Monthly Archives: March 2014

Avocado Chicken by The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife


I needed some inspiration to cook chicken, yet again, for dinner last night. So I went to my Poultry Recipes board on my Pinterest looking for something new, easy and consisting of ingredients I had on hand. I don’t know about you, but I pin things all the time and can’t remember all of them. Looking through my own boards is like Christmas morning! hehehe

I found this gloriously simple recipe for Avocado Chicken from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife. Definitely something new, quite easy and I had just bought tomatoes and avocados from Costco the day before. *Ding, ding, ding* We literally had a winner, winner, chicken dinner!

You know me, I can’t make any recipe exactly the way it is, so I finished off the oven time by turning the broiler on for a little color. The hubs is quite picky, and not a fan of tomatoes, but he agreed with me that dinner was delicious!

Adding this one to the rotation during tomato season. Thank you, Navy Wife!

Brave Writer’s The Arrow


Last month we added Brave Writer’s The Arrow to our Language Arts studies and I’ve noticed the difference in our homeschool already. We’re having so much fun with “The Brave Writer lifestyle”. Our own language as well as our awareness of language around us – written, spoken and performed – is heightened. Here are some examples of what we’ve done.

Two weeks ago, on Movie Wednesday, we watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! Beforehand, we discussed the meanings of plot, plot twists and climax. I paused the movie as we went and we discussed who the good guy and bad guy should be according to the rules of right and wrong and who the good & bad guys were in B’s eyes according to their personalities. We discussed how important the script writing and each actor’s portrayal of their rolls were in getting us to root for Ferris and relish Principal Rooney’s mishaps.

I stopped it a number of times for B to tell me what the plot was, what he thought would happen next, his reaction to the “next” not being what he thought it was, etc. When it was over, he excitedly told me when he thought climax began and when it ended. We had this long, animated discussion about how people are not just black and white; we are all full of grays – good and evil, making right and wrong choices for the right and wrong reasons, etc.. It was so wonderful to see him expressing and discussing without just using the words, “Awesome” and “Amazing”.

Yesterday, I asked him to write using descriptive language. I wanted him to paint a picture with his words. His writing in the past has been, “I played outside with my friends.” I asked him to use words to describe the feel of the sun or the warmth of that Spring day. Playing outside was just an example I gave him; he could write about whatever he wanted.

He chose to describe tasting a macadamia nut, which he did for the first time earlier that day. I have to share his description with y’all.

“Today I tried a macadamia nut and it was awful!!(There was a frowny face with a tongue sticking out under the 2 exclamation points.) It was so unbearable and repulsive I had to regurgitate it into the trash.”

Now, he didn’t try to describe what he thought it tasted like, an old gym sock, for example, but that’s something to work on. The fact that he wrote more than, “I hate macadamia nuts.” or “Macadamia nuts are awful.” and he wrote two sentences makes me very happy. He took the assignment seriously and I can give more detailed direction in the future.

Most importantly, he’s enjoying language and writing. He’s getting how important it is to his understanding and entertainment and we’re (Julie Bogart and I) are stoking the desire in him to write like that for others.

Shit Just Got Real

I’m having a really bad ear day. I’m in pain. One of the nurses from the hospital called this afternoon to do my pre-op interview. Asked lots of yes or no questions – do I have these symptoms, do I have those conditions. Needed details on previous surgeries, specialists, allergies, medications. Gave me instructions I needed the day of surgery as well as the few more days leading up to it. I still don’t have a surgery time yet.

After I got off the phone, my breathing quickened. My heart raced. My eyes teared up. Shit just got real to me. There is a tiny crack in Miss Positive’s veneer…

Summer Camp Registration

Yes, it’s that time. Can you believe it? It doesn’t feel like that time because, although the calendar says Spring has arrived, it hasn’t yet sprung. I don’t mind the cold and the snow the last week of March; I love living in an area that experiences all four seasons. I just don’t want to be planning activities for June, July and August right now.

But I have to. Camps in this area fill up very quickly; I’ve learned the hard way. B’s definitely in two camps – an acting week and fun, stay active week. Two others I’m not sure about. Both the baseball week and the movie-themed week ones are far from meeting their minimum required headcount so we wait and see. He’s never been enrolled in this many camps before. He’s thrilled!

