Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Donors Choose

I ran across this great website today and was so excited to see it. I think everyone should volunteer or do charity work on a regular basis in their lives - and this is a simple way to make an impact. It's nice to help people who are helping themselves and their community become a better place.

Our Story and Mission

What if there were a simple way to provide students with the books, technology, and supplies that they need to learn?

What if people from all walks of life could connect directly with public schools, learn about specific classroom needs, and choose how to help? makes this possible. was pioneered by teachers at a Bronx public high school in the spring of 2000. Charles Best, then a social studies teacher, saw first-hand the scarcity of materials in our public school classrooms and the profound impact of this scarcity on kids' education. Looking for a way to address this problem, he sensed an untapped potential in people who were frustrated by their lack of influence over the use of their charitable donations., a website connecting classrooms in need with individuals who want to help, was born.

Our Mission is dedicated to addressing the scarcity and inequitable distribution of learning materials and experiences in our public schools. We believe this inequity is rooted in the following factors:

  1. Shortages of learning materials prevent thorough, engaging instruction;
  2. Top-down distribution of materials stifles our best teachers and discourages them from developing targeted solutions for their students; and
  3. Small, directed contributions have gone un-tapped as a source of funding. will improve public education by engaging citizens in an online marketplace where teachers describe and individuals can fund specific student projects. We envision a nation where students in every community have the resources they need to learn.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back in Beaufort

Note to self: Do not drive so late ever again. We didn't get home till 3 am; and while it was great for Amelia, I was way too sleepy to think that I ever want to do that in the future. I don't know how over-the-road truckdrivers do it.

It was great to come home and sleep in my big cozy bed... YUMMY! It was nice to go for a walk and visit with some of my new friends on the base and their kids in the park common area by housing. They have been great - although we've only been living here a short while and gone most of the time, they've been so very sweet to us. One of the ladies picks up my mail and another one offered dinner for us tonight. We're here till Friday, then back to Lejeune.

Unfortunately this visit will not be much fun and games. There are maintenance issues in the house that need to be fixed; the dryer needs a new heating element and I am determined to leave the house more organized by Friday. Ugh.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

Rafe went back into the field for a week of training e-a-r-l-y this morning. I planned on dropping Amelia off to play for a few hours while I packed us up and loaded the car. Then get my girl, eat lunch and head back to Beaufort while she snoozed it up in the back seat. It was a perfect, baby won't cry for hours plan.

Instead, she threw up 5 times this morning at various intervals. Every towel we had was used, and then we moved on to bedsheets, blankets and robes - not including the clothes we were wearing. Just as soon as I would get her (and myself) cleaned up from one incident, start to get the furniture cleaned up, it would happen again. At home, this would have been work, but at a BOQ room, with a set amount of towels and no bathtub and no washer in the immediate area to dump the dirty clothes, it was a LOT of work. I canceled the playtime; found the housekeeper for fresh towels and a trash bag to remove all the bedclothes, comforter and towels to the laundryroom; and borrowed a steam cleaner from them to clean the couch, bed and carpets.

She went down for a nap at noon, and I'd LOVE one myself - except we have no blankets or bedclothes anymore. Even my own personal pillow is in the dryer right now. I don't know if we should drive back today or wait, but I have a feeling she'll be fine after the nap. It's raining outside, so no outside play; and I really don't think she should be around other kids. I thought about spending the night, but because I thought we were leaving, we won't be getting fresh linens, blankets and sheets until tomorrow.

It's going to be a loooong day. As Amelia says, "wan' mommy!! wan' mommy!" (I want my mommy!)


Amelia and Anna - Aren't they cute?
Partners in crime... Tossing Bunny into the garden
"Gotta run, Mommy"
Mia loves purses, hats and bracelets. Aunt Ashley gave her a sparkly green purse one day and Mia has never been the same!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birthday Party!

What a gorgeous day for a party! Hmmm... should I rock climb or should I swing?
Brazilian "Pot Pie"
The face is black olives, bow and lips are beets, eyes are eggs, background is corn, the sides are mashed potatoes and the garnish is a tomato rose. Wait till you see the insides:

Layers of white bread and something that tastes a lot like chicken salad. It was incredibly yummy!
Some of the backyard festivities
Sweetness all wrapped up in curls

Wrapped around her little finger...

