High Five For Friday #2

February 27, 2015

  High Five for Friday!  This was a good week but a looonng one and I am looking forward to the weekend.  Sky's behavior's been a little challenging this week, Fire's got a bad cold with a fever, and the baby has forgotten how to sleep through the night.   For some reason, I'm really tired and looking forward to sleeping in a bit this weekend!  Here's a look at some of highlights from the week:

So this happened:
 If you're not military, you probably don't know who the people in that very poor picture are.  That's General Dempsey, the chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Deannie.  The fact that they came to visit our little end of the world is big deal and the whole community appreciated their visit and the town hall they gave while they were here.

Four Years Home!!
Amazing- four years ago, D and I became Mama and Daddy thanks to the miracle of this little girl.  She's put us through our paces but we're better people because of her.

Photo by Sky
D took Sky out to take some pictures and she got this good one of the sunset.  It's all fun and games until you end up covered in fiberglass and come home itchy and hypersensitive.  Kwaj, we love you but some things are coming apart at the seams.

Lunch Date
Sky and I went out for lunch at her favorite restaurant as a reward for good school work.  I loved getting to spend time with just Sky, since one-on-one time has gotten scarce here.

Happy Birthday to Me!
A yummy dinner, a walk at sunset, and then gifts and cards before bedtime.  A small, quiet, just-right birthday.

How was your week?

See where I'm linking up here

4 Years Home

February 25, 2015

  Sky has been home for four years!  The time has gone by so quickly and she is doing so well.  We celebrated her family day yesterday with a dinner of her choosing (noodles, hotdogs, and cheesy broccoli) and then she and I went out for lunch the next day.  Sky is doing great in school, is really getting into building with legos, loves all things Disney Princess. She's taking ballet and hula, will be starting soccer soon (with the big kids!), and will be taking swimming lessons and piano lessons over the summer.

  Here's a look back at our big girl through the years


(no 2014 family day pictures- bad mommy!)





Sky, we love you more than anything and can't wait to see you grow!

Vegetarian ≠ Healthy : Our First Week as Vegetarians

February 21, 2015

  At New Year's, D and I decided to start a season of fasting as a way to find new ways of living and to break out of some of our old patterns.  Our first fast was a financial one and while it didn't go entirely as planned, we did learn something about our spending patterns that will hopefully help us make better decisions in the future.

  Our second fast is a fast from meat.  This one is prompted in part by the fact that there isn't a lot of variety in the types of meat we can buy here and what we can get isn't always the best quality.  D and I also love to cook and we were excited by the idea of trying to come up with vegetarian recipes that we could make with our limited produce supply (this post will give you an idea of what it's like to grocery shop on Kwaj). 

  Sky and Fire have gotten to be pretty good eaters and I was surprised to realize that neither of them had noticed the lack of meat in our meals this weeks.  There were some recipes that they really didn't like (the vegetable jambalaya, in part because of it's brown color, was compared-unfavorably- to poop) but we also had some that everyone loved- unsurprisingly, they're the ones that were fried, cheesy, or familiar.  D and I are going to try and do better next week but the big take-away from our first week as vegetarians was that, at least for our family, being vegetarian did not necessarily mean eating healthier.

Fried Ravioli
  I sauteed mushrooms, garlic, leeks, and red pepper in butter, then added flour and milk to make just enough white sauce to bind the filling together.  Since cheese makes everything better, I added about a half of a cup of Parmesan cheese.  The ravioli were made from wonton wrappers which worked out perfectly since they're already cut to the same size and fry easily.  I served the fried ravioli with a pesto dipping sauce (no special recipe here- our basil died so I used a McCormick's packet), which also went on top of the Bulgar wheat I served with them.  The kids loved these and we're probably going to have them again.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Need I say more?  If your kids love cheese and noodles, larger servings of this, with baby carrots on the side, can make a meal.

Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Cold Asian Noodle Salad, and Wok-Seared Green Beans
I used firm tofu, pressed for about an hour to drain, to make these crunchy cubes.  Since there weren't any eggs on Kwaj at the time, I had to get creative with the batter.  I did some Internet searching and came up with this:

1/2 tsp salt                                                                                                                                       
1 1/2 tsp baking powder                                                                                                                     
1/2 cup flour                                                                                                                    
1 TBSP pepper                                                                                                                    
Mix these four ingredients together in a small bowl and then add enough water to make a batter (I think I added about a cup). 

Once the tofu was drained, I cut it into 1-inch cubes, rolled it through the batter and deep-fried them. 
Below are the recipes I used to put together the rest of the meal:
Thai Peanut Sauce
Dang Cold Asian Noodle Salad (I would recommend making this recipe the day before you want to serve it, so that the flavors have time to blend)
Wok-Seared Green Beans 

Sloppy Jane
My kids have had this before and like it- it's sloppy Joe's made with TVP instead of ground beef.  I usually serve theirs in bowls topped with cheese.  These, with French fries and homemade coleslaw, made for an easy dinner on a particularly busy day.

High Five for Friday #1

February 20, 2015

    The format I tried before for an end-end-of-the-week wrap up wasn't really working for me so I'm switching to one of the more common formats: the Friday five.  Here's five high points from my week:

#1  Tearing it up with a friend in a relay race.  Just one year ago, the baby in my jogger was a (seemingly impossible) dream and it's amazing to me that he's here in our lives.  Oh, and we kicked butt- 8:22 miles while pushing babies!

#2 This little dream baby is almost crawling.  He's got the army crawl down and is rocking back and forth on his hands and knees. D put up the baby gates the other night...

#3 You can't see it in his adorable smile but there's a tooth in there.  Between this and the crawling, I'm starting to think that Water's in a hurry to catch up with his big sister and brother.

#4  Fire learned to ride a bike- a very big deal on Kwaj- and he's so fast on it, he gives Sky a run for her money.

 #5 We're on Instagram!  Since I don't have a smart phone and we don't have cell service here, I can't share pictures on it as often as most people do but I'll try to keep it updated.
Follow us at our.charmed.life

How was your week? 

See where I'm linking up here

The Pushers, This Time With Babies

February 19, 2015

What a difference a year makes!  My friend K and I did the Kwaj Running Club's Sweetheart Relay again this year as The Pushers.  Not only were both of our times more than a minute faster than last year, this year we both had our babies with us.  Last year, K was almost six months pregnant with her daughter and Water was just a dream to me.  I love how much our life has changed since last year and that we have good friends like K and her family to share it with.

After the run

K and I after the run last year

Sky's Barbie Doll

February 18, 2015

Earlier this month a friend of mine shared an article from Babble.com on Facebook: I Let My Toddler Dress Me For a Week - Here's What Happened.  Go ahead, click over and read the story, I'll wait...

  What do you think?  Would you do it?  Many of my friends on Facebook were saying, "No way!" but I though Sky would enjoy the role reversal so I decided to give it a try.  Here's how it went:

Sky chose this dress because it looked like a "work dress" and the shoes because they looked like her teachers.  The bracelet is actually a necklace but she insisted I wear it on my wrist and I think it worked
I had to put some restrictions on her choices this week because of the work I was going to be doing.  She refused on consider letting me wear jeans and settled on my bright blue shorts instead.  The shirt "matches" the shorts and the orange earrings reminded Sky of the sun on the shirt.

Sky built this outfit around the scarf- she'd never seen me wear it before but since it was sparkly and purple it had to be worn.  The dress is left over from my pre-kid days on Roi and usually only gets worn as a beach cover-up now.  The dinosaur necklace was a gift from Sky and the bracelet was a gift from my Auntie. 
This outfit almost got vetoed.  The dress is a wrap dress and it just seemed a little too low cut and little too likely to unwrap to be worn at work.  D convinced me to wear it but take my word for it- do not try to ride a bike in a wrap dress!  Sky insisted on picking my shoes this day and specifically chose brown ones to go with my dress.
I got to choose my own clothes on Saturday because Sky spent the time we had been using to pick my cloths crying.  I usually try to dress a little nicer for work but it felt so good to not be dressed up that I went with my most comfortable clothes.
  How do you think Sky did?  Everyone on Kwaj that knew that I was letting her dress me for the week thought that she did a great job and made a point of saying so.  I was initially worried about what clothes she would pick (she did reach for my bright pink muumuu every morning) but looking back it seems like Sky has a pretty classic fashion sense -basic black and white with pops of color on the dressed up days and kind of fun and funky on the dressed down day.  She loved picking out my clothes every day and I loved having something new and fun to bond over with her.  I think it went really well and since Sky has been asking to do it again, there may be more "dress up Mommy" weeks in our future.

