The last days of leave

Thursday we drove back from Rick’s to Mom & Dad’s.  The roads were a bit snowy in places, but Ryan got us all home safely.

Yesterday morning I got my hair cut at the place Mom goes.  It’s been since April that I got it cut, but it really wasn’t too bad.  C took 2 inches off just to even everything up.  And of course, getting it washed is always my favorite part.  Then me and Ryan and Robbie headed to Marquette for a little while – Burger King for lunch and to a car wash which was almost pointless.  As we were coming out and waiting to turn onto another street, a snowplow came by and threw muddy slush on the nice clean van.  Then we stopped by where Mom works on our way home and visited with her for a little while.  Once home, I did a couple of loads of laundry so everyone (especially Robbie) had clean clothes.  Then Ryan and I headed back to town to the hotel that we made a reservation at earlier in the day.  We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites and got a free upgrade to a jacuzzi suite!!  We went to dinner at a local Mexican place and then back to the hotel to use the pool and hot tub for a little while and then we went back to the room and used the jacuzzi in there.  Then Ryan sorted some of his Magic cards and I stitched for a while while we watched TV.  It was a nice relaxing evening with just the two of us.

After breakfast and checking out this morning, we headed back home via a stop at the post office to mail a few things out.  After a while at home, we went to my grandparents’ house to load up some firewood for the sauna in the back of Mom’s truck and to say goodbye to them.  Then Ryan, Robbie, and I headed to my cousin C and his wife A’s house.  They hosted the First Annual Frosty Balls snow golf tournament.  We wore snowshoes and used tennis balls instead of golf balls on the little 9 hole golf course C made in the field behind his house.  It was a lot of fun and nice seeing all my cousins and some aunts and uncles.  Robbie even golfed a little, but he had more fun sledding.  Robbie stayed behind when Ryan and I left.  We came home and Mom and Dad and Rick and us went out with the church adults for dinner.  That was a nice time and then we came home and my other cousin  A and her fiance D and her sister H and her boyfriend brought Robbie back here and I said my goodbyes to them.  I ended the evening with one last sauna for a while.

I’ll check back in in a few days.  My leave is over and tomorrow I begin my journey back to Iraq.

Bob the Builder!!

This morning we got up and got breakfast eaten, and Ryan got the van cleaned off from the snow we got overnight. Ryan and Mom and Robbie and I headed to Stitches N Things cross stitch store. I brought a finished cross stitch piece (picture at the end) to be framed and Mom bought a few things. Ryan bought something, but he hasn’t shared with me yet what it is. Then we headed back to Rick’s, and went a different way and the roads were much better. We saw probably 15-20 cars in the ditch on our way to the store. We picked up Dad at Rick’s and then headed to where Rick works to visit with his coworkers for a little while and they always enjoy seeing Robbie. Then Mom went with Rick (he was done with work for the day) and they went grocery shopping. The rest of us went to the mall here and Robbie got to play in the play area for a little while and then we all had ice cream at Dairy Queen. We stopped at the Verizon store near the mall after that to see if they could figure out why my Yahoo messenger doesn’t work on my phone since I did an upgrade to the program last week. After it logs me in, it tells me it can’t find my friend list and then logs me out. The guy that was working with me determined (by trying on a different phone that my battery fit into) that my phone won’t support the upgraded version of Yahoo on their. I’ll be able to upgrade my phone in April, so whenever I get home from Iraq, I’ll just update my phone and then it will work again. I’ll live without chatting with my friends on my phone for a few more days I guess. But if you want to text message me, just e-mail me and I’ll give you my phone number.

Then it was back to Rick’s house and he already had a bunch of his Christmas decorations down. Robbie helped him undecorate his tree while Mom and I made pasty pie for supper. It was really good, and then after supper we stopped at Hobby Lobby on our way to the Wharton Center to see Bob the Builder Live. You should have seen the look on Robbie’s face when Bob came out on stage!! He sure was excited – it was complete surprise to him until we got there and he saw what was going on. The vehicles (Scoop, Lofty, Scrambler, and Dizzy) were remote controlled and really cool!! The whole show was awesome and Robbie loved singing and dancing along with everyone else. It lasted about an hour and a half, and taught about recycling. Thanks, Rick, for the great evening!!

Now I’m heading to bed as we’ll be heading up north again tomorrow, so another long day.

Here’s a picture of the cross stitch piece that I finished last night and brought to be framed today. It’s called My Patriotic House and is by Forever in my Heart Designs.

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Another Travel Day

I got up about 8:30 this morning and Robbie and I had breakfast together. Then we watched cartoons for a while and I stitched. Mom & Dad’s internet was out, so I wasn’t able to do anything on my computer. It’s not a bad thing once in a while. 🙂 After Mom got home from work shortly before 1, we had lunch, and then we headed south to Rick’s house where we will spend the next few days. We had really nice weather for traveling, and I stitched until it was too dark to see to stitch anymore – just as we were stopping for dinner. Then I read a Runner’s World magazine the rest of the way (I have a little reading light). Once to Rick’s town, we stopped for gas and then at Walmart for night-time diapers. We got settled at Rick’s, and now Robbie is in bed, and I have about 15 minutes of stitching I want to do to finish the piece I was working on in the car.

