Friday, December 16, 2011

Soy, Dairy, Egg and Nut (barley and rice as well) Free Cupcakes/Cake - Frosting Included!

This afternoon and evening, I made mini cupcakes for my husband's command Christmas Party tomorrow night. I wanted to bring something my son with severe food allergies can have because I know he'll likely not be able to have anything else there. Coming up with a 100% soy, dairy, egg and nut free cupcake (as well as barley and rice free), from cake to frosting, was a bit of a task. The cake itself, was a breeze. I had gotten a recipe from a friend, who got it from her grandmother a while back and then realized it was the same recipe my grandmother has made for as long as I can remember. I don't know the origin of the recipe, but I joking named it "great depression cake" because it's ingredients are limited, simple and inexpensive. So the cake, already fit what I needed as long as I used the right flour! The frosting took a little bit more effort. I had to change a couple of basic recipes and it worked out surprisingly well.




Chocolate Cake: (My 92 year old Grandmother has always called it "Wacky Cake". I think it's because she doesn't thoroughly mix the ingredients so it comes out kind of.. wacky.)

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour (I use Gold brand Organic flour because it does not have barley, which my son is also allergic to)

2 cups of sugar

6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of vinegar

2/3 cup of canola oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine dry ingredients, mix together. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan, cook for approximately 55 minutes (ovens vary).

This can also make 24 regular size cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes. The cook time for the mini cupcakes was around 14 minutes for my gas oven. Regular size cupcakes are 18 - 20 minutes.

To check if their done, insert a toothpick. It should come out clean.




Chocolate Frosting:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of soy free shortening OR earth balance soy free buttery spread

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

3 cups of powdered sugar

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

Melt shortening/butter alternative. Mix in cocoa. Add vanilla and alternately add powdered sugar and milk while beating. Beat until smooth.




Vanilla Frosting:

Ingredients:

1 cup of soy free shortening OR earth balance soy free buttery spread (lightly heated, but not melted. Should be like ice cream.)

3 - 4 cups of powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

3-ish tablespoons of coconut milk

Directions:

Beat shortening/butter substitute for a few minutes. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix until it's all in the shortening/butter substitute. Add the vanilla extract, salt and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, beat for a few minutes. Add more powdered sugar or milk until you reach your desired consistency.



The mini chocolate chips you see in the pictures are Enjoy Life brand. They are dairy, soy and nut free chocolate chips! I've only ever been able to find them at Whole Foods. They are even hard to buy online.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The cashier at Target, asked me about my Vagina.

Yup, the cashier basically asked me about my Vagina.

Our trip to Target today left me with 2 things. I was reminded just how awful people can be and I have also come to the realization that Target doesn't always hire the best employees. This isn't my first issue with Target, which makes me sad. As I've said before, we go to Target at least weekly and I actually like going there, or I did at least. I am seriously considering finding somewhere else to shop after today.

Today we went to the Target in Waterford, CT, which is the closest one to us, to finish up Christmas/Christmas Party/Birthday party shopping. When we were done shopping, we went to checkout. I went to a register a few lanes over from my husband because I was buying a few small stocking stuffers for the kids and didn't want the older boys to see them. He was with the older 4 boys and I had the little ones with me. The cashier was someone I have seen just about every time we've been there. She looked at the cart with Annabella in the seat and Declan inside his carseat in cart. She commented on having 2 little ones and it being a lot. I smiled and told her those were my 2 youngest and my husband was checking out a few lanes over with my other 4. She immediately looked horrified and said "You have 6!?" I smiled again and said yes. Now, her looking horrified, I'm totally used to that. I see it a lot when people realize I have a lot of kids. However, one thing she said, I have read online SO many times and heard endless jokes about it, but of all of the rude comments I have gotten, I've never had anyone actually say or ask this in person. First she said "Wow, that's a lot of babies to be having." and THEN said "So, is it true that they can just walk right out of there after having like 4?" What!? Did she REALLY just ask that? She just asked me about my Vagina! This isn't even one of those questions they expect an answer to, no. This is one those haha you have a lot of kids so your vag must be so loose and floppy kind of questions. My usually quick witted and sarcastic self was so completely floored by the ginormous balls this girl had, that I was unable to come up with anything at all. In fact, it took a few seconds before I picked my jaw up off the floor and was only able to answer "No... it's not quite like that after having many babies...". She just got a cocky little smirk then told me I looked too young to have that many kids. I told her I am not as young as I look and walked away to meet my husband who was finishing checking out.

