Lovely and Simple Lavender Syrup

I know what you’re thinking…why in the world would I need lavender syrup?  Trust me, you do!  A couple of weeks ago we went to the Lavender Festival in Sequim (pronounced “squim” ) on the Olympic Peninsula.  Sequim is in the rain shadow of the Olympics, so they enjoy many more sunny days than we do here on the other side of Puget Sound. That’s why they can grow such wonderful lavender…it’s hot and sunny!

Lavender Farm CHaosServedDailyThe day we were there, that certainly held true…we arrived around 11:00, and by noon were in desperate need of shade and refreshment.  The food booths offered pretty much anything you could name, combined with lavender for the event.  While the rest of my family stuck with boring Italian soda flavors (cherry, root beer, and limeade), I thought the lavender one sounded refreshing…and it was!  They all tried it, and were sorry they hadn’t chosen that instead of their pedestrian flavors. Of course, they kept trying mine, and I really got to do little more than eat the ice, by the time they were done!

I thought it would be a simple enough task to find lavender syrup here in the home of coffee syrups, but it proved impossible.  I did find it available to order online, but at $15 a bottle, decided I could make it myself!  AFter steeping some of the lavender buds I bought at the festival in a simple syrup, I made Italian sodas for the family.  They declared them as tasty if not better than the one we shared in Sequim.  It’s a new family favorite with popcorn for movie night!

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Lavender Syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lavender buds (I used dried, but you could also use fresh)

1. Combine all in a medium saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Strain, using a fine mesh strainer, into a jar and refrigerate.  Syrup-Strain-ChaosServedDai

3. To make Italian sodas:  Fill a tall glass with ice, add 2 tablespoon of the syrup, then fill with sparkling water/club soda. Stir well to combine.  If you’d like a cream soda, also add a tablespoon or two of cream. Enjoy!

You can find loads of other recipes using lavender syrup with a simple online search…I’m thinking I need to try out a lavender mojito, or perhaps a lavender, vodka, and lemonade slush!

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TBT: Fall Bucket List

Woohoo!  It’s almost fall!  I can feel it in the air (it was 43 degrees here this morning and 75 and sunny this afternoon), and I’m beginning to see mounds of apples and pumpkins replacing the garden vegetables at the farmstand.

That means it’s time to break out my Fall Bucket List.  Yes, it’s been around a couple of years, but it’s still packed with the fun things we love to do in the fall…so we’re using it again this year! Here’s what I wrote about this time last year:

 

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Click here for a downloadable one for yourself!

Please ignore that the majority of these activities involve cooking and eating. That’s just how we operate here at Casa de Chaos. I printed this, framed it, and put it in place of one of my monthly calendars on our 3-month calendar (from my post in July).

Then I thought, “How cute would this be as an invitation to a s’mores campfire?” Pretty darned cute, is the answer. I resized them to be four to a page, printed them, and adhered them to standard 4-1/2” x 5-1/2” cards. Here’s what that looks like, and a link to print them for yourself.

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Click here to print your own invitations or cards

I’m so excited to start checking things off this list…but I guess I’ll wait until the weekend at least, so the whole family can join in the fun! I’m such a good mom.

It’s Been Fun, Summer!

Brace yourself…this post is going to be like being invited over to a friend’s house and forced to watch a slideshow of all the fun they had. But, on the bright side, you can just click off here and not have to see it!  For those of you who are curious, though (I’m looking at you, grandparents!), here’s a quick recap of our summer o’fun.  I’ll be back blogging regularly in a week or so…after the chaos of school starting abates somewhat.

We began summer vacation with Father’s Day gifts…lots of homemade art for the Big Daddy-O!

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Then, the very next day, we sent our favorite GI Joe off to work for his last day in uniform after 25 years.

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Followed later that week with the official retirement ceremony. Good thing it was near Independence Day, so I could find patriotic gear for the hooligans to wear!

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We had a great small-town Fourth of July, watching a parade with friends in the morning, fireworks at home in the evening, then the big show on post to end the night. No one puts on a better fireworks show than the military!

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In mid-July, I delivered the oldest kid to his grandma in Oklahoma, and the hubs and I escaped on an Alaska cruise for a week.  The two little hooligans stayed home with a babysitter and had fun at a day camp all week.

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Some great friends picked us up from the ship, and we all went to a Sounders soccer game…which was all about the food for Princess Thundercloud!

