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Monday, November 18, 2013

Mocktail Monday: Meatloaf

I don't have a mocktail for you today. Between back to back meetings this morning, clogged plumbing, and sewage that kept coming up into my bathtub, I didn't have time for a mocktail today. 

But I did have time for this:

That is the Pioneer Woman's meatloaf, which we made tonight (this is PW's picture -- mine wasn't so pretty). Do yourself a favor and go make it right now. Except instead of just ground beef, do a mixture of ground beef and ground pork (3 parts ground beef to 1 part pork). It is the best meatloaf I've ever had (sorry Mom). And it's the only meatloaf I'm ever eating ever again.

And yes, we did grind our own beef and pork, thanks for asking. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's in a Name?

Family pictures one year ago

People always ask me how we came up with the name Scarlett. When I introduce her, I generally get a very surprised "oohhh!" It catches people off guard, and I'm never sure if it's a good or bad reaction. I kind of expected this would be how people reacted when we chose the name, but I honestly felt like I wasn't the one making the choice. I liked the name, and loved the idea of it, but I wasn't sure if we were bold enough to have a kid named Scarlett. Ultimately, naming Scarlett was a very spiritual experience for me. Her little spirit knew exactly what she wanted to be called, and she let me know it. 

About a year before I got pregnant with Scarlett, my friend (who is incredibly spiritual and just KNOWS things) randomly said to me, "what do you think about the name Scarlett? I could see you with a daughter named Scarlett." I liked it but I thought Todd would never go for it. So imagine my surprise when I mentioned it to him and he said he really liked it. But then we thought that a first name ending with a "t" and a last name starting with a "t" would be hard to say, so we nixed it.

When it came down to actually choosing a name, the process was horrendous. I never thought I would marry someone as opinionated as I am. So we decided to look up the Social Security Administration's top 500 names from the previous year and each highlight the names we liked separately. We would then combine the lists, and whichever names were on both lists would comprise our final list. Why the top 500 names? Because 100 names is too narrow a pool, and 1000 is way too many. The names that are ranked 101-500 are generally common enough that you've heard them, but you don't know 10 people with that name. Names 501-1000 include the freaky names that you've never heard of, can't spell, and your kid will hate you for. 

So we had a solid list of 10-15 names, including some of my most favorite names that I've loved for years and years and years, like Clara and Anna. Scarlett was not on our list. We would try out different names for days or weeks at a time, and nothing felt right. I was so sad when I just couldn't call the baby Clara, it just didn't fit.

One day old

I was determined to have a name sooner rather than later -- I'll admit it, so I could get everything in her room monogrammed -- but I was also just so impatient and was ready to start calling her by her name. One night Todd said he didn't think the name we would choose was even on our list, and I about had an emotional breakdown. How was that even possible? We had combed every book and internet name website imaginable. 

Then one night we had some friends over for dinner and we were talking about how they named their kids. They asked what we were thinking. We told them all about our naming saga, and --there is some confusion as to who brought this up, whether it was Todd or one of our friends -- somebody mentioned the name Scarlett. We said we liked that name but it didn't really go with our last name. They were both like, no it sounds normal. And we looked at each other and we both just knew, that was her name. 

Roasting marshmallows on Veterans Day

Later that night I looked up the meaning of Scarlett on some baby name website, and the definition was "a vivacious woman." BAM. I got goose bumps. I knew it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn't want some name that meant something like, "loves the wind" or something absurd. I wanted something real and spunky and fun. 

Even then, when I would think about it later, I would think well maybe it wasn't quite right. I would think maybe we should keep looking. And then I would tell somebody what we were thinking -- hesitantly -- and I would get the biggest case of goosebumps you've ever seen. I knew I wasn't choosing her name, she was choosing her name. 

There is a lot of debate over the best way to name a kid -- some people choose a name before the baby is born, and some people don't believe they can name a kid until they meet it. All I know is that my girl is curious, incredibly determined, full of energy, and has a hot little temper. If that's not vivacious, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Makes a Boy Strong? What Makes a Girl Pretty?

