Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm back! And baking!

I know I know... it's been a long time! Really really quick update on the Maida family and then I'll get on to the real reason for this post... food! More specifically... dessert! :)

SO! James ended up NOT deploying! Yay! Well, yay for me... he was pretty disappointed (understandably so!). So we have been enjoying the summer as a family :) Sam is walking (eek!) and getting into absolutely everything. I am doing p90x and bought a jogging stroller to hopefully train for a 5K (to start! I'd like to do longer races eventually! All of that fitness-y stuff though is on my other blog... so check it out! On top of all that working out, I have been making a big effort to cook (and bake! yay baking!) much healthier for my family. Which brings me to the point of this post :)

Anybody who knows me, knows that I love food. Especially food of the sugary, buttery, melty, oh-so-very-bad for you variety. Salads are yummy and all, but a cookie?! A big, soft, chocolate chip cookie?! No contest right?! But healthier. I want to be healthier! I figured there HAD to be a way to satisfy my sweet tooth without all the white flour and refined sugar. SO I've been doing a loooot of Pinterest-ing (a word? It should be...) and Google searching for healthier version of snacks that I love. It's been fun to experiment!

It's amazing what you can make healthier with a few substitutions! A little Greek yogurt instead of fats, applesauce instead of oil, honey or bananas instead of sugar, and.... chickpeas? YES! Chickpeas instead of flour! Whaaaaat?! My first substitution, healthier version of yummy yummy treats recipe to share is for.....

Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites!!

1 1/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp peanut butter (I used reduced fat)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat to 350 degrees

Add all ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips to a food processor or blender (I used a Magic Bullet which was a liiiiiiiittle bit on the small side, but I made it work!) and blend until smooth. Make sure you get all the chickpeas! Once everything is well blended, fold in the chocolate chips.

If you have one of those nifty cookie scooper thingys (I do! And I love it! Does it have a name?) use that to scoop out little balls of the batter onto a tray prepped with parchment paper. If you DON'T have a scooper thingy, get your hands damp (the batter is really sticky) and roll out little balls that way. You can leave them as is (I did) or flatten them out a little bit before putting them in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes....

Mama, are they done yet?!

And voila!

The smell like the real thing! I love the smell of cookies baking!

I was skeptical, I'll admit. I mean come on... chickpeas? They're good and all, but in a cookie? But oh. my. goodness was I pleasantly surprised! (And so was James who was probably even more skeptical lol) They are really good! DISCLAIMER they are better when warm. Room temp... well they're okkkkk, but not really good. I just pop one (or two...) in the microwave before eating it though and it's totally fine :)

So there ya go! No flour, no sugar, no eggs, no oil, and no butter, but still so very yummy! 


Ok and just ooooooooone gratuitous Sam pic ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time goes by....

too fast!! Deployment is creeping up extremely quickly, and before that happens a whole lot of other things need to happen. There's visiting family on pre deployment leave, Sam's early birthday party, a few legal things (power of attorney, wills... fun :/...), pictures that need to get taken, some things around the house that require 'a man's touch'... *sigh*

What do I WANT to do? Alternate beach days and movie days with just our little family....

Even though I feel like it's coming up far too quickly, I'm feeling very confident about this deployment. James was recently on a couple field ops which gave Sam and I a chance to 'practice' being on our own (not that we haven't been on our own before during field ops, this time just felt different). We stayed so busy with playdates and fun activities, that the time went by so fast! Hopefully we can keep that up, and then some, and 7 months will fly :)

Going to have to cut this post short because Sam has just learned how to climb onto the shelves of the entertainment center.... aaaah!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mama Rep!!

Just wanted to share something that I'm VERY excited about! I am now a Mama Rep for :) So I get to tell people about all the awesome-ness that is cloth diapering! They have a great selection of diapers... pockets, AIOs, hybrids, prefolds, covers, training pants, swim diapers. Not to mention the diaper accessories, amber teething necklaces, toys, blankets, burp cloths, Moby wraps... just a great resource for all sorts of fun things anybody who's into a more 'natural' parenting style needs!

