2 Birthdays Have Past

Guys. She needs a new nickname. Guys just doesn't suit her anymore.
She is such a lovely little girl young lady. She really is a young lady now and she is blossoming right before my eyes. Conversations with her are changing. Don't misunderstand, she can still talk the head off a sleeping chicken, but her understanding of the world around her is growing and deepening and it's impressive. Belle can usually be found behind a book, and is especially pleased when she also has a chicken on her lap while she is reading.

12 candles. My goodness. 

Now she can listen to her books while holding her chicken.  She likes that!


Butter got to celebrate early since daddy had to be in Florida for a few weeks.
The big 5! We didn't get through breakfast before Butter was asking if her tooth was going to fall out yet.  Remember when she was two and she said "When I drow up and I'm free, my toof is dunna tum out!"  ? I remember that post like it was yesterday.

She is still very much my "little mommy" and is known to make her little sister squeal from too much smothering loving, but she is learning to tone it down a bit.  

Daddy had to be gone for her special day, but she was giddy with excitement when he called. 

Happy Birthday Girls!  I am so blessed to be your mama.


Crackers = Do Over

My dear husband enjoys crackers and I am on a mini mission to make some with wholesome goodness that doesn't cost $5 for 8oz.

The girls decided to make the first attempt with a recipe that I found on the internet. It was a fail. For dad anyway.  

The children ate them up and would totally eat them again, and the girls sure enjoyed making them. We will tweak the recipe (maybe it was a fail because we followed the recipe?) and try again.

 I am determined to find something yummy, and I will share the recipe when I do!


Taking the Time...

On Friday afternoons, one of the ladies at our church takes a couple of my children to the library and then back to her house for a few hours.  Sometimes they make bread, sometimes they make a meal for someone in need, sometimes the play a game, and for a couple of weeks before Christmas, they made these:

My children look forward to this special time each week, and I am so thankful for the wonderful experiences they are having.  What an investment Mrs. K is making.  Thank you!


Amateur Chef

I am currently paying $2 per meal.  As in, if you come to my house and make my family dinner, I will pay you $2.  Any takers?

This has been a big hit here for my older children.  And for me.

Guys, Boy and Sis are raking in the big bucks.  Sis made the best roast that has ever come out of my crock pot, and Guys made a mean Thai stir-fry with fresh Thai basil from the farm club.  Guys has also become quite fantastic at baking bread, she gets $1 for two loaves.  I dislike making bread.  Guys loves kneading dough.  Win, win!

Boy in particular, loves making dinner and has become quite the impromptu chef. He has no qualms about straying from a recipe, which is great for me since I don't know how to stick to a recipe ;~)

His most recent dish was spectacular, there was not a bite left over.
I'll do my best to tell you what he did, and give you exact measurements so you can try to replicate it.

First he browned some coconut, then set it aside.
Then he browned 3 cups of basmati rice in a pot with some oil.
He added 3-4 cups chicken broth and 1 can of coconut milk and simmered.
Meanwhile in a skillet he sauted some sweet onions and 2 cloves of garlic
then added strips of pork, covered and cooked until no longer pink.
When the rice was tender, he added a handful (maybe 3/4 cup) of chopped cilantro and squeezed in the juice of two limes.
He then covered the rice and let sit while he figured out a veggie to go with the meal.
He steamed a head of broccolini (baby broccoli) and added a pinch of garlic and smidge of butter.

It's too bad the Navy had Dad flying in Florida that week, it was 4. 5 stars!


Mr. Pilot's J-O-B

He's Bouncing Again.
That amber light on the front of the jet means Mr. Pilot is on speed (the proper pitch to have a hook catch a wire). 

Sis is holding the paddles controller, "When you push this button Dad will give the jet more power!"

Ready, set, go!

When your tire goes from 0 to 180mph in .2 sec, it releases the "magic smoke"...

It is ridiculously loud where these kids are really can't imagine it unless you're there.

"If you push this button, Dad will wave-off." (apply MAX power and fly away)... 
What do you think happened?

Those red "wave-off" lights on the left and the burners lit on the back of the jet, that is what happened.
That was so loud, the new baby jolted.

Normally the lens (the lights in the left background) has the green "datum" to show your reference for how high or low you are from glideslope.  The ball is vertically oriented between the datum's and when it's in the middle you are "on-glideslope."   

I posted back in December that it was mustache time. That should have been over at the end of January, but my dear sweet hubby is sporting his stache still. He had a few hiccups and bumps which caused a bit of stress, but he will be going to the next boat in March. That gives us a few more weeks to hang out and for him to get extra bouncing practice (that is comforting to me, since he has to land on the ship in the ocean in the dark) before he finishes this part of his training.

