Monday, November 29, 2010

Overdue Thanksgiving Post

I've been thinking some deep thoughts this week, hence the lack of posting. We've also had the whole family home most of the week, with Wyatt's Thanksgiving vacation over tomorrow. It's been fabulous having everyone around, and blogging hasn't been high on my list of things to do. I thought I'd catch up with a couple things tonight, and maybe write something longer later this week.

I had a couple posts on MMB this week. You can find them here:

Our Marriage Begat a Fabulous Cake
Changing Perspectives

We had a great Thanksgiving. Once again, it was spent doing something entirely different. I think our lifestyle is not particularly conducive to building traditions. Or maybe our tradition is to do something new every year. Can that even be a tradition? Who knows, but we went swimming this year at the Blue Hole. Having spent most of my life in a much colder climate, the idea of swimming outside in something unheated was completely foreign to me. Until this year. The water was perfect, although we were a little afraid it would be cold when we got there. We had the place to ourselves for the most part, although a couple tour groups came through near the end of our stay.

We followed our swimming with another first: Thanksgiving in the dining hall. Curious, yes, but it was actually pretty good. And they had fresh strawberries. And kiwis. And real mashed potatoes. Oh, and I didn't have to do any of the work. Doing a turkey would have meant no Blue Hole trip, and since this is one of the rare times the dining hall has really good fare, we figured it would be silly not to go. It was somewhat weird to to sit in a mess hall setup and eat our Thanksgiving meal on trays (they did decorate the place, at least), but we saw friends and it was better than just doing our own thing at home.

The only downside was the dessert, which seemed a rather lame selection of formerly frozen, boxed pies. I ended up with vanilla ice cream and strawberries, a treat I miss very much, so all was well on that front. The next day, I made eggnog ice cream out of the last of our eggnog, and it was amazing, so I don't think anyone ended up feeling sad about the lame dessert.

Finally, I wanted to add a short list of some of the things I've been thankful over the last year:

  • A year spent together. Even on duty nights, Oliver is home. The only nights I've had to sleep alone were a couple weeks he was on midwatch, but since he was home during the day, it wasn't even close to the same as the boat schedule we've endured most of our married life.
  • Wyatt is finally adjusting to school, and loving it. He's made friends and is learning a lot. With a couple exceptions, he's doing mostly first grade work, and we are going to consider skipping him a grade when we return to the States.
  • I'm so grateful for how much I've grown as a person. I've been faced with a lot of challenges this year that I did not expect, and would not have had if we hadn't moved here. It's been an incredible opportunity to learn more about myself, my marriage, my role as a mother, and a lot of other things too numerous to mention here. 
  • I'm grateful we are finally feeling comfortable here. We had a rough start, most of which I have not spent time dwelling on in this blog, but suffice it to say that it took some serious adjusting over the first eight or so months. Some of it was expected, some of it not so much. It's okay now, though, and I appreciate that more than I can express.
  • Finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to move into a double-wide trailer. It's pretty much the best housing you can hope for here, and while we wavered a bit as to if we wanted to do all the work of moving, it was completely worth it. We no longer feel all crammed in, and I have finally lost that weird sense of vacation living that I could not shake in the much smaller trailer with it's thin walls.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I hope yours was as enjoyable as ours!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Food is Awesome

As you probably already know by my last post, living here has given me a healthy appreciation for being able to feed my family. Every time I find a new solution to it, I am so excited. Tonight, though, is probably the happiest I've been in awhile over it.

I was reading some random blog tonight and decided to look up a site they talked about as a source for coconut oil. I really can't buy coconut oil here, so what we do have we buy in the States. I figured they wouldn't actually ship to us, or it would be expensive, but figured a look costs nothing but time.

Hello, I feel like I hit a gold mine! Not only do they ship to APO/FPO (and even DPOs), but they do it for FREE! I actually started looking for some tribute to the military page or something because there was no explanation for it. They do charge shipping for all other orders, so that made it even odder. But, completely, incredibly awesome.

So, I just spent $150 on a huge order of stuff I'd been waiting to buy when we go to the States in a couple of weeks. They had a 15% off coupon, plus some specials on things we needed, so that cut the price quite a bit. Because I ordered it online using our FPO address, I also didn't have to pay tax, which means it pretty much beats any price I'd get at Whole Foods, which is where I was buying most of what I ordered. This also means less stuff we have to manage when we go. Less time shopping, more time having fun. I'm all for that one.

