Friday, November 30, 2012

A Glorious Moment

There are moments... many moments... in our house that chaotic.  The kiddos are 17 months apart and that means I have the "Troublesome Threes" AND the "Terrible Twos" going on - at the same time.  I have one in diapers with GI issues who can have explosive blow-outs at the exact same time that I have another forgetting that she does not have a diaper and she cannot just go in her panties.  I have a cat who likes to pounce on the dog and a dog who is afraid of her own shadow, so is naturally also afraid of the cat.

Needless to say, quiet time is a much anticipated moment in my home.  Its the one time in the day when both kids are in their rooms and either napping or playing quietly, when both animals also decide to take naps, when nothing is getting messed up or thrown out of order.  Its quiet.  Gloriously quiet.  Most of the time, its interrupted many times by Missy coming out and asking questions or just saying hi, but for the most part, I can sit and read or blog or catch up on my Hulu+ queue.  

A few days ago, the Hubs was outside working on his truck, Bub was napping, Missy was coloring, and I was watching a show.  Missy was actually not coming out, but she would call out from her room periodically.  All of a sudden she came running out of her room yelling excitedly, "Mommy!! My boo-boos are gone!! My boo-boos are gone!!"  My first thought was, "what boo-boos?" but then she turned the corner and I saw her....


With all my might, I did not laugh... at first.  Instead, I quickly grabbed my phone and started snapping pictures.  :)  

"Look at my nose!! My boo-boos are gone!!"


Well of course the boo-boos are "gone"... the scratch on her nose is no longer visible under the marker!!  And notice that she applied it like eyeshadow!!  The more I looked, the harder I laughed!! How can you not?!  


She was very detailed in covering her ENTIRE hand!! Every speck of skin was covered in the marker... but somehow, she managed to keep her dress clean!! Although I had to keep reminding her to stop touching the couch and the table!  She only smudged a little on the carpet directly in front of the mirror in her room.  I noticed this before running her outside so that the Hubs could see.  He also laughed!  Before washing her off, I got her to pose for a few more pictures.


She did not understand the hilarity of the whole scenario.


She was quite proud of herself.  :)  Fortunately, it all washed off very well!  It practically rinsed off in the water, which created pink bath water and a very excited little girl who kept squealing, "MY FAVORITE COLOR IS PINK!!! JUST WIKE MY BAFF!!!"  A few spots needed a little scrubbing, but by the time the bath was over, she was perfectly marker free.  I did not have to bring a red-colored child to gymnastics! YAY!

It's moments like this that make me so happy that I am a stay-at-home-mom.  I wonder how a daycare provider would have reacted.  Would she have gotten in trouble?  I know that she has never done this before and that she simply got carried away... she is only 3!  Things like this happen!  Nothing is ruined.  No one is hurt.  And even if it was permanent marker, going to gymnastics with marker on her face probably would have taught her that we don't color on ourselves!  So we laughed.  We took pictures.  And we cleaned her up!  Then she went back to her room to finish quiet time, withOUT markers; and I sent the pictures to friends and family and Facebook!  :)  

And as you can see by the background in the pictures, the tree is up and the stockings are hung.  We will be starting a new tradition of the Advent Calendar this year and I'm so excited to see the kids' faces!!  It's the first year that they both get to participate in the festivities!  More "mommy moments" to come!! :)


Until next time!

~Monica


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full of Personality!

We took our first family of four vacation!  We travel to California every year to visit family and we went to Disney World last spring with the Hubs' brother... but this vacation was a family-only vacation.  We didn't visit anyone in particular and no one joined us.  It was just the four of us. 

We decided to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  It was cold but nice at the same time.  We didn't spend much time at the beach... well, Budboy and I didn't go down to the sand at all... but Missy and the Hubs did! 


On the first day we went to Waccatee Zoo.  This quaint little zoo is a nature walk meets zoo.  The kids loved being up close with all the animals and even got to feed a bunch of them!  I personally loved that the peacocks were free roaming.  I love peacocks!  They are such beautiful creatures!








