31 March 2012

Stationery card

He Is Risen Easter Card
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23 March 2012

Spring has arrived!

I am so excited! Spring has arrived!

There is green emerging from the brown and tan blandness that is winter in the desert! Trees are in bloom with beautiful pinks; tender green shoots are emerging from the ground and on bushes. The spring winds have arrived to blow away the cold and dreariness of winter. I love it!

Of course, we are in the mountains, and I wouldn't discount snow completely until May, but the fact remains that things are in bloom and turning green around here! I can't wait until all the trees are in bloom and the air is filled with the sweet scent of blossoms.

I don't have any pictures of this newness of spring yet, so I'll leave you with some pics of the kids playing outside last week. We had beautiful, sunny weather with temps in the 60's and 70's! It was wonderful!

22 March 2012

Photo Books

I found a way to share my Shutterfly photo books on my blog! Yay for me and Shutterfly! You can now click on the following links, where there is a correlating photo book that you can view in the post. I can't tell you how excited I am about this! :D

Dreams Do Come True - the story of Protector and I's courtship and wedding

Christmas Vacation in Florida 2008

2011 Year in Review

More to come later!

Christmas Vacation in Florida 2008

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Dreams Do Come True

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You'll love Shutterfly's award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Sophia RoseEllen

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Shutterfly photo books offer a wide range of artful designs and embellishments to choose from.

Edward 1st 6 mo

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Daphne 1st 6 mo

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Turn your favorite photos into a photo book at Shutterfly.com.

2011 in Review

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Create a gorgeous, high quality wedding photo album at Shutterfly.com.

The finished product

I did say that I would post pictures of my new haircut, and here they are. :) Enjoy!


The braid to be donated

After pic from the back

All done! Thank you Karen!
Now I just need to learn how to style my hair! Seriously, I'm so clueless . . . I don't even own any hairspray or styling gel . . . Anyone have any tips, suggestions, ideas, etc?

20 March 2012

What have I done??

Well, actually, I rather like it. It's a nice refreshing change.

Change can be good. Especially when the motivation for change is to help others.

I decided, sort of on a whim, to do something big. A big, big change. To help someone else out. I have no idea who that person is, but I know they will be greatly helped. My sweet friend Karen was over hanging out, and so we decided to get started with this change - she was so great at helping me out.

I think it will definitely take some getting used to. It's been years and years, over a decade really, since I've done this kind of thing. It feels good though! Like a fresh start. Out with the old, in with the new.

I was on the phone when Mike got home from work, so he found the evidence and he was pretty shocked, to say the least. He brought it to me with this questioning look on his face. Of course, I couldn't answer his questions at the immediate time because I was on the phone. So his curiosity had to wait to be quenched. I thought the suspense was a nice touch.

I don't think the lasting effect will hit me until later tonight or tomorrow. Or maybe next week. We'll see.

I'm sure by now your curiosity is quite piqued, so I'll just leave you with this little hint. I'll post more pics of the finished result, as well as before and after pics of the project tomorrow (or later this week). :)

This baby is on its' way to Locks of Love to help another lady out. And yes, that's 10 inches of hair.

18 March 2012

Not this time

Do you remember that post that I wrote recently about my wonderful husband going on an extended TDY fairly soon? Well, scratch all those plans. The Air Force has changed its' mind. Or rather the host country changed the Air Force's mind. At any rate, it was canceled. Yay!

This is exactly why I don't worry about Mike leaving until the plane is off the ground, and he is on it. You just never know what can happen.

The military is a dynamic force, in that things are always changing. In some ways, the military is like the body and homeostasis - always changing, but always trying to get to a normalized, central place. It's a system of systems, not too unlike the system of systems in the human body.

Yes, I just compared our armed fighting force to the human body. Go with me on this.

The human body is made of up multiple systems that have specific functions. Each system is made up of numerous parts and each part is made up of smaller parts, all the way down to the cellular level. And even cells are made of up a sum of different parts and each have a specific function to carry out.

The military is not so different from this. The military is made of different forces: air force, army, navy, marines. Each force has units (wings and directorates in our case) that is made up of smaller forces (squadrons in our case). Each squadron is made of up airmen. Each airman, squadron and wing has a specific function to carry out. They all work together for the greater good.

