It all started so innocently....

Yesterday, we had a great day. We went to the beach. Island Dad and I did a dive while the kids stayed back with a friend of ours.

We went out to lunch with our friends, and the kids all had a great time. Towards the end of lunch, though, Island Boy started whimpering and making that noise that, when you hear it, you think "Ok, I really should know what that noise means. What does it mean, what does it mean?!" And then as soon as you figure it out, BAM! 

And thus, the beginning of what I've been calling Pukefest 2010. Island Boy is, thankfully, better today. But not before taking down Island Dad and Island Girl with him. Thankfully, Island Dad is not wanting to really be around anyone (including me) today, so has been good about staying in the bedroom (I'll be sleeping on the couch tonight!). Island Girl, though, has been so sick! She couldn't keep anything down this morning. We did, thankfully, finally get some Pedialyte into her, and now she's been napping for over 2 hours. Hopefully this will all help. Amazingly, through it all, she's been her normal happy self (except for right before she's going to throw up). Even more amazing in light of the fact that tooth #4 popped through the gum last night.

Here's hoping that all three of them are back to normal tomorrow, and hoping even more that I don't get sick in between (knock on wood). Island Dad has to go in to the office tomorrow, and I'd really like to not be feeling like crap when he has to leave me with two active kids again!


Getting Back on Track

Alright, we're past the holidays now.

I've been slacking on the blog lately. I am going to plan a blog for every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 2011.

So, as briefly as possible, here is what the Island Family has been doing the last month!

Island Boy: Has been picking up new words left and right. He is currently into fire trucks, crayons and coloring, and playing with his friends.

Island Girl: Can now stand up. She is so preoccupied with whatever she wants to reach by standing up, that she has occasionally let go of whatever she's holding onto. She then promptly gets a look on her face that says "Oh, crap! What did I just do?! I have NO idea how to do this!" then sits down and starts to fuss, because she scared herself.

Island Dad: Is busy busy at work. He also got to take a short trip to Korea at the beginning of December, part of which the rest of the family went along for. More on that in a bit.

Island Mom: Got SCUBA certified shortly before the Korea trip, and has been keeping quite busy with the Island Kids (especially Island Girl's increasing mobility).

As a family: We took the previously mentioned trip to Korea. We spent 5 nights in Seoul. It was absolutely fantastic! Even in cold weather, with two kids who are used to warm-weather in tow, it was hands down the most fun thing we've done since arriving in this hemisphere. And we've done some pretty fun things on island. It was so great to see a big city again. And do big city things. And then throw in all the history in Seoul, and it just was an amazing trip. There are so many places we want to see while we're stationed on the island, but given the opportunity, I certainly would go back to Seoul in a heartbeat. Especially at Christmas time. The snow and cold weather were exactly what I needed to get into the Christmas spirit our first year on this tropical island.




Too Good not to Share

So, I've been bailing on the pancakes lately, I know. With Island Dad home, I'm trying to get better.
Actually, his very presence is what led me to this week's recipe. Island Dad l-o-v-e-s eggnog.

Personally, my life would have been complete without "nog". And that is why I feel I MUST share this pancake recipe with you. Because, while I do not like eggnog on it's own, I could spend the rest of my life eating these Eggnog Pancakes and never tire of them. Seriously. They're THAT good.

Eggnog Pancakes
(base recipe found on allrecipes.com)

1.5 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2.5 tsp. baking soda
0.5 tsp. salt
1 c. eggnog
2 Tbsp. clarified butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the eggnog, the butter, and the egg. Mix until dry ingredients are evenly moist.

Pour batter onto the griddle by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook pancakes until bubbly on top. Flip with a spatula, and continue cooking until lightly browned on the bottom.

I should add that I found it to be too thick with just the 1 cup of eggnog. An additional half cup seemed to do the trick. Also, I did not clarify the butter.

As I said above, I could probably live off of these pancakes for the rest of my life. They were that good. They had the smooth texture and dense consistency of buttermilk pancakes, with just the right amount of added sweet and spice. We will definitely be making these again before the end of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving week

Here we are at Muffin Tin Monday yet again.
This week's theme was Thanksgiving. Since we have not yet had our turkey dinner, I did my best to re-create the experience for Island Boy.

Top Row (l-r): Turkey-shaped turkey and stuffing sandwich (with turkey pick), carrot coins, tater tots
Bottom Row (l-r): Turkey-shaped swiss cheese, corn (with corn pick), turkey-shaped cranberry sauce
The turkey and stuffing sandwich is probably not quite what you're thinking. To creat this, I took two slices of bread, buttered them on one side, and then placed in the toaster oven for 3 minutes. I then sprinkled the buttered sides with a bit of ground sage, crushed rosemary, and the tiniest hint of onion powder. Then I put them back in the toaster oven for another two minutes. Placing the buttered sides on the inside of the sandwich, I put 3-4 slices of turkey lunch meat in between, then cut into the turkey shape. I can tell you, having shared the remainders of the sandwich, that it was nothing short of amazing, and I will be re-creating this very very soon.

