Tuesday, November 23, 2010

235th Marine Corps Ball

So I'm really late with this post {as seems to be the trend with the rest of my blogging lately} but I couldn't make it to Thanksgiving without giving proper notice to one of my favorite Marine Corps traditions. This year was extra special for my husband and I because we didn't even think we would be able to go to the ball this year. If Ethan had gotten out in August like we had thought, then we would have just sat at home on a normal weekday night watching TV while our friends celebrate the birthday of our wonderful Corps.

Ethan came home from work early and I went to get my eyebrows done and then we dropped Aiden off with the babysitter. Then it was back to the house to get ready. I had planned on doing my hair all fancy, but I was missing a few things so I just straightened it. Paired with my gown, I think it looked decent.

This year we were in the Marine Dome (the basketball gym) on base. Instead of a plated dinner there was a buffet style dinner with no vegetarian option. Ethan and I ate a serving of rice, broccoli and cauliflower, and a teensy salad. I was really excited to be finally be 21 for the ball, but this year it was a cash bar (normally you pay for a wrist band and get like 10 drinks...which would put this girl out on the floor!) and the drinks were pretty expensive so I decided to just let Ethan have his fun that night. I have to say though that the DJ was really great. He played an awesome mix of good music. Ethan and I had a ton of fun dancing and being with our friends.

our beer pong buddies
Ethan's shop

dancing the night away
Normally we don't get the professional ball picture done because we always bring our camera along and neither of us see much point in paying for a mediocre photo, but this year Ethan decided to splurge because I looked "so amazingly beautiful" and because this was our 4th and final ball at Cherry Point. 
yes this is a picture of a picture...my scanner isn't working
And thank God we did those pictures first because while I was letting loose out on the dance floor with one of my friends the worst thing happened...my dress malfunctioned. Yeap that's right. I was being bent over into a awkwardly funny dance move and there went my zipper. I'm talking it came undone from top to right above my butt. Luckily Ethan was nearby and when I rushed over to him and told him what happened, he was ready to whisk his princess away.

I admit that I cried once we got to the car. I knew the dress wasn't damaged because it was a faulty zipper even before I borrowed it from my friend, but I was so upset that I had to leave. I felt like I ruined the ball, even though there was nothing I could do. As soon as we got home and I slipped the dress off, Ethan zipped it up, and it was perfect again.

Even with the malfunction it was a really fun last time. We made a lot of good memories and had one last really great night with all of our friends in one place.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegetarian Wednesday (or Thurs) - Couscous Casserole

So it has been a while since I last posted a recipe. I'm finally getting back on track with everything I want to be doing so I'm going to be adding a recipe a week once again.

Vegetarian Couscous Casserole

1 (15oz) can      black beans - drained & rinsed
1 (8 3/4oz) can      corn - drained & rinsed
1 (8oz) can      water chestnuts - drained & rinsed
1 (7oz) jar      roasted red peppers in water - drained, rinsed, & cut into strips
1 1/2 c.      water
1/4 tsp.      salt
1 c.      couscous - uncooked
1/3 c.      green onions - minced
2 Tbsp.      pickled jalapeno pepper - minced
1 c.      part-skim ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp.      balsamic vinegar
2 tsp.      sesame oil
1 tsp.      ground cumin
6 c.      fresh spinach leaves

- Bring water and salt to a boil in saucepan. Remove from heat. Add couscous and stir well. Cover and let stand 5 mins or until absorbed. Add black beans, corn, water chestnuts, roasted red peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Stir gently.
- Combine cheese, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, and cumin. Stir into couscous mixture. Spoon into an 11x7x2 inch baking dish coated in non-stick cooking spray.
- Bake uncovered at 350 F for 25 minutes.
- To serve, spoon couscous mixture on individual servings of fresh spinach. Enjoy!

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical once the casserole came out of the oven. I didn't know how I felt about eating it over the spinach, but at first bite I was hooked. The spinach gives a nice crunchy texture to the casserole. I added hot sauce to mine because I love spicy food.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

While I Was Gone: Playgrounds, Trains, and Dinos...Oh My!

Something we always like to do when we are in Austin is go to Zilker Park. It's this giant public park near downtown that has a ton of different things to do. It has a public spring-fed pool, soccer fields, rugby fields, rock climbing, a few different playscapes, a giant stage where Shakespeare in the Park is performed during the summer weekends, and of course the Zilker Zephyr. Aiden, like most little boys, loves being outside. Mix that with a beautiful weather and a train ride, and you get a prefect day.

