Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life's about to get crazy.

Well, the time has come.
The hubby is getting deployed next year.
We knew it was coming, so we were pretty prepared for it. We've been so blessed that this will only be his third deployment (in 11 years) and that he hasn't had to be deployed since 05/06. So. Blessed.
What I wasn't prepared for, however, was all the pre-deployment training he'd have to do beforehand (thanks to the new job) and the moving-up of the deployment date. We say our first goodbyes in about a week and a half.
He will miss so much of 2012...the entirety of Noah's school volleyball season and most likely all of baseball season for the three kids as well. He'll miss all three kids birthdays, Valentine's Day, my birthday, Memorial Day, 4th of July, my sister's wedding in July (which all three of my kids and myself with be in), Noah's first day of middle school, Jonah's first day of 3rd grade, Sophia's first day of Kindergarten, Halloween, and possibly Thanksgiving and Christmas. We do know he'll be home for Easter and his birthday, but aside from that we're not guaranteed.
It's going to be tough, I'm sure, and it'll definitely be hard on the kids because the boys don't really remember hubby's last deployment, and he's never been gone for more than a couple of weeks since Sophia was born. And she is definitely a Daddy's Girl. I'm keeping my head up and pressing on.
Because honestly, what else can you do when you're a military wife?
I REFUSE to be a pouty, crybaby wife. Yes, I'm frusterated about the timing because now I have to get myself, the dog and the kids to Florida this summer alone, and I'm not quite sure how that will work out. And I'm frusterated for the kids that he'll miss so many things that are big for them. But I have to remember that we've been a damn fortunate military family and I need to be thankful for that.

But if you want to send up a prayer or two for us over the next year, that would be good too. Because I'm sure we'll need it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Gingerbread Softies

My newest obsession for finding recipes is on Pinterest. There is so much cool stuff on there besides recipes! Be warned though...it is super addicting!

Anyway, when I was wandering around over there a couple weeks ago I came across this recipe from Dana Made It and it was the perfect Christmas baking recipe to try out. I love gingerbread cookies but don't like hard, crunchy cookies so right off the bat the name intrigued me.

I made a batch of the dough and baked them up...HEAVEN. The recipe says to make 1" round balls but I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop for the balls and it yielded 4.5 dozen cookies!! Imagine if how many you'd get with 1" balls! A TON!!

Here's what you need:
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp giner
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together suger & shortening. Add eggs and beat until thick. Add molasses and stir until combined.
Sift together flour baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves & salt. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended. (If the dough is very soft, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 min).
Shape dough into 1" balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 350* for 7-10 minutes or until just set, but not browned. Cool on a wire rack.

**I use my PC stoneware bar pan for baking cookies, and I needed to bake for about 11-12 minutes. Ten minutes on the stoneware made the cookies just a bit too soft.**

Thursday, December 8, 2011

True Christmas Spirit.

Today I took Sophia to the Dollar Store to get some Christmas gifts for her brothers. She always accumulates quarters and dimes and nickels and puts them in her piggy bank, and she informed me last night that she wanted to use her own money to buy presents. She only had $3.50 so I figured the Dollar Store was our best bet. She found gifts that she is sure her brothers will love, and she took out her own wallet and I helped her count out her change. I'm sure we annoyed the stuffing out of everyone in line (and there was a LONG line) but I didn't rush her becuase it was a huge teaching moment.

After the Dollar Store we hit up Hobby Lobby so I could grab a few things and out front there was a bell ringer for The Salvation Army. Sophia asked me on the way in what they were ringing the bell for and I told her that they collect money in the red bucket for kids and families that don't have alot. On the way out of the store she asked for her wallet and had me help her count out fifty cents that she had left over from present buying. She walked herself right up to the man ringing the bell and said she wanted to put her money in the bucket. I let her do it all by herself and stood off to the side. He smiled at her and wished her a Merry Christmas and she said "You too! And I hope the families who don't have money have a good Christmas too!"

I told her how proud I was of her for buying presents for her brothers with her own money, and especially for giving some of her money to people in need. She looked at me and said "Well, momma, you can help whether you're small or big. Everyone needs to make sure that kids with no money have a good Christmas too. We can't just do nothing."

She has no idea how much she touched my heart, and even that measly 50 cents will mean so much to someone. THIS is the true spirit of Christmas. And I'm so proud of my 4 yr old that she realizes this already.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Update time.

