Monday, January 28, 2013

Gettin' Our Nerd On

So here we are, smackdab in the middle of a Civil War history textbook. Here a battlefield, there a battlefield, everywhere a battlefield. Thus far, we've visited an absurdly small amount of Petersburg Battlefield (where there is literally a crater in the earth from artillery being shelled into an encampment of soldiers) and, now, Appomattox. We have hotels booked to check out Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania in April (I've always found battlefields are a bit more welcoming when you can actually walk around them and not fear frostbite).

Perhaps the most enticing part about moving all over the country every few years (or, in this case, every few months) is that you are constantly the tourist (which is extra lovely if you do enjoy being a tourist, as we do). I don't know that we have spent an entire weekend at home since we've been here. This past Saturday, with no visitors to welcome and no agenda on the books, we decided Appomattox was worth the drive. We decided this at 11:15 AM, while we were both still in our pajamas and Baby Blue was humming his way to his second nap of the day. By 11:30, we were packed and in the Prius, sleeping baby in the back before we ever hit I-95.

Of course I have pictures...which I have narrowed down from 328 for your viewing pleasure. And a list of the top 5 new facts I learned on our trip. Pay attention...I am about to give you all the answers to a someday Jeopardy category titled "The Men of Appomattox" (or perhaps "History Made in Houses").

The drive over is through many small towns that all saw battle in the last days leading up to the surrender at Appomattox. With Lee and his army marching in one way and Grant and his army marching in another, each trying to forecast the opponent's next move, they ultimately met up along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road.

Fact #1 Appomattox wasn't a destination for was where the wide open road was blocked by scores of Union soldiers.
Overheard in our car on the way there:
Neal: Doesn't it seem odd that they would choose this place to surrender? I mean it's in the middle of nowhere. What was the point of that?
Ally: I haven't a clue. Maybe the other court houses were booked that day?

As it turns out, General Lee found himself surrounded in the little town of Appomattox Court House with, literally, no way out. Not much you can do at that point besides give up.

Coming up from the parking lot of Appomattox Court House National Park, you are greeted with thousands of acres of land, where the last battles were fought, and these rows of fences, indicating the outlines of a village.

Cresting over the hill, the town of Appomattox Court House is laid out before you. Nearly all of the buildings are original, with the tiny exception of the 2 most important ones. The red brick building in the far right of the photo is the actual court house.

Fact #2 Nothing was signed and no surrender was made at the actual court house. There is all kinds of confusion because Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, except that's the name of the town, not the building where the event occurred. So pretty as it is over there on the right with its symmetrical windows and front porch, it was not chosen for the meeting because it represented government...and if you know a thing or 2 about rebels, they generally don't choose government buildings for any kind of meeting. (Also...yay for snow, as fleeting as it may be. There was a serious lack of that down in Georgia.)

The road that intersects with the one I was standing on for this picture is the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road. This is where Lee found himself surrounded and where the "stacking of arms" took place after the terms were agreed upon. NPS guides really know how to tug on the historical heartstrings when they say things like, "you are literally walking in their footsteps right now." All ya gotta do is reel me in...I just make this check out to the National Park Service? 

The spork in the road.
To the left is Meeks General Store (original), then clockwise is Clover Hill Tavern guesthouse (original), Clover Hill Tavern kitchen (original, now the bookstore and where you can get your National Parks Passport stamped if you are part of our Nerd Herd), and Clover Hill Tavern. The original name of the town, Clover Hill (yes, I know...shocker) was due to life being centered around the tavern. I got in trouble the last time my life was centered around the tavern. Clearly I am from another age. (Just out of the frame to the right is the court house, which was reconstructed after a fire destroyed it post-surrender. AKA not walking in their actual footsteps.) 

The Appomattox Court House, where, on April 9, 1865 absolutely nothing happened. 

