Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yummy!!! A good thing!

I love to cook and anyone that knows me knows that I love to cook. I will try to cook anything. I have a family that will let me experiment on them.

While on vacation we spent a lot of money at the bakery. It was THAT good. The Friday before we left, Chuck took off to get coffee and stopped to see what they had at the bakery. He came back with these huge sticky buns and these egg thingys made in a muffin tin. They had bacon, sausage, ham and cheese loaded down in it. They were so good!

I knew that Lisa had sent me something similiar to it, so I had to be very nice to her and beg her to send it to me again. So, Lisa being the wonderful person that she is gave me the recipe.

I decided that last Saturday I would attempt another experiment on the boys. Scramble the eggs, salt and pepper. Fry and crumble bacon, tear ham, shred cheese.Handful of bisquik. Spray pan, turn oven on 400. Fill pan with the good, pour 1/4 cup egg and bake for 12-15 minutes. Now attempt to get out of the pan! They don't move that easily, but they came out.

Ok, they didn't taste anything like the ones on the island. But they were good. Different.

Today was the Women's Fellowship at church, and I wanted to bring something different, so I tweaked my recipe. I made 2 dozen of these things this morning, and this is what I did:

20 eggs
Splash of milk
handful of bisquik
salt (I use Kosher)
fresh ground black pepper
1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled (this is where the food processor comes in handy)
6 slices of ham, torn
shredded sharp cheese (the sharp works wonderfully)
1/2 green pepper
1/4 onion (both chopped finely)

I made several with bacon and ham, pepper, onion, and bacon. I had cheese in all of them. I scrambled the eggs in the Kitchenaid, added the milk, salt, pepper and bisquik, on high to beat air in it. This time I used crisco in the pan, loaded them up and poured the egg in. Baked until done. Take out of oven, let them rest for just a minute and attempt to get out of the pan in one piece.

The crisco didn't work, the spray didn't work, I don't know what is gonna work. But I got them out in almost one piece and took them to church.

I get them to church, LATE. But I had whole grain homemade biscuits. And 21 of the egg muffins (the boys had some before we left). Eric opened them up, and all the women were curious to see what I brought.

So, they find their way to the table, and nearly all disappear. Within minutes, they were gone. Doesn't surprise me, but what did surprise me was how many wanted the recipe. Women were coming up to me just begging me for information. My recipes are not a secret. I figure if it helps someone else, they can have it.

My only advice is to try the spray with flour. Baker's Joy or Pam with flour. Maybe that would help some. The eggs stick terribly, and getting them out is a chore.

My thanks to Lisa for the original recipe. My thanks to the Lighthouse Bakery in Dauphin Island for making them so good.

Go ahead, try something different, something really good!

The delicate world of Autism

PJ goes over his little friend's house once a week. He has been going over there since first grade. It is a good thing for him to get away from his brother for a little while, and it is good for Joshua too.

PJ and Joshua are the same age. They have been friends since Kindergarten and occasionally Joshua will come to church. Joshua has 2 brothers, Micah is 5, Elijah is 28 months.

Micah is autistic. He is trapped in his own little world. And I can imagine that it is very hard on the entire family. But I wonder how it is on Joshua, a very smart, perceptive little boy. He, of course, knows what is going on. But for him to grow up with his brother different from him, has got to be hard. And Elijah is just too young to play with Joshua. But Joshua can't play video games or just sit down and play with Micah.

I had to pick up PJ the other day. Micah was outside playing in the rocks, so I approached slowly, turned off the car, closed and LOCKED the doors (he will get in). He was crying and screaming, ran in the house, screamed some more, slammed the door right as I was entering, would not let me in the house, and screamed some more. I finally wedged my way in, and he pushed me. Not hard, just unexpectedly.

Mom apologized to me about it, he started school, and it is stressful for him, he is not sleeping, and he was really wanting a nap.

I feel sorry for this family. He is a contractor, self employeed, she is a stay at home mom, no insurance. So there is no help for him.

They can't afford to shop just for him. I know that if you start changing the diet that will help some. Vitamins and natural stuff helps too. But when you have more than one child, it makes it difficult. The others don't want to eat the non processed stuff, and the child looks as if he is being singled out. Damn if you do, damned if you don't.

There was a little boy at the church that we attended, and only child. He was autistic. His obsession was drums, he loved them. But when the parents found out that he was autistic, they started doing research on what to do to help him. They looked into what the insurance would cover, and where they had to go to get him help.

They eventually had to travel to Richmond VA to a specialist. And they found out that they needed to change his diet completely. They also realized that the chances of him having autism increased when he got his vaccinations.

His cholestrol was sky high for a 4 year old. So out goes the eggs, the flour, the processed foods. Everything! Change the way they cooked. Everything! But ya know what, it helped. The screaming stopped, the obsession stopped, the language skills were coming in. They worked with him everyday, they took the time with him to do things with him to help him.

It is sad that the people that don't have insurance can't help their child. It is sad that the Government helps other countries, but they fail to see the need in their backyard. It is sad for parents that can't help their chld, and they have to spend their life savings to help them. It is not fair that people can't afford to help their children escape that very delicate world they are in.