As for Island Boy, he barely touched the sandwich. He might have eaten the head off of it. He went straight for the cranberry sauce and the cheese. Then he ate the corn. Surprisingly, the tater tots went pretty much untouched, too. And by now you can probably guess what happened to the carrots, haha. I'm still trying, though.


Muffin Tins and Nutrition

Here we are at yet another Muffin Tin Monday! This week's theme was the Food Pyramid.

The theme actually provided me with a good opportunity to consider what exactly Island Boy eats on a regular basis, what he needs more of, and where he's lacking altogether. He really does pretty well with grains, dairy, and fruits. He will devour fruit before just about anything else. He also loves all things carbohydrate based. Luckily for him, we tend to stick mainly with whole grains, so he's doing very well there. It is only on rare occasions (and not in our house that I can recall) that he's had just plain old white bread. He does alright with dairy, too. He loves his milk, and yogurt is a favorite of his, as well.

Proteins are a bit more of a challenge for him. He'll eat them, he just would rather eat the bread and fruit parts of meals first. But I've found that if we cut out his afternoon snack, he will devour literally just about anything we put in front of him for dinner. He INHALED some chicken enchiladas I made the other night. Faster than he's eaten anything. Ever.

Where we really hurt are vegetables. And I don't just mean Island Boy. The whole Island Family (well, maybe not Island Girl, as she will eat anything she can get to her mouth with her own two hands these days) needs to work on eating more vegetables. It's not that Island Dad and I don't like vegetables....I just somehow tend to forget to work them into my meal plan. I'm trying, though. I really am. But this is why Island Boy doesn't much care for them. He also claims to prefer them "not crunchy." This is the complete and utter opposite of me. With the exceptions of broccoli and green beans, I always prefer the raw veggies over cooked ones.

On to the meal!
Top Row (l-r): Raspberries, Heart- and Star-shaped toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches, steamed carrots
Bottom row (l-r): Plain yogurt with red sprinkles, cucumbers in ranch dip, watermelon.

Island Boy, enjoying his lunch (diving into the sandwiches).
He immediately dove into the "your-gurt," as he calls it. This surprised me, since it was, after all, plain yogurt. But the sprinkles were just enough, and he loved it! Raspberries were second. He loved the sandwiches as well. It did surprise me that he saved the watermelon for fourth. The carrots and cucumber, despite MUCH coaxing and assurance that neither were crunchy, remained uneaten. *sigh* He'll learn. Right?

Another great thing is that Island Girl has hit 8 months now, and as such, can have protein. Unfortunately, we discovered (after MTM day) that dairy might not so much agree with her. So we're back to holding off on cheese for now. But she did love the turkey and cheese sandwich bits, as well as the steamed carrot bites. So at least one of my kids loves the carrots!

Island Girl enjoying the "extras" from Island Boy's lunch.


Muffin Tin Monday

We are back in the swing of Muffin Tin Meals once again!

This week's was a relative success, although, yet again, Island Boy shocked and amazed me with what he wanted to eat vs. did not want to eat.

Top Row (l-r): Grapes, apple "circles," and apple juice
Bottom Row (l-r): truck-shaped sun butter and jelly sandwich,
 pumpkin-chocolate cupcake, grapes

Island Boy, initially very excited.
Island Boy was initially quite excited about his lunch. Especially the cupcake. But, much to my amazement, he quickly devoured most of the grapes, about half of the apples, and licked only the frosting off of the cupcake. He took maybe 4 bites of the sandwich. He did finish the juice box quickly, though. Not really sure what exactly was up with this, other than he hasn't been a big lunch-eater lately. But it's still good (to me) that he's excited about healthy food, and, in fact, picks the healthy stuff first!

Another Pretty Awesome Day

We've really been knocking 'em outta the park with fun activities lately!

The spouses club on our base has a playgroup that we take part in. More often than not we are at a group member's house, at tumbling on base, or at the playground. And those are all very fun activities.

Today, however, we all met up down island at Fish Eye Marine Park. Although we have heard lots and lots about it, we had yet to make it there. Fish Eye is an observation deck out in/over a coral reef. You walk out over a long boardwalk (or bridge, as Island Boy called it). You get to the observation deck, and can walk around the outside and look around at the ocean and reef views. But the real draw is inside the tower. You walk in, and walk down a fairly long set of spiraling stairs to an underwater room. It's basically a natural habitat aquarium, if that makes sense. They have 24 windows (taken from their site...I didn't actually count). The rectangular ones are up high off the ground, but the round ones, low to the ground and just the perfect height for toddlers to climb up and look out of, were the real draw for the playgroup set.