On the second day we went to Ripley's Aquarium.  Compared to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it was tiny... but they had an impressive shark tunnel and was small enough where I wasn't a nervous wreck that my kids were going to get lost.  :)  Which is ALWAYS a plus!!  I, unfortunately, do not have many pictures since I failed to correctly charge my phone.  This would not be the first time I have screwed that up... I tend to do that on Day 2 every time we travel! One day, Day 2 will be captured! I promise!  I do have one family picture though.  If you are on my personal Facebook page, you have already seen it.  I love it.  When it was developed at the aquarium, the employee looked at it and said, "There is a lot of personality going on in that picture!" 


 Ha ha!  It is so true!  You can see the high energy that my children posses!  It took 3 attempts to get a picture with both of them still!  You can see just how drained the Hubs is after working 7 straight 12-hr overnight shifts immediately before the trip.  I just love this picture and will cherish it always! 

The trip was short but sweet.  Hectic but relaxing.  It was definitely nice to get away and spend some time reconnecting as a family.  

Two days after we were home, we drove up to Augusta for a birthday party.  Missy chose the boy she wants to marry and even asked permission.  I was able to reconnect with old friends, and the Hubs was able to take his new truck on a road trip! 

Once we got home, it was time to relax for a day before starting the Turkey Day prep!!  Its been one thing after another in our home, but now we are able to slow down, return to normal life, and begin celebrating the Christmas Season and what it really means.  :)  Stay tuned!!


Until next time,

~Monica

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Givingthanks!

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Thanksgiving is in full swing in our house right now.  Last night, I wrote my list of the last few things that need to be purchased. Today, our guests arrive and tomorrow morning the cooking begins!!  This will be my second Thanksgiving in which I was responsible for the food.  I am much more relaxed this year, but somehow, I doubt that will be the case Thursday morning (sorry, Nicole).  Hopefully, I remain like the duck: calm and unruffled on the surface and paddling like the devil underneath (my favorite quote from Lord Barbizon). 

I love that this time of year really makes us think about being thankful.  Today, Missy was picking out what she wanted to wear for Thanksgiving.  When she told me what she wanted, she said, "I want to wear dis dwess for Givingthanks... I mean Thanksgiving."  I thought she said it perfectly.  :)  It saddens me that society seems to celebrate Halloween and then skip right over Thanksgiving and move to Christmas.  I don't dislike Christmas... I love Christmas!  However, Christmas decor is popping up in stores earlier and earlier.  Black Friday is no longer only on Friday... it is creeping into the day that we should take a step back and be thankful for what we have!! Instead, people focus on what they want.  

There are a few things... well, a lot of things that I am thankful to God for this year... but I will only touch on a few. :)

My husband.  He is my best friend.  He is super patient with me and the kids and always puts us first.  He folds and puts away the laundry because he knows how much I hate that chore and he cleans the kitchen after dinner.  He also allows me to sleep in on the mornings that he is home (which is often right now).  He is a man of integrity.  He works hard to support us so that I can stay at home with the kiddos.  He isn't one of those dads/husbands that comes home and sits because "it's the stay-at-home-mom's job to cook and clean and take care of the kids."  He comes home from a full day of work and realizes that I've also had a full day of work and helps out where he can!  I love him and am excited about the years to come!

My kids.  They have taught me so much about myself.  I have learned that I need patience.  They have indirectly pointed out my flaws and have made me embrace me for who I am.  They have helped me to look at life more positively than I used to.  They make me want to be a better person.  Missy is a free spirit. She is spunky and strong-willed and intelligent.  She is protective and nurturing and gentle.  She is curious and artistic and an encourager.  Budboy is a fighter.  He came into this world struggling and has held strong and come a long way.  He deals with his allergy like a champ and never complains.  He is smart: he knows instantly if he has ingested something that has cheese or milk in it and will spit it out before swallowing!  He is caring.  He is a lover.  He is strong and protective.  He is silly and goofy.  He is sweet and quiet and loud.  My children could not be more different and they can be a challenge.  But they are a rewarding challenge and I wouldn't exchange them. :)

My family.  We have been through a tough rode in the last few months, but we are stronger because of it.  I am thankful for the times that I did have with my sister.  The years that we were connected at the hip and the years that we were connected by daily and hourly texts.  I would not be who I am if I didn't have her in my life.  She has always been my best friend and my sister.  No one can fill the position that she held.  In my family there were the parents, the girls, and the boys.  Each member had their partner. My partner may no longer be here with us, but we will be reunited again one day.  