Fact #3 The actual surrender took place at local businessman, Wilmer McLean's house because it represented neutral territory. Also, Mr. McLean was the first person General Lee's aide-de-camp met in the street that morning. 

Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of trying to park a stroller and catch up to the rest of the group, I forgot to take a picture of the front of McLean's house. But it is your typical 2-story brick with stairs to the front door. (sidenote: I'm not terribly sure this part of the park is handicap accessible. They weren't jumping at the chance to offer us an elevator or a ramp for the stroller.)

As they say, this is where it all went down. General Lee and his aide met with General Grant and practically his entire staff (including, as it turns out, President Lincoln's son, Robert). Very few of the furnishings in this room are original as a) General Grant "bought" the table and chairs (or "stole" as Mr. McLean would later tell it) and b) the original McLean house was dismantled entirely by profiteers in a scheme to transport it to DC and open a Civil War museum. The house was never moved and the pile of brick and lumber disappeared over time. This house is a re-creation by the NPS. Again, not actual footsteps.

Although this couch is said to have the butt-print of Robert Lincoln. So...original. But totally roped off.

These are parole passes. Which bring us to...

Fact #4 General Grant's terms for surrender were only that the rebel soldiers no longer took up weapons against the country. General Lee's terms were that his men could return home to their families without facing trial for treason or prison. 

General Lee had 30,000 troops with him at the time of surrender. They brought in 2 printing presses and worked all night to get passes printed for everyone by the next day. Which begs the question...why do we have to wait for weeks and weeks to get our orders for the next duty station? Something has gone way off track with our efficiency. 

The entire event was an exercise in honor. Honor answering honor is what the 2 commanders called it. During the stacking of the arms, Union troops saluted Confederate troops, who saluted back. And Confederate troops were allowed to keep their sidearm. Enlisted men were allowed to keep their horse, if they had one. The parole passes provided safe passage for Confederate soldiers to return home and even afforded them free lodging and food in Union-supported establishments. But it also proved that they were not deserters, who did face trial and prison.

And lastly...
Fact #5 The surrender at Appomattox is generally only a blip on someone's radar, usually around the 6th grade. But being there, hearing the stories, and understanding what lead to the event and what groundwork it was laying for the future is much more vivid when you visit the park. It is easy now, over 100 years down the road, to forget about what was at stake and how the Civil War was anything but civil. Men and women fought and died over the idea that we are all equal...that no one can own another person. The civil war over civil rights. And today we do battle for civil rights in courthouses and in the media and on our Facebook pages and through protests. The Appomattox Court House motto is "where the country was reunited." And we giggled because maybe we were. But it didn't stick. We are a country divided today, and I would argue even more so than in the days leading up to 9 April, 1865.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sex on a Cake Plate

As promised, I'm going to post before, during and after photos from my and Shana's marathon baking experiment a couple of weeks ago.

To set the scene, about a year ago I pinned this recipe to my cooking board:
About an hour later, Shana repinned it and then there was some discussion about when we would be able to bake said cake. We agreed it would be during my trip up there over Christmas. Fast forward about 8 months and a PCS. Although we are now geographically much closer to Shana, all of the crazy happened over the holidays and we were unable to make the trip. So, I added this task to our to-do list for when she came down a couple of weeks ago. 

Let me also say this: Big Mama does not cook. She grills like a mo'fo' and makes a fairly delicious baked potato. But when women say that they grew up standing at their heels of their mother, learning the recipes of the motherland...well...that wasn't me. There was an alarming amount of Hungry Man dinners consumed in our house. To this day, I can still taste fried chicken, corn, and that spongy chocolate brownie that I begged to eat first. (I checked one day. Hungry Man hasn't veered too much from that well-established combo. They're probably waiting for the kids who grew up on it to feed it to their kids. Sorry HM...I have to break the cycle because my family is genetically inclined to develop diabetes and hypertension in the womb.) Also, I do not bake. I remember making turtles (in the actual shape of turtles - which I thought was just brilliant) with Mom for Christmas one year. And I remember thinking "this is epic. I need to journal. We are baking." So, that gives you a little back-story on what it's like to be in the kitchen with me. (Fortunately, the Army has primed my husband to eat anything that is moving more slowly than he is. So, after almost 7 years of marriage, I've served him food that is overcooked and undercooked, but I haven't killed him yet.)

