Friday, February 13, 2015

Fiesta for a Crowd

This past Wednesday we had a wonderful fiesta! Once again I prepared for a larger crowd then what we were blessed with but that is ok. Our goal was simple we catered for about 100 and served roughly 60. So how do you prepare a fiesta?

Slow cook 5-7 pounds of chicken tenderloin with some chicken broth and Mexican seasoning in a roaster set at 250* for about 7 hours. It will shred up very easily and taste delicious.
Put 5 cans of rinsed black beans with a bit of chicken broth and cumin spice in your slow cooker set on low heat to cook while the chicken cooks.
Set 10 cups of jasmine rice to soak in your rice cooker. Do not turn it on until about an hour before you plan to serve the meal. You will end up with amazing sticky rice! When I do this again I will double the rice it was a huge hit.
Slice up about 5 pounds of good quality steak and let it marinade in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. I just bought a marinade mix. In the hour before serving the meal I cooked up the steak strips in a cast iron skillet for about ten minutes (four batches so as not to over crowd) until cooked through. It turned out fabulous.
Brown off about 5-6 pounds of ground beef and add in taco seasoning. The ground beef was a huge hit so I would suggest making even more.
Boil water with Old Bay seasoning to heat up pre cooked shrimp, about 5 pounds, it only takes a minute or two until heated through, drain and add more Old Bay. This was another hit.
So you should have at least 5 pounds each of chicken, steak, ground beef, shrimp and beans plus a large pot of sticky rice.
In addition to that we provided
100 soft tortillas
60 hard shell tacos
4 large bags of tortilla chips
Lettuce both full leaf and shredded
Diced peppers
Diced onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Pico de Gallo 2 containers
Salsa 4 large jars
Guacamole 4 containers
Sour cream
Cheese
Mexican bean dip
Mangoes and pineapple
Plus some extra mixed fruit
Drinks were water, tea, lemonade and juice

I also made an amazing chocolate cake in honor of Valentines Day!

All in all a great event! I would estimate the cost to be about $5 per person for 100 people maybe a little less.

If your husband is deployed, please shut up, please shut up, please shut up!

This is a shout out to all the mamas and the papas, the sisters and the brothers, the lovers and the churches who post prayer requests online too!
Denial is not a river in Egypt so you cannot go through life thinking oh it will never happen to me, what you post online is seen by everyone! While the American military would appreciate your scaling back on the posts our enemies thank you for every little blurb you make concerning where your military heart throb might be. You've heard the song " every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you" yea the romantically creepy stalker song is being lived out on your facebook page. 
Let's say your husband gets orders to --- and you immediately post on facebook a picture of --- with "My <3 is in ---" over top of it. The chatter begins, pretty soon people all over the world know that someone you love is heading to --- very soon. Look I don't care where the hell you think your heart is, do us all a favor keep it in your chest where is belongs so that your husband and all the other husbands and wives, sons and daughters in that location can keep there's. Posting where your heart is immediately makes someone's heart in that location a target so just don't do it!
I get it trust me, I know this military wife life is scary as hell! You need help, support, prayer there are much better ways to ask for those things and you can do it without hash tagging your husbands location each and every single time. Don't post pictures of where he is at, don't holla every time he calls you, whatever you think you need to share just don't.
Make sure your parents understand this silence is golden rule too. Let me explain. Mom finds out son is deploying. First thing she does is buys a "my heart is in ---" bumper sticker making herself a target, not of violence, she is now a great person to watch for information. Mom is apt to spill the beans on the son she is so proud of and give away his location in a heartbeat to whoever is standing in line behind her at the grocery store. Next mom goes to church tells everyone everything and before you know it your husband is featured on the churches prayer and praise page along with his unit number and deploying location.
Protect your loved ones with every fiber of your being and keep your mouth shut about what they are doing and where they are going.
Military members not every spouse knows or understands just how important OPSEC is! So I suggest after you have been briefed about your upcoming deployment you go home to your wife, put your arms around her waist, pull her onto the bed and get real close. With your lips nestled in her hair right next to her ear whisper this "Baby if you love me and you think I'm sexy let me tell you about OPSEC, it's a real turn on." This may not be the intimate moment she was hoping for but it will be a briefing she will never forget!

Friday, February 6, 2015

How Do You Do It?

I get asked that a lot, people always want to know just how I do something.
Most of the time I don't really know how I did it I just did.

How did you teach your two year old to read? I bet you read to him a lot!

