Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I've spent some time the last few days clicking links through a bunch of different crafting and sewing blogs. I get so inspired doing that. I have a couple of crafty things I've been working on here. First I'm painting a TV stand that Ben built for our bedroom. It's basically just a raised shelf with legs so the DirecTV receiver fits underneath and the TV fits on top. I painted it brown and am using blue paint and a brocade stencil on the top and sides. I know it won't show when the TV is on top, but a little of the design poking out is my goal. I don't want too much pattern in there, anyway.

The second thing I've been doing is making pillows for the girls. I just finished the one I'm making for Natalie and now I am going to start on Lauren's. I'm appliqueing their names and a design on them, a rose for Natalie and a butterfly for Lauren.

Ben dropped the crab pots again today, it will be the last drop of the season, which ends on Sunday. He goes back to work on Monday after having roughly two weeks off. Lauren will miss him, I'm sure when we get back to normal. Ben took her to see the second Alvin and the Chipmunks movie yesterday. She had a good time and thought it was funny. I took her to get her hair cut today at the cutest little hair salon. It's called Jack & Jill's salon and it is just for kids. Lauren sat in a Barbie Jeep to get her hair cut, and she was really well behaved the whole time.

Natalie is doing great, she is crawling a little bit and is holding herself up if I help get her standing. She also sits in the grocery cart now. Santa brought her a shopping cart cover to help keep her germ-free.

Christmas was great. It was just the four of us at home and it was so nice. We opened presents in the morning and had cinnamon rolls. I made posole and we had that and tamales for dinner. Ben spent most of the afternoon putting together the new dining room set he got for me and I unpackaged the girls' toys. Lauren made out like a bandit and has more toys than I know what to do with. It was a really nice holiday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things I Love

Occasionally on Facebook I'll set my status to a list of things I love. I thought it would be so much better if I did it here with pictures and links. Some things, like the smell of cookies baking can't come across in a blog post, but there are many things that I'd love to add a visual to.

1. Shawl Collar Cable Knit Sweaters

I am a HUGE fan of cable knit stuff. Last year Ben got me a soft, brown, cable-knit scarf, which, regretably, I can not for the life of me find this year. (I blame it on the move.) I'm going to keep searching, but in the mean time, I'll buy more sweaters that are cable knit to hold me over. I bought this one from Kohl's a few weeks ago in red. I love it. Really, I could have divided number one into one and two and separated shawl collar sweaters as one and cable knit everything as two. But this sweater is the reason I kept them together. It's comfy and warm and I just love it. I think the shawl collar is such a cute little detail, and on this sweater, the little woven-look leather button is adorable. It's the details that make clothes special, and this sweater has the details I like.

2. Hot Chocolate

So far, I have resisted the ever-present PNW (Pacific Northwest) pressure to become a coffee drinker. Seriously, not just a coffee shop on every corner, but three on every block around here. I just can't handle caffeine. I'd be shaky and jittery all day long and unable to sleep at night and even more tired the following day. I see potential for a terrible, terrible, viscious cycle and I just don't even want to go there. But, if you didn't know, it's freaking COLD up here. Some mornings I just cannot warm up. So I drink hot chocolate. I got a sweet set from Santa like this one by Swiss Miss. The characters on the box are a little bit different on mine, but it's the same flavors: Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla, Caramel Cream, Milk Chocolate. The Caramel Cream version is so delicious.

3. Surprising Christmas Decor

I would not have the guts to do this to my tree, but when I came across the picture I was totally in love with it. It's so FUN and not traditional. Just gorgeous. I think Lauren would love something like this. Do they flock Christmas trees anymore? And what about tinsel? Did too many animals and children eat it and become sick or did everyone just finally realize what a big pain in the neck it was to put up... and then take down? Bad for tree-recycling? I don't know.

We did our tree in red and white ornaments this year, except for a few sentimental ornaments and some princess ornaments that Lauren got last year and this year. I think ours was beautiful, but this tree is really something to look at.

4. My iPhone

Seriously, I love that thing. And I don't even really care if it has a phone on it. It's a texting machine, and I can get to my email, Facebook and Twitter on it. I love the Apps - there are so many. Some of my favorites are The Weather Channel app, ShopStyle, PopSugar Mobile, Time Mobile... I even downloaded a fun spelling game for Lauren. It comes in so handy in waiting rooms - like all the ones I sit in for Natalie's many appointments, and even in the grocery store when I need to look up an ingredient. Which reminds me of my number 5!

5. The Pioneer Woman

Man, this lady posts simple, delicious recipes with fantastic pictures. She has a cookbook, too! There are five sections on her website: Confessions, Cooks, Photography, Home and Garden, and Homeschooling. And this year she launched, where users are submitting great recipes, too. I've found more than one recipe on her site and will cook many more, I'm sure.
I think that will be my whole list for tonight. I've got a bunch of stuff going on here tonight so this one will have to be only 5 things long.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Belated Pictures

Lauren and Natalie visiting Santa Claus at the squadron Christmas party. They're in a blackhawk.
And here's our tree.
Here's the bread I posted about a couple days ago. It came out great! I've been eating it as much as Natalie has.
She likes it!

She really likes it!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Natalie has been doing a lot better with eating solids lately. And I'm not referring to the Christmas tree needles I dug out of her mouth this afternoon. She loves little finger foods and things she can pick up and feed herself, but she's not really into things that she has to eat with a spoon. When Lissa was here she mentioned making vegetable breads and I've been looking around on the internet for a while about making breads using baby food since it's already pureed and I have it on hand. I have some rising right now and I hope it turns out. Here's the recipe that I used:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pkgs fast-rising dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • approx. 5 cups flour

Preparation: Scald milk. Stir in salt, 3 tablespoons sugar, shortening, and 1/2 cup cold water. Cool to lukewarm Measure 1/2 cup lukewarm water into bowl, stir in the 1 tsp. sugar, sprinkle with yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir until well blended. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth and elastic. (use electric mixture if you like) Work in sufficient additional flour to make a soft dough. (approx 2 cups more) turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic approx 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl. Cover bowl with greased waxed paper. Let rise in warm place until double in volume. Approx. 1 hour. Punch down batter. Cut into two equal pieces and form into 2 loaves and put into 2 (9" X 5" ) greased bread pans. Let rise again for approx. 45 minutes - 1 hour. or until dough fills pans and the centers are well above the tops of the pans. Bake 425 deg. oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 375 deg. and bake until bread is done. about 25 - 35 minutes more. Remove loaves from pans and place on wire racks to cool. Brush with melted butter if soft crust is desired.