I’m finally about caught up on my crunches – only 45 behind now.  I’ll still be able to average 100 a day, though.  🙂


I slept until almost 10 this morning.  I had planned on being up before Mom left for work, but I didn’t hear my watch alarm go off.  By the time I got up, Dad had the big tree undecorated and outside.  Robbie and Rick helped undecorate it.  The family room sure looks big now without the tree in there.  Robbie and I had breakfast together and then we spent the morning playing.  After Ryan had been up for a while, we went to Marquette and went to Burger King for lunch and then did some shopping at Walmart.  We stopped a few other places for Ryan on the way home as well, but Robbie and I stayed in the car.  It was COLD out.  Around -9 when I got up.

Once we got home, Robbie and I played some more and I played the piano for a while while Robbie was "coloring" on my computer using the Paint program.  I also washed a couple of batches of sauna towels so that we have towels next time we have sauna.  After Mom got home from work and grocery shopping, we had leftovers for dinner.  Various sandwiches, chili, sweet potatoes, corn, meatballs, etc. from the past few days.  Then it was more playing with Robbie, and after he was in bed, I crocheted a little and then stitched some as well.

Today’s high:  10
Current:  -9

Merry Christmas!

Yes, Merry Christmas.  Christmas *IS* on the 25th, right??  Well, today was the 25th.  We got up and got ready for church and headed off.  Robbie didn’t want me to leave today, so I did his Sunday School with him instead of the adult class.  He was the only kid in his class today, so after the singing and prayer time, we played down in his classroom – me and him and his teacher.  Church was really nice, and Mom and I sang a duet as a call to worship, and then I sang a solo during the offering.  After the service we had a pot luck with lots of good food and then our annual meeting.  

Then it was home to clean the house, cook food, get tables set up, etc.  The family arrived shortly after 5, and once everyone was here, there were 18 of us.  It sure was nice to see everyone, and we had our traditional Christmas dinner – ham, mashed taters, sweet taters, corn (regular and cream style), pickles, salad, and rolls.  And for dessert we had chocolate chip cheesecake or angel food cake with strawberries and cool whip.  I had cheesecake.  Everything was really good.  After dinner, we visited for a while, and then took our annual family picture with everyone, and a picture of all the cousins.  There were 12 of us this year – 7 cousins, 2 spouse-cousins, and 3 of the next generation.

After everyone had left, I got to open presents.  Ryan got me a Keurig Gourmet Single Cup coffee maker and a bunch of coffees to go with it!!!!!  That sure is going to be nice once I get back from Iraq.  He also got me some fun socks.  Rick got me a book about military women from Vietnam to Iraq and a new Lutheran hymn book.  Mom’s present was our outing yesterday.  Robbie got a few gifts as well, including having to do a scavenger hunt to find one of them.  He really enjoyed doing that.  The end gift was a sweater that Mom had crocheted for him.

We had sauna to end the day, and now I’ll be heading to bed in a little while.

Today’s high:  5
Current:  -6 (windchill of -14)

Mom and I headed into town together today for a Mother-Daughter Day.  Mom treated me to breakfast at Perkins (blueberry pancakes for both of us!) and then we headed to a nail salon.  Mom got a manicure and I got a pedicure.    I was able to finish the baby blanket I’ve been crocheting on while she was getting her nails done, and then she worked on a crochet project while I was getting mine done.  Then we went to Target for a little bit of shopping.  I only *needed* 2 things, but we both came out with more than just my 2 things.  I did get the 2 things, but more as well.  Then we stopped at the grocery store for that kind of shopping and then it was home to our guys.  Robbie sure was glad to see Mommy.  I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with him.  Then in the evening we went to my Grandparents’ house for "Christmas Eve" dinner.  We had homemade pizzas that Mom and I made.  Rick cooked them.  It was nice visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and of course Robbie had lots of fun over there.  Then it was home and Robbie went to bed and I stitched.  I worked on an EGA Correspondence Course called White Queen – it’s all white flosses on white fabric.  Here is how it looks after 5.5 hours:

Today’s high:  12
Current:  -2

Travel Day

This morning I actually got to the fitness center in the hotel, but apparently everyone else had the same idea and the room was FULL – both ellipticals, 3 treadmills, the mat, the ball, and the weight machine.  Well, so much for that idea.  So I went back to the room and did 150 crunches.  Then I checked my e-mail and chatted with a few friends before waking my guys up and getting packed to go home.  We got everything out to the van and then we had breakfast at the hotel and got checked out and headed toward home.  We had pretty good weather all the way back to Mom & Dad’s, and I stitched and crocheted for 7 hours during the drive.  I stitched until it was too dark to see to stitch and then I took my crochet project out.  I crocheted all the rest of the way home, even after it got dark.  Because of the pattern, I was able to crochet in the dark!  I did a whole skein of yarn that way.  It was good to be back home, and Robbie was sure glad to see Gramma & Grampa and especially Uncle Rick.  Mom warmed up the chili that they had had for supper and we were able to have a good meal.  Then we had sauna, and that was really relaxing.

