Friday, August 31, 2012

When U-Pick local, you pick smart!

One of the healthy habits I have begun to adopt for my family is choosing local, in season produce. Unless you live in a tropical climate, there is a very good reason that pineapple at Christmas time cost you your first born child at the checkout. Here in the Pacific northwest, tropical produce does not grow very well without many other factors added in to create the optimal environment. It really is a waste of resources to urge a watermelon to grow when it just doesn't like the weather here. Of course there's always the option to truck it in from California or elsewhere, but we see a rapid loss in nutrients the longer the fruit or vegetable is off the plant. The way I see it, why eat a veggie if it isn't going to pack its maximum punch?

The kids and I have rather enjoyed ourselves this summer picking local organic blueberries and raspberries. It kind of goes back to what I was saying before about breaking the hold "city life" has on them. The best part? The kids got to see where their food actually comes from! It is important for children to connect their food to its source. This is one reason why picky eaters do so much better come meal time when they have picked the produce that goes into it.We are anticipating apple picking in October!

                        Local organic raspberries. First time my girls ever had to worry about cow pies...

 No matter where you live, a kitchen garden is possible. If you do not have a yard, consider container gardening. You would be surprised how easy and fun it is to grow your own food in pots on your back patio. Check out Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew for some great tips on how to get more veggie for your square foot. My husband and I put together a garden over on North Fort (JBLM) where we have been busy growing Swiss chard, carrots, lettuce, spinach, jalapeno peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, and sweet peppers all summer. All that in two 4 ft x 10 ft plots, and there is so much room we didn't use! I have saved much of the Swiss chard by freezing it in individual freezer bags for use in soups and stews during the winter. Freezing is a great way to lock in nutrients from fresh picked produce. I hope to get my fall crops in the ground this weekend. I realize I may be a week or so late, but hopefully, the weather will hold out. If not, then I'll just have to use some of the tricks I found in Steve Solomon's book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.

                                                             Not bad, for my first haul!

If gardening just isn't feasible for you because of work or school, then be on the lookout for sales on local produce at the grocery store. Pears and peaches are in season here, so when I saw a sale on them (pears .58/pound, peaches .99/pound) I snapped up at least 5 pounds of each. Admittedly, the peaches were a bit bruised, but boy were they sweet! I cut off the bad parts off and sliced those bad boys up and put them in the freezer for use in smoothies, desserts, and shakes. The pears I intend to turn into glazed cinnamon pears and can in glass jars for use on the kids' ice cream. Yummy! In late July, early August, apricots were on sale at a local farm stand. I picked up a large basket that was overflowing with the little jewels, brought them home, and turned them into apricot preserves. We're pretty excited to see how it turned out as soon as the store bought runs out in the fridge.

(Pardon the technical difficulties; it would appear my phone is not interested in cooperating with pics today!)

This summer has afforded me my very first chance to actively participate in stocking up for the fall and winter. Seeing my freezer stocked with yummy fruit and veggies that I either grew myself or got a killer deal on gives me such a sense of accomplishment and well being. I know that I will not have to worry about selling my first born or forking over a kidney for my kids to have healthy produce through the winter. I still have quite a bit left to do, like turn all my tomatoes into salsa and spaghetti sauce, plus manage the fall veggies, but I'm really looking forward to it!

Not only does local produce benefit your health and wallet, but it also benefits your neighbors- the farmers who live to grow healthy food to share with others. Check out for a list of U-pick farms near you. has a list of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) to consider if you'd rather have someone else pick your veggies for you. In this type of agriculture, members of the community buy shares of produce from the farm, usually paying up front for a few weeks or an entire season. These farms work through the year harvesting seasonal produce, so don't expect pineapples for Christmas unless you live in an area where they grow year round. Finally, farmers markets are excellent places to immerse your children in local culture. Visit for a list of these unique markets that are near you.

U-Pick is one of the many fun and inexpensive activities that will engage your children at dinner time. Give it a try! You just might find that your picky little monster turns into a broccoli eating angel when she's had the opportunity to wash the garden dirt off of it herself!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kites and Camping

All of the moves we have made while being in the army have brought us to fairly large cities. Considering that I grew up in a town with only one stoplight (there are two now!) and my husband only had a caution light, the change has been a big one. I grew up camping with my family and loved every minute of it. We've gone in the heat of a FL summer, the cold (c'mon 50/60 degrees is cold to a Floridian) and the rain. I think my favorite trip was one we went on to Salt Springs where we stayed for a week in a pop up camper. I spent the week reading the Yearling for the first time. (You know, it was actually written in that area?) Sure I was a bit of a girly girl back then, I loved dresses and Barbie dolls, but when it came to enjoying the outdoors, camping was the best way to do so.