But I made a couple of alterations. First, I used butter instead of shortening because it's what I had on hand. I replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour. And I added two 2 oz containers of baby food, one squash and one mixed vegetables. It would be great if these work out and if she likes them. If it doesn't work out, though, I'm going to keep trying other recipes, maybe a quick bread recipe instead of a yeast bread.

We got our Christmas tree from the Christmas tree farm yesterday and it's up and decorated. Lauren just loves it. Natalie does, too. She keeps working her way over to and then under the tree so she can reach up for the branches. She's also been trying to untie ribbon from the presents. I am starting to think we'll need to put a fence around the tree.

If anyone out there is still looking for something to get for Natalie, she needs long sleeved tops in size 12 months and sweatpants/soft pants/fleece lined pants in size 12m also.

Last year I made the resolution to read at least 12 books and I finished 18. This year I've read 18 also. I'd like to try to get one more book in this year and shoot for 20 next year. Waiting rooms certainly helped the last two years, hopefully I won't be in as many of those in 2010, but I'd still like to get 20 books in.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Half of December

Things have been so crazy busy here!

Natalie's birthday was fun. Lissa flew in from Albuquerque on Thursday and Jon and Maya drove down on Saturday. We went down to Steilacoom and found a great little bar & bistro where we had lunch and then we took the ferry. It was a short trip, but perfect for Lauren's attention span. Then Jon, Ben and Maya went out to pull up the crab pots (they only got one keeper) and we all met back at the house. They made a crab stew and smoked salmon on the grill and I made the Pioneer Woman's Fettucini Alfredo. I made Natalie a small angel food cake with whipped strawberry frosting and a bit of whipped cream around it. The rest of us had german chocolate cake. Natalie wasn't really sure about her cake, she put her hands in it and then seemed a little grossed out by her sticky hands. She spent more time playing with her fork than trying to eat, but I got her to take a few bites. That's ok, though, she's one and doesn't really need all that sugar, anyway.

I wish Lissa could have stayed longer, I feel like we hardly got to show her anything around here. But, we'll get to do some more touristy things when my dad comes in a week.

Natalie finally got started with physical therapy at the pediatric physical therapist. I took her on Tuesday and it looks like we'll have a standing appointment on Tuesday mornings, except next week since we'll be taking her to Seattle for her MRI. She has been doing so great! She got herself up into a sitting position on her birthday two times in a row and has been doing it more and more the past few days. Ben babyproofed a couple corners (walls and coffee table) and we're going to have to start doing more soon, I'm sure.

Her eye surgery was successful. They look straight now and seem to be healing pretty quickly. The day of surgery she napped a lot, but I did pull her out of bed before 6 am, so I don't blame her. I wanted to nap the rest of the day, too. She is still wearing her glasses, we'll go back in February and they'll check her eyes again and see if she needs a new prescription. I think her depth perception is already better, she's grabbing things with the first reach now and hasn't been overshooting things like she used to. I can tell how much stronger she's gotten just in the past few weeks. We have a lot to do still, but she's such an amazing little girl.

Lauren is still doing ballet. She has been paying attention and is able to show me moves at home now. I got to go observe her class at the end of last month and she did great. She's going through some quite dramatic three-ness right now, which kind of sucks and makes me want to lock myself in my room sometimes, but then she can be very sweet and funny and I can forget about it for ... well, a few minutes. She comes up with the funniest things sometimes. The other day she told me she was full all the way to her neck. Last week she asked me how old I'd be when she was grown up, and when I answered 40, she said, "Then you won't fit in the car!"

My cookie exchange went really well. I had four ladies over, one brought her 12 year old daughter and one brought her 5 year old daughter. I made the melting moments I mentioned before, and the other ladies made sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, pecan blossoms and snickerdoodles. We have some great cookies tempting us here at the house now. We sat around and ate and played taboo and talked for a while. I really liked the girls who came over and I'm glad I did it. I get so nervous about meeting people, but it helped relax me a bit that it was at my house, I think. Today was the Christmas party for Ben's work and I saw two of the ladies there. The Christmas party was pretty low key. The girls got their picture taken with Santa in a Blackhawk and there was food and desserts and Lauren sat and colored for a while.

I think tomorrow we're going to head out and cut our own Christmas tree. I put red ribbons on the columns in front of our house today so they look like candy canes. I also put a strip of ribbon on the wall under the window in the living room so I can display Christmas cards on it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Samples

If you like beauty samples, go to Fashion Under $100 and enter to win by leaving a comment. FashionUnder100 always posts about great outfits which come to a total cost of under $100. Dana is the blogger behind the site who is a super cool chick that I got a chance to hang out with in November 2008, right before I had Natalie. She has an amazing sense of style herself as well as an amazing talent for finding bargains on clothing online. Check out her contest and her site.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving was perfect this year!

I've never completely hosted Thanksgiving before. I've always had it at someone else's house. Even if I helped to make most of the dishes, it's never been me as hostess. Some years I've gotten away with doing less than others. Some years one dish, or bring a pie, or even bring a drink. Some years, I've made half the dishes myself. This year, it was all me at my house, with my family. And it was great.

We did Thanksgiving dinner on Friday this year. Jon spent Thanksgiving day with his girlfriend at her brother's house, so we moved it back a day so he could come to our dinner also. The night before, I made the pumpkin pie and the dough for the rolls, and Ben prepped the turkey for frying.

