Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Kind Of A Big Deal

   Gilbert is in the bottom row, far right
   I am one proud wife! Last Friday my husband got his third stripe. Most people don't really know what this means. They don't understand the blood, sweat, and tuna fish that went into this.
   The Marines have their own style of martial arts, MCMAP (pronounced mic-map). MCMAP was started by the continental marines in the 1700's. It developed and evolved since then. Along with physical combat skills Marines are taught moral and ethical values, coping mechanisms and self control.
   It's not like other types martial arts. It's not for exercise, mediation or sport. It's not even like boxing or MMA. Both are brutal, but they have rules, and the ultimate goal it to knock out or tap out your opponent. In MCMAP the ultimate goal is to take out your opponent as brutally and efficiently is possible, so that they don't get back up. It is to kill.
   This point was made obvious to me years ago when Gilbert and I were laying in bed talking about the course he was going through. I asked him how I should defend myself if someone broke into the house while I was sleeping. He climbed onto me and showed me how to break a choke hold. Cool. But he wasn't done.
   "Then swing your arm under here, and if you have a knife stab here, while you push him off. Then you can mount him and stab him in the neck."
   I was shocked into silence. I was expecting some female empowering thing were I yell "STOP" while defending myself long enough to get away and call for help. But that wasn't the reason my husband was learning this stuff. He's doing it because if he is ever in a situation that he needs to use it, it's not going to be because of a break in. He'll be doing it because he is fighting to stay alive.

Now that you are slightly horrified, let me explain the process. Just like in karate, MCMAP has different levels, identified by belts. Marines graduate basic training with tan belts. After that they take courses to "upgrade".

   The order of the belts is on the left. On the right the ones with the snazzy tan strips are for instructors. The coveted red stripes are for instructor trainers.
   To upgrade a Marine has to attend an upgrade course. From a purely logistical standpoint these are a nightmare to plan. Marines have to take these courses in conjunction with their normal duties. So find a time when the instructor, and a large enough class are free, and then getting cleared to do it by your unit can take months. It's like waiting for the stars to align.
   Each belt has different skills and moves to learn. Fighting multiple opponents, disarming and using the opponents weapons, killing moves vs. capture and containment. There are also lectures and warrior studies (essays on people, cultures, battles...).

   And each belt level has a certain amount of hours that need to be completed doing MCMAP work. To go from a tan to gray belt it is a minimum of 25 hours. For the higher level belts it is up to 300 hours. These courses are not easy. In the last course Gilbert ran (meaning he was the instructor) he led his Marines on a five mile hump (hike) with a 30 pound ammo can, and a huge jug of water in his pack. That was just the warm up. After that they started the actual training. The point of this was to get then used to fighting when they are already exhausted. In most combat situations they are not going to be fresh as a daisy.

   They learn to fight in mud, water, sand and any other place you can imagine.

   That's just the training to get a belt upgrade. To become an instructor they have to go to a special 3 week school. And to become and IT (Instructor Trainer) they go to Quantico, Virginia and attend an arduous 2 month course. I say arduous because when Gilbert went he called and told me about a guy who got a compound fracture on his leg, on the second day! By the time he was done Gilbert had lost around 10 pounds (he only weighs a buck sixty-three normally) had tendinitis in both arms and legs, blackened both of his eyes, partially torn a ligament in his forearm, and been stabbed by a stick. Not to mention bumps, bruises and muscle fatigue. 

      He was telling me that to upgrade to third degree black belt one afternoon he had to take don his partner 180 times. Then his partner had to turn around and do the same thing to him. Can you imagine getting knocked on your ass 180 time in one afternoon? No wonder he can come home and eat ice cream with brownies, fudge, caramel, and whip cream. And sprinkles. While maintaining like zero percent body fat. Bastard.
   There are around 200,000 men and women in the Marine Corps. Out of those 200,000 less then 20 carry those three red stripes. And Gilbert is one of them.
   I can't properly express how proud I am of him. How in awe I am of his achievements. Good job Devil Dog. Your girls miss you! Only 53 more days until we see you again!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