We have come so far

I am at that stage in my life that I look back and see how far we have come in life.
When we got married in 1990, we rented a little apt for $325 a month. One bedroom, one bath, not nearly enough room for 2 people. But it worked out for a while and we saved enough to move into a two bedroom. It was much nicer.
We also came into our marriage with 2 cars and 2 car payments. Our payments combined were somewhere a little over $500 a month. That hurt too, considering we had other bills too. We struggled for a long time.
We had some serious financial trouble after Eric was born. We accumulated some major hospital bills with him, and he was sick all the time. So that required me to be out of work a lot. That hurt. And money just wasn't there .
We had this one car, 93 thunderbird, I loved that car. And while driving home one day, I had a head gasket blow out on me. So that reduced us to one car, the Toyota Tercel (blogged about it earlier, Johanna got a chuckle out of it). That was the only car we had for a long time. It wasn't too bad, we worked different schedules and it worked out pretty good. We got the red tercel for $900 tax and all. It worked, that was all that mattered to us.
My poor little tercel finally got traded for something else and someone eventually wrecked it. We have had several cars over the years, and I finally ended up a car that I am really happy with. A 2004 VW Jetta. I love my little car, I had to put work into before we left for vacation, but I am really happy with it. It has everything in it that I prefer to have.
Chuck went out a few years ago, with him driving very far everyday I wanted him to be safe. I wanted him to have a car that he would be happy with. I told him to go out and buy whatever you want. He came home with a Honda Accord fully loaded, V6. Great car, of course it is, it is a HONDA. We took that on vacation and it was basically Chuck's car. I love my Jetta.
Well, the lease was coming up on the Honda in about 6 months. At that point Chuck would have to make a decision on whether to refinance the Honda for another 3 years, or to trade.
We looked at minivans last weekend. I really liked the Toyota Sienna, but the price of it was outrageous! It was too much money for a van. Now, it had everything you could ask for... dvd, video outlets, wireless headset, you name it, it had it. And the room was wonderful. But we only needed the room for vacations and a few times a year. Other than that, we really didn't need a minivan.
Chuck spotted something on the Toyota lot a few weeks ago. Loved it right away. And it was in our price range.

Perfect? Well, it was small, 2 door, hatch back. Well, we can rent something to go on vacation in, or take 2 cars, right? Right!
This is what he comes home in on Saturday afternoon

after working a deal like no other deal.
In the long run, it will cost about $2000 more than what the Honda would have cost us. I think I would much rather have this for $2000 more than a Honda. It is red, it is sleek and it is fast, 6 sp manual transmission.
I like it!
Now I do like the new kitchenaid stuff that my Lisa is getting, and I will be requesting a new mixer for Christmas. But I am responsible enough to really enjoy this car, old enough to know exactly how to drive it. Young enough to still be able to get in and out of it.
I was sitting in it the other night and I was crying. To see how far we have come in life. I couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe that a Mercedes is now sitting in my driveway.
Ok, I just had to brag a little bit!

Just one more day

I sat at my desk on a bleary Sept morning reading the Sunday paper. I pulled out the Parade magazine and noticed the cover, "If you had just one more day...." MItch Albom's new book For One More Day.
So, being the reader that I am, I decided to read that one article. I am glad that I did. After reading the article the thoughts went rushing through my head. What would I do with a person, who would it be, how would I feel? All these things went through my head. And then I looked at the calendar, Sept 18, wow, this came out on Sept 17. The day that my mom died 39 years earlier.
So, I knew who I would want to spend one more day with. Now what would I do? How would I spend my little bit of time with her? It took a lot of thought, and so very many tears, but I came up with everything. And for me to sit here and do this is hard not to tear up. But I wanted to share, maybe because I wanted it somewhere.
I would probably not sleep, so I would be up waiting, nervous, but excited too. She wouldn't have to worry about knocking on the door, because I would be outside waiting for her arrival.
As soon as she got there, I would hug her and hold her not wanting to turn loose. She would wipe the tears away my tears, just to see the joy in my eyes to have the chance to hold her once more.
I would have tea ready and maybe something that I made. I would sit her at the kitchen table, because in our house, that is where the best conversations have taken place. I would let her know how much I have missed her and how much has happened in my life since she has been gone. I would still have the tears in my eyes,because of the moment in my life that would be happening to me.
I would tell her all about my family now, tell her how happy I am, tell her all about Chuck and the boys. They would, of course meet her, talk to her, be able to touch and hug her.
I would show her all the stuff that I have learned how to do, show her the things that I have made. Then I would have her bake and cook with me, just like mother and daughter should.
I would listen to her stories of when she was a little, what was it like growing up in Brooklyn, the many stories of her and my dad. I have heard the one side, I would want to hear the other side too. I would love to know all about school, high school days, college days, life as she saw it. I wouldn't waste it on any of the bad things that I do know about her. For this is not this time, it is my time to enjoy the good things that I didn't have a chance to know about with her.
I would sit and watch the clock. Knowing that the time is approaching for her to leave me again. But I know that I still have time to spend with her. And there wouldn't be a minute wasted. I would cherish each second, knowing that before I know it, she would be gone.
I don't believe I would leave the house. I believe that we would sit there, no tv on, no phones ringing, no radio in the background. Just the sound of the boys playing, her breathing like she never left, and those awkward silences. To just treasure the thought that I have her for one more day.
I can feel my heart dropping as I think of the time that she has to go. And it is now that time, for her to put her cup in the sink, for her to turn around and say good bye forever. I hold her and pray that I don't have to let go. I hug and weep, I look at her, and hug again, never wanting to let go. But I have to, because it is time to leave again. This time is forever, no more second chances to say what if. I lose her again in life. The second time is hardest.
Cherish all those moments in life. Yes, my mother was not a good woman. She was violent and mean to people. But this was about me missing her so much as a MOM! I missed out, but if I had just one more day I know exactly how it would be spent, and with whom it would be spent. I wouldn't waste time, but take every second as a gift from God.
Who would you spend that one more day with? What would you do? I know what one of my friends would do. But what would do, would you spend it absorbing every word, every minute, every breathe. What would you say? What kind of emotions would well up inside of you?
For me, it would be very emotional. I know I we will never get one more day with the person that has passed on, or the ones that lay in a nursing home, we will never have that chance. But I know what I would do, I wouldn't take advantage of the moment.
I don't live everyday like it is my last,but I know that if something happened to either one of my boys or to Chuck tomorrow, I would have no regrets. I would miss them terribly. But I would know that I was the best wife, mother and person to them.
I can only pray for one more day...........

