One Happy Family

Living life, military style!!

Hello? Hello out there!! May 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 9:11 pm

Here I am again … a REALLY REALLY long time since my last post. Obviously Brian must be gone right now, as that’s how I always start blogging again. Yes, he is. He has moved ahead of us and is figuring out OHIO!! He got there a week ago and has found and rented us a house.

I’m trying to spend as much time as I can now with my wonderful Florida friends. I got in some great beach time on Wednesday with my sweet friend Rindy. I haven’t been to the actual beach in a VERY long time. It could not have been more beautiful. The water was crystal clear & calm and there was just a breeze and around 80 – PERFECT! I need to take advantage of that more often. We’ll go again on Saturday morning.

Moving time is so bittersweet. This assignment has been awful (as far as assignment’s go), but the people here have been amazing. We have been supported so well here, by our military and local friends. It’s very humbling. I have to be careful to not let the suck of this assignment take away from the joy of the relationships we’ve formed here. So many wonderful people that have touched our lives.

21 days until we drive away … time is speeding by!

I’ll be back to write about more fun things soon.

XOXO –  Jackie


I’ve been a bad blogger! April 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 10:25 am

Hi family and friends! I know I’ve been a bad blogger as of late. I do so well when Brian is deployed, and then when he’s home it falls by the wayside. Brian is in Albuquerque for the week, so it’s obviously time for a new post 🙂

We spent last weekend in the back yard. I know that when we moved in, our back yard looked pretty nice. Now that we have 2 dogs and had a trampoline covering most of the grass for about 2 years, there was no longer any grass. Then, after we had the yard sprayed for weeds, there was only sand. It was super trashy looking, and not at all a space that we were wanting to use. We got rid of our trampoline, it was a very sad day for Sophie. She really enjoyed that thing. Hopefully, she’ll enjoy doing cartwheels in the soft grass that we just put down. We sodded the yard on Saturday, a full day of labor. It is SO rewarding to start the day with a yard (I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture to show the beginning of the day) that looks like crap, and end it with a sanctuary!!

I need to put some flowers in some pots, but other than that, I’m just so in love with our back yard again! I am not in love with having to take the dogs out front, on their leashes, to go to the bathroom every time they need to go. I’m sure the next 2 weeks will go quickly and the sod will be rooted and they can go in the back again.

Emma had a fun day at VPK last Friday. My kids are so fearless. I am a complete wuss. I love that they get to experience the things they do at school, with me not there to project my fears onto them.

This is Selena the Red Rat Snake … EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK!!! Emma is clearly having a blast! Her favorite animal of the day, which she didn’t get to hold, was Walter the Chinchilla. Nonie comes to their school every year. She even does birthday parties.

The girls have been keeping me busy. They have gymnastics on Monday and soccer on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I have us a little overbooked for the next month and a half. They are having fun with soccer, but they both enjoy gymnastics the most. It looks like (per her coaches) Sophie is going to be ready to start competing next year. She is super excited. She’ll bump up to 2 hour and a 1/2 practices a week during the summer.

Tyler has been busy trying to chauffeur us around whenever possible. He is really liking sitting in the drivers seat. He’s actually doing a really good job, but I still am getting more gray hair.

Sophie decided that she was ready to get her ears pierced. I was very clear with her about what would happen and that it hurts. She FLIPS OUT when she has to get shots. I let her know that it would be like getting a shot in each ear. She still wanted to do it.

She did not shed a tear. She is so proud of her newly pierced ears that she has wanted me to fix her hair every day, so her ears show. I will admit that I had more tears in my eyes than she did. I was so proud of what a big girl she was, and once again, she’s shown me how when she really wants something, that she can really put the drama aside. She’s been great about cleaning and twisting them, and has not complained at bedtime.

Alright, I’ve spent enough time on the computer this morning. I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying spring. The heat has kicked right in here, it’s been right around 80 and was quite humid over the weekend. I can’t complain, it’s been beautiful and the flowers are all blooming. I wish it would stay like this all through the summer!

