Sunday, October 28, 2007

Homecoming queen

For the past couple of weeks, I've been telling anybody who will listen that I wasn't this involved in high school when I actually WAS in high school. Somehow I wound up as the sophomore mom this year, and the sophomore mom's big responsibility is to coordinate the parent volunteers for homecoming. Most of October has been a blur of committee meetings and emailing parents to beg for baked goods or chaperones for the dance.

Finding dance chaperones was even harder than you might think. Plenty of kids put their parents on notice that they were cordially invited to be anywhere BUT the dance Saturday night. I was worried that we might not have enough, but in the end I did have a dedicated group show up to oversee the festivities. Also, I made a couple of friends through the International Spouses Club who told me that they were interested in volunteering on post. I said, "Wow, do I ever have a job for you!" Here I am with Carla (from Uruguay) and Cecilia (from Ecuador) working the refreshment table and enjoying the "monster's finger" cookies, which were a huge hit:

We had a great time! I didn't find the music half as painful as I expected, and it was fun watching the kids all dressed up and enjoying themselves.

But Homecoming isn't about me. You want to hear about Mike and whether he had a good time, right? I would have to say that yes, Mike had a very good time this week.

For one thing, he was the male sophomore representative for the Homecoming court. As such, he got a spiffy T-shirt to wear to the pep rally Friday afternoon:

He had to wear a suit to the game Friday night for the presentation. Here he is with Dana, the female sophomore representative (I'll be getting official photos in a week or so and will post them):

Here's a video clip to Mike and Dana's portion of the presentation.

Here are some pictures from Saturday night, the night of the dance. Here he is giving Ariel her corsage:

And the obligatory awkward-picture-in-the-living-room:

At the school, right after having their official pictures made (which, again, I'll post when I get):

During one of the couple dances, one of my friends said, "Oh, look, Mike is dancing with TWO girls!" By the time I got there to take a picture, it had turned into Mike and Brandon and a whole lot of girls:

When the dance ended at 11 last night, it took less than an hour to rip down the decorations and transform the cafeteria back to its normal state. We got home a little after midnight, and I have spent today taking care of tasks that have gone by the wayside while Homecoming consumed every ounce of my attention. It was a great time, but I'm SO glad it's over.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Mole-idays!

I'm sure you've been lying in bed the past few nights, unable to sleep, plagued with wonder over what on earth Mike was sewing the other day. Well, now it can be revealed: He was sewing a mole for his Chemistry class.

"A mole?!" you say. "For CHEMISTRY?!" That is EXACTLY what I said! Great minds think alike, I guess.

Yes, Tuesday was National Mole Day. According to the website: "Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry." How have I made it to the age of 40 without knowing that?!

His assignment was to create a mole that represented his chosen element, radium. I showed him how to use the sewing machine, powering it by the hand wheel instead of the pedal, and he did quite a nice job sewing it together. I confess though to helping when it came time to sew the little hands and feet on. Here is "Mole-icious:"

So happy belated Mole Day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scotty doesn't know

This morning as I helped Mike prepare for "culture day" as part of his school's Spirit Week, I felt kind of like Prince Charles's valet. That is, if Prince Charles's valet ever had to call his dad during the previous night's trial run to ask what on earth all the damn buckles are for!

Mike was really taken with the sporran, that little purse thing that's hanging down in front. He filled it with pencils, chapstick, guitar picks, etc. Who needs cargo pockets when you've got a sporran?!

I drove him to school this morning, because it was raining cats and dogs. As he got out of the car, he said, "Wow, I need to be careful not to pull a Britney here!"

Many thanks to my dad for lending Mike the kilt, jacket, and all accessories! (And now you know what was in the mysterious package I mentioned the other day.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

My own personal sweatshop

There has been a lot of sewing going on around here in the past few days. I made Annabelle a pair of microfleece pajama pants to wear home after swim practice, but I haven't gotten a picture of them yet.

The kids have been pretty busy, too. Mike had a most unusual school assignment (chemistry, no less!) that required him to get acquainted with my sewing machine:

I'm not telling what it is though! You'll just have to wait until it's finished.

Annabelle spent most of Sunday afternoon embroidering part of her Halloween costume:

Again, not going to say what it is right now. You'll find out soon enough!

My, I'm mysterious tonight, aren't I?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My mom is a creative goddess!

Long-time readers might remember the tale of Annabelle's baby blankets and how New Blankie temporarily went AWOL in the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando. If you missed that story, I suggest you get up to speed. I'll wait here. OK, you back?

If I hadn't been thousands of miles from my house and all my photos when I posted that almost 4 years ago, I would have included this picture from 1998, which I like to think of as "When New Blankie Met Old Blankie:"

Time apparently is not a friend to blankets. At some point New Blankie surpassed Old Blankie in rattiness. This is Old Blankie:

And this is New Blankie:

It has been years since Annabelle refused to leave the house or go to bed without her blanket, but it was still kind of sad to see these beloved blankets waste away to nothing more than scraps. She had been thinking lately that it would be really nice to have a blanket that would last forever, now that it would not be required to do any more work than providing warmth to her while she's watching TV on the couch.

The problem with designer blankets is (1) you can't just go grab one at Walmart and (2) they aren't cheap if you can find them at all. My mom found one on eBay for a hundred bucks!

Mom has been saying for years how easy it would be to make a hankie-blankie, but I never really expected to see her produce one. We have a long proud tradition in my family of meaning to get around to craft projects, and if you don't believe me, maybe you would like to see the white corduroy with brown cats on it that I have in my basement. Mom got it to make me a jumper when I was 5 or so and then passed it on to me to make one for Annabelle when she was 5 or so. Perhaps one day I'll see my granddaughter wearing it. At any rate, you get the idea.