In the body, physiologically speaking, the systems are always trying to maintain homeostasis. Things are always changing though, always in flux. You get sick, the body sends in antibodies, etc to attack the illness, you get better. Homeostasis achieved. This happens on so many different levels and in different ways all the time: chemically, biologically, etc, etc.

In the military, we are always trying to accomplish goals and meets ends that are at completion summed up in one word: peace. Ultimately the goal of the military is to maintain a peacetime environment. Obviously we are not there right now, but we have been working towards that goal since we started. Homeostasis.

Well, I must say I didn't see a physiology lesson coming when I started writing this blog. It's late at night though, and my mind often travels to weird places late at night . . . Hopefully the information I gave you is accurate, physiologically speaking. It's been years since I took A&P. :)

Good night all!

Thoughts on storms

Mike and I have been watching the Discovery channel's Storm Chasers show now and then, when we have a chance.

It really isn't that often because Mike has been in school and he does all his class work at night after the kids go to bed. That's also the time that we watch stuff together or hang out together, so when he has school, priorities get shifted around.

Anyway, he's had a break this week, so we were back to watching the show and finished the first season last night. We also have gone to see the "Tornado" special in IMAX, which is what the Discovery show is about - the making of that IMAX film. It's pretty neat.

These storm chasers on the show actually go and chase tornadoes all over the midwest to get footage and try to collect meteorological data to learn more about how tornadoes work and how they form and how they do the damage that they do. Before I had a dream of being a nurse, I had a dream of being a meteorologist (little known fact about me), so this is really fascinating and exciting to me.

Coincidentally, watching this show really makes me miss Oklahoma. Some might consider my mental stability a little shaky knowing that, but if you're from Oklahoma, then I know you understand. :)

This morning on the way to church, as the New Mexico wind was blowing dust up into the air about 10,000 feet, making for poor visibility and lots of tumbleweeds, we were discussing severe weather.

We both agree that New Mexico storms are tame at best when compared to Oklahoma storms. Or storms in the Great Plains, from Texas to the Dakotas. I did vouch for Florida having the worst lightening though . . . so I got to reminiscing about storms that I've lived through that made memorable impressions upon me.

My first spring in Oklahoma there were a few memorable storms. This was back when I was meteorologically illiterate. Not that I'm an expert by any means now, but back then I was very naive.

There was a time I was leaving my job at Spaghetti Warehouse (this is waaayyyy back over ten years ago) and I was driving west on a small street in Bricktown, near downtown Oklahoma City. In front of me there was a wall of rain moving in with the approaching storm. Now a wall of rain is not new to me. I've seen rain move in before, even been caught out in it once in a field at the farm I worked at when I was a teenager in Virginia. This wall of rain however, was ferocious. At the time I owned a GMC half ton truck, not a small truck. When that wall of rain hit my truck, and I happened to be at a stop sign watching it come in, it slammed down on the hood on my truck like someone had taken a stack of bricks and dropped it on my front of my hood. I wasn't scared before, but after that I was. "What the heck kind of rain is this??" was my line of thinking. I made it home in the torrential downpour, oblivious to any kind of tornado danger. I did wonder why there were so many people pulled over on the side of the highway . . . they obviously knew something I didn't.

Later that same season, I was at work, again at Spaghetti Warehouse, and a storm had moved in. In Bricktown, Spaghetti Warehouse is located inside of an early 1900's, three story brick building. The entrance is a set of double doors, and above the doors is a plate glass window. Between the entrance and the actual dining room, which is through another set of double doors, is a large lobby area, with the bar on one side. I happened to be walking through the lobby area to the dining room and all of a sudden a huge guest of wind blew both sets of doors open and blew the plate glass window out, sending it sliding across the lobby floor right in front of me. I froze, terrified, looking at the shattered glass and broken wood frame that lay at my feet and the doors swinging in the wind. I very quickly turned around and went back to the kitchen, lest any more windows that lined the lobby should be blown out. Again, I had no idea what so ever of the possibility of a tornado.

Same season, a storm knocked out all the power in Bricktown, leaving the diners at Spaghetti Warehouse completely in the dark. There are no windows in the dining room, so they were completely in the dark. We had candles, so they were lit and everyone's meal was on the house. I made over $100 in tips those two hours. A nice perk.

A few years later, I was working at the OU Health Sciences Center, about a mile from Bricktown, in Oklahoma City. Right about 5pm, when it was time to go home, the OUHSC police department (University police) said that everyone needed to take shelter from the storm and should wait it out before heading home. I decided to heed said advice and proceeded very quickly to the tunnel connecting our building to the building next door. (There's actually a series of tunnels at the OUHSC campus, you can go 2 city blocks without going outside - it's a pretty neat maze of tunnels.) You should know that whenever there is severe weather in the metro area, the local news stations take over the TV and radio programming so they can warn citizens of the danger. Naturally, we were all listening to the radio as what turned out to be an EF-4 tornado raked across southeastern Oklahoma City. At the time, I happened to live in southeastern Oklahoma City, so this was particularly worrisome to me. On the radio, they call out street names as the tornado is approaching so people can seek shelter and/or get out of the way. They were calling streets that were within blocks of my house! I was very seriously worried that I would not have a home to go home too. That ended up not being the case for me, the worst we got was some minor tree debris in our yard. Others were not so fortunate. I think that the tornado that hit the GM power plant about a mile and a half from where I lived.

I have quite a few memories of staying up late into the night glued to the TV watching lines of storms march across the state, battling the land for superiority. I would always put on a pair of jeans and my combat boots, just in case something happened. I didn't want to be caught digging out of debris in my pajamas.

After Mike and I were married, we were out driving around Midwest City looking for something to eat. It was a bit late at night and for some reason I can't remember, we hadn't eaten yet. All of a sudden, as we are at a drive through, we hear the tornado sirens go off. The sirens only go off when a tornado has been sighted or there is a tornado indicated on doppler radar. No one was answering at the drive through, probably because they were seeking shelter in the freezer, so we decided to head home, which was about two miles away. Listening to the radio on the way home, they were saying that the storm was located right over Reno Ave, which is the street that we lived on. We pulled into our apartment complex and Mike parked the car. Before he had the car in park, I was out of the car and running, not quickly walking, running to the apartment. I had to stop though and gawk at my then new husband, who was taking his time getting out of the car!! As if there was nothing urgent going on . . . I urged him, well that's putting it mildly, to hurry and ran up to the apartment. Luckily rotation never hit the ground so we were spared.

The year Sophie was born, Mike had to go TDY 5 weeks after Sophie was born. During that TDY we got some severe weather. No surprise there, being May in Oklahoma. I had been hanging out a Marilyn's house earlier that afternoon and then came home. After it got dark, a tornado warning was issued for Midwest City, where we were living at the time. Sophie was asleep, but I went and got her and laid her down on some blankets in the bathtub. I called the cats, Jack and Missy, into the bathroom; they actually got into the bathtub of their own accord. Then I got into the tub and laid down over Sophie so that my body would protect her should the roof come off and debris come flying in. I remember that the storm was so loud (not like lightening and thunder kind of loud), but like a constant just loud banging, that I thought the buildings near ours had been hit by something. My other thought was all the stories I had heard of tornadoes sucking babies out of their mother's arms (it's true, look it up.) I was also praying the entire time for the Lord to spare our lives. My friend Kim called me right at that moment (because you know you're calling/texting all your friends during the storm to check on them) and she stayed on the phone with me the whole time. I was so scared my voice was shaking. Sophie slept through the whole thing. Living on the second floor in an apartment complex is a dangerous place to be in a tornado. Thankfully a damaging tornado did not touch down and we were spared yet again. That is my scariest memory.

There was the time in 2008 when I went across the street to the Police Station, where there is a public shelter for the city, because the sky was swirling and rotating overhead. A tornado never touched down, but it sure looked like one was going to.

With all of these memories, I have never actually seen a tornado. Probably because I was usually hiding in a storm shelter, tunnel or bathtub, but anyway, I think it would be really neat to see a tornado. From really far away. They are so fascinating. It's for good reason that they are called "The Finger of God".

So with that, I leave with you some pictures and videos. :)

Sophie and Jack in the closet under the stairs in 2010 while a EF-3 tornado passes just to the south of the base. It was headed right toward us, but turned at the last minute, taking out instead a Love's Gas station on I-40.

Here's the radar pic of the storm mentioned in the caption above. We got baseball sized hail at our house; the only damage we had was a baseball-sized hole in my wicker plant stand outside, from the hail.

My brother's car was totaled by hail in a storm in May. This was the storm that I mentioned above when I took shelter at the Police station.

This is a video of golf ball sized hail during a storm which later produced rotation over Midwest City, but no tornado touched down.

13 March 2012

Blank Week

The past two or three weeks, I have been doing so much running around doing various activities, that I found that I was driving myself a bit crazy.

This week there is nothing on the calendar. It's totally blank.

Except for where I wrote in "stay home" on four of the days.

I was just getting so stressed out running around. And the kids were getting stressed. And I was getting snappy with the kids and I was feeling like I had to rush with everything. Getting breakfast. Getting everyone dressed. Getting ready to go. Getting food prepared. Doing lots of driving. Etc etc. And all the normal chores that need to be done besides: dishes, laundry, etc.

Let's just say that it was not good for our family.

Now for the most part, it was stuff that I had to do. Doctor appointments, meetings, etc.

I do have to say though that it has been so nice waking up knowing that there are no outside expectations put upon myself except what I choose to put on. I was laying in bed this morning enjoying those first few minutes of waking (always my favorite of the day) and I was just thinking "This is so nice! I don't have to go anywhere today!"

Of course I did go somewhere - we went to the park with a friend for a wonderful picnic lunch, but it's different.

There is a season for business and a season for rest. Right now is definitely a season of rest for us. Just hanging out and doing mommy and kid things. And cleaning the house. That too. :)

The end of the 3rd Herd

I just learned this evening that Mike's old squadron, and the three sister squadrons that make up the 3rd Combat Communications Group, referred to as the 3rd Herd, is being closed.

You can view the article from the Space Command here, and the news video from KFOR local news in Oklahoma City here.

Promotion Day at the Herd, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma

This is sad to me on many levels.

First, on a very personal level, this was the squadron that Mike was first assigned to after tech school. It was the squadron he was part of during our courtship. It was the squadron that he was apart of when we got married. It was the squadron he was apart of when we had Sophie.

The Hooah's and the cow bells. . . .

The family days with lively games of softball and good, grilled food. . . .

The tales of CCRS . . .

The Herd really knew how to take care of its' families, for which I am so very grateful. I can honestly say that Mike's squadron looked out for its' own and stepped up when help was needed. I really love and admire that aspect of military life.

Secondly, I know this loss of over 900 jobs (over 600 of which are active duty) is going to have a really big impact on Oklahoma City. The people of Oklahoma are so incredibly supportive on the US military. Oklahomans are proud of their servicemen and vets, and it shows around Oklahoma City. I always felt a wave of pride as I drove to the main gate of the base and saw the giant banner hanging from the I-40 overpass thanking the military for their service to our country. Oklahoma was, and is, proud to support the military. I am so grateful for their appreciation.

This loss will not only affect the city emotionally, but also on an economical level. Servicemen at Tinker buy houses in the area, buy vehicles from local dealers, their spouses get jobs in the local economy.  Up until this point, in my non-expert opinion, Oklahoma hasn't been too affected from the economical downturn that our country has been experiencing these past few years. I think this move of the Herd from Tinker is going to be the beginning of feeling the affects that the rest of the country has been feeling so some time. An unfortunate event for Oklahoma indeed.

The Herd's motto is "Anytime, anywhere!" and they have lived that motto out in their service, especially in the past 10 years. They were the first ones in and the last ones out. The 3rd Herd is certainly going to be missed and I think the Air Force is losing a great asset in shutting them down.

Farewell 3rd Herd!

Hooah! Anytime, anywhere!

Vitamins and health

This past Friday, I received the news that I have a severe, severe vitamin-D deficiency. And I am so happy about it!

Yes, you read that right.

I am happy about the Vit deficiency because that means I don't have Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is what my doc thought I had, or Fibromyalgia, is what I thought I had. I'll take a correctable Vit deficiency over either of those.

What lead to this discovery? Well, I mentioned to my doctor when I was seeing her for my shoulder injury about a month and a half ago (I was dancing with Edward and swinging him around and I strained my shoulder . . I know, I know . . . ) . . .as I was saying, I mentioned to my doctor that I have a lot of pain in my legs and hips. Pain bad enough that it often keeps me awake at night. So she ordered some labs and set up a follow up appointment for me.

So how bad is this Vit deficiency? Well, pretty darn bad. There's the normal range, Then there's a "low" range that is not normal, but you can still function with the amount of Vit D that you have. And there's the "non-existent" range, where you have so little, you might as well have none at all.

You guessed it, that's where I am. Practically non-existent Vit-D.

I had no idea that Vit D could cause so much pain. Apparently it can also cause depression. Who knew? Not me! So I am now taking a very large dose of Vit D daily and I have to go outside a lot (not wearing sunblock). My doc originally wanted to me to take a Rx dose once a week, but since I'm nursing, she then thought better to do a large daily dose. It works out to about the same. I get re-evaluated in 4 months with another blood test.

In a way, I feel like I have been given a second chance at bettering my health. I thought I had a terrible, life-long disease of pain, but I don't. It's awesome!

I know it's all mental, since I have only been taking the supplement for a few days, but I feel great! I've also started taking Vit C and iron again, and a DHA supplement, in addition to my normal pre-natal vitamin that I take every day.

I have made a little mental goal of becoming more healthy. I want to start eating healthier (read: less chocolate and other refined sugars) and start exercising and just getting outside more. I used to be so much more healthy, and after having my kids, my body has really gone downhill. I am still thin, but by no means do I consider myself to be in "great"  health.

For exercise, I have started walking with the kids outside. Not too far, but I'm getting moving. Out in the sunshine. It's nice! I really like it! I had forgotten how much I really love to be outside and doing stuff.

Mike and I are planning on getting bikes soon and I'm really looking forward to going for bike rides with the family. That will be really nice!

So what do you do to be healthy? Do you take Vit supplements too? Do you eat healthy? How about exercise?

FYI: the is a national epidemic of Vit D deficiency because people are not going outside as much as they should be, and when they do, they wear sunscreen because of the fear of skin cancer. Not saying sunscreen is bad or anything. Maybe you too should have a Vit D check and see where you are. :)

04 March 2012

A Day Away in Santa Fe

As I wrote in my previous post, my good friend Sierra and I went to Pecos (and then later to Santa Fe) for a day away without the kids. I did have Daphne with me, because she is still nursing (praise the Lord!).

We had a great time together, if I do say so myself. There is just something about getting together with great friends and talking and planning and dreaming and reminiscing and discussing. Sierra is leaving Kirtland soon (sniff, sniff) to PCS to another base, so she is trying to get in as much of New Mexico as she can before she leaves. I want to do the same, I just have a little more time; although I will tell you that time gets away from you.

Sierra wanted to go up and visit Santa Fe and see some of the museums up there and so we planned and schemed (maybe schemed is a little strong?) and so on Monday, it all came to fruition. After having to be rescheduled once for a miscommunication on my part.

 A view of the Sangrio de Cristo Mountains from Pecos National Park.
 Looking up the hill; buried beneath the hill are the remains of the Pecos Pueblos. The pueblo would have been four stories high, with a courtyard that would have contained a kiva, or spiritual place.
 Unearthed wall that surrounded the pueblo.
 Pueblo ruins. This pueblo would have housed about 2000 people. Families lived together in rooms.
 Sierra is going down into a reconstructed kiva. They were only accessibly by ladder.
 The remains of a kiva.
 A view from a bluff off of the trail. There was a trail about a mile and a quarter in length that took us to the ruins and around to the mission and then back to the park headquarters.
 The ruins of the Spanish mission. The first was burned down in a Pecos Indian revolt in the 1600's. A few decades later the Spanish came back and built a second mission pretty much on the site of the first one. It would have been "next door" to the pueblo.
 400 year old ruins of a Spanish mission.
 Daphne and I. It was fairly cool out, maybe 40's. I was wearing Daphne in my wrap (she's actually asleep in this picture). She was nice and warm in the wrap and then zipped up in my coat.
 Sierra's posing in the mission. :)
 Apparently I would have been of average height a few hundred years ago. (I'm only 61 inches and I'm wearing boots with an inch heel.)
 These are remains of the rooms that adjoined the mission where priests, mission workers and servants would have slept.

 This is the remains of a small farmhouse just in front of the mission.
 I couldn't actually see them, but these are ruts from the original Santa Fe Trail. There were also various animal footprints.
 I believe this is a Western-Scrub Jay, related to the bluejay. It is common to New Mexico and Arizona.
 Sierra is posing in front of the Civil War Battle of Glorietta monument. This is actually the reason we went to Pecos: to see the Civil War battlefield site. The pueblo and mission ended up being a side trail. :)
This is Pigeon's Ranch, a historical site. A lot of the Battle of Glorietta took place very near to this ranch house, back in March 1862. I love seeing history!

After a wonderful morning out in the fresh air exploring the historical sites, we headed into Santa Fe for lunch and museums. 

 We at the Burrito Company for lunch - yummy! We both had blue corn enchiladas, a New Mexican food with rice, beans and pasole (also a New Mexican food). And of course the chili. I had green chili. New Mexico is the only state with an official question: Red or green? The question refers to which kind of chili do you want on your food. New Mexicans put chili on just about everything. They even have the option at some fast food restaurants, like Carl's Junior (not that I eat there, because I don't. Just had to put that in there.)

 Then it was a jaunt down to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi. I know it's not the greatest pic of the church . ..
 This is Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived from 1656 to 1680. She was the first Native American from North America to be granted sainthood.
 This is Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Santa Fe.
 Inside the church. The Catholics really know how to build a beautiful cathedral to the Lord. This is my third visit to this cathedral and the beauty amazes me every time.

 The Loretto Chapel, built between 1873 and 1878 as a girls school run by Catholic nuns. It is the first Gothic building constructed west of the Mississippi and was patterned after Saint Chapelle in Paris.
 The Loretto Chapel is known for this beautiful staircase. Notice that it has no central supporting pillar. It also has two 360 degree turns. When it was originally built, it did not have any wall supports either. It actually rather closely resembles a DNA strand. The staircase is called mysterious for a few reasons: it is an engineering marvel, since it has no central support and no side support. The man who built the staircase is completely unknown. The story goes that the nuns needed a way to get to the loft and didn't want to build a regular staircase as that would take up too much space in the chapel. So they prayed for a number of days. At the end of that time, a man appeared and said he wished to build the staircase for them. When it was finished, he vanished without accepting payment or giving his name. Very, very neat. And absolutely beautiful; the picture does not do it justice at all.
 The sanctuary in the chapel. Absolutely stunning. What more can I say?
 Vaulted ceiling of the Loretto Chapel.
 Here are Daphne and I in front of the Georgia O'Keefe Museum - yes, she's sleeping again. And yes, she's in a different outfit. :) 
The Georgia O'Keefe museum had seven rooms with her from throughout her lifetime. I really loved her use of bright colors. Even though Georgia said that her paintings were not meant to be sexual, some of them came across as very sexual. No, I'm not a Freudian . . . I loved the flowers too. And all the green from when she pained scenes from Lake George in New York.
I love learning about people who received their influence from the land. Georgia fell in love with New Mexico the first summer she came out to paint. Later she moved to Ghost Ranch, just north of Santa Fe, where she lived out the rest of her days. I can really see New Mexico in her paintings. In some ways, it's like she had a connection with the soul of the state and was able to express that through her paintbrush. There is something special when people have a connection with the land. It's a different kind of bond that not everyone gets to experience or understand.
 After all of our walking around Santa Fe, we worked up an appetite for some French pastries. I was really surprised at how many French cafes we saw in and near the Plaza. We decided to pick Burro Alley. We couldn't pick one dessert, so we got two and split them. We got this wonderfully amazing chocolate truffle thing filled with strawberries and a raspberry tart. The waiter was so friendly and we had a nice conversation with him while we ate. (Daphne is always inviting people over for me to get to know.)
 The French definitely know how to do dessert - not too sweet, just perfect!
 The picture doesn't really do the cafe justice . ..
Here we are the Burro Ally Cafe . . . a sweet way to end a wonderful day!

Thank you Sierra for the idea! Thank you to Aleah for watching Sophie and Edward. And thank you to Ryan who watched Will and Alanna so Sierra could go. :D