Guess Who!

27 May

Oh yes, it’s true!

I’m ready to roll again and this blog is about to make a comeback. I’ve had a lot of life changes in the past few months but things are back to normal – at least somewhat – and I’m ready to share it all with you, my sweet readers. I’m so sorry for the abrupt drop off the map, but for a very long time life was just getting in the way and a little too painful to talk about.

Coming up in the next few days – updates, pictures, funny stories and of course news on my Army!

Stay tuned, it’s about to get real up in here! But before I go…a teaser for what’s to come!

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Lola is all grown up!

We’ve Moved!

12 May

For Mother’s Day, my darling hubs gave me my own domain! We’ve got a new name, a new look and a new home! Check us out over at Operation: Housewife!

Thanks to all who have followed me on this blog and been so patient with my gaps between blogging. This last one was mostly due to technical difficulties and hopefully those will be resolved with the new site.

The Little Things

8 Mar

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
~ Robert Brault

There are many things in my life I know I could not live without. I spend a lot of my time being grateful for these things and mentioning over and over how I couldn’t bear to part with them. Things like my electricity, running water, a working vehicle and my dishwasher. These are things that if I would suddenly be without them, I would likely lose my sanity – or what’s left of it.

Then there are the little things. The things that are often overlooked and certainly life would go on without them, but they make my life just that much better. Here are just a few of those little things.

Thank you Beckie for introducing me to the St. Ives line of facial products. The apricot scrub and firming mask are incredible. I’ve even convinced Johnny to try them. I love the little scrubby pieces in the cleanser and the scent of both products are incredible. My face has never felt cleaner or smoother.

Live Clean Baby is my absolute favorite line of baby bath products ever. I got some free samples when I was pregnant with Lola and I was sold. It’s all I’ve ever used for her. It has a shampoo/baby wash, bubble bath and lotion that all smell absolutely divine and leave my little girl’s skin so soft! There is also a non-petroleum jelly for diaper changes, but we stopped using that when we were forced to buy Vaseline Baby in a pinch and still haven’t run out and needed to replace it. I’m absolutely sold on these products and will use them again if we ever add another baby to our family.

As you can see, a certain little girl tried to break into these early

We’re a pacifier family. I know some people are absolutely anti-paci, and if you’re one of those people, I salute you. I’ll warn you, though; don’t waste your breath trying to ‘convert” me. There always have been and always will be pacifiers in my family as long as we have a child young enough to use one. My other kids used the “Nuk” brand, but for Lola I decided to go with the Playtex Binky and I have not regretted it for a minute. Lola loves her Binky and it is her constant companion. It’s definitely a little piece of sanity.

Funny thing about these Binkies…we have gone through 3 packages of them so far…and all the green ones still look like new.

This is what my wonderful husband brought home to me this morning after he took Hayden to school. French Vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s. It’s the one thing I feel zero guilt indulging myself in. It’s delicious, sweet and caffienated. Makes every day a better day.

What are some little things that you couldn’t do without?

Snaggletooth

8 Mar

It’s finally happened. Hayden has lost a tooth…

...or two

Actually, it’s three. This picture was taken right before he lost the third, one of the top front ones.

It’s so hard to believe. He cut his teeth so late that we were starting to think he’d never get any, and now he’s losing them. Let’s hope he gets better mileage out of his permanent teeth.

Project Housewife Returns – Angel Chicken

6 Mar

Way back when I first started blogging, I began a project that I titled “Project Housewife”. It was a labor of love that involved me getting out of my rut and trying new things to make being a housewife more exciting. Among my goals was learning to cook meals for my family that was both nutritious and delicious. So I amassed a grand collection of cookbooks and set about learning what things my family loved – and what things they didn’t.

These are my absolute favorites

I found myself enamored with the “Company’s Coming” series by Jean Paré and Johnny began buying them for me when he felt like bringing me home a little something while out on a shopping trip. The recipes are delicious and not overly complicated.