I was so absolutely floored that she actually said that to me and with another customer right there to boot! I went from floored, to embarrassed after we had loaded the kids up in the Econoline and were leaving. My husband turned around and went back to talk to the manager because the more we thought about it, the more it fully clicked that what she said was not ok. We are really easy going but she is a cashier that doesn't even know us and to top it off, she clearly wasn't trying to joke with me. We weren't having a friendly conversation  about having babies or anything or the sort. What she said was vulgar and inappropriate.

My husband went back into Target and spoke to the manager, Bradley Sher****. The manager said "I usually like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but that comment was pretty clearly not taken out of context." He agreed it was inappropriate etc. and told my husband he would "talk to her about customer service". That's it? I don't even know what I was expecting or hoping for... but... that's it. I feel wronged, I kind of feel violated and I certainly am embarrassed.

Are Target employees not trained about sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior? Heck, maybe I'll ask my ex husband, he's worked there before. Aren't they made aware that making crude, rude, vulgar or otherwise discriminatory comments to customers as well as co-workers is not ok? I just don't think it's ok. I feel as if it would have been a bigger deal if it was a racial or religious comment she made. It's the same to me. "So, is it true that Asian people <insert ridiculous offensive stereotype here>?" or "So, is it true that when you're Catholic <insert ridiculous offensive stereotype here>?" I feel discriminated against. She singled me out because I am not within the "norm" and have many children. She made a rude and offensive comment because of my "minority", if you will. Lets add the element of it being a veiled reference (and insult) to my vagina. That could fall under sexual harassment. She not only said what she did to me, but in front of another customer as well. That embarrasses me and makes me feel belittled for having many children, that much more. This wasn't a friend joking around with me, this was a Target employee who I do not know at all. I can joke and be crude, rude and sarcastic with the best of them. But what she said, in the setting she said it in, was just too much. Never mind the fact that she was obviously not trying to just be playful and failed miserably. She was just being blatantly rude.

I am not sure what I am looking for here. I just don't feel like it has been adequately handled. I feel... violated.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crazy Skunk Lady

My neighbor is a crazy skunk lady... ok, she's probably not crazy. She's pretty cool actually.. BUT skunks love her... or hate her... hmm... I guess they probably hate her since they keep spraying her family.

Several times since moving here we've been gagged by the smell of skunk. Last week or so her dog was sprayed and before I moved here, her younger son was. Tonight, a skunk has sprayed the front yards (We are in townhouses and we live in a section of 4 units. She's 2 doors down from me) TWICE. We've never had skunks bother us, so it must be her, right? ;). Tony and I are generally pretty unlucky people. Apparently my neighbor is also unlucky, or at least she is when it comes to skunks! I wonder what kind of disasters we'll all have with all of this unlucky business going on? :)


So I have great neighbors (thank fricking goodness, after some of the horrid ones we've had!) and one of them is a crazy skunk lady.



Anyone have some tips on keeping skunks away?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My 3 year old is way cooler than I am

My 3 year old is way cooler than I am. Really. He is pretty much the coolest kid I know (you know, next to his siblings and all).

Here is why my 3 year old is way cooler than I am. Tonight my parents took us all to Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts. Right from first entering Edaville he was determined he would go on the Ferris wheel. After riding the train and the carousel, he waited in line with Daddy, Grandpa and 2 of his older brothers for an HOUR (lets not even talk about that!) to ride the Ferris wheel. He was excited the entire wait. They finally got on and my husband expected him to be scared once they started moving. Not a chance! That boy thought it was the most awesome ride. When they got all the way to the top, he was excited and loved every second of it! For me, I am terrified of Ferris wheels because I am scared of heights. The top of the Ferris wheel in that wobbly, I'll tip over any moment bucket seat, is horrifying to me. Instead of loving the view being up so high, I feel like I'm going to pass out and die (or something like that). My 7 year old shares that with me, poor kid.

My 3 year old is way cooler than me. He is an adventure seeker.... and he rocks the poo out of the Ferris wheel. I am a giant wimpy pants.


Friday, November 25, 2011

It Happened...

Yes, it happened... My husband went out to stand in line for a Black Friday, Midnight opening at Target.

In all of the years my husband and I have been together, we have never done the Black Friday, out at midnight craziness. We always said it just wasn't worth the hassle and the potential of being trampled to death. We watched all of the crazy stories on the news over the years and were always like "WHY do people do it???". But, this year, it was different.

