Thursday, August 31, 2017

He Found It Again!!!!

It's the LAST DAY OF AUGUST!!!!!!

So, here's another little known fact for those of you non-military folk. Whenever you finish a month, it feels amazing because that is one month closer. Our BIG event for August (once Alex left), was school starting!!! We have at least one bigger event each month until Alex is expected home, so that's always fun. I'd say for being on day 24, we're doing pretty good! :) As mentioned in previous posts, we've had our off days, but for the most part JOY wins!!!

So, today was a wonderful day.

It started with having a great walk to school with the kids and getting to see them each have so much joy as they arrived at school and found their friends and set off for the day! Then, I went to lunch with my wonderful friend, Kim. God crossed our paths last year at the 4th grade California Gold Rush Production (our daughters were on stage next to each other). Little did I know on that day, God had sat me next to someone who I KNOW will be a lifelong friend. I just love her and I love how sweet her family is and the darling friendship our daughters have with one another! Moving is always tough, but God has always been faithful to bring just the right people into my life, and the same is proving true with this move. I have made a handful of dear friends and I cherish each of them.

Another super exciting thing happened today while the kids were at school. One of my amazing teammates and friends hit the next rank in our company. She has been such an encouragement to me and has the biggest heart. She hit SILVER, which is my next big goal (watch out September!!!), but ultimately I'm praying and working towards being a solid GOLD by the time Alex gets home from deployment and well on my way towards Platinum.

When we arrived home from school, my parents came by and stole the kids away to go shopping. I'm pretty sure they went on a sneaky errand for my birthday, but nonetheless, the kids had fun and then came back home and did their homework (Madison loved having my dad there to help her with her math...he always has some fun way to share how to do whatever kind of problem she is working on), while dinner was cooking and I chatted with my mom. Tonight for dinner we had artichokes and homemade mac n cheese.

While the kids were out with my parents I grabbed the mail and we had some FUN MAIL from Alex. Alex discovered that the chapel where he is has the United Through Reading program, which those of you that followed along last deployment, know the kids loved and always looked forward to. Well, his first UTR came today and so after the kids got ready for bed we snuggled up on the couch and watched the two DVD's as our bedtime stories tonight. For those of you that aren't familiar with this program, it's a non-profit organization that provides books for service members to read and record and then send home to their children. They get to send the book and the dvd to their kids. Alex always kisses the books on the video and when the kids get their books they kiss them back....it's just the sweetest. Madison knew instantly what this was because she remembered it from last time and Hudson was so excited because he didn't remember it, but loved everything Madison was telling him about it.


Please continue to pray for Alex, as I received an email from him saying he felt pretty yucky and they didn't have the type of medicine he was hoping to get, so he's hoping what the doc gave him will help. It's mainly his ears and he has a nasty cough. 

See you tomorrow...I'm off to go finish my September Newsletter and then I have the end of a movie to watch. I have not been able to find any good shows, so I started a movie and have been watching it in small pieces when I have time. 

I'd love any good Netflix, movie, tv show or book recommendations.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spotlight!!!

Day 23.

Today was a busy day, but good busy!

I walked the kids to school and Hudson asked me to pop in his classroom and see his special Spotlight Student image hanging from the ceiling. His teacher picks a new spotlight student each day so that the class can get to know each other (so cute) and he was picked yesterday, so he wanted me to see. He told me that he accidentally said "Tomato Salad" instead of "Tomato Soup" so that is what it means when you see that in the pictures below.

      

After drop off, I walked home and grabbed my water and went for a 3 mile run/walk...mostly just a fast walk today though because it was soooooooo HUMID. I had the chance to catch up with my dear friend Cassie while I was at the end of my walk. Just love her and so glad school is back in session and we're back to our weekly chats. It did sadden my heart though to hear the aftermath of everything that happened in Charlottesville. 

Once I was home I went on a crazy planning spree for work. I was so excited. I planned out most of my September classes and created the invites. I have a few more classes that will be happening, just working on nailing down the dates. But look....I am so happy!!! The pictures are similar, however not all of the classes would fit in one screen shot.

     


After planning, I was able to talk to Alex for a few minutes. Please pray for him. He's feeling under the weather and since he just got back from traveling for about a week, he has A LOT of work to do. Please pray for him to get better quickly. 

