Thursday, January 28, 2010

A really Great day!

Couldn't wait to get to Fort Benning this morning to pick up
our Brandon at the Ranger compound behind the brown fence

Brandon couldn't wait to show his grandpa
all the modifications he's made to the GTI

And his Grandpa... The Captain, couldn't
wait to inspect the PFC Ranger's barracks!

Something about these boots wasn't
quite up to the Captain's inspection!

Our first stop was the Atlanta Cyclorama. Dad said they
can now Check this off their bucket list! It was checked off
my bucket list the First time we visited it a few months ago!

After the Cyclorama we headed over to Stone Mountain. I enjoy the park
at Stone Mountain and was happy to have Brandon and Heather with us!

Up, up and Away we go!

Ah-mazing!

Snow Mountain looks pretty cool too! 

Here they are at the Top!

I love Covered Bridges!

And geese!

Brandon asked Heather to go on the bridge with him. She
said no because she doesn't like Old wooden bridges

But Brandon wasn't taking No for an answer...

And, that's how Heather ended up on the old covered bridge!

After our nature walk at Stone Mountain Park it was time for
dinner. Ever since we discovered The Village Corner German
restaurant and Bakery at Stone Mountain village we've made it our
stop for lunch or dinner at least once during every trip to see Brandon 

This time, the Captain and his Ranger-grandson enjoyed a German beer together

This was indeed a really Great day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've got Good news and bad news...

You know how people always want to know if you want to hear the Good news first or the bad news first? Well, I'm one of those girls that always asks to hear Good news first because once the bad news is delivered, I know I won't be able to think of anything else. Therefore, I line up for those five seconds of Happiness before bad news whenever I can.

So I've got news... And, it's not so much good News versus bad news as much as it is Fantastic news versus really, really, horrible news. And yes, for those of you that need me to get to the point, my news very much has to do with the Army-mom part of who I am and that whole, Proud but terrified way I feel about being my Ranger's mom.

Before I deliver the really, really horrible news I'll tell you the Fantastic news, which is that by this time tomorrow, I will be just hours away from seeing my parents!

I can't even think about the Moment I get to see their faces again without becoming emotional. Part of it is that I just really miss my mom and dad. Perhaps it's just this cold, Dim time of year and/or the circumstances that brings us together again... Or maybe it's that I just watched my boss lose a Parent two weeks ago. Whatever the reason this is closer to the surface for me than it usually is, I'm finding that the further away in years I get from living just six houses down from them in our happy little California neighborhood, the more unhappy and less Tolerant of the situation I'm becoming.

More and more I'm realizing that Life is too short to live 3,318 miles away by choice.

But that's a whole other, semi-truck-load of Feelings for another day... Because today, there's only so much analysis of my life, and the Decision we made to relocate I can handle.

So my Fantastic news is that I get to see my mom and dad tomorrow. I. Cannot. Wait.

I haven't seen my parents at home since last February, (see here and here and here) and the last time we were all together as a family was last April, (here) for Brandon's graduation from Army basic training.

A lot has happened... Since we were all together in April, and while my dad was still Recovering from one surgery, (here) it was discovered that he would also need Heart bypass surgery. Although I wanted very much to be with them, it was my dad's Wish that I not see him that way. Therefore, I haven't seen my dad since that most Miserable experience of waiting for life and death news while being stuck on the Opposite side of the country from them. I've been waiting far too long to look into my dad's eyes again to reassure my Heart that he's really okay. On top of that, I cannot wait to feel my mom. I need to squeeze her in Gratitude for everything she's done to heal my father this past year and for everything that tiny, Yoga-loving, powerhouse of a 68-year-young woman continues to do for him and our Whole family.

I know.

I'm stalling.

My really Horrible news goes like this...

Tomorrow, after the Thrilling moment when we will collect my parents from the Atlanta airport, we will all continue on to Fort Benning together to say good-bye to our Ranger before his deployment. Then on Sunday, I will have to say good-bye again to my parents.

I told you it was really Horrible news.

Nevertheless, I am determined to make the most of this Visit with my parents and with our Brandon, and his Alabama-sweetheart too!

This is it. All the fretting about the possibility of his being deployed since he left College to join the Army, while our country is at war, has turned into this Reality that he must now go.

I know my Ranger will come back home. Period.

I just have to develop a strategy for Dealing with the times when I am tortured by the fear of never seeing him again. It's usually at night and in the dark, after I've slowed down long enough to hear myself think. It's enough to make a Grown woman afraid of the dark! And, to a lesser degree, I need to figure out how to function for Five months without being absolutely sure he is Safe since we won't, (can't) hear from him.

Before you say it... Yes. Through it all, I respect what my Son is doing. And I do feel an overwhelming sense of Pride that my boy is part of a very special group that Stepped up when it counted.

Nevertheless, while my son is a Warrior, his mom remains a worrier.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

For Monica...

