Monthly Archives: December 2012

Together Again, As It Should be

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Waiting…

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Reunited after 9 months…

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In love..

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Santa, Who?

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9 months. 38 weeks. 267 days. However you want to count the time, thats how long I have been without my husband. Dave is a Marine Corps Pilot and deployed last March. Starting tomorrow (!!!!) I will be learning to cook for 4 people. Cassidy didnt eat solids before he left, so I have never cooked for 4.

My life is about to finally return to normal, thank God. I have tried not to wish away the time since I can’t get back this time in my kids’ lives. But deployment sucks…thats all there is to it. I tried to be postive and see the little bits of good that comes with it

The Good:

-I sleep at night without loud snoring right next to me

-the house (and toilets!) stays very clean

-I have way less laundry. Everyday Dave wears a flight suit, undershirt, boot socks, usually a gym outfit, and then civilian clothes when he gets home, and something to bed…that’s 4 outfits per day

That’s about all I’ve got…like I said, deployment sucks!

The Bad:

-I was constantly nervous of someone finding out my husband is gone and trying to break in, abduct my kids, etc. Military wives are targeted and it happens unfortunately.

-I don’t get to see my husband for 9 months. For those of you who say pregnancy is the longest 9 months ever, its not trust me! He is my best friend. I miss him.

-My kids don’t get to see their Daddy for 9 months. This kills me. I hate hearing Alyssa tell me she’s so sad and I hate it that Cassidy doesn’t even know her Daddy. Including training for deployment, Dave has only seen Cassidy for 4 months out of her 16 so far. He has missed 2 years of Alyssa’s 4. The kids don’t understand why he is gone. We have a Daddy candy jar with a Hersey “hugs from daddy”  and “kisses from daddy”. Every night before bed Alyssa got one and could watch the candies in the jar lower as time went on which meant it was closer to him coming home.

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-I am solely responsible for everything. Cleaning, cooking, finances, fixing cars, house repairs, renewing registrations, mowing, etc, Over the course of this deployment the AC broke, the refrigerator broke (and is still broken), Dave’s car won’t start. Oh and Cassidy had the stomach flu 3 times and Alyssa twice. That’s a lot of puke!

-I love my children dearly but I don’t have any sort of break. I don’t use babysitters and my family doesn’t live close. I pee with a 16 month old clapping “yayyy” and a 4 year old talking my ear off. And a shower without 2 kids at my feet or climbing in fully dressed would be nice as well.

-extensions: Dave was on his way home when the Israel ordeal started back in November. He had to turn back around and ended up staying a month longer than planned. Talk about a tease!

-The obvious danger… 2 weeks into deployment, there was a crash, I read about it online at 6 pm. There are only 20ish osprey pilots in his unit. My husband had emailed me earlier that day telling me he’d try seeing if the phones work to call me after he went flying that day. I knew my husband was in the air at that time. Ok now I am freaking out. The articles say 2 died, 2 are seriously injured. I call other wives, gather all the information we can, and I was able to narrow it down to my husbands plane or one other. I put the kids to bed and sat by the front door waiting for someone to come knocking to tell me the horrible news. I was convinced it was coming. Cassidy was running a very high fever, over 105 (and was hospitalized later that week). To make a very loooong night and story short, I get a call from my husband at 745 am the next morning, 13 hours after reading the news article. He was safe, thank God. The next 2 weeks consisted of in and out of the hospital with my then 7 month old. My mom kept saying how well I was handling Cassidy being hospitalized. My husband was safe and I was confident Cassidy would be ok eventually, its all about perspective!

My only issue left is Alyssa and I playfully arguing over who gets to give Dave the first hug Smile. I tried compromising on a “group family hug” but that didn’t fly with her. I won’t be able to keep my little girl from her Daddy 2 seconds more once she sets sights on him, so she wins, she’s going to get the first hug…TOMORROW!

And my meal plan this week…to feed 4, is catered around the fact that my husband has eaten nasty food (he said for lunch today they served chicken nuggets that leaked gray goo when he bit into it) for 9 months and i want to make his favorite healthy comfort foods:

Breakfasts:

Pumpkin pancakes (he saw them on the blog while he was gone and commented they looked so good)

Plain greek yogurt with crushed pineapple and almond granola

Greek yogurt pancakes

Omelets

I will also be making breakfast burritos and freezing them for Dave to eat before work. Yes, he has been deployed for 9 months and has to work all week, and the weekend, before time off for christmas.

Dinners:

Meatloaf, potaotes, roasted cauliflower

lasagna with homemade noodles, chicken sausage, zucchini and a salad

chicken tacos with homemade tortillas, peppers, cheese, guacamole, and plain greek yogurt

Chili and corn studded cornbread

Surf and Turf: Grilled lamb chops, broiled tilapia, brown rice, salad

Out dinner: Sushi

Leftovers to clear everything out before making christmas dinner!

I also have graham crackers and english muffins made and ready for snacking.