  When I was in high school I made a bucket list. This was before calling it a ‘bucket list’ became cool. Some things were pretty basic; get married (check), have a baby (check, check, check), learn to drive a stick (uncheck). Some were a little more far reaching; travel to every continent, learn to speak all of the romance languages (Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese). But one was something that I’m sure at some point most girls held near and dear to their hearts; go to a ball.
  I’m not talking about prom where a bunch of horny teenagers get dressed up, try to sneak alcohol and hang out in the high school gym. A real ball. Like the annul Marine Corps Ball were a bunch of horny teenage Marines ask strippers to be their dates and then they try to sneak alcohol. No joke, the first ball I went to with my husband half of the dates were found at Toys Topless.
  But the MC Ball is more than young Marines trying to impress chicks with their smokin’ hot dress blues. It’s a night imbued with tradition. And it is kind of a big deal.
  Around this time of year I start seeing posts about the trouble finding the right dress, or complaints about the ticket price. You would be shocked at just how expensive this one night is. Dress, shoes, jewelry, make-up, hair, dry-cleaning his blues, new medals (these things are freaking spendy! You’d think if they earned the medal they wouldn’t have to pay for them.), and of course the tickets themselves. And that’s just the prep work.
  Next you have to find a baby sitter. This part is brutal. Most military wives depended on other wives to act as babysitters for those rare occasions when they can escape their children (and I do mean rare, until my oldest was three years old the only times she was ever away from me were when we visited home and my mom watched her while we caught a movie, or when my mom came to visit and watch her while we went to the ball.) So on a night when all your friends are trying to ditch their kids too, it’s a race to get a dependable babysitter.
  You have a teenager? Can they spell their name? Can they be trusted to get the kids out of the house in case of a fire? Great! What time will they be over? It’s going to cost HOW much? Do you accept kidneys?
  Finally everything is in its place. You’re in your dress, your husband looks like a prince in his uniform, and it’s time to go to the ball. So let’s talk about behavior.
  A friend of mine was annoyed that she had to attend a class on etiquette before this year’s ball. She has been a Marine wife for twenty years so she knows how to conduct herself at a function like this. Unfortunately many wives these days don’t have her class and common sense.
  Instead of looking for a beautiful, romantic gown many now go for a different look. You know the one were the combined weight of their self-tanner and makeup is more than the material of their dress?
  I don’t want to be catty. I truly think women get blasted enough, that we should spend more of our time lifting up other women, not dragging them down with nasty comments, but dang. Really? Yes military life is stressful, and yes this is often a couples only date all year long. It is a cause for celebration and relaxation. But it is still a work function. Not the time or place to audition for girls gone wild.
  This means, in my opinion, that it is not okay wear something that is too small for my five year old to fit into. It is not okay to talk, text and be disruptive through the ceremony portion of the night. It is not okay to make-out over the salad. It is defiantly not okay to get completely shitfaced and knock the CO’s teenage daughter over a chair (yes this really happened).
  Please don’t come up to my husband in a drunken haze asking to get your picture with him, just to spill your drink on his uniform. Please do not chew me out because my husband kept yours working late last week. Don’t be a harpy to the staff.
  Don’t pick a fight, or spend the night barfing in the bathroom. And please, please, please, do not drive drunk. You are smart enough to know it’s dangerous. Not just because of the risk of a wreck, but when you get caught, and my husband gets a call at 3am, he is not going to be a happy man.
  This should be a fun night. You get to dress up, have adult conversations and be a part of something most others will never have a chance to experience.
  Enjoy the location. I’ve been to some pretty cool balls. One held at a beautiful hotel on the Pudget Sound, one on the USS Missouri floating on Pearl Harbor, and the last one was at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
  Offer to buy a drink for your (or your husbands) superiors. Laugh when you hear the youngest Marine in attendance was born in 1993 (Damn, I feel old). Enjoy a meal that you didn’t have to prepare, and don’t have to clean up.
  Stop by the table left empty in honor of all the lost Marines.
  Dance and be happy.
  Just remember when the night is over and your husband goes back to work the next day, each and every one of his coworkers will be talking about the girl who got drunk and booed in the middle of the Commandant’s speech. Don’t be that girl.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Over The Rainbow

   My baby is one! I can't believe how fast this year has gone by. Wasn't I just walking around the halls of Tripler Army Medical center, in a too thin hospital gown, waiting to go into the OR and get this baby out? Now she's a big bad one year old. Okay, she's actually really tiny and super mellow. But still. It's going way to fast!
   At least we had a great party. I know that I only have a few years with each child were I get to make all the decisions for them. Clothing choices, Halloween costumes, and of course birthday party themes. I try to keep into account the child, but honestly, it's my decision. MINE ALL MINE!!! I may not be able to pee alone, but I will damn well choose the cake.
   So for Soph's big day we went with a rainbow theme. It seems to be really popular lately. I can see why. It's easy to find stuff around the house that fits in, so you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on something you'll use once. It has lots of creative food options, and what child doesn't like bright, fun colors?
   I had so much fun getting everything ready. I started with her outfit. I knew a tutu was a must so when the craft store was having a sale on tulle, I stocked up on a spool in every color of the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, don't forget there's purple too. Rainbow colors for me and you! (If your kids are a fan of Micky Mouse Club House you will know this song. I've spent a lot of time this last month singing it.)
   I also got an iron-on "birthday girl" patch, a white onsie, sequin head band, bright flower clip, and some ribbon.
   After a lot of cutting I made my, her, tutu. I think everything turned out ADORABLE!

  Since I was on a roll doing the tutu, I made a skirt for her Bumbo and a wreath using the same method. The tutu, skirt, and wreath cost less than $15 to make. I got the tulle and ribbon on sale. The wreath form was half a length of plumbers piping that I got for $1.99 at the hardware store. It was meant to be a circle, but this stuff was flimsy, so I went with a rectangle instead. The letters I got as is for 99 cents each. I'm sure I could have made them with left over cardboard and some glitter from my girls craft box, but I was running low on time, so they were worth the three dollars.