My best friends.  Some of them have been friends for close to 20 years and some have been friends for a shorter time frame, but they are all very important to me and play a pivotal role in who I am.  Distance has separated most of us, but we are all still connected and pick up where we left off.  I am moving closer to some of you and am excited for that.  I am still connected with some of you by correspondence, but I am thrilled that we are getting better at staying in touch. 

I am thankful for the Army.  The Army has given the Hubs a job and a steady one.  It allows for me to stay at home with our kids.  It allows me to have the doctors that I need for my health.  We don't get to live extravagantly, but our needs are met and that is what is important.  We get to live simply and focus on what really matters to us.  

I hope that you all have a great time with family and friends this Thanksgiving! 

What is the thing that you are most thankful for?


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big News!!

I guess I can make this official now...


WE'RE MOVING!!!

I think this is the first move I have been excited about!! A few of our dear friends have already moved to where we are going. It is going to be so much fun living near them again! We also have a probability of staying there for awhile, which is in and of itself AWESOME!

We aren't moving too far this time, just a few hours up the road. Though we are sad to be leaving such amazing people in this town we have come to love, we know that moving is a part of our life. We have four months to prepare this time, which is great! We are able to enjoy the holidays with family. We can really purge our belongings. We I can do my favorite thing and ORGANIZE!! :) All before we have to move. There is no real rush!

Seriously, I am so excited to go through everything and organize our belongings so that things make better sense. My first project... besides the kids' bathroom and the pantry and the laundry room, all of which I have already done... is to organize all of the craft supplies! Currently, the child craft supplies are located in the great room in an antiqued dresser. The coloring books, though, are kept in Missy's room so that she has access to them all the time.  My craft supplies are kept in my closet.  This system is working and it isn't working.  The amount of supplies is growing, so something has to be done.  I saw this nifty craft organizer on one of my favorite blogs, iHeartOrganizing, here. I am so excited to get this! I checked our local Target last night and they didn't have it in store. Boo! So I will be ordering it soon!! Here is what it looks like:


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You are probably thinking that it doesn't look like much... BUT... each drawer has its own lid!! AND, each drawer slides out easily, so the kiddos can grab the drawer with coloring books and crayons, for example, and take it to the table and then slide it back in the drawers when they are done! I am so excited by this chest of drawers! I'm sure the Hubs can't wait until it comes either... because then I'll stop talking about how I can't wait to get the craft supplies into it!! :) 

I'm pretty sure this organization-kick is due to "The Accident."  I always find myself redoing my library with a new system, or going through cabinets, or combing through closets when I'm stressed about something.  It's a way to keep myself busy, and its one of the ways I find peace... along with praying, reading, blaring music, and singing. 

We still haven't decided if we are going to have movers move us, or if we are going to do it ourselves. We still have some time. Packing the house with Missy and Budboy running around makes me nervous, so we'll see. 


What do you tend to do before a move? Any moving tips and/or tricks you want to share?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Fall Y'all

I'm not technically "southern"... I was born and raised in California, and have only lived in the "deep south" for a year and a half.  The Hubs and I were married in August 2007, and since then we have moved more times than years we have been married.  For 8 months, I jokingly referred to Donner and myself as "nomads!"  Anyway, a year and a half means that Savannah has been our longest home since we've been married!! :-D

So in honor of the south, it's fall y'all!!  Fall in the south means that cotton fields are blooming!  If you have never seen a cotton field in bloom... You should!  It is GORGEOUS!!  I have yet to capture a picture... one that isn't blurry or so far away that it doesn't look like much.  The colors are amazing.  Milk chocolate browns and golds of the stems, dark greens of the leaves, and crisp whites of the cotton.  Almost always with a backdrop of trees with their leaves of reds and golds and oranges.  Breathtaking, I tell you!  My words are not doing the sight justice! 

As friends of mine and I were chatting on Facebook about the beauty that are cotton fields in bloom, the Hubs kept laughing at me.  Over the past year, I have become... as he says, "southernized!"  Yes... That is a word... at least in our house.  :)  Southern hospitality is alive and well in Savannah and I love it!  I don't know what it is, exactly, but I feel at home here!  The way of life is perfect to me!  I feel like I should have been born and raised here!  If you have never been to Savannah, visit!  It's awesome and you won't regret it!