There are 2 squadrons needing Pilots and 2 Pilots needing squadrons when they finish in March. One squadron deploys (as in leaves for 6 months and doesn't get to visit) in May. I am praying my due date is wrong or something...

Granola Recipe

Since you asked for it, here!

This is our version of Granola that we have modified and adapted from Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook (Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbk)
Golden Maple Almond Granola and Cranberry Pecan Granola recipes.

4-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I buy my organic oats in a 25 lb. bag from
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, or a combination)
1/2 cup seeds of your choice, optional.  (I use whatever I have, sunflower, chia, flax, or a combination)
1 cup brown sugar (I use Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Light Brown Sugar -- 24 oz
 because it's extraordinarily fragrant and delicious, but it's pricy.)
2 tablespoons dried orange peal or zest of 2 oranges (I use this only if using cranberries)
1/2 cup coconut oil (the recipe actually calls for canola oil, but I don't buy that)
1/2 cup water
1 cup Pure Maple Syrup (I use Grade B dark amber from our local farm co-op)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (or any dried fruit, or omit and add fresh fruit while serving)

preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place dry ingredients except fruit into large bowl and stir.  Place all liquids in separate bowl and wisk to combine, pour over oat mixture and stir to combine.  Spread granola over large rimmed cookie sheet and bake until it begins to brown, about 25 minutes.  Stir with flat spatula and continue to bake until brown, dry, and fragrant, about 15-20 minutes longer, stirring once more.  Watch carefully the last few minutes, or it will not be so wonderful.  After cooled, add dried fruit.

Since this recipe stays good for up to a month on the counter or 3 months frozen, I usually quadruple the recipe.  We love this with yogurt or milk, and it's especially good with almond milk.

I am not kidding when I say I can't follow a recipe, we (Belle and Boy usually) make this different every time.  I even used to make it in the crock-pot when we lived in the trailer.  You could make it as healthy (or cheap) as you like, depending on what ingredients you buy. You can even soak your oats beforehand.  I haven't got that far just yet.

Despite my inability to use a recipe correctly, I absolutely love this particular cookbook and it is the only cookbook I actually use on a regular basis.


Why We Do What We Do: We Eat...

“You are what you eat” is so very true. Most Americans eat what is on the shelves at the grocery store based on what they are familiar with, what is on sale, or what is the latest fad (think South Beach) without giving much thought to what is actually in the food. Why would you need to wonder what is in the food anyway, the USDA and the FDA makes sure the food is good for you, right?

It didn't take much digging around for me to decide the USDA is about the last entity I want to trust in deciding what I am willing to put into my body. With my research and learning over the years, the way I see food, and therefore the way I feed my family has changed dramatically. I no longer walk into a grocery store looking for the best deals. With effort and planning, I have figured out how to feed my large family well, with foods that nourish instead of break down. I believe that many of our health problems today are caused by a combination of misinformation, ignorance, and laziness.

I believe our bodies are a gift from the Lord, and a temple to the Holy Spirit. While I believe that all things are available to us, as in food is no longer unclean (1 Corinthians 10:2), I still believe we are held accountable for what we choose to do with that body. Let me be clear here: I do not believe you have to eat a certain way to be a “good Christian” but I do believe there are consequences for every action we take.

In the beginning were given a garden full of beautiful fruits and vegetables to eat of, and enjoy. Or bodies haven't changed, they haven't “adapted” to eat non living things created by man in chemistry labs out of convenience. If you read the labels on almost any item in the aisles of your favorite grocery store, you will find a plethora of man created non-living ingredients. We eat them with little thought of what they are doing to our guts, or what they are storing up inside for us. We eat them because they are convenient now, but will they be convenient later? I am not trying to live forever, I can't even extend my life by one day, but I can make an effort to affect the quality of it.

“But I can't afford to eat healthy” is the number one rejection I hear. It was also my biggest hindrance on my journey to grasping a more healthy lifestyle. It does take effort, but I assure you, it can be done. Proverbs 31 says: “she gets her food from afar.” I am thinking Lemuel's mother wasn't talking about Jack-in-the-Box. There are many resources from which to purchase good food. I am currently stationed in a beautiful farm country, so I have farmer's markets and local co-ops at my disposal, but I realize that isn't always the case. In Mississippi, I was convinced they had never heard the word organic. I had to get the things that were most important to me from afar, (think

When I first started to make changes, I was overwhelmed.  Before this posts turns into a book, I'll just share a few pointers that might get you going in the right direction.  Baby steps!
  1. Read up, do some research. Ignorance is not bliss!  Take some time to read a couple of articles from some alternative (as in not USDA approved) sites. Borrow a book from the library about living foods. Ask the butcher at your grocer where the meat comes from. Check out the movie Food Inc. from the Redbox/Library/Blockbuster near you. It came out a few years ago, but I only  watched it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It is very beneficial to understanding where the food at the grocery store comes from and will inspire you to make some changes.