As an added bonus, this is a website that specializes in organics and other items that are high on the healthy list. I'm a bit of a health food freak, and intensely picky about what food I buy for our family, something that has only gotten worse with time. Feeding us was actually the biggest issue I worried about when we decided to come here after what I'd heard of the place.

Surprisingly, I think we are actually eating a lot healthier now. Between the lack of restaurant options (we were so bad about eating out in Washington!), ridiculously expensive meat that has lead us to eating more vegetarian, and high-priced processed goods (we had a $4.99 bag of Tostito's corn chips today for a snack), not to mention all the things like ice cream I now make from scratch just because we can't buy anything we like here, our meals are a lot more basic. I'm guessing that has been a huge factor in our weight loss, besides the running. Which is good, because I'm not one to diet. I so have no ability to control myself like that.

If you're interested, here's the link to their site. I'm not getting anything out of this post except an opportunity to share my excitement. When we go back to the States, I'm so going to buy some grass-fed beef, too. I never realized I could order something like that. I looked for it in Washington but never found it in the stores near us.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I walked into the store today hoping there would be some new produce. The barge came in yesterday, and there was some stuff, but not a lot when I went on Thursday. So, I returned today soon after it opened at lunchtime. The produce case looked exactly the same, and I was looking at it sadly when a guy passing by told me a shipment of produce had just arrived from Nassau so I should come back later.

I greatly appreciate tips like this! As I was walking out the door, I actually saw the truck pull up and the first boxes come out of it. I saw one that looked like asparagus, so I did a little happy dance on the way home. I've never seen them stock fresh asparagus. It's amazing how excited you can get about produce when it's hard to come by.

Anyway, to make a long story short, our afternoon got busy, and I didn't get another chance to go back until after 1700. The produce had been stocked, and I came home with bananas, squash, lettuce, tomatoes that didn't look scary (a rarity - I can't wait until my plants start producing!), and a few other things.

The bad news? No asparagus. And to make matters worse, I found a single spear underneath something else, so I had been right about it. Too bad other people beat me to it. Also, there were no potatoes again. This is a real bummer because it most likely means no mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I wish I'd been on top of this and bought some a few weeks ago. Ah, well, such is life.

The very good news at the end of this, though, is that while I was walking down the freezer/refrigerated food aisle (yes, there is only one short aisle for both types of food), I happened across some eggnog. There were only about six or seven half gallons left, and I grabbed two of them. One for right away, and one to save for Thanksgiving morning.

I am so excited about this find! We somehow missed the eggnog last year, although I heard rumors that it had been stocked at one point. It's been two years without it, and I have missed it! Hopefully, we don't clean through it so fast I can't make eggnog bread with it.

Media Problems When You Leave the US

It's great to live outside the country. Even when what you call home is a rather large island with hardly any people on it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see things in a way you'd never thought possible. It's also an opportunity to realize that every movie studio, video game maker, and TV purveyor is intent on making your life miserable.

To get some idea of what I'm talking about, here is a list of things we are prevented from doing because our IP address is foreign:

  • Watch TV online - unless you are talking about YouTube, which is a terrible way to try to catch shows you missed. So, no Army wives for me anymore. I'm sure Oliver is relieved.
  • Use the wireless feature on your game console. I had blamed our tightly controlled internet for this one, but I actually don't think it's their fault anymore. I'm fairly certain that Nintendo has made it impossible for us to network our Wii here. Not a killer situation, but annoying.
  • Netflix, well, that's the real story here...
 See, I decided to sign up for a free trial. I've seen people here picking up their red envelopes in the post office, so I figured it was worth a try to see how fast the mail is. Because our mail comes in on the same plane we use, it's only slightly slower than when we were in the U.S. So, I thought maybe it'd be worth it.

Except, I've since discovered that while packages (pretty much all we deal with for the most part) go directly to Florida to be sorted and sent to our plane, letters for some idiot reason go to New York City first. So, the DVD I mailed last Thursday to a place in Florida has only today been received and a  new one sent out. A new one that will head north before it returns south. Um, yeah, that means, if we are lucky, we'll be getting about 3 DVDs a month.  

In truth, I expected something like that, which is why I had yet to sign up for it. We were actually hoping to use the instant watching feature with an occasional DVD as a bonus. Then we could get some TV shows and movies that we can't watch easily right now (and we both hate watching TV as TV - the commercials are too irritating - it's not on much in our house).