We hyped up putting up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving here with Grandma and Grandpa, to the kids. They were so excited and looking forward to it. Tony digs out the huge Rubbermaid bin, with a hole cut into it to accommodate our Christmas tree, that we've had for around 6 years now and some of the boxes of ornaments from the garage. We put the tree together and begin to fix the branches (that are already in poor condition from being old and being moved so many times). We plug it in to ensure it still works. One of the lines of lights pretty much blew up. They didn't just burn out, no. They practically melted. Another set of the lights flickered if you moved a branch. Between that and the overall condition of the tree, Tony and I determined it needed to go. I was a bit annoyed because I had wanted to take the tree out a few days ago when we would have actually been able to go buy a new one and the kids were disappointed. I figured we would be spending this weekend fighting crowds finding a new tree. Tony felt bad seeing the kids disappointed.

Super-Tony to the rescue! He left while I was tending to the baby and not paying attention around 11pm. The stores had all been closed because of Thanksgiving of course, so he decided he would go stand in line for the midnight, Black Friday opening. The line was almost circling the entire store, but he stood in it regardless. When the store opened and he finally made it in, he walked straight back to the Christmas trees and stood there debating with himself which tree he wanted to get. A Target employee asked if he was looking for the $30 Black Friday special tree and he simply said "no". He wanted a 7.5 foot tree like we had and that was only a 6.5. She looked puzzled, but carried on. He decided on the tree and then walked right to the register with it. The cashier was looking around for the rest of his purchase and asked in a confused tone "Is this it?" to which the answer was yes. The tree was all he was there for. A regular sale priced tree and not some Black Friday steal.

He proudly walked in around 12:40am with that artificial pre-lit Christmas Tree. He could have waited, but he wanted to make sure that tree was here for us to decorate together in the morning. Annoyed wife and disappointed child, free.

My husband's very first "Black Friday experience" was not even to buy an awesome Black Friday deal. He just wanted a tree and he couldn't buy it when he wanted to earlier, because the stores were closed for the holiday. It was an uneventful first for him also. There were no fist fights, no one knocking someone else over for the last Elmo. Nothing. All he had happen to him, was people look at him like he was crazy because he wasn't buying one single Black Friday deal item.

Him and I put the tree together quickly before bed. The kids will be so excited to see it here in the morning, waiting for us to decorate it.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I *think* karma is out to get me...

What I just experienced was traumatizing. Perhaps because I have failed at posting what I am thankful for daily (I need to make up for that!) so it's a little slap of karma?

Oh Em Gee... The dirty diaper I just changed was the worst smelling I've ever had to deal with in my diaper changing career, I do believe. How is it possible for the smell to nearly kill you when you're HOLDING YOUR BREATH!? I'm traumatized. I'm terrified to change another poo diaper! I've always said dirty diapers didn't bother me... but that one did!!! Where was my husband when I needed him!?

I don't ever want to experience that again. I might have to take that child outside and use a high pressure washer to just blow that diaper right off, if this ever happens again.

One comment can change a lot

Sometimes I step back and wonder if sharing as much of my life as I do publicly, is a poor decision. Most people say it is. Maybe they are right. They probably are. But I continue to share the good, the bad, the silly... the gross. Why? I'm not really sure. Maybe it's because I really love my family and everything in my life is about them. I want to share that happiness.

I probably question my open-ness on a weekly basis. This morning I received a message on twitter that really touched me. It was a simple message, but it meant more to me than the person who sent it could have realized. 
"I need to thank you, wifey just told me we are preggers w/#3 (unplanned) & I didnt freak, your family has inspired me, shown whats possible."
That simple short little message changed how I thought about all that I share. When I post my blogs or tweet about things in my life, I don't put much thought into people actually reading them. That message made me realize that we have had a positive impact on his life in some small way. That is incredibly humbling. If he is the only person who walked away with something good out of what I share, it's all worth it. If others do... that is amazing. Someone else commented on my facebook in response to mentioning this, that we have also inspired her. That really means so much to me. 

To every one of you who I/we have met online or in person, all of my/our friends and acquaintances, all of my/our family who care about us.... I appreciate all of you. You inspire me. Thank you. Thank you for caring about us. It means more to us than you know.

Sarah

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Card

This morning I took a quick shot of the kids so I could get our Christmas cards ordered. It would have been better with the tree, but I didn't want to wait any longer. So... here we have it. Not too bad considering I did it myself while Tony was at work!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Timberdoodle Review - Bloco Construction Sets - Birds of Prey

Another Timberdoodle Review! The older boys reviewed the Bloco - Birds of Prey Construction Set for Timberdoodle recently. We have a good age range, so that really helps us see if the age recommendation on items like this are accurate in our opinion.


