Tuesday, September 29, 2009

793.2 -- Raining and Pouring

Matt and I have a lot of organizing to do! Both his family and mine threw baby showers for the little bundle, and our house is overflowing. Luckily, all of our furniture has also come in, so there is no shortage of drawers, shelves, and baskets for storage. Thanks to the generosity of family and friends (and family friends!) we are set for diapers, receiving blankets, onesies, bibs, wipes, diaper cream, travel gear, and bedding. The few items left to buy will be a joy... I have been waiting for the pending shopping spree for weeks!

The first event held in Baby M's honor was in Lima in August. I felt like the shower was so early, but I wanted my mom to be there, so there was no getting around the early scheduling. I hardly felt pregnant at that point! Guests were split between family -- near and extended -- and family friends -- some of whom I haven't seen since our wedding! The games were fun, the gifts were much appreciated, and the food was amazing. The most fun of it was being surrounded by a wonderful, loving, supportive group.

Baby M's second party was in Ross this past Sunday. I've wanted a book shower since I found out we were pregnant, and my sister-in-law was kind enough to think of it! Baby M got about 20 books -- some of which we never would have known about. There were also a couple of new moms at this shower, which meant I got a lot of great tips on things like toys, books, travel accessories, and clothes. Another fun part was the number of preggers ladies -- 25% of those in attendance! (I'm told at least two of them were taking notes on things to register for for their own showers!)

Thanks to all who attended or sent well wishes for our family! I'm grateful that Baby M will be born into such a large, loving family.

Friday, September 18, 2009

641.5884 -- Beef Stroganoff

Since starting my "new" job, we've tried 4 new slow cooker recipes. It's been so nice to come home to a kitchen that smells like home cooking and a dinner that just needs serving. This is easily one of the tastiest we've tried.

2 pounds beef stew meat
1 cup chopped onion (we used red)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of onion soup
8 ounces canned sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces cream cheese (cubed)
8 ounces sour cream
6 cups egg noodles (about half a large bag worked for us)

1. Mix the first six ingredients into slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or until beef is very tender.
3. Stir in cream cheese and sour cream.
4. Serve over hot cooked egg noodles.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

355.00973 -- Congratulations Matt!

Saturday, we celebrated the official end to Matt's Army career. It was an emotional day in many ways. Sad because we both closed a huge chapter in our lives, full of friends and experiences we'll never forget. But mostly it was a happy occasion. Especially because we will soon be a family, we are looking forward to less time away from home and more stability.

Matt gave a great speech. He teared up a little talking about his experiences over the past 6 years, and I don't think I was the only one in the audience who did the same just listening.

The actual Change of Command was really quick. Matt's replacement is standing opposite him, with the Troop's First Sergeant on the left and the Lieutenant Colonel on the right.

Matt receiving his Army Commendation Medal.
This is the first and only time I have been able to pin Matt. His promotions have all taken place overseas, either in Korea or Afghanistan, and the awards he got following his deployment to Afghanistan were awarded in a group by senior officers.
Please ignore the fact that I look so huge as to be (as Karen put it about her own pregnant self) "houselike."

Of course Matt got some great "parting gifts" in appreciation of his time spent as Troop Commander. The first frame contains the Squadron colors. The second picture is the Troop's Guidon, accompanied by Matt's name tape and rank on the lower left and a troop photo taken that day on the lower right.

The Troop photo. About two-thirds of the troop are deployed right now. Matt is in the Cavalry branch of the Army, and the horses and stetson hats (and spurs, though you can't see those) are part of the Cavalry tradition. Cool right?

Seven of Matt's closest friends came for the day, as well as his parents and myself. (His fan club was easily the largest!) During the open house that followed the ceremony, friends and family got to climb into and around the humvees and check out the mounted guns and long range site equipment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

395.22 -- Happy Anniversary!

a post-wedding candid photo

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

618.2 -- Counting Down

I am no stranger to countdowns. In the past few years, I've been doing a lot of that. Sometimes I do this in my head, like when Matt was getting ready to leave, and I didn't want to stress either of us out more than necessary by posting a daily reminder of how many days we had left. Usually, the countdowns are happier, like counting down to our wedding day, counting down to Matt coming home, counting down to my graduation from grad school, or counting down to Matt's last day in the service (4 days to go!). When countdowns are happier, I don't mind sharing them... I even have a "count-up" tallying days since our wedding. (We're working up to 1,500!)

So when December 8th -- my due date! -- starting seeming like forever away, it seemed only natural to create a physical countdown to the happy occasion. The clipped-together sheaf of papers now hangs on the refrigerator, and though we don't always remember to change it every day, it's fun to see just how far we've come and how few days we have left. In fact, today we celebrate 91 days left -- exactly three months!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

394.2644 -- Worst Oktoberfest

Last weekend, Matt and I traveled minutes from our house to Germania's Oktoberfest celebration. We always enjoy Germania's Oktoberfest, and we have a tacit agreement that we'll go every year. But now that Germania's has ended, we decided to try some other area celebrations.

Hamilton, just north of us, is known neither for its culture nor its class. But since Matt and I are fans of Oktoberfests wherever they may be, we had to try Hamilton's annual celebration at least once. And having tried it once, we will never go back. The highlight of our trip was the authentic biergarten look of the area. It was cool and dark, save for the bare bulbs strung between the trees. The festival seating, the crowds, the German beer (Spaten even!) was all very authentic.

Then there were the lowlights. Despite the fact that the band was dressed in leiderhosen (denim leiderhosen) and playing brass instruments, the music they played was awful. YMCA? Love Train? Do they know any German songs? We didn't even hear Ein Prosit, which is inexcusable. The whole song lasts only about 30 seconds. They couldn't learn it for Oktoberfest?

And the food. It might have been good, but there were 200 people in line for the "real food" so we settled for German desserts. We decided to try their Black Forest cake and a cream puff. They brought out these (and other) desserts still in their Costco packaging. Could you not try to make it seem authentic? The huge pretzels we got to tide us over (while the men drank their Spaten) were cold and a little wet. Ew.

So, instead of waiting an hour in line for bratts, sauerkraut, and schnitzel, a lot of people chose the much shorter line for that other old German tradition. Southern pulled pork BBQ? Seriously? I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw someone walking by with a "German eggroll" sitting on his plate, nestled between potato pancakes and sauerkraut balls. But I was. I was surprised and disappointed. Not wanting to wait in line or spend any more time there than we needed to, we opted to forgo the German food... at least until MainStrasse's Oktoberfest next weekend!