She wanted Daddy to wear her raincoat!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I love Julia!

Many years ago, when I was still working as a professional Chef, I had the good fortune to be invited to be a guest chef for one of the courses for Julia Child's 80th birthday celebration at The American Restaurant in KCMO. They were having birthday celebrations all across the country in her honor, and she attended each one.

When she actually showed up, I was astounded. She was incredibly tall and big boned, but more than that, she had one of the most charismatic and powerful auras of anyone I've ever met. She also had a handler that would steer her around, and keep people moving in a giant production line of socializing with her and circulating. I truly felt I was in the presence of a star and I've never felt that way since, even though I've met a few when I worked as a Chef.

Tonight I ran across a quote that reminded me all over again of her incredible gusto and forthrightness that made me laugh out loud...

Julia Child explaining her methods:
"Many aspects of my method are based on my feeling and experience. For instance, I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it, and more important, I like to give it. "

Who knew? :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

This morning was fun! We went to a friend's house to babysit, and the baby slept the whole time! Amelia played outside on the swingset and in the yard while I dug up 4 rosebush plants she wanted to get rid of, moved some hostas around and sprinkled some fire ant killer. My friend was only gone about an hour and a half, but in that time I realized how nice it was to have a fenced in back yard. Her kitchen has large windows and sliding glass doors that go out onto the patio and yard, and I washed dishes while keeping an eye on Amelia. She loved being outdoors with the security of running back in when she wanted to see Mommy. I loved the freedom to do more things without her wanting to be RIGHT EXACTLY THERE... where mommy is! Her favorite phrase is "ah wan see!" (I want to see!) when I'm doing anything, especially in the kitchen. She loves to watch me wash dishes or cook.

Funny... Rafe says the same thing... about the whole washing dishes and cooking bit! hahaha

Nature Walk

Daddy and Mia
Lejeune's Super Fancy Fishing and Hunt Club Headquarters
This made me very nervous....
Checking for Alligators
Rafe is sure he saw an alligator off to the left!
(I think he was messing with me)
It was very hard to watch Amelia walk to the end of the dock with Rafe. I was certain at any second she would jump in the water and look like a chicken nugget to the hungry alligator.
Daddies are very, very good for doing all the things Mommies are afraid to do.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome, BOQ Style

Super Fancy Kitchen Toys Playdate (Walmart)
Super Fancy Bathtub
Super Fancy Tea Party
(note the bracelets and the lovely dolphin guests) Super Fancy Potty
(one for Daddy, one for Mia)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I love, love, LOVE to read. Mostly non-fiction. There is so much information out in this world to learn!!! It's fascinating to me. I should be doing something productive right now, like laundry. But Amelia is still sleeping, so I've been reading homeschooling blogs, military stuff, and recipes.

Here are a few of today's favorite websites:
If you like homeschooling, you'll love these blogs - so interesting!
My all time numero uno favorite cooking website - why? Partly because Elise's dad is funny and her family seems so nice. Read for a while, and you'll see what I mean. But mostly because every single recipe I've ever tried on that site has been over the top delicious food for normal families.
Why? Because I love to click the link to the sales items for the week and see in percentages how much money I'd save if I went shopping RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. food. yum.

My poor husband. While he worked hard all day on SOP's (standard operating procedures), I worked hard today at RIP (resting in place) and typing on the blog during Amelia's nap. :)

Rainy Day

This is the view from our window. It's gray and rainy today, so I've been reading while Amelia is down for her nap.
I read "I'm a mom! Now what?" by Su Laurent, MD. It was ok, but it reminds me of a dumbed down "What to Expect During the Toddler Years" I did get a new recipe for play-dough out of it, but that was it.
I started "How to Behave So Your Toddler Will Too". It's EXCELLENT so far. It's going in my personal library. It really focuses on something that a child psychologist once told me - she felt she wasn't very effective in her job unless the whole family came in for counseling. More often than not, it was the parents who needed the counseling and then their children behaved better. We are truly teachers of our children, and they will behave just like we do. Amelia definately makes me strive to be a better human being on a daily basis.

