Thursday, June 28, 2007

Am I really ME?

I had a revelation today. I was driving home from the gas station, and "La la" by Ashlee Simpson was blasting on my stereo (no kids=high volume). And I realized something. I realized one of the reasons I have such an urge to move back to Washington all the time.

I don't feel like ME here. At least not the me I had been while living in Bremerton. So many things changed when we moved down here, in lifestyle and personality. Lower pay, no more "gourmet" cooking/experimenting, no yoga 2 times a week, no more downloading cool music on the iPod, no easy access to stores and shopping, no hanging out with my sisters, no 12-hour scrapbooking, no buying the latest fashions (no buying?, heck, no SEEING). When we lived in Washington, I felt COOL. I might not have been cool, but I at least felt like I was. I felt like I was at least connected to the outside world. Like I could go places, and see people, and do things. Even if it was just going to Fred Meyer to look around the health food section. I could go to the mall and buy a cool new t-shirt. My funky screen-print tees were cool there, not weird like they would be here. I even feel different at church. My church in Washington was much more upbeat, more contemporary. They sang songs that I heard frequently on the radio. It just felt young, and alive. My church here definitely caters more to the older set. It's mostly old hymns, and when they do sing the occasional more contemporary song, it's done in an old-fashioned way. Life is much more isolated here. We've got some awesome friends. More friends than we ever had in Washington. We do more, socially. All of our friends are Christians, which is totally cool. Jason can hunt and fish and ride 4-wheelers whenever he wants to. He is starting to make some friends who are in a line of work that he is interested in. The kids are involved in more down here (AWANAs, tee-ball, swimming). They have a lot more friends down here than they did in Washington.

So, here is the question. What is more important? My "coolness," or the happiness of my kids and husband? The answer to that question is obvious. But it doesn't make it any easier to accept. I miss who I was in Washington. I was finally starting to come into my own. To feel like my own person. I was finding my personality again. The one I lost somewhere between high school and motherhood. My funky, happy, weird, hip-ish personality was finally finding it's way back.

Okay. Enough rambling for now. Sorry to dump my problems. But hey, it's my blog after all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Menu and thoughts for Monday (June 25th)

Monday was another off-ish day. We ate breakfast late (I was lazing on the couch) and we went to my mother-in-law's house for dinner. I actually MADE something for lunch, which is odd. Usually we just have sandwiches, or a pieced together lunch, but I used the stove today! So, here it is:

Breakfast - Kefir Smoothies and dry Cheerios
Lunch - Shells (I'll explain in a minute)
Broccoli from a friends garden
Cheese slices
Dinner - Lasagna Hamburger Helper
Green Salad
Garlic Bread

And here's my commentary:

Breakfast - We love us some kefir smoothies in our house. A couple of weeks ago I bought a bunch of fruit, cut it up, and put it in the freezer. We originally started making smoothies with vanilla yogurt, but since I got my kefir grains, we have been using that. We have had several variations; everything from plain old strawberry/banana to carrot juice/mango/banana. I have chopped apples, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, bananas, and even frozen pomegranate juice in the freezer. I have run out of some of these, and need to restock. I would love to buy a TON of fruit, so it might last me for a while. With it being summertime, I hope to find it on sale. Anyway, this mornings smoothie was grape/pineapple/mango/pomegranate juice/strawberry. It mostly tasted like strawberry. After the smoothies, the kids were still hungry, so I gave them the last of the Cheerios.

Lunch - Shells. Sounds simple, and it is. My sister Kim gave me this recipe. I know my sister Jenni has it also. They got it from a friend named Mary (I think). Anyway, here is the recipe:

1 to 2 tsp olive oil
Small to Medium Onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 C small shell pasta
8 oz can tomato sauce
1-2 sauce cans water (enough to cover shells)
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Beef bullion cubes to taste (I used beef bullion powder)

Saute onion and garlic in oil for 1 minute. Add shells and saute until oil is absorbed and shells are lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, water, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and bullion. Bring to a boil, boil for one minute (to dissolve bullion powder). Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir when done cooking to distribute sauce.

These were great. My sister informs me that they are awesome as leftovers, too. I can't wait until tomorrow to find out! I just served this with some raw broccoli and ranch dressing, and some cheddar cheese slices.