The other day a box arrived with some stuff in it that my dad had sent for Mike. (You will want to check the blog on Tuesday to see what was in that box! Trust me. Put it on your calendar.) There was also a little wrapped package for Annabelle. I had no idea what it might be and figured it was probably just some cute thing that Mom had found somewhere. So imagine my surprise when she opened it up and found THIS inside:

Annabelle was THRILLED to see her blanket that should last forever. She has grown up a lot, however, since the last time I wrote on this topic and says that blankets are now to be referred to as "blankets" rather than by name. I have also been informed that blankets are to be referred to as "it" rather than "she." But inside my mind, all I can think is, "Blankie Three! She has come home to us!"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Note to self: Don't leave your camera at home!

When Fred and I set out for our week in Charlottesville, I did something incredibly stupid: I left my camera at home . . . on purpose. I had a very good reason: I figured I already have so many photos that need editing and posting, and this was my fourth time attending this conference in as many years, so why take more pictures now?

The error of my ways became apparent to me an hour down the road when, just outside Lexington, we drove past a castle. Not a house that looks kind of like a castle, but a real castle! I was immediately moaning that I wished I had my camera with me. Instead of seeing my own picture of the castle, you'll have to be content with this image that I filched off the Internet:

While I'm stealing images, I might as well add this one of that same castle in flames a few years ago. It seems to be much better now:

My next case of camera remorse came 2 days later when Fred and I got all dressed up for the big dinner. I wanted to memorialize my bargain outfit ($50 dress! $10 beads!), but did I have my camera? No, I did not. Fortunately, one of the guys who was helping out with the conference had a camera:

Two days after that, I met my friend Jennifer for breakfast at Bodo's. She and I worked together ages ago when Fred and I and Mike (this was pre-Annabelle) lived in Charlottesville for Fred's Advance Course. We have kept in touch over the years, and for the past 2 years we have gotten together while I'm in town. It's always such fun to catch up with Jennifer! I had already asked her to bring her camera, which she assured me that she always has with her (smart girl!). So here we are at Bodo's, where I had just enjoyed an amazing onion bagel with lox spread (and where I would be returning for lunch that same day with Fred--can't get too much Bodo's):

I do hereby promise never to leave the camera behind on purpose ever again!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Charlottesville = food

Remember 3 years ago when Fred came to Charlottesville, VA, from Iraq for a conference, and the kids and I met him here? Or 2 years ago when we came for the conference fresh on the heels of our overseas move and our trip to FL to pick up the car and the cat, and I was so busy that apparently I never got around to blogging it? Or last year when we came for the conference and brought the kids and our new puppy with us? Well, it's that time of year again, but this time, Fred and I are on our own. (My dad very graciously agreed to fly up from Florida to keep an eye on the kids and dog. Thanks, Dad!)

I just completed the formal part of the spouses' program this afternoon. One thing I have noticed about this week in Charlottesville is that every year, it proves to be one enormous festival of gluttony for me.

Sunday: We arrived that evening and went almost immediately to the icebreaker at the JAG School. Had a couple of glasses of wine and lots of munchies like layer dip and meatballs. Sigh . . . I adore party food.

Monday: We were welcomed that morning by MG Scott Black (TJAG) and attended some lectures on the assignments process and JAG recruiting. All interesting, but the part that stands out in my memory is the delicious luncheon prepared for us by the ladies of the JAG School Spouses' Club. That and our trip to St. Maarten Cafe that night for THE BEST chicken wings ever. (Seriously! If you're ever in C'ville, you must go try the wings. We love the Caribbean jerk and the Jack Daniels Smokey BBQ flavors best.)

Tuesday: More interesting lectures, including a talk about dealing with the media and a history of the JAG Corps. We also sat in with the SJA's all morning for the addresses given by William Haynes (General Counsel of the Department of Defense), Benedict Cohen (General Counsel of the Army--really funny guy who kind of reminded me of Steven Colbert), and General Richard Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

Also more food, of course! We had a luncheon catered by Panera, and our guest was Vicki Cody, wife of General Cody and author of the book Your Soldier, Your Army: A Parent's Guide. Mrs. Cody spoke to us about how she came to write her book, which is geared towards helping parents of soldiers understand the workings of the Army and especially deployments. She is a really neat lady and knows what she is talking about, as she has 2 sons, both of whom have served with the 101st Division and have had multiple deployments.

Towards the end of our luncheon, General Cody came up and talked to us himself about the war and about the decision to extend deployments to 15 months to preserve the 12-month dwell time back home in between. He's quite the straight shooter, and it felt pretty neat to have him addressing our little intimate gathering.

Tuesday night was our formal dinner at the Darden center. We enjoyed: pasta purses with marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes; mixed field greens with sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes; duet of sirloin steak and grilled salmon (Can you tell I'm copying this from the menu card? I would never say I ate a "duet" of anything!); and cappuccino mousse cake. One of our tablemates wasn't eating his dessert, so I ate mine and then I ate his as well (I guess I could say I had a "duet of dessert" if I were so inclined).

Wednesday: This morning we heard a lecture on care team training and dealing with grief in the unit, and then we had a most fascinating lecture from Dr. Mark Welton of West Point on understanding Islamic culture. How fascinating was it? It was so fascinating that I am seriously considering going tomorrow during my free time to hear the address Dr. Welton gives the SJA's on the same subject.

This afternoon we had a luncheon out at the Clifton Inn. I had (again from the menu card): butter lettuce salad with crumbled Vermont cheddar and white balsamic vinaigrette and red onion rings; seared Atlantic salmon with parmesan risotto and lemon dill butter sauce; and apple-phyllo crisp with vanilla whipped cream.

And now we're going to dinner with some of Fred's friends from the 82d Airborne Division! I am really going to be in shape by the end of this week. And that shape will be round.