Military "Logic"

Remember me saying we're staying here till the middle of May? Scratch that. Seems the schedule has changed. Apparently, they are going into the field on Saturday all day, and then spending all next week (monday through friday) in the field so they don't have to check their weapons back in. So we're headed back to Beaufort next week because there is no point staying cooped up here without Rafe coming home at night. Other than I really hate to drive, and I especially hate driving 6 hours straight. That's the only thing that might keep me here, is the prospect of driving back and forth again.

So here are the questions that go through my mind:
1) If they are going into the field 24/7 next week, WHY WHY WHY Saturday too? Because it's not as if they need that one day away from their families when they are going to be together for ONE STINKING WEEK and then ONE STINKING YEAR.

2) Oh, and by the way, why cancel today's training, and sub Saturday, then give them busy work today because there's nothing to do? Why not send them home?

3) Why am I still asking these questions after 5 years in the military? You'd think that I'd get used to it happening by now. Remember the most recent great irony of the move to another city only to get an IA back here 3 stinkin' days after we rented our house out?? And not just a 6 month deployment, but a year deployment. We could have stayed here for another almost 2 years with my "family" (friends with deployed spouses and church friends).

So my quote of the day is this:

"Practice hope. As hopefulness becomes a habit, you can achieve a permanently happy spirit.' Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, April 21, 2008


Rafe showing Amelia her name in Arabic
Night Night, Daddy!
(Yes, he fell asleep with "My Colors Book")
Our "livingroom" at the BOQ - it's also our kitchen and diningroom.
Those are Amelia's books in the corner, plus a few of mine.


As you can tell, we're back at Lejeune this week. We'll probably be staying here at the BOQ until the middle of May. I feel like we haven't lived in one solid place since the end of November. Mail has gotten lost, found, then lost again in the moving, forwarding, packing and unpacking. So have so many other things. I try to keep Amelia's schedule the same as much as possible to mitigate against her frustration and stress at always being someplace different. Since November, we've stayed at 8 different places with friends and family. Eight. And if I'd had more time, it would have been a few more before we left so unexpectedly to join up with Rafe. Before the age of 2, she has made numerous plane and car trips to Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina... and that's just the destination states. NOT even counting the states we stopped in or drove through. I should stop sometime and add up how many trips we've actually made so far. She's a trouper.

I really miss this area. Coming back I realize how much more support there is for moms. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that half this town is always a single mom running a family because half the town is always deployed. I do feel like a single mom sometimes, although a very lucky one. Most single moms have the struggle of trying to work AND spending a lot of time teaching and raising their kids, along with running a household. I feel blessed that although money can be tight at times, we have the luxury of me staying at home with Amelia.

It's nice to see my friends again. I keep running into people I know everywhere we go. I realize when I see them again, how much I really love them and miss them.

Day Off!

Thanks, Daddy!
Amelia checking out her future aircraft

Or maybe it will be these
e Yeah, We're cool...
off into the wild blue yonder
Best Buddies

Rafe offered to take Amelia to the air show on Saturday. By himself. Without me. :) YIPPEEE!! Not that I don't like air shows, but I had the whole day to myself!!!! What a husband!!!
SO... I went into every store with breakables that I could find. Anyone who has young kids will know exactly why. ;)
What a blissful day and what an awesome husband.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Organic Top 12

Since it's hard to afford to eat organic everything, here is a list based on research from the Environmental Working Group of the most important items to buy organically. To be honest, I was really surprized milk wasn't on there. But I buy that organically anyway, no matter what.

imported grapes
sweet bell pepper

Looking Back

I figured out a way to put our pictures on "slide show" on the Mac. It currently sits on a table in our kitchen and you can see it from the table. It was pretty neat to see pics of when Rafe and I were first dating and of family I haven't seen in a while. Every time Amelia would see Rafe, she'd yell out, "Daddy!!!"