Fall is in full swing here at our house!  The kids love pumpkins.  "Love" may be an understatement.  Budboy stops in his tracks for pumpkins.  Any kind of pumpkin.  Plastic, hollow, trick-or-treat buckets, real... you name it, and he wants to stare at it.  This causes mini meltdowns as we drag him away, but there is always another pumpkin not too far away.  Last fall, we did a different pumpkin art project seemingly everyday when Missy was in her pumpkin obsession.

This year, her obsession is more specific: pink pumpkins.  :)  We haven't seen too many, but she painted one!  One with three faces and hair that rotates so that she can display whichever face she wants on a given day.  Pumpkin painting is a yearly tradition for us.  I'm not a fan of carving them.  Looking at carved pumpkins fascinates me!  All the little details are great!  However, the inside of a pumpkin kind of really grosses me out!  So we paint them.  Plus!  I never have to worry about one going bad quickly on my doorstep!  Budboy hasn't painted his yet this year... he likes to have behavior issues on the nights we have it planned and it keeps being postponed... but it WILL happen!! 

We upgraded Missy this time.  Instead of finger painting, she was given a sponge brush!  And she also got acrylics!  She was super excited to get creative and decorate her little pumpkin!  She begged us for days!  When the special night came, she took her time and made sure it was perfect! 



We let the pumpkin dry overnight, and the next day, she excitedly grabbed some markers and drew faces.  Three different personalities!  She got a little carried away with freckles on the pink one, but her detail-oriented nature made sure to include laugh lines on the white one and eyelashes on the yellow!  Her drawings amaze me!  She pays so much attention to the fine details. 



I have a few more fall activities planned for this season.  Unfortunately, I just realized today that Thanksgiving is next week!!  I need to get on those projects!! (And the menu for the big day!!)

What are some of your favorite things about the fall?

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Have a Confession

I am so humbled by the responses to Friday's post. You guys are so encouraging! I definitely don't have it all figured out, but I am learning to live in this new state of normal. 

I have a confession. If I can help it, I do not take the kids grocery shopping by myself. As they get older, I feel like I could do it; but as it stands right now... I'm afraid of it!

I've had a few horrible experiences. One of them I'll share with you. :)



Missy was about 15 months old.... Maybe 16 months. I was 8 or 9 months pregnant with Titus and was going grocery shopping with her to pick up ingredients to have a fun "make your own personal pizza" night with my parents. At this age, keeping weight on her was an issue and we were constantly needing to feed her and she was seemingly always hungry. So you can imagine what taking a toddler who could, at any point, eat her body weight in food into a place with a TON of food that she couldn't eat was like. I came prepared with snacks and the lady behind the bakery counter also offered her a small cookie. If it meant more food in my arsenal, then I will take it!

I should also note that Ana HATED being in a shopping cart the correct way. Even while strapped in, she would wiggle her way around so that she was on her knees facing away from me in the seat of the cart. We never got great looks from onlookers but constantly turning her around and garnering "make-your-ears-bleed-screams" from her was not my ideal shopping trip either! So often, we let her... as long as she stayed on her knees and did not stand up.

I'm hustling through the store while simultaneously keeping her on her knees, feeding her snacks, grabbing items, and squelching meltdown after meltdown because she could not eat the items that I was putting into the cart.

Half way through the store it happened. I ran out of snacks. I started moving even faster as her meltdowns were growing. Before I knew it, she was flailing herself around in the seat of the cart and screaming those "make-your-ears-bleed" screams that was making EVERYONE in the store not only look over at us but actually come to the aisle we were in to make sure that we were okay! At that point I called my dad. He walked over to the store which was around the corner from their home and took her outside as I quickly grabbed the last few items and checked out.

From then on, I have been terrified to take them BOTH into a grocery store by myself! I can take them to other stores... But NOT a grocery store. Even when the Hubs and I go together it can be a struggle as they fight and kick and hit and want to eat EVERYTHING. When they aren't both toddlers, it will be much different, I hope. :) I'm just going to keep telling myself that. I also have plans to organize our shopping trips better so that the kids are involved. :) It'll take some time, but I'll share once it is all done!  