So it's been awhile!
Our last few weeks have been pretty busy. We planned a surprise trip to Charlotte, NC for Thanksgiving to be with family. My parents and one of my sisters recently moved up there from Florida, and my other sister, my neice and my sister's boyfriend were making the drive up from West Palm Beach, so we wanted to go to and have the whole family together. We had a good time and left with memories, early Christmas gifts, and a new family member...my sister's boyfriend proposed to her on Thanksgiving night!
Since we've been back we've been staying busy with Noah's school basketball (two games a night every Tuesday and Thursday) and the hubby's hockey team. We also found out that the hubby will be going to training for 6 weeks starting in January, so we're trying to re-plan our first few months of 2012. He'll miss Jonah's 8th birthday so we're trying to figure out a way to make it extra special when the hubby comes back into town.
We're trying to slow down and enjoy the holidays because we probably won't be a full family next year (hubby's due to deploy sometime in the summer/fall), but it's so hard with the hustle and bustle. There's presents to be bought, food and goodies to prepare and pass out to friends and coworkers, and all those Christmas cards to mail.
But most importantly we're trying to keep the TRUE Christmas spirit alive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wish Lists.

The other day I asked the kids to make out their Christmas lists. Normally I'm just about done shopping by this point in the year but not this time around. Life has been, well, life.
Anyway, the boys spent alot of time on their lists and when Sophia was done in the bath she got to work dictating her list to daddy.
Jonah kept asking me how to spell things and I would tell him and I wasn't really paying all that much attention. He asked me how to spell "screen" and I told him, and then thought to myself What is he wanting that has "screen" in it's name? I let it go thinking maybe it was a game I'd never heard of.
And when they were done they handed me their lists and I figured out why my crazy 7 year old asked how to spell "screen".
First thing on his list? Big Screen T.V.
Nice try, bucko!

Thankfully the kids know that they won't be getting EVERYTHING on their lists and that it's a guide we go by, so he shouldn't be all that disappointed when Christmas morning rolls around and there's no TV under the tree for him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Only in Oklahoma.

So you all know that my family is struggling to adapt to Oklahoma. It's no secret that we're not fans of this place and we're praying the next 14 mos go quickly so that we can try for a new base. But last night we realized why we despise it so much; we haven't had a chance to like it becuase we've been fighting natural disasters since we got here!
So far in 2011 I have lived through the following:
*Snowmageddon (the local news' term for the insane snows we got in Feburary)
*Tornado superoutbreaks
*Ridiculous heat this summer
The only thing we haven't experienced is a hurricane. We've heard people say that next is a hurricane in Lake Hefner, but that's bone dry from the heat this summer so I'm not too worried about that. ;) Besides- I grew up in Florida so I can handle those. Give me a hurricane over any of the aforementioned disasters any day.
And after last night I'm pretty sure Oklahoma is suffering the wrath of God. We were under a tornado watch from about 8:30pm-4am, and at 8:47, a 4.7 earthquake rattled the house. Talk about an unwanted double whammy. I called my parents in North Carolina and told them not to be surprised if they woke up in the morning and Oklahoma had been sucked into a black hole or wiped off the map by a meteor. Seems like that's the track we're on lately.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Chicken Pot Pie

I don't know about you, but I love me some comfort foods, especially once the weather starts to cool down. Fall weather has FINALLY come to Oklahoma after a crazy hot summer...the leaves are changing, there's a crispness in the air, and the temps are gloriously cooler. And this recipe is the perfect dinner for the cooler nights!
Here's what you need:

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat

1 pkg (15 oz) refrigerated pie crusts

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 bag (16-20 oz) frozen peas & carrots

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 425*. Place chicken in lg saucepan and add enough cool water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until just cooked through (about 10 minutes). Drain the chicken; let cool. Shred the chicken.

Meanwhile, fit one piecrust into a 9" pie plate and set asize. Roll the remaining pie crust out on a lightly floured surface. Cut crust into 1/2 inch wide strips with a pastry wheel and set aside.

Melt the butter in a lg saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour and the thyme and cook/stir for another 2 minutes. Add the brother and the cream and whisk until thickened (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in the shredded chicken, frozen veggies, salt & pepper.

Spoon filling into prepared pie plate. Arrange 6 of the piecrust strips inthe same direction on top of the pie, twisting the dough. Arrange the rest of the strips crosswise on top; fold edges under and pinch to seal.

Beat egg yolk and water. Brust the top of the pie with mixture. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This year we have had SO MANY chances to wear costumes...so far we've gone to a fun trick or treating event at the Oklahoma City Zoo called Haunt the Zoo, and yesterday alone we went to TWO costume parties. Today the kids are invited to a costume birthday party, and then tomorrow, of course, is the real deal. Lots and lots of fun and candy!Getting my hubby to dress up is no small feat, let me tell you. We've been married 10 years and this is only the second time he's ever dressed up. So I wanted to make sure that he was happy with his costume. He loves golf and one of his favorite movies is Caddyshack, so he went as Carl Spackler and I was one of the preppy golfers from the country club. I loved how our costumes turned out!

