Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ta Da!

The landscaping is finally finished! If you remember back, Megan and I added stone and lattice under the deck, but we were left with a 12 inch gap under much of the lattice. Megan had to go back home and I was feeling stumped with how to fill in the space. What to do, what to do? I decided to build a retaining wall, so I started digging, bought the stones, and then decided the project was too daunting to do alone. I returned all the blocks and decided to fill in the emptiness with dirt. Wasn't working! The slope was too steep and the dirt simply wouldn't stay in place. I was venting to Nat and she convinced me we could do the retaining wall and it wouldn't be that hard. Thanks to her push, I bought back all the blocks, plus some, and we went to work. For a week and a half (that's right...what a committed friend!!!) we diligently designed, dug, hulled, planted, spread, pounded, and sweated our way to a beautifully landscaped deck area. Nat was right that the project was totally do-able, even though it took time and sweat, but I would have definitely lost steam if it hadn't been for her everyday push. And...we did all this with our 4 kiddos around...I'm even impressed by us. Check out our progressive pictures.
Nat was doing shrugs in order to get a decent workout

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Race

Before each deployment Riley and I make it a priority to sit down together and map out goals for ourselves. One of mine was to run a half marathon in under 2 hours. This past Saturday I ran the Country Music Half Marathon for the 2nd year in a row. This year, however, I was able to get a personal record (pr) during the race and finish in 1:58:05 (my old pr was 2:02 in 2007)AND check a major goal of my list! I've gotta say, though, that the race was the toughest half I've ever done. I don't know if it was the heat, the hills, taking off too quickly, or just an off-day, but I had to walk several times, and that's something I've never had to do before. The highlight of the race was getting to watch the beautiful Kenyan men blow everyone away running the whole marathon (and finishing in 2:13 & 2:14 times). It was an honor to get to run the same route as those champions. The low point of the race was at mile 6 when I had to talk myself into running another hour when I thought I couldn't make my goal time. Admist the highs and lows were the awesome crowds of cheering people, and some of the runners were a hoot, too. I tried to keep pace with a man running with an inflatable monkey on his back, but alas, he left me in the dust. My favorite runner was a tall African American man who came barrelling from behind shouting, "C'mon! This ain't no big hill. No hill at all! This ain't no big hill. No hill at all!" etc. It truly was motivating to push through the pain...and painful it was! I crossed the finish line and had a stranger help me sit down but while I sucked down a water and doused myself with salt water sponges. At this point I didn't know if I had reached my goal or not. I knew it was close and I knew I had given it my all. Riley skyped me that afternoon and was actually the one to announce to me my time and the good news that I had reached my goal! Hooray!

Friday, April 24, 2009


It's hilarios to watch two 15 month olds interact. A couple days ago I caught Meadow feeding her dinner to Saedi, and then I caught Saedi begging Meadow for more. The two tots can say each other's names, and sometimes the first words out of Saedi's mouth in the morning are Ne-no (Meadow). Ellie has been naturally social so it's fun for me to watch Saedi step into the world of friendship.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Latest...

Natalie & I working on a hard-core landscaping project...

A 3 Year-Old's Wipe-Out Wounds...

Little One's 1st Trip to the Dentist...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nashville Zoo

Motivated by an invitation from my friend, Tammy, the girls and I went to the zoo today and spent fun, quality time exploring together. Because of schedules and conflict of interest among too many toddlers, we only met up with Tammy at the Critter Encounters petting zoo & the African Savannah, but it was still a highlight of my day to have nice, adult conversation!
We started out on Bamboo Trail and visited the cougar, bongo, & Guenon-Monkey-Creature. The girls were getting restless in the double stroller so we scooted over to the petting zoo section where they had a blast running, petting goats & watching alpaca's poop. Ellie made friends fast (with kids & animals) and shouted to everyone who would listen, "My Mimi has goatees like these!" She brushed all the goats' hair and Saedi cheered from a distance. Saed would venture close to the animals, touch their fur, scream, and run away. Then she'd go back and do it again. Little Tease!