Dinner - We went to my mother-in-law's house for dinner tonight, so we ate something I wouldn't normally serve. I don't know when the last time I bought a box of Hamburger Helper was. I would like to be able to say that with all the made-from-scratch stuff I have been cooking recently, that the Hamburger Helper tasted yucky in comparison. But unfortunately, it was really good! The lasagna is one of my favorites. We had a nice salad and some store-bought garlic bread. For dessert we had some of the No Bake Cookies from Sunday. But my real dessert will be Neopolitan ice cream, once I know the kids are asleep.

Well, that was Monday. Now it's time to go think about what's for dinner tomorrow. And I think I'll get started on those raspberrry muffins, so we can have them for breakfast!

See you later!


Well, I remembered the profound thing I wanted to say. Since I haven't gotten out of my computer chair, I figured I'd write it down before I forgot it again.

When we lived in Washington, and we were making more money, I loved to do lots of fancy, "gourmet" cooking. I didn't have much of a limit on what I could buy, so it was fun to buy expensive ingredients, even if I only used them once or twice.

Well, we are kind of on the other end of the money spectrum now. We live in a small town where even basic ingredients can be pricey. "Gourmet" is almost out of the question. Along with the small town charm comes high prices and low salaries. And with another baby on the way, there is even more reason to spend less.

So, not only am I on a quest to be more natural, but I am also on a quest to be more frugal. Spending less at the grocery store; finding healthier low-cost alternatives to cheap, unhealthy "convenience foods"; avoiding impulse, or unplanned purchases at the local, expensive grocery store; and finding needed items (household goods, clothing, gifts, toys) used or new for less. These are my goals for our money future.

Being the "woman of house," it is my job to spend my husband's hard-earned money smartly. I need to make the most of what God has provided for us. And I hope you'll enjoy my ride. Maybe I can teach you something, and if you have any ideas (old or new), I hope you will share them with me.

Okay, there it was. It's all out of my brain now!

Menu and thoughts for Sunday (June 24th)

Sunday was kind of an odd day. Jason and I went fishing early in the morning. The kids stayed the night at GG and Papa's, so there was no morning rush for breakfast. Also, no having to think of anything for lunch. We also had some friends over for dinner, so the menu there was a little different than normal (although not much different). So, anyway, here it is:

Breakfast - Last of the blueberry muffins (in the car)
Lunch - Ham/Turkey sandwiches (at the lake)
Dinner - Poor Woman's BBQ Chicken
Chicken Style Rice & Roni
Green salad
Dessert - No-Bake Cookies

I added links to the recipes I got from other sites. Recipes that are from my book (or from someone I know), I will just type below (I will type the original recipe in dark blue, and any changes I happened to make in red). So, here are my thoughts on this day.

Breakfast - These were the last of some blueberry muffins I made the other day. And I have to say, these were the best I ever made! Usually when I use half AP (All Purpose) flour and half WW (Whole Wheat) flour, they turn out dry and kinda' yucky. But this time, I used kefir instead of milk, and they were fabulous (for more on kefir, go here). Here is the recipe:

2 C flour (1 C AP, 1 C WW Pastry)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
3/4 C milk (1 C kefir)
1/2 C butter, melted and slightly cooled (since I added extra kefir, I reduced this a little)
1 C blueberries (but you can add whatever you want here)

Combine dry ingredients. Mix together egg and milk and add to dry ingredients. Stir in butter. Stir in blueberries. Bake at 400* for 20-25 minutes (I did 20 minutes, and they were perfect).

I actually have some kefir in my fridge that is ready to use, so I think I might make some raspberry muffins tomorrow. I got this recipe from my sister Heather (not sure where she got it from), and it is an easy and fast recipe.

Lunch - What could be easier than ham and turkey sandwiches and a bag of tortilla chips? I would like to add that I found some bread at PriceLess (cheapest grocery store in Yreka) that has no high fructose corn syrup in it. The texture is a little different (definitely not Wonder bread), but I like knowing I'm feeding my family a little healthier.

Dinner - Dinner was great. Good food (that was relatively easy to prepare) and good friends.

The BBQ chicken was really tasty. I used some bone-in, skin-on hindquarters (legs and thighs). I will NEVER do that again. I knew there was a reason I bought my meat skinless and boneless! I will use legs and thighs again, as I think using the darker meat kept it really moist during the long cooking time. The sauce was really good, and easy to prepare. Just try to have all your ingredients ready to go beforehand.