I have many many pictures like this:
Looking at a small blue fish

Checking out the coral
Island Boy's hands and nose were pressed to the glass pretty much the whole time we were there. He was mesmerized, and it was hard to get him out of there!
I'll admit, because of pictures like the following two, it was hard for me to want to leave (except for my growling stomach...), too.

School of Fish
At the feeder

After our time at Fish Eye, we decided to grab some lunch (as a group) at the Piazza cafe/restaurant (they don't have a website, or I'd direct you there). It was the perfect lunch with delicious sandwiches for moms and kids alike, and mango juice that was quite popular with the kids. My sandwich was also accompanied by a yummy balsamic salad, and the best iced tea I've found on the Island so far (and I know my iced tea)! It put me in mind of my absolute favorite restaurant in the world in DC  (if you live in the beltway area, you MUST go there. Do it for me, and then tell me about it and I will live vicariously), and also one of our very favorite places at our last assignment in North Dakota. So, needless to say, with or without Island Dad, we will be going back there. Many times.


A Pretty Perfect Day

This morning, we packed up and headed down Island to meet a group of friends/Island Dad's co-workers for a day at the beach to include some snorkeling (for me) and SCUBA diving (for Island Dad).

Given Island Boy's recent distaste for large bodies of water, we were unsure of how exactly it would go.

Regardless, we headed out.  Once our entire party arrived, we decided that the mommies and the other snorkelers (I was the only person who fell into both categories) would go out first, and the daddies would stay back with the kids. So I put on my snorkel, mask, booties, and flippers, and headed out with my snorkeling buddies (two of Island Dad's co-workers).

As usual, the snorkeling was fantastic. We were out for the better part of an hour, swimming across the reef and back. It must have been cleaning day on the reef, as we saw several bluestreak cleaner wrasse taking care of other fish. We also saw several feeding frenzies of large schools of fish cleaning the coral. And along with that, came the familiar clicking sound that the fish make when they're feeding off of the gunk growing on the reef. I got to see a pretty good-sized clam close up right below me, and spotted a sea urchin on our way back to shore. I also spotted several anemones with clown fish in them. It was fantastic when I got to go back and tell Island Boy that I saw Nemo!

Island Dad informed me, upon my return to our pavilion, that both kids did pretty well in my absence (Island Girl was actually sleeping in her stroller when I got back). Island Boy was looking a little withered when I got back, but once we got some food burger and chips into him, he perked up a bit.

We all enjoyed brats, hamburgers, and assorted varieties of chips, and then it was the daddies turn to go dive while the moms stayed back.

By this time, Island Boy was getting more into the other kids, and had gotten some energy back. So we went over to the beach. At first, neither one of the Island Kids wanted to actually go in the water. Island Boy was content to pick up sand and rocks and throw them into the water (but at least he wasn't screaming and crying!), and when I tried to put Island Girl's toes in the water, she fussed. So, I let them do their things. Then Island Boy decided he wanted to play with the other kids, and all of a sudden it was like he remembered his love affair with all things aquatic again! He was dunking his head under water, blowing bubbles, and chasing the other (bigger) kids out further than he'll go when it's just us. And when I finally sat down in the water with her on my lap, Island Girl decided that it was actually quite fun to kick and splash the water.

We were worried about the weather too, since it's rainy season here. And while we did have a few brief showers here and there, the weather really couldn't have been more perfect. When it wasn't raining, the sun was out and there was blue sky all around. The rain kept the humidity and extreme heat at bay. And it also enhanced the already moist, jungle-ish smell around the area.

All in all, it really was a pretty perfect day!


Hats of a Mom

Today as I was enforcing naptime for Island Boy, it occurred to me just how many different roles I take on during a typical day (discounting the days when Island Dad is gone for work-related things, which means many more roles for me to take on).

To name a few:
Wife - Self-explanatory. I do my part to run the household, and maintain our marriage. Most of my other roles fall under this one in the "chain." I will go on to explain, though, that I feel like in many capacities, this one is far and away the most important role I take on. First, while I adore my kids and would give life and limb for them, I'm not at all cut out for single parenting. Were it not for being a wife, the "Mommy" title would have driven me to the psychiatric ward awhile ago (some days more quickly than others). Second, most of my other roles wouldn't likely exist (in my case) were it not for this one.

Mommy - I make sure that the kids are happy, healthy, well-behaved, well-adjusted, and generally refrain from hurting themselves or each other.

Jungle Gym - What can I say? My kids love to climb on, jump on, and tackle me. Often randomly and without warning.