Once I picked the kids up from school, we raced home. Madison changed, did her homework and then ate dinner and we were off to gymnastics. Tonight is her long night, but when I picked her up she was SUPER EXCITED because her and her coach picked her music for her floor routine. I'm not going to spoil it, but it fits her PERFECTLY and I can't wait to see the routine her and her coach come up with on the 9th. 

Hope everyone is having a great week. So far ours has been pretty good. Day 23 is complete!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Happy Mail Day!!! (and fun recipe)

Tuesday.

Oh, Tuesday....what a day we've had!

This morning I received a quick text from Alex letting me know he's made it back from his travels in Bahrain. Then, while I was doing my bible study, I had a new tea that I bought at Trader Joe's yesterday. It was sooooo good! If you like tea, you have to try this!




Once I was done with my study, which by the way I'm still LOVING and highly recommend, (Just as a reminder it is All Things New, by Kelly Minter) I woke the kids up and everyone started getting ready for the day. We left a little bit earlier than usual today so that Hudson would have some more time on the playground to play before school started, especially since the kids are on excessive heat warnings at school....morning is the only outdoor play these kids get. Their recesses and lunch are indoors. 

After I walked back home, I grabbed my water bottle and headed out the door for my run. I felt good today during my run. There was a nice cloud cover, so my path felt pretty shady. I ran to a nearby park and then did 4 sets of sprint intervals and then walked home....by this time the clouds had moved past the sun and I was back in direct sunlight and it was HOT!!!!

Then, at 10 this morning I taught a class for work called: Natural Living with Plant Based Products. I really enjoyed getting to share and spend time educating. It's one of my favorite parts about my job. 

Once class was over and the questions had been answered, I prepped dinner: Homemade Chicken and Cheese Green Enchiladas. I made my own recipe tonight. I made once dish for us for tonight and I prepped one to freeze for later on down the road.


Enchilada Casserole (from the kitchen of Stephanie)
Recipe:
Chopped chicken (about 2 cups)
1 large can of green enchilada sauce (homemade works well, but canned is fine)
1 small can of refried beans (I used Trader Joe's refried beans with salsa)
1/4 cup whole milk plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
3 cups shredded cheese (divided)
20 Corn Tortillas
2 9x9 pans (I used one glass and one foil so that I could freeze it)

1. Combine 1/3 of sauce from can with beans, yogurt, cream cheese, 1 cup of shredded cheese and all of the chicken.
2. Pour thin layer of sauce in the bottom of each pan.
3. Use 3 tortillas to layer  (I did two diagonal and then split 3rd one in half and put in each empty corner).
4. Put 1/4 of chicken mixture on tortillas (don't forget to do both pans so that you have an extra meal...or if your family is larger you can make this in an 8x13 instead of two dishes.
5. Then sprinkle chicken mixture with cheese.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 to create second layer
7. Then do a final layer of tortillas.
8. Split the rest of enchilada sauce between the two pans and top with cheese.
9. Bake at 400, uncovered, for 30 minutes 


After we returned home from school, the kids each worked on homework and reading, while I popped dinner in the oven and set the table. The kids gobbled up dinner and Hudson told me it was his new favorite way to have enchiladas. I took that as a huge compliment because that kid really loves his traditional cheese enchiladas. 

Anyway, we headed off to gymnastics and when we came home Hudson went to bed and Madison and I worked on homework for a little bit, but then we had to work on the Bill of Rights and it was just about time for Alex to get up, so we shot him a text and he woke up early and FaceTimed in to explain the Bill of Rights in depth to Madison. She now knows more than I do about the Bill of Rights. I love that Alex was able to help her with something he's so very passionate about. I was sad for Alex that he was going to miss all of the U.S. History, but so far he's been able to chime in and help in the areas I am lacking. 

Okay...so when we went to get the mail today....we had so much mail! It was so fun! The kids each received their letter and German money from Alex...however, it was very obvious that someone had slit Madison's letter on the side and stolen the coin out of it. Such a bummer! Anyway, here are the kids with their fun mail. 


Then, in addition to that fun mail, we received the SWEETEST gift from my dear friend Chrissy and her whole family. She sent us a movie night care package and a very touching card! Chrissy, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and for loving on us the way you did!!!

