Saturday, August 19, 2017

Big Smiles

This morning I was blessed with getting to talk to my B-fry for longer than we've talked in awhile. She just started her first year of teaching first grade and it was so fun to catch up with her and hear how everything is going and how my niece and nephew did during their first week back to school. Even with as long as we were able to talk, I still feel like there is so much we didn't get a chance to catch up on, however it started off the morning with a wonderful smile and a little pep in my step. Hoping we can see each other soon.

So, after the phone call, something that NEVER happens happened today.

I don't typically enjoy shopping for myself because I'm just too stinking critical of everything I shop for and how it looks on me, even with shoes. However, I LOVE shopping for my kids. But....despite my love for shopping for them, I often struggle with finding good shoes for them.

I have a theory about this. My first theory is that part of it is that they are either both in a pretty common shoe size OR a very uncommon shoe size and so there are never really any shoes in their size available when I go to look. My second theory is that the quality in shoes has gone majorly downhill and I don't know if it's simply because it's just happened or if companies are trying to make more money off of us, so they use cheaper quality materials.

So, I dropped off Madison at gymnastics, knowing that Hudson and I were on a mission to go find shoes for both of them. We went to Nordstrom Rack and then the plan was to go to the Sketchers store as a back up if we needed to.

Well, I actually found FOUR pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack that not only fit Hudson and were good quality, but he actually liked them too!!!!! #winning However, I told him that he could only pick three because on the off chance that his foot decides to grow I didn't want to have a million shoes I had to replace. So Hudson ended up with a pair of Aasics, Nikes and Sketchers. I also happened to find a pair of super cure Aasics shoes for Madison. I wanted to try to find at least one more pair for Madison, so we went next door to Sketchers....wow their shoes in the girls section are super loud, but I managed to find two pair and they have memory foam in them, which is super comfy. Their shoes were buy one get one half off, so it was great because both of them were on sale and then we received 50% off making one of the pairs only $14.

Afterwards, Hudson and I stopped at Bagel Bistro (don't worry, #teamstephanie stayed strong and didn't have a bagel). I wanted an iced tea and they have a GREAT Tropical Iced Tea and I don't like it sweetened, so it's a free treat. Hudson picked a tasty strawberry, banana non-dairy smoothie so that his tummy wasn't upset and then we picked out a smoothie to take to Madison.

When we arrived at gymnastics it was close to over, but after everyone left she had us come out and video a few things she had been working on because she wanted Alex to see them :) For those of you that don't know, back tucks have been a struggle for Madison because they are the first skill she every really got injured on and then developed a mental block. She's been working super hard to get past it and is almost there. The last thing she needs to conquer is just the standing back tuck on the floor....she's done it, but doesn't have it consistently, but she's gaining more confidence every day. So, these videos were a big deal today. She did a back tuck dismount off of the beam and a backbend to a back tuck. Then the final video I have is her working her giants on the strap bar.

So, here are her videos.....









So, I finished the day feeling accomplished with the shoes finds and Madison finished the day with feeling extra successful, resulting in BIG SMILES all around.

We topped off the evening with our family movie night. The kids had mini pizzas and I had broccoli salad, the last of the turkey meatballs, and bell peppers and hummus, while we watch Ferngully: The Last Rain Forest. It was okay, but if you have any movie night suggestions we're open to them. I think the kids have Chicken Little and The Goofy Movie on their short list, but would greatly appreciate suggestions!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Accomplished

Woot Woot!


Woke up this morning and as of today, I've lost just over 5 lbs since Alex left....goals=crushing it!!!!! Who do you think is going to win? I'm so excited. I know! I know! It's not all about the scale, but in the beginning when you're getting back into routine, it sure does feel good to see those wins on the scale. I've been working really hard to hone in on my nutrition and stay consistent with my exercise. I'm also doing a few other things to support my gut that are really making a difference.

So, early this morning we received the phone call that Alex's car was ready, so we quickly got ready and waited for the curtesy shuttle. It was such an easy process. They picked us up. I paid the deductible. We were given the keys and we turned around and went back home.

Once we were home, I had the itch to organize the garage. It had been on my "to do" list since we moved to our new home, but everything else took priority. I spent about 2.5 hours organizing and sweeping the garage. I piled a bunch of stuff into the back of my car to take to Angel View and then I also had a nice size pile that I kept throwing in our trashcan (yay for a late pick up on trash day). After my hard work was finished, I was able to pull BOTH of our cars into the garage. It was glorious.

By this time, I was dripping with sweat (yay for the extra cardio workout), but it was time for lunch. So I quickly made the kids and I lunch....I was tempted by so many things because I was so hungry, but I was good. Here is my lunch from today, so simple, yet so delicious.