Then, it was off to find some tigers! Since breakfast, Ellie said she was most excited to see the tigers. Fortunately, two baby tigers were out when we went by the exhibit, and the giant cats played happily together putting on a nice show. El was even interested in the mini lesson of the tiger skull that was presented.
After tigers & alligators we went to the Unseen New World of turtles, snakes, and & spiders. Surprising for me, this was the highlight exhibit for the girls. They went to and from each glass exhibit ooooing and ahhhing over the creatures. Ellie wanted to know the low-down of each snake & spider. Saedi was fascinated by the fish & didn't know how to express herself so she started signing bird and making her snorting noise for pig. Then, Saed would go up to the turtle cage trying to decide if she should try to touch him. She finally built up enough courage but was startled by the concept of a clear, glass cage that he was in. Whenever the turtle swam towards her she screamed and ran away. Ellie's favorite animal of the day was the giant Anaconda snake curled up in the bottom or a water-filled ravine. She was enamored over the size of the beast and kept saying, "Isn't it creepy, Mom!"

We ended our adventure visiting the giraffes & elephants. The girls were starting to get tired and hungry & Ellie threw a mini-tantrum, where I actually spanked her in public. Red-faced and not looking anyone in the eye, I turn to get moving and Saedi is sitting lazily in the stroller playing peek-a-boo with Ellie's sunglasses and looking like Elton John. I couldn't help but laugh at good-old-Saed-Saed for lightening my intense moments with El. Finally, were were off to Festival Field where we devoured our packed peanut butter sandwiches, had one more look at the monkeys and then a 45 min drive home with two zonked-out girls and one tired Momma.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pre-Easter Packages

The girls got bombarded with mail yesterday and it was a great treat for them- a postcard from Daddy, a letter from Aunt Meg, and packages from both Grandma & Grandpa Bear & Mimi & Papa. Those girls got books, dvds, loads of candy, bunny cookie mix, plastic eggs, money, & I even got a Starbucks giftcard...woot woot! I think Ellie was most excited about her new "Shortcake" dvds and Saedi was dancing about the "Snacks!" (candy). We hurridly made the cookies and tonight Ellie watched her new dvd with Brooke. Fun times! Thanks to wonderful grandparents for those extra blessings!

Monday, April 6, 2009


I was excited to use my new clothesline this week to hang up sheets...mmm good! When Megan was here we rigged up a clothesline that I can easily put up for laundry and take down when I'm done (so it's not an eye sore). A $6 investment that will save a ton on my electricity bill this summer AND give me fresh smelling sheets...can't beat that!

Couldn't resist snapping a few shots of Saedi in her little white dress (from Natalie)after church on Sunday. It was a warm 73 degrees and she was having a blast playing in the sheets.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tightwad Gazette

A few months ago my sister-in-law, Carri, sent me a fabulous book called The Complete Tighwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. It's a 2-inch book full of frugality articles, tips, questions & answers, calculations, etc. Upon reading the introduction the book spoke to me.

Here's a quick excerpt, "Tightwaddery is not for everyone. I am keenly aware that most people really don't care a hoot about any of this stuff. Some are doing just fine, thank you...Past experience taught me quickly that I couldn't win them over...this informations is geared for the rest of the people who do not find thrift a radical concept."

That would be me! I' m thrifty not because I have to be but because I love it. Anywhooo...I just wanted to pass along two of my fav's I've tried from the book:

1. TOILET PAPER: If you have small kids in the house who use TONS of toilet paper because they like to spin it and spin it, step on the the roll of toilet paper so it's oblong in shape. The will take away the fun of the spin. The kids use less toilet paper; therefore, no more clogged toilets and less trips to the store for toilet paper.

2. HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE: Granola is one of my favorite foods and it's expensive to buy...but, so cheap to make. Here's the recipe:
3/4 C brown sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/3 C honey (molases works too)
5 C oats
1/2 C raisins*
1/2 C dry milk (I use protein powder)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Mix br sugar, oil, & honey in a saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients in a large cake pan. Pour sugar mixture over dry mixture & mix well. Bake at 375 for 10 min (I do 10 min stir, and then 10 more b/c I like mine crunchy). Let cool in pan. Store in airtight container.
Optional: add nuts, wheat germ, flax seed, coconut, dates, etc
*add raisins after cooking