   Next I worked on the cake. That was an epic fail. Pinterest fans have probably seen pictures of a beautiful layered rainbow cake. This is how mine turned out.

   Not what I had pictured. And the sticks? To keep it from falling over. Again. So with this fail behind me, I tried again. Different battle tactic. Screw layers, we're going mixed. With clean white frosting.

   I think it was a hit. In fact, I am amazed she ate it all. I mean, all! She did offer to share with me though.

   I made cupcakes with the left over batter from her cake. It was a lunch time party, so I didn't think we needed a whole other cake and ice cream. It worked out perfectly. Here's what the insides looked like.

   I wanted to keep the food light, and in the rainbow theme. And of course I wanted a lot of it to be stuff that the birthday girl could eat. So I went with fruit and veggie trays, wraps and a corn salsa we're all fans of. Since I'm trying to watch my girlish figure I also didn't want to get a lot of pop that wouldn't get drunk, so we made an awesome punch with jelly cranberry sauce and ginger ale. (I may have added some vodka to the left overs for a treat after the girls went to bed.)

   After the cake, a quick bath, and a costume change, Sophie opened her presents. We had a great time. She wont remember it, but Sophie will have some great pictures of her big day! Thank you to our wonderful family for such great time!

Getting some loves from Grandma

   And don't forget Daddy! Thanks to Amazon, he did all the shopping for her gifts, and even took this amazing picture. I think the machine guns really scream "Happy First Birthday". He may be half a world away, but he's always involved!

Friday, September 7, 2012



   I love to cook, and I really love to bake. And of course I love to eat! Most of the stuff I make goes straight to my belly. And not in the good digestion way, but  in the, I'm gonna hang out here and jiggle kinda way. So for the most part I try to contain myself.
   This is the recipe I am most famous for in my family. It is also one that I can eat a lot of without feeling guilty. You'll find that I am an extremely precise cook. I'll use lots of technical terms like "some" or "a handful" or even the complex "about". And I promise I wont leave out ingredients so that mine will always taste better, like my grandma does. Or give you the recipe written in Finish. Also like my grandma does. ;)

Erin's Salsa

1 can stewed tomatoes (whatever brand, whatever blend you like)
1 largish onion (I'm fond of Walla Walla's or Maui Sweets, but white is just fine)
2 good sized jalapeños
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2-4 tablespoons hot sauce (start with 2 and keep adding until you like the flavor)
Juice of half a lime
Salt & Pepper to taste

   I've used many ways to make this salsa, with a food processor, blender, most recently with a Pampered Chef food chopper. Sometimes I've hand cut it all with a knife. I'll use whatever is handy.    Hand cutting gets the chunkiest salsa, if you like it more smooth, go with a food processor. I get the most varied results with the blender, but most often it is very smooth, with very little texture. I like this when I plan to eat it with popcorn. 
   I know, it's weird, but it is healthy and sooooo good. Try it. Oh, don't just poor the salsa over the popcorn. That's disgusting. Dip my friends, dip. This is a great mindless TV munchie.

1. Drain the liquid out of the tomatoes into a medium sized bowl. You want that liquid! Dice the tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
2. Dice the onion and garlic and add to the bowl.
3. Cut off the ends of the jalapeños. It should be shaped like a tube. Using a spoon scoop out the seeds and membrane. Discard. Be careful about touching the jalapeños. And be sure to wash your hands well afterwards. And maybe just keep them to yourself. Don't, you know, clean gubbers out of your six month old's eye, and leave her screaming in agony. Or something stupid like that. Ehem. I now use the little plastic produce bag as a glove.
4. Dice the jalapenos and add them to the bowl.
5. Pick a good sized handful of cilantro leaves. Bunch and roll it into the tightest ball you can. Dice it up, and throw it in the bowl. If 20% of your blood is made up of cilantro, like my hubby, add more. If you're not such a big fan, stick to a small handful of leaves.
   *If your using a blender or food processor, all you really need to do is cut the veggies into manageable pieces and toss them in. Pulse until you get desired consistency. Then add the rest of the ingredients.
6. Add the first two tablespoons of the hot sauce and the juice of half a lime. Add a few good pinches of salt and and one of pepper.
7. Stir it all up and give it a try. If you want to make it taste more fresh, or tomatoey, cut up some fresh tomatoes. If you want to taste more like restaurant, or canned salsa add more hot sauce.

A few more notes:
* This recipe also tastes wonderful with fresh tomatoes. When we lived in Hawaii, the commissary didn't always have the best produce. Weird, huh. So that's when I started to use the canned. And it stuck. If you do want to go fresh, use three large tomatoes, stems cut off.
* If you like it hot, add another jalapeno, or even add a Serrano to the two jalapenos.
* If you aren't a fan of the heat, skip the jalapenos, and go for a Anaheim or two. These taste SO good in this recipe.
* The lime and garlic help preserve this salsa, but not for long. This needs to be eaten within 2 weeks.
* This is a great base recipe. Add a cup of frozen corn, don't even thaw. Drained black beans are also delish.
* Salsa isn't just for chips. I love it on Triscuits. Try it over grilled chicken. Or like I said earlier, with popcorn. My two year old, Alli, eats it with a spoon. No joke, the kid loves salsa.