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We brought unopened geodes back from Alaska for the hooligans…they had fun cracking them open!Summer-11-ChaosServedDaily

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For the second half of the summer, we went on an adventure every Friday.  Mt. St. Helens was the first stop, where we almost wore out the seismograph pad, seeing who could create the biggest tremor!

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We love the beach and lighthouse at Ft. Worden, just outside Port Townsend on the Olympia Peninsula.  Of course, the gymnasts did handstands and cartwheels everywhere we went all summer! (Can you see the two ferries in the background of the handstand photo? Cool, huh?)

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In case you think we don’t expose our kids to culture, we did visit the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Okay. so it’s not a lot of culture, but they’re little kids. That cone is supposed to represent a volcano. Maybe Mt. St. Helens, since a lot of glass has been made with that volcanic ash?

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We also drank Cotton Candy Limeades at the Spaghetti Factory, repaired the freezer after defrosting it with a hair dryer and hot water in water guns, and practiced handstand pushups.

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At the Nisqually Nature Preserve, we were rewarded for a long, hot hike with lots of bird and seal sightings…and wild blackberries for a snack!

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The waterfalls and drive along the Columbia River Gorge never disappoint.  We’ve even been there in heavy fog when you couldn’t see the long views, but it was still gorgeous hiking the falls trails.  This was a perfect day for scrambling over rocks and logs at Oneonta Gorge.

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The Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery were a perfect way to end the day in the Gorge. The two smaller hooligans and I entertained ourselves while the hubs and eldest went on the dam tour. Mostly by telling lots of bad dam jokes and playing chess. But what a view for a chess game!

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We wound up our summer with a day at the Sand in the City Festival in Olympia. Lots of amazing sand creations, crafts for the hooligans, and great music.  Summer-26-ChaosServedDaily

The kids went to Splish Splash Camp at the Y this week, so I got some studying done and they became a little bit used to a routine again. They don’t start school until Wednesday, but it’s a rainy weekend here in Washington, so we’re just playing board games, watching movies, and doing some relaxing this weekend. Hope yours is just as rejuvenating!Signature

Spring Break Escape

Last week, during Spring Break, we organized closets, moved the two littles in together and gave the eldest his own room, and managed to take a few days to escape to the Washington coast.

We love the Navy Resort in the village of Pacific Beach…the cottages are actually quarters from when it was an actual base, so you have a whole house to spread out in and enjoy.  I even wrote half of my research paper for Comp 2 while everyone else went to a movie.  Woohoo!

We always take a ton of photos (which, really, all look the same except the kids get bigger each visit), and this time I was determined to scrapbook them as soon as possible. Luckily for me, Designer Digitals has a great template on special for 99 cents this weekend, until Monday night…I kid you not, this page took five minutes to create!  If you’re a digital scrapper, or want to give it a try, stop by Designer Digitals before this special is over (but if you don’t make it by then, be sure to check out their weekly sales on Thursday and the 99 cent feature every weekend).

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All I had to do was insert my photos into the template spots and add the background paper. The template background would have been fine to leave, but I wanted a little color and it was neutral. Oh, and I changed the color of “good” and added a scribble effect to it. But, again, you could leave it as is and still have a great page done in a few minutes. See..here it is with just the photos added and no other changes, and it looks very clean and beachy:

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You can print scrapbook pages at Costco for $1.49 for 8×8 or (I think) $3 for 12×12.  I believe other places print them as well, such as Walgreens or Walmart, but since I’m at Costco pretty much every other day (It seems), I just upload mine and pick them up when I’m there.

If you haven’t tried digiscrapping, it’s a great way to save your memories.  You can download free 30-day trials of the software I use, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Stampin’ Up!’s My Digital Studio, which I think is super easy to use from the start. There are also tons of free digital files you can download on various sites, from background papers to fonts to embellishments. It’s a little addicting, I tell you! Have fun!

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Best New Year Wishes Card

So here it is, almost the end of the year, and I have some really exciting (or at least life-altering) news…I’m going back to college full-time…to be a high school math teacher. Yep, it’s been twenty-five or so since I’ve been a college student, but on January 1, I start my journey.

