Sunday, February 27, 2011


Ryan spent a few days in Marmaris, Turkey earlier this month. He worked Shore Patrol the entire time so he wasn't able to take advantage of the cultural tours...or the drunken debauchery. Instead he worked rotating shifts with other guys from the squadron policing the crazy 18-year-old sailors who were able to legally drink in Turkey. Fun times!

There he is! And there's the ship!

The one street full of bars or whatever. This is a summer resort town so a bunch of stuff was closed at this time of year.

Fancy, right? I don't know how they choose their port cities. This one didn't really seem large enough to accommodate everyone, but I'm sure they were all just happy to get off the ship.

The USS ENTERPRISE leaving Marmaris. Beautiful!

And, because he knows me so well, Ryan took a picture of his morning coffee (sludge) and sent it to me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Days 27-31

Day 27: Nathan talking to Dad courtesy of Skype. Dad was in a hotel lobby in Portugal and Nathan was in our slightly messy family room.

Day 28: Starbucks! Instead of running errands while the kids were both in school, I met a few mommy friends at Starbucks this morning. It was so nice to spend three hours talking to adults!!!

Day 29: Piles of fabric strips. I hosted a Mom's Night In craft event for my playgroup this evening. I cut hundreds of fabric strips to decorate heart-shaped grapevine wreaths. In fact, I upset my tendinitis and couldn't tie strips on to my own wreath! It also hurt to drive for two weeks. Next time I won't cut all of the strips in one day.

Day 30: Ian is completely grossed out by today's craft. I thought it would be fun to make string hearts and mail them to Dad (another thing that has yet to make it to the ship). I made cornstarch glue and the boys dipped strips of yarn into the glue. We then placed the strips of yarn inside heart cookie cutters on parchment paper.

Day 31: Who is this? This one's for you, Ryan! Me, around midnight, no makeup.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Days 23-26

Ryan is virtually yelling at me (via email) from 8,000 miles away telling me to update the blog so I'm going to give it my best effort over the weekend.

Day 23: Nathan is going crazy playing with a balloon that we brought home with us from the FRG meeting the previous day. Between the static from the dry winter air and the remaining helium, the balloons continued to entertain the boys for two entire days.

Day 24: Can you see Ian's newest wound? It's under his right eye. Best part about this wound is that he couldn't even tell me how it happened. Maybe we should have his tolerance for pain tested at the next doctor visit.

Day 25: Nathan is diligently working on a Valentine craft to send to Daddy (part of the reason I wasn't posting since none of our packages are making it to you, Ryan!!!!). Turns out these didn't make it into the care package because they kept falling apart.

Day 26: We hosted a snowman themed playdate. I made a few batches of homemade "snow dough" so the kids could make snowmen. We also used marshmallows, pretzel sticks and Wilton food writer pens to make edible snowmen. Ian wanted me to hurry up and take this picture so he could eat his creation.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Days 20-22

Day 20: Just a little preparation for tomorrow night's Mom's Night In event at my house. Can you guess the theme? Twilight "Book Club"! Oh, it gets worse (read: more embarrassing for me)...

Day 21: Team Edward! Yes, I purchased a 6-ft Edward cutout for our fun mom's night. I took pictures of everyone with Edward, but when it was my turn to be in the photo, the mom was laughing so hard they ended up more blurry than this photo! Oh, well, next time. (Yes, it has been requested I host a Twilight Saga night so we can discuss the other books in the series. We are complete dorks!

Day 22: Ian colored this picture to mail to Daddy at today's Family Readiness Group (FRG) meeting. The boys had a great time playing hide-and-seek with the other kids, making crafts to mail to the ship and, of course, eating. We are lucky that our command is full of so many awesome families!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Days 16-19

Thanks to Project 365 I now have 574 pictures in my January 2011 folder on our external hard drive. Everything has been uploaded and I hope to finish posting all of our January entries by Monday.

Day 16: The boys are drawing pictures to mail to Ryan. Soon his rack on the ship will be very colorful and full of drawings, craft projects and photographs.

Day 17: Oh, goodness, the boys are wearing the same shirts. I had to look back at the calendar and figure out how that was possible. Day 16 was an afternoon bath day since I let them play outside despite the chilly temperatures. Day 17 was a No School day so I let them put on whatever they wanted in the morning. I think they would wear the same clothes every day if I allowed it. Anyway, they are happily playing Candyland together while I cook dinner.

Day 18: Stack of chili for the freezer. One of my secrets to surviving deployments, underway periods and detachments is to cook big and fill the freezer. This prevents those last-minute runs to the Taco Bell drive thru. I cooked a double batch of turkey chili and this is what we had leftover AFTER we ate it for dinner.

Day 19: More food! I hosted a casserole dinner playdate and each mom brought a different casserole to share. I tried out a new recipe and it turned out pretty well. I'll post the recipe with my suggestions below. And this recipe makes a double batch so I added a full casserole to our freezer this night as well!

Baked Penne with Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

**Makes 2 baking dishes -- each serves 4-6**

6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
salt & pepper
1 pound penne
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk
10 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 oz)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 oz)

Preheat oven to 400. Butter 2 shallow 2-quart baking dishes.

Cook penne 3 minutes short of al dente. Drain and return to pot.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt & pepper; cook until opaque. Cool a bit and thinly slice crosswise.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with remaining Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Prepare through step 4 (mixing and dividing between dishes); let cool. Cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

**My notes: Double the sun-dried tomatoes, use baby portobella mushrooms as opposed to regular button mushrooms to add flavor. I plan to trade out a portion of the provolone for asiago next time as well to give it added flavor. Also, I think substituting 2-3 cups of the milk with 2% instead of whole would have been fine. It was very rich.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Strait of Gibraltar

Man, had I known the secret to receiving photos during deployment was having kids I may have had kids sooner. Ryan even included photos with him in them! That's a first!!!

The Rock of Gibraltar. Considering Ryan only has a point and shoot Nikon Coolpix underway, I think this is a pretty great shot of the Rock. It also indicates just how close the ship must have been while taking this picture.

Ryan and a friend of ours from Ryan's college years who just happens to be attached to one of the other squadrons in the airwing. Notice our friend's UGLY mustache. The aviators just LOVE to have these awful mustache-growing competitions underway. Notice that Ryan isn't participating. He's not a party pooper, but he does respond well to threats made by me. Love you, Ryan! (I'm assuming he reads these posts in port...I could be wrong).

While showing the boys this round of photos from Dad, Nathan kept waving at the computer screen saying, "Hi, Dad!" We were lucky enough to talk with Ryan via Skype twice while he was in Portugal (really 3 times, but the drunken evening full of his co-workers doesn't count--the kids were lucky enough to be asleep for that one) so I think that Nathan thought that Ryan could hear him. It was cute and heartbreaking. He tells me every single day how much he misses his dad.