After lunch we ran over to Angel View and dropped off our donation and then hurried home so that we wouldn't miss our FaceTime call with Alex. On the way home, I stopped to grab the mail and I had received the sweetest card from my sister, Jaclyn. Thank you for always being so thoughtful and sending me the most wonderful cards sis!

 Today Hudson and Alex started making silly faces at each other and Hudson was so excited about this. He sure does love and miss his daddy. I snapped a goofy picture of these two. 


Shortly after we all finished facetiming with Alex, it was time to make Madison dinner and head off to gymnastics. Today I took a cute picture of Hudson and his buddies (the other little brothers) during gymnastics. One of them had brought and iPad and they were all taking turns playing some driving game. It was pretty funny to sit and listen to them all. 


When Hudson and I got back to the house to eat dinner, there was a box at the door and it made me so happy. I discovered the other day that Pentatonix had another Christmas Album. Now, I don't know if this is new or not, but it is new to me. We really love their other Christmas Album, so I bought this one so that when I decide to start listening to Christmas Music I have it (in addition to my Martina McBride one of course ;). 


The kids were tired today. As soon as we arrived back home from the gym, they both went to bed almost immediately and I believe they are both already asleep. 

Well, I'm off to do a few things for work and then hopefully finish or at least read a good chunk of the rest of "A Man Called Ove" before heading to bed. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's Been a Roller Coaster Kind of Day

Looking forward to God's new mercies in the morning.....


This morning we went to the kids' school and found out who their teachers will be for this upcoming school year. We don't know either of them, but have heard nothing but fantastic reviews about each of them. We will have Back to School Night next Tuesday for the kids the meet their teachers and hopefully some of the kids in their classes. The kids are super excited for this upcoming school year.

On our way back, we realized we never went to get the mail yesterday. So we stopped and grabbed it and Madison's new skin for her Talkie finally came in. This silly skin was suppose to be here in May and then it was pushed back to June, then July and now it finally has arrived, but boy was it worth it because it's super cute and Madison LOVES it.


So inside of this unicorn (her name is NuNu), is a WiFi enabled box that connects to an app on my phone and Alex's. Alex and the kids (Hudson has his own too) are able to leave messages for each other and stay in communication with each other. It simply requires that the toy be in a recognizable WiFi network and that Alex is near his WiFi, since his phone is turned off. Anyway, I highly recommend them and it's also been great for family to talk to the kids too. As long as they have the app and have connected with us, they can leave the kids a message. I have complete parental control over them with my app, so they will never receive random messages...only ones that I approve. 

I don't like to dwell on the hard parts of the day because, well....it just doesn't do any good. But we'll just say that there has been a lot of frustration today with the kids, my own actions, our management company, just plain grumpiness from everyone in our home, and I could keep going....

Well, we all needed a break, so I threw on The Peanuts Movie because I just love that movie and I love how my kids (no matter their mood) will get up and dance with the characters at the end of the movie. We all were feeling better as I prepared dinner (we had one of the kids' favorites, Turkey and Spinach meatballs....to which Madison said this was my best batch yet #winning, peaches and avocado), and the kids got ready to head to gymnastics. 

On the way to gymnastics, I realized that I hadn't checked today's mail (because earlier it was yesterday's mail) and when I opened our box there was a key to the package box. I had a package in there and I was puzzled, because it was Young Living box, but it didn't look like it had come from Young Living. It looked like it had been opened and then resealed. I was thinking that maybe something I'd ordered for Alex was bounced back to me for some reason. Well, when I opened it, I saw that it was the most thoughtful care package from my amazing Floral & Pine team. You guys, these ladies are so amazing and seriously just the BEST! And the crazy part is, I've NEVER even met a single one of them, yet I feel like we are all family and that I could call any one of them and they'd drop what they were doing to listen and help however they can. You guys, they sent the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts for my kids and the MOST amazing book/journal for me. This had me in tears and then when I opened the card and saw their note and the most generous gift card, I began to Ugly Cry. The card's instructions were to go do something fun with the kids. I can't even tell you how much this means to me. Not only was their thoughtfulness and generosity incredibly touching, but God had it arrive in the mail TODAY....of all days. Once again...He's in the details and He's carrying us. 


Tomorrow will be better. One day at a time....hey we're on day 10 and school is just around the corner. Once school starts, we'll all be so busy and the kids will actually miss each other and all will be right in the world. So goodnight friends....see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tough Love

Today the kids and I had a lazy morning...it was glorious.

Both of the kids slept in, which gave me extra time for my quiet time (I'm going through a Beth Moore Study right now), some work, and some exercise.