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The final installment of vacation memories

Thank goodness this is the last vacation blog! There was so much to say that I just couldn't put it in one blog. It would be way too long, and y'all would get bored reading it like that. Not saying that you haven't gotten bored yet! But you know what I mean.

Friday was to be a restful day. We didn't look for anything much to do, but did decide to head to the west end of the island. For the most part the west end of the island is deserted. This is where the oil rig washed up to shore after Hurricane Katrina. They have it sectioned off, you can walk it if you like, but there is no parking any where close to it. So we just decided to walk a little bit of the beach on the west end where we could park.

There is a walkover right where parking starts again. The roads down that end are still covered with sand, so the walk to get to the beach is a rough, sandy walk. We finally get over and the water is NOT calm like it was that one day. Rather choppy I would have to say. The boys had fun with a bucket and sand. They dug, made some kind of castle stuff, and made canals. So, they were wet and sandy with NO towels and leather seats in the car.

Chuck dug in the water for whatever he could find. Everytime we have been to the beach, he has always found something live. He did have his hands on a crab, the wrong way.... pinch, pinch, pinch. So, he lost that one. But he looked for shells and some minnows. The water was washing in so quickly, he had to get rid of his keys, so I had to hold that and the shells. I didn't get in the water. I wanted to though.

Chuck is soaked, the boys are soaked and covered with sand, we have no towels, and I am dry. What to do???? Well, Chuck said that he and the boys would walk back to the house, it wasn't but a 1/2 mile away. So, I take off and go back to the house. And wait, wait wait.

After about 25 minutes, I take the binoculars and look both ways for police and run across the berm. I don't see them, not at all. So, I go back in the house, wait a little longer. Get in the car and drive to the first walkover, still don't see them. I head back to the house and I wait some more. Get in the car, and head to the furtherest walkover. Not there, well where are they? Head to the other walkover and who do I see, but the 3 stooges! Sure enough here they come. Chuck is sunburnt, PJ climbs as fast as he could over the berm and Eric is just praying to get back to the house in one piece.

Chuck and Eric walked the rest of the way, PJ couldn't take it any longer.I can understand. Walking in that sand hurts my ankles. But I take PJ back and then here come the other 2. Two hours they were down there, no wonder they were sunburnt and tired.

They rested for a little while and we had gone for a ride around when Chuck wanted to see how long of a walk it was for them. It wasn't a 1/2 mile like he thought, it was 2.3 miles. It wasn't a straight shot either. It turned and twisted and in some spots they didn't have much beach to walk on. That was a long walk for them. But I had the sense not to get wet and the sense that I was driving back to the house. Smart mommy!

While Chuck and I were inside resting, the boys were under the house playing in the sand. They loved it. It was fun for them to be outside, not in the sun, and still be able to play in the sand. Chuck went to get them for lunch, and when he got down there, he couldn't believe what he saw. Those 2 had built a canal under the house and had the spigot running to get the water flowing in the canal. They were covered in mud, but they were having a great time.

I had decided to do something with them before we left. Just me and the boys. I wanted to get ice cream, but Eric had different plans. He was just wanting to play, and no matter how much I tried to get him to go with me, he just would't listen to what I was wanting to do with them. So, he went to go play in the sand and PJ and I took off for an hour or more.