While I’m really looking forward to being a student again, I’ve realized something’s got to give in my life as I know it….and, unfortunately, I think it’ll be this blog. Chaos Served Daily became my creative outlet when we moved to semi-rural Wisconsin and I had much more time on my hands than I had in the past. I’ve loved writing five posts a week, but am anticipating only writing once or twice a week in the new year. I hope to still share crafts, recipes, and, of course, tales o’chaos with you.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am to all of you for reading and commenting and sharing with me, and I know I’ll miss that daily interaction. But until I’m in a “battle rhythm” with school, I need to concentrate on fitting that into my schedule. I know you’ll understand, but I still feel a little guilty…and sad, too.  Of course, my kids can now eat whatever I make without asking if I need a photo for the blog first, which I’m sure they’ll appreciate!

Speaking of the hooligans, Christmas break begins tomorrow for them, and my favorite GI Joe is on half days (which really means he works from 0600 to 1500), so I’m taking the next two weeks off completely from blogging, to spend time making memories with them. I hope you are surrounded by family and friends this Christmas and New Year’s, and make all sorts of wonderful memories yourself!

I made one last card for the year…a New Year’s card…that I wanted to share with you…New-Year-ChaosServedDaily

This uses a single stamp, Best New Year, gold Encore ink, gold embossing powder, Whisper White and Crumb Cake cardstocks,and Island Indigo ruffled ribbon. I just had to use some products from the new Occasions catalog, available January 1: the Scallop Tag Topper punch and mini gold clothespins. There are two tag topper punches in the new catalog, and I love them both…scalloped and angled. The clothespins are an assortment of gold and silver.

The sentiment is stamped in gold ink, then embossed in gold.  In person, it’s very, very pretty.  To make the confetti gold dots, I used a pencil eraser and the gold ink…cool, right?  My kids love to stamp with pencil erasers and other household objects, so they thought this was a perfect way to decorate the background.

Anyway, this card says it for me, but I’ll say it again:  I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a very blessed 2014!

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Prepping for Halloween Fun

I cannot believe it’s Halloween…and even more scary than that, it’s less than two months until Christmas!  Every year, the days seem to accelerate more and more as we approach the holidays, and I have to take time to appreciate the other seasons. Fall is my favorite season, so I ignore the impending Christmas rush and stress, and fill our days with autumnal fun.

I love Thanksgiving, but that’s what November is for…October is all about Halloween, leaves, and pumpkins!  Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite snapshots of our October…hope they bring a smile to your face!

Playing in (and occasionally raking) the leaves….

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Pumpkin Patch and the Corn Maze (we found Bigfoot!)

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Of course, we had to carve some pumpkins…

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And the hooligans dressed as saints for the All Saints Day Parade at church…

Halloween-Saints-ChaosServeAnd, of course, we made cookies! I like the jack o’lantern ones best.

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You may be forced to indulge me again tomorrow morning, when I post photos of our actual Halloween…if the kids will cooperate for pictures, that is!

However you celebrate, I hope it’s frighteningly fun! (And safe, don’t forget to be safe!)

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Party, Party, Party Games

We love to throw kids’ parties around here. My kids have recently wanted to have their birthday parties at gymnastics, Tae Kwan Do, or bowling alleys. That’s all good and well, but I was thrilled when they wanted to have a Halloween party for their friends at our house.

Here are a few of the games we played, in case you’re looking for ways to entertain your little ghouls and boos!

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We wrapped empty water bottles in construction paper and tied them with bakers’ twine to make bowling pins.  Then we used a smallish round gourd as a bowling ball. Fun!

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We tossed plastic acorns into these buckets for points. And I got to use my Silhouette to make the numbers, so that’s a win.

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We played Boo-go with this inexpensive game set from Target.

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Even my little monsters balked at putting their faces into water with GERMS in it, so we suspended apples with twine and they “bobbed” for them…it was just as entertaining, and no one ended up wet or swapping germs.

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I forgot to take photos of “Pin the Hat on the Witch,” but these small containers of Monster Slime served as prizes. Yes, everyone ended up getting a prize for something or other!

Partygoers also decorated spooky bookmarks from a craft kit, and then we ended the party with a pinata…I think that counts as a game, since the candy is the prize!

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I was a little worried the kids would be bored, but we hardly had time for the things we did…and we still ran over on time while making s’mores!

However you celebrate, I hope you have a frighteningly fun time!

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A Migraine Busting Smoothie for our Unlucky 13th Move

So I was going to post this entry on Friday the 13th, but was skeered it would be tempting Fate. We’ve had enough bad luck to last quite some time, I hope…all in the last month. But before I tell you all about it, I have to share this Migraine Relief Green Smoothie. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a whole year’s worth of these since we moved back to Washington!Migraine-Smoothie-ChaosServ

Migraine Relief Green Smoothie

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 cup pineapple (fresh, if you have it…canned if not)
  • 1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • a few ice cubes

Just blend it all up in your blender (I have a Nutribullet that I LOVE) and drink it down.