What Makes a Boy Strong? What Makes a Girl Pretty?

I am so excited to say that one of my dearest friends just published her first book!

What Makes a Boy Strong? What Makes a Girl Pretty? is a 2-in-1 flip book teaching kids how to build confidence in themselves and love themselves for who they are. 

It's only available for sale from the publisher right now, but it will be available on Amazon on January 21, 2014. I just bought Scarlett her very own copy (hopefully to be autographed by the author very soon), and I'll do a review here. I can't wait!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mocktail Monday

Mocktails don't have to be about fancy mixed drinks. Our standard go-to drink for celebratory occasions is, of course, the sparkling juice in a variety of fruit flavors.

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of this:

We usually go with a sparkling grape juice or apple cider for special occasions. I particularly like a sparkling pear juice, but those are a little more difficult to find. But last night we tried something new and it did not disappoint.

Welch's Sparkling Blueberry Grape Juice may be our new bubbly of choice. I don't usually care for blueberry flavored things. I like blueberries themselves, but I find a blueberry flavoring to be too delicate to really taste that good.

That was not the case in my bottle of sparkling grape juice though. Not in the least. So delicious and I kept drinking it during the course of clean up and blogging last night.

Happy anniversary to us! 
Happy Veterans Day to my husband! 
There's lots to celebrate around here!  

One Year

One year ago today we arrived in Altus as its newest residents. In some ways I still feel like the new kid, but there are other days where I can't remember what life was like before we lived here.

The one thing I have learned about moving in the military is that not all moves are created equal. All bases are different, all towns are different, and even though I generally know a handful of people wherever we go, all communities are different.

I thought I had it all down to a science -- how to unpack and organize all our belongings,  how to navigate a new base, how to make friends. But this move proved to me that I don't know anything and I have to reinvent the wheel again.

There are things about Altus that have grown on us. I'm still trying to find my niche here. When we lived in Grand Forks I had a full time job across the river in Minnesota,  so I put most of my energy into that. I worked on and off in Illinois, but my main outlet was my church responsibilities. And I've gotten more involved on base here than I did anywhere else. We actually eat dinner at the club on occasion! Who knew we'd ever do that?!? My interests are changing and growing and I'm figuring out how to deal with that.

Here's to another two-ish years here in Altus! May they be deployment-free! (I think I just jinxed myself).

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 on Friday



Remember Halloween when we were kids? Maybe you had a party at school to dress up for, but really Halloween night was the big event.

Halloween afternoon and 50 cent corn dogs at Sonic

Not anymore. The festivities started almost two weeks before Halloween at a friend's Halloween party. The week of Halloween was out of control. We went to two trunk or treats, the fall festival at MDO, had some friends over for pumpkin carving, went to the squadron adult Halloween party, and don't forget Halloween night itself. That doesn't count the squadron's kids Halloween party or the two Halloween-themed play groups we missed that week. I was so exhausted by Halloween night I couldn't even muster the energy to get into costume. I trick or treated in my sweats and a tshirt.

Nifty Fifties Fall Festival at MDO

Ward Trunk or Treat

Todd had to fly on Halloween night so I took Scarlett to two houses and then called it quits. She had just figured out that it was candy they were dropping into her bucket so she insisted on sitting in the middle of the road and eating it right there. She refused to walk to the next house and I was not in the mood for a fight, so we went home to watch Monsters, Inc. and pass out candy. It was actually pretty fun.

Off to trick or treat!

Adult squadron party

Scarlett hated her bows for the longest time. She could never leave them on for longer than 2 minutes. So imagine my surprise last week when she started asking for bows after she got dressed in the morning. 
She not only asks for her bows, but she insists on picking them out. 
And sometimes she needs more than one bow. Such a diva.


Last week we got Chinese food and this was Scarlett's fortune. I think it's a pretty good life lesson.

Be bold, brave and forthright and the bold, the brave and forthright will gather round you.

Perhaps proper punctuation was lost in the translation.


I love these. A lot. I could eat the giant Costco bag in one sitting. There was safety in the fact that I couldn't get them anywhere in Altus. Then I happened upon them one day in the commissary. 
The temptation is just too much.