Since making all of the moves for the Army, I have become increasingly concerned with my daughters' fascination with "city life." They would rather be inside than out and are completely terrified of insects. (Trust me, there have been blood curdling screams over love bugs and house flies. I kid you not.) A lot of this comes from us hurriedly signing leases on apartments so that we can move out of the hotel we stay in upon arriving at a new destination. But no more! We have a beautiful home now with a large backyard where I hope my youngins will learn to love and appreciate nature. We have tiny little frogs, garter snakes, and even ducks out there for them to look at. To say I love this place is an understatement.

Still, bless their hearts, the girls are more afraid of the critters than the critters are of them, so my husband and I have taken up camping again. This past week, the kids and I went camping with a good friend and her kids. We went down to Long Beach Washington and enjoyed the Kite Festival. I'd like to tell you a little about our trip and encourage you to visit as well if you are ever in the area.

Where to stay: Wildwood Campground

We were expecting a much larger group than just the two of us and six kids, so I reserved a site they call the "Back 40." The rate was very affordable and cost less for both nights than if we had stayed in a local motel. It had two picnic tables and one large fire ring as well as ample space for our two tents. We used much of the space as a playing field for the kids where they flew the kites they made at the festival and played all sorts of other games. The campground has two bath houses, a pond for catch and release fishing, basketball, tether ball, and volley ball. The family that owns and runs it is very nice and accommodating, and the grounds are very quiet in the evening- no worries about traffic noise, etc.  The best part about this place is the location! They are situated very near the beach and the town of Long Beach, WA.

                                            Our tent site... So much more behind the camera!

What to do: Beach, Kite Festival, Cape Disappointment
Long Beach Peninsula
Kite Festival
Cape Disappointment State Park

My kids saw glimpses of the Pacific ocean when we went up to La Push in April, but this was their first time being able to actually see and touch the water. The beach out here in the Northwest is very different from the East coast. I recommend long sleeves or sweaters in the morning right up till about lunch time. After the sun comes out, bathing suits are comfortable. (Remember this is August in the NW, we actually do have lots of sunny days in the summer!) The kids got to play in the surf, but because the currents are so dangerous, we didn't let them go past the middle of their shins. There is no swimming at this beach. But oh what a beautiful beach it is! The sand is dark gray with little flecks of black (volcanic perhaps?) There are plenty of opportunities to build sand castles, and if you go the third full week in August, you will get to take part in the kite festival!

 I had no idea there was such a large following in this niche! The town of Long Beach is so accommodating to their tourists. Parking is free just about everywhere, the festival is free, and they have a number of free activities for the kids to participate in during the festival. Ours enjoyed making kites with a couple of veteran kite fliers/makers. Later, they played in the sand at various kids "camps" that people set up on the beach. We watched aerial ballet with kites and music and enjoyed one show the most as it was put on by an 80+ year old man who goes out and flies his kites every day of the year. The sheer number of kites in the air was absolutely beautiful, and from what I understand, the mid week was nothing compared to what they expected over the weekend. The experience of it all is so much more than what I have written here, so if you get the chance, do not miss this!


 The last day we were there, we visited Cape Disappointment and went through the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. You will need a discover pass (state park permit) to park in the parking lot, but they offer paid parking as well. After a steep climb up a ramp to the top (there is handicapped parking available without the climb) we were able to see where the Columbia River meets the ocean. We saw the lighthouse up there, but did not hike to it. Instead, we wanted to visit the interpretive center before nap time. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids 7+ This place is great! It includes highlights of Lewis and Clark's journey west as well as what they did when they finally reached the area. There is a 20 minute video downstairs and interactive exhibits that the kids are encouraged to touch. They also have a gift shop and beautiful panoramic viewing of the cape.

            Where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. I didn't think it would be this calm!

Even the ride out and back was great. We skipped the interstate and stuck to the smaller roads and went through some great little towns. All in all, it was a very relaxing trip. One might think it would be stressful with 6 kids and tents plus sand that sticks to everything, but it was actually a much needed break from the every day.

I encourage you to make a connection with the activities you loved to do as a kid. Our moving habits offer perfect opportunities to show them that we weren't always mom and dad. Playing with our kids is one of the best gifts we can give them because it is a tangible way we can show them that we love them.

What's there to do around where you live? What sorts of activities do you enjoy doing with your kids that you used to do as a kid yourself?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spotlight: Lukey

So my littlest love is always on my mind and his sweet little cheeks are solidly imprinted on my heart. Luke is only one, but already he has a gift; he is a ray of sunshine. Even when he wakes me at 1 am, it's with his precious singing, so how can I be mad? I just love his bubbly laughter and the way his whole face lights up when he smiles. He claps his chubby little hands and giggles at my mom's little dachshund. He absolutely adores that dog. Know how I can tell? He was very interested in pulling Stryker's ears and even pinched his lips before leaning over to peer intently into the puppy's eyes. Then he grabbed a handful of fur and gave a little yank for good measure, and all the while, Stryker, the old man that he is, just sat there and let him love on him. He's been a part of my family since he was still squatting to pee, so I whispered in his ear "Thanks for loving my baby as much as I do."

(Come back another time, and I'll let you see these two in action!)

But back to Luke. My sweet little ray of sunshine. You'd think I'm just partial to him, but no, everyone else thinks so too. Even with so many clouds in his life, he still remains the happy little cherub we all love to pieces. See, what I failed to mention was that Luke, my sweet baby, has Stage Four Chronic Kidney disease caused by psuedo prune belly syndrome. He has been in and out of the hospital his whole life thus far. The dark clouds piled high over us the day we had my 20 week ultrasound. We were given many problems and fewer solutions that day. I chose to wait to find out what sex he was. I figured it was my last pregnancy and this was the one great mystery left in life. But once we found out our baby had troubles, I had to know. I stopped the stroller in the parking lot, looked up at my husband with tears in my eyes and said, "I have to know. I must know now. This little one needs a name." We carefully opened the little envelope they had sent us home with and stared at the grainy black and white picture. There he was! Our little Lukey. I named him on the spot. 

                                                Thumbs up. Everything's alright in here, mom!

He came to us four weeks early, but weighing a healthy 7 pounds 6 ounces. He was ready! We prayed mightily, as did all of our friends and family that he would get to come home with us when I left. But alas, he was called to the NICU where he wrapped every nurse and doctor in the joint around his little finger for 18 days. It was absolute torture. If you are reading this, and you have gone through this, or are about to, trust me, I empathize. I sobbed for days in my room at the hospital and at his bed side. I rarely got to hold him because of all the tubes and wires. It was excruciating, and even that might be an understatement. He was finally discharged and since then has spent many more visits to our local Children's Hospital (which is AMAZING by the way). Every time I am worried sick about him, but every time we joke halfheartedly that he just needs a vacation from his rowdy siblings and that he wants to go see his pretty nurses. They take such good care of him there.

                                                                              4 days old

Even with all of the sticks and surgeries, he has developed his sweet disposition and anyone that sees him, instantly falls in love with him. So ladies, lock up your daughters. I have a feeling he may be sweet now, but those chocolate brown eyes and long eyelashes are going to make him into a heart breaker one day! So that's my little Lukey. He'll be signing autographs later; you won't want to miss it ;)
                                                                So much fun in the wind!

I think we can learn a very important lesson from this precious little one year old. Especially us deployed spouses. Pain hurts us for a little bit, we cry about it, and rightly so. But the sooner we move on and smile, laugh, and get busy, the better our quality of life will be. It takes a little while. For Luke, he had 18 days of constant reminders that he wasn't with me. 18 days to a newborn with no sense of time, probably seems like a lifetime to them. (wait, does that even make sense? You get my point...) It probably seems like a lifetime until your beloved will return to you. But smile, baby. Light up a room. It will be over before you know it and when it is, you will be remembered as the one who held it all together. The one who encouraged others and took the time to meet their needs.

Ok seriously, you should probably comment about how cute this kid is before you burst... =D


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gratituesday: Officially a Soccer Mom

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Psalm 118:1

For the past 8 years, I have been pining for the ultimate title in motherhood. The one that we all (according to the movies) strive to be the moment our first little blessing is born. Well, folks, that day has finally arrived for me! I am a full fledged Soccer Mom- I even signed up for snacks and everything.

                                                   My Kris-a-lis. Soccer star in the making!

                     Miq, the one I've been waiting for 8 years to finally be interested in soccer ;)

                                 Cute and confused... There was a lot of this on her first day =D

So today, on this beautiful Gratituesday, that is what I am thankful for. I am thankful for the anticipation I feel at watching my girls enjoy being on a team. I'm looking forward to the bite in the air and their rosy pink cheeks when they come off the field. Most of all, I'm thankful for this season in my life. The ups and downs, all of it. We've recently moved out of our baby making years and into the season where we get to focus on teaching our children and enjoying our family. Becoming a soccer mom is an important milestone for me because it coincides with this new season in our life. Hooray!

I've linked this post over on one of my all time favorite blogs. You'll love Laura as much as I do, I'm sure!  Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!


Just a quick note

I just wanted to give a quick note here about the PCS Tips category. I want this tab to include lots of information about the surrounding areas of duty stations in the military. I will be writing about all the really neat (really cheap, really FUN!) things there are to do around each station I've been to. I'll also be including my experience with things like out processing, transportation, and some moving tips I've figured out over the many moves we've done. Obviously, I haven't been able to see every post there is, and what experience I do have centers mostly on Army posts. If you have information/ experiences you'd like to share with the rest of us, please email me at adrienneandtommy at aol dot com. I'd like to focus on positive stories, but if you have a "buyer beware" story to share, I'll post those on a case by case basis.