We are getting the best Christmas present ever this year!! 🙂 I think they should change the saying “like a little kid on christmas” to “like a family who hasnt seen their deployed husband/Daddy for 9 months” because this excitement far surpasses christmas day, just ask Alyssa! Santa is nothing this year, just give her Daddy!

(homecoming pictures to come!)

Homemade English Muffin Recipe

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I love english muffins. I’d much rather have a sandwich on an english muffin than bread. They also are great as garlic bread with dinner. Or with cream cheese instead of a bagel. This is a recipe I make about every other week. They are so easy and SO good. They taste like the store bought ones but without the preservatives. They even have the perfect nooks and crannies!

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English Muffins with perfect nooks and crannies

Makes 24

2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 package yeast
1 3/4 cups milk

1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
4.25 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
1 egg
1 Tbs wheat gluten
1/4 cup cornmeal

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In a saucepan or microwave safe bowl, heat the milk, water, and butter until very warm. Not to hot or it will kill the yeast. Add the yeast and let sit until it foams up.

Stir together 3 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer. Gradually add milk and yeast mixture as you beat on medium speed. Add egg.

Gradually add more flour until a soft dough forms. The 4.25 cups is a rough measurement and it requires a slightly different amount based on brand of flour, how old flour is, humidity, etc.

Knead for 3 minutes.

Cover bowl with a towel and let it rise for 1 hour, until it doubles in size.

Punch it down. Let it rise back to double its size, 45 minutes to an hour.

Punch it down again. Roll it out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscut cutter or large glass to cut out muffins. It should make 24 regular sized english muffins.  Keep in mind they still need to rise one last time, so they will grow some.

Place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Be generous with the cornmeal. If they stick at all, they will deflate when you are trying to pry them off the sheet.

Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Heat a griddle to low heat and spray with cooking spray. Place muffins 8 at a time on the griddle using a metal spatula. Be careful not to deflate them. Cook for 10 minutes on the first side, until lightly browned. Gently flip and cook another 10 minutes on the other side.

Don’t cut with a bread knife. Use a fork to cut it open. It has perfect nooks and crannies!

These are seriously amazing. One of the best foods I think I’ve ever made. My children are obsessed, and I am too. We eat them as peanut butter and banana sandwiches, egg mcmuffins, chicken salad, garlic bread, etc.

Here is Cassidy not happy that I am taking a picture of one instead of giving it to her!

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I usually keep 8 out and freeze the rest. They defrost very well.

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Nutritional Information:

Calories: 91

Fat: 1.2 g

Sodium: 203 mg (8%)

Carbohydrates: 17 g

Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g

Sugars: 2 g

Protein: 4 g

Easy Meals all Week

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This weeks meal plan theme is “easy”. I have a “to do” list and “to fix” list that is a mile long and it must all get done this week. I also have a to “bake list” which includes english muffins, hamburger buns, tortillas, almond flake cereal, and graham crackers. The baking extravaganza wont be until later in the week once everything else is finished.  I also have vet appointments, all 3 of our dental appointments, 5 holiday parties, 1 playdate, and 1 preschool party. And I think I am forgetting something too. I am tired already. I may be getting quite a few half caff coffees this week instead of full decaf!

So this weeks menu will include lots of grilled meats, roasted veggies, and sweet potatoes. All quick, easy, but still healthy.

My breakfasts for the week will include:

Pumpkin oatmeal x 2

banana oatmeal x 3

almond bran flake cereal

A free breakfast with “Gunny Claus” for military families.

Dinners will include:

Grilled chicken, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potaotes

grilled chicken, roasted cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes

Veggie omelets with english muffins on the side

crockpot ribs, brown rice, mixed vegetables

leftover ribs, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed green beans

meatloaf, quinoa, broccoli

Either leftovers or out to dinner one night if I don’t want to dirty my kitchen over the weekend…

Each dinner will take about 30 minutes from start to finish and will all still be simple whole foods. Nothing fancy but those are honestly some of my favorite types of meals. I roast all of my vegetables with a tiny but of olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic salt. Sometimes a little fresh cracked pepper too. I grill my chicken and brush it with a little italian dressing. Not sure how I am going to do the ribs yet, they were on sale so I just got them. We’ll see whatever I throw in the crockpot.

Now I am off to create another scene for “Otis”, our elf on the shelf. I need to start doing it as soon as the girls go to bed instead of waiting until right before I go to bed. All of my creative energy is gone and I end up just sitting him inside Alyssa’s stocking like last night. Although she seemed to enjoy that. Last week he was watching a movie with popcorn all over his lap when we woke up, was eating a banana in the kitchen one day, added a little chocolate to Alyssa’s milk I always pre pour the night before as a special treat. Tonight I think he might take Barbie on a date in the Barbie car if I can find it at the bottom of the toy box…

Holiday Fun and Fudge

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I love the holiday season with all of the attractions and parties for us to go to. Last night we went on a holiday hayride at a place that makes homemade fudge. It was 73 degrees here today so I figured it would be a perfect night to go. It did not disappoint! Nor did the fudge. I couldn’t make up my mind so I sampled peppermint, peanut butter chocolate, red velvet, coconut, birthday cake, Butterfinger, and white chocolate before settling on butterfinger. It was just pure chocolate with a little crushed butterfinger on top. To me fudge is chocolate and simple and this was the simplest of the flavors.