Also, volunteer sign-up began for our church’s Vacation Bible School this week. If you volunteer, your child(ren) is(are) guaranteed a spot at VBS. If you do not volunteer, you have to wait several weeks to register and we can only take so many children based on the number of volunteers. So, I always volunteer to ensure B has a space.

However, when I went to sign myself up as a volunteer and B as a camper, I received quite a shock – he’s too old to be a camper! Surely this was a mistake! Nope, he can’t be a camper. Well, they must have changed the rules this year because I remember telling B at the end of VBS last year he had one more year as a camper. Nope. I went through last year’s emails and the cut off age was the same then.

I must have been in denial. I’m glad I realized this late at night, sitting up alone, so B didn’t have to see me cry. I thought he’d be just as devastated as I was. He was disappointed, but not devastated (dammit!). I informed him that he’s now old enough *gasp* to volunteer as a leader and, if he volunteered I would, too. He said he’d think about it. Two hours later he told me he wanted to lead so I signed us both up.

It isn’t fair that he’s growing up so fast. It isn’t fair that I didn’t get the option to experience this all again. *sniff, sniff*

Alright! Pity party over!

Proud teaching day – B has my Math mind!

I love Math; it was my favorite subject in school.  But it can be a complicated subject.  The phrase, “It’s all Greek to me!” is a perfect description of Math for some people.  In my opinion, the single most important factor in a student understanding Math is the teacher.  I was fortunate enough to be taught by some spectacular Math lovers who wanted all their students to understand  and be successful at Math.  The best ones I learned under didn’t use the textbooks to teach us how to do problems; they taught us their own way on the board.  And if a student didn’t understand that method, the teacher would pull out a different method and see if the student clicked with that one.  No one was left behind or out of the loop.  I was so inspired by these caring, excited teachers that I wanted to teach Math, too.  (Why I didn’t is a whole other story….)

We love, love, love our Math curriculum, Life of Fred.  It’s literature-based, meaning B learns about a subject through a story.  Math is brought to him through the adventures of a 5 year old boy, Fred, who is a Math professor at Kittens University in Kansas.  This series answers the most asked question of Math students, When am I going to use this in real life?!  Although some of Fred’s story actually takes place in the classroom where he teaches Math, most takes place outside of it, in “real life”.  Math is needed and used at the bank, the grocery store, telling time, booking a vacation, paying admission to a museum, planting a garden, decorating a room, everywhere!  Life of Fred shows B over and over the importance of Math in “real life” and entertains him with a story.  He is learning and having fun.  The goal of this Math teacher.

I’m one of those people who don’t like to “show my work” with Math if I can do it in my head; and I do a lot of Math in my head.  Over the last 4 years, I’ve given B examples of how I break big problems down into smaller steps that he can do, instead of being overwhelmed by a complicated Math problem.  B can easily add, subtract, multiply and divide with 5s, 10s and 100s and I’ve tried to show him to break things down into their 5s, 10s and 100s and multiply or divide something by 2 to help solve a problem.

For example, if Sam made $450/week how much does he make a year?  I can’t do $450 x 52 weeks in my head, but I can do $450 x 100 weeks = $45,000 and $45,000 / 2 = $22, 500 earned for 50 weeks.  Now I only need to add 2 weeks of $450 to $22,500 to get my answer of $23,400.

I also use rounding.  I can’t do 18 x 7 in my head.  But I can round 18 up to 20 and do 20 x 7 = 140 in my head.  Then all I have to do is subtract the difference between 20 and 18 (2) multiply that by 7 (14) and subtract 14 from the 140 to get the answer 18 x 7 = 126.  For years, B’s looked at me like I’m crazy, but evidently it’s been sinking in.