A final note, please excuse the lack of the tilde over some of the n's in jalapeno. For some reason, my computer automatically put it on some, but wouldn't on others. To be honest, I wasn't feeling the drive to investigate, and fix the irregularity. Carry on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


   I survived, I mean, she survived her first day of kindergarten! After half an hour of tears, and clinging ,and protests of not being ready, I finally calmed down enough to drive home. How did my little girl do? Great! In fact she kept telling me to leave! "All the other parents are still here, you can't make me go yet!"

   All joking aside, we did great. We have talked about kindergarten all summer, and always talked about how fun it would be, all the exciting activities she would do, and how many friends she would make. Most importantly, we were very careful not to associate anything negative with starting school. This is something to be excited about! Like going to Disneyland!
   I admit, I had worries. My oldest is smart and definitely likes being in charge, but let's face it, the girl likes being taken of care of. When she was a baby, she refused to hold her own bottle. I mean, she would not do it. If it came down to starving or holding her own bottle, she would choose to starve. She was perfectly capable of doing it, just wanted us to hold it for her. Same with feeding herself solids. At the great age of five it's not uncommon to hear her beg one of us to feed her. She's even asked her two year old sister to feed her!
   She's content for me to dress her, and she'll hate me later for saying this, but it took over a year to get her to put her pants back on after she went to the bathroom. She would be fully dressed going in, and I'd see her later rockin her undies, because it was too much work to pull her shorts back up. Thank God we lived in Hawaii and shorts were all we had to worry about! If I had to get that girl to pull a snow suit, or jumper back up, I would have been in for a battle royal!
   So with all this selective dependence, I wondered how she would do when she couldn't ask her teacher to open up her yogurt for her, or take her to the bathroom, and make sure she got back to the classroom okay. And goodness did I stress about her getting to her class each morning! I couldn't just leave her in front of the school, ten minutes before class started, and really expect her to get to the right place could I? She's just a baby! My baby!
   I lost sleep over this stuff. I just had to keep reminding myself, they are professionals! There will be adults to look after her, to tell her were to go, to help her with that tricky yogurt, and to makes sure she doesn't go to the bathroom and just take a trip out to the playground unsupervised.
   After I had wrestled these worries into submission I started worrying about my husband. This was a big moment for Bella, and most likely, he would miss it completely. I mean, he's deployed, so I knew he wasn't going to be there, but I had at least hoped he would call or Facetime. But of course, he would become unavailable, starting, you guessed it, Bella's first day!
    Someone was smiling down on us, and because of the time difference, Gilbert was able to Facetime Bella before she left for school. My wonderful husband forgo sleep to call his oldest child in the middle of his night and wish her well on her big day. He was even there for a picture!

  I love technology!
   It was a busy morning for us. We had to have the traditional 'first day pancakes' (a tradition my mom started). We had to fix the princess hair. Wash, blow dry and flat iron! And we had to have plenty of time for pictures.
   I've spent plenty of time lately perusing Pinterest in search of the perfect 'first day' picture. How was I going to document this momentous day? After all, this is a big decision. I have to live with, and repeat it for the next 12 years. My head might explode if I had to switch themes halfway through her school years. So it had to be perfect, and you know, easy, cause I'm lazy. But I couldn't pick just one, so I kinda went crazy. Here are my favorites:

    Funny story. In preparation of the picture above my family was asking Bella what she wanted to be when she grew up. Did she want to be a doctor, singer, painter or astronaut? A fire fighter, verterinarian, dancer or scientist? All of these awesome options were meet with exsaperated "Mommy's". I was at a loss. Then my mom asked if she wanted to be in managment. Bella looked intrigued. "Do  you want to be the boss, Bella?" That was it. Her eyes lit up. Bless her pointy little head, she wants to be the boss. The perfect job for her. Miss Delegation herself. What makes it even more funny is my parents. My mom workes in management for the city, and my step-dad is part of the city's largest union. So we always joke about my mom working for "the dark side" and trying to recruit people over. Point one for Grandma! Get your dark cape at the door.
   See the cute little printed out paper? I haven't uploaded it yet, but I had her write her name on it. I'm going to keep that, and by keep I mean take a picture of it, put it in a safe place and never see it again. But that's okay, cause I'll have the picture of it. And on her last day of kindergarten I'll print out that picture and have her sign it again. We'll be able to see how her writing changed this year. I'll do this every year and see how her style evolves!
   I hope your "first day" went as fantastic as our did! And wish me luck as I continue to let go of my babies, one white knockled finger at a time.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