How are your kids in a grocery store? Is there anywhere that you avoid taking them?


Until next time!

~Monica

Friday, November 9, 2012

He is Compassionate

It's been two months today since my sister and her family left this earth. Not a day goes by when I don't think about her, when I don't see something my kids are doing and am saddened because I will never get to see my nephews do it also, when I don't start a text message to her to tell her something and realize that she won't get it, when I don't see something that reminds me of her. These last two months have been among the slowest of my life. But I can't say that I'm not stronger.


The last picture we took together, the last time I saw her during our visit to DC last February.

Many people in my situation are inclined to ask God, "Why? Why them? Why this way?" They may even blame God for allowing the situation to happen. I will not say that I didn't ask Him why. However, I do not blame Him. I thank Him.

I believe that He has given us all free will. Free will to choose to love Him or choose to not to love Him. If He had not given us this freedom and just made us love Him, then what joy is there for Him when we worship Him? It wouldn't even be true love and worship if we were forced or made to do it. 

With our free will comes the ability to make our own decisions and allows us to be tempted by some not so great things. No one is perfect and we all have our weaknesses. I think the driver who ran into my sister and her family struggled with greed. I think greed allowed him to drive longer than he should have so that he could get to his destination faster, finish his job sooner, and make more money or have more time off or whatever he wanted and felt he needed. I don't think God made him do this. He chose to do this. 


The 4 kiddos hanging out in DC. All the hats were made by my sister. :)

I believe that God was compassionate. I think about what would have happened to them had they made it out of the accident alive. They were sitting at a stop in traffic backed up due to another accident. They were in separate cars and my brother-in-law was hit from behind by a big rig going above the speed limit. The truck did not even slow down. He was then propelled into the back of my sister's car with my two young nephews. Her car was then propelled underneath the big rig that was in front of her. Then there was an explosion and a fire that took hours to put out. Imagine the injuries that they would have had to recover from. Imagine the burns. Imagine the trauma both physically and psychologically had they survived. The years it would have taken to fully recover and the scars they would have had to endure... again, both physically and psychologically.  I believe that God was compassionate in allowing them to die rather than endure all of that. The cause of death for all of them was blunt force trauma and happened within seconds. That means they felt little to no pain. They did not suffer during the fire. They did not struggle. The accident happened early in the morning, and the boys were still asleep. I can confidently say this because my sister chose to leave early on their trek across the country so that the boys would sleep for the first few hours on the road each day. Also, they all went together. No one was left without a mom, or a dad, or a brother, or a son. They all went together.

Those of us that are left behind are feeling a pain that no one should have to feel. I don't wish this on my worst enemy. However, our pain doesn't even compare to the pain that they would have suffered had they survived. My pain is invisible to people that don't know me. They would have had to wear those scars for a lifetime, and everyone they would have encountered would have known that something terrible had happened. They would have had to relive that day over and over again each time they looked in a mirror or were asked about their scars. Instead, we can go on. We can live with the memories that we have. We can remember the good times. We can know that they are with their Creator with no scars, no pain, and lots of love and happiness. They are worshipping God fully and in the way that He created us all to do. 

I believe that God was compassionate.


Until next time!

~Monica

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Microwave Cart and a Dress-Up Station

You are probably wondering why those things are in a title together. They have nothing in common and don't even belong in the same space of a home, right? Well, read on. :)

When I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents bought a microwave cart. My mom originally re-purposed the microwave cart to be used as a TV stand. She cut holes in the back of the cabinet so that the cords could come out and the electronics could be hidden. The kitchen in our first home in northern California was a good size, but oddly laid out with not a ton of counter space, so converting the cart back into a microwave cart was necessary in order to have a space for the very large microwave that we had. Over the years, the microwave cart was used again as a TV stand.  I apologize for the poor quality of the "before" picture... but digital cameras were not around... and this is a picture of a picture because, quite frankly, I didn't have the time for it to be scanned. :) You get the idea though, right? 




The glorious "before" picture... circa 1986-1987.