On Thanksgiving morning, I got myself and the girls ready for the day and got in the kitchen to get started. I made a game plan the night before and wrote down what order I was going to cook everything, what time things had to get in the oven, what time they had to come out, and it made the day go very smoothly. Just as I was starting the rolls around 11, Ema called from Sequim and said she wanted to drive down and asked if that would be ok. I was so excited! One more for dinner, and it's one of my favorite people in the whole world. She hadn't driven down here by herself before (it takes about 2 hours, 3 highways, 2 bridges and a freeway) and was finally feeling brave enough to head down.

On my menu this year was: the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, rolls, pumpkin pie and apple pie. I did the pie crusts from scratch, the rolls from scratch, the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes from scratch, and the apple pie filling from scratch, the cranberries from scratch. I did stuffing from a box since we fried the turkey, and used canned pumpkin for the pie filling. The green beans were just the steam in a bag kind, but they were good anyway. All of it was good, actually. Really really good. I wish I had had an extra stomach for that dinner.

Ema arrived as I was cooking, and kept me company in the kitchen. She helped a lot by holding Natalie. Lauren wanted to help cook, so she went and got all of her cooking stuff - the apron, chef's hat and pot holder - from the playroom.

She also made the fantastic centerpiece for our table:
She ended up sitting in the high chair since we needed all four chairs for adults, and there wasn't much room on the table. Small, but adequate. So we did the food buffet style in the kitchen:
(from left to right:) Mashed potatoes, cranberries, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, gravy, rolls... all in my very best, fanciest, matching serving ware. Ha ha ha.

This was the sweet potato casserole, which we almost didn't have. Ben suggested I not make it when we were shopping for stuff last weekend, but at the last minute, I had him stop by the store to get some sweet potatoes. I decided that even if I was the only one who ate it, I wanted it. And I'm glad. I found a recipe online and tweaked it a little by adjusting the amount of sugar, adding pecans to the mixture before it went in the dish, and adding marshmallows on top. Very yummy, and Ema said sweet potatoes were always one of her favorite holiday dishes.
And here's the turkey that Ben fried. Wow. Delicious. If you have never had a deep fried turkey before, you're missing out. We haven't baked a turkey again since the first time we fried one. So so so so so good, you guys!

It was a very successful Thanksgiving!

Ema and Jon both spent the night and I went out shopping with Ema on Friday. Ben and Jon have been working on Jon's car this weekend, as usual when Jon comes to visit. Jon actually ended up staying another night because they didn't get a part Jon needed until late last night. They had to drive out to Sumner to pick it up, which was I was happy about because they stopped at the Sonic in Puyallup to get dinner on the way home.

It feels like it's a short week this week, too, because Natalie's birthday is Thursday and Lissa will be getting here, and I am taking Natalie to her pre-op appointment with ophthalmology and pre-anesthesia on Thursday morning, and her well-baby visit Friday morning. Then we'll have her birthday party on Saturday with Jon and Maya coming down, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting Ready for Turkey Day!

We're going to do Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Ben's going to fry the turkey. Today I went ahead and made the crusts for the apple pie and the pumpkin pie. I used a really simple recipe and made it in the food processor, and I hope it works out ok. Everything else I'll be able to make on Friday.

I've started Christmas shopping already and that has been fun. I love the holidays and I'm looking forward to Christmas so much. Dad is coming up here from the 20-23 of December. The next month is going to be so busy, but I'm glad because it will make the good stuff come sooner. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Visiting the Cardiologist

This morning I took Natalie in to see the pediatric cardiologist. He did a quick ultrasound of her heart and some other parts, (aortas and ventricles) and said everything looked great. We were out of the room 10 minutes after we walked in. One of the quickest visits we've had.

I bought some cute cookie boxes at JoAnn Fabrics last night for my cookie exchange party. I'm getting really excited for that. I'm making some cookies I made this summer that are so delicious. I think they're called chocolate chip filled melting moments. They're little sandwich cookies that are so light and buttery. They are a lot of work, but I think they will be worth it.

Ben is flying tonight and tomorrow night, but has a four day weekend for Thanksgiving. I hope this weekend we'll be able to go over to the Christmas tree farm and get a tree. I'm really feeling the holiday this year and I'm making myself wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate. My biggest debate is if I should wait until after Natalie's birthday, too. Maybe she deserves to have her birthday separate from Christmas. I don't know where we're going to put the tree, but we'll figure it out.

The girls and I went to Macy's today. I was on the hunt for a Martha Stewart pie plate I saw on their website, but they didn't have it in the store. We did walk through the holiday decoration department, though. Lauren loved it. She loves nutcrackers and will stop to look at and touch every one. She got her Barbie Nutcracker Ballet movie, and now just associates nutcrackers with beautiful dancing, I think. They had so many neat ornaments. Last year I decorated our tree in white, silver and red and I think it was really pretty. I don't know what I want to do this year with it.

I'm almost done with the sewing on the pillow or wall hanging I'm making for Natalie and then I can start on the one for Lauren. I think pillows would be nice, but I originally had planned on making a quilted wall hanging, and I just can't decide which one I want to do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Both Girls Are Asleep!

It's 4:30 in the afternoon (even though it feels like late evening because it's already getting dark, thankyouverymuch, northern hemisphere) and both girls area totally asleep.

Lauren has ballet on Friday mornings at 9 am, which means we have to leave here by 8:40 so we can get over there and get her out of her rain boots and coat and into ballet shoes, and to leave here by 8:40, I have to wake up at 7:30, get Lauren up, fed, and both of us showered.

I wish I had the who cares attitude to just throw my hair in a headband and wear a hoodie to go to ballet, with only a freshly scrubbed face, but I don't. I need to be showered and make-upped. And I don't think it's fair to not get Lauren ready because I'm feeling lazy. So we get up early.

Unfortunately, this kind of makes her a cranky beast for most of Friday. I had her in her bed watching a movie for a "rest" at 1:15, but at 1:30, Natalie's home therapist and services coordinator got here for an appointment, so she was up and downstairs to see what was going on. And to not leave me alone. And was really really making things difficult. But that's ok. She's in bed now. She just went upstairs and laid down and will be an angel child when she wakes up.

Natalie was playing on the ground and just rolled onto her belly, pulled her knees in and her butt up in the air and went to sleep. I remember sleeping like that. I wonder why that position is so comfortable only until about 5 years old?

