Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gratitude Journal

"Momma said there'll be days like this, there'll be days like this momma said" - Shirelles, One Fine Day

For the record, I did previously write that a gratitude journal is not only for the days when everything smells like roses. Those days just make it easy to knock out a gratitude journal entry. I can list 5 Things I'm Grateful For in a heartbeat when things are going well. When things get rough, a journal post takes more thought. 

I wanted to skip this post today. 
I really did. 
It's just been one of those weeks. 

My first week of deployment was rough. The first mistake, counting the total number of days my husband would be gone. Let's just say the number was not far off from 365. Not cool! Then it was adjusting to all the 'husband' things missing. It is an emotional process. An exhausting emotional process.

I made a commitment to myself that Monday would mean a change in my attitude and outlook. Monday was good. My dear friend Helen came to spend the morning. She is one of those specific people I wrote about in last week's gratitude post. We took a walk around the lake. The lake is tucked in the mountains behind my house. I have written about how grateful I am to have an amazing view here. The kids and I rode around the lake multiple times since hubby left which you can read about here. I love to be out in nature and exercising. I am so grateful my friend joined me and the week was off to a great start.


After Wednesday, things went down hill. There was a very discouraging email sent to the spouses of our command. Followed by another discouraging email sent on Thursday. These communications bothered me a lot. By Friday, I was sick...literally. And now it's Sunday and I am still sick. Being sick when you husband is gone is not ideal! Thankfully my daughter has stepped up and commanded her brothers to help out with the household tasks, i.e picking up after themselves. While I know she loves having an excuse to boss them around, I am grateful for her leadership.

Looking at the ups and downs of the past week, I am grateful for a new week. I need a fresh start. I'm ready to wash this filth out of my life and get back to happily checking off days on the calendar. It's nice know you are never locked into a bad place. It took me a long time to figure that peace out. I am approaching this week with a positive outlook. 


Nicole

Thursday, September 27, 2012

InstaFriday: Busy

I'm a couple days away from checking off Week Two. 
Can I get a Woot Woot?!?
Here is what happened this week {in pictures}.
If you are on Instagram, come follow along.
We are: semperfifam


My week of pics starts on last Friday. 
Early in the morning a group of junior highers come screaming to my door. 
"There's a rattlesnake on so-&-so's front step".
So I called animal control and they removed it.
Lucky me!


Saturday at about noon, we thought it would be a great day to take another 3 mile bike ride.
Not the greatest plan in the heat of the day.
Yes, we suffered. 
This is when I miss my husband, our voice of reason!


Sunday we hit the beach and enjoyed the summer weather.
Living in SoCal is a blessing and curse.
On one hand, you have amazing temps that never change.
On the other hand, you have amazing temps that never change.


Everyone did their chores this week.
I had to catch THAT on camera.


We celebrated Hawaii.
Because it's a cool place to go.
Without your family.
For work.
Just randomly putting that out there.


What happened here?!?
Oh, I just took my child to church.
No biggie!
Apparently, at our church if you get out in dodgeball 
THEN people get to draw on your face with red lipstick.
My daughter isn't very athletic.

That's our week. It's been a good one. 
Just looking at these pictures makes me feel like we are holding it together.
Miss the husband but life goes on.
First week was tough. Second week, better.


Nicole

TShirts & Daddy Dolls


This is Zac. He is my second child, yes, the middle child. I always think it's worth putting out there because, I too, am the middle child. And for all you Oldest or Babies, give us a break will ya? If you want to learn more about Zac, click here. If you ever meet him, you will probably want to take him home. Everybody seems to ask, its just a thing people do. But you can't; however, I have this other son.... just kidding. I'm totally giving his grandma's heart palpitations today! No kids for rent here... at this time. Check back periodically, it's going to be a long deployment!

Sadly, Zac has been missing his dad. Yes, it breaks my heart too. I truly worried what this deployment would be like for the boys since they are older. My husband has deployed before but the boys were just babies then. I was still enough for them. Now they want to run their bikes off ramps, throw footballs, and wrestle. And I'm not good at that stuff.


