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Our Western Adventures

It seemed like it would never come, and now it seems so long ago. Our Vacation! It's a bit of a blur at the moment because, of course, after being home all summer, my office decided to send me on two work trips; one before and one after vacation. It's taken us awhile to recover from all the travel, laundry, and packing! But we are back in the game!

This vacation my primarily my mother's birthday present. On her birthday in March we told her we would take her on a vacation anywhere within the continental U.S. After much looking, debating, asking opinions, she settled on a Bus trip through the west! We flew out to Rapid City, South Dakota on the 12th of September and returned home from Salt Lake City, Utah on the 19th. It was fabulous!


While in Rapid City we visited Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore. Both were breathtaking, and each site had various museums and shops that were just as interesting as the monuments themselves. For example, did you know there really is a secret chamber behind Lincoln's head. Yup! It's true!


On our way to Billings, Montana we stopped at Last Stand hill where we got to the see the Native American monument that was finally built in 2003 and the Yuca plants had me intrigued.


There was also that turn we took in Montana where the storage doors on the bus opened and luggage went flying. :) Thankfully, nothing was lost or damaged!


We also stopped at the Buffalo Bill museum in Cody before heading into Yellowstone! Tom, My Mom, and I all loved catching glimpses of the buffalo, watching the various thermal features (aka. Geysers), and just taking in the natural wonders around us.


This was Tom's Favorite place in all of Yellowstone! The Yellowstone Canyon!





We definitely enjoyed Old Faithful. The picture on the right is it going off at night.


However, one of the more amusing portions of Yellowstone was when we stopped for lunch at Mammoth Springs. The Elk like to visit the little town in the park for two reasons: 1) no predators and 2) the manicured lawns. And apparently the head ranger's doorstep makes for a great napping too :)


After two days in Yellowstone we headed out into Grand Teton National Park where we were all mesmerized by the mountains on our River Float Trip. However the funniest part of the float trip was watching a little terrier and a river otter have a barking match at each other.


Our night we spent in Jackson Hole we went to a Chuck Wagon dinner complete with aluminum plates, singing cowboys, and some great grub! From there we were on to Salt Lake City for a last relaxing night before flying home.

All the people that were on the bus trip with us (48 in all) were very nice. We all enjoyed it immensely, my mom especially. However, we didn't find that $100 bill that Grandpa Bacon said he was going to leave us under a rock at Old Faithful :)

If you'd like to see all the pictures and video we took just click here.


And one last picture show! My cousin Conner turned 1 in July and his mom asked me to make his cakes! I was so proud of these clowns!


Sorry this was so picture heavy, but I hope you liked 'em.

Our Early Summer Adventures

It's time
So it's been a long time since I sent out an update - aka. posted on our website. Quite honestly I've been avoiding it because I didn't want to write about the 'big' thing that happened - the passing of my grandmother. And it's not because I'm not doing ok with it, I really am. It's not because I am avoiding any grief, I'm really doing fine. I think mostly it was because I was just tired of being sad. The months leading up were sad and tiring for all of us. The family as a whole is still recovering, and I think it's going to be very difficult for some of then when they realize that the family dynamics have now changed drastically and it will be hard for them to accept that it's never going to be the same again. She was the glue.

My mom, of course, is struggling. She lost her mom, how could she not be having a hard time! She has her good days and bad, but she's doing well. I'm really glad she has her job to get her out of the house everyday.

For me, the hardest part was before she passed, when the cancer took her eyesight. When she could no longer be who she was at the core of her being: a servant and giver to her family. She spent her entire life caring for and giving to her family. The hot meals in our tummy, the blankets that warmed us, the birthday cakes to celebrate, the knowledge we learned - that was her sole purpose and joy in life. Crocheting was the last thing she had that made her feel purposeful, and the cancer took it. I think the one thing that gave her solace was the fact that her legacy could live on, that at least one of her grandkids was going to keep it up. And that grandkid is me. I have her last projects at home and have been slowly plugging away at them, to finish them. And when I'm done, I'll start another.