Teething Toy - Island Girl finds fingers (often other people's) particularly appealing for teething soothers. She is also not opposed to using hair, shirts, arms, knees, or anything else that is easy to reach and grab on someone else.

Naptime Enforcer - It's not really "naptime" for Island Boy anymore, but I still enforce quiet time for him. A lot of days this means having to go back into his room when he asks for a drink, but having to leave him whining when he wants to come out of his room again after only 20 minutes of "quiet" time. For Island Girl, it means I go in and replace the binky that she continually throws BEHIND her crib.

Children's Librarian - We have a fairly extensive collection of kids books. Island Boy loves being read to. He also loves pulling books off of the shelf. I am not only the one reading to him, but often also the one ensuring that the books get put back where they belong.

iPod - Island Boy has been known to request songs to be sung at random times. And the songs are never what would make sense for the location (i.e. quiet songs in a quiet department store). I try to play along when I can.

Teacher - What mom doesn't take on this role? Especially while your kids are still in the infant/toddler stage.

I'm sure if I think about it, there are many many more jobs I take on in a day. Generally speaking, I love each of them.


The Best Laid Plans...

Island Dad returns on Wednesday (our time)!!! I have been doing everything possible to try and kill time between now and then.

Tonight, I had a spouses club function to attend/help at. I got everything set up for a baby sitter (two, actually. They're sisters). Island Boy was BEYOND excited.

I even went so far as to put together a muffin tin meal for him to eat while the sitters were here. 

Top, l-r: star-shaped sun butter and jelly sandwich, pretzels, and sugar-free chocolate pudding (a.k.a. "chocolate dessert").
Bottom, l-r: grapes, J-shaped sun butter and jelly sandwich (J being for, um, Island Boy), and more grapes. All but the pudding cup served in Elmo muffin cups. Island Boy is a GIANT fan of the furry red monster.

I was stoked for how well it turned out. Then the sitters' mom (a friend of mine) called. She had actually forgotten to tell them about the sitting job, and then their teacher sent them home with a huge assignment.  So she was calling to offer to keep the kids at their house, so she and her husband (and their younger children) could help out. So....I packed up the Island Kids, threw the sandwiches, 1/2 of the grapes, and the pudding into a Tupperware toddler to-go plate (I did leave the sandwiches and grapes in their Elmo cups), and rushed the kids into the car.
The sitters' mom reported later that not only did Island Boy LOVE his meal, but her own kids were all really impressed, as well. Apparently the J-shaped sandwich was the icing on the cake for everyone.

But at least he got to enjoy his meal!


Kids and Muffin Tin Meals

We've been busy again! Once Island Dad is back (10 days!!) I should be able to update a bit more. Mostly, we've just been up to the same old routine, but that takes a fair amount of our time!

I got brave and took both kids to the beach again yesterday. The beach we went to was one that we've only been to once before. It's less protected than the one we've been frequenting lately, and so has more waves. Island Boy, who usually is part fish, wanted absolutely nothing at all to do with the waves, and was perfectly content to play in the sand the whole time! We had fun, he learned how to bury feet, and Island Girl spent some time chewing on a sand toy (that did not have any sand in it).

Island Girl has been making developments in all areas lately. She's going great guns with self-feeding. She still loses a fair amount of it, but her pincer grasp is getting better daily. She is not crawling on her hands yet, but is pushing up on them more and more. She is babbling a lot more instead of just shrieking at the top of her lungs. And, thankfully, the pitch of the babbling has come down some lately, too. It was getting pretty ear-splitting.

On to our muffin tin meal for the week! Lately, the meals have been Sunday night dinner, instead of Monday lunch. Between playgroup and other errands on Mondays, lunch time doesn't end up happening at home. When Island Boy saw that he was having a muffin tin meal again tonight, he declared "yummy yummy yummy!!!" And was jumping up and down in the kitchen :D

This week's theme was pumpkins. I did jack-o-lanterns, to make it a bit more obvious to a two-year-old.
Top row, left to right: Jack-o-lantern corn muffin, jack-o-lantern macaroni and cheese, and jack-o-lantern peach yogurt. On the muffins and Macaroni, the eyes and nose are red and yellow bell peppers. On the yogurt, the nose and eyes are raspberry pieces, and the mouth is a slice of strawberry.

Here's a close-up of the corn muffins. I just used Jiffy mix, and turned it orange with food coloring. I should have accounted for the batter rising when I placed the faces on, but on the whole they turned out fine.

Island Boy LOVED the corn muffins (in cement mixer mini-muffin cups, which he adored) and didn't even notice the peppers baked into those. He immediately picked the peppers off of the macaroni and cheese. He also gobbled up the yogurt and berries. I actually thought the macaroni would be the most popular part, but he proved me wrong when he ate only one tin of that, and then asked for several more servings of strawberries and raspberries, while he kind of picked at the remaining bits of corn muffin.