      

Today was a GREAT day! Looking forward to tomorrow. Wednesday is always a fun day! See you tomorrow! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Heart Still Skips a Beat

Monday.

Typically people loathe Mondays, however I enjoy them! I love the fresh start they give us each week. The reminder that each new day has a beginning and an end. We have the chance to start our day however we want, now don't misunderstand me. We don't get to choose our circumstances, but we do get to choose how we respond to them and Mondays remind me that I am blessed and I have no reason to not have joy in my heart.

Every day when I drop the kids off I remind them to be kind and to have courage. We've talked about how these are choices we get to make and that these choices not only impact us, but others. So, bring it on Monday, we're ready for you every time.

After dropping the kids off at school, I came home and worked for about an hour and then I went for a walk/run. We are in an excessive heat warning right now, so I ran when we had good cloud cover, but when the clouds weren't blocking the sun, I walked. It was hot and humid. It is suppose to be this way all week.

Once I was back from my run/walk (hey, I ended going just shy of 2 miles in that gross heat), I quickly showered and then had a phone date with Alex. It was so fun to get to talk to him. It had been a few days since we've had a longer talk and it was so nice to get to catch up with him and just see him. My heart still skips a beat when I see that handsome man of mine. Babe, I love you. I miss you so much it hurts. I so enjoy our conversations even when they are super silly and filled with hilarious filters. There is nobody else I'd rather be goofy with and have by my side on this crazy journey we call life. We're three weeks down today babers! We've got this!

Sorry, I got side tracked......As a result of the temperatures, I had experienced a first. I drove to pick the kids up from school today. We typically walk to and from school, but I chose to brave the after school craziness of the parking lot. Let's just say it was entertaining and when the weather is better we will once again be walking.

Once home, we unloaded, ate dinner, packed back up and headed to gymnastics. Hudson and I dropped Madison off and then headed to Target and Trader Joe's.

Hudson and I had a great time running errands and then after we came home and unpacked the groceries, we enjoyed several rounds of UNO and read multiple stories together. I really love that time I get to just snuggle up with my little monkey and love on him one on one.


Okay Tuesday, we're ready for you!

**Please keep praying for Texas. Several off my friends and their families have been greatly affected by Harvey. Being military, we know A LOT of Texas families and it just so happens that A LOT of my team for work is from that area too. So, this hits close to home with those I consider my chosen family. I am raising funds to send to Convoy of Hope, a disaster relief organization that is on the ground in Texas helping and making a difference. I posted about this earlier in the day, but for every KIT purchased between now and the end of the month, I will be donating $50 to this organization. I'm hoping to get to send them a big check at the end of the month in an effort to put into practice what I remind my kids every day: Be Kind and Have Courage. If you are interested to how you can help, please message me and I will share some ways.**

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Lions and Tigers and Bears....Oh My!

Today blessed my heart so much!


I got to spend the afternoon with BOTH of my sisters.....That hasn't happened in so long that I can't remember the last time all three of us were together. It seriously blessed me so much. I LOVE both of them dearly....we're going on 32 years of friendship....they say it's once in a life time that you find a friend like I've found in each of them and I found TWO of them....I feel so blessed.

Anyway, I have A LOT  of pictures from today, so I'm going to start sharing some of them as I type, so that they don't all end up at the end.


So, the whole reason we all were together is that Ava is turning 5. So, it's kind of fun...my birthday is September 6th, Kami's is September 7th, and Ava's is September 8th. Anyway, since Jaclyn was out visiting, Dana (her mom) wanted to throw Ava a birthday party. We all love any reason to have a party, so we all came from every corner in California to be together. It was amazing. Here are a few pictures with the birthday girl!!! 

      

The Animal show didn't start until 10:30, and most of us were there around 10, so we have some pre-show pictures too!

                

Once the zoo keepers were ready for us, they called us all over for the show and of course we all took more pictures because everyone was together. Here are few as we were all getting ready. 


The show that was put on for the kids was so cute and they brought out some pretty neat animals. Each of the kids had a blast and loved how interactive the show was. Ava even got to go up and touch the hissing cockroaches.....it was quite entertaining!


