Thursday, December 15, 2011


I went to my second concert last night.  That's right.. the second concert in my entire life was last night to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  My first was Neil Diamond at the ripe old age of 8.  There are two types of people in this world...

I have a friend who is crazy ridiclous amazing at winning prizes off of the radio, giveaway blogs, etc.  We made a friendly wager.  She won the tickets and we went to the concert together.  Talk about a ladies night!  Not only did she win the tickets, she won floor seats, five  rows from the stage and center section.  We couldn't not have asked for anything better.  After two and a half hours of a dang good show I have learned some things...

1) Earplugs don't do any good if you keep them in your pocket
2) Concerts with friends are pretty sweet
3) Rock stars aren't all that good looking close up
4) Electric violins are a.w.e.s.o.m.e.
5) I think to audition for a rock band you have to be able to do the hair flippy thing for at least an hour straight
6) Being so close I could pick out the fingerings on the guitar while the dude was playing was amazing
7) Having several thousand tons of metal and flashing lights above my head moving was a bit unnerving at times
8) The compositions and arrangements of the pieces was like candy for my ears (when they weren't ringing)
9) Be sure to tell your eldest daughter to leave the door unlocked or take a set of keys with you so you can get back in the house in the wee hours of the morning
10) I want to do it again

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Amsden Family Christmas Letter 2011

So our Christmas cards were sent through a fabulous company this year which made the cards, addressed and stamped them all for us without having to lift a finger past entering all of the addresses.  The only downside was that we couldn't include our traditional Christmas letter, so we get to insert that in our blog like last year. Here goes nuttin'...

Kevin... enjoyed Okinawa to its fullest until he returned home to us from his deployment in May. He loved the culture, people and especially the Sushi. He is currently working as an Executive Officer for one of the Generals at Peterson AFB and was recently picked up for the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Board (you can read more about that on his Facebook page.) We found out the Air Force will be taking us to Alabama next July and I am quite sure Kevin will finally meet his goal of running a marathon while we are there.

Amy...continues to run a well-oiled machine while teaching 25 piano students. She also loves to delve into her teaching roots at the children's school every once in a while and has lovingly assumed the name "gym rat" from some of her closest friends. The highlight of her year was going to Disneyland sans children and playing from sun up to sun down pausing only to get pictures with the characters roaming the park. She is already planning our trip to Walt Disney World...

Breanna...she auditioned for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony with her trumpet last spring and is thoroughly enjoying her experience. She has also decided to become part fish by competing with a local swim team and continues to test our word knowledge daily.

Ryan...he decided to become a flautist (a person who plays the flute) and is loving the instrument! He has also embarked on competing with the swim team and discovered the beauty of "Dep" gel this year.

Courtney...she has taken off with her piano instruction and has formed gills as well (swimming with the swim team.) She was teaching Audrey ballet positions tonight and consistently has matching accessories laid out the night before for her school uniform.

Derek... he continues to be Derek and we love him for it! It also appears he will try his hand at Water Polo when he is old enough as we can never find that boy once he touches the water. He started preschool this year and is so excited to be in Kindergarten next year. Amy has been given instructions just to drop him off at the door his first day of Kindergarten. Oh brother.

Audrey...our little Cricket is turning two in January! She absolutely adores her siblings and her love is certainly returned. While she is our littlest member, she can certainly hold her own---don't let the cute curly hair fool you!

As always, our year has been eventful and full of love, experience and trials given to strengthen us. We absolutely love keeping track of all of you via Facebook, Christmas cards/letters, phone calls and emails. Our lives are so blessed because of you. May we all remember the reason for the season.

Love,
The Amsden Family

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Randomness

It is 8:41 PM. 

The children have been asleep for a while.

I am waiting for Kevin and Breanna to return home from her Youth Symphony practice. 

I am seriously craving Panda Express Beijing Beef right now.

I don't want to move my body in any shape or fashion since the last two days my "never ceases to amaze, surprise or let me be lethargic" group exercise trainer has generously helped me rediscover muscle groups all over my body (not complaining mind you, but this is my blog and MY time with my thoughts you are casually reading.)

It baffles me that owners or property managers will rent a home without a refrigerator. 

Why in the world would you put a high school, two elementary schools, a day care facility and a home development all together and not put in a stop light but offer a four way stop which allows drivers to show their idiotic decision making skills all hours of the day?

Alabama is growing on me.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the dessert part.  The many, many dessert parts. 

I have a whole stack of magazines glaring their cover stories at me off to the right of where I sit.  Wonder when they will get read?  Chuckle, chuckle. 

Why do we not have snow?  I despise brownness.  This is probably why I love California so much.  It is always green.  If it is going to be brown and cold, cover it with white.

I feel like baking a pie for some of my favorite people.  I am plumb out of apples, however.  Drats.

Randomness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas music--ALREADY? YES!

