Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Catching up

I've been a bit busy lately, but here I am to talk about the past few days.

On Saturday we all went bowling and besides the asthma inducing smoke filled ally we had a great time. I actually beat my husband on our first game! He's a pretty good bowler, so I'm surprised I did! The 3 older boys played in their own lane and Wyatt won their game. Seeing the boys faces while they were playing was great. I just love how they light up. It melts my heart and makes me appreciate being a mother that much more. Gracie slept most of the time and Zayne sat and contently watched. There was a group bowling next to us when we first got there who stared at us intensely as we got started. Then one of the woman, holding her adorable little daughter while puffing away on a cigarette asked me in her thick southern accent "Ma'am, are them 3 boys there triplets?" and of course I answered "no". Then she asked "Are you sure?". I think it's hilarious when someone asks such a dumb question. Of course I'm sure they aren't twins. I birthed each of my children separately, all 5 of them. I'm pretty sure that's something I would remember quite well. I just laughed and said "yes" to her.

When we went to dinner afterwards we were being stared at my a table of older folks as we were being seated. I notice we get stared at the most by older people. I still kind of don't understand it. I understand we have 5 children and for this day and age it's a lot, but it's not that many kids. It's not like I'm toting around 19 like the Duggers.

On Sunday we did grocery shopping. I can't quite express how painful it is to see our grocery bill. Feeding a large family really is expensive even when you're cutting corners. I'm going to start clipping coupons and watching sales again here soon. I've gotten lazy with it and really need to get back into the groove. We're also getting a Sam's Club membership this weekend. We NEED to make our shopping trips more affordable without giving up the healthier meals. While we were shopping we ran into one of my husbands students. It was funny to see is face when he saw all of the kids. He said "I knew ya'll had 5 kids, but wow. It looks like ya'll handle it really well though". Of course I was wearing black yoga pants, a nursing tank, a thin zip-up sweatshirt and a hat, so I felt a little frumpy despite the fact I had makeup on. I wish I had done my hair so I looked better. I always feel bad when we run into people he knows when my hair isn't at least done. It doesn't bother him though, he says I'm cute with his hat on.

The other evening at dinner Alex was telling me all about Venice Italy and that it's mostly water and all of that. The boys is so smart and loves to learn about that kind of stuff, but getting him to read is a nightmare. If he put half as much effort into his reading fluency as he does into other things he'd be an excellent reader. He is fine with the basics of phonics, sounding words out and great with comprehension, but his fluency is still lacking. He is however improving and I am satisfied with that.

Yesterday I switched Gracie from her piercing studs to her new screw back earrings with shorter posts and covered rounded screw backs. They look so much more comfortable on her. No more long posts with the huge backs digging into her head. Yes, I'm one of those evil terrible mothers who pierced her infant daughter's ears. She's my baby and I'm a good mother, so anyone who objects can keep it to themselves.

This morning I made the potato salad for dinner tonight. I wanted to make it more healthy so I cut the mayo with plain fat free yogurt 60/40, with it being more yogurt than mayo. It actually tastes amazing! I think I could have cut it even more and used less mayo. I plan to do that next time. I make great potato salad and was worried it wouldn't come out that great, but I think I like it even better this way! Now I feel a little less guilty about having potato salad with dinner since I officially started Weight Watchers yesterday. The burgers for dinner will be bad enough without the butt load of mayo in the potato salad to make it worse. Thank goodness I eat small thin burgers because I'm not a big fan of beef!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu

Tonight's dinner was slow cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu with mixed veggies and whole wheat rolls on the side. To my surprise this recipe came out very good! It tastes great and the kids loved it as well! It's not particularly pretty, as you can see, but the taste makes that okay. The gravy that you end up with in the slow cooker when it's done is what really makes the dish. I'm sure will flavor will vary depending on the kind of ham and swiss you use.


Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu

3 whole chicken breast split and deboned (I used 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves)

6 pieces of thinly sliced ham (I used 12 pieces of very thinly sliced ham)

6 sliced of swiss cheese (I used 12 thin slices of swiss)

salt to taste

pepper to taste

6 slices of bacon

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules

1/2 cup of white cooking wine

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water


Flatten chicken to 1/8 - 1/4-inch thickness (a little tip from me to make this easier; butterfly each piece of chicken then pound it out a bit. Makes it much easier to get it to the right thickness). Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on each flattened breast (I placed 2 of each). sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up and wrap with strip of bacon. Secure with toothpick. Place in slow cooker.

Combine 1/4 cup water, granules and wine. Pour into slow cooker.

Cover. Cook on High 4 hours.

Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Add to slow cooker (use a spoon to mix it in a little bit). Cook until sauce thickens.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smoked Turkey - Potato Chowder

Tonight I made Smoked Turkey - Potato Chowder for dinner. This recipe was pretty simple to make and really healthy and delicious!


Smoked Turkey - Potato Chowder (I doubled this recipe for us)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 cup sliced celery (2 medium stalks)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 can (14 0z) fat-free chicken broth with 33% less sodium

3 cups frozen potatoes O'Brian with onions and peppers (from 28 oz bag)

6 oz smoked turkey breast, cut into cubes (1 1/3 cups)

1 cup frozensweet peas

2 cups fat-free (skim) milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.

Stir in flour and pepper until well blended. Increase heat to medium-high; gradually stir in broth, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

Stir in potatoes, turkey breast, peas and milk. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Stir in parsley during last 2 minutes of cook time.

One of those days!

Yesterday was one of those days. The days that prove the lack of glamor in being a mother. Gracie spent half the day screaming bloody murder even when I rocked her. She did a lot of her screaming while I was trying to prepare dinner, which had several steps so it made it difficult. Then of course my husband came home very late without even calling to let me know, so by the time him and I ate everything was cold. Earlier in the day I made awesome Jack Daniels wings for Tony's potluck, which took some time and effort. Just everything in general yesterday was "one of those days".

Today has been a little better. The boys were well behaved this morning and did their school work. right before lunch I did a half hour or so on the treadmill and then got a quick shower. Thankfully Gracie was content and then fell asleep during that time! When I got into the shower that's when the boys decided to fight of course. I took care of that when I got out and then came downstairs to make the boys their lunch. While they ate I did some picking up and then cleaned the kitchen after they were done. This afternoon I dealt with the pest control service (they come quarterly to prevent us from getting bugs in the house and will come out in between for free to take care of any pest issues including spiders, wasp nests etc.), brushed Stormy and straightened up. I was going to do laundry until I walked in the laundry room to see the mess my husband left for me and just walked back out instead of getting upset. Tony was going to bring dinner home since today was another long day for him, but I decided to make dinner instead. I'm glad I did because it came out really good! I was hoping to relax this evening because I have a bad headache, but I have laundry and stuff to do. So... yeah. My work really is never done. In a little while I'll post the recipe for what I made for dinner!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beef with Burgundy Mushrooms

I made Beef with Burgundy Mushrooms served aside egg noodles and fresh steamed green beans tonight. It was pretty good. Not a big hit with the kids as I expected, but my husband really wanted it lol. They did eat it, they just weren't overly thrilled with it. It definitely wont go into our regular dinner rotation, but it'll be nice for once in a while because it is good.



Here is the original recipe. I doubled it.

Beef with Burgundy Mushrooms

2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles

1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak (1/2 inch thick), cut into 4 pieces

2 packages of fresh whole mushrooms, quartered

1 can (10 1/2 oz) condensed French onion soup

1/4 cup dry red wine (such as Burgundy) or nonalcoholic wine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

pepper


Cook and drain noodles as directed on package, omitting salt. Place in serving bowl; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat 12-inch skillet over medium - high heat. Add beef; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove from heat. Place beef on serving platter; cover to keep warm.

Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat skillet again over medium - high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix soup, wine, cornstarch, tomato paste and oregano.

Add soup mixture to mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and season to taste with pepper. Spoon mushroom mixture over beef; serve with noodles.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Melt in your mouth sausages

The name describes it well. The sausage was awesome! It could easily be made without a slow cooker, but it definitely would not be as good. The recipe called for it to be cut into 5 inch pieces and served in rolls or to cut it up in pieces afterwards and serve over pasta. I opted to slice it into pieces before ever putting it into the slow cooker and served it over whole grain pasta with garlic bread on the side. The kids love spaghetti and garlic bread so this was great for them.



Melt In Your Mouth Sausages - slow cooker meal

2 - 3lbs of sweet Italian sausage

63 oz (or close to that size) jar of spaghetti sauce

6 oz can of tomato paste

1 large or 2 medium green peppers thinly sliced

1 large onion thinly sliced

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 cup water


Place sausage in large skillet. Cover with water. Simmer 10 minutes. Drain. Cut into pieces of desired.

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Add sausage.

Cover. Cook on low 6 hours.

Serve in buns or over cooked pasta.