We went to Michael's yesterday to get some stuff for Lauren so she could decorate her lego castle. I couldn't help but get stuff for myself, too. I love all that Martha Stewart craft stuff. I picked up a cute bird and owl stamp set and a glue stamp pad and silver glitter. And now I want to go back and get a bunch of colors of stamp pads and more glitter. And more stamps. Not that I have anything planned, I just want to be prepared, you know, for that day when I need to host a last minute stamping and crafting party. Or when someone comes to my door demanding to know where their birthday card is, and I just be like, oh, wait, hold on, and whip something together in a matter of minutes. (note: not likely to happen. Ever. But at least I'm prepared.)

I'm getting excited for my Cookie Exchange party. I think I decided I'm going to make Chocolate Chip Filled Melting Moments which is a recipe I've made before out of "The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook" that Jayna got me for my birthday. They are delicious. I know they will take some work, and I'll have to 4x the recipe, but that's ok, they are worth it, and I want something special for the exchange. Right now I have 4 people who have said they are going to come, but I'm hoping I can get a few more people, too. I'm really excited for the holidays this year. Especially since last year was so crazy. But first, I get to focus on Natalie's first birthday. Yay! We're going to have to get a good party together for the little girl. She's amazing and she deserves it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trucking Along

The girls and I went to Sequim on Tuesday and spent the night at Ema's house. It was a good trip, I always enjoy going and spending time with Ema.

We had our first home visit for Natalie's therapy this week. I am happy that we are getting more things going for her. The home therapist is going to meet us at Natalie's physical therapy appointment next Wednesday. Then she will be able to help us translate what we're doing in the office to what we're doing at home. Natalie has been doing really well, though. So close to crawling. She really wants to move and is finding all sorts of ways to get around that don't involve crawling. She's working on more teeth now, too, numbers 8 & 9 are coming in. We have appointments for Cardiology and Urology coming up and we're trying to get something scheduled at Audiology. Hopefully we'll get through and see everyone and then be done with most of the specialties and the ones she needs to see regularly will only be once every 6 months or year.

Lauren did better at ballet this week, she got in line when she was supposed to. She really likes it and we went ahead and signed her up for next month, too.

I'm trying to organize a holiday cookie exchange. I emailed our FRG leader and asked her to send out a rough invitation to everyone in the troop. I hope I can find people who are interested so I can get one going. If I can't find enough people through the troop, I'll put up a flyer on our mailbox and invite people from my street, too.

I'm still working on the crafts I'm doing for the girls. I saw a cute craft in Parents magazine that I think I'm going to set up for Lauren to do. I can't find it online, but it was just cutting out Christmas trees from green felt and letting her decorate them with stick on gems, then using a hole punch at the top and hanging them with ribbon as a garland or as ornaments. I think she'd have fun with that, plus it would be pretty easy to do. And not too messy of a craft.

Ben is dropping the crab pots again today. He's really gotten into going and doing that. He needs to hurry up and get a second paddle for the canoe, though.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Lauren had her first ballet class yesterday morning. She really liked it. Her class is for ages 3-6, but it's a Friday morning so it's mostly younger kids that aren't in school. She's still the smallest in her class. It's so cute. They're working on first and second position and a plie along with a couple other things. She seemed to like it. And this class is more structured than her creative movement dance class, which is good. She needs to learn how to follow directions and get in line and stuff like that.

Natalie went to her new eye doctor here. He is going to do surgery on her eyes to straighten them out. I'm waiting for them to call me with the date, but they said it'd be a Wednesday in December, most likely. She's also been referred to the new Physical Therapist where she'll also get speech therapy. I'm waiting for them to call me, too.

Ben has been flying and teaching at work. Last night he was on duty and worked from 7 pm until 9 this morning. They didn't tell him he'd be working overnight until 3 yesterday, though, so it was a long night for him. He's been asleep most of the day.

I've been working on a couple crafts for the girls. I also picked up a great cooking magazine and have been making recipes out of it. I really like a white bean and turkey chili that I've made twice. It has been cold and rainy and really PNW up here. We're counting down to Thanksgiving and Natalie's first birthday. And Lauren has already been working on an ever growing Christmas list.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Happy Birthday to Ben!

Ben and Jon caught nine crab this weekend and had quite a feast on Sunday. We all went to the pumpkin patch on Saturday and got three pumpkins to carve on Halloween. Jon brought a fresh salmon fillet to the house and cooked it on a cedar plank for Saturday's dinner. I did have a bite. Lauren tried it and liked it. She said it was yummy and ate quite a bit of it.
Natalie had her big developmental clinic on Friday and they didn't really say anything new. They're going to do some tests on her bladder and kidneys just because we haven't done studies on them before. Eventually they want to do a study (probably by ultrasound) of her heart, too. They just want to make sure they check everything so if she has any problems we catch them soon. We're getting a new referral for her physical therapy so she can go to a pediatric physical therapist where she'll get PT, OT and Speech Therapy. It should be more comprehensive, and she'll have therapists who deal with kids all the time. This Thursday I'm taking her up to Seattle Children's Hospital again so she can have some tests done with the hematologists to see if they have any input or if we can get a better idea about what is going on with the clot in her brain. Then next week she goes to see the ophthalmologist, which will be the first appointment she's had with them since we got here. I'm anticipating surgery on her eyes, and hope they can do it before Ben deploys in the spring.

Lauren is going to be a candy corn for Halloween. I picked up tiger ears and a tail for myself and Natalie is going to wear the chili pepper costume that Lauren wore for her first Halloween. I picked up a double jogging stroller on Craigslist for $40 last week and Jon did a quick fix up on the brakes for me. I can take the girls out more easily now. The weather finally turned and it's been colder and more overcast. We've had a few days in the 50s now.

Lauren starts ballet next Friday and I'm still considering putting her in part day preschool. She said she'd like to go, so I'm going to see what her options are.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Natalie's First October

Natalie is 10 months old. Lauren is 3 and a HALF! When did this happen?