Turns out, however, that Netflix also blocks access to people outside the country. This annoys me greatly because I have a U.S. address, and I'm a U.S. citizen. Since I'm clearly the person using the account, why can we not have permission to watch this stuff? These distribution laws are maddening.

Yeah, that Netflix account? Totally being canceled as soon as this month is up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have Kids, Will Travel

Wyatt has been telling me lately that he'd like to move. I was baffled the first time, and then worried that he was unhappy about something. But, he seems like he likes it here, and I know he's very much enjoying school and having all these kids to play with.

Then, last night he asked me if he had school the next morning. I told him yes, and he started getting upset. I asked him why, because I know he is having fun in school, and the complaining about it has gone down a huge amount in the last few weeks.

His answer? "I want to go on a trip. Trips are more fun than school."

Clearly, the traveling gene is being passed on to our eldest. I think it might also be in our youngest because he started clamoring to go on a plane after listening to this conversation. Luckily for them, traveling is one of our favorite things to do. And lucky for us, they travel well. Sometimes, this parenting thing totally works.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free Canning Jars

I think I've found the perfect canning jars. And they are totally free. Well, okay, I'm still having to buy them, but since they come filled with sauce, the jar is a bonus, otherwise destined for the garbage as they don't recycle here. Instead, I'm learning how many things can be recycled at home, something I think is probably better for the earth than trucking it off to some factory to be reformed into something.

I don't have big plans to can or anything, but since making pickles, I've been flirting with the idea of buying canning jars. I'm using glass jars more and more for things, nearly all of them recycled from other things I've bought. This is working for the most part, but I'm getting tired of the random lid sizes. Lose a lid and it's nearly impossible to replace. Also, it can be difficult to find the right lid when there is only one that will fit correctly. Ordering jars over the internet, however, is an expensive proposition. It also wouldn't be too easy to bring very many back on the plane.

Unwittingly, however, Oliver solved my problem a few weeks ago when he brought home some pasta sauce I'd requested. There aren't too many choices at the store - I think they stock all of four brands of pasta sauce. I have tried most of them, as they don't carry what I used to buy, and Bertolli has been the best tasting brand available to us. This Classico stuff is tolerable, thankfully, because I want the jars. Take a look at them:

two jars

These Classico jars, though, are fantastic. They are decently sized, and take a normal sized canning lid. I also like that they are square shaped, and pretty heavy duty. They sit side by side a lot better than round jars. As you can see, I'm already using them to hold beans.

The biggest issue? I only have three jars at the moment. I guess we'll be having spaghetti a little more often now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finally. the End

Of the Halloween candy, that is. I breathed a sigh of relief when Oscar mournfully told me the last of the candy was gone one morning this past weekend. We started out regulating it, but finally gave up and let them have at it just to get it over with. The only rule we really stuck to was no candy between when Wyatt got home from school and dinner. Otherwise, whatever.

I'm pleased to report they still showed some restraint. It took over a week after we more or less gave them free rein with it. Oscar did ask me today when he was going to get more. He wasn't too happy when I told him he'd have to wait a year. I'd say that was good news for me, though!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shutterfly and the Free Cards

Curiously enough, I had a passing thought a few weeks ago about actually doing Christmas cards this year. You know, something really Bahamian and summery looking. To explain how weird that was, you have to realize that I have sent Christmas cards exactly once in my adult life. (I'm not counting the year I did a ten minute video about our year that combined pictures and home video clips set to music - was much fun, but I haven't been able to get myself to do it again.) The year I sent cards was also the year that we had a freak snowstorm in November a few years ago when we lived in Washington. We built a snowman, and while doing so, took this great picture of Wyatt sitting on top of the largest ball. He was about two years old, and it was a fantastically sunny day, so the picture came out looking really good. I saw it and immediately thought, "Hey, Christmas card material!"

So, my thought this year, while unusual, was also probably not going to be acted on. Until I ran across Shutterfly's blogger promotion. Go here if you want to see for yourself, but I'll explain briefly. Basically, I will get a code for 50 free holiday cards (shipping not included) if I write up a post using their guidelines. If you follow the above link, you can apply to do the same, assuming you have a blog yourself.