We love and miss you all very much! ~Jackie


Whoa! It’s been a while! February 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 5:09 pm

Wow, have I ever been a blog slacker?! You would think that ever since Brian got home that life would be much more exciting, but … unfortunately, our life is not that exciting. Way back when, when I last blogged, I think we were enjoying the company of Brian’s mom and stepdad, and some serious cornhole games. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and they had to go home, and Brian had to go back to work. End the excitement.

So, what has been going on here? Not a whole lot. It has been a very mild winter here (along with most of the country) and while we haven’t seen much sun lately, we have lots of flowers blooming and trees budding. While I really am a North Dakota girl, through and though, and really wanted some cold and winter, spring in Florida is beautiful and I would like for it to last as long as possible. Because we all know that the insane Florida summer is lurking right around the corner … and I’d like to hold that off as long as possible. BUT, regardless of when it comes, I will be sure to enjoy it thoroughly because it should be our last summer here (and that does not mean that we have any idea of what is next for sure).

Tyler has been keeping busy with school. He’s not doing track this year (but says he will do cross country AND track next year, in his last year here). He’ll be getting his permit in less than a month and I’ll be getting my hair colored again soon. I’m so glad his Dad is home for this event. Those first few drives around town do not need to happen with his crazy sisters in the van. He’s been mentioning wanting to get a job. He’s been saving his $ for a Mac … he’s almost there. I do not like, at all, the fact that my tiny, baby boy is about to turn 15 and is pushing 5’10”.

Sophie has been very busy driving us crazy. She is taking piano lessons (is now playing with 2 hands and is almost done with her first book), doing gymnastics, and has her last game to cheer at on Saturday. While she is really not good about practicing piano, or maybe I should say that I’m not very good about enforcing her practice, she is doing great and her teacher always mentions how impressed she is with her. She loves cheer and gymnastics … basically, Sophie is gung-ho about everything active. She is very interested in playing soccer again. I am not one to over schedule my kids, I don’t want to be running around EVERY night of the week. But, Sophie really needs that outlet, and very much enjoys it. We are all happier for it. Oh, and she lost tooth #9 about a month ago.

Emma has been loving school. They had caterpillars in their classroom, which they got to see form chrysalis’s, and then emerge as butterflies. She has been teaching us songs about chrysalis’s and metamorphosis. Today they let the butterflies go in the courtyard. She also is singing a song about horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. She is pretty much always singing a song about something. She has been very happy to be back in gymnastics and doesn’t feel the need to be in anything else. Daddy being home has been the biggest adjustment for Emma. Not that she has had a hard time with him being home, but after him being gone as much as he was over the past year, she’s pretty used to me doing everything for her … and still only wants me to do everything for her. This can be pretty frustrating for us, but, she’s still pretty little in the whole scheme of it, and I can understand it. Daddy has been gone quite a bit since Emma was 1 1/2, and I’m always around, so it’s pretty natural that she is going to go with the norm. I think we’ll see quite a shift in independence in the fall when she heads off to kindergarten (insert tears!!). I am making a conscious effort to enjoy the extra snuggles and the extra few minutes at bedtime, as very soon we’ll be onto a whole different stage of life.

And me? I really haven’t been doing much, but my days keep flying by. I have been very good about working out at least 4 times a week, usually taking classes on base. I was thinking that it was a little odd that I hadn’t noticed the usual increase in energy I typically have when I’m working out really well, only to find out that I had pneumonia (the “walking” kind, I guess). I have a few more appointments to go through for the coughing issue that brought me into the doctor in the first place, and hopefully I’ll be back in full + swing very soon. After some heart to hearts with Brian, I’ve decided to hold off my job search until at least next fall when all three kids are in school full time. I have to say, I have the most supportive husband ever. While he understands that I would like to go back to work, probably more for myself than because we are in dire need of the money, he prefers me at home, barefoot and pregnant … JUST KIDDING!!! But really, he likes that I’m home for the kids and making his dinner every night … JUST KIDDING!! Ok, really though, he likes that I’m home. I’ve been very lucky, and it’s nice not to feel any pressure to have to get a job until a really great offer comes along.