Natalie is doing well. I took her to her first physical therapy appointment since we moved here today. We know she's behind, and that was nothing new to hear. The physical therapist did say she's doing well and is very strong. We're going to work on sitting. We also are going to get out the yoga ball and do some exercises on it and have her on her belly and reaching for things. He thinks she's close to crawling, it will just depend on how long it takes for her to make the connection about moving all the right things at the right time. He told us what to do at home and we go back on the 20th for another appointment.

While we were at PT, Lauren got to go to hourly daycare on base. They said she did really well. But she started crying when I got back and saying, "I don't want you to leave." Tonight at dinner, she picked a bell pepper out of her food and said, "Get out of here, pickle!" and I told her it was a bell pepper and she should try it. She said, "I don't like bell peppers. I'm just a kid!" She's so funny. I signed her up for ballet, she'll start going on Fridays in November, and I'll keep her in it as long as she likes it.

Ben has started a more regular work schedule now. The unit has come back from some training they were doing in California.

This weekend we went and checked out the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It isn't that far of a drive from us. It was really beautiful and a nice little zoo. They had a great play area that Lauren had fun in, and it was a pretty nice day, even if it was a bit cold. Next time I'll bring a jacket. I still want to go check out the Seattle Center and the Aquarium up there. I'm also starting to keep my eyes out for a great pumpkin patch and maybe even an apple festival. I guess we missed one last weekend. Bummer.

Ben's thirtieth birthday is coming up soon. He wanted the Playstation 3, so he bought it already. Saves me some time. Hee hee. Going to see if he wants to do a party or go out to dinner or anything. It's hard since we just moved here. If we had all stayed in Texas I would have known exactly who to invite over for a party.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beautiful Pacific Northwest

It's really, really beautiful here.

We've had two visits with Jon (or "Uncle Higgins" as Lauren will only call him) and three visits with Ema since we've been here. On our last trip to visit her in Sequim, we went to Railroad Bridge Park and I got the awesome photo of Lauren above. I'm going to do a bit of editing on it and then order it as an 8x10 print for the house. Which is just about done. As soon as it looks good and clean I'll take pictures to post. I'll do it. This week. Maybe.
This weekend was gorgeous, about 85 degrees. Jon and his girlfriend Maya came to visit. We walked down to the lake. It's a short walk from our house, less than half a mile. We found out there are beach areas and a playground and we can rent canoes. We rented one and took turns paddling around the lake. It was a gorgeous day. We came home hungry and tired and had a brisket Ben had started that morning with mashed potatoes and green beans and it was great.
Last night after dinner we took the girls on a walk around the neighborhood. It was a chilly night, but perfect sweater weather and clear.
Ben has started back at work, but the rest of the unit is off doing training, so his normal routine won't start for a few more weeks. I've been making appointments for Natalie and getting everything set up with referrals and different specialties. She has an MRI next week and her consultation with a physical therapist. The following week we go back to see what the neurosurgeon sees when he compares the new MRI with her previous one. She's set to see Opthamology in November. We're waiting for a call about her new multi-disciplinary clinic - whatever they call it here - and when it will be scheduled. All of her appointments are already keeping me busy. I want to get Lauren enrolled in the base daycare system so I can take advantage of having that so close pretty soon. She sees the kids and wants to go play, so it may be worth it for me to take her there once a week even when Natalie doesn't have other appointments.
There's not too much else that I'm up to around here. I am keeping busy with the day to day stuff and just enjoying being home with the girls and settling into the new house. We haven't done too much exploring, but I'm hoping we'll be able to take a little weekend vacation to Seattle and see the sights and maybe after we get our passports, take a weekend vacation to Victoria.
It doesn't sound like a lot, but we have been busy. Looking forward to having visitors soon whenever anyone wants to schedule a trip!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


We are in our new place. The unpacking has been slow, we need to put a lot of things away still. The rooms are functional but not yet pretty or decorated. Our neighborhood is super cute and I have a nice loop for running that is just under 1 1/4 miles. We have a park just a short walk away. Ben ordered two computer armoires that we will hopefully get next week. That will help things feel finished.

Tomorrow we are driving to Ema's house to spend the night. My mom and Rachelle are flying in this evening and driving out there. I am very excited to see everyone and have them meet Natalie.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We're Here!

Three days in the car and just shy of 1500 miles later, we are here. I'm sitting in a La Quinta Inn right now. We have the keys to our new house, but we'll be staying here tonight since our furniture isn't coming until tomorrow. Ben and I are eating lunch while Lauren is napping and we'll head to the house to unload most of the stuff from the cars before we hit up Target and a grocery store.

The drive was beautiful. I think Utah is gorgeous! I wish I had my camera out, but I wouldn't have been able to take pictures while I was driving anyway, I guess. The girls did really well on the drive. I drove with Natalie, who slept a lot, and Ben had Lauren, who watched movies and sang. Way too much fast food. I'm looking forward to some vegetables. LOL.

Jon is coming down tomorrow to spend the weekend. He needs Ben to do some work on his car. I think Jon is most excited about having us here just because Ben can work on his car. Lauren has been talking about Uncle Higgins a lot. I told her we could go pick apples when we got here, and she said she'd pick two, one for her, and one for him.

Hopefully we'll get internet at the house soon and I'll get pics up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Week (more or less)

This morning we decided to take a house on base in Fort Lewis.  We have one of the new construction homes, which will be really nice.  It's two stories and has a detached garage.  It's between 200 and 300 square feet less than what we had in Texas, but we will make do.  We're moving closer to our end in Albuquerque.  I feel like I should be packing already.

Tomorrow Abby and I have an appointment to get pedicures, and on Saturday morning Abby and Sarah are taking me out for my late birthday gift of a morning at the spa at the Sandia Resort and Casino.  On Sunday, both girls are getting baptized.  Monday morning, we're loading up in the cars and heading out on our drive to Washington.  We hope to get there by Wednesday evening and we'll spend one night in a hotel before we get the keys to our house on Thursday and get our household goods delivered on Friday.  (As long as everything goes as planned, which we all know is subject to a lot of things.)  Jon is supposed to come down that weekend and hang out with us.

