Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Carving!

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

We just finished carving our pumpkin! We bought it last week, but haven't had time to work on it. Jay looked online last night for a design. We didn't want to do the basic face, but wanted something more unique. While I made supper tonight, Jay worked on cutting the top off and cleaning it out. After supper, Jay drew the design on it and then we both cut pieces of it out. It looked great by the time we finished!!! We love it!
Jay has the top cut off and ready for the design.

Drawing on the design.
Ready to be cut

Taking a stab at it...

Jay's turn...

The finished product, with a candle inside!

Not much else on the agenda for tonight. We'll probably put a movie in and I'll correct papers. We thought about going to a haunted house, but no one is around to go with us. Most people are on block leave, so we're friendless tonight. That's alright, we have really enjoyed spending our day together, not doing much.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies!!!!

For the past month, I have asked mom if she would send me some of her famous pumpkin sugar cookies. Mom has made these for years and they are a huge hit. I wanted some so bad, so begged for them!!! Mom was nervous about sending them because she wasn't sure if they would make it through the mail.

When I heard that she drove half way to meet my sister from Ames, I was jealous! I really wanted those cookies!!! After I told mom I was sad she wouldn't meet me half way, she told me to keep checking the mail!!!!!!!

Well, today was the day that we received a package of pumpkin shaped cookies!!!! I was jumping for joy!!! I ate one as soon as I got home from school. I just couldn't wait!!!

Thanks mom for sending the cookies!!!!!!! They were absolutely delicious!!!!!!!! I can't wait for Christmas when I get to go home and enjoy all the candies and cookies she makes. I don't even care if I gain a few extra pounds. It is well worth it!!!

Definitely approving the cookies!

Savoring every last morsal..... oh, it tasted so good!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Block Leave to Greece!

This past week, Jay and I took our last block leave together to Greece. We flew into Athens and stayed on the mainland all week. We arrived in Athens late Friday night and then had to take a 45 min. train ride to our stop. Luckily our hotel was only about 5 blocks from the stop so it wasn't a far walk. We got in to our hotel about 10:30 and then decided to walk around outside for a while. The next day we got up after sleeping in late and walked around the city. It was a cloudy day and rainy most of the day. We were able to walk around the city, but the views and pictures weren't great so we used the next day to take pictures and actually go sight seeing. On Sunday we walked around the city and got to see the major sights. We took the Hop On Hop Off bus around the city. We then got to see the Acropolis and overview of the city. We also saw many sights such as the Agora, the Placa, Syntagma Square (with the changing of the Guards and Parade), and of course the US Embassy which we see in every country.

The next day we took the train back to the airport, picked up a car and drove to the Peloponeese Penninsula to a port city called Napflio. It had great views and really good food.

At one restaurant Jay had a greek meal while I had pizza. We also had a dessert consisting of a Cookies and Cream shake as well as honey glazed donut holes and ice cream. It was really good. That night we also walked down to the beach and Jay even got in the water and swam around for a few minutes.

The next morning we left and drove to the ancient outdoor theater of Epiderimus. This was a neat theater that had perfect accoustics. The smallest sounds could be heard clearly even at the very top. It also had a ancient 100m track that still had the starting line.
After leaving the theater, we drove to the Corinth Canal which was a manmade canal that was built in the 1800s to allow boats to pass through. The canal was absolutly enormous and standing on the bridge looking down almost took your breath away.
After leaving the canal we drove north along the eastern highway to the city of Theramopoly which was the ancient battlefield of King Leonidious when the Greeks defeated the Trojans and is portrayed in the movie 300. After leaving the city, we drove farther north, over the mountains. We stayed there that night and left the next morning for Meteiora. This is an area with 6 monasteries that are built on top of mountains and out on cliffs. These were some really spectactular sights.

That night we drove to the southern city of Pireas and saw the cruise ships. We couldn't find a hotel in Pireas so we drove back to Athens and found a hotel for the night. It was right on the water front. When we woke up in the morning, we opened the curtain and were greeted with an absolutely amazing view. We both just stood there,The next morning we drove to the airport, dropped off the car, and began our flight home.
Not a very good picture, but the best we could get. This was a very bitter-sweet time for us, realizing that time is getting short!

To see a whole bunch more pictures, go to my picasa account. I don't have them labeled, but maybe someday soon.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stockholm, Sweden

I know I'm several weeks late on this, but better late than never. I hope I can remember enough details to tell you about the trip, becaues so much has happened since then.