I am in desperate need of a new camera, preferably point and shoot. My camera broke so I'm taking all my pictures on my phone. I've been reading reviews but let's be honest, I have no idea what any of the mumbo jumbo means. If you have a suggestion for a good point and shoot that takes decent movies and has wi-fi capability, let me know!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fitness Woes

Remember how I lamented not having a gym with child care? Remember how I took Scarlett to the base gym and she lasted 15 minutes? 

So I thought I should try again. Maybe she would surprise me.

This was my view from my elliptical machine. 

Fun room right? Lots of big soft toys to climb on, jump on, or build with. There was a tv in the corner showing Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. There were even two other little kids in the room to play with! 

And Scarlett stood right in front of me for 30 minutes crying her eyes out.

Okay, maybe I'm not being fair. After about 15 minutes she did stop crying and climbed on a some of the toys for a couple minutes. Then she came back to her post and cried some more.

So maybe tomorrow it will be better and she'll only cry for 25 minutes?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For the Love of DDP

On my desk right now. This is actually not as bad as it could be.

I have had a love affair with Diet Dr Pepper since I don't know when. I can't remember life before DDP. I do know there was a period of time in college where I drank an insane number of large vanilla Dr. Peppers from Classic 50's and then my desk would be covered in styrofoam cups. I always drank DDP, but it wasn't as ubiquitous as regular DP in the late 90s/early 2000s, even in central Oklahoma.

My favorite time of day is not when my husband comes home from work. I mean, that's nice and all, but the time of day that I get most excited about is when I take the first swig from my 44 ounce Diet Dr Pepper with light ice.

I started getting my daily 44 ounce fountain DDP when I was in my first year of law school. There was a gas station practically in my backyard, and I was a very sleep-deprived law student who needed vats of caffeine to get through the day. 

While I lived in Norman/OKC, it was easy to find fountain DDP everywhere I looked. But then I moved to North Dakota and it became next to impossible. There was no fountain DDP for hundreds of miles. There was ONE gas station in Grand Forks, North Dakota that carried styrofoam cups AND fountain drinks, but I had to settle for Diet Coke. Cold, desolate, and devoid of fountain DDP. Life is tragic on the northern plains. I practically cried when we moved to St. Louis and gas station after gas station carried DDP.

Baby's first DDP. I walked into the room to discover this. Much to her dismay this can was empty. She tries to steal my beverage every day.

I'm very particular and opinionated (I know you're so surprised), so I have certain rules for DDP, which are:

1. I prefer gas station DDP. I can hear the collective gasp from Sonic lovers around the globe right now. Gas station DDP is way cheaper than Sonic. When you drink as much DDP as I do, you have to be fiscally responsible.
2. I don't like a lot of ice. In fact, I prefer hardly any ice. Which is another pro for the gas station DDP. You can control your drink to ice ratio at the gas station, which you can't do at Sonic.
3. Stryofoam cups. I'm sure I'll be partly to blame when the earth is burning up from global warming, what with my high styrofoam consumption and all. But seriously, who wants a warm, sweaty, watery drink?!?

Forms of DDP in order of preference:
1. Gas station fountain DDP in a styrofoam cup with light ice
2. Any other fountain DDP in a styrofoam cup, including from Sonic or McDonald's, with light ice
3. Can of DDP
4. Bottled DDP

Bottled DDP is just gross and gets warm super fast, am I right?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mocktail Monday: Frozen Margaritas

I know, I know, where have the Mocktail Mondays been for the last month? Let me just say, October was the craziest month full of travels, event planning, and Halloween, and I.Am.Exhausted. 

So cheers to a new month! 

This week's cocktail is a virgin frozen margarita. I know, it's not very fall-ish. But I've got margaritas on the brain after a fun family vacay to San Antonio recently. We enjoyed some delicious margaritas at some amazing Mexican restaurants, so this week is a tribute to a great trip. 

I prefer frozen, Todd prefers on the rocks.

I've been known to just blend up a frozen margarita concentrate can with some ice to create my frozen margaritas in the past, but this time around I decided to actually search for a recipe and see what I could find. 