See where I'm linking up here

Water at Six Months

February 16, 2015

 Water is happiness in a tiny little romper, with pinchable cheeks and an infectious smile and I honestly can't believe this baby is six months!  Water is the epitome of a "good" baby and the time has flown by.  He is eating baby food (for some reason, with the third child I finally have the time to make it myself!) and  so far has only had trouble tolerating pumpkin and tofu. Eating solids regularly has cleared up most of "happy spitter" problem, which we are all very happy about.  Water weighed almost 19 pounds at his six month appointment and is wearing 9M clothes.  He's still sleeping through the night and while he hasn't figured out sitting down, he loves to stand up.  He's got his front teeth slowly coming up and is so close to being able to crawl that D put up the baby gates the other night.  He's our perfect baby and we can't wait to watch him grow even more.

Happy Birthday Fire!

February 14, 2015

  Fire is three!!!  We celebrated our sweet boys big day with a family party at home and then a barbecue at the beach a few days later.  Fire is in the midst of the terrible threes right now- everything is NO and throwing/kicking/hitting but every once in a while, his naturally sweet and loving personality shines through.  Fire loves cars, trucks, and construction equipment and wants to drive a fire truck when he grows up.  He loves rough housing and isn't afraid to try something new.  Fire always asks for hot sauce on his food, is a great friend, and wonderful brother.  We're so lucky to have this boy in our family and I can't wait to see what this year will hold for him!

D and R, "man" ing the fire

K, A (me), and L with our babies

Water is teething and loved this T-bone

D gives it a try but Water doesn't want to share

Cupcakes and singing!

C holding Water, who's still working on the T-bone


Choosing the Many Over the Few

February 12, 2015

  Ms B is staying.  And that's the final decision- no more waffling or questioning myself. 

  If you've read this blog before, you know that Ms B is Water's nanny and our housekeeper and that I have been trying to decide if we should continue to have her work for us or if we should move Water to the same daycare that Sky and Fire attend.  I posted about it several times (here and here) and solicited advice from practically everyone.  D and I have fought over it and it's kept me up at night. 
  In the end, I had to make the decision that was best for everyone, not just for Water, and that means that Ms B is staying.  I know that many people would disagree with the decision- to tell the truth, I don't like it myself- but I do feel that it's the right decision for us.  What finally convinced me?

Obviously the pro side is much longer than the con side.  Add that to the fact that Water isn't suffering at all during the time he spends with Ms B - he's clean, fed, and happy, just not getting the extra stimulation he would get at the CDC- and my decision was made for me. I chose what was best for everyone.  Being in a family means making sacrifices and while I don't like it, one of those sacrifices is accepting good enough care at home for Water.  

A Season of Fasting

February 9, 2015

  On January 1st, D and I began a season of fasting.   In order, we'll be fasting from money, meat, TV, sweets, internet, and alcohol.  Each fast will last for six weeks so the first fast (money/personal spending)  finishes soon and the next fast (meat) will start on the 15th.  While D and I have slightly different reasons for doing these fasts, we both agree that we needed to asses our lives right now, as perfect and full as they are. 
  For me, I want to winnow out what really matters, to challenge myself in the every day, to break out of bad patterns, to discover and encourage new good habits, to help me lead a more considered and thoughtful life. 
  D initiated this fasting season and wanted to do it "to just shake up my personal perceptions of the world.  Get out of the comfortable little routine.  It's fine to go back to it, but once you've been without, you can judge what you really need. "