We took a four day weekend to Stockholm. We didn't fly out until late Friday evening, so that gave us a day to sleep in and get a few much needed things accomplished. Once we landed, we had to take an 80 minute bus ride into town from the airport. Thankfully our hotel was just around the block from where we were dropped off. By this time, it was already 10:00, if not later. We ate supper quick and then fell fast asleep.
Saturday morning we headed out early. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside and we didn't want to miss it. Our first thing was to get on a boat and tour the thousands of islands that help make up Stockholm. There are around 8o,000 islands total, but 30,000 of them are included in the city of Stockholm. We had a wonderful hour and a half boat ride out and around the islands. It was quite chilly out, but we were bundled up in our coats, hats, and gloves.
The boat we rode on.

After that, we went to the Royal Palace. The building was massive. We then spent some time walking around downtown and looking at all the shops. We stopped for tacos and ice cream. Not very Swedish, but it worked for us. To end the day, we went to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a navy ship that sunk after leaving the dock, about 200 yards out. It really didn't even make it out of the port. They eventually dug the ship out and it is not on display in this museum. It was huge and so neat to see. We closed out the place at 5:00 and spend the rest of the evening just walking around. Because all of the stores and tourism places are on their winter hours, most things closed at 5:00. That didn't leave us much to do for the evening. We can back to the hotel at a good time and got a good night's rest!!

On Sunday morning, we headed back to the downtown area. There were some things that we wanted to see that we missed on Saturday. We saw the changing of the guards and the band at the palace. We checked out a really neat cathedral and we also looked at a couple of buildings that had a historical story behind them. We also went to see the US Embassy. This has become a tradition for us. We have seen almost every country's embassy so far.

For supper, we wanted to have traditional Swedish meatballs. Unfortunately, that weren't easy to find. We tried many restaurants and couldn't find them. We did have a name of a restaurant, but it was a long ways out and was rather expensive, so we were trying to avoid it. But we finally gave in, because we had already spend a couple of hours looking for another place. So, we hiked on our to this place. Probably about three miles later we finally came upon it, thanks to our GPS and her pedestrian mode. We walked in and were told they were fully booked for the night. Crushed!!! We went back outside and wondered what else we could do to get those meatballs. We walked about a block away and Jay wondered if they would make us a plate for take away. We thought we could sit on the bench in the bus stop and eat them. So, we walked back to the restaurant and Jay went in to ask. The guy seating people got a good kick out of this. I stook outside and waited, so only Jay looked like the goofy one! The guy seating people went to talk to the manager. He came back saying he will put us at two seats in the bar area. Jay said he had to go get his wife, that I was standing outside. The guy said he would come get me. He opened the door and said get in, we'll put you in the bar. We ended up sitting in two cooshy chairs and eating off the end table. I felt rather strange as this was a pretty fancy place, but that's life. At least we got our Swedish meatballs! The guy asked if we wanted a taxi to get back into the city. We laughed and said we walked the whole way there, we could walk all the back. I would love to know his impression of us, because I bet it's pretty funny!

That night, we went into an ice bar. The place was completely made out of ice and the drinks were served in glasses made out of ice. We went in, looked around, used other people's glasses to take a picture, and headed back home.

We were up by 3:30 on Monday morning to catch the bus and head back to the airport. We has a 6:00 flight to hit.

It was a great trip up north. The leaves were beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and we had such a great time together!

Too Much to Handle

As you can tell since I haven't posted in a very long time, life has been quite overwhelming lately. I have gotten myself into a place that I'm not enjoying, and it's causing me to be a person I don't want to be. Lately. life has been so very hectic. Jay is spending hours upon hours at work, trying to get ready to leave. I am trying to stay caught up with teaching, but have so many other things on my plate, that I haven't done very well with that. We have also spent a lot of time traveling in the past couple of months. We wanted to take every opportunity we could before Jay leaves. But that just means we have a lot of prep work and a lot of make-up work with our jobs. That's what I'm struggling with. I am a person who likes to do everything to the absolute best ability I can, especially when it's so important to other peoples' lives. Unfortunately, this is where I have majorly dropped the ball in the past month of so. I have a class full of 24 kids that are still not into routine as we start the ninth week of school. I have missed 14 days in the past two months of school. Not so great on me and not so great on the kids. In the mean time, they have become the wildest class in the school, with behavior problems like no other. Just last week while I was gone, I had four kids sent to the principal's office and another three kids started counseling because of their behaviors. I even had one sent to mental health to get help!!! I think I'll be the next one going to mental health! They are a handful and sadly, I've been doing the bare minimum to keep my classroom going. It should be a huge priority of mine and I haven't made it that way. I have been concentrating so much on Jay and the FRG instead. I want to serve Jay in every way possible before he leaves. I have a list of his 10 favorite meals that I said I would make for him before he goes. He hasn't received a single one of them yet. I was hoping tonight, but now we're going out to eat with some friends. I have also tried so hard to keep our house picked up and clean. I hate a messy house, but I honestly am not home long enough to keep up with laundry let along clean. Thank goodness the washer and dryer can run all night.