Once I heard the kids stirring in their rooms, I made some Slique Tea to drink while I read a book that I've been trying to finish forever.....I actually love the book, but with the move, pre-deployment leave, work, and reading a few other books, I just haven't had time to sit-down and read it. Well, I still have to read the newest Nicholas Sparks book and so I'm hustling to plow through my current book, "A Man Called Ove." I'd also like to see the movie when it comes out. Which of my local friends want to go with me? I think it comes out early 2018....I don't know, but soon.

As the kids made their way out of their rooms, they brought their books too! :) Love when we all read together. Then, after a little bit, the kids began to play Uno....and this is where the tough love had to kick in. These kids, as much as they love each other, need to go back to school so that they can remember how much they love each other....LOL.

From about 8:30 until 5:00 I was constantly mediating and helping calm hurt feelings and bad moods, as well as trying to keep the every moving tornado under control and redirecting the kids. It seemed to never stop today. I had to separate them a few times, just for my own sanity and theirs too I believe. It's not normally this crazy for this long, this consistently in a day, but today they just were having trouble seeing the other person's point of view and were doing everything in their power, or so it seemed, to get under the other's skin. There were a lot of apologies and hugs given today. Praying tomorrow morning gets off to a better start.

In the midst of the craziness, Alex called, which is always a pleasant surprise. Alex has been so busy with work and will only get busier. There has already been a joke that he's the busiest guy on staff right now because a few things that have happened....he's not able to share the details, so I don't have much, I just know that on his first actual day of work during the deployment (this was after the unit they replaced left), he worked until about 1:30 in the morning the following day and then had to turn around and get up at 6 in order to go into work early. Phew!

During our conversation, one of his friends came in and helped him get his Filimin working, since their WiFi is a little different over there. It was so fun. He took some pictures for me of his and I took a picture of mine at the same time, so that you can see. They are so fun and I can't tell you how comforting it is to walk into my bedroom and see my side lit up with his color (his is the blue...mine is purple) and then to go over and touch it and watch it change to purple.



So, even though we had a crazy morning/afternoon, we had a wonderful evening, which was such a blessing...thank you to whoever was praying for our day to get better! 

Tonight for dinner, the kids helped finish up some of our left overs and had tacos. I had a protein shake, some carrots and greek yogurt dip, and about 2oz of chicken breast. I think most of you know this, but I'm pretty competitive, so I love that Alex and I are both working towards goals and seeing who can get there first. We haven't decided how we're going to decide who wins since we're working towards different types of goals, so measuring the success might be harder in comparison, but it motivates me nonetheless. 

So, on that note.....I'd love any and all whole 30 and paleo recipes that you LOVE and it's a plus if your kids love them too! Please share them either in the comments on this blog post or under this post on Facebook. I'd also love your thoughts on what the prize should be for the winner, as we're still discussing. 

After dinner, my parents came over to have a game night with us. We had so much fun. We played Uno, Otrio (if you don't have this game, but love games that make you strategize, you'll love this one...it's on clearance at Target right now actually), and then after Hudson went to bed we taught Madison how to play Monopoly (I forgot to take a picture of our Monopoly game)! She loved it!

Uno            Otrio

After game night, I walked into my room to see my Filimin had changed...first time I've seen this since we were playing with it earlier in the day...that means Alex is up and was getting ready for work and wanted me to know he was thinking of me. Have I mentioned how much I adore this man! He is seriously the BEST!!! I know it's only been a week, but I miss him something fierce and 9 months seems so long right now.....just being real. We are totally good on the day to day and I know that God has us, but when I think about the length we will be apart, sometimes it takes my breath away. However, I know that God will use this time to refine each of us and we will be stronger for it. 

Alright, off to bed....we have to be up bright and early tomorrow because the kids find out who their teachers will be for the new school year that starts next week. We have to be there at 7:30 to get our welcome packets, fill them out and then turn them in to get their class assignments. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Which One Did I Choose?

Accomplished.

Today I was able to get a lot done! We took the car to the auto body shop this morning to drop it off and then my parents came and rescued us. There was a mix up at the shop and they didn't have their curtesy shuttle, so my parents came and picked us up and brought us home.

Once we were home I worked for a few hours. My team was having a raffle today (actually it's still going) and so I was answering a lot of phone calls, texts, and emails with questions about a bunch of things.

While I was working, the doorbell rang and it was the FedEx guy....he had a special delivery for me!!! My Apple Watch arrived today! I am still trying to learn about all that it does, but I'm having so much fun with it. The kids are getting a kick out of it too.