But since he didn't seem to mind the peppers baked into the muffins, I think I will probably resort to "vegetable espionage" in the future, as well, much as I would prefer he eat them by themselves. Lately, they usually get picked out or around.


It's like a Three Ring Circus Around Here

Or maybe it's just Island Boy's muffin tin meal this week. The theme for the week was "circus." As with previous themes, I was initially at a loss for what to do. Then, my package of new goodies from Wilton arrived, and, slowly, so did the ideas.

Top, left to right: Chocolate chip banana bread "Circus Train," circus animal crackers and yogurt-covered raisins (which Island Boy, oddly, insisted were "nuts") and a jicama and fruit clown. On the bottom, in addition to another jicama and fruit clown, we have two cheese, cracker, and olive lions.

The obvious hit were the animal crackers. He also loved the "nuts." But he did not disappoint me, either. The big surprise for me were the strawberries (clowns' hats, smiles, and noses). Being that they have visible seeds, he's often lukewarm on strawberries, but I keep trying (because, come on, how can you NOT like strawberries if you're not allergic to them?!) Tonight, he gobbled them right down, and then asked for more when he had finished everything else! He also inhaled the oranges (clowns' hair).

The jicama came about as the result of Island Boy's current book obsession, The ABC's of Fruits and Vegetables, by Steve Charney and David Goldbeck (2007). The book talks about "J" being for "sweet jicama." So, I thought we'd give it a try. Unsurprisingly, Island Boy was not a huge fan (something that crunches? The nerve of me to offer!), but he did at least take one bite. I also ate a jicama clown (made one for myself), and eaten in combination with the other fruit, it was pretty great! Fairly non-offensive, but with just enough non-sweet flavor to offset the fruit.

He was surprisingly so-so about the cheese, but I think because he was too interested in the fruit and the crackers. He did eat it, though. I was also surprised about his only moderate reaction toward the banana bread (which is homemade, and, if I say so, pretty darn good!), but again...in his world, fresh-ish fruit will beat out banana bread any day, which is awesome! In addition to all but the one bite of jicama that he took, he also left the olives on the lions completely on the side.

My goal for next week will be to find a way to get more vegetables in. That is an area in which all of the Island Family is majorly lacking lately!


Look Out World, here Comes Island Girl!

As I mentioned two Monday's ago, Island Girl took her first scoot/crawl during playgroup that morning. Much to Island Boy's disliking, she has only gotten more coordinated, mobile, and "into things" as time has worn on.

Island Boy did not start crawling (even army crawling) until he was 10 months old. I knew Island Girl would be earlier than her brother was, but I'm not totally sure I was prepared for it to happen just yet. For instance, having a two-year-old in the house tends to cause much more "stuff" to be on the floor. I find myself fishing far more things out of Island Girl's mouth than I ever did for Island Boy. Also, Island Girl is just more curious than Island Boy was at this age. He was content to sit and watch everything around him. She, on the other hand, wants to be involved in every part of the action!

Island Boy is being forced to learn to share his toys now. This is not a bad thing at all, in my opinion, but he is not a huge fan just yet. I hear a lot of "No, [Island Girl] that's MY TOY!!!" or "No, [Island Girl], let go of my foot!!!" His feet are a particular favorite of Island Girl's. Probably because, while she loves to grab all toes, Island Boy's feet move a lot more than mine do.

There is one part of her being mobile that I had forgotten about. This other thing has both upsides and downsides. She no longer loves being held and cuddling most of the time. She would much rather spend her time exploring the floor. Upside: I have free hands to do other things. Downsides: I miss my cuddly baby, I have to watch her like a hawk (which sort of eliminates the upside, anyway), and since I don't really have the cuddly baby, I'm starting to get twinges of baby fever again (another post for another day, but no new babies here any time soon, I promise)!

It is very exciting to watch this all happen. I just wish I could slow it all down and make it last longer.


Pancake Sunday Meets the Muffin Tin Meal

Once again, it's been a busy few days! We met with a friend for dinner on Thursday, then the same friend plus another for lunch on Friday. We attempted the beach both Friday and Saturday, but to no avail, as it rained at some point during our attempt each day. Such is life during rainy season! 

This week is shaping up to be busy, as well, meeting more friends for lunch, Island Girl's 6-month check-up, playgroup, and a few other things that I'm sure will come up at some point. I will try to be better about updating this week, if nothing else, to share Island Girl's growth during the last 2 months!

Moving on to the food!