Afternoon thoughts

I've been entertaining the though of making my own laundry detergent. I know it's very economical. The kids and I have extremely sensitive skin and I really mean it, it's bad. I currently use Seventh Generation detergent and softener because it's more environmentally friendly and it doesn't cause problems with our skin because of the natural ingredients. It's also "he" friendly as well. Which is good because we have high efficiency front loaders. But making my own would save so much money. This is something I'm going to seriously look into.

It's beautiful outside this afternoon. A tad bit humid because of the rain we have gotten the past 2 days, but otherwise it's very nice. 64 degrees and sunny with a light breeze. I have the back door and dining room window open. I'm sitting here watching the breeze blow my off-white sheer curtains away from the window in the dining room and for some reason it makes me smile, it's pleasant. Everything is all clean and the slow cooker is going with dinner. If Annabella takes a decent nap, maybe I'll get some reading in for a little bit while Tony is upstairs with the boys. I'm halfway through dear John. I really like it so far.

Today my schedule has been pretty easy considering it's a holiday and I let the boys have the day off of school. I just did my usual cleaning, cooking, dinner prep etc. My most recent order from Hooked On Phonics just arrived. I can't believe how long they take to ship out their orders. They are a large well known company and they took almost 2 weeks to ship out 3 super workbooks. That's a little crazy to me. I suppose before I try to sit down with my book I should do some laundry!

An average lunch in our house

This is an average lunch here. It's healthy and keeps the kids happy. Nothing really exciting or over the top, but it works! Turkey and cheese whole wheat wraps (with a little mayo for Cameron and Wyatt of course), "bugs on a log" (celery, all natural peanut butter and raisins) and strawberries. I usually put lettuce and tomato on it for Cameron and Wyatt as well, because they like it, but we don't have any tomatoes today :).



It's a great kid friendly meal, assuming your children do not have allergies to peanut butter or strawberries!


I have "melt in your mouth" sausages (yes, it does sound a little dirty, doesn't it?) in the slow cooker for dinner tonight. If that comes out well I'll post that recipe this evening.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Because I love them

My boys really do come up with the funniest things. They are so creative and imaginative so they can come up with some wild stuff.
One day an ear wig made it into the kitchen from the back door when I let the dogs in from going potty. Alex, Wyatt and Cameron all preceded to interrogate/use torture tactics on this little bug. I had just received a package and the small box was still sitting in the kitchen. They used the box in this interrogation.
His name was Dirty Dan and they wanted to know where the rest of his friends were. Here is how the interrogation went.

Alex - "Dirty Dan! Where are all of your little friends!?" *squishes bug with box*
Alex - "Tell me Dirty Dan or I'll do it again!"
Wyatt - "Yeah Dirty Dan, We'll do it again!"
Cameron - "Come on! Tell us! Where are all of your little friends!"
Alex - *squishes bug again*
Alex - "I told you! Tell us!"
Wyatt - "Come on Dirty Dan!"

I'm sure you have the idea now. This went on for about 20 minutes. I don't know if you had to be there, but I was sitting here listening to them and completely cracking up!


This evening during dinner Alex asked "Who's Simon?". and Tony looked at him a little confused and asked him who he's talking about. Alex responded with "Simon. He's bossy and tells people what to do. Who is he? He doesn't even say please." Tony and I both looked at each other and laughed realizing that he wanted to know who Simon was because of the game Simon Says! Tony explained it was just a game where you have to listen carefully so that you follow the directions properly. The way he looks at things sometimes is so interesting and funny.

I cleaned everything up from dinner and made the boys a snack. Low fat graham crackers with fat free strawberry yogurt sandwiched between them (I got this idea from my friend Brandi! Thank You!). Now they are all in bed and I am making my husband brownies! I have vanilla ice cream for them. He loves hot brownies with ice cream! The boys can all have a brownie for dessert tomorrow now too.

Last night my husband and I were watching Myth Busters and they proved that a youtube video claiming these guys made a 7ft tall ball out of 5 million Lego's and rolled it down a street, crashing into a car etc. was a fake. There was a guy running from this Lego boulder in an Indiana Jone costume. Alex is obsessed with Indiana Jones, by the way! Well anyway, I showed that video to Alex on Tony's phone this afternoon while we were at the deli having lunch and he looked at Cameron and said in a very serious tone "Cameron... I am going home and making a boulder out of Lego's!" That boy cracks me up. Here's the video if you're interested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFGVzt7c5bY


What would I do without all of these crazy kids? I can't even imagine how boring life would be without every one of them.

Chicken and Apple mini pitas! A dinner that satisfied everyone!

Tonights dinner was Chicken and Apple mini pitas with a Honey-Lime berries and greens salad on the side. It was a huge hit with everyone! Lately the older boys have been giving me a hard time about eating my meals, which is what prompted me to start looking for new things.

