Thursday, April 30, 2009

Power Tools

We ventured to Home Depot in search of a lawn mower that Dave felt was worthy of his work. I don't know why we took him into consideration since I am the one that is going to be mowing while he is gone. But at the time, it seemed like a man job. Of course, we get to the push mowers and he has his eye on this beauty of a massive mower. He had to try it out. Thankfully, I talked him back into a cheap gas filled mower with a bag lol.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cleaning the yard

So on the first day of sun, we were itching to get outside. The backyard really needed to be cleaned up and we wanted to scout it out some to see where I could plant a garden. So, that is what we did. We went out and swept the pine needles. We cut back some of the overgrown plants and the kids helped. Then we got out the bubble maker and they played with bubbles. Hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


So, I am finally getting around to posting pictures of the house. Here I am shooting the kitchen taken from in front of the laundry room. In the laundry room is a closet, half bath, washer and dryer. To the right of this picture is the garage and the left is a door to the backyard.
This is the dining room. I have pictures coming in a few weeks of what we did with the place after we got our stuff.
Here is the living room. To the left of me in this picture is the front door.
I turmed around to photo the hallway. To the right is the front door now. In the hall is a bathroom on the right. Two bedrooms on the left and then the one bedroom straight ahead.
This is the boys bedroom, but they are all about this same size with two closets in each room.
So, this is the inside, and outside pics will be shown sometime in here lol.

Simple Skirts GIVEAWAY!!!!

Simple Skirts GIVEAWAY!!!!

These are totally cute! I wonder if I could learn to make them lol

Monday, April 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

We woke up Monday morning to a bed of snow. The weather here still baffles us with all of the sudden changes, but it was cool to see some snow. After school, the kids even went out to play in it. I love these pictures because they look so serene. Enjoy some outside shots of our new place covered in snow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

March 8th- More firsts

The first Sunday we moved into the house, we went to church. We were so happy to see that Mccord AFB was also zoned to the same ward as us. So, there were a lot of other military. Not to mention, everyone was so friendly. I think we still have the most children lol, there is one other family that I know of that has 4 kids, but thats about all. But we felt and still feel really at home there. We were grateful for that. When we came home, we all crowded in front of the fire and played Life.

It was their first time playing Life, but they really liked it and did pretty good. Dave won the first time, Trent the second, and Trent the third. I am not any good at the game lol. And Haylee always comes in second.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


We moved into our house on March 4th. We ventured in with air mattresses and just the stuff we brought on the airplane with us. We had some toys, a computer with no internet, and some books. The house was freezing, so we got some firewood for the fireplace. And of course, that made us think of camping, so we got some stuff to make smores.

The flames weren't too big, but the kids still kept catching the marshmellows on fire.
They weren't very patient either, but they loved eating them in the long run.
We were so happy to be in our house. We moved in the day before Dave had to report in from his permissive TDY (time to allow us to find a house). And we were so grateful to be in something bigger than a hotel room.

Once a Month Cooking

So, I had several comments on FB about how I was doing this, so I decided to post over here where I am familiar with posting and then it will also post in FB. So, here is the deal... here is my testimonial lol. To start, I hate cooking. It brings me no joy and no fulfillment of homemaking. It, next to laundry and dishes, is my least favorite thing to do. I feel like you spend too much time cooking and no one enjoys it. Not to mention, it is expensive. Or so I thought. So, with that being said, I hate slaving in the kitchen all night for 2-3 hours getting garlic chopped and hamburger thawed or whatever, and soon, I got a solution to my problem. Amy called me one day in Italy when I was about 8 m preggo with the twins. At this point in my pregnancy, everything was hard. I was HUGE and I knew that in the coming month, I would get bigger and then the twins would be born and life would really be hard. So I got to thinking, what about eating? I can't eat out of the microwave everyday and I don't want Dave's mac and cheese or egg burritoes everyday either. And I was SO over our 5 fast food choices. So... I was venting to Amy and she shared with me something new she discovered. She got a book off amazon called Once a Month Cooking. (Click there for a link to one option). She told me all about the concept and how the book already gave you a grocery list ect. So, I went on the web and did a little digging and found a site that basically gave me everything the book gave me, only FREE. I have used Christy's Clip Art (previously named something different lol). It gave me all the info I needed to get started. If you are seriously looking to do this, I have to caution you, it took me a month of trial and error on the recipes because we liked different tastes, AND it took me some time to figure out how to freeze it with the space issue. I could only fit 21 meals in my freezer. So, now that I have given you a background, I will tell you how it worked for me and how I minimized effort.

