Thursday, February 9, 2012

Good-bye Sweet Man

Last weekend my family and I said good-bye to one of the most incredible men I've ever known. My sweet grandfather. He was 90 years old and had achieved so much in his life. So, the least I can do is write somewhat of a "tribute" blog to him.

My grandfather was born in  the 1920's on a farm. He was one of 14 children born into the home. He worked as soon as he was old enough to on the family farm. The food they ate was a product of all of their hard work. It was a humble life, but they were proud of it.

The Army called my grandfather to serve his country. He fought in WWII. When he came home, he married my grandmother whom he was madly in love with. Together they had three boys, including my father.

He opened up his own auto repair shop in 1962. He lso taught classes for women...teaching them how to change tires and such. Things that would be useful knowledge to them since their husbands  were at war.

My grandfather was an honest and hardworking man. He was a man of honor, dignity, and respect. He believed a handshake was as good as a signed contract.

When I was in the 8th grade, I interviewed him for a school paper. At the time, I thought it was just a simple task. Now though...I cherish those moments I spent with him, learning about his life. 

About how he would trade eggs for pencils. 
About how he built his very own bicycle.
About how when he was in the war, they took a ship to France. On the way there, he was so very seasick. When he got off the boat, he asked someone how you would get a citizenship in France. They said " wouldn't be hard, but why would you want to?? There's nothing here!" To which he replied "I'll do it if it means I don't have to get back on that boat!"

There was a moment though, when he began talking about my grandmother, who had passed away when I was 4. He could hardly get through his choked up tears to talk about her. He missed her so very much.

I have so many great memories of him. We would go to his house every single Saturday when he lived at his house. Even in his 80's, you would find him sweating up a storm in his garden. While most of us would whine at that kind of work, it was so inbred in him. I will always admire him for that. 

He would plant fake snakes around the garden to "scare" us. He would give us candy that I'm sure had to have come from the WWII era. He left his house the exact way my grandmother had left it, never wanting to erase her presence. 

The last thing he said before he passed away was..."I'm happy." What great words. 

At his funeral, I learned that my dad and uncles were going through some of his possessions. They found that not only had he received a Bronze Star in the war, but that he had turned down a purple heart. He never spoke of any of this to anyone. Ever. Just one last way to show that his humbleness. 

I'm a Christian person and I adore my God. He made an incredible person when he presented the world with Frank Holcombe. May we all strive to be as humble and hard working as he was. He was a true example of what a real man is supposed to be. I know he is reunited with the love of his life, and I am so at peace knowing that he doesn't have to miss her anymore.

I love you Paw Paw. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I think most families these days have many forms of technology in their homes. TV's, computers, DS's, cell phones, Wii...the list goes on. I loooove technology. It helps me in so many aspects of my life. I mean...hello...pinterest alone is a reason for me to stay online all day, right? My Iphone is my right hand man, and I'm pretty sure my daughter thinks its hers too. My house, like many other, is FULL of technological gadgets for everyone.While I do love it, I think there is a time and place for everything.

I don't know how everyone's schedule is, but mine is out of control hectic. I have a child in school, another one with a lot of appointments these days. Homework, dinner, laundry, military gatherings...the list goes on. Its so very easy to get caught up in the hustle of day to day life. Its easy to feel overwhelmed. I also think its very easy to get disconnected from your family.

I'll be the first to admit...I have totally, without a doubt, 100% used technology to keep my children entertained while I handle other things. Really...who doesn't? There is one time during our day though, where technology is not allowed. All devices are turned off and out of sight. Dinnertime.

I think its sooo easy for families to get in the habit of eating in the living room in front of the T.V. Or eating separately in their bedrooms instead of altogether at a table.

I'm not saying I instituted a rule and outlined it in red on the front of our house that enforces dinner to be together at the table. It honestly just happened. Growing up, my family ate at the table together. My husband's did as well. So it seemed so natural for us to always eat together. Really...its one of my favorite times of the day. 