Once the show was over we had the chance to sort of just roam around the zoo. The kids really enjoyed this part and getting to go see all of the animals. Here are some pictures from out time waking around the zoo enjoying each other's company as well as the animals. The monkeys were quite active today and making some funny sounds. I recorded them, but for some reason I can't get the video to load. I will try again later.


After our tour of the zoo, it was time for lunch, catered by the wonderful hostess with the mostest, Ms. Dana herself! She did a fantastic job and all of the kids LOVED the food, as well as the adults. There was even an interactive piƱata that threw candy over the fence ;). Here are the kids eating lunch and then the Horbal family right after Ava blew out all of her candles.

       


I'm missing a few pictures because they were on Kami and Jaclyn's phones, so I'm sure I'll post those once I have them. Our dear friend Tricia was there too and one of those phones has a picture of the four of us. We've all been friends since I was in 7th grade at La Reina. 

It was seriously so wonderful to spend the afternoon with my second family. I know that I lead a very different lifestyle than how I grew up and I think they are both equally special, but there was something so beautiful and unique about N. Ashtree Street and the families that all grew up together and became not just neighbors, not even just friends, but extended family that no matter how much time has passed it always feels like home being back with all of them. Today my heart grew a little bigger as I soaked up time with so many people that I love and hold dear that I don't get to see on the regular. 

Happy Birthday to my beautiful, sassy, full of life Ava! You are so beautiful and I pray that you keep that bold spirit and your love for life. You are a force to be reckoned with my sweet girl! Love you!

Also, yesterday was Mamaw's 90th birthday. I had waited until today to post because I thought I might get to FaceTime with her and take a screenshot of us talking, but that didn't happen. However, we prayed for her and love and miss her dearly. 




Saturday, August 26, 2017

Garlic and Pesto, Oh My!

Still trucking along!

We just finished Day 18.

This morning the kids and I had a great time. We all enjoyed having a lazy morning and then we were able to chat with Alex briefly. During our chat, Alex sent me some pictures from his dinner last night. They had a true Bahraini meal and he said it was delicious.

     


The kids and I then headed to Barnes And Noble to turn in their Summer Reading Journals. They each received two free books and were so excited. 


Once they picked their free books, they used the gift card that Erin sent us a few weeks ago and each picked out some books and they even found one to share! Thank you again Erin, for this sweet blessing and bringing joy to my kiddos. 


Then, Madison remembered that she still had money left on her gift card from her birthday, so she picked out one more book and purchased it. 


I love how much my kiddos love to read books and how excited they get when they each get hand pick their books. 

Once we were done there, the kids asked if we could head to See's Candy. Oh man, was it hard to be disciplined there, but I did it. I didn't even eat the sample the gave me. I split it in half for the kids. The kids each picked out a sucker and were thrilled. 

Once we were back home, we played many, many rounds of Uno....shocker! We were also able to talk to Alex a little bit more before he went to bed. It was such a treat to get to talk to him multiple times in one day. 

Being that today is Saturday, it was family movie night. The kids picked the original Disney Cinderella (the cartoon) and we made homemade pizza (garlic crust, pesto, cheese, and pepperoni). 


I've been working on a few things for work tonight and also trying to take a little time for me, so I snuggled up with a blanket and watched some reruns of When Calls the Heart! Silly show gets me every time! 

Can't wait for tomorrow! 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday!!!

Today was pretty calm.

Only two days back at school, and everyone is still happy as a clam (are clams really happy....hmmmm) about their teachers and their classes! My kids were bummed that tomorrow is the weekend.

I, however, am ready for the weekend. I had finally just started "sleeping in" the last couple weeks of summer (and by sleeping in I mean until maybe 6:15 on a good day), so my routine of going to bed around midnight, now getting up at 5 (which is fine in the morning), and then working out hard in the heat, catches up with me each night and I am ready to have a fun relaxing weekend.

I have a fun surprise planned for the kids tomorrow....at least I think it's fun. Hopefully they will too! :)

Then, on Sunday, we're going headed back to Moorpark to see my sister and her family who are out here from New Jersey. My niece is turning 5 and we're celebrating at the zoo. I will share more about this when we get back on Sunday, but I'm so excited to see them...it's been too long!!! My other sis will be there too! woo hoo!!!!!