I really hope we can help our fellow military families with the information we share here on PCS Peace. So get to it! Let me know what's fun to do around where you are!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Saying goodbye

Already? But you just started! No, I'm not talking about me and you. But saying good bye is weighing heavily on my heart right now. I have had to say good bye many times while living this military life- sometimes to friends who were close enough to be the sisters I've never had. There was a church family that loved my family and took extra special care of us while my husband was deployed. But the hardest of all is saying 'see you later' to the love of my life when he goes off to war. I've had to do it 3 times, and each time never gets any easier. Well, let me take that back for a second. The second and third times were a little easier than the first because he left me with a precious gift: the security in knowing that he was a child of God.

Still, the actual leaving, the knowing that he wouldn't be around to hold my hand, dry my tears, or see many of our kids' firsts causes an aching pit to open up in my stomach. We prep for it of course. Legal, medical, and financial affairs are all in order, but as the day draws near, it feels like a train barreling down on us. I certainly can't stop it, but I'm also helpless to move off the track. Every night I spend memorizing the feel of his arms around me and hope that the memory will be just as fresh on day 300 as it will be on day 3. It hits us with the day dawning just like any other. There are plenty of halfhearted smiles and a bit of tense laughter. Over and over, I repeat in my head, we'll be ok, this will end, you are strong enough for this. And then he's gone. Ripped from my arms by a sense of duty. If you've ever watched the love of your life deploy, I'm sure all of that is not news to you. I'm sure you felt many emotions when they got on that bus and relief was not one of them.

So now what do we do? The last time he left, he did so from the house. We opted not to go down to the deployment area in favor of maintaining our privacy. But wherever you are, eventually you are left alone with a bunch of little kids (in my case 4) clinging to your jeans and crying their little eyes out. The younger ones have no idea what's going on, but the sense of loss is palpable and so they cry too. So I ask again, what do you do? You cry too. Take those little bodies into your arms and sob right along with them. It's ok to show them that you are hurting too. No kids? No problem. Grab your own battle buddy and cry with them.

Eventually, I've always wanted to start a countdown, except for this last deployment. There will be no R&R in the middle and that makes for a very long time before I will get to trip over his boots again. This time, I decided to do a count up. The beauty of it is that the count up starts the moment he drives away. One. My heart breaks with the next beat, but that's one more heart beat I will never have to repeat without him. Two. Breathe in, breathe out. That's two breaths I'll never have to repeat without him. Three. Before I know it, three minutes have passed, then three hours, three days, three weeks, and three months. Look at me now, sitting here with three less months to go without him. No longer will he be gone for X amount of months. Now it will always be three less. No, not three, because we keep going. Four. Five. Six... So I count up. I revel in each little victory, and when the days become too long, I speed them up by counting smaller. One more breath, one more moment closer to his return...


Sunday, August 26, 2012

I just needed a picture...

I'm pretty fond of Pinterest, so to pin my blog there, I need a pic. Here's one I took on our most recent camping trip. You'll hear more about it when I get around to Hobbies this week. But for now, feast your eyes on this little cutie! This is my youngest, Lukey, and his very first s'more! Don't you just want to gobble up those cheeks?


Well hello there...

Already I'm terrible at this blogging thing... I have managed to lose the original 1st post I worked on for close to an hour, so the following is what we're all stuck with since I lack the gumption to try to remember what I wanted to say the first time.

I started this blog as a place to document the capers I manage to get myself into on a daily basis. I'm quite fond of the "about me" I wrote over on Facebook, so I think I'll share it with you here to give you a chance to find out what you're getting yourself into if you'd like to subscribe. So, here it is...

"I'm a daughter of the King, who doesn't always act like a princess should. I have been blessed with a kind and generous husband, four precious children, and so much more that I don't deserve. We trek all over the country when Uncle Sam calls, and I'm steadily learning how to make a home wherever we roam. I love to score a deal at the grocery store and make healthy food for my family. I like to read and sew, and I was just recently blessed with a real backyard where I can exercise my green thumb! Those are my passions, however I'm most sincerely a real life mom who can never keep up with the laundry and who isn't particularly partial to housekeeping. Let's face it, with four kids, my home will never be in a magazine. I'll probably never get it "right" according to the world's standards, but hopefully one day I'll be able to check off a few more characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman. Striving to be like her is alright with me."

I'm crazy about my Jesus, family, military life, hobbies, and healthy habits, so that's where I expect this blog to go. I'm pretty good at deviating from the plan, though i like to call it thinking outside the box, so hang in there if I get side tracked, okay?

Most of all, I really hope you will find a daily dose of encouragement when you read about my adventures. So, without further ado, here we go...