I just think that there are so many things that keep us distracted from the people that matter most in our lives. To me, its so important to take that time to turn everything off and give all of your attention to your significant other and children. Learn about their day. Be invested. Give them all of your attention. You won't regret it.

At dinner, we have a game that we play. Anistyn has called it "Good thing, Good thing, Bad thing." Basically, everyone goes around the table naming off two good things that happened to them that day. Then they name one bad thing that happened. There are two good because you have to keep things more positive than negative. It gives everyone a look at how your day went and to ask questions and be involved. Really, my daughter adores it. Its the first thing she says when we sit down to eat. 

I don't think there's a right or wrong method to raising your children when you have their best intentions at heart. For some families, eating separate might work them. If you think it isn't though, try eating together and playing the game. You'll never look back and think "I wish I had spent more time on the internet." But you might say "I wish I had spent more time with my kids."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Where is my baby?

I've been doing this mothering thing for almost seven years now. I have loved every single part of it. Some times more than others of course, but nonetheless, it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. My two girls brighten my world up in places I never knew needed it. Kids are amazing like that though.

The hardest part about parenting though for me so far? Them growing up. Really. It pulls at my heartstrings like no other. There are moments and events in the lives of our children where it seems like the world is screaming at you saying "Hey you! Your child is growing up!" Its always such a bittersweet moment too. Where you're so insanely proud of them you could scream, but it just pulls at your heart a little bit as well because, you know. They're just growing so fast.

My oldest is 6, and really...I don't think it gets much better than her at her age. She is great at school, smart, funny, caring, kind...really. She's just amazing. Many people around us know that she is my hair girl. She has such beautiful, long brown hair. I've gotten that her hair cut MAYBE...twice? I just love it. I braid it a million different ways. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration...but I do braid it A lot. All different kinds of braids, going different directions, all the time. Her hair is artwork! Okay...exaggerating again...but I have made it a hobby to find new ways to do her hair and I have a lot of fun doing it. 

The time came though. 

She needed a trim. 

I of course, ONLY wanted her to get a trim. But, the world threw it in my face again. She's growing up. She wanted her hair cut short. 

This is her getting her very first haircut when she was three. love her now, don't you. Because she's just so cute!!

I of course, want her to have the hair she wants. I didn't want her to chop it off toooo short, so we compromised and cut it to just below her shoulders.

This is the result:

 Now, look at the top picture, then look at this picture. You're crying now too, right? 

It obviously makes her so big:( And while yes, I will always get small tugs when I realize that she won't be little forever...I always get such pride looking at her. The way she oozed confidence as she walked out of the hair salon. So secure and happy in her little 6 year old world. I hope she always has that confidence! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Where oh where have I been? Things were a little busy for us over the holiday, but filled with a lot of fun!

On Friday, we got to husband! For anyone who doesn't know my husband...oh where could I possibly begin? He is the most hardworking, respectable person that I know. He prides himself on being a family man and a soldier. I try as much as I possibly can to acknowledge everything that he does for our family, because really...he is our rock. 

But on Friday...he was acknowledged for his hard work in the Army. He was promoted to Sergeant! 

I had a job during the ceremony. My job was to go up to Josh when they announced his name. I had to take off his hat, take the rank off his hat and replace it with the new sergeant's rank. It had little pins to tack it into place. Then I had to place his hat back on his head. Then take the old rank off the front of his jacket, throw it to the side, place the new one it (its velcro) and punch it on. Easy peasy right? Not for this chick!

Now, this winter has not been...winter. Its January and has still been in the 60's. But not this morning of course! It was in the 30's...and the promotion ceremony was held outside. So needless to say, we were freezing. So, as I walked up to do my duty, I was super nervous. I grabbed Josh's hat hands were frozen. I tried to pin the new rank on it and dropped the hat. I then took FOREVER to pin his hat together. Really. Long. Time. My fingers were just ice cold and refused to work. Go me! It didn't end there though. 