Then we made lunch. We're working on cutting out the processed foods from our home. The kids have been on board with everything and super excited. Today we had a salad with avocado, cucumber, peppers, onion, chicken, nitrate/nitrite free applewood smoked bacon, and pine nuts. The kids gobbled it down and for dessert we had strawberries and peaches.

For dinner, I made homemade tomato soup. The kids gobbled it down. and asked if there would be left overs for tomorrow. :) I guess that is a good sign.

Here is the recipe that I used...I follow the bottom portion:

http://cookingwithstephanie.blogspot.com/2011/03/best-tomato-soup.html

Tonight my sweet friend Kristi, blessed me and brought Madison home from gymnastics for me. Hudson was a bit needier today. He's had bad allergies, he's cutting 4 molars and he misses his dad, so we spent some extra snuggle time together and then he went to bed early. He was ready. We snuggled until he fell asleep...it's been a long time since we've done that. It as was a pretty wonderful way to spend my evening.

Once Hudson was in bed, I got my workout in and finished a bunch of chores that needed to be tended to, as well as tie up some loose ends with work.

Madison finished choreographing her beam routine with her coach tonight and I do have a video, but she has asked me to wait to post it until we get a better video. She loves her routine though, so that is super fun to see her so excited and smiley about it.

**For those of you who have an Apple Watch, are there any cool features I need to know about or watch specific apps that I should get?**

SaveSave

Monday, August 14, 2017

1 Week Down

We did it!

We finished our first week of deployment. I have to say that I am so very proud of my kiddos. They have adjusted very well and are enjoying our FaceTime chats with Alex, as well as getting to use their ToyMail Talkies (I'll post about these soon), to communicate with Alex. I know that there will be tough days that come, but so far, we're full of joy and moving forward with God guiding our steps each day and guarding our emotions!

Today the kids and I went to Trader Joe's, to Costco and to the Post Office. We mailed Alex is first two care packages that we filled ourselves.....he already has 5 other boxes on their way from other places...LOL. I needed stamps while we were at the Post Office so I asked to see what selection they had and we found some fun ones. We picked two just released sheets of stamps. Look how fun they are:

              


Once we were done with our errands we came back home and grabbed the mail. I had such a fun package of HAPPY MAIL from my dear friend and business leader Vanessa. She has been such a blessing in my life and I'm so thankful that God chose to cross our paths. Look at this amazing care package she sent. (She designed this bag for our team). Her attention to detail is just amazing. PS...Y'all need oils....just saying so because I care about each of you! ;) 



Once we were back home and the groceries were unpacked, I tried my hand at homemade Mayo. We were pretty happy with how it turned out. The kids loved it which is great because they didn't love the new one I'd bought when Just Mayo was no longer being stocked on the shelves at Target (or anywhere else for that matter). 


Madison had a blast again at gymnastics tonight. She did not get to work on her layout Fly Aways today because they had different assignments tonight, but she had fun nonetheless. She did get to work on adding a little more to her beam routine. I have a video of the first part (which as always couldn't change a million times before it's the final routine, but here's what she has so far). 


Hope everyone had a blessed day! Taking our car in tomorrow to drop it off and get that new hood I wrote about a few days ago! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Isn't Trader Joe's the BEST!?!

Well, today was a GREAT day!

We went to church this morning. The kids loved their class and I really enjoyed the message today. One Sunday down....

After church, we ran to Trader Joe's for a few things and when we stopped for the kids to grab a sample at their sample counter (which was the most AMAZING Garlic Cheddar Cheese), I started talking with the lady who was serving us. We were talking about how fun it is to pair cheese, fruit and wine together. We were sharing our favorite cheese and how Trader Joe's has the best cheese selection around (it really does). Through the course of the conversation we were talking about date nights and I mentioned that I couldn't wait to have more date nights when my hubby came back home. This led her to asking some more questions and she learned that Alex was deployed. We finished our conversation and I didn't think any more of it. Well, as we were getting ready to check out, she quickly came over  and handed me a bouquet of flowers and said she just wanted to say, "Thank you." This gesture was so touching to me. She said she knew it was my husband who was overseas, but that she really appreciated talking with me and knows that holding down the fort at home is a tough job and she wanted to extend her gratitude! The kids thought this was so cool, so naturally we took a picture with the flowers in front of the Trader Joe's sign.


Sundays are typically the hardest day of the week during deployment because they are our family day and a big piece of our family is very obviously missing. However, God is so faithful to show up in the details. I NEVER go to Trader Joe's on Sunday, but just happened to need a couple of things today. God met me where I was at and reminded me that He is with us through this adventure and that He's got us in the palm of His hand. To this lady, it might have been a small gesture, but to us, she was God's hands and feet today, blessing us and reminding us that we are never alone and God is always faithful and by our side. 