   I love a good laugh. It's  not hard to get me to smile. From the knock-knock jokes my five year old tells me to the sarcastic memes, and yes often even the offensive jokes told in whispers. I love 'um all! And if you are dumb enough to give me your cell number I'm not shy about sharing.
   Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Like this morning. It's just one of "those" days with my girls. I had high hopes to go do some damage to the gift card my hubs sent me for my birthday (Thanks Babe!) but after the 10th warning, 3rd time out and 2nd meltdown, I was not in the mood to try and keep my heathens happy while I tried on clothes. I was not in the mood for much of anything. Except maybe hunting down a band of gypsies and seeing if they wanted to buy my children.
   I was on a ledge. Look at me wrong and I might have snapped. So I took a time out myself and did one of my favorite things. I got on Pinterest and turned to the "humor" page. I have now put the gun and knife away and am ready to share a smile.
   So lets have some fun! Seeing as it's Sunday, let's keep it  PG. What are your favorite Popsicle stick jokes? Share some, PLEASE. Help a mommy out.
   Some of my favorites:

What did the buffalo say to his kid when he left for collage?
Why did the picture go to jail?
It was framed.
What do lawyers name their daughters?
What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
Anyone can roast beef.
   You laughed, admit it! Thanks to Pinterest, here are some of those memes I was talking about:

   I hope this brightened your day! Remember, we love our children!!! Really!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Before You Marry A Marine


   The divorce rate in the military is astronomical, and it is no surprise. It is a life unlike anything you've ever known, unless you were a military brat. And really there is no way to prepare for it. I can't count how many hours my husband has spent working with Marines and their spouses helping them through their issues. Or how many complaints I've heard at the playground. Let me be clear, there is a difference between venting frustration and being a nagging negative shrew. Some people are just NOT cut out for this life style. There is nothing wrong with thst. Before you marry a Marine think long and hard to make sure this is the life for you. And read this!

 If you plan on marring a Marine you better be independent. You need to be mentally strong, and brave and self sufficient.
   It helps to be out going and thoughtful. And sometimes self sacrificing. And able to bite your tongue.
   Know the difference between seeking help and seeking trouble.
   Be ready for nights alone. Moves alone. Births alone. Be ready for the Marine Time. If your husband says he'll be home at 4pm, be waiting at the door at 8pm. And have the dinner warm.
   Expect the man cold. In the ten years my husband has been in the Marines he has never called in sick. Not once. It's not really an option. But when he finally drags his butt home at the end of the day he is done. He has been a big bad Marine all day, and the second he walks through the door he will warp into the biggest baby on the face of the earth.
   You'll rarely see your family back home. So be prepared for birthdays and Christmases away.
  Plans will change. And change again. Nothing is official until you have it in writing. You will not know where you will be living in two years. You will not know when your husband will get back from deployment until his plane is on the tarmac.
   Get ready to speak Jarhead. I can have an entire conversation with some of my girlfriends speaking in acronyms. The head is the bathroom, the deck is the floor. CO is commanding officer, which means smile and be polite. Brig is the jail, and chow is food.
   Regardless of what Jill from Home Improvement said, military time is not hard to learn. 1am to 9am just add a 0 in front. 0700 (said zero seven hundred) is 7 am. 1100 is 11 am. After 12pm just minus 12 from the number. 1300 would be 1pm. 2000 would be? Let's see. 20-12=8, so 8pm!
   If you are not a person that rolls with the punches you better love your man (or woman) a great deal, because you are going to have a lot to deal with.
   Are you scared yet? Second guessing? Good. Now let me tell you why I wouldn't have it any other way.
   You will not want for help. Your neighbor will take out the trash while your husband is gone. If a Marine sees you trying to get that 30 pound bag of dog food into your cart, he (or she) will jump to your aid. I think I can count on my hand the number of time I have had to open a door myself. It's a little thing, but when you are juggling a screaming two year old and four bags of groceries, it means a lot when that person stands at the door a full twenty extra seconds to hold it open for you.
   Your FRO (family readiness officer) will organize social events and keep you updated. If you're having a baby and are in need of things your husbands friends and coworkers will donate like new gear. The FRO might even arrange a baby shower.
   There are so many wonderful programs. New Mommy Groups, classes for parenting and your marriage. Sports, and fun runs.
   Forget co-pay. Unless you are a special case, medical is 100% covered. Some people have complaints about the service they get on base, but I have NEVER had a problem. It is fairly easy to get appointments and you are rarely kept waiting more then 15 minutes.
   I have never once felt unsafe in my house, even when my husband is gone. It's a comfort to know that at least 10 Marines are within screaming distance. I'm sorry, but if there is something in your house that 10 Marines can't handle, no one can!
   There are parks within walking distance. Everyone you meet is in the same boat as you. It is easy to start up a conversation with a perfect stranger and be talking like old friends in minutes. You will make friends that will last a life time.
You will move. You will move a lot, but the Corps is a small enough community that no matter where you go, you will know at least one person.
   If you want a job, people on base will help you find one. They have amazing child care, at a fraction of the cost you'd find off base. I love the commissary (grocery store), and couldn't live with out the Exchange. The Exchange is like a Target. That has Coach and LV. At massively discounted prices!!
   You get to travel the world and live in place you most likely never could afford otherwise. ITT will have attractions and travel opportunities at special rates.
   You are never lacking a friendly smile, a strong back, or a shoulder to cry on.
   It's a big step marrying a Marine. A brave one. Be a credit to him. And look for the good.