(2 Perogies, 2 Herb Baked Chicken, 1 Tuscan Style Chicken )

As you can see here, I label and date food. Plus I put cooking instructions and sides so even Dave can cook the foods without finding the recipe.

Amy told me one thing she didn't like about her first month cooking was switching so much with the meats. So before I even started I devised a plan. How many of you eat at least one meal twice a month? Well we do. So instead of cooking 30 meals, I planned 15. Now, to avoid switching between meats and starting all over. I would choose 2 meat types per month. Month One Beef/Chicken, Month Two Chicken/Ham, Month Three Pork/Beef, or something like that. I went the first month into it a little blind, but I am going to give you the advice I learned over time so that you can save some trial and error. To get prepared, I printed a complete list of the recipes on that website. I also took note to how many needed extensive preparation before freezing it. So, crockpot and soups general require NO cooking before freezing. So I usually picked 4 meals that require cooking, like a caserole where the rice or noodles have to be cooked, and then the other 10-11 meals were more simple preparations. I made and exel book for each months 1,2,3. I then went through and menu planned a total of 45 different recipes for the 3 months. I rarely overlapped them. You will always have left over meals, so this is how I went around a freezer full of a meal we ended up not liking. So in my excel book, Workseet one is the meals with sides... worksheet two I made a shopping list. I would go through each recipe and then listed out the indredient. This takes some time, but it saves a bunch when you know you only have to do this once! Then, I combined ingredients. So two recipes that called for garlic... I would combine how much garlic I needed to buy. Then over time, I even separated it by asile in my grocery store, but that doesn't need to be done in the beginning. So, here you are. With what I have given you here... You have probably 4-5 hrs worth of work, but 3 months of menu plans as well as dummy shopping lists... Just what I NEEDED. Don't forget side items. I usually try to add two vegetables with a main course one of which is green. So if it a chicken broccoli, I already have one vegetable. I love stir fry because veggies are already included lol. So, just think about that too. Now Let's Move on...

(2 Cream Cheese Chicken)

A little More Planning
For those of you that don't mind trial and error, you can skip this advice lol. But I hate it. So, I am offering a little more advice. Substitution. I don't usually cook with full fat ingredients and some things seem more cost effective other ways. Look again at your lists and decide where you can subsitute if wanted. For example, if you are doing a sweet and sour meatballs. Do you really want to make the sweet and sour sauce and not be sure how it turns out? I tried it once and hated it. So, the next time, I just bought a bottle of sweet and sour sauce. I also substitue some of the ingredients for the lower fat options, still tastes the same. Another one to think about is fresh vs frozen chicken. We hardly got fresh chicken and it was EXPENSIVE. So, we used frozen chicken, and usually frozen chicken tenders instead of chicken breast. Faster, cheaper, and easier. I have to thank Angela for that tip. So this step isn't a must the first month, but you will alter things based on your needs at about month 3-4. You need to consider ways to store it as well. I use freezer bags. I place the freezer bag in a square tuperware container, freeze overnight, then remove the container to save space but also have symetrical foods. The first month I did this, I just laid everything on top of one another to freeze and then, as I cooked stuff, nothing fit back together. Also, think about disposable tin pans. I use those for lasagna, enchilada, and a chicken rice bake.