At the end, all of the soldiers who got promoted had about a minute to say something. So when it came to Josh he said "I would like to thank my family, especially my wife, for pinning my rank on upside down."

Yes, that's right. While I was busy with his hat, I paid NO attention to the fact that I was pinning it on upside down! He said it very jokingly, and everyone got a kick out of it though. I'm pretty good at laughing at myself anyways of course!

Here's my incredibly little family with our soldier! We're so proud of him!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Backpacks on the Ground

I have a confession to make.

Hi, I'm Tara...and I'm a reality show junkie.
I watch different shows, but the majority of them are reality. There's something about grown people arguing with each other that just cracks me up. I think its because I have no drama whatsoever in my life, so its funny to watch grown adults go through soooo much drama. 

My husband always teases me for it, but I'll often catch him watching some and saying "Wow...I can't believe that girl did that!" or something to that effect. Hilarious.
One of the shows I watch are Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. A bunch of housewives that get together and argue. All. The. Time. 

Recently though, one of the housewives said something that really stuck with me. Her name is Lisa and she's an older woman with two grown children. She was talking to one of the younger moms about how fast time goes when you're children are little.
She said "I remember when my son Max was in school. Everyday he would come home and drop his backpack right beside the pool. He would always forget to bring it inside, and never put it in his bedroom. It used to drive me absolutely crazy. Everyday I would say 'Max, go get your backpack and bring it inside! Stop leaving it by the pool!'  Only, now that he's grown, that backpack is never by the pool. Sometimes, I'll sit out there and look for that backpack. I miss it. What I would give to look out there and see it laying there again."

There are so many days when I wake up, look around my house and think "Another mess? Here we go again." No matter how well I clean the day before, a new day brings a new mess. More dishes to put away. More laundry to fold. More toys to put away. I constantly am looking for new ways to keep this house in order.

But you know what? I really don't mind it. Yes, my house could be cleaner. I could spend hours upon hours making sure every piece of clothing is put away and everything is in order. Those toys mean my kids are having fun. Those dishes mean that I have made their tummys happy and full. That laundry means that they have played well. 
I know housework can be tedious. It can leave you in a frump and feeling like you're doing the same thing every. single. day. Feel good about that though. It means you're children are thriving and YOU are the one that is providing them with everything they need to be happy, healthy children. day you'll look out your window...and you'll miss that backpack on the ground.

Monday, January 9, 2012

6 month check up

Today was Britton's 6 month check up. If you didn't know, at Britton's 4 month check up, her doctor referred us to a physical therapist about her neck. Britton has a hard time turning her neck to the right. If you dangle a toy in front of her, she'll look at it. Dangle it to her left and she'll crane her neck to see it. But dangle it to her right, and try as she might, she just has trouble looking that way. So, we've been going to the physical therapist once a week. Her physical therapist's name is Charlotte and she doesn't all kinds of exercises with her and also gave us tips on exercises to do at home with her as well.

In the beginning, I of course, racked my brain for what could have caused this. The condition is called torticollis, which basically means that her head is tipped one one, with her chin pointed the other way. It can be caused from many things. I have a very small frame, so its possible that her being tightly squeezed in my tummy could have had something to do with it. Also, when I was 37 weeks pregnant, Britton was breach, so we had to do a version. Basically, they oiled up my belly and flipped her. No matter how questions I ask though, there's no way to actually know a cause. 

Britton's physical therapist has told us in the last few weeks that the torticollis seems to be getting worse. She's been getting tenser in her neck, as well as her hips too. So we went into her 6 month check up knowing that we would have a lot to talk to her doctor about.

We first did the routine things with Britton. Weighing her, measuring her, and all that good stuff. Then we talked about our concerns with the torticollis. The doctor did a great thorough check up on her and didn't really see any problem with her hips, but was concerned with her neck. Its not something to where you can say "This is what it is and this is how we fix it." Since obviously the therapy alone isn't working, we have to seek out other options, as well as ruling out different things that could be causing it.

