Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step for Man...One Dream Realized

Today is the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. I remember watching it on our dinky little black and white TV, past my bedtime, but history was being made, so my folks let me stay up. I was 6 years old. What a cool thing to watch...

At one time man walking on the moon was a pipe dream, the stuff of futuristic fiction. But no more.

On our recent vacation we saw a different kind of dream...the Field of Dreams movie site, in Dyersville, Iowa. We stopped off there on Friday before visiting the University of Iowa. It was very cool, although I didn't see James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta in the corn. Bummer...

The field itself looked much bigger in the movie! But it was good enough for me to actually run the bases! (Well, it was more like a slow jog.)

The house looked just as it did in the movie...right to the porch swing in the corner!

If you build it, he will come....and we did, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

College Road Trip

The mammoth road trip we've just returned home from was a college road trip through the Midwest. Three official visits and one impromptu visit.

Last Tuesday we had a visit at Ohio State University in Columbus. O-H...I-O!

It was a nice campus with LOTS of construction going lots of improvements happening. Great tour guide...but this school ended at the bottom of JJ's list for the week. Although they had a great fitness facility and a very nice football stadium!

Tuesday night we arrived at our hotel in Lafayette, Indiana at suppertime and decided to attend a Summer Concert Band performance at Purdue University. They have a very interesting outdoor theater.

Part of the performance included a demonstration by a twirler from the school team named Rachel, who was excellent. She even twirled 3 batons on fire, all at once!

Thursday was our tour of the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. The campus is located between two lakes; the campus right on Lake Mendota, with Lake Monona just on the other side of town. This is a view from the Student Union, right on Lake Mendota, with the campus in the background:

The "Red Gym" is named such for obvious reasons! This is where we began our tour; it looks like a giant castle. It used to be an Armory, but is now used for Student Admissions.

We had a very informative and personable tour guide...Patrick was great! This school ended up at number 2 on JJ's list of schools for the week--number 3 overall (after Penn State).

Friday we visited JJ's favorite school of the week...tied for number 1 with Penn State...the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Trust me, there's more to Iowa than corn!

UI is located on the banks of the Iowa River and was devastated last summer during heavy rains when the river overflowed its banks and flooded the campus and Iowa City. Construction is ongoing to repair the damage, and is coming along nicely. We had a great tour here, and all of us were most impressed by the fact that all the class buildings are located right in the same area, and a short walk away from the residence halls.

I loved this building; it used to be the capital building for Iowa before the capital moved to Des Moines.

One factor JJ especially loved: the dorm rooms were huge and each room has its own sink. Very nice!

So, now the decision-making begins...and the application process. Senior year is going to be VERY busy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

2196.4 miles.

That's how far we've driven in the last 6 days on our "vacation" this summer. We took a trip through the Midwest touring 3 different universities for JJ's consideration. It was fun, but we are exhausted.

After driving all the way across Maryland--a much longer state than we realized--we arrived in beautiful West Virginia:

Then Pennsylvania for about a half-hour:

Back to West Virginia, then on to Ohio.

I was in the back seat and the state line came up unexpectedly, so the picture is not great.

After stopping for the night in Columbus, we stopped in Indiana Tuesday night.

Wednesday...on to Chicago, Illinois!

Thursday, we stopped for a few hours in Wisconsin...

And then ended up for the night in Iowa. This is a terrible picture due to the bumps in the road, the bright sun setting directly behind the sign, and the bug guts right in front. But trust me, it's Iowa.

Friday began the marathon trip home. From Iowa to Illinois to Indiana to Ohio...we finally stopped in Columbus at 2:30AM for a few hours' rest. Saturday...Ohio to West Virginia to Pennsylvania to West Virginia again to...Maryland.

Terrible picture as it was raining and once again I was in the back seat.

Ah, it's so good to be home!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Camping?? Thanks, I Believe I'll Stay Home

The campers arrived back home yesterday, smelly and tired, but happy froma great week spent at Boy Scout camp. Nicky earned his Photography merit badge, and took quite a few nature pictures in the process of earning his badge.

Here's a beautiful butterfly:

A dragonfly:

And of course he had to get an icky picture--a daddy long legs...his one eye or whatever that red thing is is in the wrong place...

This was found in his tent.

And the family wonders why I stay home every year! Ew...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Come to the Christmas Table

Today is the Christmas in July Tablescape Party at Felecia's blog, Playing Dishes. There are many beautiful tablescapes there for the holidays...check them out!

All of my Christmas stuff is packed away, but here's a picture from last year's table...