The first meal that I shared with you was my Roast Chicken Dinner back in November 2009. The beginnings of that recipe was inspired by a recipe I found in my very first Company’s Coming cookbook, “The Rookie Cook” (top row, second from the left) and as I got more confident in my abilities as a cook, I expanded and experimented until the recipe was my own.

This Thursday past my parents decided to come and have dinner with us. Since my dad is a pretty picky eater, my mom rarely ever gets the opportunity to try out new recipes. It’s a waste of food to try out new things just for herself, in her opinion, so I always try to have something new for her to try when she has dinner with us. I make something plain and ordinary for my dad and everyone else has something exciting. This time I decided to introduce my mom to a recipe out of one of my favorites of my collection of books, “Low-Fat Cooking”.

As I have done with most of the best loved recipes in these books, I have cooked them time and time again until I have switched the recipe enough to make it have my own particular flair. Angel Chicken is no exception. Here is how I cook it.

Angel Chicken

1 14oz. can stewed Italian-style tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 average zucchini, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 package grated skim mozzarella cheese
1 package angel hair pasta
8 cups boiling water
1 tsp. salt
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, mix together your can of tomatoes and the garlic. Pour it into an ungreased casserole dish, then layer the zucchini and yellow pepper on top. Sprinkle it with the basil and sugar. Place the chicken on top of the whole concoction. Spoon a little bit of the tomato and garlic mixture onto the chicken. Bake it uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. After an hour, sprinkle the cheese on top and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

You don’t have to use the whole package, but I do because we love cheese.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water and salt for 7-10 minutes until it’s as tender as you like it. Drain, rinse, and drain it again.

Serve vegetable mixture over the pasta and top with a chicken breast. Sprinkle with the parm.

Voila, Angel Chicken

It is absolutely as delicious as it sounds, and I would highly recommend it. Everyone here loves it – even though Hayden picks out the zucchini because he’s a picky eater.

Try it! I bet you’ll love it. If you do try it, come back and let me know what you thought.

What are your favorite “go-to” recipes for company coming on short notice?

The Best Medicine

3 Mar

Of course we’ve all heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine”. Studies have shown that laughter does indeed reduce the level of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine as well as increasing the levels of good hormones such as endorphins as well as antibody-producing cells and makes your T-cells more effective. It’s also a pretty nice physical workout. When you laugh it causes you to excercise your diaphram and contract your abdominal muscles. It’s good for the heart in both the physical sense and the spiritual sense.

As nice as that is, in my case I don’t agree that it’s the best medicine. For me, there is no better medicine than a new pair of shoes.

A gift from my fantastic husband

My dosage this time has 4-inch heels and leopard print. Just what the doctor ordered.

In Like a Lion…

1 Mar

Well last month didn’t go at all as I had planned. I was so excited to join Priya over at My Reflections for the month of February blogging about love and, well, things happened that caused all that to come unravelled. My father in law had a heart attack early on in the month which threw us for a loop, and other family issues arose mid-month that just made blogging difficult. I’d rather not discuss them in detail, but I will sum up last month’s love posts in this one, the first post of a new month that – hopefully – will lead me and my family into a much less stressful atmosphere.

Love is a beautiful thing, truly. It has many faces and is as varied and changing as the seasons. The love I feel for my husband is different from the love I feel for my children, which is again different from the love I feel for my parents. The love I feel for my various friends is as unique as the friends themselves.

Love may be unbreakable, but it can be rocked to it’s very core. And in the past two months, the love my husband and I share has been tested to it’s very limits. It has been shaken, beaten, and devastated – and at some points I was sure it would be battered beyond repair. I usually keep a light heart here at Raising an Army, but this is something I feel the need to write about. Perhaps in order to understand how things could get to this point, you need to understand my background – where I came from and what makes me who I am.

I am the youngest of four children, with thirteen years between myself and my next sister – Linda. We are the children of a Pentecostal pastor, and though my siblings were tweens when my parents began their ministry, I was born into it. I grew up with two families; my core family and my church family…and it was great. I was constantly surrounded by people who loved me and were there to help me when I needed them.