So, in the interest of getting some free cards so my relatives can actually see what our kids look like these days, I'm taking the time to write up a post. Also, I am doing this because I like Shutterfly. It's been my site of choice for photos for a long time, and I appreciate that they will ship out here for a reasonable price. At this point in my life, that is the hallmark of a good business. I have no idea if they are the best, but I tend to stick with what works, so I keep going back to them.

Oh, before I talk about Christmas cards, I'm adding a link to their photo books. I made one after our trip to Hawaii a few years ago because they sent me a code for a free one. I ended up spending some money on it because I made it twice as long as the code allowed, but it came out pretty nice. The boys still occasionally ask us to read it to them like it was a story book.

Okay, on to Christmas cards. This first one reminds me a lot of the one I sent out last time:

It was a flat card, and I made sure to leave a space on it to add a personal message before I mailed it. I always hate getting preprinted Christmas cards in the mail. I mean, if I'm going to get a card from someone I know, I'd much prefer they actually wrote something to me, even if it's just a two liner. Even one of those Christmas letters is better than a generic, "Have a Merry Christmas! Love, person-you-know".

Actually, looking at this again, I don't think I'll be using this card. Not much space on it, although there is always the back, I guess. However, since I don't like how pen often makes marks on the front, too, when you write, I think I'm going to go with something like this:

 Or maybe this one instead:
I think the main question will be whether to go simple or photo-happy. Considering the huge amount of pictures on my hard drive, most taken just this year because I made backups and wiped the old computer before we moved, I suspect I will end up with the photo-overload card. Also, that gives me more fodder for conversation when I fill them out. Decisions, decisions...

Well, while I go ponder that, I'll leave you with one last link. One of the more interesting thing about photo sites is that you can always find different things to have your photos printed on. I checked out Shutterfly's photo gift page just to see if they had anything new, and found this. It's a little pricey, but I'm seriously thinking about it. My kids would be completely thrilled to have a gigantic decal of themselves on the wall, although the idea of it is making me laugh out loud.

Actually, now that I think about it, this would have been a great gift for them while their daddy was deploying. A pic of the the three of them, life-size. Ah, well, something to consider if we end up heading back to a boat in two years.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Near Halloween, Wyatt's school did a parade on their way from the school to the theatre, where they held a Halloween party for the kids. They called it a "zombie parade", and some of the teachers and a lot of the kids were in some kind of zombie getup. Some of them, Wyatt included, wore their Halloween costumes. They did it right after we brought him back to school after lunch. Oliver hung around a bit so he could see them walk by, and the three of us went to the corner of our street to wait for it.

There is a sidewalk on our street, one of the few in the housing areas. Because most of the trailers on our side are scheduled for demolition, they are empty and very overgrown. I've never walked down the sidewalk at the very end because of this, plus we typically just cut over from the back side of our trailer. That day, though, we waited on the sidewalk amongst the plant life going crazy. I was surprised to see this cactus growing there:


I have seen a lot of strange plants here, but cactus? Not so much. I'm curious if it's native or if someone brought it here. The thing is huge, too. Taller than Oscar, and about as wide as I can spread my arms. Just goes to show, you never know what you'll find living here!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Water Troubles (Yet Again)

The water here has been a little suspect in our home. Oliver heard from some people at work that it may not be the healthiest thing in the world. He kind of freaked me out when he came home and told me this a couple months ago. I mean, we've lived here for a year now, and due to the hot climate are drinking a lot more water than we used to. To switch to bottled water would be ridiculously expensive, not to mention all the plastic waste that would engender. So, I decided not to do anything different. I hadn't, after all, seen any real evidence that it was making us or anyone else sick. A rumor is as likely to be untrue as it is to be true, so it wasn't much to go on.

Then, a few weeks ago, after all that crazy rain we had, our water started smelling a little bit like sewage. It was awful; at one point, I washed out a frosting decorating bag and the smell left behind was enough to make me feel ill. So, we pulled out our stored water and stopped drinking from the tap for awhile.

The stink only lasted a couple days, but that was long enough for me. I went online, did some research, and ordered a water filter for the kitchen. I got one that is a bit more powerful than your typical faucet filter (we did have a Brita filter back in Washington because the water there tasted awful). It hooks up to our faucet, with the filter unit sitting on the counter. They also had one that would have fit into our sprayer hole and been a separate faucet, but I didn't want to mess with the plumbing here. It's ancient and temperamental, like just about everything else.