Her doctor referred us to three different doctors. The first being an eye doctor. She wanted to see if there is a problem with her eyesight that could be causing to her to have lean to the left to see better. It makes a lot of sense that if she couldn't see well, she would lean to whichever side helps her see better. They just so happened to have an appointment today as well, so we went ahead and went to see the eye doctor. They had to dilate her eyes which she was NOT a fan of. The doctor did say that he didn't think it was her eyes, as they seemed perfectly healthy. He does want to see her in two months though, just to make sure since her eyes are still developing.

The other referral is for osteopathic manipulative medicine. This is basically like a chiropractor. 

The last referral is to a general surgeon who will make sure its nothing that needs to be repaired surgically. Yeah...I kinda freaked out at that one.
I had my small melt down, but I am so grateful to her doctor for being so very attentive to Britton and our concerns. She wants us to take Britton to all of these appointments, then come see her next month to regroup and see where we need to from there. 

I get in this mode when it comes to my girls, that I think most mothers can identify with. With my girls...I fix things. I turn on lights so they're not scared. I explain homework so they're not confused. I bathe them so they're not dirty. I feed them so they're not hungry. I play with them so they're not lonely. I CARE for them. I fix things. That's my job. That mama bear? That's me.
I have this saying...mess with me all you want, but if you mess with my husband and kids, THATS when we have problem. 

So I was upset over this for a moment, but then...I just get in that mode. My "fixing" mode. No, I will not fix her myself. I will, however, go to every appointment and will exhaust every resource I have available so that Britton is taken care of. This case is no different.

I also have to say...that being a military wife, I run across what I call "military complainers". They're the wives who just...complain about the military non stop. You know...while the military is providing them a way to stay at home with their children? That's a different blog for a different day though. My point is...I'm so thankful for the military. Their insurance is amazing and without it, I don't know what we do with all of these extra appointments for Britton. I know so many people who have many problems with insurance, and I'm so grateful for mine.

I hope you will all say a prayer for Britton.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Baked Chicken Parmesan

I must be on a roll when it comes to food these days. My recipes have been yummy and my family's stomach's have been full. Which makes for a happy mommy/wife.

The other night, I tried a country fried steak recipe, which didn't turn out so well. Country Fried Steak is one of mine and hubby's favorites, so I was really hoping it would turn out well. It wasn't terrible or anything, but I do want to try and find a better recipe.

Last night however...was a gooood night. 

Read the title. BAKED Chicken Parmesan! Amazing, right? When I saw the pin on pinterest, I put it on my list of things to try. When I was making my meal plan, I knew I had to try it. I'm glad I did! 

The original blogger post is here. I kept mostly to the recipe, only make a couple minor changes. Very minor. It was d-lish!


2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 5, but they were huge!)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons  

So, the first thing you do is spread the olive oil in the pan. You also put the red pepper flakes in there, along with the garlic. I was lazy, and just put some garlic powder in there.

The recipe also calls for 9x13 pan, but I actually used an 8x11, which I think worked better for me. Then, you put your chicken breasts in there. I put 4 in there and they fit nicely.

Then, you're going to pour your two cups of marinara all over the chicken. My jar was just a little more than 2 cups, so I just used the whole thing. 
On top of that, you'll put the basil on. Again, I didn't have fresh basil so I just used the dry basil.
From here, I didn't follow the recipe to a T. The recipe said to then put 4oz of mozzarella cheese on top, then add 2oz of parmesan. You then add the croutons, and then put 4 more oz of mozzarella over that, and then the following 2oz of parmesan.

I just put all the mazzarella in, then all the parmesan. I lastly put the croutons in. Either way, it will taste the same. Its just a matter of layering.
Here is what it looked liked before I put it in

Annnndddd here it is after!

 This was really good. It tasted JUST like Chicken Parmesan and was super easy! I'll definitely be making it again!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ranch Chicken Parmesan

Tonight's meal was a hit!