And here's the little goblins all decked out in their outfits. Jonah was the best vampire I've seen in a long time, and Mr. Werewolf had furry sleeves and neck. Then there's Miss Jessie. Sophia has been OBSESSED with Jessie this year so that costume was chosen months ago. I painted an old dress shirt of Jonah's and made some quick cowprint chaps for her. Found the red cowboy hat at Walmart for $5 and we were set! She was so excited about her costume and kept saying that she was the cutest Jessie ever!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Double Digit Milestone

Turning ten is a major milestone if you're a military child. When you hit double digits you get your first military dependant I.D. card. Trust me when I tell you that this is a BIG DEAL for a military kid. And a scary one for the moms & dads.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Secret Agent Party

Over the weekend my Noah turned 10. I'm still in shock that he's reached double digits.
We had a SUPER fun birthday party for him...he picked a Secret Agent theme. I found this great printable party from Simone Made It on Etsy. So much of this party was editable so we were able to personalize it and make it just right for Noah's birthday. All of the guests were sent "Top Secret" invites where they were assigned a code name and given a secret code to decipher, along with a secret handshake. They had to tell the password and do the handshake when they arrived, and if they did both correctly they were given their mission documents. We set up the food table with a magnifying glass cake and some "Truth Serum".Goodie bags were awarded when their mission was complete.Mustaches were offered as disguises. Sophia called hers a "Mustache on a steeeek!" (We may or may not be fans of Jeff Dunham in our house ;) )The hubby brought home a fingerprinting kit from work and fingeprinted all of the 'agents' for their dossiers.We set up a weapons training course and all the "agents" shot Nerf guns at targets we hung from the cabinets.We also set up a Laser Evasion Course in the kitchen with red crepe paper. This was the hit of the party!All of the Secret Agents in their disguises. We really had a great time and it was one of the most fun parties we've had!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

I absolutely LOVE the fall...it means I get to bake with pumpkin! Pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. You name it- we love it!

I found this recipe on BHG.com and knew right away I had to try it fast. I baked a batch up last night and they're all gone today!

Now, this isn't something you can just throw together real quick...this is brownies made from scratch, so be sure to give yourself about 30 minutes for prep time. And then they bake for an hour.

Here's what you need:

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup butter (1 and a half sticks) cut up

2 and 1/4 cups sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325*. Line a baking pan (or a regular raised-side cookie sheet) with foil, folding foil over the edges of the pan. Grease the foil and set pan aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and 1 Tbsp butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup suger. Beat until combined. Beat in 1 egg, the pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla, cinnamon and ginger until combined. Stir in the 1 Tbsp flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the 1 and 1/4 cups flour, the baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large saucepan combine the chocolate and 3/4 cup butter. Cook & stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually add the 2 and 1/4 cups sugar, beating with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in milk and the 2 tsp vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Spread chocolate mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Pour cream cheese/pumpkin mixture over the top of the chocolate batter. Using a butter knife, gently swirl the cream cheese/pumpkin mixture through the chocolate batter.

Bake 60 minutes or until center is just set when pan is gently shaken.

Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift brownies out of pan, and then cut.

Makes 36 brownies. (Or 30 if you cut them a little bigger like I did :) ).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meet Zoey!

My kids and hubby talked me into a new family member over the weekend. She's a 10 week old Catahoula-Retriever mix and she's really cute and so far very well behaved. I'm praying it stays that way and I don't come to regret this later!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Memories Winner!

I used random.org to generate a winner for the MyMemories.com giveway and it's post number three, which belongs to MN Mom!

Congrats! I will be messaging you shortly to let you know how to claim your prize!

And don't forget that if you didn't win, you can still use this code to get a discount on the scrapbooking download! You really won't regret it!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Been a Decade

I don't know about you, but I can't believe it's been 10 years since 9/11. I have spent alot of this past week thinking. Thinking about how naive I was back then (I was 19), how my heart breaks for all the families. And how different my family's life would be if it never happened. I know that the majority of you know that I'm a military wife. My hubby went in before 9/11 and we assumed that he'd just do his service and never have to get deployed. But before he was even out of his training after basic everything changed. So instead of being a peace-time Airman, his ENTIRE military career to this point has been in wartime. Thankfully we've been lucky and he's only deployed twice in 10 years. I know that in this day and age that is NOT the norm and we never take that for granted.
People always talk about how many lives were lost on that day ten years ago. But really, that total is much, much higher. How many soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have died fighting to rid the world of those who committed and backed this horrible deed? The fight is ongoing. Sometimes I feel like so much of America only remembers that day when it rolls around on the calendar every year. But for those who lost a loved one, and for those of us who are military families, that day never leaves you. We remember it. Every. Single. Day.
So here I am ten years, three kids and countless military assignments later and I am still a PROUD American military wife. God bless our great nation and the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to keep her free.
(These scrapbook pages were made using the "Called to Duty" digital scrapbooking pack from MyMemories.com There's still time to get in the drawing for the free download valued at $40).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun with Digital Scrapbooking

There's only a few days left in the My Memories giveaway...don't forget to enter!!