As I was perusing the radio stations earlier this week in Big Red wearing my "Mom Taxi" cap and collecting fares of empty wrappers, excellent conversations and a synopsis of "Catch 22" I found a station playing Christmas music! Yes, I realize it is early---Thanksgiving hasn't even passed yet; however, I think I have become one of "those people" who listens to the music as early as it is played or even many odd times during the year. Derek sang "Jingle Bells" at the top of his lungs and my heart sang with him. "O Holy Night" always stirs the soul and "Let It Snow" verbalizes what each of us wishes for... a white Christmas. It is probably a wee bit early to start watching the weather reports for December 25, eh?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Alabama. The land of sugar white sand beaches, top notch golf courses, pristine fall colors and historical sites. Apparently, it will be home to the Amsden family next summer as well. Kevin has the opportunity to go Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery and we get to be his follow-on entourage in this wild adventure the Air Force has handed us. How do I feel about it? Well, let's just say my opening statement with the sugar white beaches was not the first thought that popped into my head... my first thought was fried chicken, fried Twinkies and fried Snickers bars. I didn't think of those because I am dying to try one but that is what pops into my brain of when I think of the South. I also think of quotes such as these from "Sweet Home Alabama" the movie produced in 2002-- "You dumb stubborn redneck hick," "Look at you, you have a baby... In a bar," and "Why don't you go back to your double-wide and fry something." I am, admittedly, biased on my perception of what the other end of this beautiful country I live in is like. I am super uper duper excited that Walt Disney World is only 7 1/2 hours away, that Kevin's work schedule will be something similar to his college days and that we can hit the beach in less than a two hour drive. Would it be wrong of me to pick up a southern drawl if I wasn't born and raised an Alabaman?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The meal I struggle with...

Eating correctly is a heck of a lot harder than most people realize. To top that off, I get so busy with everything running through my head that many times I forget to eat. period. Breakfast is never an issue... an instant breakfast with some whey protein and I am on my way. Dinner is with the family and I have that menu planned out for 8 weeks. Done. Lunch. sigh. Lunch. It seems as if every day I am in the never ending debate of what to eat for lunch. I don't particularly want what Derek and Audrey are eating since I just busted my butt at the gym and a corndog just ain't doin' it for me, so I am left to fend for myself. Yesterday... Grapenuts with raisins. The day before that... Grapenuts with raisins. The day before that... Chicken Caesar Salad (good day). The day before that...A Grilled Chicken Sandwich (another good day). The day before that... Life Cereal. I am seeing a trend here of cold cereal since it is fast and easy and generally (if you pick the right ones) half way decent for you. Today... grilled ham and cheese (no bread) and I am still squandering for what to give my demanding body. Panera Bread anyone?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

And then there were four "responsible" parents

As of right now, I can't decide what title to give this blog post... thoughts were: Eleven Children, Half My Age, Hurdling Talents Discovered, What To Do Next Time? Regardless, they all are describing the recent trip to Disneyland which Kevin and I took sans children. It was interesting to see the reactions we received when we would run into people we knew at Disneyland and they would not see any children in tow. Between and Miles and Amsden families we have eleven children---the score is five for the home team and six for the away. Quite a feat to have two couples with families of our size on vacation as couples and not as famillies. It took a years worth of coordination with grandparents, aunts, friends and teachers to make it work, but, by golly, it was certainly quite worth it. I'm not going to go into details of the trip as then it would be like I was gathering you all in to watch the never ending slide show of our trip but I will touch on a few highlights... My husband schmoozed our way into a convertible which we enjoyed driving up the Pacific Coast Highway (also known as Highway1). I was on the lookout for hottie McHottie Matthew McConaughey but didn't have any luck. Ate an entire combo meal at In-N-Out burger with my fries "animal style" and enjoyed every last morsel without feeling any guilt. Later that night I felt horrible from all of the grease but I still savor the flavors of "The Spread." The next day I experienced Disneyland in it fullness without having to worry about diapers, wipes, baby food, nap times, kids meals or sunscreen. I love my children. I love making sure they are well taken care of, but I loved having only a piece of plastic in my back pocket to carry around for five days. Dressing up for our Halloween Spooktacular party was amazingly fun and I swear all four of receded in age by at least ten years. Running around the park, trick or treating, with not a care in the world for the time of day or if we even had dinner was awesome. I also found myself strangly attracted to Kevin's press on mustache. A highlight was the next day as we were having some friendly "speed walking" competiton to get to our next "Fast Pass" station and as Tanan and I were edging up on each other he broke into a run only to find a motorized scooter and stroller with a sleeping child was in his way... he launched himself over the stroller with a passing, "Do you have any Grey Poupon?" and successfully beat me to the front of the line by milliseconds. The sight alone was worth the defeat.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Making room in the fridge

Thursday marked our month of birthday celebrations. It begins with Ryan on the 22nd of September, I follow a week later on the 30th, Breanna follows a week later on the 7th and Courtney bring is all to a happy end on the 15th. Not kidding. Over the years, Kevin and I have often had people ask, "How did you plan all of your fall birthdays?" It is quite simple. Take the average of all four birthdays, go back nine months and you have.... Kevin's birthday. (wink, wink.) Today was Ryan's party and we had six boys coming over. I was in charge of ordering the food so I ordered six medium Domino's pizzas. Factor in Derek, Courtney, Audrey, Kevin and myself in addition to the six boys and I figured should polish off all six, no problem. Wrong. I had to make room in our fridge for FOUR pizzas! Not even 2/3 eaten pepperoni pies. FOUR entire pizzas. When did boys become so whimpy in their appetites? Do they not have hollow legs? Does one boy not eat an entire pizza by himself? Am I just jumping the gun for teenagerhood? If you need some lunch, come on over. Apparently, I have some pizza to share.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In five years

