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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homemade Butterbeer

Butterbeer from Universal Orlando Island of Adventure "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"
Since we enjoyed visiting Hogsmeade in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter so much, the boys and I decided to try own own butterbeer recipe.  There are dozens of recipe options online but we chose one of the simplest.  We made a few minor modifications ... so here is our version of Recipe #3 from Harry Potter: Top 10 Butterbeer Recipes!

Ingredients:

12 oz. cream soda
1/4 cup butterscotch syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Measure butterscotch and butter into a microwaveable bowl.
Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely melted.
Stir and cool for 30 seconds.
Slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Serve.


This is a sugary-sweet drink to be enjoyed in moderation.  Joshua only drank one mug before his sugar meter topped out.  Trey had two full mugs and would have been happy to go for a third, but was curtailed by his parents.  =)

The boys were happy to have kept their official butterbeer mugs from Universal and are certain it makes the drink taste more authentic.  It was a fun little experiment and, according to our sons, butterbeer goes great with pizza.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trey Sees His Audiologist and Otolaryngologist

Trey is ready to test.
He repeats words and clicks the button when he hears 'beeps.'
Since Trey had his third tympanoplasty in November, it was time for him to see the audiologist at Darnall to check his hearing.  I am convinced that having a book in his hand is much more detrimental to his hearing than surgical procedures on his eardrums, but it was time to test regardless.

The audiologist was fabulous with him, answering his string of questions and making him feel right at home in the tiny, sound-proof, dark, enclosed room where he tested. 

It turns out that his hearing is normal in both ears!  We are so thankful that his hearing has not been adversely affected by the surgeries.  His right ear (which all three surgeries were performed on) shows slightly less hearing than his left, but is well within the normal range ... and is typical for a surgical ear.

As we were leaving, we saw Trey's Otolaryngologist (which is one of Trey's favorite people AND one of his favorite words).  He took a look in both ears and declared Trey good to go!  Trey is thrilled at the prospect of a Texas summer with full swimming privileges ... no earplugs, no ear drops, and no restrictions!  It's a good, good day.

Information on Tympanoplasty

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confessions of a Backsliding Blogger

I confess that I have seriously backslidden as a blogger.  ~ Is 'backslidden' a word? ~ but I am excited to get back and post some of the fun things we've experience on our recent Block Leave.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Puppy Palooza!

Danny and Rachel's golden retriever, Zoe, had a litter of 8 adorable puppies in early March. She was bred with a standard poodle for a batch of beautiful Golden Doodles! After church today, all the Cook cousins were able to see these three-week-old little bundles of puppy joy. It was a fun afternoon for everyone, puppies included!
Hannah and me with one of the new puppies.

Joshua and Lizzie with two black puppies.
Trey
Aunt Carole Ann with Emma and a puppy.
Abby
Carter
Brody
8 new puppies for 8 little cousins
Zoe is a proud momma.
Exhausted puppies after an afternoon of play!
If you're interested in these puppies or the breeder of golden doodles, the website is: Snicker's Doodles.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cook Cousin Campout

The Cook cousins spent the night together camping in Gram and Granddad's backyard.  They had a great time putting the tent together and spending the evening giggling and telling stories before falling to sleep late into the night.  Good memories for some super-sweet kids!

How many cousins does it take to set up a tent?

The girls are getting it done!
Joshua is experienced with putting this tent together.

Trey stands ready with the mallet.

The tent goes up!

Abby, Hannah, and Emma are ready for bed.

Joshua, Lizzie, and Carter
Trey and Brody

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day Four: EPCOT Center

Day Four of our Spring Break trip was spent at Disney's EPCOT Center. We were at near-exhaustion from three full days of previous fun, but still managed to have a super day.  We watched The Seas with Nemo and Friends, spent some time in the Imagination! Pavilion, and experienced three of our all-time favorite rides here. 

The first was Mission: SPACE, a motion simulator ride that is as close as you can get to blasting off into space without leaving Earth. It realistically mimics what an astronaut might experience during a space flight to Mars.  Each member of our astronaut team had a role in a daring cosmic mission dodging meteors and navigating nebulae.  After the attraction, we visited the Mission: SPACE Advanced Training Lab, an interactive play space where we competed in Mission: SPACE Race, an arcade-style game.

Our second favorite ride was Soarin', a multisensory attraction that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over California, in free flight from 40 feet in the air while surrounded by scenic panoramas including the Golden Gate Bridge, Malibu and LA.  You could feel the breeze on your face, smell the oranges as you soared over an orchard, and felt like you were truly hang-gliding.  This was a big hit with the whole family.

A close third-place favorite (even after waiting in line for 2 hourse and 10 minutes) was Test Track, a high-speed vehicle-simulation ride where we were able to test our mettle in one of Disney's longest and fastest rides.  We stepped into the 6-seat vehicle and rode along as it undergoes the safety and quality tests that General Motors performs on every prototype it manufactures.