Not long after my husband left, Zac asked to wear his dad's t-shirt to bed. I didn't see the harm. It has become a nightly thing. Last night I went to tuck Zac in and I noticed he helped himself to new tee. I guess he is going to be raiding my husband's drawer on a regular basis.


After he crawls in bed, he snuggles up real tight with his Daddy Doll. That doll has turned out to be a blessing for Zac. I was hesitant to get the dolls for our kids because they are older. But Zac sleeps with his faithfully, ever single night. Breaks my heart.

Nicole


More Info on Daddy Dolls:

I am very thankful for an organization called Operation Hug-A-Hero who gifted these dolls to our family. If you are a military family with a deploying spouse, please look into this organization. If not, you can order Daddy Dolls (online here). My advice Don't be Discouraged by Age. My son is nine. I thought he would be too "old" to appreciate it. But every child is different and sometimes tangible things are more comforting than non-tangible.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In the Kitchen: Zombie Popcorn


Today's post is a recipe for candy coated popcorn. The recipe name is Red-Hot Popcorn, so original right? I'm not impressed. I think the name should be changed. So let's take a vote. All in favor of Zombie Popcorn?!? Wonderful! When you look at the above picture, doesn't it look eery. Like blood, maybe? It makes me think of zombies. And when you live with school age boys, then you learn a thing or two about zombies. Believe me, nothing is less impressive than the topic of zombies but... am I suppose to ignore my kids and their constant chattering? Depends on the day? I hear ya. I've been there too.

Anyways, let's switch topics. The new Rachel Ray magazine is in stores. October issue. I love that girl. She is such a chatter box and she seems like a scatter brain. I totally relate. Based on all her shows and books, I'm guessing she is also driven and as a result, successful. I admire that. I cannot pass up a Rachel Ray mag, especially if it has pumpkins on it. All the recipes screamed fall flavors, cozy, and amazing. Um, sign me up! However, 'buying and drooling' over pictures is completely separate from 'making recipes'. This month I am going to prove to the world there is a reason I buy this magazine... and it's not to collect them in a basket... after I look at pictures. 

The first chosen recipe is simple. Three ingredients and 15 minutes is all you need. It makes a fun snack for those school age boys who have zombies on the brain. Grab some popcorn kernels, red hots, and water, then head towards the stove.

Zombie Popcorn (or Red-Hot Popcorn)

5 cups air popped popcorn (not microwave popcorn)
1/2 cup Red Hots
1/4 cup water

Spread 5 cups of air popped popcorn on a parchment lined baking sheet. Set aside. Put red hots and water in a saucepan. Gradually heat over medium-low heat. Candy will boil at a low temperature. When candies are almost melted remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. Drizzle melted candies over the popcorn. Let cool.

From Everday with Rachel Ray. October 2012. 


It really is creepy, isn't it? Yes, I get hung up on things. Back to the recipe, here is what I learned. the candy coating did not harden like I had expected. It stayed gooey and gummy. Next time I will try to boil the candy for 5 minutes much like you do with caramel corn or peanut brittle. The magazine never states it will boil but at medium-low it does boil. I'm kind of disappointed the mag left me hanging on this one. Boiling sugar changes the composition totally, why wouldn't this be important to address? Overall, the recipe is Yum-O but messy.

   
Nicole


Linking up with:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gratitude Journal

"No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the 
Continent, a part of the main..."- John Donne




Do you ever feel grateful for people? Not just random people but specific people or groups of people in your life. This week has reminded me of just how lucky I am to have AMAZING-amazing people in my support network. It's something I have not created or valued until more recent years. This week I have been relying on their support with increasing need. Those interactions through phone calls, text, and face to face visits have impacted me greatly over the past six days. I just feel better. I am grateful!