It was also my stellar idea to live-tweet the entire event (because I haven't been on Twitter for 14 months so why not launch my come-back with a 7-hour baking extravaganza? That makes sense, right?). Here are the photos (and subsequent conversations) from that morning:

Friday night: 
A: Guess WHAT is in the crockpot? 
S: Um...what?
A: A can of condensed milk! I'm making caramel! We're going to make the Girl Scout cake! (some squeals and possibly an eye roll from Neal.)

A couple of hours later...
A: What the...I think the receipt is floating in the water. I can't believe I did that!
S: Er, that's not the receipt. It's the label from the can. I think you're supposed to take that off before you put it in the water. 
A: Oh right. That would make sense. (And then in a rare moment of thinking before acting, I did not reach into a crockpot of water that's been cooking for 5 hours with my bare hands to retrieve it.) 

Sunday morning.....
Neal is shaving his head in the bathroom because that's probably the safest place to be with 2 women and a baby loose in his kitchen. Sometime around the first 5 minutes, I decided this was never going to work with Baby Blue propped in front of PBS. This required action.

Once I was wearing my child, we could really get down to the business of baking.

A: OK I'm going to make the second batter (a major part of why I waited for Shana to undertake this was because the recipe called for 2 batters. I was both baffled and extremely intimidated by this). *I get busy measuring and leveling off with the back of a knife and then dumping said ingredients into a bowl*
S: Did you put the flour in with the sugar?
A: Yep! Sure did! It's ready to go! *I'm SO proud of myself*
S: Well, you sort of need to cream the sugar with the butter. And then you add it in.
A: Is that terribly necessary?
S: It's pretty much the only part that matters.

And here we have the first fatality of the morning: 2 cups of flour and a cup of sugar. In the tre-zash.

Who knew this was such an important step??

S: When you're leveling off the scoop, just use the lip on the baking soda box.
A: What? There's a lip for that? Like built into the box??
S: Yes, see? Here.
A: That's amazing.
S: Also, there's one here, on the baking powder can.
A: I kind of always thought that was just part of the design. Like it was to help keep it fresher or something. *Almost certain Shana died a little inside here*

Once both batters were ready, Shana began layering them in my superfancysiliconbundtpan (aka The Only Good Thing to Come Out of My Engagement to Ex Fiance #3. We won it at a bridal/cooking event at Macy's. When he called off our wedding, I took the ring, the cats, the dress, and the bundt pan....all of which I successfully incorporated into my relationship with Neal.).

Oh and apparently I make the task of flouring a pan waaaaaaaaaaay harder than it needs to be. My OCDness really won't stop until there's flour on every square inch. Shana finally intervened.

A bottle, a nap, and a bath later and we had this:

I love that the oven did all of the work in this step. God bless those people who harnessed fire.

Then it was time to make the frosting. And toast the coconut. Toasted coconut literally smells like drinking a pina colada out of Josh Duhamel's navel (ps I just googled him to make sure I spelled his last name right and he's married to Fergie?? What?? When did that train wreck happen? Where have I been? I promise to watch less American Experience and more Entertainment Tonight. Sheesh.). Anyway, back to Josh's's like that. It's like sipping a pina colada from his navel while the sun sets over your private cabana on stilts in the ocean. Somebody, quick! Bottle that shit!

important side note: burned coconut does not smell like that. It smells like singed cat hair and will embed itself in every cotton fiber of your house so that when the relatives comes for Christmas dinner in 11 months, they are still asking, "what's that smell?" 