There was no theme for Muffin Tin Monday this week, so I opted to create my own, rather than just throw together a random MTM. My original plan was to do breakfast for dinner. At some point, that morphed into a sort of autumn-themed muffin tin. As this is my first year ever without fall, I'm really missing the smell of burning leaves, the crisp edge to the air, and, of course, apple cider (if they have it in our commissary, I have yet to see it).

The four corner spots are pumpkin pancakes (recipe to follow). The top middle is apple circles, which are a repeat from last week's muffin tin "shapes" lunch. Island Boy was so in love with them that he has had them at least once a day every day since that meal. Fine by me! The lower middle spot is maple syrup for dipping. Even to my surprise, he came away from it surprisingly un-sticky. 

He LOVED the pancakes....those were pretty well devoured before I even actually got to sit down at the table. Of course he loved the apples, too.

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe (courtesy of Island Nanny)


2 c. Bisquick mix
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. solid pack canned pumpkin
2 tsp. oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla


Combine dry ingredients. Add evaporated milk, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Cook on a pre-heated griddle. For muffin tin-sized pancakes, pour by small spoonfuls onto griddle. For larger pancakes, pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle.

For either, size, after pouring, cook until edges look dry and bubbles are forming. Flip, and cook a minute or two longer, until golden brown.

This time around, I served the pancakes with maple syrup. However, for next time, I am toying with serving them with a maple-cream cheese whip. I'll report back on that one.


A Shapely Muffin Tin Meal (and an Update on us)!

I can't technically call it a Muffin Tin Monday, since it's Tuesday here :-D

We've been keeping ourselves pretty well occupied in Island Dad's absence. Saturday found us attempting to go to the beach, while Sunday we managed to actually make it to church (hence, no pancake Sunday this week, but watch for my version this coming week!)

Island Boy has not napped at all since Island Dad left. But I think I'm alright with that. He's been going to bed by 7:30 very consistently, which tends not to happen when Island Dad is home. So Island Boy is actually getting twelve hours of sleep a night, and then we have what I like to call "Enforced Quiet Time" for awhile in the afternoons. It gives he and I both a much needed break from each other, and allows him to learn new ways to entertain himself. Of course, a lot of the ways he had been learning were somewhat counterproductive to keeping the house clean, so many things have since been removed from his room ;-)

Island Girl is starting to army crawl her own way now! It's more a combination of army crawling/thrusting herself forward with her knees/rolling when necessary. Whatever works. The kid is speedier than you'd expect! Also, she has a tooth now! She's basically going to he a whole new baby by the time Island Dad returns.

On to the muffin tin meal!! If you're new to my blog or to muffin tin meals, check out the original muffin tin meal site. I aspire to Muffin Tin Mom's level of creativity. She's awesome!

This week's theme was shapes. So, we have star- and heart-shaped turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches, apple circles, and kiwi triangles. Island Boy adored the shaped sandwiches! Even more amazing in the fact that he doesn't usually *love* sandwiches with meat (at least not homemade ones). He also loved the apple circles. In fact, if you look closely, the lower tin of apples has only one slice. He kept walking over and grabbing them out of the tin before I had even served it! I finally had to persuade him to give me just one so I could take a picture :-D Kiwi is still fairly new to him. He does not love eating anything with seeds (or much that is crunchy, for that matter). So he ate about two and a half pieces before stopping and saying "I can't. Too many black seeds. I don't like seeds." Still, I see two and a half pieces as a decent success!

As a side note, with the remaining half of the apple, I hollowed out the core, stuffed a couple extra slices of Swiss cheese into the hollow area, sprinkled an ever-so-tiny amount of brown sugar on top, and then popped it into the microwave for one minute. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!


Raising Myself

Yesterday after his theoretical nap time, I went in to see Island Boy's room destroyed, yet again. I asked him to pick up the clothes he had strewn about the room, and he obliged. Sort of. He picked up the first two or three items and put them in the dirty laundry pile. Then, he grabbed the rest of the clothes and, as I was standing right there, tried to shove them under his bed. I thought to myself, "Huh....I guess you really are my kid!" And then I made him pick them up and put them where they really belonged.

As Island Boy's personality is starting to show through more, I am starting to see more and more of myself in him (beyond just his desire to skip over cleaning tasks and simply "hide" things out of sight). I was horribly shy as a child (ok, I still am pretty painfully shy, I just hide it somewhat slightly better now). I also have always struggled with self-confidence issues. Not self-worth, mind you (not usually), but more doubting my own ability to do things. Though I still struggle with it, that one has improved somewhat as I've grown and matured. I mostly feel it come back up when it gets paired with the shyness. It's really, really not fun, and sure not something I had ever hoped one of my children would get.