As Kevin and I were cruising Costco this weekend, we had an "aha" moment when we realized that our eldest child could be leaving the nest in five years. Yep... Breanna could be headed off to college in five years. It tore my heart in two. I broke down in tears on the display furniture right next to the holiday candy and the sherpa lined blankets. She truly was meant to be our first child as she is the peacemaker in our home, a shining example for her siblings and has been an excellent child to help raise us as parents. I figure having this "aha" moment 60 months in advance will help me accept the day she leaves the safety of her home to help the make the world a better place just by simply living in it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A very fulfilling moment

I have blogged before about how fulfulling it has been to teach my own children to play piano and to now hear Breanna playing Chopin, Bach, Joplin and Mozart. Right on her heels are Courtney and Ryan tearing up the ivory keys and enjoying what has become an integral part of their childhood. Derek, being a most observant child, asked months ago to start learning how to play the piano. I held him off for as long as I could (he is only four) and finally caved. I sent him to another teacher. I was worried the differences of our strong opinions would make it a horrible experience and he would never want to pick up the instrument again. Today that all changed. Since the other children started school in August I have suspended his lessons to see how my schedule worked in the middle of the day. As it turns out, I just don't have an opportunity to drive him to lessons with Audrey's nap times as they stand right now. So.... I dived in. He received a rip roarin' piano lesson using 6 of his fingers on the black keys today AND it was a pleasant experience. I still can't believe we enjoyed each other's company so much. I am sure I was building it up in my head much more than it needed to be, but as a parent I never want to do anything which will have negative effects on my child. I am sure the high point of the lesson for him was getting to pick out of my candy box, but for me it was connecting with my son with a language foreign to him but one I speak, think and dream fluently...music.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My own kitchen drawer liners


Today was my step aerobics class with "Big Momma" and 32 of my friends (okay I don't know everyone, but when you sweat together you form some sort of weird bond). Last Friday was just a bad morning so I beat my step to a pulp with my frustration. Today was an incredible day and I worked my step over pretty hard because I loved the music I was working out to, loved the company I was with and had an abundant amount of energy (don't ask me where that came from after shuttling around 5 kids yesterday for two hours) but I had to keep stopping to readjust the stupid thing because the rubber footie things on the bottom are obviously not so rubbery any more and to top that off, the kitchen drawer liners (grippy thingies) which we put underneath the rubber footies have also seen better days. I believe one of my things on my "to do" list this week is to go purchase my own kitchen drawer liners and just pack them in with the rest of my gym stuff. Who would have thought that in addition to weight lifting gloves, protein bars, water bottles and towels to catch my sweat I would be adding something found underneath my dinner plates?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A change of pace

So if you have read my previous posts, you know I have two gears... reverse and high. Apparently this week, my high gear just got a turbo engine with a couple of nitric oxide boosters added as we have rolled into the athletic arena. I have few sports in which I will whole heartedly support my children participating in (I hate ending in a prepositional phrase, but I can't figure out how to change it). In fact, I have two--- swimming and running. A few of my reasons are that I want them to be good at the sport individually and not have to depend on a team for their success and the other biggie is that I want them to be able to do the sport for the rest of their lives. So this week we entered into the competetive swimming arena with Breanna and Ryan. I am not expecting Olympic swimmers; however, I believe that caring for your body has to start early and part of that is giving your heart a good workout. So swimming five days a week is now on our platter of activities. Courtney will eventually follow and as we have watched Derek learn to exhale underwater on his own (thankfully not inhale!), I am pretty sure he will be following suit when he is old enough.

I have made it through this week. It was a test. Kevin is working for our retirement to the tune of at least 16 hour days (Generals keep one hopping on both feet repeatedly) so how much I put on to my plate is solely dependant on how I can manage it all. Being exahausted at the end of the day feels great as long as I have my time to keep myself healthy in the mornings. Now I just need some suggestions on what to feed these children after practice so I don't have to keep making a fourth meal. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meet My Lisa

It started about 4 years ago. We moved from Colorado Springs to Vandenberg AFB in California and we knew of the Brock family because they were moving to VAFB right along with us. We never interacted with them while we lived in Colorado Springs even though "the boys" worked together and we lived less than 7 miles apart. So we arrive in CA at practically the same time, see each other at the housing office and spontaneously invited them to go the bowling alley for lunch with us. Little did we know that it would be the beginning of the intertwining of the Brock and Amsden families. After getting to know Lisa better she discovered that I liked to run and after taking one look at her, I knew she could maneuver around the weight room pretty easily. She wanted to start running, I wanted to not be intimidated by the weight room and so it began our crazy 0430 workout schedule. Little did I know that the workouts and already built friendship would lead to knowing a person so well that we could finish each other's sentences. We were known to our husbands as "The Dangerous Duo", Crestview PTA had their world refreshed by us filling the President and Vice President roles, holiday dinners... you get the picture.
Even though the Air Force has separated us for the time being, we have remained in close contact thanks to modern technology. I could probably add texting to our cell service and then I would become a texting junkie with this woman. Maybe not such a bad idea... anywho, I always have told Lisa I expect to see her on the cover of "Oxygen" magazine one of these days and have submitted my resume to be her manager. The woman is just incredible and is one my inspirations for continuing to hit the gym every day.
I call her "My Lisa" because I have such fond memories of her. Sure, we had our ups and downs and I realize now that those moments were so intense because we cared so much for our friendship.
I post this blog because I am so proud of her. She recently was in the Potomac Cup fitness competition and she absolutely blew her competition out of the water. I am her cheering section across the miles and I wish every time she competes I could be there. Times and seasons, I know...