Addicted to fluff? Click here to shop at my new favorite store - Wee Little Changes!

They also offer Newborn Rentals for those mamas who aren't sure if cloth diapering is the way to go, or who aren't ready to commit to a brand. There are a few different rental options, and included (besides the diapers themselves) is free shipping, and free consultation! I wish I had found this when we were first getting into CDing Sam because the options seemed endless and overwhelming!

Seriously awesome store :) Check it out!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Cleaning!

Finally gave myself the kick in the butt that I needed yesterday and got started on my spring cleaning checklist :) Kitchen was up first since I knew it would take a lot of work to empty out, clean, and put back.

Before I go into that, I want to brag a little about the homeade cleaners I've been making lately! So far I've made

-General surface cleaner (I made the fist option on this list)
-Powdered laundry detergent
-Tub & Shower cleaner
-Baby wipes solution (I made the 'basic wipe solution')

My review? They're all AWESOME!!

Ok so now onto my kitchen. I emptied it COMPLETELY! All drawers, cabinets, and countertops totally empty.

Gathered my supplies...

Baking soda and vinegar are the BEST cleaners! Seriously! And I had my homeade surface cleaner as well :) The chair is because I'm such a shorty and need it to reach the top shelf of the cabinets.

Don't forget the entertainment (I clean better with background noise!)

Then I got to work! Started at the top and worked my way down. I pretty much just scrubbed everything with my surface cleaner. I used vinegar to clean out my dishwasher, and baking soda to scrub my stove and shine my sink.

Look how shiny everything looked when I was done! It smelled kind of vinegar-y so I lit a yummy smelling candle :)

Then everything needed to be put back (lucky for me, James was home at this point to help! Much appreciated because by now I was exhausted!)

I love a neat sink :) I used an old applesauce jar to hold scrubby brushes...

I'm so happy with how it all turned out :)

Today hopefully Sam takes a good afternoon nap and I tackle the laundry room, guest bathroom, and hall desk. Pray for me because our hall desk is a disaster area!! ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Change of plans!!

Well... I went home to look at apartments and after deciding on one... changed my mind entirely! So now we're no longer moving and Sam and I will be staying here in North Carolina.

Since making the decision to stay, I've felt such a huge weight off my shoulders! Not that I wasn't looking forward to having time to spend with family, but the stress of packing and moving was really getting to me! Now I can really throw myself into my projects, and there's a lot!!

Spring cleaning the whole apartment top to bottom
Sam's 1st birthday party (throwing it early so that James can be there)
Reorganizing/decorating the living room
Framing & hanging a LOT of pictures
Making 'daddy' videos for Sam

And in the meantime going to get togethers and playgroups with our friends here, and keeping up with my fitness goals! Speaking of those... I've started a separate blog to track that :)

Needless to say, we have been very busy lately!

I'm really excited about Sam's birthday party :) I didn't plan on having anything too big for his first birthday, just some cupcakes for the family since we'll be at the beach. Since I decided to have an early party before James leaves though, I've picked a theme... and I'm running with it!! The theme will be The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Soooo excited! Hoping it turns out the way it looks in my head ;) I can't believe how soon Sam will be *1*!!

Speaking of that little man who's growing up oh so fast! I need to go get him up from his nap before it gets too close to bedtime! He napped late today because we spent the morning at a playdate :)

Can't very well end a post without any pictures can I? ;)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh... we're moving?

To move you need to have boxes right? And those boxes need to be filled with your things? And you need a way to transport those boxes? And there's something else right? Oh right, a place to move into?

Yeah... none of that going on here :/ I don't even actually know when we'll be moving. Deployment departure dates are always up in the air so it's hard to pin down a time to move. We'll probably end up spending a good bit of time here in NC AFTER James leaves. I don't want to pick a date to move and end up having it be before his departure. I really don't want to live apart any longer than we absolutely have to.