Mall of America – Day 2

I was up before everyone else this morning and I got e-mail checked and chatted with a few friends this morning.  Once the guys were up and we were all ready, we headed down to breakfast at IHOP.  Then we went out to Stitchville USA in Minnetonka.  We spent about 20 minutes there browsing, and I bought a few things.  Then it was back to the hotel to catch the shuttle to the Mall.  We rented a locker for our sweatshirts that we were wearing and bought our wristbands for the amusement park.  We spent probably 5 hours going on all the many rides – 3 roller coasters, a log ride, and lots of kids’ rides.  Ryan went on the haunted house ride.  I went on a lot of the kids’ rides with Robbie, but he went on a few by himself.  He loved the bumper cars, and we did them 4 times in a row.  There weren’t very many people at the park, so we didn’t really have to wait but maybe a few minutes at each ride.  We definitely got our money’s worth.  We took a break mid-afternoon for a snack at Cold Stone Creamery.  Then after we were rided out, we headed to the rest of the Mall for a little more shopping and then dinner at Johnny Rocket’s.  We had REALLY good service, and Ryan told the manager that before we left.  Then it was back to the hotel to relax.  I’m heading to bed here pretty soon.  I’m TIRED.

Mall of America – Day 1

We got up this morning and after getting dressed and computered for a little bit, we headed down to the hotel’s Breakfast Nook. The hotel has a really nice complimentary continental breakfast. It sure wasn’t like most hotel continental breakfasts you get. They had Bagels, English muffins, bread, little danishes, biscuits (and gravy for those who like that kind of stuff), 4 kinds of cereal, little mini omelets (cheese or Western – very good), fruit, yogurt, and breakfast-type beverages. They also have waffles made-to-order back in the kitchen. After we had eaten our fill, we headed back up to our room for a little bit before heading back down to catch the hotel shuttle bus to the Mall of America. We went through the aquarium and Robbie really enjoyed looking at all the different kinds of fish and sharks and stuff. He was a little scared at first, but then he really enjoyed it. We paid a little extra and got to go on a special "behind the scenes" tour. We got to see the top side of the tanks and saw them feeding some of the animals. We saw their quarantine area for babies, new animals, and sick animals. Then we got to see the lab where they do tests and stuff like that. They have some jars with animals in them, probably in formeldehyde, and one of them was an octopus. The tour guide asked if anyone knew what it was, and Robbie piped right up and said that it was an octopus. He’s such a smart little guy! The final stop of the tour was the kitchen and we got to see the various kinds of food that the animals eat. The whole thing was very much worth the extra we had to pay.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the mall, sometimes stopping to look in a store for Ryan, sometimes for me, and sometimes for Robbie. We had pretzels for an afternoon snack. Ryan and Robbie got new books at the Barnes & Noble, and I got a couple of pairs of socks at Sox Appeal. It’s a store of all socks!! I got a pair of "Stitching Girl" socks and a pair of music socks. We played a round of mini golf and that was a lot of fun. I got a few pictures throughout the day, but I haven’t uploaded them yet. We ate dinner at Cantina #1 and it was All-You-Can-Eat Tex-Mex night for $10.99. Even I ate almost 2 plates-full. Ryan had almost 3. Robbie had fish sticks that were shaped like fish!

Once we got back to the hotel, we got changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the hotel pool. We spent about an hour there playing with balls and stuff that they have. Tomorrow I’ll try and remember to bring my camera to the pool to get some pictures of Robbie playing. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in our room, showers or baths all around. I crocheted for an hour as well.

Time for bed now.

New members and Lots of snow

Sunday morning we became members of Emanuel Lutheran Church, alongside Mom and Dad.  Before the service, we had Sunday School.  Robbie sure loves his Sunday School class.  It was nice being back in a traditional Lutheran service again.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and playing with Robbie.  Mom made meatloaf and that was yummy.  I went to bed early – like around 2100.  I think everything finally caught up with me.

Monday I was up around 8 and it was snowing with lots new from overnight.  I spent the morning playing with Robbie, and then after lunch the 3 of us went into Gwinn.  Ryan got a haircut from the barber in town and we went out to Mom’s hair cut place, but she was closed.  I need to get my ends trimmed and I like going to the place where Mom goes.  I’ll have to get an appointment made.  Supper was pancakes and they were really good – especially with the coconut syrup that Dad got from Hawaii.  We had sauna in the evening and then I headed to bed.

Today was a travel day for Ryan, Robbie, and I – after yet more snow last night (4 or so inches maybe?).  We drove to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for a little mini-vacation with just the 3 of us.  We’re staying at the Country Inn & Suites, and it’s really nice.  We got a suite so that Ryan and I have our own room.  Robbie likes the "magic" bed that he’s going to be sleeping on – the couch folds out to a bed.  There is a king sized bed in the bedroom.  We ate dinner at TGI Fridays which is attached to the hotel so we didn’t even have to leave.  There’s also an IHOP attached.  Now we’re just relaxing in the room.  I’ll probably take my stitching out for a little while before bed.