So, to say the least, I haven't been doing anything wholeheartedly lately, and I can't stand it anymore. I hate doing things half way, so something is going to have to change. We have no more trips planned, so I won't be missing any more school. Hopefully I can start to get a handle on my kids and lose the title of the crazy class. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the house clean. When Jay and I are both home, it's not my priority to get this house clean. Instead, I want to spend every second with him. Time is just too precious. I'm still trying to figure an answer out for that one. Otherwise, it might just have to look like this until he's gone. Sad, but reality.

Enough of that.... just had to get it out because it's eating me up inside.

Today's plan, FRG all morning, babysitting in the afternoon, and at school the rest of the time. Then out to eat with friends tonight. Hopefully that leaves some time for Jay too. We had planned a date night tonight, but not so sure that's going to happen anymore. Our dates lately seem to be as we are both sound asleep, as it's the only time we're in the same room together.

Praying for peace and contentment....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What a Wonderful Day!

Traveling around Europe is absolutely phenomenal, don't get me wrong, but sometimes staying home can be so wonderful. Today is the first time in months that Jay and I have both stayed home all day long. We did make a trip to the library and Jay washed the car, but other than that, we whipped the house into shape and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
We slept in this morning which felt so amazing! I loved waking up on my own and having Jay right beside me. I sure am going to miss that! We then made homemade donuts and each had a cup of hot chocolate. We were lazy, but it felt oh so good!

We then got to work and started cleaning the house. Everything was already picked up because my amazing husband did it all on Tuesday night while I was at a meeting. He put all the clothes away, did laundry, cleaned out the fridge, took out the trash and recycling, and even vaccuumed. I was in tears when I got home because I was so happy. I had been stressing because I couldn't stand the house being so messy, but hadn't had any time to get it clean. So today, we just had to do the actual cleaning part. We kept finding other things to do, so it took us most of the day to get the house cleaned, but we got er' done! Then we prepared food to feed our company tonight.

My friends Elizabeth and Crystal came over tonight for supper and a game. We had enchilladas, a fruit salad, chips, and salsa. It was all quite tasty! We then played Loaded Questions. It was great to socialize with them and relax for the evening. Even Jay had a good time, even though it was all girls! I ended up winning, so that was fun! We than sat around for awhile longer chit chatting before they headed out. I'm sure we'll be having several nights like that once the guys leave. We'll be seeing each other a lot!

Tomorrow we'll have to do a bit more work than today. After church, Jay is heading into the office and I need to go to school. It's only a four day week for us, so hope it goes fast, but we still need to get ready for it. Jay has a busy week getting rid of things and for me, it will be the usual. We are looking forward to a trip to Stockholm this coming weekend! Should make for a good time!

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend as much as we are!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Trip to Scotland

I know I'm a week late and Nicole been asking me where the post is, but it's been a busy one! I'm finally getting to it. I put all the pictures up on picasa, but will say a few words here too.

Last Friday, we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland. We went on a four hour tour as soon we got there. We walked our way through the old town and heard a lot of history. It was neat to hear all of the stories. After the tour, we ate and called it a night. We were quite tired and ready for some sleep.

On Saturday, we spent the morning seeing more of the city. We walked to Hollyroo Palace and then up the Royal Mile to the Edinburgh castle. The Royal Mile is a street filled with shops. We definitely got our share of souviners. Jay's big purchase was a kilt. He thinks he'll wear it when he's teaching. The kids will sure love that! That afternoon we went to Glasgow and spent about an hour there. There wasn't much to see or do, so it was a quick stop. We ended up in Stirling at a Bed and Breakfast for the night.

On Sunday morning, we visited the Willam Wallace Memorial. It was real neat, showing the history of the battle and how Wallace has become the country's hero. We also checked out the bridge that the battle took place on. We then took a three hour drive to Loch Ness. It was pretty to see the water and the mountains. After circling the loch, we headed back down to St. Andrews on the east coast. We found a place to stay and went to bed for the night.
Battle Bridge

Loch Ness... and no, we saw no signs of Nessie.

We were up early on Monday morning and headed into the city. We found the famous golf course and checked it out. I had more fun looking at the coast line and watching the sunrise. If it would have been warmer, I would have loved to go out on the beach and watch the waves and the sun.

We then had to head back to Edinburgh to catch a 10:00 plane. We wished we could have stayed all of Monday, but that was the only plane we could take. Once we got home, Jay tried his new outfit on for me. What do you think?

This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. There were so many beautiful scenaries and old buildings, but this was just too fun!

It was a great trip, even though we were more exhausted when we got back home than when we left. We haven't quite figured out how to make vacations relaxing yet. We are taking two more trips before we are out of time. Our last one is to Greece, so hopefully we'll have some time to sit back and relax!