I was a little worried while making this that it wasn't going to be received well, but to my surprise the boys were asking for seconds! This was a very easy and very healthy meal to make.



Chicken and Apple mini pitas

2 -3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

2 medium red apples cored and cubed

6 tablespoons of thinly sliced celery

Whole wheat mini pita pockets

5 tablespoons of mayonnaise

7 tablespoons of fat free plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon of seasoned salt


In medium - large bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt and seasoned salt. Gently stir in chicken, apples and celery to coat.

Cut slit into side of pita (or cut them in half for smaller portions) and form pocket. Fill with mixture.



Honey-lime Berries and Greens Salad

Salad

8 - 10 cups of mixed salad greens (I use spinach and baby romaine lettuce)

3/4 of a cup of fresh raspberries or strawberries

5 thin red onion slices separated into rings

3 tablespoons of sliced almonds


Dressing

A little more than 1/4 cup of lime juice

4 tablespoons of Canola oil

4 tablespoons of honey

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon poppy seed

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard


In large bowl toss salad ingredients

In a jar with a tightly fitted lid, shake dressing ingredients well (or whisk it in a bowl like I do).

Serve dressing over salad.

This dressing goes a long way!


This meal fed the 6 of us that aren't on breastmilk, *giggles* with a little left over.

I am super woman!

I finished my menu and grocery list that I need to go grocery shopping in the morning. I have 6 dinners planned for now and I'm pretty confident about my meal choices. I also have lunches planned for the kids as well. Keeping the meals healthy and balanced is so important to me. I have to keep reminding my husband that chips are not a good side with their sandwiches. I don't expect my kids to eat perfectly healthy meals every single day, but I really want to give them a good start and teach them healthy eating habits. My husband and I both grew up with pretty unhealthy eating habits. I want to change that for our children. Most days their meals and snacks really need to be good for them. After all, they are growing children and need to have the right things to grow into healthy adults. I don't even mind giving them PB&J. I just buy all natural peanut butter and low sugar jelly. They don't need all of that extra crap that's in regular peanut butter or the extra sugar in regular jelly. Wraps with fruit on the side for lunch is just so much better than sandwiches and chips. As their mother it's my responsibility to feed them healthy. Why would I want to set them up to be unhealthy, overweight adults? My husband and I both struggle with this because we don't always make very healthy choices. That is one reasons why I don't let my husband choose as many of our dinners anymore!

It looks like I have another busy day ahead of me. I need to run back to Target for a couple of things and then to the grocery store for a large shopping trip. Lets hope we all make it home in one piece. The commissary on a payday weekend is like going out into the jungle.

Could it be? Coffee made convenient for me?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am hopelessly addicted to coffee, especially Starbucks. If I could have Starbucks every single day I would. Thankfully, for my bank accounts sake, Starbucks here isn't close enough for me to conveniently get it on a daily basis. I've been hearing so many people rave about the new Starbucks VIA. I have yet to try it and I really want to because it seams like a convenient way for me to have Starbucks more often like I'd prefer. I'm still a little scared, but I know a few coffee lovers who rave about it, so it can't be too bad right?

If anyone is completely lost and has no idea what I am talking about, here it is.


This is definitely on my must try soon list.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Singing in the rain

Okay, so we weren't actually singing in the rain, but we ran our errands in this craptastic weather we are having today. I woke up this morning in a great mood. No headache for once. I got the house all in order, vacuumed etc. and we headed out for the afternoon. Yankee candle was our first stop and thankfully they exchanged our candle that wasn't burning right because of a short wick no problem, even with no receipt. If I am paying $25 for a large candle, I want it to burn evenly. From there we went over to Barnes and Noble, oh boy, was that a zoo! I guess the nice big bookstore is the place to be on a rainy Saturday afternoon! I was so overwhelmed with the cookbook selection that I kind of just randomly grabbed 2 that fit what I was looking for lol. The 2 cookbooks I bought are Fix-it and forget-it. Feasting with your slow cooker. and Fast & Healthy cookbook. Delicious family meals in 30 minutes or less. The second book is put out by Pillsbury. I'm one of those people that use recipes as a base, but changes the recipe to suit myself or my family better. So when I do that I'll post my version of the recipes when I'm happy with them. I also bought Alex and Cameron a couple of workbooks for school.