  2. Make small changes. Don't shock your family and your system by going from Stouffer's to salad and quinoa in one day.  Figure out the products you consume the most of and start purchasing differently there. Fruits and veggies are an easy choice, almost every grocery store carries organic options for comparable prices. If your family drinks a lot of milk, start there. Organic milk is more expensive, but you don't need to drink as much to get the benefits.

  3. Slow down. Microwave worlds don't mix well with healthy bodies or minds. Take the time to plan out meals, and make them at home. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, how do you want to spend yours? Always rushed, stressed, and eating dead things does not make for a thriving and vibrant life. If you eat cereal in the morning, buy organic granola instead. Too expensive? Homemade granola is super easy to make (my children take turns making it for us), and cheaper than commercial “cardboard-sugar-puffs.”  If you typically eat out 3 times a week, try planning and eating out only once, work your way down.

  4. Search out one item that you can buy local. Anything grown or produced locally is going to be far more fresh, and more beneficial for your economy. It is worth it to pay an extra dollar per dozen of eggs that comes from your neighbor's back yard. It is worth it to drive 45 minutes to get milk from the local cow.  A vine ripened tomato tastes amazing to that thing in the store that was picked green and trucked across the country and then sprayed with gas to make it turn red and be labeled tomato.

We noticed after awhile we no longer wanted that candy-bar, and that much needed soda suddenly make us feel sick. Just a handful of blueberries will become your new sweet treat.  You never even knew what you were missing!

Start small. Make it fun. Taste the difference.

February 12, 2012 a day of Jubilee

($x.xx) to $x.xx

These are some of my new favorite representations of being DEBT FREE!!! That's right you heard me, we are no longer slaves to our own foolishness. As Pa from 'Little House on the Prairie' says: “Only cash on the barrel.”

It has been quite a long and arduous journey for us to finally escape from the spending cycle that we got ourselves into. Many will remember the various extremes that we went through to escape, and there are so many friends and family who helped us along the way. Some helped with payments that had to be made on cars initially, others helped with showing us useful recipes to feed a large number of people. So many people were more that happy to help, when they realized that we were committed to a life of thrift. We really started making inroads to our debt when WE changed, and subsequently our spending desires changed as a result. Of course we still wanted to be able to go out and eat nice meals out in town, or buy some new clothes or games, but it took a diligent change of lifestyle to get the ball rolling.

We had already started on this journey when I read a friends copy of “Total Money Makeover” by D. Ramsey, and he mentioned something very pertinent to this subject. He discussed that money isn't just raw math where we pay off the highest interest rates first and move on down the line till we're done. This might be mathematically true, but its certainly not emotionally true, which, lets face it, is the crux of the matter when we are talking about making changes in the way we spend our money. We of course, didn't like our debt, and we had a budget that we followed...loosely...but we weren't committed in such a way that we were willing to make much more drastic changes to end the cycle of bad spending.

I am happy to report that we did start taking our budget much more seriously, and as we began making steps toward decreasing our debt we realized that this was in fact possible as we started claiming small victories. There were a few times where we felt the need to get fully committed, by taking such actions as: selling off all our “investments”, using our tax return towards our debt, and living in such simple conditions that we could be considered 'wacky' as we kept trudging along. Since 2008 we have paid $75,000 of principle! This includes the travel trailer that we purchased so that we could live at the RV park in Meridian. I don't know if I could figure out how much we paid in interest, but it still makes me sick to think about it.

There were various changes that we had to undergo as a family, and I believe that my wife's commitment to living under a budget was one of the most important aspects of our success. I will allow her the opportunity to share with you “How to live within your budget” so you can get her perspective As for me, I'm grateful that I could cast a vision for the goals of my family being debt free while remaining sensitive to their wants and needs. It's been a tremendous journey, and as we shared with the children, I pray they never go back to being slaves to lenders again!

Here is a link to the working spreadsheet, 'Debt Free Budget', that we used as an invaluable tool to help us set goals and allocate our living expenses while still aggressively paying off debt.
If there are questions about how to use it feel free to ask.

And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. (Exodus 13:14 ESV)


Go Snow!

We had some fun in the Snow.

There was a nice snow/ice storm here in January, it supposedly broke some records on this little island. We enjoyed the snow for the first couple of days, but I was a bit surprised when my children were ready for it to be gone by the 3rd day.

 I don't mind the snow, and I had no problem running my errands (the rest of the island stayed inside) but I could live without it.