Thanks for your sweet Comment... If you loved those
bunny soaps on ropes I picked up yesterday, then I'll show
you this one too... It's a Rubber Ducky soap on a rope!

I bought up all they had at Home Goods last spring and have been
giving them away to Friends with little kids all year. Sadly, this is
the last one I have left - And, he's headed into my Shower today!

I found these at Home Goods yesterday too. I'm always on the look-out
for Girlie birthday or Hostess gifts, and these fit the bill perfectly! Not
only is the packaging Beautiful, which means I can just slip them into
a Gift bag with a piece or two of tissue paper to wrap, the Green
Tea scent is just heaven! In this box we have bath salts...

And this is green tea Liquid soap. Perfect
next to the kitchen or Guest bathroom sink!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A little Retail therapy...


After the week I had, my Plan was to stay in bed all day watching old movies
with my Bingee. But then at noon I remembered there was an Estate auction
in King that we wanted to check out so we started there... Then we went to Costco
and Home Goods where I found these cute little Soaps on ropes. You know what
a sucker I am for soap on a rope... And these Frog princes were a must have!

Marshall's was our next stop where I found these Beautiful cake plates. I cannot tell
you how ready for Spring I am... I miss my trees and Flowers so much I can barely
stand it. I woke up this morning Thinking about wandering around our favorite
Garden shop in bright sunlight picking out all sorts of Lovelies to fill the
planters out on the deck. Of course, these are not my usual first waking
thoughts, however, since I woke up to someone Watching his gardening
shows I guess I owe, or can blame it on P. Allan Smith! Any way,
speaking of Spring... I found a little spring at Marshall's today!

Flowers, butterflies and Lady bugs. Lady bugs... Oh, my!

There were three different Designs so I
bought two of each to Build my own set!

I love them all! They are delicate and Pretty, and I can't wait to
bake something Light and spring-like just to use them!

Oh, and next to the Butterflies, lady bugs, flowers and feelings of spring these
plates inspire...The Best part is the price and the fact that they're Lenox too!

I also cleaned up on Spanish saffron today!

My new Spring plates deserve to have me bake a
zesty Lemon cake so I picked up this loaf pan too!

Speaking of baking... I felt bad about ruining the Blueberry crumble
muffins I attempted to make him last week so on the way home
I picked up a muffin mix. It won't be the same as my from-
scratch blueberry Crumble muffins, but if you won't tell...

Neither will I!
Shhhh...

Time for a Costco-throw-together dinner! They were demo'ing fresh
(not frozen) chicken Pot stickers there today, and they smelled great! I say
smelled great instead of tasted great because the kid demo'ing them was too
busy chatting up the young girl leaned up against the Cooler door next to him
to actually have any ready to taste. When I inquired about his pot Stickers, he
told us that since he Forgot to turn on his electric Skillet, it would, be a while...

At least he was able to tell me where to Find them!

And let me tell you... They taste as Good as they smelled cooking at Costco!

Now that his Muffins are done I can have my dinner!

Yup! They look like, from-Scratch to me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh, Martha!

Ever since Thanksgiving, when my December issue of Martha Stewart's
Living magazine arrived and I first saw her 1950's Evergleam Pom-Pom
aluminum tree, I've been searching for one of my Very own! Turns out,
they're not that easy to find. Knowing Martha, she probably ordered
reinstatement of Production at the Aluminum Specialty Company in
Manitowoc, Wisconsin, which stopped producing them in 1969...

Fortunately, for those of us with Less influence, there's e-Bay!

I have exactly ten months to amass a Collection of pink mercury
glass ornaments like Martha has to complete my vision of owning
a tree just like hers... And that's exactly what I'm going to do!

However, I must say these sweet little Teal numbers I
picked up last weekend in the gift shop at Callaway Gardens
look great on my aluminum Tree, and they make me smile...

Speaking of sweet things that make me Smile... I give you this...

This...

And this!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

72 hours later...

Not to worry. I'm still here.

Not ready to open up about our trip to visit our Ranger last weekend. Still feels like I had an out-of-body experience Listening to some of the things he had to tell us... Just hoping I said enough to let him know how deeply I love him, Support him and how eager I am just to have him back.

We'll be together again next week. It will be a difficult Visit but nothing and no one could stop me from seeing my boy off to war. I've seen him off before, and I'm pretty good at it. Let's see... There was Kindergarten, middle school, then high school and in 2006, a University away from home. Seeing him off got a lot tougher last year though. First there was Army enlistment, then hugs and tearful good-bye's for basic training, Airborne and Ranger schools.

War will be different, and I'm the first to admit that I am Not ready. Nevertheless, there's no denying that our reunions have always been very Sweet, so I have the calendar marked now for our next sweet reunion in Five months. That's all the Army gets though - five months. Then I want him back. This is a loan. You hear that, 3rd Ranger Battalion? A l-o-a-n!