He was my fourth child.
My husband was gone the first 18 months of his life give or take a few visits.
I broke my leg when he was eleven months old, yes while my husband was in another country in true military wife fashion.
In a nutshell my hands were full, my heart was heavy, unless you count those Harry Potter books I had my nose in every night after the kids were in bed, reading to my baby was not a top priority. Sorry! I knew what people wanted to hear when they marveled at my son reading a book from his stroller but, the truth was he spent a lot of time watching Signing Time and Super Why. Those two shows taught him everything he needed to know in order to pick up a book and start reading it. I applauded the mamas and the papas behind those two shows and gave them all the credit! Of course my son gets plenty of credit too, he is still far too smart for his own good and functions well two grades ahead of where he should be.

How do you go shopping with five kids?

Up until very recently I didn't have a choice, if we wanted to eat I had to grocery shop with five kids. My kids know I have no fear when it comes to spanking them in public which translates to me not having to do it very often. My oldest two were actually the biggest challenge once they matured a little bit it got much easier even though I still had three younger then them to keep track of. Snacks help, no not the kind you buy at check out, the kind you bring in a little bag in your purse, the kind that often leaves a little crumb trail in your wake. Most stores don't mind the crumbs and would rather that then a screaming child which brings me to the screaming child. It happens! Good grief we were all toddlers once, surely it is not that much of a stretch to put yourself in the toddlers shoes. Tired, hungry, thirsty, bored=screaming. I tried not to stress it when one of my munchkins turned into a monster it is part of moming it at the grocery store so just roll with it. Another tip to shopping with five kids is put them to work! They love to help and they learn valuable life lessons in the process to let them do it. If you are one of those shoppers who just can't help but stare or comment please don't. Moms have heard it all and seen it all, getting hassled by a passerby for the amount of children they have or how many cartons of milk and boxes of cereal they put in the cart is not helpful just keep walking.

How do you homeschool?

Well, that one is actually simple. I was homeschooled K to graduation so I was already equipped to handle this life style. Older children teach themselves they don't need much from you and younger ones work in spurts and wiggles so you have "breaks" inbeteween to knock out housework or a blog. It is challenging at times, I am thankful for the many advances homeschooling has made.

How do you work with five kids?

Again so simple, I make them work too. My older three know my set up routine on Wednesdays and the younger two help. Same with Sundays. Everyone has a job and as long as they do it we have no problems. They love to help in the kitchen too, so often my work turns into a home economics class.

How do you get your kids to behave so well?

Not tooting my own horn that is a legit question. We are frequently complimented on our children's behavior. What do you say to a question like that? Often I respond with an evil glint in my eye, " We have put the fear of God in them so they don't get out of line." Honestly our kids know the rules from no running to respect others and yourself, they know how to behave and usually that is what they do. As parents we are quick to respond to unbecoming behavior and disobedience so they understand very quickly what is not tolerated at home, in public or otherwise. I see all of that as pretty small potatoes though compared to this. Our family functions as a team. We work together, we play together, we learn together. There is no us against them our children are not a burden nor are they an inconvenience we must deal with. We enjoy being together. Having that mindset helps so much. Our kids behave because their parents behave. Our kids work, volunteer, think of others because that is what they see us doing. Oh sure we are all individuals we use that knowledge to run smoothly. We each have talents that contribute to the family team as a whole. If you want well behaved children set the example for good behavior and then get them to join your team. Teams practice together, play together, strive for unity together, they win together because they are all given a special role that they are great at. It has worked for us, maybe it will work for you to.

That is how I do it �� Go Team!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spaghetti for a Crowd

I have still not gotten used to technically being a "working mom", I still think of myself as a stay at home/home school mom, but it is true I have succumbed to the call of the working world. My official work title is Protestant Hospitality Coordinator. "What does that mean?" you may ask, well I will tell you! I have no idea what that title would mean in your average Protestant Church, I don't go to one bwahahaha, however for the Protestant Chapel on an Air Force base that title pretty much means I am a chef. I love my job! It is tough, too tough and I would not recommend it for just anyone, but for me it is perfect. I am contracted to work 13 hours every week and paid on salary so the extra 2-7 hours I work each week are considered volunteer hours... a new contract will be worked out no worries. Regardless of the crazy hours I still love my job.

Onto the spaghetti! Every Wednesday night the Chapel hosts a free dinner for anyone on base who would like to come, followed by an hour of religious education classes. I cook that dinner. We average anywhere from sixty to one hundred individuals, so I always plan the meals to feed eighty to one hundred servings. I work with a budget of about $300 for each meal some I spend less, some a little more. Spaghetti night helps keep the budget balanced and affords me the opportunity to spoil them with a really nice meal once a month.