She and I weren't as close as I was to my grandfather. He was the only father I ever had. But my grandmother and I, we are so alike. We both love to create things. We both love to do for people. It give us purpose, makes a part of the lives we touch. So in all the cakes and desserts and meals and blankets I make - she'll be there. For that reason, my grieving time happened long before she passed because I understood how hard it was for her and it was even harder to watch that strong woman breakdown. When the phone call came that night that she had passed I was relieved, but not for me, for her. Her pain was over and she moved on to her new job. Watching over us.

I only cry now when I think about her in heaven with my grandfather, together, happy. And telling him about what the family has been doing, how proud of us she is. Then I cry, but not with sadness, but with joy and maybe a tinge of jealousy. I'd love to give my grandfather another hug, but I'm sure she gave him one for me. :)

Thank you MaMa!


Mildred Louise Norris
June 17, 1924 ~ May 8, 2008


Now onto the other stuff we've been up to...

In May, Tom's cousin Dave graduated from the Wharton School of Business. Wharton is in Philadelphia and that was just too close for us to no attend, plus it was right after the funeral and Tom and I needed the break. And then God turned around and blessed us with a free hotel stay at a very swanky hotel right in downtown Philly. It was amazing! The weekend was great! We got to spend some great time with Dave, Jeff, Aunt Cheryl, and Uncle Bill.

My cousin Ashley had her baby the weekend we were in Philly. She's the first Great-great grandchild in the family. Jaylah Coryn, and she beautiful! I made her baby shower cake back in April. And speaking of cakes, I've made some new ones recently - go take a look.



Everything with the house is great. The last things we need to do are: replace the linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms and then after that paint the bathrooms and front bedroom. We planted pumpkins again this year and they are growing along. I do however need to stop by Lowes (the hardware store) this weekend and get some mulch to put around the plant base and under the vines.

We've been hosting gaming nights at our house with some of our other friends that play World of Warcraft with us. We eat dinner together and then all setup in the basement with our computers and play into the night. It's totally geeky and totally fun! Plus I get to try new recipes on them!

Last weekend we drove down to Richmond, VA with our friends the Chase's (Scott & Jess) to see Jeff Dunham. For those that don't know, he is an amazing and amazingly funny ventriloquist. His jokes definitely aren't politically correct and are meant to get a rise out of people.... so if you aren't easily offended by jokes, I recommend you check him out. Just got to YouTube.com and look for Achmed the Dead Terrorist :) He, Peanut, and Walter are our favorite characters.

Cucumber is doing good. Her fur is still growing in from her surgery last November. But she's really enjoying the house, the space to run, and the windows! And yes, I'm showing more pictures of the cat! She's our kid, how could I not!


Tom is doing really well. His project / start-up company is doing good. The part of his idea that's never been done before and he had to develop himself is finished and works like a charm! *cheers* I am SO proud of him. He still has a few more months of work before he's ready to take a prototype to a school to try out, but isn't it just fantastic!?!?!!

We have also figured out how to make it rain. Yup! No more drought here!. Simply have a jeep wrangler, take off your hard-top, put on a jeep bikini top (click link for picture of what one looks like), and watch the rain come! It's been quite amusing and Tom's gotten drenched a few times, but he loves it!



Well, thanks for reading. I know it's been long :)

Stress is the spice of life... I think?!?

Jen's Grandmother
The past few weeks have been rough for our household. Right before Christmas my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For those not familiar with this cancer, it's the most physically painful one you can get and there is no cure. Especially for an 84 year old with heart problems. We are now nearing the end. Honestly, I'm happy for her, happy that her pain will soon be at an end. The hard part is watching her suffer and deteriorate. She's not only been talking about my grandfather and saying that she sees him, but she's been asking for her mother too. Unfortunately this week she is at the point where she can no longer speak or care for herself at all. We are just praying that the end will come quickly without pain and suffering.

Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. The stress is putting everyone on edge and there have already been quite a few arguments and misunderstandings.


Our New Toy
On a happier note, Tom and I did make a change in our household last week. After much discussion we decided two things: We need a bigger vehicle and we should trade in the hybrid. In a few years we were looking a having to put out a significant amount of money to replace the battery unit, so now was a good time to trade it in. Yes we loved the gas mileage we were getting, but that did not outweigh the cost of repairs. So we started looking around. Checked out a few options, consumer reports, test drives, and settled on the Honda CR-V. Amazingly the dealer was able to give us a better deal on a brand new one versus a used one. So we are now the proud owners of a brand new 2008 Honda CR-V. Tom's even surprised at how much he likes it, not as much as the Jeep, but close :)

Cucumber has already learned to recognize the new car and is greeting me at the window when I get home from work.

But the story doesn't end there. Four days after we bought it, I went out to lunch with my team at work. While eating, a woman pulled into the spot next to me and hit our PARKED! brand new car. Thankfully they were good people and left their name and number so their insurance company will be paying to repair it.


Not just pictures anymore... Videos!
For those that have explored our Flickr photos when clicking on one of the links, you will be excited to hear that flickr now allows you to upload videos! So with the Flip Video Camera that Mom & Dad (aka, Nancy & Denny) got us for Christmas, you will be able to see our videos there as well. :) There's two loaded now, one of Cucumber and one of my cousin Conner (believe it or not, he's only 9 months old and huge! They are projecting he'll be way over 6 feet tall). We'll continue to take more videos, although we are both camera shy so few will contain us, but we'll post them as we go.

So that's the latest and greatest with us! Until next month!

Life in the new house

Life has been good and busy here in Maryland. Last time I sent out an update (two months ago, opps) we had just emptied the apartment and had everything into the new place. Well, obviously, a lot has happened since then.
    * After seven weeks, the new couch we bought and chair that my mom got us *finally* came in.
    * Tom built a shelf in the laundry room to put his 5 test computers on! Yes, that is 5!! but they are no longer in the middle of the floor of the basement, so I'm happy :) My one request for the laundry/server room was to still be able to hang clothes to dry. A dowel rod fixed that!
    * We got all the clothes reorganized since not all our bedroom furniture fit in our new bedroom. A hanging compartment in the closet helped with that.
    * And after shifting things here, and then there, we finally figured out where stuff is going to be (for now!) and hung stuff on the walls in the living/dining area.
    * We've met our neighbors on both sides and they are both nice families. One actually works for the same company I do.

So, given the fact that I just haven't had a chance to take pictures of the entire house yet, I figured I would give you all a glimpse into our townhouse with the pictures that I *have* taken. Something is better than nothing, right? The ones below are of our living room. For more pictures Click Here.

Livingroom - from kitchen Livingroom - right side


On the non-house side of things:
    * I went with two of my girlfriends to see Bon Jovi in concert at the Verizon Center. It was a blast.
    * Our friend (that Jen has known forever!) that we would go to visit in South Carolina moved to Arlington, VA. We are very excited to have her close by! In fact, we are having dinner with her this week!
    * Tom invited over a couple of coworkers for a computer gaming night. It was such a hit that we are making it a monthly occurrence! Oh, how we love having a basement!
    * For Easter, my mom and a couple from our smallgroup came over for dinner after church. We grilled, watched the new Stargate SG-1 movie, and played some scrabble.
    * We celebrated my mom's birthday with a Stargate Cake and gave her the entire series of Stargate SG-1 for her birthday. We are also planning a vacation together as part of her b-day present. In September we are headed west for 8 days in the Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone area.
    * We had an open house last weekend to show off the new place!