I have been trying to get out my camera more and take more pictures on manual settings.  I've gotten some really cute photos of the kids.
And I love this one of Abby and Mia.  The colors, the joy, it just makes me smile whenever I see it.
I think this one captures Luke.  Lauren says he's "bad to the bone".  :)

This last one is from Mia's early birthday party.  The girls were sad that Lauren wouldn't be there to celebrate, so she got to have her birthday party about 3 weeks early.  The kids had a little bounce house to jump in and then spent time running in the sprinkler before cake and ice cream.  I think water has to be Lauren's favorite thing.

We have a packed schedule over the next few days, but it will be really exciting to get up to Washington and start getting settled in.  Hopefully Jon won't help Ben throw out any of my things as we unpack.  
 (When Ben and I were moving out of our apartment in San Diego, headed for Great Lakes, Illinois, Jon came to help us pack and get our truck loaded.  Jon gave our boogie boards and beach stuff to a girl in the apartment building who he was hitting on.  And I've never gotten the straight story on who threw out my pink chair (which Ben still insists was purple).  Ben says it was Jon, but Jon says it was Ben.  All I know is that when we got to Great Lakes and were unloading our truck, I noticed it was gone immediately.)  

He shouldn't have the opportunity this time since the movers will be delivering things and unloading the truck.  :)  But it will be good to see him, and have Lauren get to see Uncle Higgins again and Natalie meet him for the first time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chunky Monkey 5K & Kids K

Sunday evening was my second 5K.  I also signed Lauren up to do the kids' K, and she was so excited about it.  I got her a running outfit and we pulled her hair back so it "looked fast" and she wanted to stretch and then practice running in the back yard.  She did so many laps back there.  I wouldn't have been able to race afterwards, but I guess I don't have the energy of a three year old.
Sarah and I left for the race first so we could go get the time keeping chips on our shoes and get lined up and ready before Lauren, Lissa, Skipper and Natalie got there.  We didn't want them to have to wait around while we did the boring stuff.  Like stretching.  I always feel so stupid doing it, but it is important.  My calves will ache so badly if I don't.   Sarah and I are stretching it out and Skipper is taking our picture.
Then the race began.  Last time, Sarah ran the whole thing with me to keep me motivated and on pace.  This time she left me in her dust.  Here's Sarah taking an early lead:
And here I am behind her, apparently breaking through a brown shirt gang.  (The race t-shirts were nice enough, but I did not want to run in a cotton shirt since it was well over 90 degrees.  Wicking tanks are awesome, thankyouverymuch.)

For the next half hour, Lauren had fun playing at the park.  She was up and down this rock wall and looking forward to her race.
About 26 minutes after she started, Sarah crossed the finish line.  The girl just in front of her was using a strange scissor hands run technique.  I don't know what that was about.  But there was a group of like 10-15 girls that were sprinting before the race doing that.  Weird.

Another 12 minutes later, I crossed the finish line.  My time was 38:40, a full 1 minute, 4 seconds faster than the last run.  Not bad considering how much hotter it was this race.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, Lauren came up and asked if it was time for her race.  She was ready to go, had Sarah pin her number on, and would talk about nothing else until start time.  I asked if she wanted me to run with her, and she said, no, she was going to do it all herself.  I told her just to follow the other runners, let me know if she wanted me to come run with her at any time, and if she fell, just to get up and keep running.  Most importantly, she should just have fun.  She lined up at the starting line with all the other kiddos.  They had a bike that lead the way of the course.  Skipper started off running behind her so that older, faster kids wouldn't trample her out of the gate.  
As soon as the crowd cleared, she turned to him and said, "No grandpa, I am doing this myself!"
She did let Sarah run just inside the course with her.  She did trip and fall at one point, but she got up and when a man asked her if she was ok, she said, "My mommy said to just get up and keep on running!" and that's what she did.  She ran the whole kilometer and crossed the finish line.
She got her very own medal.  This picture just makes me so proud!

Her race was not timed.  She did great.  There were older kids who were crying or being carried, but she not only finished, but ran the entire thing.  As they were running, she kept telling Sarah that she was so fast and that everybody was clapping just for her.

After the race we got Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Chunky Monkey, of course) and pizza.

The next morning Lauren woke up and told me she wanted to go run another Kids' J.  I guess she's working her way backwards through the alphabet to the A race or something.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Picture Perfect

A few weeks ago, Lissa bought a red, white and blue quilt for her new picnic blanket. She had mentioned that she didn't like that the back was white. I suggested tracing the kids on the back with fabric markers. She suggested that might look like a crime scene, so I said we could just trace their hands. This Sunday we had a BBQ and while everyone was there, that's what we did. We took one corner and traced everyone's right hand (Ben will add his when he gets back in a few weeks) and put the month and year. The plan is to retrace the kids every year when we're all together to make a cool keepsake.

When I bought the fabric markers, I also bought t-shirts for the girls to decorate for themselves. Mia drew pancakes on hers, and traced her own hand, as well as Sarah's. Lauren said she drew a parking lot. She also drew our cat, Bear, in the parking lot, Daddy's car, although she made it purple, and a train. They came out pretty cute.
Abby and I made Luke and Natalie's t-shirts. Although not as imaginative, I think they still came out pretty cute.

This week the new WalMart opened in Albuquerque. It's between Lissa and Abby's houses, so it's the perfect place to stop to pick something up on the way home. We went twice on opening day. They had a mariachi band playing in the produce section.

I also went to Aveda this week to get my hair cut. It's a pretty nice cut, I'm happy with it. While I was in the waiting area, I picked up a magazine and found an article about 'summer camps for adults'. There was one in Santa Fe that does photography workshops, from day classes to week-long workshops. The idea of going is just so exciting. Unfortunately, I can't afford any of the classes. But it does make me want to pull out my camera and take as many pictures as I can and try out new things. I figured out how to change the ISO setting on my camera to be able to use different aperture and shutter speed combinations. I turned on all the lights and lamps in my bedroom one evening and got some cute shots of the girls. I really like this one of Natalie because you can see her bottom teeth:
That one may end up being printed out and framed.