   I'd love to hear more words of wisdom that fellow MC wives have to share!

What Works for Me Part 2

   If you read part one you now my first seven tips of weight loss for me, here are some more. A note about the first post, I did not start all of these changes at once. If you overwhelm yourself you are more likely to revert to bad habits, so pick one or two that might work for you and test those out before you do more.
   One thing that has really helped me was to find my peek snack hours. From lunch time until around 4 pm is my danger zone. I want to graze like a prized Hereford. I can't help myself. I've tried to limit myself to breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner. Doesn't work for me. I have found that in the mornings, I'm not as hungry. I do think that having a good breakfast is important, so I do that, but after that I'm good until lunch. I keep a good chunk of my calories for the afternoon. This may not keep my blood sugar level all day, but it keeps me sane, and from beating myself up when I inevitably get the munchies in the afternoon.
   Don't allow yourself to go hungry!! When you are hungry you make bad food choices. Mom's are busy people, so plan ahead and throw a banana or some baby carrots in your purse before you run out the door. You don't forget to feed your children (mostly because they a loud, insistent little stinkers) don't forget to feed yourself.
   Try new things. Two years ago a friend brought some hummus to a play date. I had never tried it before. I had only vaguely heard of it. That stuff is good! It is now something I keep stocked in my fridge. I'm a big fan of the roasted red pepper hummus. That on a slice of whole wheat bread with some thinly sliced cucumbers is one of my go to meals. It keeps me satisfied for hours and is only 184 calories, full of protein and has very little sugar. I also recently tried grapefruit. I hated it as a kid, and had no interest in trying again, but I forced myself to and I was pleasantly surprised. With a little sugar, and I do mean a little, it was downright yummy. It doesn't hurt to try new things. If you're really lucky, you may find something so revolting you lose your appetite all together for hours! (This was a joke.)
   Mommy Tax. I am a big fan of the Mommy Tax. My mom liked the idea so much, she installed the Grandma Tax. I know that weekly pancake breakfasts are not a good choice for me, but my girls love them. So I instilled the Mommy Tax. I get one small bight from one or each of them. These are small little cheats that I allow myself. I get a taste of the good stuff with out wiping out my good intentions for the day. I don't count these little taxes. Just like I don't count every time I burn calories going up the stairs or folding laundry. I figure they balance each other out in the end. And they keep me from pushing over small children in a rush to get the last Snickers at the grocery store.
   Stock up on the good stuff, and get it ready! When ever you do your weekly shopping stock up on healthy choices. And even more importantly go home and cut up that cantaloupe, and put those baby carrots into convenient baggies. You are much more likely to make good choices if they are easily available.
   Hide the bad! If I have to climb up on the counter move a bunch of canisters just to get to the Oreos, I'm much more likely to go for the peach that's right there, an arm length away. For me it will never be out of sight out of mind, but it is true that I am lazy at heart, and am more likely to make good choices if they are staring me in the face.
   Get over it! At some point you will fail. You'll give into temptation and eat one of those amazing 300 calorie cookies from Subway. And for many people, they just say "screw it, I've all ready cheated, I'll start again tomorrow. Pass the pizza." DON'T DO THIS! Enjoy that cookie for all it's worth, but go back to being a good little girl when it's gone. A cookie slip is much better than a cookie, pizza, ice cream, and beer slip.
   Race the microwave. You have 1:45 before your soup is heated, how many plea squats can you do? Find little moments in your day to get a little exercise. Take multiple trips up and down the stairs.  Do sit ups while your water boils. These things will slowly add up.

   There are so many things you can do. Little things. What works for you? Leave a comment to give me some great new ideas!

What Works for Me

   There are so many diet plans out there, I'm convinced if you just sit at your computer and don't eat until your done reading them, you'll lose all the weight you ever wanted. Since most people aren't fans of starvation, actually trying them is the next option. I've tried some, but if you know me, or read some of my blogs, you know I have very little self control when it comes to food, so most of these plans don't work for me.
   A point system is awesome, and it works great for some of my nearest and dearest, but I would fill my points eating Lucky Charms and Doritos. Not the healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. So this is what works for me. It's a work in progress, and mostly a hodge podge of stuff I've read, but it seems to be working.
   Please remember I am in not a health expert. Half of this stuff I've read online, and we all know how accurate that is! So if what I'm posting is total B.S., it's not my fault, my five year Bella told me to do it...
   #1 This is an awesome website. You create a free account and can then track food, exercise, progress... You can join up with your friends as well. This is great for a military wife with friends and family spread out across the country. They can stop by your page and leave encouragement for you! It's very customizable. You can track calories, sugar, fat, carbs, sodium.... what ever you want to track. It also keeps track of the vitamins and minerals you are getting. A food and exercise diary at it's best. It also has a handy app for my iPhone.
   This week I have been especially thankful for it. My weight has plateaued. It is sooo discouraging to be working so hard, to get up and go for a jog, to say no to the pancakes I'm making for my girls, and see the scale stay the same. I might be tempted to, in the best Janet Evanovich tradition, hold up a Cheetos truck. But for one thing. I get to track my measurements. And while the scale isn't moving, the measuring tape is. I've lost a half inch around my belly this week! You're safe for now Cheetos man.