After we came back home from our errands, I prepped the food for the business class that I was having at my house. (I forgot to take any pictures). We had a great time. We talked, planned and motivated each other to push for our goals and to remember our WHY. There are some amazing things happening on my team right now and I can't wait to see God bring them to fruition. I seriously love all of the people I work with and find such joy in what I get to do and be apart of each and every day!

The kids and I read a few stories before bed and then once they were in bed I was blessed with the chance to catch up with Brittney. It has been awhile since we've been able to catch each other on the phone with our time difference. We actually were able to talk for about 3 hours. What a true blessing that was. Oh how I miss her and her sweet family, but I LOVE that even though we are 17 hours apart right now, we still are just as close as ever and don't miss a beat when we are able to actually connect. God truly blessed me with this friendship. 

Hopefully, I will have some more gymnastics videos to show you tomorrow. All I've heard about today is how excited Madison is to finish choreographing her beam routine with her coach and how excited she is to try her fly away layout tomorrow. Praying these happen while I'm there so that I can catch them on video. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Need Your Vote!!!!


OH MY GOODNESS!!!! You guys!!!! So, most of you know that I am part of an amazing team for work, Floral & Pine. Last month we had a special raffle going and today that winner was picked and I WON!!! I WON AN APPLE WATCH!!!!! I am so stinking excited!!!!!!! I have wanted an apple watch for a long time, but knew that it was something that I just needed to wait on because of some other expenses that have come up with the move and a few other things, so when I received the messaged saying that I won, I was in disbelief!!!! I haven't stopped smiling!!! I need your help...which one should I get between the pictures listed above? I love the Rose Gold one, but I also like that the Silver one is so versatile should I want/need another band down the road. 


Okay, let me start over...this morning Madison was just the sweetest and made us all scrambled eggs! They were really good. We've really been focusing on having high protein breakfasts and so she wanted to contribute. She cooked them and dished them by herself and then set up the picture she wanted taken. 

Before we left for gymnastics, our morning was full of games. We played a lot of Mancala and Uno and I think tomorrow we'll be playing Blokus (I personally really love this game). Madison asked me to take a picture because she beat me today by 1...it was that close of a game. I really love playing thinking/logic games with Madison because we both have similar brains and so it's genuinely a tough match and so much fun! 


We also had the chance to talk to Alex for a little bit this morning, but only over audio because the WiFi connection wasn't strong enough for us to FaceTime much. We tried a few times, but ended up just switching to audio so we could actually have a conversation. He's doing well and slowly adjusting to the time. He's getting ready to start his day, so I'm looking forward to telling him about the watch. :) 

Today at gymnastics, Madison added another element to her Fly Away. This happened to be the best video I captured, but she had to pause in the middle of it because her hair got in the way....but you'll get the idea. They worked routines on the beam today also and Madison is super excited about how here routine is coming along. In her words, it has a lot of Sass!!!!



After gymnastics, we came home and went swimming to cool off. Today was extremely humid, so it made the heat feel way worse than it was, but nonetheless, a swim was in order! :) 

Once we were done swimming we got ready for our movie night. We had mini pizza bagels, sliced avocado, and carrots and hummus for dinner. Tonight we watched Pete's Dragon. I think they did that movie very well and since it was our second time watching it was I able to appreciate it. The first time, it caught me by surprise with how emotional it was, but this time I was prepared! ;) 

After the kids went to bed, I finished my weekly cleaning because I am having some of my team over tomorrow for a business class. I am so excited to have them in my home and for the chance to share a little of what I've learned over the last year as we talk and grow as a team.

Friday, August 11, 2017

He Did It!!!!

Today, a miracle happened.

Hudson has been terrified of the dentist forever. He always has so much anxiety about going and last August we went to a dentist in Yucca Valley and he had another HORRIBLE experience. They asked him to come back in October to try again and it was equally as bad. As a result, the instant anyone talks about going to the dentist, he'd start crying and start talking about how he didn't want to go.

Well, now that we've moved to where there are more options, we did some research and discovered that Dr. Okomoto, who is a Pediatric Dentist, was the place to go. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE had good things to say about the entire staff at this office. So, back in May, I called and made an appointment....this was the earliest we could get in. I guess a lot of other people thought it was great too!

Hudson was nervous, but watched sister go first at everything and then when it was his turn. He actually let them do everything. He actually opened his mouth and didn't lock his jaw shut. He had his X-rays taken. He let them count his teeth. He picked chocolate toothpaste and let them brush his teeth. He let them floss his teeth. He even let them put the fluoride treatment on. I was in disbelief. I was so proud of him and he's already talking about how he can't wait until March when we get to go back! Talk about a miracle and a change of heart. Both kids were told they had beautiful teeth. Madison only has 7 baby teeth left to lose and Hudson currently has FOUR loose teeth, one of which they said he will lose any day.

