we are browsing for a new one. Yeah, I know. We shop a lot. This is the computer that Bob had set up for video editing. It was a custom built to begin with, and then when he got the video bug he got more memory, a bigger hard drive, a high-end graphics card with tv in/out plugs... Only it turned out to be a WHOLE lot of work, and we ended up getting a DVD burner that hooks up to the TV and VCR and just burned straight onto it that way. Anyway, now the computer thinks it doesn't have a lot of memory, and it doesn't think it has a graphics accelerator. Bottom line, a lot of the children's cheap games won't run. And then the case broke, and the power switch broke. And if we could figure out which motherboard to buy so it would all work together, by the time we got one, and a new case (which would probably then need a new power supply and fans) it would be cheaper to just get a new one. So there you have it.

Sunday Bob got a big white board (write on, wipe off kind) and the children have had a blast with it. Instead of asking to play the computer they ask to draw. :-) I used it for the little ones' math yesterday. I have to limit the time on it because the markers are so stinky.

It was almost hot yesterday - my thermostat read 85* in the sun. LOL, we are getting so spoiled. I hope our next assignment isn't in Arizona.

I know somebody said something really funny yesterday, but now I can't remember what it was. Oh well, I guess that's it then.