It was pretty sweet, until the end of the day when she was tired. She saw his picture and broke out in this wail that was so pitiful that I thought she'd hurt herself. I finally figured out by asking questions that she wanted her daddy. "Did you hurt yourself?" (she shook her head no and pointed to the computer) "Did you see daddy?" In a small voice she said, "mm huh" "Do you want daddy?" (she stuck her thumb in her mouth, nodded yes and laid her head on my shoulder)

I know how she feels.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Potty Training

I think it's time to start... she runs to the toilet and likes to pretend she is going to the bathroom. She wants me to take her diaper off and she sits there going "unh unh unh" (can you tell we just visited daddy??) and then wants a diaper wipe. It cracks me up.

However, I need to find a way to get her to do that right BEFORE she goes, instead of right after. She has the idea backwards and I'm not sure how to fix that!

Savory Sensations

This past week I went to visit Rafe at Camp Lejeune. The BOQ is pretty nice - it's sort of like a dumbed down version of an extended stay motel. I was lucky enough to be able to visit a few of my friends and one of them who lives close to the base let me cook our dinners in her kitchen. We had Chicken Tikka Masala for the first time (YUM!); made roast chicken with home made stuffing and braised celery root, leeks and parsnips with a bit of sage. Rafe never had the braised veggies before and he loved them. We tried a restaurant called "Thai House" and had Pad Thai and Crab Fried Rice; I've eaten Larb (salad) at that restaurant before and it was incredible.

Tonight Amelia had spinach pizza; for lunch she had noodles with green beans; for snack she had currents and mozzarella stick. It was fun having someone besides myself to cook for again when I was in Jax. I'm dying to try and make my own potstickers and curry spice mix. For the first time in my life, these past few months I've actually eaten premade frozen dinners. They are so incredibly expensive for the food you get. But they sure are easy to cook :) Tonight I heated up something that I want to try and make on my own when I get more ambitious and less depressed about Rafe leaving again. It's grilled chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, wild and white rice... all in a cheese sauce. YUM.


“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture
every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense
of the beautiful implanted in the human soul.” --Johann Wolfgang Goethe

When Rafe is gone, I will read a little bit in bed at night before I go to sleep to relax. I love to read - you can learn anything in the world you want to by reading. I think college is great, but I always joke around and tell Rafe that I saved a lot of money by never going to college because the professor's job is to tell you what to read, talk about what you've read, and then test you on what you've read.

Last night I skimmed through:
"Turning Hurts into Halos" by Robert Schuller
"Parenting without Perfection - Being a Kingdom Influence in a Toxic World" by David John Seel, Jr.
"Good Night, Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to helping your child go to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up happy" by Kim West with Joanne Kenen

I highly recommend the Sleep Lady. She's awesome.

Now I need to read the instructions on this blog so I can figure out how to undo my italics and only keep them for the quote. I keep hitting the "i" but nothing changes.


It's kind of funny that I started this blog to let everyone peek into our lives so far away; yet I haven't told anyone about it by my sister and my husband. Rafe loves it, so it achieved my number one goal, which was to make him happy with this new form of communication. But I guess I haven't really figured out yet how much I'm willing to share publicly about our lives or how much is appropriate... at the same time, I really have a hard time censoring myself. Right now I can write what I want and not worry too much about what other people think (for instance, I truly believe the advent of television was the beginning of the downfall of the American family and no child under the age of 2 should ever be in front of one; I think that most parents would feel very offended by that statement).

Speaking of television, Rafe and I love it. That's why we don't have it. We are not so good at self-discipline in that area. Periodically we rent Battlestar Galactica and end up sitting through 4 shows. In one night. Can you imagine what life in our house would be like with a tv? We'd never talk to each other. Sometimes we are so busy doing things together that at the end of the night when we would finally fall in bed, we'd look at each other and one of us would say, "How do people who watch TV ever get anything done? They must be way more organized than we are!!"


This may be too much to share in a public blog, but right now I have to tell "someone" as I just came back from the doctor and I need to get it out. It's an interesting thing I've noticed Marine spouses do - we weigh what's going on with the urgency of the information vs. the intensity of our husband's training and to keep from distracting them or losing focus on issues that could affect their lives. We pick and choose our time and place to discuss it with our husbands. He has a very intense day of training today so I won't call him until tonight.