(3 Enchiladas, 2 Tilapia)

Money Matters
With your shopping list in hand, you are ready to go. So here is another testimonial moment. And results are not typical lol. (I wanted to add that in case you don't find the same). But we were spending I donno maybe $400 grocery shopping per month, on top of eating out maybe 3-4 dinners a week. We ate dinner for about $18 and then times 4. So that is another nearly $300. So coming in on close to $700/month. I would even say that is low ball figures there. Alright, I was a little anxious about grocery shopping for a whole month, so first I shopped my cabinets. Who knows when you bought a can of chicken soup and never used it or diced tomatoes. So do that first. Check mostly for spices that usually you don't need to buy. Check for canned chicken that you may have. Ketsup, mustard, mayo, lemon juice ect. Just look through your current stock. It really can save a ton of money. And do this each month. For me this month, I had to start from scratch because we didn't have hardly anything due to the overseas move. So this month I spent $320 and bought a box of diapers. In Italy, I usually shopped the month for $250 and would buy diapers. So for the sake of the argument, I am going to use the $250 number becuase most people have stuff in their kitchen. So I found, that i spent $250 to make dinner for the whole month. (I usually bought snacks, diapers, dinner ingredients, ect on this bill as well) Then I would shop a total of 3 more times in the month to stock up on fresh produce, more diapers, snack foods for the kids ect. Prices are subject to variation due to family size, and situation. I would spend about $75 each of the other weeks. And we would eat out dinner MAYBE once a week. So, add those up = About $300 again. Totally monthly bill = $550. That is a savings of $150 a month!! If you are even more frugal and use coupons or shop the sales, you can save more, but the commisary doesn't get coupons or sales, so I didn't do that. Ok, so that is the bottom line of the money.

Lets go shopping
Now you are equipped with your shopping list and some sale adds or coupons or just your list and 2 kids. Whatever it is, you are ready. If you are lucky, you can even go to costco, but like I said, we had one option, called the Commisary, so that is all I used. Don't forget on your shopping list some important things. If you are using hamburger, you can mass cook it, so why not try the chubs which usually save you some money. Look at the cost effectiveness of frozen chicken. Think about buying a whole ham and cutting it up instead of buying it already chopped. If you need fajita meat, buy a larger roast, cut it in half and use half for a roast and half for the fajita meat. If you are buying a lot of cream of mushroom soup, consider buying the large can instead of several small ones. Find whatever is the most cost effective because it is all about saving money in the grocery store. I like to do my shopping on either Thursday or Friday.

Getting Started
Ok, so for day one, I usually shop. Thursday is my shopping day. I don't put meats in the freezer, I just pile up my fridge. I will go ahead and shred the cheese or mince the garlic. Basically preparing things for the following day. And then I start early Friday morning. Sometimes I will prepare meat if it needs something, but not too often. Usually I just shop Thursday. Friday, I start with two meals that require some cooking. While those are cooking, I can usually fit in 4 meals that require no cooking. Like 3 bean chili, enchiladas ect. Then I keep alternating. I found it easiest to start with one meat and then work to the other. So do all chicken first and then all ham. Something like that. Like I said, the first month will be trial and error, but hopefully I gave you some good tips. You cook, them, freeze them, and then wait to eat them!! Its that easy!

Day of Eating
So, here is another thing, I like to make some foods that require minimal thawing in case I forgot to thaw something. I try to have 2 foods thawing in the fridge at all times so that you have an option that night and don't have to worry about thawing. Sometimes, you thaw chicken broccoli and then don't want it so you pick up fast food. IF you have another option in the fridge and then a fast option in the freezer (like enchiladas that will just require more baking or pizza pasta which is really only a reheat food) then you are less likely to eat out. 3 Options are better than 1. Cook it and eat! After cleaning minimal dishes becuase everything is already done, set out one more meal. My only caution to this is, don't get too much of a stockpile in the fridge because it will go bad. You don't want to waste your hard work!!

What about my favorites? My first thought it trying this was, but I don't even like these foods. Here is it, we were brought a ton of foods after the twins were born, and then Laycee was in the hospital so we were brought even more. Just so you know, most everything freezes. The website gives some insite into this, but one thing I can say is, always cook potatoes BEFORE freezing. So, if you want a yummy ham and potato soup (thanks Angela again) cook it before and then freeze. Also, most pastas have to be cooked before frozen. I don't cook lasgna, but pizza pasta (thanks Patricia), I always cook the noodles first. By the way, if you haven't had pizza pasta, it is GOOD! But I have found most all food freeze!