   #2 Processed Foods = Boo!: Your liver has many jobs, and one of it is to clear the blood of waste and poisons. It acts as a filter to all that you eat and drink. To your body preservatives and processed ingredients, or in the more technical term "crap", that is found in most foods now days are considered waste that your liver needs to process. For most people this is a big job for their livers.
   Your liver also metabolizes proteins, fats and carbs. These are just two of the many jobs of your liver. So the way I think of it is, if your liver is so busy cleaning your body of the artificial crap you put into it, it wont have has much time to do it's other jobs. Like, metabolizing all you eat. Forcing your body to store it. So if I eat less crap, the liver has less to filter, giving it more time to metabolize the good stuff. It makes sense in a twisted kinda way, right?
   So I LIMIT the processed and refined foods I eat. I'm sorry I don't want to live in a world without brownies, or chips or cereal. But it has worked. For the first week I cut them out completely. Along with working out four days that week, I lost six pounds!
   I found this awesome blog, through Pinterest, that really made it click for me. 100 Days of Real Food.
   She explained how she thought she was buying her family a healthy whole wheat bread, but when she actually turned it over and looked at the ingredients, she didn't know what half the stuff was. I scratched my head, walked over to the bread box and looked at ours. Same reaction. This is BREAD for Gods sake! Does it really need all of this stuff? So I followed her recommendation and went to the local Great Harvest and got their Honey Wheat Bread. Five ingredients, non-processed, all natural. And it tastes really good. This is from a die hard white bread eater. If you don't live near a Great Harvest, talk to your local baker, or even turn to your trusted bread machine.
   I applied this "test" to the rest of my kitchen and pantry. Those low calorie snack bars? Refined wheat, and hydroganated corn syrup, aka sugar. I was eating a low cal sugar bar. Awesome. This seemed to be the trend.
   So I made a change. If I'm going to eat sugar, I damn well want to taste it. So I save it for the good stuff.
   #3 Good Bye Pop (soda for the rest of the country): I gave up pop at home. I sometimes get it in a restaurant, but try to stick to water, or even lemonade if they make it fresh. Yes, I know lemonade has sugar in it, but it's the real stuff, and I'll explain why that's better for me.
   I also gave up my very good, very delicious friend Crystal Light. It was a big help getting me to drink my water, but it stabbed me in the back in the end. Here's how. Pops, Crystal Light and other drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners, even the diet kind. It is true that these are much lower in calories. The real problem is they are often 10,000 times sweeter then normal white sugar.
   Before I had my kids, this wasn't a problem. I was a salty junkie. Give me those chips and corn nuts. I was a happy girl. After I had them, I developed an almost debilitating sweet tooth. And I found out these artificial sweeteners were like crack to my sweet cravings. It was okay if I would have been able to stick to just the Crystal Light, but it wasn't enough. I wanted the donuts, and Coco Puffs and Reese's. For me artificial sweeteners are a gateway to other sugar and fat filled yummy's.
   The first week was hell. I made shark week seem tame, but I did. And my children are young enough to forget that dark time. Eventually. And it is crazy how much my cravings have gone down.
   #4 Water: When I'm pregnant I like to really branch out and experience every possible discomfort, hemorrhoids, heart burn, bloating.... and whenever I talked to my OBGYN/Midwife/Corpsmen (in military hospitals it's rare to see the same face every appointment) they always said, without fail, drink more water.
   I'm going pee every 20 minutes, am so bloated I almost float, and my heart burn is so bad I could breath fire and you want me to drink MORE WATER!?!?!
   But the f***ers were right. We are made up of mostly water, so it makes sense that we need a lot of it. It also does a jimdandy job of filling you up, and if you drink it ice cold like I do, your body burns a few calories warming it up to digest it. So get a cute water bottle or ten, and drink up. Along with your cell phone, oh and probably your kids, this should go everywhere with you. I'm talking room to room everywhere.
   #5 Exercise, duh: This is a dirty word for me. Drop f bombs, disparage my mother, and I won't blink, but say "lets go exercise" and I will give you such a dirty look a puritan in a whore house would be proud. I hate it. I loath it. I have yet to get to the point where it's like a "meditative experience".
   With all the motivation methods I've seen; pictures of the fridge, moving speeches, your bikini on the counter, none have work so well as a stupid meme I saw on Pinterest.
   It's true. As I'm laying in bed dreading the jog (really a walk with some jogging thrown in), I think of this stupid saying. If I just get up and do it, it will be over and I'll be proud of myself for the rest of the day. If I don't, I'll be kicking my own ass for the rest of the week. Which is worse?
   #6 Don't eat after 7PM: The great Oprah taught me this. Your digestions slows WAY down while you're sleeping, so don't eat for a few hours before you go to bed. This is a golden rule only to be broken on very special occasions.
    This obviously isn't all I've done to lose weight, but they are a few of the biggies. I hope they have helped you, and you don't walk away thinking I'm a complete idiot. Again, Bella told me to do it...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Melted Crayons