If you are planning a spaghetti dinner for about 100 people this is what you will need:

10 pounds of pasta. I always try to get two different types and never the long noodles parents will thank you. I pre boil all of the pasta the day before and refrigerate it. I do stir in about half a stick of butter with each pound of pasta. To heat back up I use two large roasting pans, each pan holds 5-6 pounds of pasta, I put a stick of butter on top of the cold pasta, add just a little water in the bottom and set the roasting pan to about 250*. Stir it often and give yourself no less then two hours. If you have the fridge space you can put the pasta in the roasting pans after boiling it and put the pans straight in the fridge then just pop them in your roaster to reheat.

3 pounds of real butter. I do not count calories, I simply serve good food!

10-12 jars of Sauce. Variety is the spice of life so when possible I try to offer a hot pot of each red sauce, meat sauce, Alfredo sauce and cheese sauce, doing this has yielded great feed back. Not everyone likes red sauce! If you do offer the variety method only buy 3-4 jars of each type of sauce.

120 servings of Garlic bread. Go the easy route on this one, buy the pre-sliced frozen ones and heat them up in the oven before serving. I have a large oven that takes a bit to heat up so about ten minutes per tray of twenty, two trays at a time I can start about thirty minutes before serving to help ensure the bread is at least warm.

Salad bar. Our congregation loves a good salad bar so I try to provide one as often as I can. Spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, peppers, plus a variety of salad dressing. When the commissary is low on fresh vegetable choices I will get a vegetable platter and fruit platter or figure something out from what is in stock.

Drinks. To keep the cost down I usually serve lemonade and water. I am thinking about adding tea to the mix whenever possible.

This will easily feed 100 people with left overs. I am scaling back the desserts, New Years means a lot of people trying to watch the sweets and the children's RE instructors always appreciate it when the kids are not bouncing off of the walls from a sugar filled dessert.  

Happy Serving!!

To The Mom Who Thinks She Is Doing It Wrong

To the mom who thinks she is doing it wrong,

Trust me, you are!

It does not matter if you are a first time mom, a mother of three, the mom going for number five, the quiver full mother of ten or perhaps fifteen with three sets of twins, you are doing it all wrong!
Who only has one child? That's selfish!
Why on earth did you have more then two? God only gave you two hands!
Five is too many, ten you must be crazy and fifteen means your uterus must be the equivalent of a clown car.
See, each one is clearly wrong.

The mother who vaccinated her herd just pumped poison into their bodies, she is doing it wrong.
The anti vac mom just put the entire preschool at risk, she is doing it wrong.
The selective and delayed vaccinators, well it serves them right if they get the flu, they are doing it wrong.
It doesn't matter how much research you do, the choices you make about vaccinations will be wrong. Each new case of measles, flu, Ebola, and autism spectrum disorder will somehow be linked to the horribly wrong decisions you have made.

The formula feeding mom is just too lazy to breast feed, she is doing it wrong.
The breast feeding mother is just showing off her milk swollen breasts, she is doing it wrong.
Make your own baby food, buy the jars off the shelf, only support organic non GMO baby food manufacturers... Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Someone is sure to have an opinion that your opinion on what is put into your baby's body is just wrong for them.

Mothers who use disposable diapers are filling the landfills with poop and chemicals, they are doing it wrong.
Those crunchy cloth diaper moms must have a lot of time ( and shit) on their hands, clearly they are doing it wrong.
Poop spelt backwards is poop and the long and short of it is you are cleaning it up wrong.

Public school, wrong!
Private school, those rich snobs, wrong!
Home school, do you live on a commune? Wrong!
Unschooled, who has even heard of that? Wrong!
No matter how your children are educated it is sure to be wrong.

The good news is there is no room for improvement, no chance to reconcile, you will never be right!!
For every wrong thing you do there are thousands of mothers around you who are equally wrong in their ways. There is no tried and true right way to bring up a baby, even if there was would we really want to do it? Would we give up our individual stance on every subject that has to do with being a mother just to be right? I sure wouldn't! My choices are mine so let me live them out wrong or not. I am not asking you to agree with me, I am asking you to support me in every wrong thing that I do. Motherhood should be a sisterhood of women who are bonded not in equal mindedness but in simply being mothers no matter how we chose to do it.
I am so tired of the daily snot storm of articles about all the right ways to be a parent that points out how everyone else is simple doing it wrong. This slipper slope of snotty articles do nothing but tear you apart and break you down unless you are part of that white blood vessel crowd along for the ride.
We are moms, we love our children, we believe we are doing our very best to raise them right and give them every opportunity to grow and thrive. The End. That's it. Nothing else should matter. Mothers should be supporting mothers and not sweating the small stuff that will not matter in twenty five years when all of those horrible choices we made yield a strong, independent, thriving young adult.