First, I'll talk about the item and packaging itself. The construction set is made up of a fairly sturdy high density foam. The parts that you use to hold the foam together are plastic. When you open the box you find several cut out sheets of the different shaped parts that you just need to pop out of the sheets, a bag with the plastic connectors and the instructions for building the birds of course. It took my older 3 boys roughly 15 minutes to to pop all of the pieces out of the sheets.


The instructions picture each step, so it is easy to understand and does not require your child to be able to read. My 5 and 6 year old boys just needed a little assistance with getting the joints in really well so that the model was sturdy, but otherwise could do it themselves. My 9 year old had no issues at all. Depending on the model, this could be a good 20 - 30 minute project (maybe even longer for some) between finding the right pieces and constructing it. Long enough to make them think and use their motor skills, but not so long that they become bored. My 3 year old did also build his own little model he thought up on his own :).


I would say that the age recommendation is pretty accurate. Younger children with good motor skills can enjoy this as well. My only gripe about these particular models is that they don't stay standing up well. My boys built the Eagle together first and they wanted to keep it on their shelf in the school room to show daddy when he visited on the weekend (He's away doing Navy junk and has been visiting on the weekends until he's done). I can't tell you how many time that thing has fallen over! Otherwise, it's a pretty neat set and my boys, who love to build, have been enjoying it. It's a great filler that wont turn their brains to mush. If your child doesn't care to build things, this probably isn't for them.


Timberdoodle has several different Bloco Construction Sets to choose from. They would make great stocking stuffers for the animal lover or builder in your life! If you're interested in seeing the large selection of educational toysgames and curriculum they offer, head on over and fan them on Facebook, check out their site and/or request their Catalog. We love them here!









As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team, I received Bloco Construction Set, Birds of Prey for free, in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 10

Day - 10
Today I am thankful for my children's health.  Alex has HGH deficiency and Cameron has severe food allergies, but those are small things in comparison to what they could have wrong with them. I am so very lucky to have such beautiful, healthy children.




Yes, that DID just happen

This was an actual conversation tonight with my husband. You probably don't want to read it.



He called me tonight for a little bit before he went to bed (He's at a Navy school right now.) The conversation we had was very typical of us... That is the sad part.

T - So, while I was in school today I was like "man, my belly hurts. I need to go to the bathroom." It was just a little small bathroom because of the area of the building I was in.

Me - ... and you took a huge dump, right?

T - Well, no. I had so much gas! I let out this LONG fart, it just kept going *insert fart imitating noises here*. When I stopped farting, almost immediately the automatic air freshener triggered. It was the funniest thing. Perfect timing.

Me - ... and you totally laughed out loud, all by yourself in the bathroom didn't you?

T - Yes, yes I did.

Me - I knew it!


This is why we couldn't be married to anyone but each other.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 9

Day - 9
Today I am thankful for my camera. With that camera I am able to capture moments in time that will always remind me of the good memories that were made in that moment. I am so thankful for the thousands of pictures I can go back and look at and the thousands more I will capture.


When I look at this photo, I'll always remember 4 1/2 month old Declan making growl sounds while he gnawed on Sophie the Giraffe's head... :)



Alexander - "I'm thankful that you homeschool me."

Cameron - "I'm thankful for my bed. It's comfortable."

Wyatt - "I'm thankful for the big van!"

Zayne - "I'm fankful for my monkey PJ's."


I'm pretty sure Annabella and Declan were thankful for the lubies they got in the mail tonight from one of the deal sites I stalk frequent.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 8

Day - 8
Today I am thankful for the patience I have gained over the past several years. Today was a very trying day over all. I have not been feeling well, the children were acting up a bit and my husband isn't here. I was able to keep my cool and deal with them appropriately despite the frustration of the day.


Alexander - "I'm thankful for chapstick. My lips are chapped."

Cameron - "I'm thankful for milk. It makes me big and stroooong." said in a long drawn out growl accompanied by muscle flexing


Wyatt - "I'm thankful for cups. It would be hard to drink stuff without cups. Right?" lol


Zayne - "I'm fankful for Owange Juice."