Tom is progressing well on his prototype for his start-up company idea and his projects at work are going well. I have been crazy busy at work and taken on a lot of new tasking, but it's fun. Cucumber has settled in well and enjoys running up and down the stairs. We are all healthy and mostly just enjoying our house. It is so nice to not have to everything so cluttered; to have a place for everything to live.

The coming months look just as busy as the ones before it, but we are making sure to take out time for us, whether catching up on the tv shows our Tivo has recorded or just reading next to each other. The quiet time is nice :)

Today we stayed home

The stress finally got to us. The moving, the loading, the unloading, the moving... never ending!! We slept in and got take-out from I HOP. I rode in the car with him and so did Cucumber. It was a family affair :)

Checking out the car Family Photo</center>
Today was also the last day of the apartment! That also means we've got everything from the apartment into the house. Not unpacked yet, but in the house!!!! Tom went and did the walk through and turned in the keys. They got us on two things: they said the oven wasn't clean enough for them, and Cucumber tore two screens. All in all, for two years of living there, not bad. We'll still get the majority of our security deposit back.

Random updates:
1. Cucumber is continuing to heal well from her surgery.
2. Mom is doing well at her new job with my company and everyone loves her!!
3. My grandmother is continuing to deteriorate because of the cancer
4. Our new couch and chair should be here this weekend (please, please, please)
5. I cut my hair off a few weeks ago.
6. We bought a grill and it snowed on it.
7. We are goofs! :)
Tom and I took some video of Cucumber playing. They were playing the other day and she started "walking" the rail, and this morning she did it again. It was great! So we thought we'd share :)

Click this link to see the videosCollapse )

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Plastic's Bustin' Out all Over!!!!

So as you know we are in the process of moving into our new home. Load by load, day by day, closet by closet. Like anyone, probably like you, we have a lot of items made of plastic that we own.

Yesterday, tom brought over our little plastic container of files. He picked up said container to take it out to the car. Said container cracked/shattered as he picked it up. Strange, right? It was ok, we had a bigger one we bought awhile back as our numbers of files increased since our marriage.

Today comes. Tom picked up a large tub that we kept under the bed storing various stuff. It shattered. Then later, he went to pick up the small crockpot we have, the plastic handle broke off it.

Now either my husband has gained the strength of superman, or plastic becomes brittle after time, or there's just some weirdness going on in the Cocagne home :)

Hopefully the move will continue to go well without plastic breaking all over the place :) We'll post pictures once we get the place setup! Until then, take a look at Cucumber exploring the new house hereCollapse )

We Bought a HOUSE!

Today we bought a house. As Tom put it, the most expensive day of our lives... so far :) Take a look at the video we took with our brand new video camera (flip video) that Tom's parents got us for Christmas!

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Tom's 29th Birthday

As Jen is going to be out of town with training for work on Tom's birthday (and she couldn't wait any longer to give him his presents) he got to open them last night when Scott & Jess were over for Turkey Tacos and Margaritas. Yum!

1. He got Zelda Figures which he can use to liven up his desk at work.
Zelda Figures

2. A back up to his favorite shirt ever!!!
Zelda Shirt backup :)

3. A TMNT Shirt from the old days ;)
TMNT Shirt

4. TRANSFORMERS!!! 2-disc special edition
Transformers!!!


All in all a good haul :)

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Latest from Cocagne's Confections :)

This fondant is the best stuff ever!
I opened up and it smelled like brownie batter -- it was wonderful!!! This is my find of the year :) It was so much easier to work with and tasted SO much better. :)

Chocolate Fondant


The Guitar and Record Player
This was made for a my coworkers father for his 60th b-day party. The part that I hate the most are the strings. The NEXT day after making this I found on my cake community site a woman who made a guitar cake and used spaghetti noodles for strings. SO doing that next time!

Record Player

Guitar


Felix the Cat
A different coworker ordered this for her husband for his b-day. Their last name is felix :)

Felix the Cat Birthday

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