1. Plan your meals
2. Shop your cabinets
3. Don't forget the freezing items (bags)
4. Prepare before
5. Cook

Ok, so I know that this is a lot of information, but I wanted to give you good tools. Questions can be directed to me, or you can just start like I did.... trial and error. I altered a lot of recipes after the first month and omitted/added recipes as well.

So back to FB comments, what is in our freezer this month? Well I was lazy yesterday so I will post a picture eventually, but here is our menu

Tucsan Style Chicken Thighs
Herb Roasted Chicken
Cream Cheese Chicken
Perogies with a mushroom sauce
Chicken Enchiladas (which I layer, not roll)
Chicken Broccoli with egg noodles
Chicken Rice Wraps
Tilapia in a Dijon sauce
And that is all I can remember lol since my list is on the other computer. I was lazy yesterday and didn't get all the cooking done because I kept getting distracted with unpacking, laundry, kids lol. So, I only did the chicken meals yesterday and those are all the pics I have. Don't forget to check out he website for more information! Just so you all know, we love this and it helped a TON in cooking well balanced healthy meals and you only have to menu plan ONCE. I also list on my fridge what meals we have and mark them off as we eat them so I can decide what I want to thaw at one time. So, this is more than you guys asked for, but here ya go!

Friday, April 17, 2009


There was a Denny's right next to the hotel that we stayed in. So one night, we ventured over there when we weren't really in the mood to go out to get food. Well, Laycee was being a messy eater and then decided to be silly when I pulled out the camera.
Big smile
Being silly
And the others wanted a picture too. Trent, you never can get a serious face out of him.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Van

There were two things on our list and must dos as soon as we got here. One, find a place to live, two, get a van. So, after we had the house set, we went looking for a van. We were looking for a car big enough and one that we could buy with cash. And this is what we settled on.
Dave calls it a real peach lol. But I love it. After piling our kids in a car for 2 years with hardly enough room to breath, I wanted something for us to fit in. I also wanted 6 back seats. Either for more children, or for friends. And when I saw this, I was taken back to childhood when we had the exact same van. I LOVE it. There is so much space. Yes, it is huge, but it is great for us. Yes mom, we have official drove the same car lol.
After spotting our car, the sun came out for a few minutes, and we got to see a special occurance of a double rainbow. If you look hard, you can see the second one to the left of the bright one. The kids didn't know such a thing was possible so it was fun.

Ok, yes I know, no pictures of the house yet, but I am getting to it. Don't worry. I am just going in chronological order.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


So, I know we are still stuck in last month, but I wanted to post easter while it is still close to easter lol. So, here are our pictures. The kids loved having the easter bunny come. It was horrible weather, so we had to bring our festivities inside, but it didn't seem to bother the children any. The easter bunny brought gifts that the kids love. Haylee got a jump rope, Trent Pokemon cards, Laycee a puzzle, and Logan balls... of course. I hope you all had a happy easter and were able to also remember the Savior on that day.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jonas Brothers

So Friday, after a long week of 8-9 hr in the car and then the rest of the time in the hotel, the kids were really starting to get antsy. They were missing their cousins, they were missing school, and they were tired of the rain. So, we took them to the movies to see Jonas Brothers 3D. Ok, so I hate watching The Jonas Brothers on TV. I mean HATE it. I think it is the dumbest show we ever saw, but we were looking for something the kids would like. And when we went to the movies, we didn't know it was 3D, but that was when we had time to go. So, we saw it... here are the kids in their glasses.
Laycee liked them too.