Today I made two little toys for Natalie from 6 different fabric fat quarters I picked up at JoAnn. I got different black and white prints and two with some red in them. I got batting and bells to stuff them with. They came out pretty cute. One is 5"x5"x5", and the other is 3"x3"x3". I have so much of the fabric left over I could make her a bunch more, so I'm going to see what else I can come up with to make for her.

Tomorrow is my last day to train for the next 5K. I can pick up my race packet tomorrow, and Lauren's stuff, too. She's going to be so cute! I can't wait for Sunday evening!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

For Now

Maybe I'm doing this the hard way and should just combine my two blogs, but I feel like they're separate things. Ladies and GentleBen is about the family and what we are doing and covers more stuff, while Quilt Sew Bake Craft is just about that. It's been sorely neglected for a good long while, but I have some posts coming to that site soon about the things I've been doing. I had a long stretch -with the pregnancy and Ben's deployment and having two kids and moving- where I wasn't really doing anything creative or crafty and so there wasn't much to post there. I've been doing a lot of sewing while I've been here in Albuquerque and I have more projects to do. Or that I'd like to at least attempt to do.

The internet has been spotty over the last two days here. Pretty annoying. But the good news is, Skipper has made the call to switch over to cable internet and they'll be here next week to get the house set up. Should be much faster and more reliable.

This morning Lauren was coloring and she said, "Mommy, look!" I said, "What is that?" and she said, "A picture." Like, duh. Reminds me of my friend Jen and her "This is not a pipe" shirt, and the meaning behind it, which I believe she explains in her post.

I've been regularly running 20 minutes on the treadmill at the pace of a 12 minute mile. This week I need to go running outside more so that I can get ready for the next 5K which is just a week from tomorrow! All I want to do is improve on my time and I'll be happy. I bought Lauren her own little running outfit for the kids' K and I think she's starting to get excited about going.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Keeping Busy

I have six different sewing projects set up to keep myself busy over the next few weeks. I'm doing 2 shirts for myself, one for Sarah, a dress for Lauren and a new sling for Natalie. The dress for Lauren is an add on to my already long list because I went to check out Hip Stitch and Lauren picked out some fabric that she liked. While we were there I saw some patterns by Oliver+S that were so adorable! They have little paper dolls with the patterns with little cut out clothes that match the pattern. The old-timey art is just cute.

I also have about a week and a half until my next 5k. I'm going to make an effort to run outside as much as I can until then because the asphalt was really a shock to my feet. I need to get used to it a little bit more. I just want to improve my time a little bit.

Ben starts flying nights on Monday. That will last two weeks and then hopefully they'll finish up pretty quickly and he'll get back out here to Albuquerque. I would really love to get into our new place up in Washington soon. I just want my own house and my own space. Of course, when we get up there I'm going to really miss having family around and having people to hang out with and for Lauren to play with. I guess we'll make new friends up there soon enough, though.

About the most exciting thing lately is that I bought myself some new Merrell flip flops so that I can start being nicer to my feet since they've been put through some abuse lately. They're really cute and SUPER comfortable, so I am a happy girl. And my feet are happy feet.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Am I too old for this? Probably.

Last fall my friends Katrina and Mandy convinced me to read Twilight a few days before the movie opened. I really did not think I'd be interested in the first book, and I certainly wasn't planning on reading the next three. I finished the book in less than three days, just in time to join them for the film. I really enjoyed the book, but I totally hated the movie. It was corny and cheesy with bad special effects and uninspiring music. The acting was not stellar and the direction was so b-movie melodramatic. We laughed our way through the whole movie like our own version of MST3K. And then I went on to read the next three books. And enjoy them.

Today I saw the trailer for "New Moon." Here it is:

I'm pretty excited to watch this one. And it'll probably disappoint
me, but that isn't enough to keep me away. I really hope that a
new director will be enough to make it better.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Guess What I Got Today?

I got a text from Jayna today ordering me to update my blog.  So here I am.  Listening to my little sister.  Sorry I haven't been updating it.  I haven't felt like there's been a lot to say, but I guess there have been some cool things.

First off, Natalie got glasses!  We took her to the pediatric opthamologist here in Albuquerque for a follow up for her eye patch therapy, and he said she didn't need eye patch therapy anymore, and he thought her eyes were crossing because she's extremely farsighted.  His theory is that she was trying so hard to focus on things close up that she was crossing her eyes.  Hopefully the glasses will let her eyes relax.  I think the glasses are super cute and she looks just adorable:

I also did my 5K last Sunday.  I finished in 39 minutes, 43 seconds.  It was a better time than I thought I'd get.  It was hard, but fun, and totally great.  I'm signing up to do another one on July 19th.  I also registered Lauren to do the Kids' K after my race.

I think she'll have a lot of fun with that.  It'll be so cute to see her in her little number.  Less than three weeks to prepare for that race.  My only goal is to improve my time over the last one, which I think I can do.  I go to the gym nearly every day.  Right now I'm just working on endurance, and I'm up to running 20 minutes straight on the treadmill.  I go really slow, about a 12 minute mile, but that's ok, the speed can come later.

Ben took his checkride this morning for the days portion of the IP Course.  He passed, of course.  In a few days they'll start on nights and hopefully they'll have good weather and will be able to finish up sooner.  I'm really looking forward to getting into our new house and setting things up.  As for our house in Texas, it's off the market and is being rented.  It's not what we really wanted to do, but that's ok, we can try to sell it again later, and for the time being, someone else can pay our mortgage down.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Training, Biopark, Ben in Bama

Natalie had her 6 month check up last week.  She's 15 pounds, 10 ounces and 26 inches long.  She took her shots ok, cried at first but settled down.  She has an eye appointment next week for a follow up to see how her patch therapy is working.  I really can't tell if it's working or not.  Her right eye still seems to not point the same way as her left eye.  But we're only a month or two into this therapy and I think it's supposed to go on for a year.  I hope it does work, I'd rather she didn't have another surgery.