And, lastly, Brian has been busy with work, and will continue to be very busy for quite some time … kind of how jobs work, huh? It’s so great to have him home, and making me dinner a few times a week (NOT kidding!!).

Ok, I better get dinner on the grill. Turkey burger night … mmmm!!!

I hope you are all doing well! Sending lots of love to you all ~ Jackie


Homemade laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent!! January 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 4:28 pm

Through hours of pouring over boards and “pins” on Pinterest, I had found “recipes” for homemade detergents. I read the reviews and they seemed really good. I didn’t necessarily feel the need to make my own because of what is in them, rather because of the cost of them. A year of double house payments (OUCHIE!!) makes you reevaluate what you are spending your money on, and the reviews of these items told me that this is one place I could be saving us a little money. I don’t care what kind of dishwasher detergent I use, as long as it gets the crud off. But, I DO care about my laundry detergent … I’m a Tide girl, through and through. It’s always worked very well for me, and I like the smell. SO … would I like a different “homemade” detergent?

Here’s where I started:

Sew Much Ado – Homemade Laundry Detergent

(you can click on “Sew Much Ado…” above for the recipe and all of the reviews and comments)

Here’s what I used (per the recipe):

1 bar Fels-Naptha bar soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Baking Soda

I also added 1 cup of OxyClean per another blog I had read that had a much larger recipe, using the whole boxes. You grate the bar of laundry soap (NOT body soap!), I used the smallest shred on my cheese grater, but next time would also put it in the food chopper to make it finer still. Mix it all up and you are good to go. You use ONE OR TWO TABLESPOONS … that’s it!

I tested it out right away on a batch of towels that had been used on the dogs. Then, just after my mother in-law walked in the door, I put one of the still wet, just out of the wash, dog towels under her nose and asked if it smelled clean. It did!! YAY! SUCCESS!! It really did smell clean, not really perfumey, just clean smelling.

A note: If you wash in cold, the bar shreds will not dissolve. You have to start the water (I use hot water until the soap is all dissolved – and I really never wash in cold, I don’t feel like it gets your clothes clean, just my “thing”), add the detergent, and then add the clothes. Also, especially here in the humid south, your detergent may clump up or harden quickly. This is talked about a bit in the reviews. People say to save up the little silica packets that come in so many things and put them in with your detergent. Or use white rice inside some kind of mesh or cheesecloth, apparently that also absorbs the moisture.

Onto the next:

Being Creative to Keep my Sanity – Dishwasher detergent

Click on “Being Creative …” for link.

I did this one a bit differently, only in that I cut the “recipe” in 1/2. Luckily I had my super awesome math husband home, because weight is different than measuring cups.

Basically, what we ended up using was:

4 cups Borax

3 cups A&H Washing Soda

12 packages store brand unsweetened lemonade packets (it has to be lemonade, for the citric acid … you may also be able to find citric acid somewhere like where the canning stuff is)

1 1/2 cups epsom salts

And how much of this stuff? ONE TABLESPOON per load!! And it works really well! The blogger also recommends using LemiShine, by just sprinkling a tablespoon in the bottom of your dishwasher. The LemiShine costs about $3.66 for a container. The grand total for this recipe? $4.75 + tax (not including the LemiShine)! I bought everything at WalMart.

I am really glad that I tried these recipes, they work really well, and are super cheap to make. Let me know if you try them, and what you think. Happy Washing!! ~ Jackie


Homecoming project January 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 4:42 pm

I hope you are all having a great weekend! Of course we are, it’s always a great weekend when we have family in town 🙂

First, a picture of Fergie that makes me laugh:

Such a sweet girl.