Hudson         Madison 


After we finished up at the dentist, we quickly ran over to Verizon Wireless to suspend Alex's line while he's deployed. They've made the process a tad more difficult than it use to be, but we were able to get it all straightened out. I'm almost done with all of the nitty gritty details that need to be taken care of now that Alex is overseas. 

Once we were done with that errand, we came home and ate lunch. So far I'm doing well with getting back into my routine. I had some avocado, hardboiled eggs and a string cheese for lunch. Lunch is always a hard meal for me because I get so bored with it, so when I can make it seem like a bunch of little appetizers, it makes it more fun for me. As we were finishing up lunch, we received a phone call from Alex, which always makes the day brighter. 


I can't believe we're already close to getting through our first weekend. For those of you who aren't military, there are some big milestones that we like to count down as we go through a deployment: first weekend under the belt, first week, each new month, when the calendar year changes and it becomes the year your hubby will be back, and then I like to start counting down by which holidays we still have left. This deployment, we are blessed to have several holidays and milestones to help us pass the time quickly: school starting, Labor Day, my birthday, FALL, Thanksgiving, CHRISTMAS (and everything that includes), New Year's, Start of Gymnastics Season (which means a lot of meets on weekends), Valentine's Day, Hudson's birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and our dating anniversary. Praying this time goes quickly. 

Tonight I had the privilege of videotaping some of Madison's Fly Aways off the high bar so that Alex can see them. Here are two of them: 





Thank you again to all of you who have and continue to reach out via text, email, Facebook, etc. It means so much to me to have all of your support and simply to know you're there and praying for us. We feel your prayers and are grateful for them!




Thursday, August 10, 2017

To Do Lists...

Today was a day full of odds and ends.

Our morning started out with the kids playing nicely for a few hours while I read, did some chores, and worked. Then, we were pleasantly surprised by another FaceTime call with Alex. It is always so wonderful when he calls. Since he hasn't been there that long, we don't know when to expect his calls, but hopefully soon, we'll figure that all out. We learned that there are definitely some items that Alex didn't bring that he needs, so I'm working on getting a care package together to send him. He's going to be getting a driver's license out there....crazy isn't it?!? As a result, I have to send him some civilian clothes and shoes.

After we were finished out call with Alex, we had to head to the auto body shop. A couple of days before Alex deployed, he was on his way to Camp Pendleton, driving on the 15, when a HUGE piece of metal came bouncing down the lane he was in and bounced off the top of the hood and kept going. When he finally arrived at his destination, he saw the damage it had caused. My goodness, we are so thankful it didn't hit the windshield. Anyway, I had to go take the care for them to take pictures and whatnot, so that we can get it repaired. I have included some of the pictures below.



Once that was taken care of we came home and had lunch. I used some leftover, homemade meat sauce and made Organic Zucchini Lasagna Boats. Here is what I did if you are interested in the recipe:


Sauce:

The quick version is:

2 cans of organic tomato sauce
Grassfed ground beef (sometimes I use turkey)
1/2 a large onion, minced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
Basil
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Parsley
Red Pepper Flakes

Cook ground beef with salt, pepper, onion and garlic and drain. Then add sauce and seasonings to taste and let simmer for at least 30 minutes, but if you can let it simmer for over an hour, it deepens the flavor. 

**You can also roast 8-10 large organic roma tomatoes, some garlic cloves and sliced onion and then add to a blender to make your own tomato sauce***

I make a big batch of sauce and then I cut a zucchini in half and hollow out the middle. Then, spoon on sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and throw in a 400* oven for 15 minutes!


Once we were finished with lunch we watch an episode of American Ninja Warrior. My kids were introduced to that show by my parents when Alex and I went away for our Anniversary in July and we had a new episode that hadn't been seen yet. It's so fun to watch them get all excited when someone makes it. Madison keeps saying she wants to be on that show! 

 When the hubby leaves there are still a few things that need to be taken care of, so today was the day I worked on those things. Aside from getting the process started for fixing his car, I had to call our auto insurance and put him on "deployed" status...saves us a little money. Then I had to call Verizon and suspend his number while he's gone. This was easier said than done, and actually didn't get accomplished today because of how difficult they were on the phone. So, I will go to the store in person and do it. 

Tonight, I'm missing Alex extra. I simply want to just give him a hug and have him here. I know from past experience, this feeling never goes away, but I'll adjust. 