Lauren is doing great.  She has been cracking me up every day.  Last week we went to the concert at the botanical garden and she went with Grandskips to get a stuffed animal.  She picked out a snake.
Definitely not my favorite toy, but she thinks it is great.  The biopark concert was fun, we had a picnic dinner and let the kids run around and dance and be wild.

The girls and I all seem to be hit with some allergies this morning.  I'm hoping to get over it soon.  It's hard to keep running when you can't breathe.  I started week 4 on the Couch to 5K plan last night.  Five minute run intervals!  Hopefully I'll do better with it today and tomorrow.  Next week comes 8 minute run intervals.  I can't believe I'm running!  I'm really looking forward to the 5K, though.  And a big 'WAY TO GO!' to Jayna for doing a 5K and a 10K!  I'm impressed!

Ben called this morning.  He had two tests.  One was on aerodynamics and I forget what the other one was on.  He had been stressing out studying for them both last night, but he passed them this morning.  He has a 3 hour simulator period today and tomorrow morning his sim period is at 4:30 am.  Sounds like he's going to have a lot of early mornings.  They have flight line at 5:30 am through the IP Course.  He said it's really hot and humid in Alabama and I am feeling pretty happy that I'm in Albuquerque instead right now.

The girls are both doing well besides the allergies.  Lauren is having so much fun playing with Mia.  I got all three girls matching tops the other day.  
They were pretty cute wearing them and we got a few good shots of them.  I should have gotten a few of just Lauren and Natalie, but I didn't think about it until later.  I can always do more later, I guess.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've Started Training

The Cherry Garcia 5K is just 3 1/2 weeks away.   I am in training mode.  I'm doing the Couch to 5K program (which can be found on and I'm starting on week 2.  I have one more day tomorrow, then I'll start on week 3 on Friday.  I'm really hoping that I'll start to get used to this altitude soon, but I'm also happy to see that I've already started improving.

Ben is already at Fort Rucker.  Today he's doing in-processing and school starts tomorrow.

Natalie has her first tooth!  I saw a bottom tooth all the way through this afternoon.

Lauren has been doing great.  She's so busy all the time, and so funny.

I guess that's about all for right now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In the 505

Here we are in Albuquerque!

On Wednesday we woke up in Fort Stockton at our hotel and got on the road.  We got a good early start and were set to get into Albuquerque around 4:30.  Ten miles east of El Paso on I-10 (where the speed limit is 80 mph), my rear tire blew out.  I managed to get us to the side of the road and stopped safely.
We had to unload the full trunk to get to the spare and started at it.  I managed to loosen all but one nut on the tire and could not get the fourth one to budge.  Lissa waved down a truck and a nice rancher lady from Arizona pulled over to help us out.  We worked with my tire iron and then hers for 10 minutes and couldn't get it to move.  Finally, we managed to get it loose right as a policeman pulled up to help.  Rancher lady got back on her way and Texas Cop started helping us out.  He didn't like the jack that comes in my trunk, so he called another officer for help.  Before we knew it, there were three police cars and a Texas Department of Transportation truck parked behind us.  
Lissa, the girls and I stayed out of their way and let them change the tire.  Then we got all loaded up again and headed into El Paso to get a new tire at WalMart.  Two hours later we were back on the road headed for Albuquerque.  We got in at 9:30.

Lauren did ok on Thursday morning but woke up from her nap with a fever.  She spent most of the rest of the day napping.  Ben got in late Thursday night and she felt much better on Friday morning when she got to spend some time with Daddy.

Last night we went to dinner at Ortega's, which was great as usual.  Today Ben has been working on my car trying to get a rattle fixed and figuring out what he's going to do about the dent the policemen put in my car when they were trying to jack it up to change the tire.

I am looking forward to the Bee on Monday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On The Road

Lissa, Lauren, Natalie and I stopped for the night in Fort Stockton, Texas.  We got here last night at 9 and Lauren jumped on the beds for about an hour and a half before she would go to sleep.  We have about 7 hours of driving today and we're about to get started.

Albuquerque, here we come!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moving Day

The movers are here packing up the house. Both girls are peacefully sleeping through it.

Ben is taking care of a few last things on base and once he gets back I'm going to take Lauren for one last trip to Tumblers (if he gets back by then) and then we'll hit the road for San Antonio. I pick Lissa up at the airport tonight at 8:30. Natalie has appointments tomorrow- the first one at 8:30 am and the last one at 2:30 pm. I'm hoping to be done with that early so we can be on the road by 3:30/4:00 and get out of San Antonio ahead of rush hour traffic. Then we start the 11 hour trek to Albuquerque!!

I am really sad to leave this house and I will miss it, but I am looking forward to spending the summer with family and then getting to Washington.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


On Saturday we all got together for my friend's son's second birthday party. They rented a giant inflatable water slide and everyone got in on the action. I think the adults made just as many trips on it as the kids (if not more). We all had a blast.

Sunday was Mother's Day and it was pretty quiet here. Ben worked on my car for a little while during the day and we had a nice dinner. On Monday evening I drove back to San Antonio with Natalie. She had a CT scan Tuesday morning because I was concerned about a little fluid build up she had. Dr. M said everything looked great and that her CT scan showed "dramatic improvement" over the CT scan from last month. He showed me the two scans and I was able to see the difference, too.
Yesterday Natalie had her last PT session with her PT therapist and she was impressed with Natalie's progress. She said she thought that at the rate Natalie is improving, she won't need PT anymore by the end of the summer. That's great news, and we'll have to have her checked out once we get up to Washington.
This weekend Ben and I have to get our stuff together for the summer. On Monday I'm taking the girls down to San Antonio and picking up Lissa at the airport. Natalie has a few appointments on Tuesday again and hopefully we'll be able to get on the road Tuesday afternoon to head to Albuquerque. Ben will stay at the house to oversee the packing and loading of all of our stuff.
The lady who put an offer on our house officially rejected our counter offer/withdrew her offer. So the house is still on the market for now. We're hoping to sell it, but we're going to put it on the rental market as of June 15th. Maybe another year of paying the mortgage and waiting for the housing market to stabilize will work out for us.
I'm getting really excited to head to Albuquerque next week, it's going to be a fun summer!
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