I love those kids. They sure do keep me on my toes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 7

Day - 7
Today I am thankful for my right and ability to homeschool our children. My husband financially supporting us enables me to be able to stay home to raise our children and in turn homeschool them as we have chosen to do. Watching them grew physically and intellectually right in front of me each and every day fills me with joy and pride. Watching them thrive in our homeschool environment confirms to me that homeschooling is the right thing for us right now.




Alexander - "I'm thankful for my family being great."

Cameron - "I'm thankful I get to share a bedroom with Alex."

Wyatt - "I'm thankful we live somewhere that it gets cold now."

Zayne - "I'm fankful I have toys!"


Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 6

Day - 6
Today I am thankful for the very few people in my life who truly and genuinely love and care for me. This has particularly stuck with me today because of hearing about hurtful things family members have been saying about me. Some fabricated, most skewed and all entirely unprovoked. I appreciate those in my life who love me the way that I am and would never think of being hateful toward or about me. Over the years I have realized this is rare and something to never take for granted.

Sometimes that word doesn't mean a whole lot...



Alexander - "I'm thankful for the medicine that is supposed to help me grow." (He is Human Growth Hormone Deficient and receives injections 6 days a week)

Cameron - "I'm thankful for my bed."

Wyatt - "I'm thankful for a mom that works so hard."

Zayne - "I'm fankful for Annabella's little kitchen!" (He has been playing with her birthday gift non stop lol)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 5

Day - 5
Today I am thankful that my husband was able to come home to be here for our daughter's 2nd birthday. He has to leave again tomorrow, but it was wonderful to have him here to see her excited about her gifts and make a huge mess with her cake!


When I asked the kids what they were thankful for... They all answered the same thing. They are all happy Daddy was here.


Annabella with Daddy while everyone sang Happy Birthday.



Friday, November 4, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - day 4

Day - 4
Today I am thankful for the heat in my house. It's pretty cold out tonight and I am baking my daughters birthday cake. I was starting to gripe about it being hot in here and it made me feel kind of bad thinking about the people who don't have a home at all or can't afford to have the heat on. Looking at it that way makes it being a little too hot in the house and having to open the back door, a lot less of a problem.


Alexander - "I'm thankful we're not homeless." (What is this kid a mind reader or something?)

Cameron - "I'm thankful for my DSi."

Wyatt - "I am thankful for Super Mario 64."

Zayne - "I am fankful for my dog." (His stuffed dog)






Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 3

Day 3
Today I am thankful for my Keurig! I know it's silly, but I LOVE that thing and I'm very thankful I am able to own it. My husband and I purchased it as a gift to each other during the holidays last year and we have both thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a bit of a coffee addict!


The mug says it all!




Alexander - "I'm thankful that we live in Connecticut now. Now we can see family."

Cameron - "I'm thankful for the food that you find that I'm not allergic to." (This one kind of made me sad. I feel so bad for him.)

Wyatt - "I'm thankful for my brothers and sister!"

Zayne - "I'm fankful for my awesome shoes!" (lol)


The 2 little ones have had a bit of a rough say. I think they hate everything today... lol.

Why are your hands there??? No Really, Why are your hands in your pants again!?

I am the mother of 5 boys (For now anyway. I'll probably end up with more BOYS lol)... WHY must at least one of them have their hands down their pants at any given moment of the day!? I suppose Declan doesn't really count yet, he doesn't even know where his pants are...
(I'll clarify for any of the pains in the behind, beforehand... They know not to stick their hands in their pants in public and they DO have manners despite the depiction of this entry :P)

Oh the things my daughter will have to endure. The endless sight of pulling, tugging and adjusting. The amusement of bodily functions. The urine on the toilet seat, The urine on the damn toilet seat!!! The poor darling. But really... being the only girl, she's a tad bit spoiled too! And lets not talk about the fact that her brothers have her thinking that farts are the funniest thing eva!

The hands in the pants... The answers I hear when I ask the pointless question of "WHY are your hands in your pants again!" usually range from "I don't know" to "My balls were stuck to my leg.". Yet, I still ask. Those type of answers don't even phase me. Overhearing conversations of the size of their latest poo or how loud their burp or fart just was, doesn't either. I think the combination of having several boys, being married to a Submariner and just not being a prude, has made me pretty easy going in that respect. When they are being exceptionally gross I'll tell them to cut it out, but a little excitement over the size of a poop, I can deal with. They know not to talk about that stuff in public, around other people or at the dinner table... so I can live with that!