The rice was also very good. It had a lot of flavor. I actually 1 1/2'd the recipe, to feed 4 adults and three little kids. But using the actual recipe would have been perfect for just our family. I also used all rice, instead of the noodles, just to save time. On the website, the lady talks about making up several bags of this at a time, to have on hand as "convenience food." I definitely plan on doing that with this recipe, along with some others I got from her site. As soon as I can find a good deal on a huge bag of rice!

Our guests brought the salad and the cornbread. The salad was just a basic green salad, with lettuce from their garden, and lots of veggies. The cornbread was awesome! Very moist and fluffy. It was made from scratch (no Jiffy boxes here!) by the husband. So it is probably a fairly easy recipe. I plan on getting a copy from them, and when I do, I will post it.

Dessert - I did not like these cookies. I followed the recipe exactly as it said (I even timed the 4 1/2 minutes of boiling), and they did not turn out very good. The mixture turned almost rock solid before I even got it off the stove to the wax paper. I added some milk just to make it spoonable. I didn't realize until I had already started that there was no peanut butter in this version, but coconut instead. I like coconut, but I like the peanut butter ones a lot better. Just to let you know, I just tried the cookies. They are not too bad. They seemed to harden up okay, although they are very crumbly and messy. But without the peanut butter, the chocolate is a little harsh. They might be good crumbled on vanilla ice cream. Next time, I will be making these No-Bake Cookies.

Well, I think that is all for Sunday. We won't go into the half a box of Bottle Cap candy I ate at the lake, okay? I hope you enjoyed this look into my kitchen (that sounded kinda' cheesy!).

See you later!

Welcome to my home!

***(AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was going to create a new blog, focusing on my home and the things I am doing and learning in it. But I decided that the things that happen in my home are a part of the adventure of my life. So I thought I would just include those things here, on the blog about MY LIFE. Plus, I don't want to confuse you all with two blogs!)***

My kitchen seems to have become the heart of my home. I always wondered what people meant when they said this, but now I know. It is not a fancy kitchen, it is not big, it is not even very well organized. I am usually midway on some project or another, the sink and drainer are full of dishes, the counters are cluttered, and the table is usually scattered with childish paraphernalia. But, as "they" say, this is where the magic happens. While the kitchen has become the heart of my home, my computer desk continues to be the brain of my home. But that is another post.

I'm not planning to do anything fancy in these new posts. I just thought it might be a fun way to share what I am doing in my kitchen, and in my home. As many of my family and friends know, I have started on a quest to learn more about being all-natural (or crunchy-granola, as my sister likes to call it). I have already done many new things to move me and my family to this new way of life. I hope to share some of those things with you in the future. I also hope to post our menu at the end of the day, and share my thoughts on it. I love to find new recipes online and try them out on my family and friends, and I'd love to share these recipes (and my opinions of them!) with you.

I was going to write something else profound, but my pregnant brain will not allow me to recall that piece of information right now. When (or IF) I remember what it was, I will let you know.

Thank you all for reading my blog. I'd probably still randomly post, even if you weren't reading, but it's nice to know you care!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tyner's Big Boy Bed

Well, I just thought I'd post some pictures of Tyner's big boy bed that we put up today. We finally found a twin mattress. We got it from the parents of a friend of ours (for free! gotta' love that). So, we set up the bed today, with his awesome jungle animal quilt Nana made him. We haven't got the matching curtains up yet (sorry Mom!), but when we do, I'll put those pictures up too. So, here it is:

By the way, Heather. Are there supposed to be bolts that keep the bed together?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Twenty-four down, sixteen to go.

Okay, guys. I know it's been a long four weeks. And that you have all been anxiously waiting for my latest belly picture. Well, wait no more. Here it is. This is 24 weeks:

And, just for some comparison, here is my 20 week picture:

I looked at Sierra's baby book, for some comparison. I am as big now (at 24 weeks) as I was with her at 31 weeks. Yikes!