I took him shopping and then I took him to get a snowcone. Well, this is not your typical everyday snowcone. This was a 16 oz cup of shaved ice with your choice of flavors. When the woman told me that there was a wait, I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. When I got it, I understood why it took so long to make them. He loved it, got brain freeze and went back for me. We got back, and PJ came inside, "can I share mine with Eric?" That was fine. That was also sweet, knowing that because his brother hurt my feelings, he still wanted to share. Trust me there was plenty there.

Saturday morning brought relief and dread too. I was ready for home, but not ready for work. It was a nice vacation, I would go back again. I didn't get to Gulf Shores. I wanted to, but they changed their minds. So, I didn't do all that I wanted to do. But we are heading to Pigeon Forge for a long weekend before school starts.

We cleaned up, packed up and headed to the house. The time there was wonderful. I loved meeting the nicer people, the bakery was wonderful, the experiences that we had were priceless. It is nice when the boys are young enough to still enjoy the sand, the different things to do, the water and the time to relax.

The ride home took about 7 1/2 hours. Not too bad, we only stopped 3 times on the way home. It was nice to come back to a clean house, a cat that missed us and our own beds.

Vacations are just that, vacations. Time to relax and spend time with the family. The boys were about to kill each other yesterday being home all day long together, they had enough of each other. But we made our lasting memories and the time we had together was great!

Thanks for sharing my vacation memories with me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Thursday Travels

Each day we did something that was a short lived excursion. Only because we were on vacation and we really longed to relax some everyday.
Considering we were leaving Saturday, we generally don't do anything on Friday. So, we hit our last destination on Thursday.
Fort Gaines is located on the Dauphin Island side, Fort Morgan is located on the Gulf Shores side. These 2 forts protected the bay area during the Civil War. Fort Gaines is well preserved and a very interesting tour for that morning.

We toured the Fort first thing in the morning. It was a warm day, and we didn't feel like we wanted to be out in the heat for an extended amount of time. We learned about where the soldiers live and how they lived. We read letters from the soldiers, and read about how one died. The boys were interested in the latrine! Ha ha ha. Go figure! But it was an interesting location where they had it. It faced the shore and when the tide would come in, it would clean it out. Kinda ingenius design.
We stopped off at the bakery, and of course the questions came. So, I had to explain that they heated the brick ovens and put what they needed on a wooden paddle and then closed the steel door. The heat from the brick baked whatever was in there.
We went to hunt out the blacksmith. I thought this would be something that the boys would enjoy seeing. I have seen many before considering I grew up in an area that hosted a large amount of history. But they hadn't had the chance to see anything like a blacksmith. Needless to say, this blacksmith was a master blacksmith. He didn't do this as a hobby anymore, he did it as a job. He started back in 1989 as an apprentice and then moved up. He was pretty good too.
We got in there and his apprentice was making small things like a leaf keyring.

He told us that you have to heat to a certain color of heat. We all know that white heat is the hottest you can get. You don't want to reach that point when working with metal.
So, we are sitting there watching watching the apprentice and the real blacksmith walked in. He was very interesting. And he had a list of things that he was to be making. He was making a barbecue set. Pretty cool. It was a Wizard head turner. I can't explain how the tool worked, but it was neat.

He started to work the head on this thing. And step by step he showed us how the wizard was made. It was really cool to watch this piece of plain metal turn into a piece of art. I was impressed to say the least.

We got done in there and walked around some more to finish our self guided tour. We showed the boys how the bunks were set up, how they slept on hay.

No matter what time of year it was, they slept on hay. Showed them the kitchen area with the huge fireplace and the hook that held the cast iron pots. Of course the latrine was across the courtyard, long walk in the middle of winter.
We saw the commanding officer's quarters too. And we saw that they really didn't live any better than the soldiers did. Yes, his quarters were enclosed better, but he slept on the hay also, and most of his quarters were to store uniforms.
Ok, it may not be interesting to you. But the boys enjoyed going into the tunnels, and down the stairs to a hidden room. To learn about the disappearing guns, and to read about the life that they lived. For them to see that life then was not easy, they didn't live on a huge amount of money. They actually got paid $10 a month. They enjoyed the museum that was there. Eric had already learned about the Confederate money and uniforms this past year. But to show PJ the uniforms, the "funny" money, to show them how the people dressed back then. He saw the bullets and the cannons and cannon balls.
To an 8 year old, this was something different to do.

We headed for lunch and woo hoo! the barbecue place was open! We got sandwiches to go, took them back and ate them. Jordan's in Cleveland is better! But it was something different. Nothing special. Nothing like that bakery!
We went back and just sat around and rested the rest of the afternoon.
One more day to go, hold on..... I am just about done!

Wednesday and our 3 hour boat tour

When I did my research about Dauphin Island, I found a nice thing to do that all of the family could do. It was a 3 hour tour of the gulf and the surrounding area on a boat ride.
Before going on the boat ride, we decided to hit the public beach. As we were walking to the beach, Eric tripped over this huge rock. I don't know how he didn't see it was beyond me. All I heard was "oof" and there he is face down in the sand. This beautiful girl in a 2 piece walked by him and as sweet as could be asked him if he was ok. He never got embarrassed, never turned red, never even looked at the girl either!
The water was so calm that afternoon, it was perfect. Too bad we had other plans. And as I look back now, that was the only day that the water was that calm. It was great. I would have loved to have sat on the beach all day that day and enjoy the time out there.