So to the mom who thinks she is doing it wrong, you are, but don't worry because so are we! Stand tall, be strong, hold on to what you believe in and support each other.
Thank you


                                   No tissues? No problem! I got this mom, carry on.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How God used a discharged Navy Seaman to change my life forever and I don't even know his name

The 18 year old me had a lot of big dreams, really big dreams. She had this plan all worked out in her head that she was going to join the Navy as a cook and some day rule the world. This naive young woman boarded a bus heading for Peach Tree City, Georgia from Baltimore, Maryland and by the Grace of God after sitting next to a real creep was rescued by an upstanding young man who had just been discharged from the Navy. She told him of her lofty dream, the one about being a Navy cook not the one about ruling the world, and he told her the facts about being in the Navy. The short story was that it sucked being a woman in the Navy and he encouraged her to look into the Air Force instead.

Fast forward a few months and that is just what the 18 year old me did. However being a cook in the Air Force instead of in the Navy was not how my adventure went. I was home schooled which meant I enlisted Open General and was given whatever job the Air Force saw fit. I was too smart to go into Security Forces haha (seriously that is where most OG, brains or not, get slotted ) so I got Medical Technician. The rest is history as you know I married one of those Security Forces (his choice, not OG)  guys and started a family leaving my military dreams behind me, at least in the active duty sense and fully embraced the active (in)dependent stance I am in now. I still plan to rule the world.

If I had never met that young man on his way home to mama how different would my life be? Looking back at just how life lined up to get me to where I am now it is very clear God used this guy to change my course of history. It was that conversation that not only changed my branch interest but really got me to take the plunge and enlist. Once enlisted I was told it would be months before I would head to basic. I went back to my old job and two weeks later I quit again, had a going away party and was off, I guess someone was not able to go and I took their place. I sprained my knee in basic training and was still able to graduate thanks to a high pain tolerance and good old stubbornness. I made it to tech school where I excelled in a class that over 50% of my classmates recycled, that means they had to retake a section and did not graduate with the class. My grades afforded me the opportunity to change my orders from a base on the East Coast very close to my family, to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It was a huge decision, I was pulled out of my class and told that this was being offered to me and I had to let them know by the end of the school day what I was going to do. A Staff Sargent who was cross training told me it was the best thing I could do for my career and that I needed to do it. So I did. I can't say it was the best career move I ever made but I can say that God was moving my future spouses orders around at the same time so that we would ultimately end up in the same place at the same time.   

Two days after arriving in Colorado Springs while standing in the common room at the dorms in walked the cutest guy I had ever laid eyes on! That was October 2000 we were married April 2001.

Things happen for a reason. Not all things are good, that path was not all peaches and cream trust me, but in the end God knew what He was doing and got me through it. I was saved at a very young age, and while my relationship with my Savior has been constant (meaning He is always with me) my faith in Him has not. It wavers, it wains. It is often down right pitiful. I don't take the time to look at the big picture and the landscape He has painted for me. If I did my faith probably wouldn't plummet the way the thermometer does here in North Dakota. If I knew the end result was this even with the pain and the hurt that went beyond physical then I would start the journey with more faith. Instead I always seem to end the journey with more faith then I started with. I think that is human, it is human to approach life's journeys with fear and trepidation instead of faith. If the Israelite people knew what the Promised Land was like and that winning it was already done in Gods hands they wouldn't have been so fearful to just go in and take it.

I will just leave you with this from Jeremiah 29
10This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.b I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hmm

This morning I heard something that made me want to reach into the car radio and slap the girl talking through the speaker. The hot topic being discused had to do with the individuals of Seal Team Six speaking out about their mission. I tuned in somewhere in the middle but from what I gathered at that moment they were talking about the hardships endured by maybe Navy Seals or just deployed military in general. The young woman chimed in that "these guys" don't really have it as bad as we think and that many of them are deployed with roll out posture pedic beds. She suggested that since they are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in training they get hooked up out in the field and the military wouldn't just let them go on the way side ( be neglected). I may have snorted at that point. I later found out she is a military spouse, that really shocked me.

I know everyone's deployment experience is different so maybe her husband is deployed with a nice bed to sleep on but that is not the norm... The norm for many, no make that most is a dirt floor, maybe a cot, shipping crates creatively put together with a thin mat on top, a towel for their head. Food sucks! Forget special diets and food aversions, if you're in the field I hope you like SODIUM oh I mean MREs. The stress these individuals face changes their lives forever. As a spouse I can assure you my husband is not the same man he was before his first deployment.

I get why people are upset about these men speaking out. I also get why these men are speaking out. On the one hand their safety is a concern on the other the truth needs to be told. Deployments are no joke, there is no cushy hook up once you get to your final destination. I've never heard of posturepedic roll out beds being mission essential equipment, even if they were I doubt anyone would be sleeping easy on them with mortar shells in coming.