The problem with this scenarios is that while the church people are indeed your family, they are still essentially your family’s bread and butter. While in a real family if people upset you, hurt your feelings or downright annoy the crap out of you, you have every right to tell them so and argue it out…in the church family we had to put on a happy face and pretend everything was all right.

This was my job, from the time I was an infant. I was a master of painting on a smile and playing the church darling. No one ever knew the loner that hid inside the little girl that sang solos and played the piano. I wasn’t a people person…I’m not outgoing or really all that bubbly. I’m actually a little shy and serious – but no one ever knew. As far as they knew, I hadn’t a care in the world.

The skills learned as a PK – Pastor’s Kid – would serve me well later in life. I held many jobs where I was thrown into dealings with large groups of people or had to use my charm to persuade difficult customers to buy a product or service or to see eye to eye with company policy. I was well liked and could always manage to secure myself a comfortable clientele. But the skills weren’t always a good thing…because I also carried them over into my marriage.

The night after our wedding, Johnny and I lay together in bed and promised each other to always be open and honest with each other. That we would never try to hide things that hurt or upset us in order to spare the other’s feelings because we both knew that bottling things up inside often led to an explosion of disastrous proportions. Even little things like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, we vowed, because little things can lead to big things.

Easier said than done.

For a while we both kept true to that promise. Every little thing was laid bare for us both to examine and work through…but then I started to ‘backslide’ back into my PK persona.

It started with the little things – like how he throws his socks into the laundry piles in crunched up little balls when they’re damp, causing them to stink even more than usual and making me pull them apart when I have to wash them. Gross…but not worth telling him about and causing a fuss. Even though every time I had to pull apart a crusty pair of socks I gagged and wanted to throw them at him. No…I could keep that to myself.

Then things that were a little bigger and annoyed me a little more – but that I felt childish for being bothered about. Like how we’d put the kids down for the night and finally have a couple of hours together with just the two of us…and he’d pass out right away on the sofa and I’d be alone for the rest of the night. I felt like a spoiled toddler for complaining about it. He works hard and he must be tired – but darn it I was looking forward to having some adult time with him after all day of wiping noses and changing diapers. If it happened once in a while, I wouldn’t have minded so much but every night? I could have spoken up…but I felt ridiculous. He couldn’t help being tired. I stuffed that in the bottle with the sock rage.

Then it was how he would get so absorbed in his computer game that when I was talking to him he wouldn’t even notice I had said anything and I’d have to repeat it so often that I finally got frustrated and wouldn’t say it anymore. The bottle was starting to get a little crowded.

And the whole while that I was bottling things up, so was he. One little thing after another, stuffed into the back of our minds, never wanting to bring them up because that would cause an argument…and neither of us wanted the confrontation.

Until last month. When the bottles exploded.

I won’t pretend to be blameless in the nuclear implosion that finally rocked our marriage and shook the foundation until I was sure it was all going to collapse underneath us. In fact, I freely confess that I bear the brunt of the responsibility. I not only bottled up frustrations and anger, refusing to share them with my husband – I shared them with someone else, which was something that we had agreed early on was a huge no-no for us.

When both of us finally bared our souls, we were left feeling exposed and ashamed. How had we let things slip so far? How could we have done the thing we despised the most – covering up our feelings and painting on a smile to pretend everything was okay. We had, in essence, lied to each other about our feelings for months because the ugly truth was more than we wanted to admit. We weren’t happy.

The house of cards we had built scattered around us and the illusion that we had clung to turned to dust in our hands. It was then that I learned the most important lesson about love of all.

When all else is stripped away, love remains.

When faced with losing everything we had worked so hard to build, losing the hopes and dreams we had gathered about us, the love that is the basis of our marriage and who we are stood firm. Rock solid in the center of the devastation, providing a solid base for us to begin to build it up all over again. A process that I hope to share with you, my readers, as I strive to better myself and change.

And so March came in with a lion, roaring and raging and threatening everything that we hold dear…but our love sheltered us and kept us safe and secure. Now the rebuilding process begins and we once again make plans and share dreams – and this time build it stronger and better as we learn from our mistakes.

And hope that for all it’s bluster and noise that March goes out like a lamb.

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