Boys are kind of gross, really. But they are awesome!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 2

Day - 2
I am thankful for my children. I am so beyond fortunate to have each of them. They are my whole world and every single day I think about how very lucky I am to be their mom. They are beautiful and challenging (In a good way!). I can't imagine life without each of them in it. I love them with everything I have.




Alexander - "I'm thankful for all of the nice things I have. I know I'm lucky to have them."

Cameron - "I'm thankful for the food Grandma and Grandpa brought for dinner."

Wyatt - "I'm thankful for my warm blanky." (His RockerByeBaby blanket)

Zayne - "I'm fankful for my baby!" (He has a new BOY "doll")



Annabella would likely say M&M's... she got those after she peed in the potty today! :)

I'm pretty sure Declan would probably still say boobies... or maybe fingers... he's really digging those lately.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 days - What I'm thankful for - Day 1

I'm going to do the 30 days of what I am thankful for and blog what I am thankful for each day this month. With the holidays coming up, I think it's nice to focus on the good things! I'm going to try to include the older 4 boys in this as well :).


Day -1
I am so thankful for my husband. He has given me our amazing kids and he loves us endlessly. He's not here right now (booo Navy) and I am painfully aware of how much better life is with him around. I love him. He's the best Daddy, an amazing husband and even though he drives me crazy sometimes, I can't imagine life without him. We met this time of year, years ago, so that makes the holidays just that much more special.


This silly candid shot shows the REAL us... That raw happiness we still have, only better now! We have 6 children to share and multiply it with.




Alexander (9) - "I am thankful for my big family."

Cameron (6) - "I'm thankful for Wizard 101!"

Wyatt (5) - "I'm thankful for you and Daddy."

Zayne (3) - "I'm fankful for my pirate book!"


Ohhh Cameron... LoL.

I bet if Declan was capable of verbalizing what he is thankful for, he'd say "Boobies"...

Annabella would probably say "Emmie"... she's been squishing that poor dog with love all day lol.

A little catching up with some photos!

Last night was Halloween, so I figure I better catch up before fall is gone!

As a lot of my readers know, every year we do the pumpkin patch thing. Since my husband is not deployed, but was away, we had to fit it in during the short time he was home. We always do these things as a family if it's possible. It's really important to us. He couldn't be here for Halloween, but he WAS here for the pumpkin patch :).

Waiting for Daddy to come home so we can go!

The Pumpkin Patch :)

Annabella walking with Daddy <3.

Looking for a good Pumpkin.

Alexander

Cameron

Wyatt

Zayne

Annabella

Declan

All of my loves <3.


I thought this was really neat to photograph :).



 Here were the kids on Halloween! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I will not do it anymore!

I will not feel bad about saying something positive about my husband, myself, my kids or my family in general again.

Why can't people be positive? Why can't we say something GOOD without someone trying to bring us down and accuse us of implying something about them? When it had nothing to do with them!? I think it often comes down to insecurities. I mean that in the most non-snarky way possible. That's my only guess. Otherwise, why would people respond negatively to something positive you say about your family? It doesn't make much sense to me.

I will not apologize or feel bad anymore. If I am saying something good about my family, I have no reason to apologize and I wont let people make me feel as if I have to. When I speak of myself or my children in a positive light, it does NOT mean I am implying anything negative toward you. Ok? I refuse to focus on the negatives just so I don't say something that can be turned into something it isn't. It's just down right silly.


What the heck am I talking about you ask? I am speaking of several things or occasions, but "the straw that broke the camel's back" was within a post a friend of mine made today. She asked about child "leashes" (her wording) and if people had used them, why or why not etc. I answered honestly. I don't use them, so I said so and I said why. We're attentive and the kids all listen and stay with us, so we've never found a need for them. That is why we don't.... I said something positive about my husband, myself and my kids... but that is because it was my answer as to why we don't use them and it was the truth. What I said was what I meant. Nothing more.

I was accused of implying that people who use them don't pay attention to their kids and their kids are bad. I absolutely did not imply that. I didn't even THINK that. I never once said anything negative about using them at all actually. Just answered why *we* do not use them. I said something that (and I quote) " hits my nerves in ways that enrage me" . This person (and others) made several comments that made me feel like shit and had me this >< close to apologizing and messaging my friend to apologize for saying something that she might have thought I said to imply she was a lousy mom for thinking of using one or that her child is badly behaved. But I stepped back and looked at it again. This is exactly what I said...
I wont use them and have not personally found a need. We go to busy places and my kids know they have to stay with us, hold our hands etc. I've never lost a kid. We're very attentive and they listen well, so we just have never had a need to leash them lol.