I saw several versions of this online, but tweaked it a bit to suit myself. I don’t know why it works…perhaps it’s all just a placebo…but it really does seem to lessen the time I’m incapacitated by a migraine. I still take pain medication and try to lie down in a dark, quiet room, but this smoothie did seem to help.

I always forget, each time we move back to Washington, that for some reason I have frequent migraines for the first couple of months.  It doesn’t happen when we move other places (we’ve moved back here four times now), so my theory is that the air pressure at sea level is so different it messes with my brain. But that’s just a theory, so don’t quote me!

Anyhoo, this time I’ve had even more migraines than usual, and I’d like to tell you why!  This move is our 13th in the military, and we should have stopped at 11, before we left Washington. Although I would have missed meeting lots of great friends in Wisconsin. But I digress. Here’s a synopsis of our eons-from-perfect move. (You’re not compelled to read this. You can stop at this point and just enjoy the smoothie…but I really need to vent a little.)

1. Our move started off really well, seemingly. We were a bit concerned when the packers only took a day and a half instead of the usual three, and we only had 350 boxes of stuff rather than our usual 550 to 600. But see how neatly boxed up everything looks?  Well, the inside of those boxes was a nightmare of smashed lampshades, upside-down containers, and crumpled belongings.PCS-Woes-1

2. The trailer the van line sent was already a third full with another shipment. We know that our goods take an entire truck, but who are we to tell the driver what to do? Or so he implied. Furniture was disassembled in order to make everything fit that we had NEVER seen taken apart before…it’s normal to take apart tables and shelving, but we’re talking bikes, chairs, and antique furniture. After 14 hours loading our things, having to use a small truck to load it from the house and shuttle it to the trailer, the driver left, with some of our belongings in the belly boxes and the sleeper cab, and our ladders strapped on the back of the cab. Yeah, not an auspicious beginning.

This photo shows some of our things, out on the lawn waiting to be loaded into the shuttle.pCS-Woes-2

3. As you might have read in previous posts, the kids and I (and all of our belongings) left Wisconsin in mid-July, while my GI Joe stayed behind to finish transitioning with his replacement.  Our household goods went into storage in Washington while we were travelling cross-country and vacationing. I’ve worked for military movers in the past, and the military requires that once a shipment is unloaded into a warehouse, it must be crated within three days to avoid damage. That didn’t happen, I’m sorry to say.

4. Our shipment was set up to deliver on Friday, August 9. Unbeknownst to us, the transportation office on post was on furlough that day, thanks to the sequester, so no inspectors were available to come check on our delivery, normally the standard on shipments as large as ours.

5. The kids and I were not at the house when the trucks arrived to deliver our things, and by the time we arrived, the hubs already had taken numerous photos of damage and the generally dismal condition of our belongings. The crew chief on the delivery told me that they let the shipment sit on their warehouse floor for the past three weeks. Everything was grimy, boxes were crushed, and almost every piece of furniture had damage. This is what the back of the truck looked like when they opened the door to begin unloading.PCS-Woes-3

6. Antiques I inherited from family members were badly damaged. Antiques that have made numerous moves with us, without mishap. So they’re not fragile, already rickety items.destoyed-antique-secretary-

7. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was my four-month-old washer. I had tried to wait out buying a new one until we were settled back in Washington, but when ours died entirely in February, we gave in and purchased the washer of my dreams, a top-loading high efficiency. When it came off the moving van, the control knob was sheared off. The movers assured us we could just use a pair of pliers to turn it on. Seriously.

We’d been travelling for four weeks by this point, and you can imagine the laundry we needed to do. Add to that all of our linens and curtains, because the grimy, dirty boxes also instilled in everything cloth a horrible musty stench. My GI Joe called the van lines (the driver’s boss, who are responsible for the actual transport of our goods) to report all this, and was told that not having a washer is not considered an inconvenience, so they were allowed up to sixty days from the time we file our final claim to repair or replace the washer. After we prove it wasn’t broken when they picked it up, that is.