I found one that looked good from CDKitchen:


2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1 lime, juiced
1 can (6 ounce size) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
(I used half a 12 ounce size can)
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cups ice cubes

First you need to salt the rim of your glass. The recipe calls for juicing one lime in a saucer, and then dipping your rim in the saucer to get it wet for the salt. I think that's a waste of a dish. I cut a wedge of lime and then wipe it around the rim, and then dip my rim in the saucer of salt.

Next combine the orange juice, limeade, and ice in a blender and, well, blend. 
When ice is crushed to an even consistency, pour in your salted glass and finish with a wedge of lime.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Eat, Awake, Sleep, Repeat

                 This morning Kelly's Korner is talking about advice for new moms. I am super Type A, so there's no way I was going into parenthood without a plan. What I found has worked for us, and many of my friends kids. It takes diligence, but it's so worth it in the end.

I have three words for you -- Eat, Awake, Sleep. 
Remember these words. Say them to yourself over and over again. 
Let them be your new mantra in life. 

Let me start at the beginning. I read On Becoming Babywise before Scarlett was born and it was the best thing I ever did. I discovered Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby after I had Scarlett and I loved it. 

I think the two books go hand in hand. They both emphasize the importance of sleep for your baby and how to sleep train your child from day one, including how to help them adjust to a feeding routine over time. I hate to use the word "schedule," I prefer "routine" because I think there's a little more flexibility in a routine. 

I like Babywise because it's got good information and it's an easy read. It just makes sense. However, I like the Baby Whisperer because her method is the same as Babywise except she gives more real life examples and it's a little more realistic to life. She emphasizes that every baby has it's own personality and temperament, and she teaches you how to tailor her method to your baby's. Also, Babywise advocates for crying it out, while Baby Whisperer does not. Personally, I think there's a time and a place for crying it out, but Babywise's approach seemed kind of vague so it stressed me out a little. 

There are plenty of critics of Babywise out there. I have heard that the very first edition of Babywise was more strict and people were turned off by it. Some people who followed Babywise back then were a little too rigid and only fed their babies at the exact time the book suggested, leading some babies to be dehydrated and malnourished. However, in the edition that I have, the authors say REPEATEDLY that if your baby is hungry, feed your baby! Even if it's only been an hour since it's last feeding. Use common sense and do what's best for your baby first, not what some book says.

Highlights from all the books that I think are the core of good sleep training:
1. Make sure baby is getting a full feeding from day 1. Keep waking him up if you have to. Time the feedings. Baby Connect can help with this.

2. Keep this routine -- Eat, Awake, Sleep. Keep baby awake as much as possible during a feeding, and have awake time after feeding. In the beginning the length of awake time will only be about the length of time the kid is awake to eat, but it will extend as baby gets older. This is super important so they don't learn to use eating as a prop to fall asleep.

3. People will say not to wake a sleeping baby. I totally disagree with this. I woke Scarlett up to eat all the time, especially in the beginning. It is super important to do in the first couple of months. If you don't wake him to eat, then his metabolism will never get on a solid routine. I also think this is important for maintaining a good milk supply. For the first 2 weeks at night, set your alarm for every 3 hours to get up and feed him. He will probably wake up on his own anyway, but if not at least you've got your alarm. After 2 weeks, you can sleep until the baby cries, but never go longer than 4-5 hours at night. At 7 weeks exactly, Scarlett slept through the night and has ever since. Babywise and Baby Whisperer will talk about the frequency of feedings and what is appropriate at certain stages of development in more detail.

I will also say this -- the first six weeks are hard when it comes to feeding and sleeping because they are growing so quickly so fast. There were times when I was feeding Scarlett every two hours and I thought I was failing at Babywise. But I powered through and then all of a sudden at six weeks it magically all came together. So even when they say "do this every three hours," it's more like every 2-3 hours and maybe even less than that, and that's ok. You have to be a little flexible with the routine in the beginning. 

Check out my other Babywise posts here and here
You can also read more about my love for Baby Connect here.