We decided to take this ride on a boat called The Duke. It was a very interesting tour. At first we toured close to the island and spotted a sailboat that didn't quite make it back to shore. Apparently the owner didn't know how to read the charts, and for 2 weeks it has been mostly under water.
We were heading to the Sand Island Lighthouse, but we hit some really rough weather, so he decided that it would not be a smart idea to go over there. So, I missed out on this trip with the lighthouse. It is okay, we still got to see the Exxon Mobil oil rig, and we watched the people on the rig taking pics of us as we were taking pics of them.

He took us all through the Mississippi Sound showing us around the island. We went under the bridge that connects the island to the mainland. The boys were really impressed that we went under there to get to the west side of the island.

At one point the captain threw the nets over and he dragged them for about 30 minutes. He pulled up the nets and there were all kinds of fish and sea creatures in the nets. He had to pull out the "pinchy" stuff before we got to pet or pick up anything. There was a ribbon eel in the net, and if he left that thing in there it would have eaten the other fish and bitten us in the process. He removed 2 catfish, the barbs from the stingrays, and removed the larger crabs. We he got done, we got to see all that was in the touch tank.

The boys enjoyed picking up the fish, touching the stingrays, watching the puff fish puff, picking up the squid, and collecting the sand dollars. After a while, the fish started dying off, so they had to be thrown back for a meal for the other fish. There was a woman there collecting the dead fish. She was gonna freeze them for the family. Why? I don't know. It was kinda weird to me, but she was a know it all, and she knew what she was doing.

That was enough for us for the day.

We came back and attempted to start that cheap grill again! With the wind blowing and the humidity in the air. I do believe that was the chore of the week with that thing!
Stay tuned, I am almost done!

Monday, June 11, 2007

New experiences on Tuesday

Tuesday did bring some new experiences for us.

We started out the day going to the Sea Lab (The Estuarium) Do you remember what an estuary is? If not, this is where fresh water flowes into salt water. For me it was very interesting. We saw all kinds of fish and creatures that live in the Mobile Bay and Delta area. It is a small Sea Lab, actually, it is a lab. This is where students from Universities come to study the area. There is a charge, but the money goes towards research. We went through once, and Eric spotted the woman getting ready to feed the 3 big tanks. So, we went back through to watch the feeding frenzy. Of course for the turtles and the smaller fish, it is smaller pieces of food. But for the green eel, it is an entire sardine. The girl stopped before going to feed the last tank to show the kids exactly what they feed the larger fish. So, we watched this green eel take an entire small fish and destroy it. PJ was impressed!

We left there and walked around a bit. Found out that the largest oil rig is Exxon Mobil owned. Eric had the binoculars and he couldn't believe the size of that thing!

We drove down to the furtherst eastern end of the island. We saw people fishing off the jetty. And we spotted the Sand Island lighthouse. It is a ways out there, interesting little story about that lighthouse. If you are interested in it, you can Google it. I don't know the entire story. I do know that they are trying to restore it now. I do believe that during the Civil War they tried to destroy it. But I don't know all of it. We planned on taking the 3 hour cruise Wednesday to see the lighthouse, dolphins, pelicans, and fish.

I was hungry. We wanted to go to the barbecue place, guess what.... they are closed. People close different days around here. Anyways, we looked at the golf course, we were told it was a great place to eat. Far out there in the middle of no where. But it was full of old men holding beers. We didn't know if it was a place for the boys. So we drive around looking for something else. Ok, so we run upon a hole in the wall. Pelican Pub and Grill, not what I thought for the boys. We go in, look around, realized it was ok for all of us. It was kinda cute. Zip up windows, eating on the canal, eating on your boat too. Not a bad idea. And the pub was upstairs, and not opened yet.

The tables came equipped with packaged plastic ware, paper towels on a roll, and crackers in a plastic bowl, not my style, but it was food, and I was hungry and the boys were famished! And we were on vacation, what the heck, try something different.

We order our drinks. Styrofoam cups, no glasses. Lunch comes to the table in paper boats, and plastic bowls lined with paper. Not my style, hole in the wall, but it was lunch.

Eric ordered the shrimp plate, PJ ordered chicken fingers (go figure), and we split the Seafood platter, shrimp, oysters and fish. We could have had it fried, grilled or blackened. Considering I don't eat all that much fried stuff anymore, I went with the grilled. Chuck looked at me, mmmmm grilled oysters. Oh no! what did I do????