Here's a very unprofessional pic of our set up:


 And a closeup of the faucet connector:


Also, because the water in our new place smells very strongly of chlorine (when it doesn't smell of sewage, ha), I also bought a shower filter. From what I've read in the past, it's possible to aspirate a lot of chlorine in the shower, so I figured it was time to stop worrying about that, too.

Here's a pic of that one:


The shower wand was part of it, with the filter unit being the big white thing hanging behind it. Supposedly, this is also going to keep our shower from getting so much soap scum because it's softening the water. We've only used it a couple of weeks so I don't know for sure if this is the case, but so far, so good in the soap scum department. For a lazy cleaner like me, this is a good thing.

We picked these up from Aquasana, in case you were curious. I don't know if they are the best, but they had good reviews and were in my price range, so that's why I went with them. Also, they will ship to us for free, which is a huge plus. That is not so easy to find these days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Typically, we'd got to a parade today, but there isn't one here. They did do a small ceremony this morning, although I didn't go because Oliver needed to go into work afterward as they are in the middle of a huge exercise right now.

Plus, I was a little lazy and didn't feel like getting the kids moving. Now that Wyatt is in school, that morning routine is getting old. I am all over staying home longer and letting them run around in pjs for awhile. No one in this house is  a morning person, and it very much shows when we are forced to be.

We did watch a little TV last night, though, and saw a commercial for Outback. Apparently, military people can get a free bloomin' onion today. Bummer we are no where near an Outback! Oliver did get a free breakfast, though. There is actually a tiny veteran's organization called the China Post here. They put together a nice meal for the Navy members here.

I was chafing a bit at our island status today. When we get a free day like this, that is typically when I bemoan our marooned state. What we really wanted to do was go somewhere fun, but, yeah, not too many choices here. We did end up at the beach, though, and that was fun. The water was freezing! I didn't swim, but everyone else did for awhile. Then, Oliver pounced on me and gave me a big hug, so I ended up wet, anyway.

The weather is shifting. It's a lot cooler, and I'm finally wearing long pants every so often. I've also started to run outside again, which is a hugely nice change. The treadmill was getting exceptionally monotonous. I think we're getting acclimated to living here. When we moved here last year at about this time, it seemed warm and we were definitely swimming when we went to the beach. Now, after spending a summer with blazingly hot weather, it's almost chilly out, even though we're still seeing 80 degree weather. It's going to be very weird to move back to a cooler place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jam Time

A couple weeks ago, I finally got around to making jam. I had two, 24 oz tubs of strawberries in our freezer that we'd bought last minute to keep some meat cold on a flight back home. We aren't allowed to use ice, so I typically buy those frozen juice cartons to tuck in there with the cold stuff. If it thaws some, it's no big deal to refreeze it, and they are small and light enough that they don't affect the weight allowance too much. That day, though, we'd gone to a different store than normal and discovered they only have juice cartons in the refrigerator case. So, I grabbed the strawberries instead, then we rushed to the airport.

Problem is, we really don't use an entire tub of strawberries on anything. So, they sat in our freezer for a couple of months unused. Then we ran out of jam. I only buy jam in the States because everything here is sweetened with corn syrup. Not only do I find it unhealthy, but no one likes to eat the stuff now that we've lost the taste for it. I can get frozen fruit here, even if it's a little on the expensive side ($3.95 for a 12 oz package is what I paid yesterday for some blueberries). Then, I remembered the tubs of strawberries.

To make a long story short, I thawed them, added two cups of raw sugar (the recipe I was using called for twice that amount, but the strawberries already had sugar in them so I was guessing on how much to use), squeezed a fresh lemon into it, and boiled it down into some jam. Here was the end result:

I reused the jam jars I had from buying jam from someone here, then put the rest into the freezer containers stacked next to them. They are sitting upside down here because I'd read that leaving them upside down for a half hour or so after filling the jars keeps them mold-free much longer. Who knows if that's true, but I tried it anyway.

In terms of mold, I needn't have worried. Two weeks later, we're going through the third jar. Wyatt has declared it "the best jam ever", and keeps telling me I need to make more when we are done with this stuff. Peanut and butter sandwiches are suddenly back in vogue. I should have done this months ago when they stopped eating them! They are so much easier to make than ham and cheese.