Things are going well so far. This one (hereafter called Zeke) is an active little fellow. More active than his brother and sister were, I think. Everytime I eat, he moves. Everytime I sit down to rest, he moves. Everytime I lay down to sleep, he moves. When I get up in the middle of the night to, uh, relieve myself, I seem to wake him up. So then he moves when I lay back down. Very active.

Speaking of the middle of the night. I am now sleeping on the couch. No, Jason didn't kick me out of bed. Let's just say the corner of my couch (filled with pillows) is the Poor Man's Recliner. I've been having trouble sleeping in my bed, having to be on my sides all the time. I think my bed is too soft, and it really hurts my hips. So, I have moved to the couch. It is a little more firm, and I can prop myself up in the corner when I don't want to lay down.

So, that seems to be all that is going on physically for now. I have another doctors appointment on Tuesday. Nothing special this time. Just weight (about 10 lbs so far, I think), fundal height measurement, heartbeat, any questions. The normal stuff. At my 28 week appointment I have to do the glucose test. Where you drink the nasty orange syrupy stuff. Gag! I'm not looking forward to that.

As for other baby news, I don't know. I'm wanting to quit working before the kids start school (August 22nd is their first day). Not sure how that's going to work out though. It will take some sacrificing. Although, I'm not making much over there anyway (my boss tends to do my work for me on the days I'm not there, so I am not getting as many hours as I am scheduled for), and I'm paying almost 25% of what I make just to drive over there. But, that is a discussion for me and Jay to have in the near future. I have finished up my Target registry (I think). We will have a baby shower here after the baby is born (the women from church usually do it this way), and there is talk of a Washington baby shower sometime this summer. Not sure if it is going to happen, as it takes gas (and gas money) to drive to Washington. We will see on that too.

As for other family news:

Tyner is finally out of diapers! I told him we didn't have anymore money to buy him diapers. I finally realized that if there were diapers in the house (like for him to wear to bed at night), he would want to poop in those instead of the potty. So we just banned all diapers from the house. Which also means I have to get up in the middle of the night to take him potty, so he doesn't wet his bed. Guess I'm just preparing myself for Zeke's arrival. BUT, he finally got his Superman underwear yesterday. I promised him months and months ago that I would buy him Superman underwear if he would start pooping in the potty. And he does now, so I bought them for him when Jay and I made our WalMart trip yesterday. Maybe he will be fully trained in time for preschool after all!

Sierra is just getting older and older everyday. She is starting to read all by herself. In fact, she read "parsley" and "chips" off my grocery list the other day. She is very excited to start kindergarten next year, and actually wishes (sometimes) that she didn't have to wait for summer to be over. She is getting to be a speed demon on her bike, riding up and down the driveway. We had to buy her a basket for her bike yesterday, so she could carry all her stuff between our house and GGs when she goes for a visit. She took Teddy on the Inaugural Ride this morning. I get a little sad when I look at her, because my baby girl is getting TOO big.

Jay and I are taking the kids fishing tomorrow. Sierra has been before, but this will be Tyner's first time. It is a surprise (all they know is that we are "going somewhere" tomorrow). When we went to WalMart yesterday, we bought them new fishing poles. Barbie for Sierra, and Pirates of the Carribean for Tyner (or Dragon Back Parrow as Tyner calls it). I will take lots of pictures, and try to post them on Sunday.

Well, I should get going. I have some chores to do, and a small errand to run later. I'm planning a post in my head, about all the interesting things I have been up to, and in to, lately. Hopefully I will get to it later today, or sometime this weekend. As long as I don't forget about it....pregnancy brain, you know.

Well, I'm signing off now. Hope you all enjoyed this post you practically begged me for!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

First real facial injury (and, Welcome to my LIFE!)

So, this is Tyner's first real facial injury. This is about three days after the fact. The first day after it happened, the middle of his top lip was all swollen, and the dark parts were much bigger. Apparently, Sierra was up in a tree and saw a Daddy Long Legs. Tyner wanted to see it, and tried to climb the tree. Unfortunately, he's not as good at climbing as his sister is, and he slipped. I'm sure you can guess the rest of the story.

And these are just some pictures of what my life is really like. This is what happens when you try to take more than one serious picture of a three year old:

Of course then Sierra had to get in on the act...

Okay, this last one would be really pretty, if not for the (homemade) Fudgesicle all over her face...
Okay, that's it for now. I will post an updated belly picture on Friday.