Monday, July 18, 2011

I have two gears

Most bicycles (except beginning bicycles) have at least 5-8 gears. Motorcycles have usually 5, a manual transmission on a car-- 5, a semi truck diesel-- many more than five. Things that go and work have many gears. I have two. That's it folks-- two. High gear and reverse. For most machines you have to slow down or completely stop to switch from a forward gear to a reverse to avoid doing irrepairable damage. Not me. Switched in an instant. As this is our month of vacationing, I get to flip between those to gears several times and I love them both. An old slogan, which was obviously catchy said something to the effect of, "We get more things done before 6 AM than most people do all day." That is me in high gear---every day, all day until my head hits that pillow. I wouldn't have it any other way. I am sincerely appreciative of the fact; however, that I can leave for a week with my family to the Colorado Rockies without having ANY screens or electronic devices used. Samsung, Nintendo and Motorola all found themselves absolutely obsolete, as they will again in the near future, while we enjoyed the bond we have created as a family unit. I look forward to being in reverse for no other reason than to just watch my blessings splash and get covered in mud while enjoying a free flowing river. While I see Audrey discover a wildflower or pokey weed for the first time. While I watch our children devour the campfire S'mores with marshmallows carefully burned. High gear can wait for a few days...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Too smart for her own good


Apparently, you will be privledged to read posts about both of our pets... you met Max last week and now you get to meet Ginny. Ginny is our Jack Russell Terrier. She is 8 years old and we have had her in our family for 7. She is an amazing family companion and too smart for her own good. Case in point... yesterday we went to Eitch Gardens with Derek and Audrey (the older three are at summer camp). We left her in the backyard with food and water. When we returned we were greeted by the typical white lightning (Ginny barreling through the kitchen) and went about emptying the car of all kid stuff. Later in the evening I was surfing through Facebook when I noticed a friend of ours who lives down the street from us had said that Ginny was out and was sitting on our front porch waiting for us to return home. She said she got her back into the backyard and had put a barrier in front of the wooden gate since that was apparently how she got out. I personally made sure that gate was closed before we left so how did she get out? This theory has yet to be proven, but we are pretty sure she learned how to hit the lever with her paw and open the gate. That is truly the only explaination. Kevin and I will test our theory in the near future and add an update but it wouldn't surprise us if our theory was proven true. This dog is one smart cookie and is so loyal to our family. Too bad they didn't have a dog park at Elitches.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm sorry... he IS dead

We aquired a hermit crab several months ago from Courtney's second grade classroom. His name is Max. We have learned how to take care of this wonderful creature and he has adapted well into our chaos. He has never changed shells so we are always on the edge of our seats waiting for him to pick a new home. Three days ago, Courtney announced the moment had arrived and Max was out of his shell! I ran up to see him and was apprehensive as I announced to Courtney...Max is dead. I swore the crab was dead. I looked inside his shell hoping to see one of his little claws. I touched the remains, moved them around and watched them for an entire day hoping that he would move. After that day of observance, I regretably removed his remains, put them in a Ziploc baggie and threw the bag in the trash. I couldn't decide if this justified a backyard burial. Courtney asked yesterday if I had taken care of Max and I said I had and that was the end of that.

Surprise! Courtney comes bounding down the stairs today and yells, "Max is alive!" I assured her she was wrong and proceeded to take the stairs two at a time to see what in the world was going on inside this 2 by 3 foot cage in which his shell had apparently moved from one side of the cage to the other. The shell had indeed moved. My curiosity was piqued. Do I reach my hand inside this cage to determine if there is a crab ghost living there? Oh. My. Being the brave momma I needed to be, I picked up his shell and THERE WAS MAX! Apparently he had shed his exoskeleton to include what looked like to be his claws---everything. We are so happy he is alive and have promptly given him food and water--we hadn't since we thought he was dead. Now I know what an exoskeleton of a hermit crab looks like and we are officially an Amsden party of 9 once again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The mailboxes

As I was returning from the mail today, I had this fleeting thought... with over 100 houses sharing the same location for their mailbox why do I never see another soul when I am gathering my mail? People collect their mail often, one would assume, since important documents do still come through snail mail; so, where have they gone? Didn't see anyone yesterday or the day before. I see the mailman every once in a while when I am stalking him for the package I am anxiously awaiting, but I never see another resident collecting their mail. Is it because of the time I go? I don't think so as it varies from day to day. Curious to know if your mailboxes are a gathering place or a ghost town?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You know that it is summer

Summer is a time to break out the sunscreen, crank up the AC (at least my husband would love if I did that--- I am too much of a miser to have it on too long), dust off the coolers, grab the picnic basket and tune up the bikes. As I was driving our neighborhood I noticed many more "second vehicle" cars were parked out in the driveway and as I pulled into our driveway, our sporty Subaru was one of the ones which had been kicked out of the shady, weather protected garage space now occupied by 6 bicycles and a Chariot stroller. It. Is. Summer. Time for the fearless escapades of Ryan and Derek as they tear down the Balance Circle sidewalk like it is the Indy 500 with little care for any obstacles in their way. Time to get the bahooka reconditioned for the ever slim bicycle seat which I swear is made of hard plastic most days. But most of all, it is time to create those lazy summer day memories that I know I will cherish in seven years when Breanna has flown the nest and is headed to college. Now if I could only find that perfect swimsuit...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sharing a meal...

