Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bathtime fun!

When mom's away, dad will play!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sean & Nick

Say "broccoli!"

I noticed that Jordyn and Dylan wereaccidentally matching this morning so I thought I'd get a cute picture.

Jordyn giving instructions:
"Now, when you see the red light flash, you say broccoli and I'll say celery."

Presto magic! It worked!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great news and yucky news...

That's what I called my mom with this morning. She wanted the yucky news first. The bad news is that it looks like I won't be able to take advantage of Alaska Airlines' fabulous web specials from Bellingham into the Bay Area sometime in the next three months. The fares are amazing ($69 each way) but the only flights that are available for this rock-bottom price are the ones that leave at 7 a.m. or earlier, or with 4-hour layovers in Seattle or Portland. Fair enough...why should they give away the good stuff? But since I'd be traveling with Nick, I'm afraid that I'll just have to take a pass this time around. I was looking forward to visiting the Bay Area and all my favorite people there (Dad, Edith, Heather & family), but maybe THEY will take advantage of the great airfares and come and see ME for a weekend! Now, there's a good idea!

The good great news: as of this morning I am down 20 pounds from my starting weight on January 5. I told my mom that I am so happy that absolutely no news could get me down today. Upon hearing this, Dylan turned to me and said, "Mom, my girlfriend is pregnant." Don chimed in, "Mine is too." Since I know that neither of them have girlfriends, I found this very funny. The timing was hysterical, but you might have had to be there...

Other icky news: Hailey is sick, so I can't take all my little children down to visit Valarie today. Wah! That was going to be our outing of the week, and our chance to get out and do something while Don and Dylan are back down at Radnai's, pruning the trees.

Nick is napping, so I think I'll be a House Fairy and fly around straightening up, decluttering, etc.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Kind of blurry, but a great shot of Jordyn's rare smile...

Bread Pudding Review

If you like bread pudding, or even if you don't normally like bread pudding, you'll want to try this recipe! Unless you are on a diet. Then don't make it, whatever you do!
The sauce was amazingly easy... it's basically a sweetened white sauce, which I didn't even know you could make. It tasted much like a Cinnabon!

Baby Junk Food

The good news is that Nick ate FOOD yesterday! The bad news.... is that it was basically baby junk food. I gave him Baby Mum Mums, which are rice husk cakes shaped like little surfboards. He liked it a lot!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Using up raisin bread...

Our local discount bread store occasionally has a goldmine of bread for .89/loaf. When that happens Don stocks up our deep freeze to the gills. Right now I have two open loaves of cinnamon raisin bread in my fridge that I want to use up because we also have two packs of bagels in there. Just a shining example of my home-management prowess : )

So I'm going to use this recipe to make bread pudding for tonight's dessert. Of course I'm making the sauce to go with it!

Nathan News

Well, not really "news" in the exciting sense, but I thought I'd let you all know what I know about my young coastie.

First and foremost, Nathan is moving off-base to house-sit for a shipmate. The shipmate has been in the CG for about 20 years and had to go back east for 12 weeks for training. The shipmate's girlfriend, also in the CG, on a cutter, is going out to sea April 1. So they've asked Nathan to house-sit for them and take care of their dogs.

This will be a nice change of scenery for Nathan and will give him an idea of what it's like in "real life." Except that he won't have utility bills, home maintenance, and other things that would make it really real. They have a large-screen t.v., all the video games a 19-year-old could want, two dogs, and a Nissan Pathfinder that they told Nathan he was welcome to drive.

The down side? Well, the house is an hour away from Seattle. So now Nathan has to get up at 4:30 in order to be at the Senior Chief's house by 5:30. The Senior Chief drives a vanpool from Monroe into Seattle. This is obviously much more complicated than Nathan's current living situation, where he can virtually roll out of bed and walk to work in 10 minutes if he had to.

Nathan is going to ask this couple if he can rent a room from them when they no longer need his house-sitting services. If they say yes, Nathan can give up his room on base and start collecting Basic Allowance for Housing, which would allow him to seriously increase his savings every month.

Nathan is on the waiting list for Boatswain's Mate "A" school in Yorktown Virginia. According to the Coast Guard,

The most versatile member of the Coast Guard's operational team is the Boatswain's Mate (BM). Boatswain's Mate, are masters of seamanship. BMs are capable of performing almost any task in connection with deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation, and supervising all personnel assigned to a ship's deck force. BM's have a general knowledge of ropes and cables, including different uses, stresses, strains, and proper stowing. BMs operate hoists, cranes, and winches to load cargo or set gangplanks, stand watch for security, navigation or communications.

He'll go for the 12-week course either in June or August. He's hoping for June, but realistically it'll be August given his spot on the waiting list. After "A" school, he'll get stationed somewhere permanently...meaning "4 years." That will allow him to settle in a little, maybe buy a car with all of his savings, and maybe even get a girlfriend. Who knows?