The frosting, looking a bit like vomit, was anything but. Sugar, butter, perfectly toasted coconut, an entire can of condensed milk morphed into caramel....we had some leftover and I had to make myself throw it out because I feared I would be using it as a topping for every meal until I was licking the bowl.

*what you do with your leftover frosting is your business. I'm not here to judge.*

The last step was adding the gratuitous chocolate stripes. I say "gratuitous" because they didn't really add to the flavor, but they did help to make it look like one big Caramel Delight (or "Samoa" for all of you post-1988 girl scouts). I also learned from Shana that using a Ziploc baggie with the corner trimmed off to draw out the lines is kind of a pain in the ass...and not really the "ah-ha" genius technique I thought it was (and thus pinned to my "duh" board at least 4 times).

But she's a pro and pulled it off.

Here is our finished product. We began baking around 9 AM and finished up sometime after 12. Three hours in the kitchen is a bit unattainable for me at the moment. But this cake was so slap-your-mama-make-your-mouth-water-and-slap-her-again good that I'm going to save the recipe for a time, later in my life, when 3 hours of uninterrupted baking time is actually possible.

One more note: this cake actually does taste like a Caramel Delight after it's been refrigerated a day and all of the flavors have a chance to mingle. It also goes really well with coffee. And milk. And wine.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blown Glass. Blown Mind.

We are having the best time being tourists around Central VA in our very short time here. Even as we are making plans for an April weekend trip to DC for the cherry blossoms, we are starting to wrap it up here. We are waiting to hear where our next duty station will take us in May and should know something by the end of the month. I now feel a bit ridiculous for hanging pictures and unpacking every box. It seems that 6 months goes by much faster than anyone really realizes. But at least in photos, it will look more like a home and less like the bare apartment I lived in right out of college. We do, after all, make more money now. The big ass framed map over the couch is proof of that.

We hosted back-to-back visitors this month. Shana spent last weekend with us and we just returned home from putting Big Mama on a plane back to the bluegrass and bourbon. Big Mama was able to stay a bit longer because of the holiday weekend so we were able to squeeze a bit more in. Also, as luck would have it, Neal got a short reprieve from homework and was able to join in on nearly all of the activities that I, Julie the Cruise Director, had planned.

Friday night was a warm welcome, a chilled glass of wine, and dinner at Wabi of our favorite local spots downtown. Neal, Baby Blue, and I had eaten lunch there last month and we wanted to share the creamy love of WS. Bonus points for it being on Cockade Alley, which is both fun to say (considering I often answer to "Ally") and the filming location for some of Lincoln (which I loved and if you did not, please try not to steal my joy).

But Saturday was the real treat. The Virginia Museum of Fine Art (or "VMFA" if you are a local...or simply too lazy to spell it out) is currently hosting a special exhibit of blown glass by world-renowned artist, Dale Chihuly. Knowing nothing of his art, but being familiar with VMFA's reputation for hosting exhibits that also make the rounds in the MoMA and the Chicago Art Institute, I ordered 3 tickets over the phone. Admission to the museum is free for everyone, but tickets to special exhibits are $20 (except if you're active duty military...then everything is free. I'm lovin' it!).

The exhibit was really only about 6 rooms with 1 or 2 major installations in each, but one of them was a rowboat full of pieces and one was a glass ceiling where 1000+ pieces can be viewed from underneath. Wicked. And our lucky day...they allowed non-flash photography (which does strengthen the argument that people look at art instead of experiencing it, but now that I'm nearing 35, I've learned that if I don't photograph it, it basically never happened). Here are just a few photos from an exhibit that absolutely cannot be captured by any shutter speed.

Inspired by Japanese glass fishing boats, Chihuly began to wonder if his blown glass pieces would float in water. He started dropping pieces in the river nearby and children in the downstream village of Niijima began collecting them. And the rowboat installation was born. To give you some scale, the spheres on the floor next to the boat are 6' in diameter.