After making it out of Barnes and Noble lucky to be alive, we headed over to have dinner at Longhorn. The place wasn't packed at all, in fact it was only about half full because it was only 4:25 pm. We still had to wait for almost 45 minutes to be seated because they didn't have enough servers working. On a Saturday, that makes no sense to me. But then again, this was North Charleston and this place pretty much sucks. If we had known we would have had to wait that long we would have left. They didn't tell us we'd be waiting, just said they had to prepare a table for us. That is the downfall of going out to eat with a large family. Some establishments do not even have seating to accommodate us all together at one table. Applebees here comes to mind. If we have one more baby we'll have gratuity automatically added into our bill at most places because we'll be a party of 8! After waiting so long to be seated, we were given a waitress who was just terrible and to top it off they gave her another large party so she was even more terrible. At least my food was not too bad.

After dinner, we headed to finish our errands at Target. I fell in love with an outfit for Gracie, but I was good and didn't get it because she doesn't need any more cloths right now. I also found a tiny little freaking adorable bikini in 9 months, but again. I didn't get it. I did get myself a pair of pj pants though, because I need some pretty badly. I'm wearing them right now and they are great! I'm going to go back and get another pair while they still have them! Getting myself something is a HUGE thing for me since I never do that. The 3 older boys were being unusually irritating at Target. They are usually exceptionally well behaved but this evening they were just working on my nerves. They weren't bad, but not little angels as they usually are when we're out.

We came home a couple of hours ago. I put everything away and now we're mostly settled down for the night. I also cleaned out the refrigerator, organized and cleared out the pantry and organized the cabinet under the kitchen sink to prepare for us going grocery shopping tomorrow. Zayne is in bed and the other 3 boys are still up in the playroom watching TV together before we put them to bed. Let me tell you, going out with 5 young children to run errands is definitely a major outing and we still do it every week! I'm not sure if I'm crazy or what, but I actually enjoy it. Now it's time for me to make a menu and then a grocery list for shopping tomorrow! I don't think my day ever really ends.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A few shots of the Princess!

This afternoon it was warm so I put Gracie in a little dress my lovely friend Lindsay sent along with some other things when I was pregnant. I took a couple pictures of course! I cannot believe she is already 11 weeks old!





Here is one of her from last week as well. I just really think this is a picture of true beauty.




I wish the boys would let me take pictures of them more often. She isn't old enough to run away yet!

Experimentation and making plans

Today I asked my god-mother for her Jack Daniels chicken wings recipe. She is an amazing cook and hostess. I had her Jack Daniels wings back when we had the surprise party up in Massachusetts for my husband when he made chief a few years ago. They were SO good. I want to make them for a pot luck the guys are having in my husbands office this coming week, but I want to make them in the crock pot for convenience at the office instead of baking them like she does. I'm a little scared, but I'm hoping that if I make the sauce the way Tammy does that they will still be really good. Cross your fingers for me!

Tomorrow I plan to make a trip to Barnes and Noble. We'll all go together of course, because I like the kids to be able to poke around at books in the children's section. I am looking to pick up a slow cooker cookbook and another general cookbook of some sort. Utilizing my educators discount of course! I love to cook and I have lots of great recipes I've found and come up with on my own over the years, but I really want to try some new things. Add a little excitement to the kitchen because I'm getting bored. I'll drag ya'll along on my experimentation journey! My main goal is to find recipes that will be appealing to everyone and also healthy and balanced. I always prefer to stick to as much fresh, as little processed and as much organic foods as I possibly can. I'm trying to give my children as healthy of a start as I possibly can. Of course we have the occasional fast food and not so healthy meals, we are an american family after all! lol

The joys of being a mother!

If you've ever had children, then I'm sure you can relate.

Those cute little drooling bundles of pure joy are so much more than just that. I'm not quite sure exactly what you would call them, but they are so much more. When you're changing a toddlers poop diaper that smells so awful that you almost gag or that gorgeous little newborn has a lovely explosion in her diaper that goes all the way up her back to the back of her neck, it's just hard for me to believe they are only joy. At those moments they are more like little minions from your past sent to punish you for all your wrong doings in the most disgusting ways possible!

When the diaper smells so bad that the 16 month old says "ewww" when you open it... you know that's when you've hit the mother load. That is the moment when you realize all of those little fantasies of what being a parent is are all just that, a fantasy... When you truly realize that the way Hollywood moms portray motherhood in the media is just another acting gig for them. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mother more than anything else in this world. My children are absolutely the most important thing in my life and even when I am changing that explosive diaper or cleaning up puke, I love what I do. It's just not that glamorous, beautiful picture of perfection like it's often portrayed as.