   If you're a fan of Pinterest you've no doubt seen one version or another of melted crayon art. I  thought it was one that my oldest could help me do. They were after all, for her room. I quickly discovered a reluctance to hand over the blow dryer. I got some strange pleasure murdering these perfect little crayons.
   And this was obviously one of those gateway type craft projects. Every week I see a different version of it popping up on Pinterest.
   "Just give me the blow dryer, honey. I'm going to do one with daisies on it!" Kindergartners watch out! Mommy has it in for your art supplies. That right, sit there in the corner eating your glue stick while Mommy melts the good stuff......
   With the amazing talent of me friend Kelisa, Bella and I stamped out our own little corner of the melted crayon craze.
   I got the canvas's at Ben Franklin's and sent them off to Kelsia, along with cute pictures I had found of the Disney Princesses. She did an AMAZING job! I got a few big boxes of crayons and picked out coordinating colors. Since I bought smaller canvass I had to cut down the crayons. Not an easy task. I then hot glue gunned them to the canvas.


   Then the fun begin. I turned on the blow dryer and melted to my hearts content. I like how these turned out.

   I did learn however, that this is not the project for someone like me. You know someone with borderline OCD. They didn't turn out just how I pictured them. No matter what I tried, I couldn't get them to melt just so. And it didn't help that different colors took longer under the heat to melt. Damn you yellow! If you do this I recommend a few trial runs first.
   Another problem. My daughter is a picker. What better revenge for making her take a nap than standing on her train table and picking at my, I mean her, works of art?
   I hope you have better luck, but next time, I think I'll stick to Kelisa's talents and have her paintings be the star.

My Family

   I was lucky enough to meet my husband, Gilbert, my freshmen year of high school. I first had to get past the ugliest sweater ever worn by man, but I'm glad I did. I was double lucky to have meet him because he had just moved to Washington (state, that is) from Puerto Rico and his English was still a work in progress.

   Right after high school he joined the Marines. I stayed and after finishing my senior year, started attending Eastern Washington University. We got practice right off the bat on making a long distance relationship work. And wasn't it fun planning a wedding while he was deployed in Fallujah. "Yes Father Mike, we would like to be married in June, unless his deployment gets extended...."

   After an awesome honeymoon in Disney World, he went back to California, and I stayed in Washington. We lived most of our first year of wedded bliss in different states.
   When he reenlisted and PCSd (permanent change of station), I had had enough and left school to join him. So I moved, to the Navel Base Bangor, Kitsap. All the way on the other side of the...... state. We quickly started our family and in April 2007, NINE DAYS LATE, we welcomed our first daughter, Isabella Christine. She was a beautiful baby, and a Daddy's Girl from the start.

   2009 was a big year for us. We PCSd (look at you, speaking jarhead!) to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Oahu. We we're expecting baby #2 and Gilbert was set to deploy. We were reprieved THE DAY BEFORE he was set to leave! He went to Instructor Trainer school instead.
   Marines were different colored belts for different levels of martial arts. Just like in karate. Thanks to our time at Bangor, he was already a black belt. He was also certified as an instructor, meaning he could teach other Marines and help them upgrade their belts. Instructor Trainer school trains Marines to certify instructors. Following? This is one of the most intense schools in the Marines.
   On Gilbert's second day he called and told me one of his class mates got a compound fracture. On the SECOND DAY! There I am, alone with a two year old, eight months pregnant, boiling my ass of in Hawaii and my husband is telling me it is a distinct possibility that he be severely injured. Classic. He made it home, safe and mostly sound the day before we welcomed daughter number two, Alejandra Yadira. She was famous, hospital wide for her head of hair. It looked like a little wig!
   In 2011 we had our youngest little girl Sophia Marie. A year later and she is still one of the calmest babies I've ever seen. I think she knew that Mommy needed a break.

   Our family was complete. And unless you plan to bear him yourself, no we will not try for a boy!

  In the beginning of 2012 we found out that Gilbert was due to deploy. So instead of leaving me with three children under five years old, and thousands of mile away from the nearest relative, it was decide that we would move home with my mom and step dad, Mike.
   This is us now, five months in. The girls and I in Eastern Washington, and Gilbert deployed!