I'm glad the jam was a hit. Unfortunately, the pickles weren't as big a hit. Oscar really likes them, and I think they are okay, but neither Wyatt or Oliver will eat them. Can you tell who the picky eaters in the house are?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings Snafu

I was committed to helping set up for a fundraiser for our the parent/teacher committee (basically the PTA, but we don't call it that) this morning. We decided to walk over there as a family so Oliver could help out, too, and the boys could maybe see their friends and run off some steam. I was really stressed out about forgetting to go because I haven't been all that on top of things lately. The boys had an awful night, and I even ended up on the couch for a few hours because they were both in our bed, so Oliver let me sleep in some this morning. I made myself get up in time, and we dragged ourselves there, bat and ball in two because we were going to be right next to the ball field.

Except, no one was there. I paced about a bit, confused as to what was going on. There had been a little confusion about when to meet when the scheduling was being worked out, so I thought maybe someone was running late or I hadn't understood it correctly. We ended up doing some batting practice with the boys for the next forty minutes before finally giving up and going home.

I was baffled about it until about 1400 when I looked at the clock and it suddenly struck me: today was daylight savings. So, I was the one off, not anyone else. I felt pretty stupid about missing the whole thing, and immediately emailed the other members of the leadership to apologize.

This whole not going to church thing can mess us up. I've never once been late or early to church because of a daylight savings switch, but apparently I can completely forget about it when I don't have something regularly scheduled on my Sundays. Oliver and I talked about it this evening and decided it was highly likely we wouldn't have figured out anything was wrong until tomorrow if this event hadn't been scheduled for today. Since he drops Wyatt off at school, and often doesn't stay now that Wyatt is acclimated to school and we are comfortable he knows where he needs to go, that might have meant he would have been standing there by himself for awhile (unless he thought to just walk back home again).

So, I'm grateful I had something I was supposed to do today, even if I didn't actually make it there on time. I'm mad at myself for not doing what I'd promised to do, but I would have felt even worse if it had left my kid in a lurch.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Running and I

This week has not been a particularly great one. Wacky schedule, poisonwood attack, allergies in the small ones...and I've been sitting on my butt for most of it. I haven't run in about ten days, and wasn't going to do so today, either. But then I mentioned to Oliver, right before I should start dinner, that I was dragging around all day and hadn't been running in forever. He told me to just go. I almost didn't, but I'm glad I took his advice.

Four miles later, I think I've realized just how much running has become not something just to get back in shape with, but something that keeps me sane. I felt a million times better when I got back. Even that familiar ache in my legs is making me smile right now.

It's a good feeling to finally move past "exercising to get into shape" to "running for fun". I mean, I've always enjoyed running, but starting out was painful. Especially after having gone through two pregnancies without working all that hard in between. I think it took three months before I started saying, okay, I am feeling good. Now, nearly a year later, what a difference!

I hope this means this is going to be something I always fight to make time for. It's too easy to get lazy about exercise, especially if it seems like work. Today, I ran because it felt good and I didn't think even once about how my stomach is never going to be the same after having kids. I better get some sleep tonight; my running shoes and I have a date tomorrow. I'm going to break that five mile mark if it kills me.

P.S. Dinner was pizza from the only eatery on base (other than the galley). We took a chance because the place has been improving over the last few months. It used to be you would order a sandwich, then wait over twenty minutes with no one in sight for it to be made. The pizza has been particularly terrible, which is why we haven't ordered one since a month or two after we moved here. So, due to the improving menu and better options, and my sudden craving for Hawaiian pizza and wings (ironically, all this not eating meat has made me snag some when I can), we ordered some tonight.

The verdict? While the toppings have improved, they are still using the same dough, which is basically a circle of frozen pizza dough that looks like one of those poorly done boxed pizzas. There is no crust formed on the edges, and the bottom is clearly not cooked with cornmeal, which makes a huge difference. It's kind of a like a cracker dough, really. Nasty. I don't think we'll be trying it again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Carved Pumpkin, Meet the Tropics

This is what happens when you carve a pumpkin in the tropics and leave it outside:

dead pumpkin

We carved this pumpkin on Saturday, and Oliver kicked it off the walk this morning because it was caving in on itself. It's actually been sitting on our counter for over a week before we carved it. I wanted to wait because I knew it wouldn't last long. Even I was surprised at how quick it collapsed, though. I think the one we did last year stuck around just a tad bit longer.