Here are a couple more fun pages I made when I was playing around the other day. This online scrapbooking is really addicting!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A review & a giveaway!

Now, don't fall over in shock that it's only been about a week since my last post...I'm trying to get back on schedule with my blog. Aren't you proud of me??

Anyway, last week I was contacted by Liz from My Memories.com about reviewing their digital scrapbooking software. Now, I've always been intrigued with digital scrapbooking, but never got around to trying it. I was offered a free download so I figured now was as good a time as any to try it out!That night I did NOTHING else but play around with templates and downloads and pictures and embellishments. I made an entire album of Sophia's birthday party. Don't worry, I won't bore you with all the pages, but I do want to show you my 2 favorites!

It took a bit of playing around and a couple confused emails from myself to a wonderful helper from My Memories, but I got it figured out and had a blast doing it. Once I reigned in my one working brain cell I was easily able to create really cool pages using their scrapbook software.
They have a TON of free downloads on their site and oh so many inexpensive sets to choose from...I seriously could spend an entire day on their site and not see it all!

Now I know you're wondering where the giveaway comes in right? Well...the AWESOME people at My Memories.com are offering one of you lucky people a free software download! That's a $40 value y'all!! All YOU have to do is go to MyMemories.com and browse around. Then come back here and leave me a comment with your favorite digital paperpack or layout. It's that simple! I will pick a winner on Sunday, 11 September.

And have no fear if you're not the winner...here's a discount code for $10 off the package purchase AND a $10 download coupon! Just use STMMMS51103 when you check out and your discount will be reflected in the shopping cart. Pretty awesome, huh?

Keep checkin' back for more fund designs I made and don't forget to go to MyMemories.com and see for yourself! They're also on Facebook and Twitter!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to school (a few weeks late)

Alright y'all...here are the long awaited first day of school pics! My Noah is now a 5th grader, Jonah-man is in 2nd and my baby girl started pre-k!

Miss Thang was super excited for school to start!Just a girl and her daddy (and her brothers way up ahead) walking to school.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writer's block.

I know I haven't blogged in forever. I keep meaning to put up pics from the cruise but I just havent' had the energy.

Coming back to Oklahoma (I won't even try to kid myself by calling this place home...it NEVER will be) has been a downer for all of us. The kids were so great and well-behaved on our trip, and then we got back here and it was all downhill. I'm sure the heat hasn't helped either...it's been over 100* every day since we got back. Even Jonah doesn't like to be outside.

I can finally say that we have friends here though, which is a good thing. Not many that's for sure, but I've learned over the last few years that it's the quality of friends that you have, not the quantity.

I'm trying to be positive and upbeat and post on here but there's just really nothing to post about. We don't do much of anything...it's too hot to go outside anywhere and our budget doesn't allow for us to do much anyway. We have taken advantage of the Blue Star Museum program and hit up the Science Museum a few times this summer...but you can only go do the same exhibits so many times before the kids don't even want to go. (If you're military you will LOVE this program...certain museums around the country offer free admission to military and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.)

I will have a few more posts in the coming weeks about school starting. My baby starts Pre-K on the 11th so there will be pictures involved too :)

But until then just bear with me. I'm having a much harder time adjusting to Oklahoma than I ever thought I would. I just can't get out of this "I hate where I live and I don't know when I can leave here" funk.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beautiful Ocean Sunsets

Until I can find the time in the craziness that is "summer break with three kids" to actually sit down and document our vacation for you, I thought that maybe these sunset pics from our cruise would tie you over. These are some of my favorite shots from the entire vacation (cruise and after). I've already had a few family members ask for prints of these beauties to hang on their walls at home. You better believe they're going on my wall as well.

(All you photograph purists out there will be happy to know that I have not edited a single picture in this post. All of the amazing colors are exactly what I saw when I looked through the viewfinder.)

This first picture is probably my number 1 favorite picture I've taken. Ever. It was perfect timing with the sailboat just coming into view. (Taken off the coast of Florida, somewhere between Ft. Lauderdale and Key West.)

These next pictures were taken just off the coast of Key West. It's true what they say...Key West has some of the most exquisite sunsets ever.

This last shot was taken on the last night of our cruise as we headed back to Florida from Jamaica. The clouds were just as dark as they seem and the contrast of the stormy clouds and the beautiful glow from the setting sun blew me away.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Circus Party

Little Miss had her birthday party back over Memorial Day weekend, but I was so busy with getting ready for and going on our cruise that I never got to post the pics. I have a little down-time right now on the second leg of our trip while we wait out the afternoon thunderstorm here in South Carolina, so I thought I'd get these bad boys posted for you. The circus party was probably one of the most fun parties we've had in our house. The kids and our friends are still talking about it. That's a winner in my book!