Don't get me wrong, you can find plenty of Island Dad in him, as well. But I worry about Island Boy having to go through feeling the same things I felt as a kid. I want better for him (not that my own parents didn't do  a fantastic job, because they did. I would be a hundred times worse off now if it hadn't been for them).

As Island Boy is now two-and-a-half, I am looking into pre-school for him for next year.

As I understand it, the age of three, when I started pre-school, is not necessarily the norm. But I really truly feel he would benefit from an extra year of learning to interact with other kids his age, and especially in a group setting. And the confidence in his abilities (we're starting to hear a lot of "No, I can't" from him lately, which also worries me).

My problem is in trying to actually find a place to send him. I have a very easy time identifying things that I don't want (far down Island, glorified daycare). I also have an ok idea of what I do want, although verbalizing it is a bit harder. But, I'm not sure that I can find exactly what I want on the Island. After asking other parents, I had heard a great recommendation for a Montessori school.....which turned out to be completely full, with no waiting list. I at least feel confident in this being a sign that that was not the right program for him. I just wish I knew how to tell which place *would* be.

So, now I'm back to the drawing board, feeling totally overwhelmed by the decision, but knowing that I need to do something, because my action will affect my child directly.



Today has been one of those days where I really wish I could freeze time and keep the Island Kids forever 2.5 years and 6 months old. Minor frustrations aside, they just melted my heart today.

As is usual when Island Dad has to leave for any amount of time, the first day or two is a huge adjustment for all of us. This time has been no exception (though it may be more of an adjustment when he returns than normal, as this is by far the longest he's ever been gone...for now).

Today, things started to look up, though. Both kids slept in until 8:00 (!!), having both been in bed and asleep by 7:15 the night before. And while Island Boy still didn't nap this afternoon, he was considerably quieter during his "enforced quiet time" than he has been recently, too.

Lately, one of his favorite pastimes is trying to come up with new and ridiculous ways to make Island Girl laugh. This makes me happy to no end. And I find that I usually end up getting in on the laughs, too.


We've all Gone Mobile Today, it Seems.

This week's theme for muffin tin monday was "movies." After much thought and consideration, I opted for Cars as our theme.

Top, left to right: Grilled Tow Mater and cheese sandwich (in roughly the shape of a truck), pretzel "dip sticks" in "oil" (blackberry jelly), and a watermelon car (Lightning McQueen). Bottom is the same things, different configuration. Island Boy was completely in love with the pretzels and jelly, lukewarm about the watermelon (he likes it, but is not a fan of the seeds), and not fond of the sandwiches at all. Eh...you win some, you lose some, and that was a risk I took by including tomatoes, which are not one of his favorites. And, of course, that is his Cars cup you see in the background!

In her own tribute to all things mobile, Island Girl started doing something that approximates crawling today! We hosted play group here this morning, and she was down on the floor (before there were TOO many kids) playing, too. Someone dropped a brightly colored football just out of her reach, and she wanted it. Very badly. So she crunched her knees up underneath her tummy, got up on her forearms (not up on hands just yet), and thrust herself forward, several times, until she actually managed to get the football! Go Island Girl, go!!!!!

Pancake Sunday

Despite flying solo right now, I did actually manage to get some pancakes made this morning! Accomplishing that, while Skyping with Island Dad and trying to wrangle both kids, was a big confidence booster.

This week's recipe was from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine, June/July 2010 issue.

These were very similar to the Granola Pancakes we made a month or so ago. These were more oat-meal centered, so very dense and VERY moist. Totally yummy!

Oatmeal Pancakes

2 c. quick-cooking oats
2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. egg substitute
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. raisins

In a small bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in egg substitute and oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients just until moistened; add raisins.
Pour batter by heaping 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle coated with cooking spray; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.


What a Week!

Aside from the week surrounding Island Boy's birth, this has, hands down, been the craziest week of my life as a Military Wife.

Island Nanny was here for two weeks, and left early early early (as in, before the sun was up, which is very early here) on Thursday morning. Six hours later, I was taking Island Boy to "Tumbling for Tots" on base, and I called Island Dad to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch, which we usually do. 

Instead of our normal, brief, "Hey, you want to meet for lunch in an hour or so? Yes? Ok! See you then!" I was greeted with, "Hey! I assume you want to meet for lunch, and that's fine. But [insert daunting 'dun dun dun' music here], I wanted to run something by you [further daunting music here]. There was a last-minute opening for the up-coming session of Squadron Officer's School (SOS, henceforth), and they're offering it to me. 

"Major-in-our-office (the deputy in the office, name withheld for privacy) said I needed to run it by my 'Commander-in-Chief-at-Home,' first. I'd have to leave the day after tomorrow. Big downside is that you won't be able to make the trip you've been getting excited about [leaving out detailed information here, as well, for privacy]. I feel awful about that part." (Backstory: I was beyond excited, yes, but Island Dad was the one who initially had encouraged me to go.)