8. At no point were our couches and overstuffed chairs wrapped in shrinkwrap, so they arrived with black grime marks in various spots.  Also, the boxes were so filthy from the truck or warehouse that our newly cleaned carpets are now a dingy, spotted mess. And you can see from these boxes in our driveway in Washington how much care the movers took as they unloaded them.

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We unpacked our entire household in ten days, to include hanging pictures and making sure we found all the damage, even in our Christmas boxes that we’d normally put up in the attic and unpack when we need it. We filed our claim (which was page upon page of damage listing) with the government about ten days ago, so now we wait.  I think the next step is that we have to do all the legwork to get estimates to repair the damage. The antique desk and my Grandma’s buffet can be repaired, but they’ll no longer be the original pieces. My husband’s box of sports gear, including his childhood baseball gloves and hockey pucks from teams that no longer exist, is nowhere to be found.

The root of our anger and frustration is not the amount of damage done, although that is extremely irritating, It’s the blatant disrespect shown to our household goods and the high level of apathy and lack of empathy. The military life is not easy, packing up lock, stock, and barrel every few years and moving to new surroundings, especially with kids. And that’s without factoring in deployments, being away from our extended family, or spouses who would like to have careers of their own. True, we have the choice to move everything ourselves, but how realistic is that? After 24 years in the Army, we have a lifetime of memories that are connected to the things in our home. And it’s a lot of stuff. We should be able to trust that the movers the military contracts with will treat our belongings with the respect we deserve, I think.

When we do have a problem on a move, we should get more than, “Well, we have sixty days to resolve that, after you file your claim.” Are they really going to find the clawfoot missing from my grandmother’s buffet 60 days after it’s delivered?  I’m pretty sure the crate it was in has been taken apart, and the paper inside recycled.

And just to add to these woes with our household goods, the cable company screwed up our installation and we had to wait almost another week (which is no big deal normally, but with the move experience we’d had, we were just done), another mom backed into my car at the chapel on post while I was at Bible study, and that very night our cars were vandalized in our driveway. Again, small things that normally wouldn’t faze us, but it had all snowballed.

So where are we now?  My car is fixed, the hubs’ truck is not yet but hopefully will be this week. We paid to have the washer fixed, so now have to fight to be reimbursed by the moving company. Most importantly, we’ve seen lots of old friends and started to make some new ones, everyone is back in school or at work, and things are vastly improved from a month ago. I’ll still keep my migraine smoothie ingredients on hand, though. Just in case. And thanks for listening to my rant, if you’re still reading. I’m so thrilled that we’re in our “forever house,” I can’t imagine how livid I would be if this were a PCS that I knew I’d have to do again in two years. Now there’s a silver lining, right?

Now, back to the real takeaway from today’s post (other than sharing with you my tale of woe!)…the Migraine Relief Green Smoothie.  I hope you’ll try it the next time you feel a migraine coming on…or anytime.  It’s really refreshing and clean tasting…a bright afternoon break or was to start your day! Please come back tomorrow…I promise to be back to my normal, fun, entertaining posts!

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Our Summer Travels, Part Two

Last Monday, I shared with you the first half of our travels as we moved from Wisconsin back to Washington State.  Hopefully, you’ve recovered enough to stick with Part Two today!

We spent a day driving from Vernal, UT (where we saw dinosaur fossils and had excellent Mexican food at a local place) to Reno, an eleven-hour trip. And this was the view for much of it, minus the tree.PCS-Pt-2-1

While we did appreciate the stark beauty of the salt flats, we were thankful to be traveling at 75 mph rather than 2 mph in a wagon.

We didn’t explore Reno, just had a yummy dinner at a funky little soup and salad place. The next morning, after the hooligans sampled everything on the hotel’s breakfast buffet (as if it were different in every Holiday Inn Express), we headed to Mariposa, CA, and Yosemite.

We took a winding road through the mountains, so didn’t run into traffic, but we all experienced motion sickness from the hairpin turns. A little ramble on the rocks and a picnic lunch took care of that, though. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip, mostly because these two hooligans rarely pose together.

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We got to Mariposa late in the afternoon, and didn’t venture to Yosemite until the next day. When we arrived in Yosemite Valley, the smoke from forest fires was fairly thick (this was a couple of weeks before the Rim Fire that’s burning now), but El Capitan, Half Dome, and the surrounding granite cliffs were awe-inspiring, even through the haze.