Lunch comes, everything looks really good. Homemade tartar sauce, outstanding cocktail sauce, and PJ had a great homemade ranch for his chicken fingers. Now is the moment of truth. I never had oysters in my life, so let's see what I am gonna be trying. Not bad, no, not bad at all. Actually pretty good. Suprisingly good. Doesn't mean that I would eat them on the half shell, but grilled or fried, sure, why not. Now, this is funny.... PJ looks over, "Whatcha got there?" And we told him what it was and asked if he wanted to try it. Sure nuff, he came over and tried it, and loved them! My son doesn't like my lasagna, he loved the oysters. Now, Eric wasn't so sure about all of this, and he did try it. The look on his face was priceless. I thought that PJ would be the one to spit it out, and Eric be the one to enjoy them. Nope, quite the opposite. In the end, we all had a good lunch, it was not the nicest place in the world, but the food was better than what I thought it would have been.

When we got back, we rested for a while and then Eric and I took off to the little specialty stores. You know that kind, junk, tee shirts, souveniers. Nothing special. But there was one store that stood out to me. Marti's. A nice little store, she didn't have any junk there. Clothes, bags, collectibles, things like that. She was as sweet as could be, and so very pleasant. Of course I had to go back with PJ.

The island didn't have all that much on it. An "everything" store, few restaurants, bakery and the souvenier stores, and 2 seafood marts that only sell shrimp, crabs, oysters, flounder and crawfish. The grouper and snapper are regulated by the feds in that area. We thought that they sold it to restaurants and industry. Nope, the fish are tagged with GPS. Other than that, nothing. They are building a lot of condos, and they really don't have the stuff in the area to support the tourism that they are trying to bring in. Maybe they like it like that , I didn't mind. It was something different

We sat on the porch nearly everyday, watched the shrimp boats drag their nets, making their money. We watched the dolphins behind the boats getting the leftovers.It was neat to see the 4, 5 or 6 following behind the nets. First time spotting them that day.

Later that day we decided to let Eric walk the beach alone. Now mind you, we can't see him. But we let him go. What was I thinking??? Here I am trying not to bite the nails that I was trying to grow out, fixing to chew down to a nub. Letting my son have some kind of independence. How dare I trust my son???? And as soon as Chuck gets up to go and looks for him, who comes walking over the berm... Eric! Ha Ha Ha.

That evening I was looking over the porch. Now for the past several days I had wondered what in the world were all these holes for in the sand. I had no clue of what they were. I originally thought that it was some kind of bird. Being from NJ, I have seen sand crabs, but not like this! The sand crabs were digging holes in the sand for their homes. I have never seen anything like this before, so of course I was fascinated. Simple things please simple minds! Ha ha. But I did think it was quite interesting the way that they came up from the bottom to build the burrow. I actually saw a spot where one was picked up in the middle of the day by a seagull. I noticed them all at night. They would come out and eat and go back in. There was one that was under the house that was huge. Chuck and I would watch it come out and walk around a bit. I honestly thought that the prints in the sand was from birds. Nope, those crabs are all ove the place at night!

The end of another peaceful, enjoyable and relaxing day. This place is kinda nice.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Monday, Monday.... part 3

Eric and I decided to take a ride, just to go to the Chamber of Commerce to get some information on where to go and what to see. I called to find out where they were located. He told me and Eric and I ventured out.
I go to the building where he told me. Locked, no trespassing signs on it, pad locked on another door. This can't be right. So, I drive around the block, stop at the post office and had Eric run in and ask. Well, once again, someone was hateful towards one of us. She told him that the it was next door, in a short tone. I drove through the parking lot again, and I noticed that the doors were locked and that there were signs posted all over the building. But nothing. So, I went back to the post office and I spotted some people that were heading in. I had asked them if they were from the area and do they know where the Chamber of Commerce was at. And they pointed to that building next to the post office. They also suggested to go to the Welcome Center.
I head over there to the Welcome Center, they are open Weds through Sat. Great, this is MONDAY. And this is not a very welcome place. So, I called the Chamber of Commerce again! And I got the guy that I was talking with earlier that day. I asked him where can I get some information about the island, and that the Welcome Center was closed and I really would like to have something to do. Well, he started telling me that I was hateful, was I a realtor, who exactly was I. So, of course I told him that I was vacationing and that if I don't find one person that is somewhat nice to any of us, there would be one less family coming to the island for vacation. He informed me that he was on a bike and would open the Welcome Center for me. Turns out it was open because there was an election going on the next day. The woman in the center was very nice, gave me crayons for the boys and coloring books too. Told me all about the things going on the island, what to do, where to go, and what you need to see. That was nice of her.
We ventured out some more and found these Goat Trees, curiousity just set in. I had to see what they were. They are these huge trees that the wild goats would sit in the trees and cover with the swamp moss to protect them from the salt water crocs.

We went to the pier. It is a public pier open 24 hours. People use it for fishing and for sight seeing. Chuck took off with PJ to the bathroom, while they were gone, I stood there and watched a crane fly up to the pier, land and grab a fish for lunch. It was so awesome to see something like that. I enjoyed that. I looked over the pier at the sandbar, saw some more birds, and the same crane. Seems like it was protecting its area.

I didn't see much caught while there, but as we were leaving, the little old man caught a catfish. Never saw a salt water catfish, but it looks the same as the fresh water ones.