By the time we got to Zilker that day we had missed the train by less than 5 minutes. This being our second attempt at riding the dumb train, we decided to just stick around for another hour and a half so that we wouldn't miss the next one. While we waited we decided to take Aiden and Tristan to the playground. They played for a while, climbing and sliding, and not listening to us at all. Aiden's favorite thing to do was to pretend to drive the old-fashioned fire truck.
We decided to head down to the Greenbelt to let the boys look at the water because they love it, and who gets to still swim/get your feet wet in November? Gotta love Texas right? So to our awesome luck, a family (I don't know the technical term for it...gaggle? flock?) of ducks chose that precise time when the boys were squirming their toes in the water to swim up so that we could say hello. Jennifer had a bag of Baked Ruffles in her purse that she dug out so that the boys could feed the ducks. Let me tell you, these ducks had no fear. They swam right up to the kids and didn't even scoot away when they started throwing the food. A few were even brave enough to eat a chip right out of Jennifer's hand! Aiden really loved that part.

real picture taken by moi

After the bag of chips were eaten, we headed back to the little train station area to wait. When the train finally pulled up and we climbed aboard, both Aiden and Tristan were pretty excited. The last time we were in Texas Ethan and I took Aiden on the train, and he remembered it the second time. He was a little anxious at first because instead of riding in our laps he got to sit on the seat next to us. I think he had to get used to the feeling of moving and swaying with the motion of the train, but he soon forgot all about that. He started to sing the theme song from his favorite TV show Dinosaur Train, and started asking where the characters from the show were. He was slightly miffed when we explained to him that there were no dinosaurs, only people on this train.

After the short ride we decided to head into the air conditioning for a while. Jennifer told us about a museum on the University of Texas {Go Longhorns!} campus that had a bunch of dinosaur bones. Since Aiden had already been asking about dinosaurs we figured it would be a fun experience for them.

It was a pretty small museum, but it had some interesting stuff. I for one love museums so I was happy to go at all. Sadly, when you go to a museum with a two year old and a four year old, don't expect to be able to actually take time to look at any of the exhibits. The boys just flew from one cool display to the next. They were nice and quiet and didn't touch anything, but they didn't care about finding out where a certain bone came from or how it played into the animal's life. There were some cool dino bones, but I was more interested in the animal and science stuff. Maybe one day Ethan and I can go back so that we can just look around. 

After the museum we dropped Tristan and Jennifer off at their house and then went out to dinner with my Mama, her boyfriend Jerry, and his grandson Junior, and then all of us drove out to my Aunt Robyn's house for my family's usual coffee and cigarettes. My cousin's wife and their son were there also so it was a fun time for Aiden to be able to play with the babies in the family. My cousin, Billy, is in the Army and is currently deployed so it was nice to be able to see Ashley and Micah. All of us - Aunt Robyn, Brandy, Ashley, Micah, Mama, Jerry, Junior, Ethan, me, Aiden, and Grandma - walked down to the neighborhood park to let the boys play on the playground. Robyn could've sworn that the place was lit up (seeing that it was dark outside) but we let them play anyways...with adult supervision of course! Aiden and Micah had more fun chasing the flashlight beams than anything else.

Me and Aiden, Ashley and Micah
Some really fun memories were made that night. I really hope that we will be able to make some more as a big family again. When I'm having a bad day and all I want to do is go home, it's nice to think about memories like that and know that even though I'm far away, my family is back home supporting me and loving me.

Yet Again

I have been really sick, and now the Monster is sick too. He's had fever and other ailments that aren't pleasant at all. We are finally both on the mend, although Aiden has become very clingy and whiny today so I don't think he's completely over it yet.

I have been really behind on my blogging, and for that I am sorry. I will be catching up this week on everyone else's stuff now that things are getting easier around here. Hopefully I'll be able to post a few things as well.

We had a really great balls this year and I definitely want to share. It was such an interesting experience.

For now I am just cuddling on the couch with my sweet, sick angel. Sometimes when no other medicine can help, a hug from Mama can make all the difference.

Aiden also had an eye appointment today (thank God his fever broke last night) and the doctor has decided that surgery is now the only option to get Aiden's eyes back to normal. The MRI scans came out great so his eyes are turning inwards on their own for some reason. Which is much better than there being something wrong with his brain. So in January we will be back in Wilmington waiting to see if it'll work.

It will be a quick 45 minutes surgery. There won't be any scars on his skin, no patches or anything to worry about. The only side effect will be bloody eyes for a few days. Either way I'm still worried. I don't think any mother likes the idea of their toddler being put under and cut into. My first surgery was at the age of 20. My son will have two surgeries on his eyes before the age of 3. I just hope this will be the last of the surgeries for a long while.

Aiden with his "pirate patch"

Monday, November 8, 2010

While I Was Gone: Trick-Or-Treat

This Halloween was so much fun. I think part of the reason was because we spent it with family, and Aiden was finally old enough to really understand what was going on. He completely got the whole concept of dressing up and getting candy. It was a really fun experience to witness Halloween through his eyes.

Aiden had so much fun dressing up for Halloween. He loved being a Marine. In fact now that we're home he has asked us a few times where his blouse is so I'm thinking this weekend we'll have to dress him up again. I think Ethan had more fun than Aiden, teaching him how to be a Marine. Aiden now knows that you don't wear a cover inside. He knows how to stand at attention and parade rest. Ethan came home the day before we left for Texas with SgtMaj chevrons for Aiden's costume, he said he couldn't resist.