Kevin and I are social beings. Always have been. Always will be. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to have a meal with another family. Now, granted, that other family needs to have certain attributes which will compliment ours---an awesome sense of humor, only a slight level of shyness, a wild, spontaneous side, moderately similar food tastes and a good amount of forgiveness and understanding for all of the craziness which will transpire during the dinner. Bonus features include: children the same age, close proximity to our house, being able to read Amy's imaginary reader board, being able to be a night owl, and a love of killer UNO. Now that the precendents have been laid for our dinner guests the point of this blog is simply this... a meal tastes better when shared with friends. Hands down. Doesn't matter if it is cold cereal, filet mignon or a five course meal. Not only does it help my taste buds to savor every flavor but it creates awesome memories that we always treasure and remember. Some of our fondest memories are from 12 years ago when we swapped dinner once a week with some dear friends who lived in the same apartment complex as us. Still use many of her recipies. Still visit and stay with them when we head to Utah. Still love them to pieces. When would you like to share a meal?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Putting down the peanuts


So, honestly I am blogging right now to force myself to put down Planters Sweet 'N Crunchy peanuts which I am obesessed with right now. I just can's stop eating them, so if I type then I can't open the can, pick the one out with the most sugar coating, pop it on my mouth and chew through the candy coated shell to the.... peanut. Actually cashews are my favorite nut, but any nut candy coated is automatically my favorite. I love those Farmer's Market stands where they roast or coat the nuts right before your eyes with any flavor... cinnamon, cinnamon and sugar, toffee, chipotle and lime, you name it. Delish. My craving is gone. Thank you for helping me so I don't have to run an additional two miles tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More summers than most

As I have been cruising through blogs, facebook stats, memoirs, etc., I noticed a common trend... Kevin and I have been married longer than most of our friends. It may be only by a couple months, but it is still longer. Should I feel old? Should I feel seasoned? Should I hope that in those longer years and more summers of being married that we are able to pass on to our younger comrades the secrets of marriage that we have discovered? Nah... all you younguns get to figure it out for yourselves. :) We will just sit back with our front row tickets and enjoy the show of ya'll sifting through what we already know.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Makes for some excitement in cooking...


So during our staycation Kevin and I decided to just do some window shopping since we had no kiddos in tow and could browse as long as we wanted to. We started at a strip mall location and then discovered that it was freaking cold! We ditched half of the shops and ate some warm yummies at Panera Bread. We then ventured on to one of my favorite places lately... Penzeys Spices. I just love the smell of the store when I enter the door and then the culinary creative part of my brain just goes wild. Mexican Vanilla, Vietnamese Cinnamon, Garam Marsala blend, India Tellecherry Peppercorns, China Ginger... the list contines on for oodles of time. I am now salivating. I would fit well into Pavlov's expriment. Looking for some taste testers.... :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Could I do it again?

As Kevin has returned home from his deployment, I often reflect back on those six months that he was gone and most of the time I say to myself, "Man! Those went by quickly!" but then I stop to think about each of the individual months and realize that many days were more than difficult. Many days were unbearable. Not because the children had a hard day but because he was missing so many memories with the children and I. Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010, New Years, Audrey's first birthday, Derek's 4th birthday, Kevin's birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, April Fool's Day, children's events, choir performances were all done without him present. The day came and went and we made it through but I would never choose to do it again if I had the choice. Could we do it again? Absolutely! Would we ever want to? No.
For those of you whose spouses are still deployed you have my heart. You have my compassion. You have my strength when you need it. For those of you whose spouses will deploy, you have my ability to listen, to cry with you, to laugh with you and to buoy you up when you need it. Take from my experience what you need and want. I am more than willing to give anything to help someone through what I experienced.

We may have to go through a deployment sometime in the next eight years. Will I be better prepared for it? I hope so, but I also do not believe that we can ever prepare ourselves fully for the emptiness you feel when your companion is so far away. I love our country, I love my husband and for the sacrifices he makes for what he believes in and for our family. His perspective is amazing and constant. I am so happy he is home. I am once again complete.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I might never understand


As I was hanging out our American flag today I noticed that we were the only house on our street that had an American flag out. I thought it might be because it was a wee bit early in the morning, but as the day progressed, flags failed to make their appearance on the front doorstep of any house on our street. It saddened me. As I remember living on base in California EVERY house had an American flag waving on almost every day of the year. The base housing office even installed flag holders on every house. I sit and reflect on this and wonder why we are the odd man out on the block? Is it because we have to spend money and time on a flag? Many people spend the money and time to purchase and set up a flag for sports teams outside their houses... why not the flag of our country? I will probably never understand why since it is part of who I am. But if you don't have a flag waving outside your front door, may I suggest you invest the time and money to show your support for the great nation so many men and women are fighting for? Just a thought. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A day for bargain hunting