These are from the ceiling installation - meant to give the visitor the feeling of standing under the ocean. Nailed it.

Both installations in this room echo the artist's adoration for his native southwest culture. Born and raised in Tacoma, WA, he apparently amassed quite a collection of Navajo blankets. These influenced his art and he began painting the designs from these blankets onto his finished glass pieces, as you can see in the photo above.

My favorite of all of the rooms, there is a little something in here for everyone...sea anemones, balloon animals, and enormous balls that looks like the earth. I think you could sit here for days and still not really take it all in. It was at this point in the tour when I turned to Neal and said, "and the word for today is prolific."

It was in the room where these last 2 pictures were taken (which is titled something like "Spears" or "Spears in Logs"...I can't remember) when I said to Neal, "I love it. It's just so...dramatic." He then pointed to the text on the wall where Mr. Chihuly had indeed called this installation dramatic. Nailed it. Again.

Red Reeds is located outside, which is precisely the perfect location - especially on a crisp and bright January day like last Saturday. I'm not sure they could ever be appreciated inside, away from the complementary greens and yellows of live plants.

Poor old Mr. Chihuly now has a team of artisans working for him. He is no longer solely responsible for his art. In an early ironic twist of fate, he was in a head-on accident in 1976 and when he flew through the windshield, his face was severely damaged by glass and he was blinded in one eye (I mean, really...isn't that like a painter losing a few fingers on his dominant hand to a blender?). But he wasn't truly sidelined until a bodysurfing accident dislocated his shoulder. He now instructs his apprentices on creating his art. The benefit for us is there will be an entire team of artisans that can create Chihuly glass but will not be able to attach the name to it. So...affordable Chihuly, if you will.

If you are in the Richmond area, I can't emphasize enough how worthy this exhibit is. If not, keep an eye open for one coming near you. There are several installations that travel all over the country and I'm sure they are all mind-blowing glass-blowing.

Monday, January 14, 2013


If you don't get that reference, please rush right out and get yoself the "Pitch Perfect" DVD. And some gummi bears (in honor of me and Shana, obviously) and some kind of underwear protection. Rebel Wilson is our new movie BFF. 

Things are all kinds of sad around here today now that Shana has scooted back up to the New City of York. The sky got so depressed that it has done nothing but cry big buckets all day. She will use these last 2 sentences to strengthen her case for us to move up there for our next PCS. Ah...if only Uncle Sam worked that way. Although the weekend was short and time always flies when we have to do superfluous things like sleep, we managed to squeeze several of the musts in.

1. We have learned that bumper-to-bumper traffic in DC on a Friday afternoon is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. However, you should probably stop to pee before Dumfries.

2. There is a restaurant around the corner run by Italians (as in practically straight off the boat from the mothaland). They make authentic Italian pizza dough (*ahem* meaning without the heaping cup of sugar, Papa John's) and probably roll their eyes every time an American orders a pizza with no less than 53 toppings. But it is some damn fine pizza. (They also offer cheeseburgers and an entire selection of deli sandwiches. They have undoubtedly decided that's what they must do to survive as a restaurant in America. That is what Italians think of us.) They also must think that we are a nation of gamers because they provided this gem for entertainment while you wait:
Losing to Shana in Ms. PacMan did result in me downloading the app on my iPhone so I can brush up on my joystick skills before we meet again.

3. I was again convinced to choose a color besides red or pink for my pedi polish. I chose emerald green...because it's the color of money, y'all. Also because this pedi has to last me until at least St. Patrick's Day.

4. One person's fashion faux pas is 2 people's fashion forward trend. This specifically applies to those 1/64" foam pedicure flip flops being worn throughout Target. (I also need someone to explain to me why there is an entire display of itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis but not a single flip flop to be found within the 4 walls.)

