Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The luau to end all luaus.

Ok, I'll admit it. The biggest party hubs and I throw all year is Clay's birthday party.

When Clay turned a year old, I was a stay-at-home mom with time on my hands. As a result, I figured we'd get creative with booger's party. It was an election year, and Clay's birthday falls in July, so we decided on a "campaign" theme. We designed and printed up patriotic invitations that had the wording of a campaign fundraiser, decorated the house to the hilt, and grilled all-American food on the back patio. It was a huge hit.

Figuring we'd need to do a comparable job with booger's second birthday, we chose a cowboy theme. Again, we printed up custom invitations (all "boot stompin' good time" and "mosey on over") and decorated the house like crazy. We threw in a themed cake and dress-up stuff for us and the guests. (The cowboy hats, bandanas, and sheriff stars were real crowd pleasers.)

This year is birthday #3, and I've got plans. Big plans.

We decided to throw a big luau. I ordered a boatload of decorations and guest favors from Oriental Trading Company. I bought tiki torches at Target, and I've worked up a yummy tropical menu. I just ordered the invitations, and we decided to rent an inflatable water slide that the kids (and maybe the adults!) can use to hang ten.

We'll grab a piece of bamboo for the limbo, and I may even learn some hula steps on the Internet that we can try. (The fire dancing? I'm leaving that to hubs.)

I'm thinking this is going to be one heckuva luau. I should probably enjoy it while it lasts. Next year, he'll probably just want to go to Chuck E. Cheese's!

Grilled perfection

I was up in sweet little Como, Mississippi this morning for a work function, and I had the occasion to eat lunch at the Como Steak House. Oh. My. Lord.

The Como Steak House is nestled among a handful of other local businesses on Como's little Main Street. It's much larger than it looks from the front. The building stretches back quite a ways from the road, in addition to boasting a two-floor dining area. The decor has a very bluesy, masculine vibe, with lots of leather seating and a tin ceiling. Black and white photos of musicians in concert as well as old clippings adorn the walls.

The meat is cooked on gorgeous, mammoth indoor grills. I'd have one installed in my house, but I'd probably get carbon monoxide poisoning. (Hell, considering how good the steaks were, it might be worth it.)

I started with a green salad, which was served with a delicious homemade ranch dressing. (The restaurant makes several dressings from scratch. They offer a few other bottled varieties.) An excellent beginning. I ordered the filet, medium rare, with a loaded baked potato. First of all, my steak came out hot, bacon-wrapped, and perfectly cooked. Secondly, the loaded baked potato is truly loaded: butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits and chives. They throw in a buttered, grilled piece of Texas toast for good measure.

There's no going wrong here. In addition to the great food, service was friendly and attentive. If you find yourself up in north Mississippi with a rumbling stomach, make it a point to swing by Como Steak House. According to the servers, the line snakes out the street door on Fridays and Saturdays, so try to time your trip during the week! (And plan on a nap, say, two hours after your meal!)

Small Town Mississippi

Hubs and I took little man to the Ag Museum over the weekend. Clay loves running all around their Small Town Mississippi outdoor exhibit, loves the Little Schoolhouse, the Children's barnyard, and the trail through the woods. This time, we got to see the emu up close. He walked right to the fence and helped himself to several drinks of water while Clay looked on in amazement.

After working up a healthy sweat (It was HOT outside!), we took a breather in the General Store, where we got cold drinks and snacks. We ate outside on the front porch, playing checkers, then we headed to the indoor part of the museum to look at the planes, trains and exhibits there. Clay really enjoys watching the trains chug by, and he very nearly jumped the rope to see how it would be to sit in the pilot's seat of one of the historic planes. (Luckily, I'm faster than I look.)

Booger has a good time whenever we go to the Ag Museum. He runs around all over the place, and hubs and I just try to keep up and protect the exhibits.

For now, his admission is free, so it costs hubs and I $10 bucks (together) to get in, and we spend maybe $5 on snacks. So, for about $15, we get a good morning's entertainment and a VERY sleepy toddler come afternoon nap time. Worth it? You betcha.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Where a kid can . . . spend $40 in a morning.

Hubs and I took booger to Chuck E. Cheese's last weekend, and we had so much fun! We found an online coupon for a large pizza, 4 drinks, and 40 tokens (About $35 for all of it, I think.), and off we went.

Clay LOVED riding all the little kiddie rides, though he didn't get much satisfaction out of most of the other games. (When we went to GattiTown, practically all they had were games, and the few kiddie rides they did have weren't working properly. Needless to say, we haven't been back.) But there were plenty of rides to choose from - 3 or 4 different cars, a Kentucky Derby ride that found him perched on a big plastic horse, and lots of other neat stuff for him to do. He's still a bit too small for the indoor play gym, but I bet he'll be climbing up into that thing within a year or so.

And I admit it. Hubs and I stole some tokens and played Skeeball. We couldn't help ourselves! Plus, I won 20 tickets off one token in the helicopter game. 'Cause that's how I ROLL.

And it was lucky we did, too, or there's no way Clay would have had enough tokens for his glow-in-the-dark top. Or his star-shaped sunglasses. Or the three plastic bugs that he brought home. (Only two of which I have found in my bed so far. Shudders.)

Anyway, we all had a total blast, and booger took the longest nap he's taken in a while when we got home.

We'll definitely go back!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

Had to weigh in on a book I read recently - Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

The book tells the true story of Greg Mortenson, a man who started out as a mountain climber and ended up as an international agent for peace in the Middle East. As a young man, Mortenson was addicted to mountain climbing. A registered nurse, he'd work stateside until he'd saved up enough money for his next big climb. He'd climb until his money ran out, head back to the U.S., get a job, and start the process again.

However, after losing his way on the way down from a climb in Pakistan, Mortenson found himself in a small mountain village with no school. The kids there met in a cave, only had a teacher three days a week, and still found the will to keep studying. Mortenson promised the village leaders that one day he'd return and build them a proper school for their children.

That promise began a long and arduous journey that has led Mortenson to build fifty-five schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has also allowed him to forge a rock-solid relationship with many people in two countries where, it is said, the citizenry thirsts for American blood.

Mortenson's story is amazing. It proves that one person really can make a difference. So much of what he has done has been with little or no thought to his personal gain. He just saw a need and wanted to help fill it. In the process, he's gone a long way towards improving not only the image of Americans in the Middle East, but the lives of a good number of Middle Easterners.

The book is well-written, and the tale is riveting. Worth reading.