It came. My first issue to Reader's Digest and also Family Fun! Now you might ask, okay, whoop de dooo... well, I got my subscription to Reader's Digest for under $4 a year and $3 a year for Family Fun. I have always looked for deals on ANYTHING I purchase, but I hadn't ventured into the magazine world until I discovered www.slickdeals.net. I was initially worried that the websites I went through were not all they cracked themselves up to be, but it's official---I am now in their monthly database. Since purchasing those two magainzes, I have found Taste of Home for $4 a year, National Geographic for $10 a year and Oxygen for $4.95 a year. Dude. What else do I want to read?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Easter Sunday




So Easter this year was one that will probably fade away quickly. We did have a fabulous day with our friends on Saturday but one huge element was missing... Kevin. However, we woke up Saturday morning to a huge surprise... an "Easter Bunny" left us a basket full of goodies! Whomever did this knows our family incredibly well. What I couldn't get over was several months ago we noticed a family playing "Go Fish" with their children in a restaurant while waiting for their food. I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of that before so I went on a hunt for a "Cars" Go Fish game. Couldn't find one anywhere...what was in the basket? Amongst games for the older children, Weebles for Audrey, cookies ready to be decorated, beautiful flowers for the girl's hair, a CD for me was a Go Fish "Cars" game! I couldn't believe it! It was awesome. It made my day to be remembered by someone who knows our family so well. Thank you.. whomever you are. We look forward to having many picnics with the basket you left. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Service


So pretty much from the time I got myself ready for the day this morning until right this very minute, I have been doing service for others... mainly my children, but others as well. As parents, I believe that the majority of our time does, and should, be focused on our children. In focusing on service to others, outside of our family, the mix of people in this planet we all share is incredible. No two of us are alike and it is a huge growing experience to try and make all the pieces of the puzzle work together in harmony. One person's needs or wants do not fulfill another persons, ideas are interpreted differently across the board, harmony is sought for but rarely achieved in a complete fashion. It's just plain tough to do the right thing for everyone, and then you sit and reflect on the day and wonder who filled your cup?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Consignments...


So I went to my first ever consignment sale today and must say it was worth the trip. After Derek was born, we gave away a good portion of our girl clothes so when Audrey came along, new clothes were needed. So... I decided to venture out. Pretty cool... people get to make money off of their baby clothes, I get a great deal and Audrey is dressed as cute as can be. I think it is every mother's dream to have their baby dolled up every day, but the vast majority of the population certainly can't afford high end retail outfits every day. And we all know those babies only wear those clothes for maybe 6 months. Would I go if I didn't have a baby under 2? Probably not, but since I do, it kept me occupied for a few hours on a Saturday. By the way... two weeks and 6 days left! Wahoo!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A faithful companion


As I was walking to the kitchen to check on lunch, I heard the sound of the Amsden Family's faithful companion---Ginny, our Jack Russell Terrier following me. I will be the first to admit and our children will always have priority over our dog; however, she bring to our family a joy (most of the time) that we have never seen with other dogs. For intance, since Kevin has been deployed she needs her time to Skype with Kevin. Call me crazy, but she still needs to know that he is still around and loves her. Unfortunately, she doesn't get wrestled around quite as much with him gone, but we do our best to turn her into "White Lightning" around the house where she runs around like a "Crazy Dog" and subsequently throws the kids into fits of hysterical laughter. She greets us at the door when we come home, rids our yard and garage of mice, becomes an electric blanket for the children at night and gives me a sense of security knowing that her hearing is better than mine sometimes. She is predictable, loving and genuinely a great fit into our family.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Library Due Dates

So library due dates are really just suggestions aren't they? I mean for .10 a day I can keep the item and return it when it is convenient for me or I can drive to the library, use a gallon of gasoline and feel as though I have stayed within the library rules. What is up with a one week "borrowing" time of DVD's? "How It's Made" is meant to be kept for longer than that so we can attempt to make everything ourselves, right? So right now, I am in the overdue status... it's creepy and I kind of don't like it knowing that I am making an educated decision to keep something past the due date (I am NOT a procrastinator or later turner inner.) But money does talk and I will pay our $1 late fee so I can save almost $4 in gasoline. So is life when the government can't agree on a budget, eh?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Etiquette?

As Kevin and I (lately just myself since Kevin is a few miles away) are out in public with our children, we sometimes get comments about how large our family is. Now, I never imagined I would have a family this large and my mother and father would probably agree with the fact that THEY never thought I would have a family this large since I only have one sibling; nevertheless, Kevin and I have five beautiful children. Not a single surprise pregnancy, either. (We did pay attention in Health class in middle school.) My question is this... if you don't know Kevin or I from Adam and Eve why would you feel it is your privledge to become privvy to the knowledge of if we are having any more children? Have we ever invited you into our bedroom? Have we inquired why you chose to only have one or no children? Just wondering if there is some etiquette book out there that I missed in high school or college? Maybe I missed it in the Reader's Digest or "Ask Heloise" in Good Housekeeping...I chalk it up to mere curiosity, but it still baffles me...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fool's Day

I don't get giddy over every holiday, but April Fool's Day is one that I do look forward to. :) Our kiddos never know what to expect and tomorrow will be no exception... the dough is kneading, the sauce is simmering, the olives are sliced, cheese is grated and tomorrow morning our munchkins will wake to the smell of ...pizza. Delicious, homemade pizza. I can hardly wait.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Where everything is large...