Today, I improved my run time and distance, despite the heat. I am bound and determined to get the results I want and I'm not going to let the heat be an excuse. I did intervals today for just over 3 miles. I ran .5 miles and then walked .5 miles and so on, however when I hit patches of shade I would run extra even if it was my turn to walk...had to take advantage of that shade! I bought my huge water bottle with me filled with my AminoWise and felt great the whole time.

While Madison was at gymnastics, Hudson and came home and we played many rounds of UNO....I think maybe I need to look for UNO Attack that everyone keeps mentioning because I think it sounds like a lot of fun and my kids clearly have an UNO obsession.

Kids went right to sleep when we came home from gymnastics. One of the many great things about them being back in school is that they are spent by the end of the day from focused days, new routines, and very hot days! I wish I could say it's suppose to be cooling off, but next week looks like it will most likely be too hot for us to walk home from school AND it's suppose to be crazy humid.

Well, I'm off to start a new book. I officially finished "A Man Called Ove" and forgot to mention in on whatever day I finished it. I really enjoyed that book. It was different from the books I typically read, but it was a very sweet story and Ove is quite the character. I can't wait to see the movie.

Sorry for the lack of pictures today....I'll make up for it with picture overload from this weekend.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

First Day of School

Oh my goodness....so I have SOOOO many pictures to share with you today.

I was up bright and early this morning! I popped out of bed at 5:00 and then proceeded to do my quiet time. I know I've already said it, but I'm really loving my Kelly Minter Bible Study. Then, at around 6:00 I started getting ready and then made my Slique Tea. While it was steeping, I finished making the kids' lunches and filled their water bottles. I had so much fun. Then at 6:30 I woke Madison up to start getting ready for the day. Next, Hudson began to stir, and was up around 6:40. They were both excited. While they got ready, I made breakfast. Today we had scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced avocado and some strawberries, along with our vitamins and Ningxia Red.....gotta keep that immune system at it's best for school. :)

I never let Madison where her hair down to school....too many icky bugs at school and not worth it to me to risk them coming into our home, but I told Madison she could wear it down today if she showered and left me enough time to blow dry it for her. I was planning on curling it, but my curling iron died, so we made it work.

As we were getting ready to walk out the door, Alex was able to quickly call...he had just gotten to his new room (I'll share more about that a little later on) that he'll be at for the next few days and so the timing worked out. We said a quick "hi" and "bye" and then we took the traditional morning pictures. The sun was bright, but I tried.


Then, we were off to walk to the first day of school. I was able to snap a couple pictures there too! 



While the kids were at school, I went for a run...ended up going 2.67 miles...was wanting to go 3, but miscalculated how far my route was and was out of water and it was too hot to try to get that last bit in. I had a very productive day at home and at work. Now to figure out what I'm doing tomorrow... have so many things I want/need to do...I just need to prioritize them. 

I had such a blast when I picked the kids up, listening to them retell the events of their day. They both has fantastic days and can't wait to go back tomorrow. This blesses my heart so much, especially for Hudson because this definitely wasn't the experience he had on the first day of school last year. So very thankful that everything has gone so smoothly so far, especially since Alex isn't here. Such a blessing that the kids both LOVE their teachers and already have friends in their classes. Hudson came home with the cutest little note from his teacher and she also shared picture of the class on our Class Dojo App.

      

Tonight for dinner I made a new recipe. Brittney shared it with me. I LOVED it and my kids tolerated it...they finished their bowls, but with some persuading. I think Alex would have loved this dish. We made an inside out egg roll bowl. Pictures are below.

          

Okay, so Alex is traveling as I mentioned in my last post. I can't say where he is until he's back, but I can show you some of the crazy pictures he's sent me. So, this trip is a bit different than your typical trip on deployment because it's almost like a built in business trip that since Alex happened to be deployed was able to attend. His accommodations aren't lacking in the slightest. Alex said this is probably the nicest hotel he's EVER stayed at. Here are just a few of the pictures he sent me.

Here is his room:


Here is the Hotel Buffet for Dinner:

     

I believe this next picture is a picture of the hotel or maybe it's a view from his room, but wow!



Hope everyone had a GREAT day!!!! 

So excited for work tomorrow....big things happening!!!!