Halloween was really fun. The way they do it here is set a couple hours for trick or treating. Bahamians that work on the base are allowed to bring their kids on to participate. Last year, it seemed most of them were without costumes, but this year, I saw most of the Bahamian kids in some kind of costume. There also seemed to be more of them than Americans.

We don't really do the whole traditional knock on a door to get candy routine here. Instead, most people sit outside their houses, some with rather elaborate Halloween displays, and some with their neighbors, making it a one stop for several different buckets of candy. Some were handing candy out from golf carts, and a few were dressed up in costume trying to scare people. Hardly anyone said trick or treat because of how mobs of kids just walked right up and the adults passed it all out with a few comments about how cute everyone looked. One house we went to had a chair with looked like a fake gorilla sitting in it. I turned to my right only to find the gorilla right in my face. I started laughing, which was probably not what he was going for, but it was because the mood was not really a fright night, but a fun block party.

For the most part, we didn't do homemade this year when it came to costumes. The boys have been longing for some dress-up clothes, Wyatt especially, so I decided to buy a couple Melissa and Doug costumes for them. I bought a Police Officer Costume for Wyatt, and Oscar was styling in a Train Engineer Costume. They are in the playroom now for daily play.

The one homemade thing we did, though, was mostly Oliver's handiwork. Since Oscar wanted to be a "passenger", Oliver built him a train out of cardboard and our wagon. He decorated it with construction paper as paint is not easy to come by here. I think it came out fantastic, and by the attention we got walking around with it, I think others did, too. We had to pose for a few pictures along the way.


All in all, a really fun holiday for us this year. The boys came home with full pumpkins, and now we have to deal with sugar overload, eek. We buy candy very rarely, so this is the most they will see all year.

Oh, one last note about the candy: Last year, we got ours in the States because we had an opportunity to do so before Halloween. This year, we stayed put all month, so we were forced to pick up a couple bags in the store. There were about eight different candy bags to pick from, and I found it funny how many times I recognized the kind of candy we had bought in our boys' buckets. It was clear who had bought stuff in the States and who hadn't. Not something I would have ever figured out before moving here.

Also, I don't think I will ever get used to sweating while trick or treating. It's kind of weird.

Doctor, Doctor

This morning, I had to take a trip to the dispensary. I also had to bring along both Wyatt and Oscar. We've had a ton of rain the last few weeks, and it seems to have brought some nasty allergic reactions in the boys from something that's growing out there. Or maybe mold in the trailer, as the doc said all of them have issues with it. We have been lucky so far, and that was by far the most wet weather we've had in the year we've lived here, so hopefully this will just run it's course and we won't see any more problems.

As for me, though, I had a bit of a run in with what I believe is poison wood. I'm not positive how, but am guessing we had a sapling or something growing amongst the weeds I pulled this last week. It started on my hands and one arm, but has traveled over my chest, to the other arm, and up my neck. I woke up with one eyelid swolled this weeken, which is what finally told me I needed to go get something to counteract it. Hence the trip to the doctor, with the little boys because they've been complaining of various things that I figured needed to be looked at, too.

I'm now hyped up on streroids and trying desperately not to scratch. Ugh; poison wood makes poison ivy look like a cake walk. At least, for me. I'm only mildly allergic to poison ivy, and have had only one small case of it despite growing up in an area where it was very common. So, I'm not being patient with this. Just gritting my teeth and wishing it would go away. I haven't been running in a week because it's too painful to wear a sports bra. And I am a girl who needs a sports bra.

Ah, well, this is one of the drawbacks of living in a tropical environment. On the plus side, we can see a doctor with about a five minute wait. Plus get our meds before we leave fifteen minutes later (although this trip took just a bit longer because he was seeing all three of us). I very much hope we don't have an issue that requires us to go to the States (we can only get emergent and very basic care here) because then we'll have to go to the VA. Yikes, not my idea of a fun time, especially with kids. I'm actually planning on not getting anymore shots for Oscar until we return to the States. He will get them, and not all at once when we get back as I'm sure they'll try to tell us, but I don't want to take him to the VA.

(All you people that think government healthcare is the answer to our problems, take a look at the VA. Sure, maybe Canada, et al as it in the bag, but our government doesn't know what it's doing at all. Despite the cost, I look forward to having a civilian doctor again some day - or at least an active duty hospital, which we liked in Washington.)