I see so many teenagers and even girls in their early 20's talk about how they want babies because they are so cute. They aren't puppies! I wont even get started on people getting puppies just because they are cute, because that's a whole other rant in itself! Babies are hard work. They are not dolls that you can put away when you're bored with them or when you want to get some sleep. That is quickly realized when that newborn baby is screaming to eat and is covered in poop and spit up at 2am.

I just fed my 4 bundles of messy boy goodness their lunch. The older 3 had turkey sandwiches with fruit on the side and I watched them quickly drop bread crumbs all over the kitchen table and floor that I had just freshly cleaned only an hour before lunch. My children are the loves of my life and they are also the providers of never ending work for me to do. They drive me crazy and make me tired, but I love the little stinkers more than I thought could ever love anyone.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home is... where the Navy takes us!

This evening Tony brought up the fact that he'll be starting to look at orders here soon. For a while now him and I have been discussing where we would like to try to go from here. We'll be going back to sea duty so this is a little nerve wracking for me. Knowing that he'll have to be deploying, we've been looking at possible options and come up with what we feel would be ideal. He has decided he prefers to stay on fast attack subs and I support that. He would also like to stay on the east coast and I support that as well. That only leaves us Connecticut and Virginia on this coast. Between those 2 places we'd like to think he'd be able to find at least 1 boat with a billet for him considering how large of a Naval base Norfolk has. Connecticut would be close to my family in Massachusetts so I have them within a reasonable distance while Tony is deployed and I'm alone with all of the kids. So that is likely our first choice if there are any billets available for when he is scheduled to transfer. We have been stationed in Virginia before and I am comfortable and know my way around the Chesapeake area well. I also really miss Chesapeake, so that being our second choice is still okay with me.

Now there is always the west coast or Hawaii. As much as I'd really love to go to Hawaii, both of those options aren't particularly appealing to me with us having 5 young children to move with. Being without our household goods for several weeks going to the other coast or several months going to Hawaii is just a huge headache I don't really want to have to go through with the children being as young as they are. Then there is also the fact that the Navy's budget is hurting and they wont move a family of 7 that far if they don't absolutely have to. There we have it, back to looking at CT or VA.

Just thinking about him going back to sea duty gives me a bit of nausea to say the least. Being left alone for 6+ months with the kids and little communication with him, is only a small part of that. I know I can handle that. Knowing how much of a really hard time the kids are all going to have with him deploying is what breaks my heart just thinking about it. We have a little more than a year before we leave here, but it will be that time far too quickly.

I have had a love/hate relationship with the Navy since the beginning. I cannot deny the good things it has done for our family. The healthcare, while it may have much to be desired, is still wonderful to have and better than many alternatives. The steady income that supports us is a blessing, especially in the current economy. We are in a much better place than so many others and that I am grateful for. We have had our rough spots, where we really questioned if him being in the Navy was the right choice for us, but we've come through them and been better off for it in the end. His career has made it possible for me to stay home with our children to raise them and to homeschool them. Money can be tight, but we make it.

I just keep reminding myself there is a light at the end of this tunnel. When we come out of the other side we'll be in a better place for our family as a whole. Tony is more than halfway done with his Navy career. In less than 9 years we can finally settle down and have that retirement check every month to help make us more comfortable. He'll also have the backround to get a very good paying job in a field he enjoys. He has done far too well in his career for him to throw it away now. There ARE better things in store for us! The separations, time apart and missed holidays, I truly hope are all worth what we will come out of this with. I hope the experiences outweigh our losses.

My dinner review

Tonight I decided to try 2 new recipes for dinner. Cheesy Squash Casserole and Parmesan-crusted Boneless Pork Chops. The casserole was pretty good! I'm still not sure how I feel about the pork chops though. They weren't bad, but they were lacking something. I will probably change up the recipe a bit next time. This dinner was not lower in fat or calories at all like I usually try to do, it was more of a treat for my husband lol.

Here is my very PLAIN presentation! Hey... I was very rushed this evening trying to prepare it while I had a cranky 2 month old who wanted to nurse. I might try a different squash casserole recipe next time, although this one was pretty good.





Cheesy Squash Casserole

6 medium squash thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 cup of light sour cream
olive oil
salt and pepper
Optional: Ritz crackers

preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium size baking dish.

Saute squash and onion with a little olive oil. Once the onion and squash is cooked mix it in a large bowl with the cheddar and parmesan cheese and the sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste. put into baking dish and sprinkle crumbled Ritz crackers over the top if desired. Bake for 20 minutes.



I still need to improve the Parmesan-crusted Pork Chop recipe so I am not going to post that one yet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homeschooling

I receive questions about homeschooling on almost a daily basis, so I thought I'd make a blog entry about it for those who have questions!