Nathan was a great asset at Disneyland. When the Littles were tired and all needed to be carried, Nathan and Don were the only ones who were able to carry Patience (nearly 50 pounds) any distance at all. When Jordyn was tired and fussy, she only wanted Daddy. So that left Nathan lugging Patience. And he did it cheerfully. Thank you, Nathan.

That's a wrap!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nick's 6-month check up

I took Nick to visit Dr. Morgan this afternoon while the girls were in school. Today is his 6-month birthday, and he got all checked out to make sure he's on target. He is smaller than average (16 pounds even, and almost 26 inches in length). Just under the 50th for height and weight! I was surprised about that because he seems so big to me.
Dr. Morgan asked if he was sitting unattended. Hmmm...no. He tripods, but falls over quickly because he doesn't use his stomach muscles to hold himself up. But in his defense, he is rarely (or never) out of some contraption like his jolly jumper or an infant seat or out of someone's arms. I'm worried for his safety around the girls. I guess it's something that we can be working on in the evenings after the girls go to bed.
Dr. Morgan also wasn't concerned that Nick refuses spoon food and formula, but he did encourage me to "keep trying!" All in all, Nick is perfectly healthy (and beautiful, according to the nurse) and won't have another well baby checkup until 12 months.


Not me (thank you, Lord). Sean. He started complaining of ear pain Sunday evening. Now, I'm sure he has had ear infections before, just not recently enough that either of us remember it/them. We decided he would go to school and then decide if it was getting worse or getting better. It got worse.

So we headed off to the after-hours clinic where a kind doctor checked him out and said that his ears were indeed pink, but weren't so bad that antibiotics were necessary. So, we're treating him with cold/sinus medication laced with acetaminophen, ibuprofen if the pain is not tolerable, and nasal spray for nighttime so he can at least breathe while he's sleeping.

Hopefully his ears and congestion will clear up on their own. We do have a prescription for antibiotics if this goes on for a few days without improvement.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mellow Monday Morning

Patience and Nick kicking back watching Magic School Bus.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Adorable children

This week's menu

The girls made their own veggie soup today!
I did my grocery shopping yesterday according to what I need for this week of my monthly menu. I went to Otter Co-op which was very convenient, but not at all frugal. Even though I had less than 10 things on my list, and most of those were veggies, my bill was over $100. Man, they're not going out of business anytime soon. Sure, I did throw a $12 garlic press into the cart along with a 2-pound block of cheese (another $12), and some juice that was on sale 2/$5, but come on...

I bought two family packs of ground beef ($15 worth) and when I got home I browned about 1/3 with onions and garlic for pasta with meat sauce and then divided the rest between meatballs and meatloaf.

For the meat sauce I added two jars of store-bought spaghetti sauce to the beef mixture. I let it simmer for a while to approximate the flavor of homemade, and then served it with penne. Because Sean wasn't home for dinner and I made too much, I had enough left over for another meal. So I spread it in a 9x13 pan greased with olive oil and topped it with shredded mozarella cheese. Now I have a baked pasta dish for next week's menu...

I made bread crumbs with all of the heels of bread I had laying (lying?) around, and then mixed those in with the remaining ground beef, eggs, seasoning salt, Italian seasoning, chopped onions and garlic fresh from my new press. Half of these I made into meatballs and baked; they are now in a casserole dish waiting for some very yummy garlic honey sauce.

I formed the meatloaf into a 9x13 pan but didn't bake it.

This morning Don and the girls woke up feeling not 100%...I think there must have been a bug circulating on the airplane because Nathan is also not feeling great. I'll have to see how Hailey and Lucille are feeling. So I changed tonight's dish to chicken soup! We were supposed to have that later in the week but clearly we need it right now!

Speaking of Nathan, he is a very happy camper because not only did the Sharks win 5-2 yesterday, but he got his very first tax return! Smart boy is putting the entire thing into a CD. He is going to have one heck of a down payment when he's finally ready to buy a house!

Don and Dylan are working on the trees again (they did yesterday, too) which is great because 1) it's sunny, 2) there's a lot of work to do down there, and 3) Dylan really needs to earn some spending $ for his Disneyland trip coming up in April. He told me on Friday that his plan was to take no money. Zero. The fact that he has to buy his own meals down there didn't seem to bother him. Because he has paid for this entire trip, Don and I told him that we would match whatever $ he could earn up to $100. So, it looks like he'll be going with $200 if he can keep working with Don until he leaves.

Okay, Nicky is awake and requesting transportation and beverage service. I'll be back with more mundane news!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The happiest place on earth!

I couldn't be more satisfied with our trip to Disneyland. True, traveling by air with 10 people is a logistical nightmare, but logistics just happen to be my specialty! We left our house Friday at 11, stopped at the bank in the states to withdraw some US funds, and then met my sister at a parking lot on I-5. That saved us some time getting Lucille and Hailey.
Two cars, 9 people, and umpteen pieces of luggage then headed south! We stopped at the Super WalMart in Everett and bought a picnic lunch to eat before our foodless flight. From there, we drove to Seattle to pick up an anxious Nathan and then took the back streets to the offsite parking lot (I-5 was bumper-to-bumper by 2:30). After parking our cars we took the shuttle and all of our bags to the airport to find that our flight was delayed by an hour. We checked what we could and then found a spot to eat our lunch and let the girls run around a bit. After going through security we found our gate and then Don took the girls to the kids' play area. The big kids galavanted around the airport or sat and played their DS's to kill time. Finally we all got seated on the plane and our vacation had really begun...