Rafe and I have been trying for a while to have more children. We only had about 3 chances left according to a fertility specialist I'm seeing. There is a possibility that I had a miscarriage this past month. I just found out today that I have some cysts that will prevent me from getting pregnant this month (they are a side effect of the shots I was giving myself in the belly), and we will need to wait until they dissolve on their own. This will be a month or two. Which leaves us with one to zero chances to get pregnant again before he leaves for deployment... for a year... and by the time he gets back, I will not be fertile anymore unless a miracle happens. Our insurance will pay for the medicine and treatments, but only as long as he is in the country. So no trying once he deploys through IVF, it's too expensive.

So the loss I am facing today is a loss on several levels... Rafe wasn't able to see Amelia born, and we both wanted him to be there for one of our children's births. We wanted more children to fill our house with laughter and love. We wanted Amelia to have a little brother or sister because she loves other little kids so much. We were curious as to what another child of ours would look like, be like, act like. I wanted to be pregnant again and truly enjoy every moment of my pregnancy, without all the intense craziness, harassment and stress that happened during my last pregnancy and birth. I'm facing the fact that it will be a miracle if we have a child again.

I almost feel selfish to be sad, since we were so blessed with Amelia.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amelia Bedelia

Going anywhere with Amelia is like walking with a little celebrity. Today we were in the commissary and walked by an older couple sitting together smiling at her. The man called out, "Hey! There goes Shirley Temple!" People stop us to tell me how beautiful she is and to talk to her all the time. They tell me she looks like a little china doll with her blue eyes and chubby little rosy cheeks. Of course, as her mom, I absolutely think she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I pray that I raise her to be more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside, and to see that inner beauty is the best beauty of all.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I really miss my house right now. I am sad to think that our (3 male marine) renters probably painted over the icy blue bedroom that was Amelia's room. We had a black, white and blue color scheme (cooler than it sounds) and words written in French by my sister on the walls.

Home Cookin'

The hardest times are in the evening after Amelia goes to bed and the house is so quiet. You'd think I'd relish that, and I do for the first few days. But after that, I really miss having my best friend around to talk to. This is complicated by the fact that I really hate talking on the phone unless I have something specific to say or accomplish. I'm terrible at phone chat. The one question I invariably ask my husband on the phone is what he ate for dinner. I'm actually fascinated by what people eat for dinner, although listening to his dinner choices are sometimes horrifying. :)

This week I told him I made lemon pepper tilapia and ate it with ramen noodles. The funny thing about that (to me) is that he told me it sounded great and how much he missed my home cooking. I miss it too. I really don't cook that much with him gone, Amelia doesn't eat much and her tastes are limited (although she occasionally will go on a spicy food or smoked salmon kick). I find I buy more prepared foods, which makes me feel guilty considering I used to be an Executive Chef for a living. It surprized me how much I enjoyed hearing him say that... contrasting with Amelia's earlier reaction to fish and noodles by chewing them up, getting my hopes up, and then spitting them out all over her shirt.

Tonight I took the leftover fish, broke it up in pieces and tossed it with organic baby spinach, crunchy chinese noodles (similar to chow mein but skinnier), scallions and a tamari-ginger dressing (San-J brand). YUM. It was the best leftover accident I've eaten in a long time. That will have to go into the rotation.

Amy's Kitchen

I love Amy's Kitchen products. LOVE THEM. Not one thing I've eaten has ever been just mediocre. They've been incredible and flavorful, and oh yeah, good for you too. They've been a lifesaver for me since the Green Machine moved us out of our home in November and we waited for housing for THREE MONTHS. Ok... so it was only 2 1/2. But still. We stayed with family, ate on the road, then lived in a very cramped, very barracks like um... barracks room with only a microwave. Not even a table. Trust me when I say that it was luxurious at $4 a night and they earned every single penny!!!! On the bright side, we had a roof over our heads and so many don't.