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We explored the Visitor’s Center and took a little hike.  While we’re glad we can say it’s another national park we’ve seen, it’s probably not somewhere we’ll drive 1000 miles out of our way to see again.PCS-Pt-2-5-ChaosServedDaily

The next day we went in the southern entrance of Yosemite to Mariposa Grove to see the “big trees.”  We saw the famous tunnel tree, and hiked through the Grove, then took a steam train ride, since the kids love anything have to do with trains.

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We started the final leg of our trip the next morning, driving from Mariposa to Eugene, OR. I think Eugene is a town I’d like to visit again…nestled in the mountains, near the coast, a college town so fun places to explore.  We stopped for lunch at In-n-Out Burgers in Redding, CA, and the middle hooligan lost another tooth (he lost one the first day of our trip at lunch, as well). He was quite pleased with himself. I was beginning to worry that the partial roll of tooth fairy dollars I had in my purse would be depleted before we arrived in Washington!PCS-Pt-2-8-ChaosServedDaily

Anyway, the following morning, we grabbed lattes and branched off the interstate to see the ocean again after two years away. We stopped at Yaquina Head to see the lighthouse and do a little beach-combing. Did I mention that active-duty military members can get a free National Parks Annual Pass, just by asking at the entrance to a park?  If you’re active duty, please get yours….a ranger at Yosemite told us it’s a test program this year, and if enough people don’t take advantage of it, Congress won’t reapprove it for next year.

But I digress..although we did use our pass four times during our trip, saving about $60 on just those.  Yaquina Head was super cool, not to mention cold and windy.PCS-Pt-2-13-ChaosServedDailWe took this photo on the beach…I think I’ll use it for our change-of-address cards. When I get around to those.

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After stopping for more lattes to warm up (and steamed peppermint milk for the hooligans), we continued up the Coast towards Seaside, where we were spending our last night on the road. We conveniently passed right by the Tillamook Creamery and our car was drawn like a magnet into the parking lot. We ate ice cream while checking out the tour, and the kids drove the cheese van. Not really. I bet you were worried, right?

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The fog we’d been in most of the day lifted just outside Cannon Beach, and we took this great shot from a overlook, above the fog and looking down on a little seaside town.

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We arrived in Seaside around dinnertime, so we ate at the ever-popular Pig-n-Pancake. Really, that’s the name of it. It’s a total tourist joint, but who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner, especially on a cold, foggy night?  We also stumbled (almost literally) on this postcard photo spot.  I really hope Princess Thundercloud learns to come out of her shell a little. Not.

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We walked to the beach after dinner, but couldn’t even see the water, the fog was so thick…and we were about 20 feet from the surf. Luckily, hot caramel corn was just being poured onto the cooling slab at a candy shop, so we snacked our way through our disappointment. The next morning, the fog had lifted a bit, so we played on the beach for awhile, but couldn’t really wait to get back to Washington.  I do love this photo of my baby girl, wandering towards the tide. Don’t tell her I called her a baby.

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We simply had to stop as soon as we crossed into Washington.  You knew we would.

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We arrived at our house around noon, spent the afternoon remembering how much we love it, checking into the hotel, and then met our friends at Steamers, our favorite fish and chips place, for dinner.

To recap, for those of you keeping score:

4810 highway miles driven (not counting excursions at various stops)

87 hours spent in the car driving (again, not counting excursions)

13 different beds over 29 nights

13 states driven through

8 state capitols passed by

4 National Parks/Monuments

I hope you’ll check back next Monday to read about exciting adventures as our household goods were delivered (with a lot of mishaps) and we raced to get settled before school started!

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Our Moving Adventure, Part One

I know…aren’t you thrilled that I’m back from my two-month blogging break and have all sorts of fabulous photos and adventures to share?  Okay, I realize it’s kinda like when we were young and people would invite you over to see their vacation slides. All 5,497 of them. Well, on the bright side, I only have a (relative) few photos to show off, and you can click off anytime you’d like, whereas leaving a friend’s house mid-slideshow would be tacky. But I hope you’ll stick around!  I’m planning to blog about the move and adventures for the next few Mondays, but the other days of the week will still have crafting, cooking, and other fun posts…so don’t despair!

We started the moving process by moving out of our home in Wisconsin and staying at a cottage on a nearby lake for a few days, after the movers had packed all of our stuff, but hadn’t loaded it on the truck yet. We had a great time, hanging out at the lake.

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After our household belongings were loaded onto a moving truck and headed for the Pacific Northwest (and the house was spic-and-span), we had no responsibilities for a few weeks.  My favorite GI Joe, however, still had a couple of weeks of transition time with his replacement, so the hooligans and I headed to Oklahoma to visit my family.