Our biggest reason for homeschooling right now is the terrible school system here. That was the top reason among many. The flexibility and self paced learning has also proven to fit our lifestyle thus far. I am by no means any kind of expert on this matter. My children are all still young and I, myself am learning as I go.

Right now my curriculum is eclectic to say the least. It consists of different things that have worked best for my boys so far, but does consist of all of the required subjects and then some. The main resources in the curriculum right now are time4learning.com (my boys have had the most success with this site, so far), Hooked On Phonics reading, Hooked on Phonics Math and Kumon. We also have Scott Forseman textbooks for Science and Social Studies. We have a variety of workbooks from Kumon, HOP and several others. I also incorporate art into our curriculum as well as recently starting the Type to Learn typing program from HOP.

We do not have a very strict schedule. The boys do have to complete all of their work but if they are having a rough day and need a short break, I give them a break and have them come back to it. This has worked very well for us with Alex's reading frustrations. He takes a breather and comes back ready to work again with a more clear mind. Many days they have more than a days worth of work completed before lunch. Without the disruption of 30 students, breaks between subjects, recess, needing to give individual help to several children during each subject and all of the others things the make a traditional school day so long, it's really not hard at all for a complete day of work to be easily completed in a much shorter time.

I make it a point to turn everyday experiences into a lesson for them. Just going to the store can be a lesson! We occasionally take field trips to places like the Aquarium and each time we have a different focus.

So there you have it, a quick little run down of how we homeschool here.

What's for dinner?

I think I'll be making my ghetto Beef Strogonoff with green beans on the side for dinner tonight since Tony will be home a bit late. It's "ghetto" because it's more comparable to hamburger helper than it is to real Beef Strogonoff lol. It's tastes really good though, unlike Hamburger Helper!

It's easy and fast.

lean ground Beef
brown gravy
light sour cream
light egg noodles

I cook the ground beef in a large skillet, season it with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. When the beef is cooked I mix in the water and brown gravy mix and let it come to a boil and then I lower to heat the simmer. While it simmers I add about half a cup of light sour cream. I let it simmer for around 20 minutes while the egg noodles cook.

I serve the egg noodles with the beef and gravy on top.




I prefer to make healthier meals, but this is an occasional fall back meal when I'm short on time and I can make a lot of it cheap for our big family.
Tomorrow will be Parmesan-crusted boneless pork chops and squash casserole! I'm looking forward to making that :).

Starting the day on the right foot!

Waking up to a beautiful smiling baby every morning is what makes every bit of the hard work I do so very worth it. Hearing my boys play together is what makes every bit of the hard work I do so very worth it. Little kisses and little giggles are what makes every bit of the hard work I do so very worth it. This is what I was made to do.

This morning I was apparently very motivated! I cleaned the whole downstairs, including completely cleaning the half bathroom and vacuumed everything as well as dusted. The boys lunch is already made and in the fridge waiting for lunch time to come around. Alex's school work has had a few bumps here. He's been really whiney. I told him to go take a nap and we'll finish up here soon. Rather than fight with him, I'll let him get some rest so we can finish it on a better note. Speaking of homeschooling. I'd like to plan a couple of field trips soon. The Aquarium for Science and maybe going to visit the historic parts of Charleston for Social Studies as well. My boys do so much better with hands on/visual learning. I think most children do really.

While changing Zayne's diaper earlier I realized why he has had a runny nose. He has 2 of his top molars coming in! This boy only has 4 front teeth right now and he is almost 17 months old, so it's a little exciting!

Now I am off to help with more school work!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reflection and random

I've been doing some thinking this morning about my life in general. We've lived all along the east coast during my husbands career. We've met all kinds of people, some really great and we've also met some crazies! More crazies than not, I think. It's tough when we have to leave behind the great people we have met. I've come to realize that I don't make time for the really great people because of my busy life. I feel so bad about it and I really need to work on changing it. When we first moved here to South Carolina we lived in Navy housing for a year (don't get me started on that hell hole) and our next door neighbors Dave and Becky were great. We did spend some time with them, but I wish we had spent more. Now they have since moved away because of the Navy. We also had neighbors down the street Nick and Sarah, who are still here. I talk to Sarah on Facebook from time to time, but we don't have them over here or anything and it's not because we don't want to, we just never make the time. I need to make more of an effort to be a better friend to them. They are really great people, nice, extremely willing to help whenever someone needs it, I mean really, they are just really great people overall. Dave and Becky were the same way. I'm lucky to have met them all. I think about all of the other amazing people who I've met and I wish I would have made more of an effort and been a better friend to each of them. I need to work on this.