Day one of the meals on my mean plan and we're already off to a good start. I made ranch chicken parmesan and was very surprised at how well it turned out. I've tried to make different chicken meals with ranch, and for some reason, is hasn't always turned out tasting THAT great. There was a really popular pin on pinterest (does that make sense?) about ranch chicken. It involved using ritz crackers and cheese. I tried it, but I didn't really care for it. The crackers didn't really stick to the chicken, so all the breading essentially fell off. Totally not knocking anyone who DID find it yummy, just wasn't for me.

But THIS ranch chicken? Um, YUM! I found the recipe here, although I did make minor changes. But, I'm all about giving credit where credit is due!


2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup ranch
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup parm cheese, grated
1/2 tspn salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 tspn pepper

Now, these were the measurements that were given, but...I added a bit more. I'm pretty sure you can be generous.

You place the chicken in a bowl, covered in ranch. I just made sure the ranch dressing covered all of the chicken VERY well. Put it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for an hour.

Then, in a bowl you mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. I went by the measurements, then just added a little more of everything.

Take the chicken, out of the ranch dressing, and dip it into the bread crumb mix. Make sure you coat it well.

Then, place it into a greased baking dish.

Then, bake it at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. And voila!

(I had already served my daughter her piece because she was "staaaaarving!!!)

When I make it again, I will be adding more chicken. Usually I only need two breasts when we make anything with chicken. My husband eats a whole piece, and my daughter and I split one piece since with sides added in I usually get full. I could have definitely eaten another piece though. I'll have to add more chicken and probably double the recipe in the mix.

This was such a great meal and will definitely be made again. I served carrots and green beans to go with it. My husband gave it a 7 on his scale!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meal plan.

I did it.

I actually did it.

I made my meal plan.

For the next two weeks, I have nothing at all to worry about when it comes to dinner. Thanks to a couple iphone apps and pinterest, my family will be eating well!

I did menu for now until the 13th. I would have done it until the 15th, but Josh and I are going on a....drumroll please....

Adult getaway!!!

Therefore, we won't need the meals for those days, as we will be enjoying each other's peace. Peach and quiet. The last time we got away, just the two of us, was our honeymoon! As much as I will miss my girls very much, I think its important to still "date" your spouse.

But back to my meals.

For those of you with a smart phone, I think the Betty Crocker app is a must. There are many apps for recipes, but I've found that some of them list recipes that I have zero interest in making. The Betty Crocker app has great recipes that my family and I will adore! I'll be posting the meals I make IF they're good. There isn't any need to share any if they're bad, right?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

Happy New Year!!

We spent our New Year's Eve with neighbors. Eating a big steak dinner, watching Captain America, and then watching the countdown (no worries, Anistyn has grape juice in her wine glass!)
With the new year comes resolutions. I have written about resolutions and what they mean to me. I always like to take some time in the beginning of the year and reflect. On myself mostly. I think about what I want to be for myself, my family, and my friends. 

I really like all the changes I have made this past year. Along with adding another child to our house, I took up doing hair, and crafts. Of course...I do cheat. Since 2011 brought pinterest to the world, I have been taking full advantage.

I feel like in the past years I have somewhat cheated on my resolutions. I always say that my resolution is to be "better". For everyone. Of course,its true, but somewhat vague, right? So this year, my resolution is the same, just a bit more detailed.

I want to be better with my time during the day. I want to have a cleaning and meal plan. I realize this seems silly, but it would help me tremendously! When I clean, I like to start at the top and work my way downstairs, thoroughly cleaning every single room. But I just can't do that every single day, so I want to try to make a plan that will help me.

I want to start working out. I've been such a slacker. I'm skinny, yes. Am I fit though? No. If I ran to the end of our driveway, I would be out of breath.

I want to start eating healthier. I have a growing family who all need to grow. I do pretty well in this category, but I still want to improve.

These are my resolutions for 2012. .Wish me luck with them in the new year, and good luck with yours!