Well, it's getting late, so I'm going to go fill my diffuser, read a little and go to sleep. Thank you to all of you who have still been sending lovely Facebook messages, posting sweet messages, and sending text messages. Knowing all of the support I have means so much to me. 

Until tomorrow....

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

He Made It!!!

Refreshed.

When you finally get to sleep after 41 hours of not sleeping, you feel so refreshed when you wake up in the morning! It's glorious.

I woke up to a text from Alex letting me know that he'd made it to Germany and that he had converted a little bit of money for the kids so that he can mail them some foreign money to add to their collection from the last deployment. This is always such a big hit when it comes in the mail. I'm keeping it a surprise until it arrives, but I'm excited at the thought of the look on their faces.


Also, the day before Alex left, we received a beautiful gift in the mail for the kids. I saved it and let the kids open it today. My dear friend Erin, that I've known since I was in 4th grade I believe, sent my kids the sweetest, most thoughtful care package. She wrote them a card and sent them some fun gift cards to Chuck-E-Cheese, Regal Cinemas, and Barns & Noble. She said that this was to help pass the time and to cheer them up. I'm truly touched by this gesture and blown away by the generosity. Thank you so much Erin. The kids and I are already planning for when we can go and let them use their fun gift cards.





As we started our day we filled our diffuser with Family and Valor to help support our emotions. Everyone has been good so far, but there has been a tad more bickering than usual between the kids and I know it's the stress and emotion of the transition, even if they don't recognize it, so I am doing what I can to aid in this process. These two oils are amazing and really help the mood and release the tension. I thought the best part was that my little monkey came up to me after smelling the diffuser and he was able to identify these two oils with his little sniffer.


The kids have really been wanting to watch the original Beauty and the Beast, so we took some time to watch this movie today. We had a picnic on the floor while we watched it. I really love this movie. The new live Beauty and the Beast is beautifully done, but there is just something nostalgic about watching the Disney Cartoon version!



After lunch, I had the privilege of teaching a Back to School class on line. It was so much fun! People were active today and had a lot of questions. I love when people engage during the online classes and I get to help them there on the spot.  Here is the Class if you're interested in taking a peak at the Back to School tips I shared (bit.ly/BacktoSchoolClass)
....we're just about done with summer over here. We find out who the kids' teachers are next week and then start school on the 24th.


As promised yesterday, I'm going to share with you the amazing gift Alex bought me for our Anniversary. I have never seen anything like this, but it's just the sweetest. So, he found these lamps that are called Filimin. These lamps are WiFi based and you program them so that each lamp (we each have one) knows your color (I chose the purple spectrum and Alex chose the bluish/green spectrum). When I touch the lamp it will change BOTH lamps to Purple and when Alex touches the lamp it will change BOTH lamps to the bluish/green color. This will allow us to know when the other person is thinking of us and help us know when Alex is in his room and able to talk. I'm posting a little video below to show you how they work.


Filimin: A Wi-Fi enabled touch light that gives you a beautiful, unobtrusive way to connect with the people you love. from Filimin on Vimeo.

Earlier this evening, my parents came over and we had a fun visit with an old friend that I haven't seen in ages, Dorothy! She is just the sweetest and it was so wonderful catching up with her. Right after she left I realized I forgot to get a picture with her, but just know she's the sweetest and I've known her practically my whole life.

Before bedtime we had the opportunity to FaceTime with Alex. He was able to borrow some WiFi from someone already there, since he won't have his own WiFi until Monday. He's officially in Kuwait and all checked in. Please keep praying that he adjusts to the time difference quickly and doesn't get sick in the process. He has his first staff meeting in a couple of hours. Below I've included a picture Alex took from the plane as they were flying into Kuwait and then there is our first FaceTime picture!

      


After the kids went to bed I took my first bath at our new house. The tub is amazing and I made homemade bath salts (I used Epsom Salt and Ylang-Ylang). I also added a Stress Away Bath Bomb...my skin feels so soft and like all of moisture is back in it. It was so nice to relax and read one of my books. 





Tuesday, August 08, 2017

And Just Like That.....the Countdown Has Begun!!!

He's gone.

I didn't know if this day would ever come. It has been looming over us since last October and the closer the day came, the heavier it felt.

Most people dread this day. Yes, it STINKS, but there is a Silver Lining: we are no longer dreading the day Alex leaves, but now counting down the days until he's back home. Even though we are just in the beginning, we know that taking one day at a time makes the months fly by and before we know it he'll be back. Homecomings are oh so sweet. For those of you who have never experienced a homecoming, I can't tell you how highly I recommend you finding one near you and going to witness it in person. There is something magical about seeing a family reunited. I have been to dozens of homecomings and everyone is unique and special.