Next week Sam and I are flying to PA to visit family and look at some apartments. Hopefully we can find one that's affordable, has 2 bedrooms, and a washer and dryer. That's seriously all that's on my list. I would love another big, gorgeous apartment like we have now, but it's just not going to be worth it for 7ish months.

In other news... Sam has stood alone for a few seconds here and there lately. He's growing up WAY too fast! I boxed up some of his old clothes yesterday (Oh hey! I guess I DID do something to get ready for moving!) and found the outfit he came home in... oh my goodness! It was so tiny!! I can't believe he EVER fit into that little thing. I'm not going to lie... I've got a little bit of baby fever. Not going to do anything about it though. James would miss most of the pregnancy and the birth if I got pregnant now. *sigh* Something to look forward to when he comes home I guess. I think Sam would like having a little brother or sister :) Someday...

Speaking of Mr. Sam... I hear him waking up, which is good because we need to get ready to leave for a playdate!

The day we brought him home...

8.5 Months old

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I'm tired. Sometimes Sam sleeps, sometimes he does not. His consistency is gone as far as sleep is concerned, but his consistency as far as knowing when is the very worst time for him to get into exactly something that he shouldn't is there.

Okay that's not entirely true. He naps fine during the day. He wasn't, but I tried this thing called 'wake to sleep' where I go in about 20/25 minutes after I've laid him down (he forgot about how he used to put himself to sleep and I'm just rolling with it)and sort of tickle his neck and move his arms until I see him move his head and fingers, then I place my hands on his back as he settles back into his nice deep sleep. Then he'll nap longer than 30 minutes like he was for a while there. So... naps, good. Nighttime, not so much. Some nights? Down at 8, up at 4 to eat, back to sleep til 7:30. *sigh* those nights are awesome. Other nights? Down at 8, up at 10, up at 11 to eat, up at 3 to eat, cry, struggle, fight me til 5 or 6, sleep til 7:30/8. And anything in between. It kinda sucks not knowing from night to night how it will go, but oh well... what can I do? I let him cry for exactly 3 minutes the other night when I was too frustrated to go in at that moment. In those 3 minutes he worked himself up into a hysterical, about to throw up, snotty mess. And I felt like the worst mother ever. I know cry it out works for some people, apparently we're not cut out for it though. When I'm sitting in his room nursing Sam in the rocking chair, trying not to let him roll right off my exhausted lap onto the floor... I try to remind myself that someday he'll grow upand I'll miss when he was so little and snuggly. But then I think, omg what am I going to do when he's 15 and not sleeping through the night! I do not want to sit in this rocker with a teenager on my lap! It's hard to be rational at 3am...

What makes my days more exhausting is Sam's new fondness for things he's not allowed to have. He will crawl over his blocks, singing dog, wooden beads on wires toy thing, books, mirror, rattles... and flick the doorstops back and forth for a few minutes before shoving them in his mouth. What's a pile of toys when you can play with a spring? He pulls up to stand on the low windowsill in our living room and licks and sucks on the windowpane. Yes. Our child... is a window licker... He pulls up to stand on this little footstool we have between the couch and the wall (it's purpose is to block his way so he can't get behind the couch were the books are). As he stands there he tries to pull his chest up onto it, and lifts his little leg in the air, looking at me like, "uh Mom? I'm trying to climb over this thing? Can I get a boost?" He will be playing perfectly happily, quietly, and contentedly with his toys while I sit with him, but as soon as I get up to go pee, he crawls after me and plays with the bathroom trashcan. And, judging by the way he cries when I take said trashcan away, it's the coolest toy ever and I am the MEANEST mom there ever ever was for taking it away.

Currently he is repeatedly opening and closing the little hatch on the top of his toy boat. It's loud. He likes to make noise, he likes to make a lot of noise. At dinner, in between shoving large bits of whatever we've given him into his mouth, he shouts 'Mamamamamamama babababababa mumumumumumum!' as loud as he possibly can.