Went to Costco today and as I was backing out our nine passenger Suburban I realized that I really appreciate the engineer who incorporated Costco's parking lot design. The parking spaces are large, the aisle between the car rows is large and it makes it very easy to turn Big Red around and head home with our treasures. I love that the shopping cart can fit two of my children in the front, that we have to split a Churro just to finish it all between the three of us, that two carts can go down the same aisle together and not hit each other, that I can purchase the largest bag of already shelled peas for my boys and I am instantly the best mom ever. Another great part of the shopping trip today???? I spent under $50! I swear there is a cover charge added at the cash registers because the under 50 mark doesn't happen too often with five children...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If you are hired as a gardener...

So I was at King Soopers today and lo and behold they have started bringing out the greenery... yes the beautiful potted plants we all want to take home and plant to beautify our homes. One problem... it was 50 degrees with a wind and they had Impatients outside. It absolutely breaks my heart to see these poor plants withering due to the chill and makes me want to scold the people ignorant enough to put them outside. For heavens sake, if you are hired to be a greenery purchase person, do your homework. Or better yet--- hire me. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The women's locker room

I know the title is a little "risque"; however, today was a crazy day in the women's locker room at the Y! I don't know if it was because it was Spring Break for District 20 or what the deal-i-o was but when I entered this morning at 8:20 AM there were blowdryers running, curling irons steaming, showers pouring, women everywhere (thankfully dressed in towels) but it was just busy! And then as I was hopping on the scale, I noticed the scent of all the body lotions and hair products was quite nice and then I thought to myself... I bet the men's locker room doesn't smell like this. I will take the craziness if I can have the nice smell anyday. Tough luck my manly friends. I guess you could break out the AXE body spray. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A growing experience

So when our choir performs, I always have butterflies hours before. Thankfully I have gotten past the point of not sleeping at night and I do get a good night's rest, but right now, right at this moment, the butterflies are churning. I am running through the piece in my head page by page, remembering breath marks, slurs, ritardandos, dimuendos, etc. But the trickiest is when one section of voices is holding and the other is beginning---cutting one off, keeping the other going, two hands, four sections of voices. I think I may need those octopus arms a bit sooner than later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A fun St. Patrick's Day

So this year I have decided to send the kiddos on a scavenger hunt and make the house look like a leprechaun has been causing mischief. Here is the final note with their "pot of gold"

Ode to the Amsden Children

You thought you could run
You thought you could hide
But the Leprechaun from Crestview
Has found where you bide.

You may try to set traps
Or lure me with sweets
But I am too tricky
For even you, my peeps.

Pictures will be coming. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It has finally come full circle

So as I sat at the piano and played a duet tonight with our daughter, Courtney, I realized that I felt fulfilled. Not just a small fulfillment, a large make your heart grow fulfillment. All of those years of encouragement, explaining why she should learn this instrument, patience, patience and more patience during teaching moments were all fulfilled tonight. I realize that she will continue to improve on her playing and learn many more techniques, etc. in the coming years, but tonight for the three minutes we sat together, I was overcome with joy for the hard work we have both put in over the years. It. Was. Awesome.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A day to never forget

This is just going to be short and sweet as it has been a VERY long day...
8.8 earthquake in Japan
Tsunamis as a result
Husband deployed to Japan

Phone call at 0700
Husband asking if I had been watching the news
I ask, "Why should I be watching the news?"
He then begins with, "I am safe."

A day to remember...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Bucket List

I have been realizing for quite some time now that this will be our last full summer in Colorado. So, I am making a Bucket List and am going to do my darndest to fill up every weekend with something or someplace we want to visit. Thoughts? Suggestions? Places you have visited? Places you wish you would have toured?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A good night's rest

I realized this morning that I haven't slept through the night for about 16 months straight. Several factors play into this:
1) The last months of pregnancy are never conducive to a full nights sleep. Bladders just aren't made as big as they should be.
2) I always have wild and crazy dreams when Kevin is TDY/Deployed. These are dreams I usually wake from and say to myself, "What in the world does a peacock have to do with the landing of a hovercraft?" The last trimester of my pregnancy with Audrey was no exception.
3) I had a baby. ' Nuf said.
4)Our dog, Ginny, apparently is getting whimpier in her older age and will only stay outside to do one of her two duties. So, then at 3 or 4 AM she wakes me to go outside and do the one she was too lazy or cold to do when I let her out before bed. Seriously? This is also the dog who has to Skype with Kevin or she demonstrates bad behavior when I leave her alone in the house.
Maybe tonight will be different, but I highly doubt it. If the kids are late for school, you will know that my miracle finally occurred.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It is SO not fair