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Luckily the rest of my eating for the day made up for my fudge consumption…

Breakfast: Blueberry Greek yogurt pancakes topped with maybe a Tbs of real maple syrup

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Snack: half caf coffee with a little peppermint mocha creamer and part of an apple

Lunch: Beans and greens (times 3, they were good!) , plain greek yogurt topped with crushed pineapple

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Snack: almonds and chopped dates

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Dinner: Grilled Chicken and Blue Cheese Sandwich on homemade wheat bun, extra chicken and broccoli stalks on the side. I feel like the broccoli stalks are so big they make the plate look small, but thats a regular sized dinner plate.  or maybe I’m crazy?

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Dessert: probably half of a 1/4 lb chunk of fudge including samples. That’s roughly 2 oz of fudge and a HUGE amount of self control…that stuff is good!

My kids ate what I ate for the most part…

Cassidy, who is now 15 months, ate 2 pancakes and 1/2 apple for breakfast, Beans and greens plus a homemade wheat roll for lunch, and for dinner it was the same exact sandwich and veggies as mine but deconstructed. She shared a pear with Alyssa for dessert. She also nurses 3 times a day still.

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Alyssa, who is 4, ate 4 blueberry pancakes for breakfast with maybe 1 tsp syrup and a glass of whole milk, beans and greens with a wheat roll for lunch, some almonds and dates with me for a snack while Cassidy napped, and the same chicken sandwich and veggies for dinner. She had half a pear and a bite of fudge for dessert.

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I don’t remember the magical age when I started to allow Alyssa to have things like pure maple syrup on her pancakes or fudge for dessert. She still only gets a very small amount, her pancakes arent doused in high fructose corn syrup or anything. When her tsp of syrup is gone, she doesn’t get more and shes ok with that. Shes also ok with only a small bit of fudge because she knows she doesn’t ususally get stuff like that so shes appreciative (usually, she is 4 afterall!). I wanted to say it was closer to age 2. But either way, I think my days of her eating pears while I eat fudge are numbered!

Otis the Elf

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This year our family started the Elf on the Shelf tradition. It’s a really cute idea where a little elf watches over your kids and reports back to Santa about them. Every morning when you wake up he is in a different spot doing different things. Often times he’s mischievous, but our elf, Otis, is just a playful silly elf. There won’t be any trashing of rooms or vandalizing. He came with a book that explained who he was and what he did. He also said not to touch him, or else his magic would be gone, and he needs his magic to fly and report back to Santa every night.

So far he showed up on day 1 in the cookie jar. That’s where Santa left him the night he dropped him off. He had to stop by the house that night to read the letter Alyssa wrote him that was hung on the fridge.

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Day 2 he had himself a little tea party on the mantle above the fireplace.

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Day 3, he got into the candy jar, ate one and left the wrapper there. Alyssa very quickly said she would be his big helper and throw it away for him. She’s sucking up to Otis obviously and its adorable. He also ate another later in the day since Alyssa found a different wrapper sitting behind him. Otis likes hershey kisses apparently Smile.

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The note says “Alyssa, I still have my magic, don’t worry”. On the first day, she was so excited after we read the book and found him in the cookie jar she went to grab his hat so she would pull him out of the jar and get a better look. She quickly let him go and her eyes filled with tears. She said “oh no. I’m so sorry Otis, I am so so sorry. I am just so sorry, I didn’t mean it. Oh no Mommy, I am sooo sorry. Oh Otis I am so sorry I just made your magic go away”. My poor girl felt so bad for Otis. The book said if you touch him his magic goes away. I assured her he knew it was an accident and he would still have his magic. She was very relieved to see his note.

And since “Otis” cant live off hershey kisses alone, I made us a meal plan for the week. This weeks meal plan I didnt label a certain dinner for Monday or Wednesday or Thursday. I am just deciding on 7 meals for each breakfast and dinner and I will most likely wait until the day of to decide what I feel like cooking that night.

Breakfasts:

Stovetop oatmeal with banana, peanut butter, ground flax  (twice)

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches on homemade rolls with cups of milk

Almond Bran Flake Cereal with milk topped with sliced banana (twice)

Pumpkin greek yogurt pancakes

Egg and cheese on homemade english muffins

Dinners:

Grilled balsamic chicken, brown rice, salad (some frozen peas or green beans for Cassidy, Alyssa eats salad though)

Baked Chicken Nuggets, baked french fries with old bay, mixed veggies

Pan fried tilapia, broccoli, quinoa

Hamburgers, sweet potato fries, peas

Beans and greens cheesy soup

Leftovers one night

Dinner at a friends house one night

Now if Otis would only learn how to cook all these meals and do the dishes afterwards too…