He's loud. He's exhausting. But he's also the cutest, funniest thing I've ever seen and I love him :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pre-Deployment Goals & Re-visiting sleep...

OPSEC. Operational Security. Something worth mentioning as I dive on in to deployment related blogging. Following OPSEC helps ensure a safe, timely return of all of our troops. With the ease of internet access these days, so much information ends up out there for anybody's eyes to see. A simple Facebook post about a deployment departure or homecoming can get into the wrong hands and spell disaster for the unit coming or going. Following OPSEC means never sharing publicly (social networking sites, blogs, emails) dates, times, or locations of troops. If a unit's command becomes aware of information being posted publicly, the departure or return dates can be changed for safety reasons. And so, as I countdown to James' departure day, and then to his homecoming, I'm going to have to be very vague.

So anyway, today I made James' Valentines Day gift. It's a small, soft cover photobook of pictures of the two of us. I really love how it turned out! Shutterfly is awesome! I made it small and with a soft cover so that he'll be able to take it with him when he leaves. That got me thinking about all the things I want to do and make before he leaves. Things for him to take with him, things for me, and things for Sam. Here's the list of things I've come up with so far

For James

-Valentines Day photobook
-Daddy&Sam photobook (might send to him as a Father's Day gift, so this one might not exactly be a pre-deployment project)
-a photo calender
-"Reasons I Love You" book
-jar full of inspirational notes
-videos on his computer of Sam and I talking to him (make some before he leaves, send more in care packages)

For Sam

-Daddy Doll (a person shaped doll with a full size picture of James on it, possibly also with a recording of James saying, "I love you")
-Daddy&Sam photobook
-photo board book
-photo calender
-recordable books
-Daddy videos saved on the computer (make some before he leaves, also have him make more throughout the deployment and send them home on a usb drive)
*I love you
*Good night
*Be good
*Good job buddy
*I miss you
*I'll be home soon

For Me

-Journal (going to start it now)
-large wall calender to cross off days and tear off months. Write in milestones to break up the time into chunks
-post it notes with quotes and song lyrics to make a wall countdown once we move up to PA
-Lots of framed photos and collages
-Videos for me (I'll let him surprise me with what he says in them, but I imagine basically the same idea as Sam's)

In addition to those things, there's some other (kinda big!) things that need to be accomplished

-Find an apartment
-Find a storage unit
-Decide what will go to storage
-Decide when our actual move will be (difficult to plan without knowing an exact departure date...)
-Get forms from Military One Source to get free YMCA membership
-Sign Sam up for swimming, music, and tumbling

It's going to be a busy time. But busy is good right? Busy means I'm not sitting around and moping!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holding it together

I've been using list making as a means to keep from going insane my whole life. And now, I need those lists more than ever. When I feel panicky about moving, or James' deployment, I pull out my notebook and pen and scribble down a list of some kind. Then I feel more in control, and can go back to whatever I had been doing. I guess there are worse things right?

To go back a few days.... the night that we found out Philip had been killed in Afghanistan, was the most upset I have ever seen my husband. It was a difficult evening for both of us. He came home from work and we both immediately lost control and sat on the couch for quite some time just holding each other and crying. Luckily Sam was content to play independently in his exersaucer and we were able to take time to gather ourselves together before putting him to bed. I had made a big crockpot full of chili and a pan of cornbread, but it sat un-eaten in the kitchen until much later that evening when James said, "You know, Phil would be pretty upset with us for letting food go to waste. He loved his food." We were able to laugh a little and eat dinner.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family during this difficult time, his funeral is going to be held in Texas this Saturday. We looked into how long the drive time will be, and how much plane tickets cost, but we're sadly not going to be able to make it. We'll be there in spirit though.