5. When it came time to seek out lunch on Saturday, I looked up restaurants within the area and got a special kind of giddy when I learned we had a Whataburger. Ever since Lane Frost's first date with Kelly in 8 Seconds, I've sort of had an unnatural obsession. So, tap, tap, tap that addy into the GPS and 8 minutes later, we pulled up to....this...
OK, folks...soooo NOT a Whataburger. Where's my A-frame building? Where's my overlapping orange W's? Better yet...where's my drive-thru (because what we weren't about to do was walk our whataflipflops through those doors). So, we went to Wendy's. And had asiago ranch chicken sandwiches. And pretended it was whatachicken. Whatadisappointment.

6. Apparently, within our quaint city is a house constructed entirely of tombstones. Shan has those pictures and promises to post very soon.

7. We may have taken Baby Blue to a bar. But it's totally OK because we were there for take-out. But it's very possible that he was actually sitting at the bar for about 30 minutes while we waited. I hope CPS don't take the baby. 

8. Last year, I pinned this beaut on my "Get in my belly" board:
and I've been having inappropriate thoughts about it ever since. It's a Samoa bundt cake that is supposed to taste just like the caramel delight Girl Scout cookies (which I have been known to eat in mass quantities until someone intervened). The blogger confessed that it had taken her much of the day to bake it because a) it calls for caramel which is usually made by submerging a can of sweetened condensed milk in the crockpot for at least 7 hours and b) it is a marble cake so 2 batters must be prepared. Then there's coconut toasting but that was really not so difficult (and made my house smell like sex on the beach. Literally.). Anyway, I have enough pictures to do an entirely separate post but let me say that I was supposed to freeze it and feed off of it for the entire winter. But Big Mama will be lucky to get a piece when she arrives on Friday. (If you would like to re-create this on your own turf, it wasn't difficult - nor did it call for anything weird like cream of a young coconut - and the recipe can be found by clicking on the link above). 

9. Michael's sells temporary henna tattoos. If you care for an infant, considering applying it somewhere other than the inside of the wrist on your dominant hand. 

10. Disclaimer: I know this is mean, but I can't help it... Driving around Richmond on Saturday, we spotted a homeless man on the side of the road (which is alarmingly common around this area). His sign read: HOMELESS AND HUNGEY. So, to that I will repeat the wise words of my first grade teacher: Dude..there's an "r" in there. Sound it out. (In our burg to the south, the homeless work corners everyday like it's their full time job. And for that, I give them a LOT of credit.)

So next up will be Baking With Shana (or How Ally Learned About the Purpose of the Lip on the Baking Powder Can). Have you tried a Pinterest recipe lately? How did it go? Would you do it again?

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'll Drink to That!

I am completely unprepared for today's Champagne Friday post. And by that, I mean that when I logged in, I noticed that I have posted 299 times. Making this my 300th post. And that requires way more fanfare than "here is my 300th post." Let me see if I can find something more appropriate....

This is Baby Blue on his 1 month birthday...which was kind of a really long time ago. And, I just noticed, he doesn't so much look like this now. This is when he looked like his Daddy. People now see more of me in's been a long 15 months waiting to hear those words. Anywho...I think the polka-dotted party hat and confetti cupcake are the perfect amount of celebration for a

300th POST! 
for the record, I really wish I could make that bigger...

In honor of my houseguest this weekend, I'm going to make it a Random Musings Champagne Friday. Shana is on her way down to spend some quality girl/auntie time. She promises no less than 3 romcoms (none of which feature Adam Sandler, per my request. He has not seemed right to me since that turkey song), enough scones to get us all through breakfast everyday, and pedicures. I promise a fairly clean house, a fairly happy baby, and a drive by a house nearby that was constructed entirely of gravestones. (Ironically, I'm pretty sure it's not haunted. Also, I highly recommend checking out for unexpected stops along your journey.) Time permitting, I'm going to take her to the 2-story tall milk jug building in Richmond.'s this week's no certain order. 