  D's thoughts on his personal spending fast:  The financial hits from Water's adoption (and the vacation we took with it), Christmas, and then Sky and Fire's citizenship trip left me reeling from the outflow of money. The final straw was I was still making expensive hobby choices when my only DSLR lens broke.  (Pictures are one of the few "things" I'd consider priceless, and I did make a point to restrict myself in a ridiculously expensive arena to about 40% the price point I could be coming in at.  [I locked myself into aps-c for those in the know.])  All those left me about three times my per paycheck spending allowance in the hole and facing the thought of being back in a place in my life where I pay interest.  (I hate paying for things I already have...especially once they're not as new and exciting.)
  Through this fast, I found that you can save a lot of money using creative solutions, taking time to research and not "mis-step," and just not buying impetuously.  As an engineer, I see the real world advantages (and advertising gimmicks) of the more expensive things and I do appreciate the advantages and amount of work that goes into making finer things, but one should be careful when buying premium items.  If you buy only the best all of the time, you will go broke.  It is more cost effective to buy cheaply, give it a day in court, and then if that thing is something that comes to matter a lot to you, you can later upgrade.  You may end up spending more money buying in at both the cheap and expensive level on that one thing, but it's more than made up for the fact you didn't buy in expensive on two other things.  In addition, you  have to have experience with the cheap stuff to appreciate the advantages of the good stuff.
  Another thing I learned, but not only from this experiment, is that there are so many things you can spend money on.  We tend to want (be advertised into wanting) the big house and fast nice car, but one should really spend some time asking "how happy is this going to make me" vs how much does it cost. A nice, fast car "feels" cool to drive and you accelerate faster or tip up to some higher speeds on occasion but really, due to speed limits, you're driving the same as everyone else.  Is it really worth that extra $25k?  The brain is conditioned to become accustom to it's surroundings, and even tune them out.  If you buy a nice house, you will marvel at it for awhile, but just like every living condition, your brain will pull it down into the category of "my house" where it's pretty much all the same as any other "my house."  On the other hand, if you buy cheap and make continuous improvements...something is always new and appreciated.
 Unfortunately the trip to HI interfered with my plans to make this fast a financial reset.  While I made sure not to spend too much unnecessary money on myself, I have very little opportunity to get tattooed  and wouldn't let that pass due to timing.  Further, this fast is not the one where we'll be abstaining from alcohol and as a beer brewer I "needed to research" the varied (and expensive) styles of microbrew while I had that chance.  All in all, I spent about half of what I was trying to make up for.  After much thought, I decided the best thing is to continue the money fast for 6 more weeks at half the rate.  Therefore I will have some, but not as much as I'm used to.  I'll meet the original goal (albeit 6 weeks late) and the experiment will taper off and hopefully have more of a lasting impression then just going back whole-hog. t

  My thoughts on the personal spending fast: I didn't really struggle with this one like D did and mainly that's because I don't spend that much money on myself.  If I spend money at all, I usually buy things for the kids or for the house, although I tried to curtail that as much as possible too for this fast.  I broke the fast several times as well (not counting the much-needed shopping done in Honolulu- just clothes, no tattoos or beer for me): twice to go to bingo with friends ($30 each time), once for ice cream on Ebeye ($1), once for a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade and a bottle of wine ($15), and once for a nice chocolate bar to have with my tea before bed ($4).  In total, I spent $80 dollars on myself over a six- week period and didn't really feel taxed by not being able to spend more.  If anything, the things that I broke it for point to how hard later fasts are going to be (I'm talking about you, sweets and alcohol!).

  Are you familiar with the prayer of Sir Francis Drake?  Disturb us, O Lord...  I have this prayer on my pantry door so I see it every day.  It's my hope that this series of fasts will continue to disturb us, to make us question the easy parts of our lives and to help us discern what we really need.

  Have you fasted like this before?  If so, what did you fast from and how did it go?  What did you learn from your fast?  Lent is approaching- are any of you fasting for that? I would love to hear about your experiences with this so please leave a comment below.

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