Nicole

Friday, September 21, 2012

InstaFriday: Family Time

 This week my phone pics illustrate a whirlwind week before 
my husband's departure.
Looking at the week in pictures proves just how busy we were.
Today I'm linking up with Life Rearranged for InstaFriday,
a weekly link-up to share phone camera pics.


First there was a lunch date with my husband AND wine. *sigh*


Followed by a trip to the ship *sigh*


Then a girls' day out (no brothers allowed) *sigh*
Where my daughter introduced me to a craze called Mustaches
I don't. get it.


There was a last dinner...with soda...AND...ice cream...Thanks Dad!


Then a goodbye *sigh*


And there were four. So we took a 3-mile bike ride around the lake.


where a girl spoiled her dog *sigh*
Nicole

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hello?!?


One of the worse things about military deployment is communication. As the spouse, you have absolutely no control over when your military member will call you. Therefore, you have the phone on person at all times. You check and recheck the ringer. You check and recheck the call log. You probably have your friend call your phone just to make sure it still works. And you sleep with your phone. Not, on-the-night-stand-next-to-the-bed kind of sleep; but in your hand, on 'his' pillow, or under your pillow kind of sleep.

Keeping with good military spouse form, I slept with my phone last night. I keep mine under my pillow. I figure there is more of a chance I will here the ring and it is less likely to get lost in the bedding. Lo and behold, at 1:00 AM the phone rings. Our house phone rings that is (which I immediately make a mental note to check the cell phone ringer). The caller ID registers my husband's full name in all its glory. My heart skips a beat and I click the phone to answer.

Hello? Hello? I say excitedly and quickly into the receiver. No reply. Hello? I asked again. I'm familiar with military connections and sometimes it takes a minute for our voices to connect. I wait patiently throwing out a 'hello' every once in awhile to let him know I'm still there. But nothing. UGH! I look to my cell phone to see what time it is and there it is? My cell phone is on the line with HOME and has been for 1 minute and 14 seconds. UGH! *click and giggle*

I'm choosing to laugh at myself because this is 100 percent me! I am clumsy and gullible to a fault. Only this girl would patiently hang on the line for 1 minute and 14 seconds after I called myself! Oh happy deployment days!
Nicole

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gratitude Journal


This is one of the last (current) family pics I will be posting on this blog for awhile. The time has come and departure is just around the corner. It is bittersweet. The sooner he leaves, the sooner he gets back. But when he leaves, he ain't coming back for a looong time. 

There are many things about military life which I am grateful. I am most grateful for the inability to become complacent. Military families spend so much time apart that it's difficult to take each other or our time for granted. We don't take family, friends, or awesome neighbors for granted. We know in six months our lives will most likely be turned upside down and everything will change. It may seem like a high price to pay but this lifestyle makes you concentrate on what is important. I do appreciate it. I hope our children carry this with them as they grow and eventually move forward in their lives.


I am grateful this lifestyle makes us brave. When transplanted to a new state or country rarely do military families sit and wait for someone else to show them the ropes. If you want some BBQ in LA then you go find BBQ in LA. If while stationed overseas you want to explore but your spouse is deployed, then you get a map and hop a train and pack lots of water, snacks, foreign currency, and a translation book (just in case). Because it is inevitable... you will get lost. And that same bravery is perfect for approaching deployment head on!


I am grateful I got these kiddos to keep me company. They make me happy, they make me laugh, they push my buttons, and make me feel like I'm going crazy. But we have a pretty tight bond and we've got each other's back. And those two little boys are best buds and it's pretty cool to watch.


I am grateful for my husband. Mostly because he is just a good guy. He lets me get away with just about anything and goes along with just about anything. It's hard to say goodbye but it's only temporary. 


Nicole

Linking up at Weekend Blog Walk

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday...12

Hello friends...is it alright if I call you that?
I hope so because it just seems appropriate.
Week after week we hop around 
checking out each other's outfits, poses, any new happenings on the blog.
If you lived in my neighborhood and we did these things...
I would definitely call you my friend.