This morning we were working on exponents* and he had the problem x∧3=64 (x to the 3rd power equals 64) and he had to solve for x.  He automatically said it couldn’t be 1 b/c that’s 1.  He did 2∧3 in his head and got 8.  He did 3∧3 in his head and got 27.  He started to do 4∧3 in his head.  “Four times four is sixteen.  Sixteen times four is…wow, that’s a big one.  I can’t do that one.  But I can break it out to a ten and a six and multiply ten by four, which is forty and then multiply six by four which is…(his eyes rolled up in his head, his mouth moved silently and he clicked the tips of his fingers together) twenty-four.  Forty plus twenty-four is….wait, forty plus twenty is sixty and then I just add the four and it’s sixty-four.  So x is four!  What?  What’s wrong, Ma?”

I had my mouth hanging open and my eyes bugged.  He pulled a “me”.  He worked out the problem exactly the way I would have!  “That’s the way my mind works!  I’ve never seen you do that before!”

“I know,” he replied.  “It really helps me so I don’t have to write it all out.”  He shrugged his shoulders up to his ears, gave my a grin with his eyes squeezed shut and said, “I love you!”

Since B is getting older, this school year I’ve ensured that at least half of his schoolwork is done independently, so we don’t always sit down together for Math.  This week was busy and filled with outings and visits so this morning we stayed in our PJs, on the couch and worked together.  He’s been using my method for a while and I didn’t realize it.  (I’m tearing up now, as I type this.)  This is one of those moments I wanted to experience as a Math teacher.  I am so proud of him, so happy for him, and elated in his love of and skill for Math.  The hubs and I made this beautiful mind and I had a hand in B learning to use it efficiently.  I called the hubs at work to tell him; I was so excited I had to share.  He got excited, too.

As a parent and as a homeschool teacher, I sometimes worry and doubt if I’ve got this, do I know what I’m doing.  Today’s Math lesson was a wonderful gift to me.  B’s got this and so do I!

* According to the SOLs for public school students in our state, exponents are not taught until 6th grade and B is a 5th grader.  I just wanted this known because some people worry that the student-led learning of homeschooling (which is what we practice) may prevent children from “keeping up with” the public school system.

Prepping for Surgery – Bikini Wax

Less than two weeks until my surgery, and I’m in prep mode.  I am no longer taking my blood thinner, I cannot have any ibuprofen, I need to call the hospital today for the plan, I’ve started shaving my legs and I had a bikini wax yesterday.  Why, you ask?  (How many of you are thinking, I’m not asking!  TMI, Jess, TMI!  LOL)

I’ll tell you why.  I will have to be catheterized during surgery.  The nurse or doctor or whoever does that will need clear, clean access to my lady business for…um…insertion.  (My brother is one of my biggest fans and if he had not stopped reading after the words “Why, you ask?” I bet he’s stopped now!)  I have it on good authority that once I am under I would be unceremoniously shaved with an electrical instrument.  But not in any helpful or landscaping way – just a strip down the middle to give clear, clean access for the catheter.

Therefore, I chose to take control of how my lady business would be presented on that table and got a Brazilian wax this morning.  That’s right, Brazilian.  I had originally put the word Brazilian in this post’s title, but thought it was way too risqué so I changed it to bikini.  If you’re still reading this post, whether because you have a high shock tolerance or out of morbid curiosity, I figured you could handle Brazilian.

I’ve had Brazilian waxes before, in my mid-30s.  They weren’t too painful and made wearing a bathing suit all Summer easy-breezy.  I was pretty ignorant the 1st time I had one.  None of my friends had had one done, so I was going in blind.  I decided that it would make the esthetician’s job easier to “clean things up a bit” before my appointment, shorten up a bit.  So I took the hair clippers to myself.

When I got up on the table, the esthetician asked me what I had done to myself.  Evidently, I was not helpful.  She said there does need to be length for the wax to grab.  Lesson learned and she was able to get the job done despite my “help”.  I kept going back to her regularly, so I never got any significant length in between sessions.  Then after a couple years I stopped.  Since then, except for using a razor on the sides during swimsuit seasons, I’ve been au natural.

I don’t know if it was my au natural length, the 30+ pounds I’ve put on since my last wax or if my 40-something skin has become brittle and uber-sensitive, but today’s appointment was painful.  Not regret-I-had-it-done painful but certainly my-lady-business-does-not-need-to-be-subjected-to-that-again-thank-you-very-much painful.  The upkeep of my lady business will no longer be outsourced.