The ride is a 5-minute, nearly one-mile auto escapade where you ascend steep terrain that's 3 stories high, then let loose downhill, blasting across a bumpy road and roaring through 50-degree banked curves and hair-pin turns that test suspension and brakes at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.  Then you feel yourself zoom into the environmental chamber to endure the extreme heat and cold tests—at temperatures that are 100 degrees apart.  Then, we had to see if our vehicle could withstand corrosion when robots mist water upon it. Finally, we faced the challenge of avoiding a crash barrier… just in the nick of time.

Heading to our favorite ride:  Mission: Space

Trey is learning about being an astronaut before takeoff.
Making music with some cool technology.

Joshua leads his team to victory in the Space Center!
Dad helps Joshua capture a butterfly.
Joshua enjoyed the butterfly tent.
Trey always enjoys a good insect.
My three handsome guys at EPCOT.

I used the EPCOT Attractions website to help re-create the thrill of the rides. Check it out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reconnecting with the Corsons

Cooks and Corsons, together again.
The very best part of our day was meeting up with some wonderful friends at Animal Kingdom!  The Corsons were our next-door neighbors at Fort Hood for a couple of years and we survived a deployment together, complete with sharing meals, kids, frustrations, joys, and time.  In the Army, your neighbors are not just the people you nod to as you get into your car in the mornings, they become family.

In our time together, Catty watched my kids, listened to my woes, and took care of everything from shoe-tying to diaper-changing for my kids when I sprained my wrist while our husbands were gone.  In return, her kids were always welcome in my home and spent more than one Friday night eating pizza and watching movies with us. 

When my water pipes burst that deployment winter, she was there with me, fighting the raging fountain of water, clad in our pajamas.  On the first day of school, we shared a traditional school bus cake (her tradition, but one that become ours, too).  We created a six-week rotating walk to school schedule where one parent would walk all the kids to and from school for a week then trade with five other families on our block.  When it was time for her to birth her fifth baby, I went next door to sleep in their house until her older kids woke up.  In April of 2007, we sat on my sofa watching the horror of the Virginia Tech (her alma mater) shootings unfold on the news.

Our kids became psuedo-siblings and played together daily.  We planned a front-yard flashlight Easter egg hunt one Spring, and bought matching Gerbera daisies for our front gardens, at our childrens' request.  Many a meal was eaten at one another's homes, and a few restaurants saw the gaggle of us dine together as well.

When Nate posted that we would be at Disney, I immediately got a text from Catty asking where we would be that week.  It was easy to coordinate a meeting spot and we met up at the Petting Zoo at Animal Kingdom.  The kids were excited to see each other and, over ice cream, began reminiscing among themselves.  "Remember that time we went to the zoo in Waco and they had that cool slide with the otters surrounding it?"  "Remember when we got in big trouble for cutting the canvas on our wooden playset and tried to blame it on the the little kids [Joshua and Sophie]?"  "Remember when we used to have pasta picnics at the Cooks' house?"  ... and on and on it went.

It was so much fun to see them!  The baby who was born just weeks before they PCSed to Fort Carson was now four years old!  Their oldest, who was in 4th then 5th grade here, is now a beautiful high schooler, enrolled in ROTC and talking about boyfriends.  All the kids had changed so much, yet there was not a single awkward moment.  It was just fun to see them again and catch up face-to-face.  The Corsons are one of our favorite Army families and will always have a special chapter in our Army lives.

The boys hang together.

The last time I held her, she was an infant!

Kids are ready for a fun and yummy dinner.

Day Three: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Day Three was another fabulous experience in Orlando. Since both of my boys are nature/science/animal lovers, this park was a no-brainer for us.

Entering Animal Kingdom
First Stop:  The Boneyard
The boys loved The Boneyard!
Trey was thrilled to be chosen as the volunteer in "Birds of Wonder."
Birdwatching with Dad

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day Two: Universal Studios Orlando

On Day Two, we headed over to Universal Studios Orlando for another fun-packed day in Orlando. We loved Shrek in 4D and Cat in the Hat story ride but our all-time favorite of the day was E.T. Adventure where we got to experience E.T. including riding our bikes over the town with E.T.! It was a lot of fun. Trey and Nate enjoyed Jaws and Twister: Ride It Out and we all had fun in Men In Black: Alien Attack.

We watched Beetlejuice's Graveyard Review and went to the Blues Brothers Chicago-Style street party. We all enjoyed the Animal Actors show, meeting some famouse animal actors. Interestingly, the boys' favorite area was Fievel's Playground where all the toys were huge and oversized (giving us a mouse's perspective). There were no lines and the boys could just run and play freely. I'm sure there's an object lesson in there somewhere, but there is no time to ponder now. Off to more fun ...

Nate and boys at Universal Studios Orlando.
Yes, Trey did read the inside of this gi-normous book!
One of Joshua's favorites of the day: Waterslide
Joshua with the pug from Men in Black!
Trey, my bird-trainer to be!
Fun 50s-style diner for lunch.
And a nice swim to round out the day ...