And then the fun began. It was THE BEST movie I have seen in a while. I don't know if it was because we were couped up so long or what, but it was like being at the real concert. Not to mention, there were only about 8 other people in the theaters that ranged in age from 10-16 lol. And they were all yelling and dancing, so the kids decided to join in. They got out of their seats and danced around. Not to mention, I loved it. It was amazing. I think it was the best Disney movie I have seen in some time. Even Dave enjoyed himself even though he would never admit it lol.
It was just what all of us needed to feel normal again. A week couped in the car and eating fast food had really done us in, so this was a much needed break.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time to Go

The day finally came. We had to leave AZ, our families, and our time on vacation. It was a bitter sweet time. We were really ready to get settled down, but it was sad to have to say goodbye to our families again for another couple years. I am greatful that we at least live in the US this time, so we aren't halfway across the world, but it was still a sad day to leave our families behind once again. We had a short flight to Denver and then a 3 hr layover. Oh it was forever long. But we had lots of fun walking the moving walkways and the boys had a lot of fun staring out the window at the sun and airplanes. We saw endless signs for airplane from Laycee and Logan.
And we were welcomed in WA to this... yes rain.

And more rain,
We sat around at baggage claim for about an hour while Dave took a taxi to the car rental place. We didn't rent from the airport becuase it cost nearly double the price. So, we rented from somewhere 7 miles away. So, then we packed the kids and luggage in and to the ceiling. Headed off to Ft Lewis to find a hotel. It was only about a 45 minute drive to Lewis.
Welcome to Ft Lewis.
The day was not long enough nor over here. Dave went to the inprocessing unit for them to tell him that he had to come back in the morning or he wouldn't get his permissive TDY. Then he told us to go to the hotel and get settled. We went to the hotel and they didn't have any rooms. They gave Dave a list of hotels and said good luck. So, he used the lobby phone to call the two local numbers on the list and he found a hotel but it was $150/night. We accepted it for one night becuase we were tired and hungry. It was a nice hotel, but not worth it.
In the morning, he checked in and sat through the briefing. It was raining, so the kids and I sat in the car with bags packed ot the ceiling again watching TV on the laptop. After the briefing, we found a much cheaper hotel in Lacey (about 15-20 minutes from post). That is where we stayed for the next 8 days. It rained for the whole first week. We spent the second day looking at a ton of houses that we really liked that were already rented lol. Then on the 3rd day we thought we found a house, but they never called us back after we looked at the house. Thankfully, on Friday we looked at two houses and found one that we really liked. We were really looking for somewhere in a nice area, that made me feel safe. It was different looking for a house here becuase in AZ everything is separated. It is clear where the nice neighborhoods are and where the not so nice ones are. In WA, they are all together. So, it was hard to find somewhere. But we finally found one that is open for a couple years while the landlady's daughter finishes working for retirement. We are surrounded by old people, but I love it. I love elderly people and I love the feel of the neighborhood. I feel safe and the house is amazing. It is not exactly what I was looking for, but it is perfect for what we need, it is affordable, and it has a very large front and back yard. Not to mention, the landlady is so relaxed that it is great for us. I have pictures coming up of the house, so be on the lookout.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phoenix Zoo

Near the end our trip, everyone returned to work and the kids were bored and we were stressed. So we decided to leave that all behind and head off to the zoo. It was a great escape and so much fun. Dave and I went to this same zoo on our first date, so it was especially fun to go back in time yet still be in the present. I hope you enjoy seeing the kids trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birthday Surprise

So, I have to admit that I really love my friends in Italy. It was probably the place in my adult life that I would call home. They were amazing and always there for me. And even after we leave, they were there for me. Nancy is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She had ordered Laycee and Logan birthday presents before we left in hopes that they would get there in time. No luck, so she sent them on to AZ. They twins were so excited to get a birthday present in the mail, after their birthday party! I had to take pictures so Nancy and Jaron could still see how much fun they had opening them. Here is Laycee...

As you can see, even Haylee is excited about it.

Now, it is Logan's Turn

Here mom

He is still trying to get in there
Ok, finally

And what better than Happy smiles to say thank you. They love these eye spy bean bags. Laycee still carries hers around with her all the time, and they were so helpful on our last few plane trips. There is a baby and a ball that she endlessly tried to find. And Logan sorts through his over and over looking for anything that resembles a ball. They are amazing gifts.

Thank you Nancy and Jaron.