There were other differences today than from the last time I had a wax.  The 1st one was the state of my flexibility or, more to the point, the lack of it.  I was unable to contort myself easily into the necessary yoga positions in order for the esthetician to gain access.  At one point I was on my back, legs in the “butterfly” position and my knees were definitely facing more North than East and West.  God bless the esthetician, she valiantly pressed down on my knees to open me up more, but to no avail.  Phew!  If she was a muscular Swedish masseuse instead of a petite Asian esthetician, we would have heard a crack and I’d have limped out of there!

The 2nd difference was that I had to place my hands below my belly button and pull my skin up, taut.  She said, with her sweet smile, that it was easier and less painful if the skin was tight, but I think that was just code for, “Please move your belly out of the way.”  LOL

And just when I thought it was all over and she was just making sure there was no wax left and applying a tonic, she pulls out the tweezers.  Some stubborn whiskers were evidently immune to multiple passes with the wax and she decide to pluck.  I could feel that she was plucking in an area that was not going to hinder the catheter, so I stopped her right there.  These soldiers were not willing to leave their post so it was time to retreat.

Before getting off the table, however, she handed me a mirror and ask that I review her handiwork.  Oooooo kaaaaaaay…  You know the ending of Pirates of the Caibbean: Dead Man’s Chest when Captain Jack Sparrow is facing off with the Kraken and the Kraken opens its huge, red, circular mouth with rows of sharp teeth and screams at Jack?  That’s what I saw in the mirror, only my “Kraken” was mad because I’d paid someone to remove all its teeth.

As I got dressed to leave, I didn’t know if the soreness I felt was from the attack on my lady business or if my hip joints were protesting the out-of-character rotations they were put through.  But by the time I pulled out of the parking lot to head home, I was feeling back to normal.  I was not be surprised to wake up this morning with sore hip joints…

I just scored $64 worth of meat for $25!

I love getting a great deal and I have to share with y’all my trip to Harris Teeter just now.  The hubs wanted lottery tickets for tonight’s $400M jackpot and asked me to run out for them.  He is already out but is unable to stop.  *sigh*  I was not happy about going to the ATM for cash and then hitting a grocery store at evening rush hour, but out I went.

As I’m walking in the door, I glance at the front page of the sales ad that ends today and see B2G3 free of shrimp.  Shrimp is B’s favorite food in the world, so I headed back to the seafood department after getting the lottery tickets.  Turns out it was buy two 2 lb bags of shrimp and get three 2 lb bags free.  Ten pounds of shrimp is a bit much ;o) so I passed.

But while I was in the back of the store, I perused the meat section.  I only shop at the Teeter if I need one or two things (and I don’t want to go farther to Wegmans) or I’m getting Teeter’s Friday night fried chicken special.  But if I need to be in the back of the store, I check the meat department for markdowns.  I hit the mother load today!

  1. Ready to Cook chicken breast stuffed with Bleu cheese and wrapped in bacon, 9oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.
  2. Ready to Cook Chicken Cordon Bleu, 10oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.  Both this one and the one above have a sell by date of 3/19/14, so dinner for tomorrow is done!
  3. Three Ribeye steaks, totaling 2.63 lbs.  Regularly $36.79, got them for $12.86.
  4. Trimmed and tied pork loin roast, 2.32 lbs.  Regularly $9.95, got it for $4.71.  That works out to $2.03/lb and I know I can buy a whole pork loin on sale for $1.99/lb.  But I’d have to wait for a sale, unwrap it, break it down into small roasts and chops and rewrap for freezing.  This roast is already trimmed and tied and a perfect size to feed my family for a week or to serve the next time we have guests.
  5. Fresh Johnsonville Irish O’Garlic sausage.  Now, this one wasn’t as big of a savings as the other items.  The 1 lb 3 oz package is regularly $5.49 and had a store coupon of  $1.50 on it since St. Patrick’s Day is over.  This is for the hubs who will literally do a jig when he comes home and sees it.  Since I got such good deals on the other meats, and I want to see his jig, I “splurged” on this for him.

With tax the original price of all this would have been $63.77 but I got it all for $25.18.  It was meant to be and my freezer and I are very happy (we were down to just chicken breasts and ground beef before I went to the store).

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