Isn't this the most unproportioned photo my husband could have snapped? 
Top- Ann Taylor Loft
Pants- Banana Republic
Boots- MiniMe


Oh, the infamous mirror pic.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriot Day


Every year let us all honor the lives lost on this day.
Please take time to send up a pray or positive thought 
for the families left behind and the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gratitude Journal


"What ever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes"
-Lyrics of 10,000 Reasons



Deployment is right around the corner. It’s not a happy time in life. These are the times when I dig deep to write my gratitude journal. We had a nice “goodbye” dinner with Darin’s family…I’m thankful for that. It was a decent day, weather wise…I’m thankful for that. I photographed my friend’s family…I’m thankful for that.

What I am most thankful for is this morning’s message at church. It always amazes me when the message speaks to my life at that moment. Even the worship music was perfectly planned for me.  Well, probably not JUST me, but me and everyone else at church this morning. I am so thankful I have my faith in God during these stressful times. It gives me comfort when I feel like crying or running away.

From the beginning I knew this time was coming. Things aren’t quite peachy and thankful isn’t my feeling of choice. However, this is when I know it is most important to recognize there are always blessings in life. And whatever you may be facing good and bad, I hope you find time to reflect on your blessings. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Favorite: Iced Pumpkin Cookies


It's September. The unofficial start of Fall and I've got pumpkins on the brain! This is my favorite Fall cookie by far. And because I do not live with like-minded pumpkin 
lovers...these are all mine!

Ingredients

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
       
GLAZE

2 c. confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture. Mix until creamy. Next, mix in dry ingredients. Spoon cookie dough on cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with spoon.

To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 
teaspoon vanilla. Add more milk as needed, to achieve consistency.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Celebrity Silliness

Today I am begging your indulgence to let me get something off my chest. As most of you know, I am a pretty balanced gal. I love my family, the outdoors, and getting out to experience my surroundings. But I also have guilty pleasures. No, I'm not going to unload them all today BUT will share one with you. After all, I have to keep you coming back.

My number one guilty pleasure is celebrity gossip. My preferred source: People.com. Not a day goes by that I don't check out the Top 5 Newsfeed. This week I came across a Seal-n-Heidi breakup story. Maybe you heard too? Seal makes a statement to the media that Heidi was "fornicating with the help". OMG...that has honestly kept me amused all week. There are so many reasons why this entertains me. #1... how absolutely arrogant of someone to refer to someone as "the help". #2... Heidi must be absolutely seething! I would probably hunt down my ex-ANYTHING just to him a piece of my mind about any statement accusing me of "fornicating". Just leave it alone buddy. #3... I think he has been photographed "fornicating" too since all this breakup mess started. You just can't win.

source

All of this silliness happens as Taylor Swift's new country {and I use that word loosely} song is being overplayed on the radio. Have you heard it? "We are never, ever, ever getting back together". I wonder if Heidi sings this while driving in her car? I think I would.

source

I'm sure most of you are thinking this is silly talk but also kind of entertaining, right? I mean aren't these the moments that you feel incredible joy over your normal life. I'm just me. No elaborate lifestyle or crazy drama. And that deserves a great big YAY! 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday...11

Hello WIWW gals and blog friends!  I hope you are all enjoying the first week of September.
I'm hoping to see lots of boots and sweaters for What I Wore Wednesday, well maybe not this week huh? It's still pretty warm. Luckily we were headed to the casino for a little daytime date. I figured I would be just fine in capris with the casino's subzero air-conditioned temps.




I'm definitely breaking you all in to my self photography.  It's not going to be any better than this
for the next year (roughly). That's right hubby is leaving soon to protect our freedom (deployment).
Then I'm on my own with obnoxious flashes, side angles, and reflections in mirrors. Please hang in there!

Oh, did we win you ask? Yes we did! But we stayed too long and hubby made some bad choices with those tricky slot machine buttons. Opps, didn't mean to spend $3 a spin on the penny slots. Yes, we are amatuers. A penny machine should cost a penny! 

Thanks for stopping by for What I Wore Wednesday.