Since I was driving alone with them, I decided to split the fourteen hour drive into two days. It worked perfectly…we spent the night in Rolla, MO, where friends had recommended the public swimming pool/water park. Apparently a thunderstorm had hit the area an hour or so before we got there, so everyone had left the pool and my three kids had it all to themselves…along with two lifeguards, so I could relax a bit!

A friend also recommended a little hole-in-the-wall pie place, so we stopped and bought a few slices.  We took those, apple slices, milk, and a bag of baked Cheetos to our hotel room and called it dinner. The kids thought I totally rocked.

The next morning, we stopped at Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, MO. I had always wanted to go there when we visited the Ozarks as a child, and my parents would never go. I felt like a total lazy slob, since you just sit in a trailer and are pulled through the caverns, with no exertion at all, but the kids were amazed. The name doesn’t lie, I guess! The guide was funny and we actually learned a lot, too.

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We spent a week in Oklahoma, catching up with family and relaxing. The kids played in my childhood treehouse, did lots of crafts I’d brought along, and Princess Thundercloud went with me and had her very first pedicure. She chose bright yellow polish with white polka dots, if you were wondering.

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After our time in Oklahoma, we drove to Colorado to visit the other side of the family. Last summer we discovered (again with the recommendation of an Army wife friend…thank goodness for them!) that Hays, Kansas, has an absolutely amazing public water park…for $3 per person! After we played for a couple of hours, the kids were happy to leave…when I bribed them with their very first snocones EVER. Although they were a little annoyed when they realized I had never shared that deliciousness with them before! And see how huge those are?  For only $1.50 each! Stop in Hays if you’re driving I-70…you’ll be happy you did!

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We arrived in Colorado late one night, and I flew back to Milwaukee the following morning for my GI Joe’s Change of Command Ceremony. After the ceremony, he and I drove to Denver (in no hurry) to pick up the hooligans, who loved the time the spent with his their cousins, aunt and uncle, and grandparents. Did I say thank you enough times, by the way?PCS-Pt-1-15-ChaosServedDail

We stayed in Denver a few more days, exploring Buffalo Bill Days in Golden, where the hubs and I met oh-so-long-ago. We met one of my best friends from college, along with her parents who treated me like family when I was a homesick Okie, and let our kids be catapulted into the air on the bungee trampolines.

We also linked up with some friends from Washington, who flew to Denver then drove my car back home for us, so we could embark on a real vacation en route to Washington. Again, I hope I said thanks enough times! We had a great time at the Coors Brewery tour with them…we used to do the short tour in college, wherein you ride the shuttle bus to the brewery then slip in the side door and go directly to the tasting room, so it was interesting to see the actual tour this time.PCS-Pt-1-16-ChaosServedDail

From Denver, we had a half day drive to Dinosaur National Monument, near Vernal, Utah.PCS-Pt-1-13-ChaosServedDail Although it’s out of the way from pretty much anywhere, I’m so glad we went. Our middle hooligan loves dinosaurs, and the monument proved quite interesting, even to the rest of us.

PCS-Pt-1-8-ChaosServedDailyThe visitors’ center is built over the mountain where the fossils were found, so most of the bones are still in situ. They’ve found bones from over 400 different dinosaurs there, deposited by a flood. PCS-Pt-1-14-ChaosServedDailThe kids thought it was cool to be able to touch the fossils. And to pretend to be terrified of the dinosaur chasing them.PCS-Pt-1-10-ChaosServedDailPCS-Pt-1-11-ChaosServedDailPCS-Pt-1-12-ChaosServedDail

After we checked out the visitors’ center, we convinced the kids it would be fun to walk back to our car (you have to take a shuttle bus or walk about 3/4 of a mile from the entrance). Another good choice, since we saw petroglyphs (cave drawings) that we would have missed otherwise, as well as several fossilized footprints and interesting rock formations. Even though our only provisions were a bag of Skittles I found in my purse, and the hooligans thought they were going to drop from hunger in the half hour the walk took (and did I mention it was all downhill?). See, you can see the drawings above her head, then up a little and to the right.

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So that’s the first half of our trip…next week I’ll show you the rest.  It might even be more coherent, since the kids start school this week, the hubs goes back to work, and my house is completely unpacked. Maybe, but I’m not making any promises!

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