So why is it that when you need some comfort the most, namely when viruses attack your otherwise healthy body, your sinuses get stuffed with thick colored gunk which then inhibits your sense of taste? It is SO not fair! One of the times I would like to sit and savor the taste of a hot cup of peppermint tea or some chicken noodle soup and all I can gather is that it is either salty or sweet... no distinct taste whatsoever. Lame-O. So today I ate foods that I really didn't care for, but would give me some energy to spite my taste buds. How's that for revenge? It too is Lame-O.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In an effort to get my beloved spouse blogging

I had this fleeting thought yesterday... it would be super awesome if Kevin would post a few blog entries from Japan. I know several men who blog and I find it very entertaining to read their posts. Kevin is a smart guy with awesome insights...maybe he should give it a whack. So I broached the idea with him last night and I was informed that our blog was too "foo foo" for him to post on. Hence the stripes. Here you go Kev... a manly blog with a feminine touch just for you! :)

National Military Family Association: 2011 Operation Purple® Camp Hosts Selected in 25 States

National Military Family Association: 2011 Operation Purple® Camp Hosts Selected in 25 States

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Today, like many other days, I am grateful...

Today has been a day of gratitude...
grateful for a warm and safe home
grateful for people who share the belief in Christianity as I
grateful for modern medicine
grateful for someone taking time out of their morning to spend it in mine
grateful for simple gestures
grateful for inspired church organizations
grateful to come home to an empty sink with clean dishes drying off to the side
grateful to know my children can exercise empathy and concern for a sibling

As with everyone, or so it seems, we have been attacked by the unseen menaces in our society... viruses and bacteria. The concern, love and friendship extended not only during this time, but routinely in our lives has a price far above rubies.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

And this... is how our food budget is so minimal...


None of these items are generic or small sizes...

8 Old Orchard Frozen 100% Juice Concentrate
1 6 pack Megamind Airheads
4 Mentos rolls
13 Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks (Fruit by the Foot, Scooby Doo, Gushers, 100% Fruit Rolls ups, etc)
3 Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal
3 Golden Graham Cereal
1 Cocoa Puffs Cereal
4 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal
3 Total Raisin Bran Cereal
1 Cocoa Krispies Cereal (Family Size)
2 Rice Krispies Cereal (Family Size)
1 Honey Bunches of Oats (Family Size)
1 Large California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken
1 36 count Rhodes Rolls
4 Oscar Mayer Deli Selects Meat and Cheese Lunchable like trays

Grand Total: $26.39 An average savings of 85% But wait!
The Catalina Machine spat out $7 in register rewards that I can use my next shopping trip and in my world I always subtract that amount from what I spent on the day I shopped because I incorporated that money into how much I saved, so
Grand Total: $19.37!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The weather

The weather here is nuts. Two days ago, 60 degrees, today raining something which looked like kosher salt. Yes, is will all melt by tomorrow and I will be left with my nasty, crunchy brown grass which seems to want to live inside my house instead of wait dutifully to do its job in the summer. I must say I have been less than impressed with the snowfall we have experienced this year. We were stocked with gloves, hats, coats, snowpants, boots, the works and we have yet to build a snowman over 12 inches high. As I am writing this, Courtney meanders over to tell me about her school day carrying a handful of chocolate chips---I hold out my hand palm side up which in parent language is "Fork some over, kid" and she hands me one. One chocolate chip. I love that girl!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So, I may be turning a new leaf

Traditionally, I have used the blog to keep grandparents up to date on the happenings of our craziness here in the Amsden household, and I firmly believe that Facebook killed the blogging world or at least slowed it down a little bit--- that being said, I think I MAY be ready to venture into being a blogger once again but this time just try "writing" instead of "posting". Not sure what the difference will actually be but I am willing to give it a try. My first entry... Why must everything my body craves to eat be so chock full of calories? Doritos...Lemon Meringue Pie, Hot Chocolate, Nachos, the list could go on and on but I will spare the details of my crappy eating habits for maybe another day. In watching calories like a hawk, I have determined that I need to find a new love for veggies and fruits; unfortunately, the place to do this would have been California as most of our produce here is shipped from there so... I am on the hunt for GOOD tasting produce. I have developed a love for red peppers and actually ate broccoli on purpose the other day. Shocking, I know...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The brownie recipe I have been looking for my entire married life!

Supernatural Brownies
From Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers, by Nick Malgieri.

Makes about twenty-four 2-inch-square brownies

Though the name sounds an exaggeration, you’ll agree that these brownies are absolutely out of this world.

•16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
•8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
•4 large eggs
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 cup granulated sugar
•1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•1 cup all-purpose flour
One 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil

1. Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and turn off heat. Combine butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over pan of water. Stir occasionally until melted.

3. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in flour.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool in pan on a rack. Wrap pan in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature or refrigerated until next day.

5. To cut brownies, unmold onto a cutting board, remove paper, and replace with another cutting board. Turn cake right side up and trim away edges. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares.

Serving: Serve the brownies on their own or with ice cream and hot fudge sauce.

Storage: The best way to store brownies is to wrap them individually and keep them at room temperature in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover. Or freeze them.

Note: If you have a 12 x 18-inch commercial half-sheet pan, you may double this recipe easily.

Frosting:

1 8 oz. block cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup butter (softened)
At least 1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP half and half

Mix first two ingredients together and then add the rest. Keep adding powdered sugar until you have your desired consistency. I frost my brownies so they have about 1/4 inch of frosting. Oh yummy!