Eventually all of us went to the Audabon Society Bird Sanctuary. It thundered off shore, so we thought that we were gonna be ok. It was humid in the woods, the mosquitos were out, and there wasn't one bird to be seen. Chuck was getting eaten alive and it started to rain, so we had to get out of there. I don't think that we missed very much. I know that the alligators were not out that day.

We got to the car just in time, it started to storm. And you would figure that since you are on an island in the month of June, when the weather is hot, that the storm would be a warmer storm. Nope, cold, cold, cold. Cold hard rain, cold breeze, cold temperatures. It was nasty. But Chuck and I decided to go for a walk.
The first attempt to a walk brought on this : Where are you going? Where are you going? WHERE ARE YOU GOING? from PJ shouting out the door. We didn't get very far.
Tried it again, I told the boys we were going for a walk and would be back in a little while. It poured down on us, we walked to the nearest walkover, head down to the beach, and walked. Watched the water crash on the shore, looked for shells (I love shells), and held hands. It was nice, nice and cold that is. Now you aren't supposed to cross over the berm. There is a sign when you hit the one part of the island, $500 fine. Yeah, that is a joke! We crossed over and walked back, in the pouring rain on the pavement. But it was nice to spend some time alone.We really didn't realized how far we walked until we went for a ride the next morning when we hit the beach at 7am.

After it rained a rainbow appeared over the Gulf. It was so pretty. I had never seen the end of a rainbow, but this time I did. Right in front of the house, there it was, this beautiful rainbow. It was a nice ending to a nasty, cold day.

Vacation times, part 2. Sunday

It is so smart to talk to the locals about good places to eat. Even though most of the people there don't live on the island, they live somewhere in Alabama, but they know where to go when they want something to eat. So in talking to the cleaning ladies and the man that lives in the house in front of us, we found some places to eat.
Sunday morning we found the quaint little bakery in the area. It was a lovely little bakery. They opened at 9, 10 our time, so by the time we got there we were a little hungry. We got there about 10 minutes early, and there was already 5 people in front of us. See, we had heard that they have omelets on Sunday mornings and we wanted to try some.
We get in line and drool over all the pasteries in the glass case. Everything looked so good! But we stuck with our plan, omelets for us and some really good sticky buns. We get up there and order the crabmeat omelet and the sausage omelet. They come with mushrooms, peppers, onions and choice of cheese.
We ordered, and find a place to sit. They had several little tables, and only 2 larger ones. Well, there was a couple that didn't want to sit in the sun, so they took the table for 6. We had no place to sit, but they were so sweet, they let us sit with them. That was so nice of them.I had whispered to Eric that he needed to chew with his mouth shut, well, Chuck nearly came across the table because once again, it was wide open. We enjoyed the conversation with them. Our food comes and the omelets are fluffy and huge. We split the 2 between us and split the 2 different kind of sticky buns. They were to die for! We had the best breakfast. It was something that we never had done before, to eat at, basically, a specialty store. It was so worth the money and the calories.
We decided to risk another visit to the Walmart, it wasn't as far as we thought it was. We thought that a pair of binoculars would come in handy, we always forget the cheap pair that we have. So we invested in a good pair, finally! And it was a good investment. I am so glad we did, because we got to see the unsightly oil rigs, the pelicans diving into the water, the shrimp boats going by the house.
One the way back from Walmart, we stopped at Skinner's Seafood Market, locally owned and operated. And they have their own boats too. We decided to get some really large shrimp, they had their heads on them still, so they had to come off. We wanted them steamed, so while we were waiting, PJ spotted the crawfish. He asked about it, and she showed him what to do. I never thought a day in my life that he would like them, but he did. And he bought a 2 lb bag of them. He loved them, chowed down on them at lunch time. Begged for more to snack on.

We were sitting on the deck that afternoon, just relaxing, and we heard a dog yelping. At first thought, there was a dog fight, for there were 4 dogs a few houses down. Come to find out, the black lab fell off the deck, 2 stories high. He fell down to the sand, with some lumber around the bottom.We watched them to make a make shift splint and take him away. As we were walking by to go to the beach, remember, no walkover, we asked about the dog. Thankfully, it was only a dislocated elbow.
We went to the beach for a little while that evening. Relaxed and realized that day 2 went much better than when we arrived. And we also realized that we kinda liked that little island. And that we were there for the week, so we needed to enjoy the time there.

More to come later.....