We landed in Santa Ana and collected our luggage. Lee was kind enough to come to the airport to get 4 of us, saving us a lot of money in shuttle fees. I took all the carseat people with Lee and Don followed with the big kids in the shuttle. We got to the hotel around 11, but we hadn't had anything to eat since our picnic lunch, so Grandma and Grandpa (who had been there waiting for us since 4 that afternoon) took all the hungry people to Quizno's for a late-night snack. We divvied up hotel rooms...three rooms with 2 queens each, but we obviously didn't want to combine big girls and big boys, even though that would have been so much more convenient for schedules, since the big kids closed the park each night and the adults went to sleep when the littles did. In the end, we put all the girls together, Nathan stayed with Grandma and Grandpa, and Dylan and Sean stayed with Don, Nick, and me. It worked out fine.

Two of our rooms were joined by a kitchen, and Mom and Lee went to Costco that afternoon and stocked it up with all sorts of wonderful breakfast and lunch foods. And snacks. So all of our meals with the exception of dinners were at the hotel. That saved a lot of money.

Sean getting his money's worth at the hotel's continental breakfast.

We spent four days in the park, and we needed every one of those days! We went to the park early everyday, went back to the hotel for lunch, naps, and a swim if the weather agreed, and then it was back to the park until 10 or later so we could see the fireworks, Fantasmic, etc. They were exhausted by the end!

All the kids at the hotel before we walked over to the park. Lucille, Nick, Nathan, Sean, Hailey, Jordyn, Dylan, and Patience.

Us walking to the park. Our hotel was about a 10-minute walk to the ticket booth. Sweet.

The Murphy family in front of the castle.

Don and Lucille in front of Disney's new Twilight Zone ride.

The weather was cooler than I expected the first two days that we spent in the park, but it sure didn't stop us from having fun! It just meant that the littles enjoyed new warm clothes purchased by very generous grandparents!

Snuggy warm Nick in his Disney sweatsuit.

The girls at Toontown, wearing their Minnie Mouse fleecies.

The girls (and Don) loved the princesses. We didn't wait in line for an hour at Pixie Hollow to see Tinkerbell...we saved that for the next time.

Lucille and Nathan at the fireworks show.
The big kids were basically on their own the entire time. They hung out as a big group or two smaller ones, depending on their whims. It worked out so well. We usually met up at the hotel room at lunch time or for other special events, like the fireworks. The kids closed the park every night. They kept an exhausting schedule!
Hailey and Lucille at the fireworks.

My three eligible bachelors.

Nick enjoying Jordyn's Minnie balloon.
Don and Cathi with half of their kids.

The girls and Don on the carousel, the first ride we went on.

Don and the very spoiled girls watching the Pixar Parade with their giant helium balloons.

Patience and Jordyn on the Jellyfish ride.

On Sunday night Don and the big kids went to a Sharks/Ducks hockey game. They had a great time. It was the first NHL game for Dylan, Sean, Hailey, and Lucille. Hailey is now becoming a hockey fan, much to Nathan's delight.

Patience ended up loving all the rides, even the roller coasters! Here are the photos we bought from Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. Click on the photos to see them larger...you can see the look of joy on Patience's face. Not so much on Jordyn's.

Nathan bought the girls churros, which they had seen and asked for the whole time we were there.

Jorydn at California Adventure.

Patience enjoying hot chocolate on a chilly morning in Disneyland. Does it get any better?

Cute pics of the girls:

The girls loved meeting and getting autographs from all the characters.

The bravest grandparents on earth! We were all so happy and fortunate to have Mom and Lee share our vacation with us. They helped so much with the Littles...trust me, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun or relaxing for Don and me if we didn't have their help!

The ladies at California Adventure...the girls are enjoying juice boxes and snacks from the hotel.

Grandpa and Nick at California Adventure.

Patience and Grandma in the bumper cars. Grandpa and Jordyn were in another one.

Grandma and the girls watching the Pixar Parade in California Adventure.

Don, Grandma, and the girls on the Ladybug ride...similar to teacups but not nearly as fast!

On our last night Mom and Lee treated us all to a great dinner at Rainforest Cafe. Lucille and the little girls had never been, and it's one of my boys' favorite restaurants.

We left Wednesday around 10 to start our long trek back. The energy level was quite a bit lower than when we traveled to Disneyland, but now we were all talking about our favorite rides, activites, etc. of our trip. Thankfully, the traveling home was uneventful and we were all home by 7 p.m. What a wonderful family holiday.

Our whole group before heading back to reality.

Showing our true feelings.