So, Brian likes to take on a project whenever he gets home from being deployed (or sometimes I like to task him with one). It started with the locker system that we built (mostly Brian built and I painted it … but I helped build a little), and then the Farm House table, then the pergola that Brian built and I sealed, and then Sophie’s nightstand. We had decided that we would no longer buy anything that we could make instead.

Brian’s latest project?

He calls it “cornhole”, I prefer to call it “bean bag toss”. Either way, it’s really fun and he built these boards AND painted them himself. Typically, he does not do the painting, I do. But, he is much more of a perfectionist (in a good way) and more artistic than I am. He did an awesome job!!

This evening, all the boys are going to Pensacola to watch some Ice Flyers hockey, and us girls are going to Cactus Flower for some AMAZING fish tacos … I can’t wait!!

Just a teaser for my next blog post … I made homemade laundry detergent AND dishwasher detergent, and they both work REALLY well and were SUPER CHEAP. I’ll fill you in next time.

Lots of love to you all!! ~ Jackie


Healthy Heart January 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 7:22 pm

What a great day! I have my in-laws here, the kids had their last round of Christmas presents this evening, but most of all: Emma had her routine cardiology appointment today.

After her surgery in June of ’09, she had to be seen every six months. After her last appointment, her doctor opted to see her at 9 months, and she is now going to be seen yearly. Her repair looks great and a couple other small issues haven’t changed, so things look great. I will admit that her appointments are the one thing that actually give me anxiety. I was so completely caught off guard by her heart condition in the first place, that I can’t help but feel nervous before every appointment. She never had any symptoms, so had we not had the pediatrician we had in Albuquerque, who knows when we would have actually found out. So thankful … so thankful for the care we’ve received and even more thankful for Emma’s good health (and the good health of my whole family, really).

The kids are super happy with their presents from “Granny” and “Papa”. Tyler got $$, he is saving (and saving really well) for a laptop. The girls got totes filled with all kinds of art stuff: paper, colored pencils, paint, glue sticks, scissors, etc. They will spend hours at the kitchen table drawing and cutting and painting … I’m sure they’ll have tore through this great gift in no time!

Our time with Brian home every day is quickly winding down. He has to go back to work on Monday, and we will officially be back to our “normal” routine. I guess that means that I’ll have to start making dinner again, boo.

I hope you are all doing well!! I better get the girls to bed and get some card playing in 🙂 ~ Jackie


Best stove top cleaner EVER!! January 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 6:07 pm

As Brian was heading home, I was getting busy doing all kinds of cleaning that I knew he really wouldn’t even notice. Like vacuuming the tops of the ledges in our house, the tops of door frames, the sections of our paneled doors, the inside and top of the fridge, the inside and top of the stove … all of this REALLY needed to be done. Especially after tiling most of the house on his last deployment, well, that has nothing to do with the inside of the fridge and the stove though.

Anywho, I took a few pictures to show the process of cleaning the stove top.

I’ll spare you the endless pictures of all of the burner covers and stove top … but seriously, I should be ashamed of myself. The little black spots on the edges of the center caps are scratches. I found this little gem of a tip online somewhere:

AMMONIA! You seal your burner covers (or whatever other removable parts of your stove top) in a large ziplock bag with a small dish of ammonia. Leave them in there overnight and the fumes magically soften and lift the burnt gunk from the parts. You just take them out and rinse them off, maybe a little easy scrubbing. The center caps took me about 30 seconds total to clean off. Best tip ever!! And it’s super cheap, a little over a $1 for a jug of it.

We’ve been enjoying our time with Brian at home. We’ve been going to the gym (at the same time anyway, I do a class and he goes and runs), he walks Sophie to the bus stop, drives Emma to school, and he’s been busy building us a bean bag toss (aka CORNHOLE) set. He also replaced the light fixture in the kitchen that I broke. And, completely not typical on his return … all of his gear is washed and put away already. This guy is seriously on the ball. I need to step up my game.

Ok, I better sign off. We are all watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins tonight. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  ~ Jackie

PS: Brian did notice the stove AND the fridge being spotless 🙂