Vacation part 1

Driving to Dauphin Island was more than a long ride. It was more like a roller coaster rider. Don't get me wrong, Chuck is an excellent driver. But when you are on a 2 lane interstate and you have one trying to outslow the other, we have a problem. Chuck wanted around them BADLY! So he got around one, trying to push the other down the road. He gets them to move, go around and nearly gets closed in. He zoomed around the one, flies up on another, nearly gets closed in and doing 110 zooms into the other lane. I am holding on for dear life, about to lose the Cracker Barrel breakfast I had about 2 hours ago. I survived, I think, until we go to the last Walmart at the end of the earth.
OK that was a little much to call that Walmart the end of the earth. But when it is the last Walmart before you get to Dauphin Island, Pensacola, Pascagoula and Gulf Shores, it is close enough to the end of the earth. So don't you know that place was packed out! I will never complain about my little hometown Walmart again! It was THAT bad. People from all over the US were there, not including the people from the area. And then there were the people on food stamps, it was the first of the month. I had to hold PJ's hand the entire time. People weren't looking, they were just running everyone over. Especially the ones that are considered handicapped and they are in the motorized wheelchair.
Thankfully we got out of there alive! Got on our way, crossed over these bridges, long bridges, very high bridges, and some places not very far above the water. I just sat back and dealt with the spinning, swirling water. OK, it wasn't doing that, but I don't like to be on bridges.
We finally got to our destination, early, but we got there.
The maids were still cleaning.

But they let us in the house to put up the stuff that needed to be cold. Chuck and I made our lunches, and PJ's first words were, "Can I play in the sand?"

The sand that was right in front of the house. The sand that the house sits on too. There is a berm, a man made sand dune, but no walkover! Got a little frustrated to know that there wasn't a walkover and that there wasn't much to do there. No restaurants to eat at either.
OK, so we have dinner, now what. No grill. Called the Family Dollar and ended up driving about 45 minutes to get to the Family Dollar. Got the grill and charcoal in a bag. Found a little local chain grocery store, next time, go there and not that horrible Walmart. Nice little store, they had everything that we needed.
Drove through this little town, Bayou La Batre, Forrest Gump's home town. It is not pronounced like it it spelled. More like Bye La Batrey. Found that out from the old man that lived in the house in front of us.
Got more frustrated, need a parking permit. Had to find the Police station for that. Chuck and Eric go out to get that. Two patrol cars for the area, glad to know they don't have any problems there. And they operate out of a double wide. Chuck asked about the streets and the officer got hateful. Found out the streets are in ABC order. We didn't know! Granted we found our house, but to find anything else, we didn't know what to do
It was so windy, why you may ask..... Tropical Storm Barry was in the Gulf. Great! It was moving to Florida. They told us not to go over the berm, how was I supposed to get over the thing anyway? No walkover! Plus it is a $500 fine if caught walking over it.
Let the fun begin. Tried to get the cheap grill going with the wind blowing like it was, 30 mph winds. Yeah, that wasn't gonna work. Tried to cook hotdogs in a storm. They got done, but it took forever to get done. I do believe at this time, Chuck was about to pack up and go to Destin.
The oil rigs are unsightly,

the wind blows constantly, people are not nice at all to tourist, and we were tired.....
More to follow!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Trying to make my yard look better, some hurt feelings too.

Ok, I am not a landscaper. I don't claim to be. I don't even claim to like yard work. Nope, hate the thought that I need to work in the yard. I always seem to be the one that trims the hedges or out there doing the work. Chuck always says that he will get around to it, I end up doing it. Two years ago I got tired of looking at the huge shrubs out of control in front of my lovely window. So, I got the idea that I can run the electric hedge trimmer. So, I got some done, and I have the trimmer in my left hand, and I laid my fingers on the running trimmer. I walked away with some major cut fingers. And a slap on the wrist not to run it again.
Before I did anything:

This past weekend I got tired of looking at the shrubs again, and I got the trimmer out and started cutting. All digits intact! But the shrubs were so high, that I strained my back. I was laid up for 2 days, not walking straight, but I got it done! Not all of it though, I am so short that I couldn't get all the way in the back by my lovely window. Oh well, I will have to tackle that when I get back from vacation.
Also, in my front yard is my bedroom window. We have been at this house for nearly 7 years, and I am just now starting to do something in the front. So the little bit in the front needed some help.
It was desperate for some attention. So, I bought some dwarf nandinas and decided that I was gonna plant them. I go out there and the dirt is so hard that I have to use both feet on the shovel, and it still doesn't move! Ok, try somewhere else, in the end, I got done. I mulched up what I did, and now I am looking for a border for the front. I think it looks nice after I got done:

So, I showed my neighbor. The lazy neighbor that is. Her husband does all the yard work. And it is a perfectly manicured yard. Not a piece of mulch out of place. That is how it is. It is a nice yard, but I don't have that kind of time.
Now mind you, I am trying to do this yard work stuff. So I decided to show her. I know her, if she doesnt' say anything, she doesn't think it looks good. She didn't say anything at all. Didn't mention it, just looked and walked on. Ok, it is not the best, but tell me what I did wrong. Tell me what I need. I may need a landscaper! But I am trying, don't put me down because I am making an effort.
Oh well. I tried. I will do more. I am looking for suggestions. I got some wonderful ones from someone already. But I am willing to do something different in the yard. It will look nice. I am willing to put the work into the yard and say that I did it myself.
At least I will be able to say that I did it myself. And at least I know that I am not lazy to the point that I have to tell my husband that he has to do the yard work. I would love to have a landscaper, but that is not in the cards. So, BHG comes in handy!