This one response, answering the questions (If I used them and why or why not) "enraged" someone. I truthfully feel what I said did not warrant that kind of reaction. I said something positive about my family in a response to a question. After reading what I said and her responses that I feel were a little dramatic/harsh considering what i did say, again, I decided I shouldn't have to apologize. I didn't say anything negative toward anyone. I didn't even say anything negative about the child harnesses themselves. Saying something positive about my family does not automatically imply something negative about yours. As I stated above, I think it comes down to insecurities. I think in general, for you to take something positive someone says and assume there was a negative implication, you must have some degree of insecurity in that choice you've made (obviously this doesn't fit all circumstances). I am not saying this is any rude way either. We ALL have decisions we've made and other things we are insecure about. I could understand people being angry if I said something negative about the harnesses or people who use them, but I didn't. I've run into situations like this many times before and I always feel bad, send messages to apologize etc. Now, if I do actually say something to be mean, then hey, I SHOULD apologize. However, that was not the case here. BUUT, it all boils down to we have the right to say what we feel, state our opinions etc, so she has the right to say whatever she wants, but that also goes both ways.

Are my kids perfect? Of course not. Am I perfect? Definitely not. Do I pretend either to be the case. Absolutely not. Do I focus on the negatives or the "bad"? NO and I shouldn't. I mention things my kids do wrong now and then or things I screw up, but I'm not going to focus on them, I'm going to focus on the good things, as I should.

I've been trying to bring more positive into my life and I will not apologize anymore for saying good things about my family.



If my friend is reading this... I sincerely hope you didn't take what I said as a negative implication toward you or your child. I think you and your husband are amazing parents and I don't doubt for a second you wouldn't make the right decision for YOUR family in this and all situations. I was answering your questions, nothing more. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The "Steps" of a Military Move

This is not going to be a post to give any actual real help, but it will be factual and surely a little (or a lot) tongue-in-cheek.

Step 1. I've got orders!
Or do I? Were you penciled in or do you have hard copy orders? Well, if you have hard copy orders, then you actually have orders, if not.. you don't actually have orders. So lets assume we're talking about hard copy orders... You have orders! This is the start of the whole (often) not so pleasant process. Congratulations! You now probably have a couple of months until you move. Yeah, yeah... Your friend's, friend's, aunt's, daughter's husband's, brother is in the Army/Marines/Navy and had their orders 9 months before they had to move. It's possible, but lets face it, do you really think you're lucky enough to have that kind of notice? Probably not.

Step 2. Setting up the move
Now you get to deal with the flakes at the move office who may or may not be really helpful. Either way, they are your go to guys! (like it or not). You have to choose the dates you wish to move, wait for them to contact you and tell you whether that is available or not and then rely on them to set you up with a moving company (make sure you stay on top of it and call them often!). They will get you hooked up with one of the crappiest movers available (Fact! They don't pay well so the good companies wont move for the military) and they will not expect these movers to confirm your dates until about 7 - 10 days before the move. Convenient huh!?

You can choose to do a DITY move, which is a huge pain in the ass and you can also choose to do a partial DITY move, which we always do. We take a trailer with things we need/don't want the movers touching. Those options also need to be taken care of with the move office (yay...)
.
Step 3. Setting up housing
Now this part varies depending on the route you're taking. Renting/buying in town or military housing?You mist decide that (like.. RIGHT AWAY) and start acting on it. You should be working on this at the same time as working on your move set up. If you want to live in housing (it is convenient after all) then you must provide  them with your orders, the date you'd like to move in and what you want in their housing area. In some places this is easy and they have plenty open, in others you'll be put on a waiting list. If you're choosing to rent or buy, well... you're an adult and you should know how to do that part.

Somewhere in here, don't forget to give your notice to your current property facilitator (hah, I like wording it that way!) if you rent, that you'll be moving.


Step 4. Pack out day!
This is assuming you chose to have the military hire movers for you. Yay! People you've never met in your life and will probably never see again in your life, are about to touch EVERYTHING in your house! Better yet, they are about to touch it all and throw it into boxes doing what they call "packing". What "packing" really mean is they will dump your drawers into boxes (photo evidence below!) that also contain assorted things from various rooms (likely not properly wrapped) and tape it shut. They'll even put the empty tape roll into the box if they reach the end of that roll! So sweet huh? THEN, they'll improperly label it! (like.. It'll say kitchen and be full of toys!) Please, PLEASE make sure your house is clean and organized before they do this. If you don't, your dirty dishes and garbage will be packed. Make sure you set aside anything you absolutely would be heart broken if it is lost/stolen/broken and don't let them touch it. Things do get stolen and you're one of the very few lucky ones if you walk away without things broken. The lead packer will inventory all of the boxes on a sheet and leave it with you for the actual driver who will be picking up and driving your stuff.
Note: FEED THEM. If you don't, they'll pack your stuff even worse than you already have been. Also have drinks readily available, because well.... if you don't at least have water for them... you're an asshole.