By the way... The house is SPOTLESS! I find it's the one thing I am able to do well to pass hours and hours without Thinking at all.

I attempted to Bake after work yesterday but it was a disaster. Baking requires concentration and I have none. I hope the raccoon family enjoyed the $12 blueberry crumble batter I had to dump out in the yard for them, because instead of .5 cups of water, I added 1.5 cups of water to the recipe. Fortunately, dinner could be produced only through the use of my microwave, so at least we didn't go hungry tonight.

I'll find my way through this. It probably won't be easy. Or cheap... I was a huge ball of raw nerves on the way back from Ft. Benning Sunday so when Dallas gave up, it was all I needed to send me over the edge. Thankfully, the Dallas loss came just moments before Exit 90 in Gaffney where the Pottery Barn outlet lives. I did some serious Damage there that provided at least a half hour's distraction.

That's all for now.

Thanks for checking in on me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Call of Duty... Not the Video game


It's been a rough week... The Ranger's been training in Virginia since the 6th so a second birthday came and went without him at Home and without even a phone call. Then his dad broke news to me that the leave Brandon spoke of at Thanksgiving - where he would come home Before he deployed - might not happen at all if for any reason they Deployed early. Oh, and without notice too! This was 411 his dad said he recently received from Brandon, who told him he wasn't sure how to prepare me for this Possibility on his own...

Of course, I heard what was said but I decided to Ignore it. First of all, I know the Army and there isn't much the Army does quickly. Mine has always been a, hurry-up-and-wait Army experience. And second, there were heart-shaped cookies to bake and nothing Distracts me from worrisome thoughts like baking. Well, except for shopping, that is. Besides, the Army and I had a deal. Brandon missed coming home for Christmas so the battalion that just came back might have leave for Christmas - and in exchange, Brandon would have two weeks home in March, (possibly even on his Birthday!) before his scheduled deployment.

And then the call came Early this morning... The call that said Rangers aren't part of the, hurry-up-and-wait Army I'm used to. The call we were warned might come during his Ranger class graduation briefing when the Commander warned to expect our boys to move further, Faster and to fight harder without being able to tell us much. Least of all what we want to hear most, such as the, what, where, When, how and why of it all. The call that said you can't know where I'm going, when I'm going, why I'm going, what I'll be doing, have any contact with me or send me any Care packages, mom. The call that ultimately said, Get to Ft. Benning to see me as soon as you can.

While I listened to Brandon speak, I heard cool calm in his voice. The only Excitement expressed was excitement about his mission. The way Brandon delivered his News helped bring down the pounding coming from my chest I feared he might be able to hear through the phone. Our Ranger said he's ready. Ready to go and ready to come back.

As I pack for our Trip tonight I realize I'm ready too. Ready for him to Come back to me before I even have to let him go.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Never too early for Hearts!

I had Dough in the refrigerator just begging to be baked. And, I
just couldn't wait to break out the Heart shaped cookie cutters...

However, someone reminded that it's Way too early for Valentine's cookies!
But that's okay because maybe I just want to make Heart-shaped cookies to
celebrate My birthday. Or, how much I love him. Hey! It could happen!

I love this Trick! Rolling my cookie dough between two pieces of parchment
paper eliminates the need to use any Flour at all. We all know that adding
too much flour to our dough can make our cookies Tough and dry

So this is the Only way I roll!

Because as you already know... I'm a Big fan of perfect!

And this is how it happens to Happen for me!

Not only doesn't the dough stick to the Parchment or my
rolling pin - Being able to Slide my hand underneath to lift
my cookie shapes free keeps them Perfectly perfect too!  

And off to the Freezer we go! Freezing before baking helps dough
rise a bit Higher and prevents the cookie shapes from spreading

After 10-minutes in the Freezer, bake at 350 for 17 minutes or until just
slightly Golden around the edges. Now that our Hearts are on their way...

It's time to get cracking on the Royal icing! Small batch of cookies
this time... So it's just a pound of Powdered sugar. Four tablespoons
of Meringue powder, 1 teaspoon cream of tarter and six tablespoons
of warm water. Oh! And a 1/2 teaspoon of extract to enhance the taste! 

And, off we go!

Watching it come together!

I've recently learned to Stop beating my royal icing to death. Now, I
turn Off the mixer the moment it begins to shine. Like this...

Perfect royal icing every time now!

We have a Game to catch in Raleigh tonight so
this is going to be an Easy, 1-color design!

Red!

What were you thinking... Blue?

No blue... Just red Hot hearts!

Not bad for a First-time heart drawing effort,
huh? Especially for one in such a Hurry!

I just might have to send some, or a few of these to
the Ranger and his Alabama-sweetheart because...

While it's true that it's a bit too early
to call these Valentine's Day cookies...

It's never too early to send Heart-shaped
cookies to those you Miss and love!