Anyway, as with our last deployment, I will be keeping a daily blog. This helps us stay connected with Alex and allows him to see the ins and outs of our days and have topics of conversation for when he talks with the kids. It's also very therapeutic of me. We welcome anyone who wants to come alongside us on this journey.

Our timeline was a bit crazy yesterday and I didn't get home until 6:15 this morning, which is why I am just now writing about our farewell.

We were blessed to get to spend the day together  so I'm going to share some photos recapping our final day together up through today.

Alex and I prepped our necklace pieces...his goes on his dog tags and mine goes on a necklace Alex bought me before the last deployment.



During the morning we had homemade breakfast burritos. Then we went swimming and played a lot of family games and the kids and Alex played Star Wars!



Alex wanted one more meal at Chipotle, so we headed there for lunch and then we ran to Target for a few last minute odds and ends that Alex needed.





Once we arrived home, we had just a short while before it was time for Alex to say "see you soon" to the kids and for me to take them over to my parents for the evening. Here are some of the pictures from this time together:



  


Once I dropped the kids off at my parents, I came back to the house and my amazingly thoughtful husband had the most touching gifts for each of us set out. (I kept the kids' a surprise until we came home from Grandma and Grandpa's). For those of you that remember, Alex became quite the amazing letter writer and made my heart flutter extra from all of his thoughtfulness. Well, he's already started. He left each of us a personalized, hand-written note and a sweet little gift.


I did not read the letter then, I saved it for after I got home from dropping Alex off.

Alex had requested to go to Burger Lounge for dinner. I had never been there, but the closest one to us was in Temecula. So we loaded up the car and headed there on the way to Camp Pendleton.
For those of you that live near a Burger Lounge.....IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!! (Emma and Jordan, they just opened one in Vegas in the Aria ;) ).



Next, my amazingly romantic man gave me directions and he ended up taking us to the beach where we were able to sit in chairs under a cabana and just sit and talk and enjoy the beautiful waves crashing in the moonlit sky! It was gorgeous....however, it was hard to capture the beauty of it, so we have some sandy toes and a nighttime selfie to document our amazingly refreshing time. Isn't God so good!?! Seriously what my soul needed before we headed to our final destination!



While at the beach we looked at the clock and it was about that time. Alex changed over into his uniform and we headed towards the area where Alex was going to leave for his deployment.


Once there, we had to carry his gear to his line. He had to get it weighed, go to the armory, and do a few other formalities. Once he was done, we were able to spend some extra time together before they had to load the semi with their gear and get on the buses. 



Once the buses arrived, emotions amped up and we knew what was coming, but before we said our "see you soons" the Patriot Riders showed up!!! They escorted the buses to their next location! I love the Patriot Riders....another reason I think everyone should have a chance to come to a Military Home Coming...they escort the buses home too!!!!



Then, came the final farewell. While this was the hardest part of the day, by far....it was also the sweetest because we were able to exchange some amazing words of affirmation with each other, as well as words of encouragement for this next journey we each will be on, together, but separate. We count it an honor to serve our country this way and now the COUNTDOWN IS ON UNTIL HOMECOMING!!!!

The buses finally pulled out around 3:50 and I headed to my car to drive home. I listened to two podcasts from Donald Miller's: Story Brand...if you haven't listened to this podcast, I love it and have learned so much! I arrived home at about 6:15 in the morning. I read my beautiful letter from Alex and then quickly changed and headed over to my parents for a few games of Pickleball. The kids had a blast. I think we all did. 


Afterwards, we all went to breakfast and then came home and relaxed. I was dog-tired, but didn't really get a chance to sleep like I'd hoped. We watched Summer Magic, per the kids' request and then we had a light lunch, since we'd had a later breakfast. 

The kids then went to their rooms to read and do some summer math and I did a little bit of work.  Then we received a phone call from Alex letting us know he'd made it to stop number 1 and would be boarding in a little bit for stop number 2. Then, Hudson and I took Madison to gymnastics. I don't have a video (but hopefully I will soon)....Madison did her Flyaway on the bars to night without a spot!!!! This is a big deal...she's been working so hard!

We then came home and the kids are both passed out and I'm about to join them. I just wanted to finish this recap so that when Alex lands he has something to look at. 

We love and miss you babe! Working on your first care package! Love you to the moon and back!

***Tomorrow I'll share with y'all about the amazing Anniversary gift Alex got me to help keep us connected on the deployment....it's seriously on of the coolest things I've ever seen! My hubby is such a romantic! Love how he knows what speaks to my heart, often times better than I do.