1) Neal got the ManCold (but no stomach flu) last week. Baby Blue got the stomach flu (but no ManCold) last week. I'm a lucky, lucky girl and got both. Neal, ever the optimist, said to me right before I passed out in a Nyquil-induced fog, "at least you'll have immunity to both now!" So, there's that. 

2) On my one healthy day this week, I went to my first Zumba class in about 18 months. Of all of the group fitness classes out there right now, it's probably my favorite. For 60 minutes, I get to pretend like I'm an arm's length away from Antonio Banderas and we are cha-cha-cha'ing our way to bliss (and a set of hips that just won't quit). But on Tuesday, I cha-cha-cha'd my way to an asthma attack and the knowledge that I shouldn't be jumping quite so much after delivering a baby. Also, I'm in that "not quite there" stage. Not quite big enough to fill out a pair of maternity yoga pants, not quite small enough to squeeze it all into my old ones. So I went with the bigger ones, which allowed for breathing. The result was a lot of stopping to pull everything back up and one unfortunate incident where Antonio twirled me so hard that my shirt came up and the raw chicken flesh of an abdomen was exposed. That was awesome. And a reminder to wear 2, maybe 3 shirts. 

3) During day 2 of Montezuma's Revenge, I sent Neal out for 2 cans of chicken noodle soup. Nothing fancy. Not even Progresso. Just plain ole Campbell's Soup chicken noodle soup. Yes, it's an insult to foodies everywhere that I would even bother to open it, much less actually consume it. But desperate times and all...

Thirty minutes later he returned. With 2 cans of Campbell's Soup.  Well, 2 cans of Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup. After my come-apart and so much heavy sighing I'm sure he thought I was going to pass out, I explained to him that ones does not simply pop open a can of cream of chicken soup for dinner. It's an ingredient. Usually in a long list of other ingredients. But I'm going to save them for serving the next time he gets ManCold. 

4) We can't put our Christmas away until the temperature reaches 65 degrees. Because only about half of what we own fits in our apartment, we've rented a storage unit for the rest. But between pulling everything out to get Christmas decorated in the first place and half-hearted attempts to find our diaper pail and my custom patio cushions, it's a hot mess in there. Neal refuses to put anything else in until it all comes out and gets reorganized. Apparently, that's not a task he's willing to take on in the snow.  Therefore, we are those annoying people with their Christmas lights on every night. And it's practically Valentine's Day.

5) Now that I don't question every single parenting decision I make (nor do I think that Neal and I are in way over our heads), we made the leap to cloth diapering (and cloth wiping because if you're doing the laundry anyway...). After we drove our Prius to our baby massage (gah, yes. We're those people.), I asked for a cloth diapering demonstration and she just made it look so flippin easy. Like here are some snaps and some inserts and throw it all in the bag and don't touch a thing! Sold!

Except, there  is some rinsing of poop in the toilet (because try as I may to introduce something solid, he has yet to find what he likes). Also, I don't want to rinse poop out of cloth wipes so we use regular wipes for those. Also, he soaks through a cloth diaper overnight so we put him in a disposable after the last bottle. I would say we are 65% saving the planet. Add our french fry burner but deduct the GasFinder that Neal drives everyday and we're like 62%. Apparently we aren't going to see a cost savings until after we would have bought 25 boxes. Which is in about 5 months. So in May we'll do a dance of profit. 

I know I will have many adventures to share after Shana's weekend here. At the very least, she will be able to boast that I watched something not made by Ken Burns and, possibly, we're going to make that Samoa bunt cake from Pinterest. Or maybe we'll just take a couple of spoons to that can of caramel cooking in the crock pot.

Happy Weekend and Happy Champagne Friday! Cheers y'all! 
editor's note: I have NO idea why Blogger insists on double-spacing this post. It's annoying to me but maybe Big Mama will be able to read it without her glasses.