Fast-forward to when the hubs and I got married. We had practically no furniture and not a ton of cash, so we gladly took any hand-me-downs that we were offered. This microwave-turned-TV cart had been temporarily sitting in my parents' garage! We were using an antiqued dresser as a TV console in the living room, but needed something in our bedroom. It didn't match any of the furniture in our room, but we figured that no one was really going to be hanging out in our room anyway, and took it! :)

Once we moved to the central coast of California, we used the cart in the hubs office to hold a TV and DVD player in case he wanted to watch a movie in there while studying or working. The great part about it having wheels was that we could easily roll it into our room if we wanted to watch a movie before bed!


Now we are in Georgia and for the first few months it sat in our garage. I didn't know what I wanted to use it for, but for some reason or another it made the move with us across the country. One day last year, it came to me! Missy desperately needed more storage in her room. So we the hubs sanded it and spray painted it white. Then I used some hot pink and neon green craft paint and painted the little grooves in the doors. Voila! A cabinet that kinda matched the decor in Missy's room!




Excuse the nicks in the paint and a the few stickers... its been in her possession for a little while now.

Originally, it held coloring books and crayons on the shelf and the striped storage bins held puzzles and stuffed animals underneath... but today, all of that changed!


She has been in dire need of a new way to store her dress-ups. The cardboard trunks that her original sets came in were breaking (she was stacking them and then putting her step-stool on top so that she could reach the top drawer of her dresser) and therefore, oodles of tulle and other shiny material were exploding all over her room! So, I emptied the stuffed animals into a plastic storage box in her "baby's room" (ie. her closet floor) and also found a new home for the puzzles. In one storage bin, we put all of her hats and purses and other make believe play toys. In the other bin, we stored all of her play makeup and her Strawberry Shortcake wig and her fairy wings. On top of the cart we have her tiaras, a tin purse, and her piggy bank displayed and an old train case that used to belong to my grandmother. In the train case we housed all of her costume jewelry and gloves. The piggy bank opens by removing the nose, and it is crooked because Budboy has recently learned how to open the bank and Missy is not a fan of him stealing her money... so it has to be turned very tightly now. 






Those bins fit perfectly on the shelf and inside the cupboard we folded all of her dresses and skirts and tops and stacked them... I do realize that they will not stay folded for very long... but I can hope, right? And as you can see... we ran out of spray paint before we could finish the inside of the cabinet and finishing that part has not been at the top of our priorities. Eventually, her dresser will get a face lift and the cabinet will be finished then. :)






There you have it!! A microwave cart turned dress-up station!! Missy is beyond thrilled!!



Until next time!


~Monica

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spicy Garlic Chicken and Green Beans

What constitutes as "comfort food" in our house is probably different than in a lot of homes.  We don't eat a lot of red meat, in fact we probably buy it once every few months; so normal "American comfort food" is not OUR comfort food. Our staples are chicken and fish. When we want comfort food, we typically turn to asian influenced dishes. Our family favorite is my own Spicy Garlic Chicken and Green Beans served over rice.

It's pretty easy and I apologize for my lack of good measurements... I kinda just throw the ingredients in a pan.

Here is what you'll need: Chicken that is cut into bite sized pieces (I use one chicken breast for the four of us or 5-6 tenders), a cooking oil (I use olive oil most of the time but have used canola and vegetable in the past... just whatever you have on hand), sesame oil, red pepper flakes, lots of garlic, soy sauce, green beans, and rice.  Before I made this for the post, I realized I didn't have any sesame oil. If you have everything besides this, then don't run out and get it as barely any is used and its just fine without. Also, I find the sight of raw chicken anything but appetizing, so you will NOT find any pictures of it here. 





I always cut up the chicken and mince the garlic first. Then I start the rice. If I am using Jasmine rice, then I cook it up with 2 parts water and 1 part rice. If I am using Basmati rice, then I cook it up with 1.5 parts water and 1 part rice. For our little family, I cook up 1 cup of uncooked rice and it feeds us all and leaves enough leftovers for the hubs for lunch the next day. Once the rice has been started, I heat up the oil, a little sesame oil, and garlic (I use about 1.5tbsp) in a deep pan. Make sure you reserve some minced garlic for later. After a few minutes, I add some soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your own taste (I used about 4 shakes of the bottle), and as with the garlic, you'll probably want to add some at the end, so keep that in mind. 