During this time, Amy's Kitchen was one of the few things that I felt comfortable feeding Amelia. She ate them, loved them (including the Indian food), and I knew that she was getting some variety, as were we. So I checked out their website the other day (www.amy' and lo and behold - found they had a military section!! They soared in my esteem. I expected a vegetarian, organic, natural foods company to be picketing the military. I wrote them specifically to thank them for their products and to tell them the saga and how they really eased my concerns about quality food when our options were so limited and really helped us as a family. They thanked me. Today in the mail, I received this awesome package... it had 9 magnets with pictures of their food on it that I gave to Amelia to play with and it kept her busy for at least 15 minutes. They also sent coupons for FREE meals. And $1 off coupons!! Not just a few, but at least 20 of them. I'm flabbergasted. I'm never cheating on them with another frozen prepackaged meal option. They are it for me. Go Amy's Kitchen!!

Breakfast with Amelia

Lately I've been teaching Amelia how to "make" her oatmeal. She dips in the oats and then pours the flakes in the bowl, sprinkles her salt and cinnamon, pours in the water. Of course, I'm standing right there and pantomining what she needs to do next and giving her the utensils. We have this little 2 step stool that she stands on and can reach the counter. This morning I gave her some milk in a small cup to drink while I was getting the strawberries out of the freezer for the oatmeal. Note to self: DO NOT TURN BACK ON CHILD. EVER. I turned back around and she had very gleefully poured it into the bowl I set out to make the oatmeal in. She looked so proud of herself! Then she grabbed the salt shaker and started shaking it into the milk. Honestly, I was torn between laughing, being proud of her for remembering what came next, and frustrated that she used milk. I usually use water (cheaper, because we buy organic milk) to make it and give her the milk to drink straight. Then she went for the cinnamon. She gave it a few more shakes than I normally do (more like cinnamon dumps). I added the brown sugar and a bit of extra water. I thought, what the heck, let's cook it up and see how it tastes.

I have been trumped by a 21 month old. It tasted WAY better than what I normally make. Not only that, she ate ALL of it.

I keep telling myself that it's because today we added strawberries to it instead of blueberries. I won't even mention that I tasted it and like it. Not one word. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008


By the way, husband, you can actually post on here also :) You're officially on my "team". Not that you'll have any time, but maybe after you do the fitreps, workout, practice your Arabic, call your family, finish your online courses, and eat dinner, you could squeeze it in. And that's just tomorrow night. Gotta love the Devildog's firehose method of learning something new.


Sweet Baby

After seeing several friend's blogs and previously trying to figure out a way to give our long distance family and friends a peek into our daily lives, I've taken the plunge and joined the modern world! More than anything, I want to be able to give my hard working husband vignettes of our life while he's training and deployed for the next year and a half.

Amelia is 21 months old. Just this week she's started doing a lot of serious role play with her "baby". At first, I couldn't figure out what she was doing, as she had commandeered an empty styrofoam box that was sort of coffin shaped, a sheer black cloth that used to be part of a puppet, and some blankets. When I finally figured it out, I couldn't stop laughing. She puts the baby in the box, covers her face with the black cloth and then the blankets. She's imitating us putting her to bed - although we don't cover her face!!! I promise! I think she does it to make it dark because she usually does this in the daytime. She makes little "shush shush" noises with her fingers to her lips, just as Daddy taught her when he was home this last time. She bends down and gives the baby a kiss, pats it and walks away. Then she goes back, gets the baby up and does it all over again. She makes great big smacking sounds when she kisses the baby. Honestly, it made me feel like a great mommy to watch her be so loving to her baby. I realized that is how she sees her world - as loving and tender.

This week has been really great. She is doing lots of hugging and kissing; waking my face this morning by gently patting me and whispering, "mommay, mommay" and then giving me eskimo kisses.

She's figured out that the word "two" is part of "Get ready!! One... Two... THREEEE!" when we are playing any kind of crazy motion game - running, chasing, sliding in the tub (yeah, I know, bad mommy!), driving the crazy car in the driveway. Within the past few days, she's begun to say "teuww" to indicate she's ready to play and get herself in position. Now if I can only get her to say one and three!