The tablecloth was a Martha Stewart one I had bought on clearance after Christmas 2007 and the first time it was washed, it was wrinkled almost beyond ironing. I ended up re-washing it, taking it out of the dryer damp, and ironing again. It was good enough to put on the table for Christmas dinner; then the many stains that accumulated on the cloth during the meal refused to come out. So the tablecloth will never be used again. The red runner is from Target and has gold beading. The centerpiece is a gold bowl purchased from Kirkland's filled with red Christmas balls, flanked my 2 white taper candles. The dishes were my parents' China, and though not Christmas dishes, I love using them for the holidays. Makes me feel they are still with us. The dishes are a Noritake pattern and have purple flowers. And every place setting gets a Christmas cracker to be opened before the meal is we can wear the crowns during dinner. :)

I look forward to this coming Christmas and trying the many ideas I've been collecting during the Christmas in July festivities!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pampering by the Bay

Yesterday I gave myself my annual gift when the boys are all away at summer spa time. Even though JJ stayed home with me this year, I still wanted my spa afternoon! I had a gift certificate left from my Cub Scout days with a balance still on it, so I treated myself to a facial, manicure, and pedicure at the Chesapeake Spa and Resort. (Thank you, dear former Cub Scouts of mine!)

This is the view I had while I had my mani-pedi:

The Chesapeake Bay is beautiful...and this area is popular with boaters, as you can see.

Lots of ducks and geese are napping in the warm sunshine!

The facial was wonderful...I thought I was going to drift off a time or two! My fingernails are in terrible shape, so I just got a pale peach polish and here's hoping the nails will grow! I got a wonderful summer color for my toes: hot orange.

Ya gotta wear shades! (Gotta wear shades.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What the Heck??

JJ was playing with my camera this morning and caught Muffin...I think mid-yawn.

Scary and cute all at the same time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Christmas in July!

I am a Christmas fan. There. I've said it.

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to Christmas preparations, decorations, shopping, you name it. But it seems I'm always rushing around at the last minute, every year.

No more.

I have been a frequent viewer but only occasional poster at Magical Holiday Home, a wonderful site I followed from its predecessor Organized Christmas. And through MHH I've discovered a whole new world of blogs--Christmas blogs! More Christmas than you can imagine!

Today I discovered Christmas Memories in My Heart, from MHH poster printersdevil. She is hosting a Christmas in July giveaway for the whole month. (I'm sorry I missed out earlier.) Please take some time to check out her blog and leave her a comment to get a chance at winning the fabulous prizes!

In the spirit of Christmas, here's one of my pictures from last Christmas:

This was the dining room table all ready for dinner. The dishes were my parents', and not Christmas ones, but I love them. We always have Christmas crackers for after dinner. That's my dear mother-in-law Dolores at the end of the table.

Merry Christmas in July! Only 170 days until Christmas!

Come Sail Away With Me

Last night JJ and I got to see one of the all-time best arena rock bands, Styx! It was a great show...they still know how to rock!

My pictures aren't all that great, as our camera doesn't take pictures well from far away (we were in the 35th row) and especially not at night. But I tried!

Opening act was a young man named Tyler Bryant, from Texas. 18 years old and what a guitar player!

Second up was good old Southern rock band 38 Special. They were my first concert ever, along with Molly Hatchet, when I was a senior in high school. They had 1 hit at the time, so last night's show was much better, as they had many more songs to play.

Then the finale...Styx! Tommy Shaw is supposed to be the lead singer now, but the main players seemed to take turns with lead vocals. It really made for an enjoyable show! The keyboardist was amazing! Well, really they all were!

Tommy Shaw, still rockin' after all these years!

We were Rockin' Into the Night with these bands and all the other Renegades present! Thanks for a great time!

Domo arigato.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Campin' on a Monday

You've gotta love technology. Eric sent me these pictures from his Blackberry from the wilderness surrounding Goshen Scout Reservation in southern Virginia.
This is the closing ceremony from the first day of Boy Scout camp yesterday. That's Nicky in the light blue shorts with the American flag over his head. After the closing, they hiked about a half-mile away and had the week's religious ceremony (I know it was Monday, but they didn't have one scheduled for Sunday as it was the arrival day for all the troops). This serves as the chapel at Goshen.

It's nice to see what they're doing from so far away!

Monday, July 6, 2009

This Couch was Made for Sleepin'

We replaced our couches for our living room last year. The set we had was my parents', and it was old and in bad shape. The couch went to the dump, but the love seat was still in decent shape, so we brought it to the basement for extra seating. It faces the back door and windows leading to the back yard. It gets lots of sunshine in the morning and has a lovely view of the woods. The dogs have claimed it for their own and love to nap in the same corner, sometimes at the same time.

Here's Muffin with Nicky:

And Bingo:

I guess we'll keep the love seat for a while looks like it's still getting some use...and love.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another 7-Year Marker

Seven years ago today I lost my father, Bill Whitten. Pop had been in the hospital for a few weeks with pneumonia, and never recovered. It was only 3 months since Ma had passed, so I think he was just done and ready to follow her. Here's one of my favorite pictures of Pop, from his early Army days in the 1950s:

My dad was the greatest; he never met a stranger, and would do anything for anyone, no questions asked. He was one of the nicest men you'd ever meet.

Little girls never get too old to need their daddies. I wish I still had mine. I miss you, Pop.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Withering Salad...But Great Table!

I posted a picture a few months ago of Eric building a salad table. Here is the finished product along with some wilting lettuce leaves:

The weather has gotten really dry and we have gotten lazy, so the greens have begun wilting. But the table is fantastic, and we hope to plant some herbs in there and keep it going!

Happy Independence Day!