We went with Ethan's brother and sisters, Caleb, Faith, Ruthie and her husband's family. Aiden of course was so psyched that he got to spend time with his new baby cousin, but he was even more amazed when we pulled up to the house. Ruthie and Daniel's nephew, Pepper, was Buzz Lightyear, and Aiden was so amazed. He couldn't believe that Buzz Lightyear would come just to go trick-or-treating with him.

We brought the stroller with us because we weren't sure how long Aiden could handle the walking, but Aiden was too busy running after Pepper saying "Hey Buzz come back here!" He figured out after the first few houses that the people at the doors were giving out candy, and that's when he became a little more demanding. He started telling the people with the candy that he wanted more or a different one. Ethan and I had to try to explain to him that it was rude to tell people that, but by the end of the night we had a ton of KitKats (which I love) because Aiden kept asking for the red candies.

It's Buzz Lightyear!!
We walked around for about an hour and a half before Maddie, who slept through the whole ordeal, started getting fussy. After checking all the candy and getting Maddie fed, we headed over to Ethan's parent's house to show off the grandchildren's costumes and of course take pictures. Aiden got to hold Maddie for the first time, and although at first she was unhappy Aiden seemed to calm her down a little. He loved holding her. He loves his cousin.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

While I Was Gone: 6th Street

My best friend, Jennifer, turned 24 the Friday we were in Austin. Ethan and I haven't been home for her birthday in 4 years so it was nice to be able to spend the day together. We took Jennifer and the boys out to breakfast at our favorite Austin diner, Kerbey Lane, and then we went to the mall to shop for club clothes because a bunch of us were going downtown that night for Jennifer's birthday.

Being that we live in a tiny town with limited options for clubs, I don't own that many going out outfits and who doesn't love to shop for a new outfit on their birthday? So Ethan decided to take the boys on the mall train to distract them while the ladies found the perfect outfit.

First we started out at a 24 hour kosher deli called Katz's (it never kloses!) for Jennifer's birthday dinner. It was me and Ethan and a bunch of Jennifer's friends from high school. Ethan and I didn't go to her high school so we didn't know everyone, but we made do. Ethan actually met a former Marine who was stationed in San Diego and had the same job as Ethan. In fact they were about 2 weeks apart during boot camp and school. They really hit it off.

Jennifer is the only one looking at the camera...
Then we headed down to the clubs. It was my first time being 21 on 6th, and let me tell you it is a completely different experience. Sixth Street is an Austin landmark. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, and 6th Street is where a lot of it goes down. I mean if you just type in "6th Street" in Google it'll tell you all about it. It is insane. It was my first time being 21 on 6th, and let me tell you it is a completely different experience. Add Halloween weekend to it and it just becomes this crazy place where you can see and be seen. 

Me, Monica, Jennifer, Ashley, and Melissa
 We went to a few different places, but my favorite was definitely Barcelona. It's completely underground so it has this awesome atmosphere. Plus the bartender made ah-mazing drinks. I think she made the best Blue Hawaiian I have ever had. Ethan happened to see a guy he used to work with back when he was a teenager who also got out of the Marine Corps like 6 months before so the three Marines bought each other shots all night. Needless to say, Ethan - who doesn't drink anything harder than beer anymore, was really really messed up. The sad part is that I trusted him with the camera....never again.
Anyways it was a really fun night. It was definitely nice to get out without the Monster and just let loose. We don't get very many chances to do that here in Havelock. Plus there's no place on Earth like downtown Austin!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

While I Was Gone: I Love To Fly

I seriously love flying. I always have. I think it's because I've been doing it ever since I can remember. It's always a constant thing. You take off, cruise while you snack on peanuts and cokes, and in a few short hours you land in a totally different place. Flying is familiar. It's comforting. I am really afraid of heights, but for some reason when I am flying all of my fears disappear

I grew up in Tennessee, but all of our family lived in Texas so every other year we would fly home for the holidays to see everyone. Then when my parents divorced when I was 9, we moved to Austin and my Daddy moved to Dallas. It's only a short 4 hour drive, but for some reason Daddy found it easier to fly my brother and I to him. So about once every 6 months to a year we hopped on a plane by ourselves for a 45 minute flight.

Aiden has flown before, in fact his first flight was while he was still in the womb, but he is finally at the age where he really understands what is going on. Since we live on an Air Station it's only natural for him to be obsessed with airplanes and helicopters so it was really fun to take him to the airport. He was so excited! While we were waiting at the airport we went on an airplane hunt to find the different types of planes. His favorite was definitely one of the small puddle-jumper planes with propellers.

On this trip however I have learned a few things. While Aiden loves airplanes and the airport, he does not like being on a plane for more than two hours. Just because the plane lands doesn't mean Aiden will be content staying on the plane instead of getting off with half of the other passengers. Next time we will book all of our flights with a layover.

I have also discovered that I really really like clouds. I used to love cloud watch when I was little. I would lay in the backseat of the car and stare at the sky as we drove by. I find shapes in them. I love that each time you look up at the sky there is always something different to see. Maybe I'm weird?

Completely unrelated, but exciting all the same....my husband was promoted today!! We went out to an early dinner to celebrate before he left for his sleep study. Hopefully the docs can figure out why this boy can't stay awake to save his life!