Right now I am listening to Alex and Cameron finish up the lessons they are working on. Tony is on his way home with lunch, which I'm thrilled about because that means I don't have to cook right now! Yay! Just a little earlier while I was cleaning up a little bit downstairs, Zayne who was upstairs in the playroom with Wyatt completely flipped his play yard onto it's side in a great escape! He's rebelling, making us aware we can't cage him in! This play yard is one of those super yards that are like gates connected to each other. We have it to keep him relatively safe in the playroom when we can't be right there with him. The only problem with this is, Zayne has apparently decided to start training for the strong man competitions now at the ripe old age of almost 17 months. He pushes this play yard around like it's nothing. I keep him with me downstairs a lot, but he just loves being with his brother in the playroom so much, so I let him play up there for a bit in the play yard.

There is never a dull moment with these boys and now I have a baby girl who is the clingiest child I've ever seen in my life. I really am enjoying it because they are only a babies for so long, but from time to time it gets a little bit annoying that I can't even go pee without her crying. But really, I couldn't tell you the last time I went pee by myself or was able to eat a hot meal anyway, so it's nothing new to me! It's only lunch time and we've already had the great escape in the playroom. Who knows what else I have in store for me today.


I've decided that tonight we'll have Hawaiian Chicken served on white rice and veggies on the side for dinner. It'll either be broccoli or zucchini, I'm not sure yet. Tony doesn't like white rice, but the kids and I all do, so he'll get over it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Introduction

So here we are, a new year. I've decided that I will start a blog! A nice little outlet for a busy mom like myself.

I suppose I should start this off with a bit about myself and my life, huh? My name is Sarah. I'm married to Tony, an EMC in the Navy. We have 5 kids, 4 boys and 1 girl. My boys are Alexander age 7, Cameron age 5, Wyatt age 3, Zayne age 1 and my little girl Annabella aka Gracie (her name is Annabella Grace) is 9 1/2 weeks old. I homeschool our oldest 2 boys. Oh and lets not forget our 2 dogs Stormy and Emmie. Stormy is an 18 month old silver Labrador and Emmie is an almost 3 year old Havanese/Bichon mix. So I'm a stay at home, Navy Wife, homeschooling mom.

I love art and photography. I am also a bleeding heart dog lover. If we didn't move around with the Navy I'd have more dogs. I pride myself in my dog training abilities too *insert big grin here*. I also like to keep a very clean and organized house. oh oh oh... and I am most proud that we are complimented on how well behaved our children are every time we go out.




Now that I'm done with that boring stuff, I'll move on and get this part out of the way. I'll take this time to address commonly asked Questions.

"Are you Mormon?" Um, No.

"Are you Catholic?" Again, no. In fact, we aren't religious at all really. I also do not homeschool for religious reasons at all.

"Do you have triplets?" No

"Do you have twins?" No

"Are you Crazy?" No... ok, ok... I'll go with maybe on this one, alright? geez.

"You know how this keeps happening right?" Why, yes I do. Thanks for asking though. If I didn't, I'd have been sure to ask you!

"Were some of them accidents?" NO. The next person who asks me this will probably get punched in the face too, so really. Don't ask. BUT, FYI, They were all planned, asshole.

"Are you trying to get a TV show?" Um, NO. What kind of freaking question is that anyway?

"How do you do it?" Well the secret is to beat them and lock them in the closet all day while I get drunk so I can cope with it... come on now, really? How do I do it? I JUST DO IT. I love them and care for them. It's pretty cut and dry.

"You have your hands full, don't you?" Yes and I like it that way.

"You kept trying just to have a girl, huh?" No. I'm pretty certain I would have had this many regardless. I know this question is sometimes asked jokingly, others ask me seriously and it's irritating. It's like saying I didn't really want my boys but I kept having kids until I got the one I wanted. It's a little rude.

"When are one of you getting fixed?" Ok, seriously... that's none of your damn business and it's rude to ask. Go away.

"Are you done having kids?" That is still undecided.


Now here my friends, is my most recent favorite. This was asked of me by a man working at Zales yesterday, after asking the age of all of my kids.

"Do you ever get them mixed up?" That was a joke right? NO? You're serious? You're an idiot.


There is the quick basic run down of who I am and what kind of family I have. There's a whole lot more too us, but that'll be obvious as I go on with this blog journey. It will be random, useful, crazy, unpredictable and maybe, just maybe, a little entertaining now and then. I'll even tell stories from things that have happened in the past too, because well, I like doing that sometimes.