Once the flavors have begun to meld and are fragrant, add in the chicken and cook. You'll want to steam the green beans as well. I am terrible at steaming vegetables, so just steam them how you normally steam them. Once the chicken is cooked and the green beans are steamed, throw the green beans into the same pan as the chicken and toss together.  Add a little bit more oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes. If you want a thicker sauce, then mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with some water and pour it in, stir, and cook a little bit longer.





When everything is done, plate it up! I scoop some rice into the middle of the plate, and top it with a scoop of chicken and green beans and then drizzle some more of the sauce on top.





Enjoy! I know my family does!! Well... Budboy likes the rice, the sauce, and sometimes the chicken. He still has an aversion to anything green. ;)


Until next time!

~Monica

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Constant Companion


Shortly after we adopted her.

Memorial Day weekend of 2008, we adopted the sweetest and calmest and (later to be discovered) most neurotic Jack Russell Terrier named Donner. At the time, I still had my two cats that were born into our family 16 years earlier, and Donner was meant for the hubs. She had other things in mind and began to follow me everywhere! Seriously... if I had to go to the bathroom - she was there; if I was cooking - she was there; if I was... well, you get the picture. As I'm typing this, she is laying beside me, snoozing, and yet still looking at me occasionally.

We soon learned that we got more than we bargained for. She was raised as a breeding dog. The breeder was a responsible one and after two litters, the female was retired and the oldest daughter of her last litter carried on the family line. Donner was one of these females. So at nearly 6 years old, she came to live with us after retiring from her "job." She was raised on a ranch and had never left, so life in the city proved terrifying for her. We lived off a major road, and going to the bathroom outside with the sounds of cars flying by was a challenge; as was walking on a leash, interacting with dogs that were not Jacks, meeting new people, and riding in a car. The hubs would sit in the front seat with Donner on his lap and just before she got sick, he would hold her out the window and let her "icky juice" (Missy's term) land out of the window. Yes.... riding in the car with her truly was a dream come true for us.

It didn't take us long to discover her other "issues." She had severe separation anxiety and would vomit and lose control of her bodily functions and chew her paws until they were bloody every time we left her alone. It didn't even matter if we were running to the store and were only gone for 30 minutes! She would do this every time! She was crate-trained during this time, so you can imagine the mess she created all over herself! She also had an intense fear of men. She would barely look at them and often butted heads with the hubs. She is very nervous and often makes "icky juice" for seemingly no reason. She also NEEDED a strict routine! Of course, she still suffers from separation anxiety under certain circumstances and is still wary of men, although, she is tolerating the hubs much better! 


When she wants a breather from kids, she lays on Missy's pillow pet and virtually disappears!

Having her was like having a child in every sense. In fact, I'd say the transition into life with her was more difficult than transitioning into life with kids! Shortly after I became pregnant with Missy, though, she proved to be invaluable! My health spiraled out of control in those first few months, but in that time, she learned to sense when an episode was coming and learned to alert me to sit down and would even position herself on my lap and wouldn't move until it was safe for me to get up again! Similar to how seizure dogs work, she just knew! Once Missy was born, we began down the road of certifying her as my service dog. We took her to training classes and saw vets and behavior therapists about her anxieties.  We learned valuable tools to help her mind settle and she and I became more in-tune with each other. The professionals we worked with lovingly referred to her as the "anti-Jack" because she is not jumpy, not super hyper, great with children, and just about everything that a "normal" JRT is not.

Becoming pregnant with Budboy changed our plans. My health settled down and became more manageable so I no longer was in dire need of a service dog, but she is still my constant companion at home. Going on vacation to visit family in California means that she goes to a dog sitter. Those few weeks are weird for me! It feels like something is missing when she is not constantly by my side! She "helps" me take care of the kids by joining me in their rooms in the middle of the night when they are sick or have nightmares, by licking their toes when they are crying and I have not yet arrived to the scene. She is their "second mother" in a way. She loves our children as if they were her own puppies!

Why am I telling you about life with Donner? Well, she is a part of our family and definitely adds to the chaos. Today is also her birthday! Yup! Today she turns 10! Time with her is growing shorter, but our life is greatly blessed having her in it! 


Laying with her babies. :) She likes to "mother" her toys. 
Happy birthday, Donner!!


Until next time!

~Monica