Step 5. Loading day!
That day has come! The day they will load up your entire life, into a huge truck and drive away with it! That sure gives me the warm and fuzzies, how about you? The truck driver will inventory your furniture and anything not packed in a box. His crew will begin to take everything out of your home to load. Probably banging it off walls as they carry it out (our last movers weren't too bad though! We've had some BAD ones. Our packers did suck, however.) and then will sit it on the ground outside while they figure out what is going where, to efficiently pack the truck. It's pretty cut and dry.... it's a long day of watching people take away everything you own.
Note: FEED THEM. If you don't, they'll pack your stuff even worse than you already have been. Also have drinks readily available, because well.... if you don't at least have water there for them... you're an asshole. They ARE carrying your crap out of your house after all.




Step 6. Travel to your destination and wait for your stuff!
I hate this part, mostly because you don't really know how long your stuff will take to get to you. I have a friend who her stuff just sat in New Mexico because there were no drivers to bring her stuff to her destination... It just SAT THERE.. for like over a month i think. Some people do plan fun stops during their moves. We are more of the "get it over with" kind of people. We aren't fond of hotels (since they cost us an arm and a leg with 6 kids and 2 dogs) and we don't enjoy the long hours driving, for the same reason previously stated. Get to your destination, get to your new home and be ready for your stuff to be delivered. If you are waiting on housing, then your stuff will be put in storage, I personally avoid this if at all possible! I just want my stuff and want to settle in as quickly as I can.


Step 7. Delivery day!
Yes! Your stuff is here!!! Your life is pulling up out front and is about to be unloaded into your new home! Go ahead, do a little happy dance, odds are the happiness won't last long once you start seeing damaged furniture coming through the door, so enjoy it now while you still can! They will unload everything into your home, probably banging up walls with furniture as they move it in and loading boxes in everywhere making it almost impossible to move inside your home. But it's ok, your stuff is here! YAAAY!

Step 8. Unpacking
This is The. Worst. Part. You will open box after box of improperly packed things (see Step 4) and find broken items and damaged furniture along the way. Hopefully not too much. It's like Christmas in the twilight zone.. or something. This unpacking thing I do fast. I want to be settled, pictures on the wall and no more boxes within a week. Which, I usually am. The huge mound of boxes and paper you have to try to find a place for is the best part! Settle in and be glad it's all over for a couple of years... maybe a little more.. maybe less... lol.

Yes, I know people who are not in the military move... But the average non-military family does not move that often. We've PCS'd 4 times in the past 8 years... also moved twice locally. So 6 moves in 8 years.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Adventures of a Homeschooler aka A Family Day out!

Today was one of those days that reminds me why I love homeschooling! Yesterday we did extra work (2 days worth) to free up today for a field trip! A few days ago my parents bought us a family membership to Mystic Aquarium as a housewarming gift since we just moved here to CT and live about 15 minutes from it (I have some entries to make about he move too. Need to get to that!). What better gift could you give a homeschooling family with 6 children!? It's perfect!

 After lunch we were off to the Aquarium. Despite growing up in the North East, I had never been to Mystic, so it was exciting for me too! We spent nearly 2.5 hours there and the kids absolutely loved it. Well, Declan slept the entire time, but what do you expect from a 3 month old, right? The other 5 though, they had a great time. The Sea Lion show was cute, we saw a Beluga that was apparently aggressive (It was jaw clicking at a baby through the glass lol) and the atmosphere of the indoor tanks was nice. Besides the yellow jackets that kept flying around the youngest 2 in the stroller while we were outside, it was a great day!

Here is some photographic evidence of how much the life of homeschooled children sucks!

Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT.


Sea Lion show!


Hands on learning!

Sharks!

Sea Turtle!

She loved it :)

You can SEE him learning :).

African Penguins!

The Marsh


Beluga Whale!


"Heeeeey guuuuuuys"

This is what Declan thought of Mystic! lol