I've managed to get back to my planning and list making, as I said earlier in this post. Throwing myself into organizing and planning the next year for us, while stressful as anything, is really helping me right now. I have lists of possible apartments, lists of ideas for care package items and themes, lists of classes I'd like to sign Sam up for, lists of ways to keep Sam and James connected, lists of goals and projects I'd like to accomplish over the course of the deployment... lists and lists and lists.

I considered for a while starting up a new blog, to be used just during deployment, and the months leading up to it, but then I realized that this blog I have no has no specific purpose, so why not make it a deployment blog for a few months?

Yesterday I went to Target for a few things and, as always, wandered through the $1 section before visiting the rest of the store. I found some great, fun little things for James in there, and already have his first care package started! Once he's gone and I'm sending out my care packages, I'll post pictures here. I like the idea of doing themed care packages. He's going to be gone for a few important events and holidays that I'll send a themed care package for (our 2nd anniversary, family beach trip, Sam's 1st birthday, 4th of July, Labor Day camping trip, Halloween, Marine Corps Birthday, Thanksgiving...) but I have a few 'just for fun' themes as well.

Time seems to have gotten away from me here... Sam will be up soon from his nap, and I need to clean the master bathroom before he gets up and we go grocery shopping. I'll be glad to get out of the house for a while, I just wish it weren't so dreary and rainy (still) so that we could get out for a walk or something... hopefully we'll see some sun soon. Sam needs some fresh air! And so do I!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rest In Peace Marine...

Today is a hard day. We found out this morning that a friend of ours, who used to work with James, was KIA in Afghanistan. His wife had just moved back to NC and moved into their new home earlier this week, as he was due to come home in just a couple weeks.

Shock doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling right now. This is the first time a war casualty has hit so close to home.

I cannot imagine what his wife must be feeling right now. I literally can't let myself imagine it because I would fall apart.

The news of his death came only a week after James told me that his orders have changed and he will be going to Afghanistan this spring.

I'm feeling so many emotions right now. Sadness being the forefront, but fear tagging along right behind.

I almost feel bad, selfish, that in the midst of this family's sadness, I can't help but think about myself and my family.

I'm not stupid. I know that in war, people die. Until today, however, it didn't really seem real. Now all of a sudden, it feels like this could happen to us. All of a sudden this is something ugly that I need to face.

All day I've been looking at Sam and seeing his Daddy's face in all of his little features. How would I cope if all of a sudden I were a single parent? These are all thoughts that have crossed my mind before. Before I said 'yes' to marrying a Marine, these were things I needed to consider, but now they're all of a sudden not just thoughts to consider, but a very possible reality to face.

All I want to do right now is to curl up inside my husband's arms, but my heart aches when I think of my friend who would love to do the same thing, but can't and won't ever again.

This past week, I've been busy preparing for James' upcoming deployment. Finding an apartment for Sam and I in PA near my parent's house. Coming up with care package themes and ways to help Sam remember who Daddy is. Taking notes in a 5 subject notebook, making lists and keeping organized, telling myself that I'll come up with plenty of ways to make the time go by quickly.

I can't even look at that notebook now. I want to pretend that James isn't going anywhere. That we'll grieve our fallen friend together, but that we won't have to imagine this ever happening to us. But we can't do that. We need to face this. We've never really talked about this possibility because he was supposed to be starting a non deployable job that would last until the end of this enlistment. It wasn't on our radar. Since we found out that he's deploying, we've talked about how we will communicate, how he will stay in touch with Sam, where Sam and I will live, the logistics of moving, but we haven't mentioned what will happen if the worst should happen. After today, I know that it's something we need to talk about. Most likely, one of us will bring it up this evening.

It's hard when you have to face facts and realize that your worst nightmare is capable of coming true. I pray every single night that I will never have to face what my friend is facing right now. I pray every single night that Sam will never have to be without his Daddy.

And tonight I'll pray for the soul of a fallen hero, and for healing and love on his wife and family.

Rest in Peace Marine, and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice.