Ugh.  Here I am, over two months since my last post.  Bad blogger, bad!  I must beg forgiveness on behalf of my computer, which was still acting very slow for a long time.  I mostly didn't have the patience for it, and had intended to take it to a computer repair shop.  Turns out I just had to uninstall some large programs, run my virus scan a couple of times, and update a number of programs.  I won't say we're zipping along, but I no longer see any lag time in clicks and when I type.  Also, I will confess that lately I've been busy playing with some cool new apps on my Kindle Fire and reading A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) before my husband and best friends spoil it for me.  It's seriously just a matter of time before they do.  But I'm back now.  I have pictures to share and some stories.  Hang on tight.  It's gonna be a long one.

So back in July, I forgot to mention that we spent Independence Day with my friend/coworker, Ariel and her husband, Nick and a friend of theirs. They came to our house, we loaded into Clayton's Tahoe, and we went down to Wilmington for the day. There was good food, window shopping, and we watched fireworks from lawn chairs near the truck, which was parked on the roof level of a parking garage.  As you might imagine, the view was awesome.  We would have hung out with Ariel and Nick more soon after, but Clayton left for the Mojave desert of California that same weekend.  When he got home, Ariel and Nick nipped back to New York to get church married (a very common sequence of events in military communities is to get courthouse married just before a deployment or other big events, and later get church married with family and friends when things have settled down.   Most of us get several months notice before a deployment, but "several" is often still less than the time brides require to plan a wedding for more than fifty people, which is closer to a year.).  Now that everyone is back in Jacksonville, Ariel and Nick have begun to join us for our Saturday evening get-togethers.

It was one such Saturday evening when I threw Clayton's sort-of surprise, sort-of birthday party.  I realized about a month ahead of time that his birthday would be on a Monday, so it would make the most sense to have any celebration the Saturday previous.  It just so happened that our friends Gregson and Eliot come over every Saturday for dinner, intelligent conversation, games, Youtube sessions, and beer.  This time I started a Facebook invite for them and everyone else who currently has an open invitation to our Saturday evenings.  It turned out Eliot was in the field that weekend, but Gregson came and brought Alex (his former roomie and a friend of Clayton's), Nick and Ariel came, as did David and Rachel.  Clayton does not like overly themey events, so I decided to make the theme just lots of things that he likes.   Here is the list of things I had to go by:
  1. Hanging out with the cool people listed above (plus me and Merlin)
  2. Star Wars
  3. James Bond
  4. Bow Ties
  5. Mustaches
  6. Pie
  7. Games
  8. Youtube Videos
  9. Unusual Beers
  10. Fire

Thing 1 was relatively easy to come by.  I knew at least one person would show up, and the others quickly agreed to attend as well.  Thing 2 (Star Wars) was incorporated by using a Darth Vader candle instead of regular birthday candles.  Thing 3 (James Bond) was made into a party game, where I made a scrambled list of all the official James Bond movies (and yes, there are unofficial ones), and asked everyone to put them in order.  The winner was Davy, with nine movies correct, out of twenty three.  The prize was getting first pick of the bow ties, which covers number 4.  The other party favors were fake mustaches.  For dessert we had pies (number 6).  I did not remember to take pictures, but they were so tasty I'll probably make them again soon (and subsequently share them here).  Just before dessert, we gathered around our t.v. and watched our favorite Youtube videos, which took care of number 8.  We voted on who brought the best video, and they got to choose the next bow tie.  The James Bond game and Youtube contest were games, which was number 7.  After videos and pie, we went outside and had a small fire, which was number 10.  The beer was taken care of when I asked everyone to bring a six pack of an unusual beer or soda, instead of presents.  

All in all, that night was a blast.  The next weekend Alex and Dave and Rachel stayed home, but Eliot was back and Nick and Ariel came again.  Eliot and Gregson brought beer again, and Ariel and Nick brought green bean casserole.  I grilled up steaks for all of us (on sale at the commissary!) and baked a couple loaves of bread.  We played HeadBanz that night.  This latest Saturday (September 28) we did breakfast for dinner.  I made waffles; Clayton cooked up bacon and sausage; and Nick made homefries with big chunks of potatoes, onions, and bacon.  We also had a hot berry medley topping, and we made mimosas, and coffee with Bailey's.  And just coffee.  After dinner we played Ariel and Nick's game, Settlers of Catan.  That game was so much fun that Clayton and I bought our own the next day.  Unfortunately for us all, Ariel and Nick will soon be moving to North Korea, and this was their last weekend with us.

This was a long update, and you seem to have the majority of what we've been up to lately.  I'll be back soon to fill in more details, and sooner to add pictures.