Now, SOS is a big honor to get to do in-residence, and something that would definitely enhance Island Dad's career. And it's five weeks long. We knew he would have to go at one point or another, and had actually been thinking he was going to be gone over Thanksgiving for the course. And I really, REALLY wanted to go on that trip.

So, I tried my hardest to hold it together as we walked from the parking lot into the gym where Tumbling for Tots is held. I am not ashamed to admit that I did have myself a little pity party for the first little bit of time there, until I realized that I didn't know any of the other moms, and I probably wasn't making a great impression. After all, who wants to be the loser sitting in the corner and crying? Not me!! 

Basically, I knew what my answer had to be. A) It was better that he go now than potentially be gone at Thanksgiving, or, worse (as he pointed out later), gone for five weeks to SOS next spring, and then have to turn right around and do pre-deployment training for a month, followed immediately by a six-month deployment. That would be a total of eight to nine months gone, in the end. Not good. 
B) My wanting to go on the trip was purely selfish. Yes, maybe my getting a break from the Island Kids would have done us all some good, but ultimately, I was the one who would benefit the most, and I was really the only one who would have been greatly affected by my going on the trip. Island Dad going to SOS, however, affects his career, and therefore it automatically affects ALL of us. Him, the kids, myself, all of us. On a lot of levels. And, yes, it really is still quite strange to me that such an outside force can have such an effect on our entire family. I'm not always sure how I feel about this.

So we embarked on the most insane 36 hours I've seen in awhile! He worked all day and night (because he had to make phone calls to the East Coast, which meant 2 AM for us), and I did what I could to mentally prep myself for what was coming.

The Island Kids have taken fairly well to the change, all things considered. Island Boy has been maybe a bit more rambunctious lately, though that probably is due in part to being cooped up because of contractors replacing floor tiles yesterday, and then rain today. Island Girl did not want to sleep yesterday, but again, mostly because of the contractors banging and chipping tiles. On the whole, I am, at this point, fairly certain that we can all make it through this and my sanity will be intact. And, I think, so will the house! Still, it's a little weird to be the only adult on the [familial] Island right now.


Toddler Science and a Muffin Tin Meal

This morning, there was a rather unfortunate odor coming from our garbage disposal. I ran the disposal, and then treated the smell with baking soda and vinegar. Island Nanny and I took this as a prime opportunity to introduce Island Boy to the baking soda and vinegar "volcano." We first showed him what happened when both were poured down the drain. Then I moved the experiment to a measuring glass (placed in a baking pan for protection of my counters...). He thought that was pretty cool! Then, we threw in some tiny pieces of spaghetti and made "dancing spaghetti," which was one of my favorites as a child. The carbonation bubbles catch on the pasta, causing it to float to the top of the liquid, where the bubbles pop. The spaghetti sinks back to the bottom of the liquid, and the cycle repeats indefinitely. Island Boy also thought this was pretty interesting :-D

On to our muffin tin meal for the week! Island Nanny was pretty excited to give it a try, so we did. There was no theme this week, which made it a bit easier to put together.

On the top, left to right, we have 1/4 of a sun butter (a legume an tree-nut free peanut butter substitute) and jelly sandwich, cheddar cheese cubes, and another 1/4 of the sandwich. On the bottom, between the other two quarters of the sandwich, we have red grapes. I kid not, he ate all of it except for one part of the sandwich. He was just too full by then!

Next week's MTM theme is Movies....I'm debating a couple of different choices, so stay tuned to see what I decide on ;)


Pancake Sunday!

With Island Nanny in town, we've been very busy here!

We have taken her down to Chamorro Village and again introduced her to the fiesta platter. And coconut juice! On Saturday we went to the flea market and picked up some new plants for our yard, and we went to the mall where Island Boy loves to look at the giant kinetic sculpture in the main concourse. Yesterday we took her down to the beach on the Naval Base, where Island Dad took Island Nanny out snorkeling for the first time ever! She was getting the hang of it quite well by the end. Then she came back, and Island Dad and I had a chance to go out snorkeling together, which is rare, since it's usually just the two of us with the kids.

In other news, Island Girl has been working VERY hard on her mobility over the last few days. She can now pull her knees underneath her tummy, and is getting good at rocking/scooting her back side around that way. As most grandchildren seem to like to do, I imagine she will wait until shortly after Island Nanny leaves to start actually crawling.

Island Boy is just generally being himself! He is very much enjoying his time with his grandmother, and is being spoiled rotten, too :-D

On to the pancakes (one of these weeks, I really will get on top of my game and take an actual picture of the pancakes before they're all devoured)!

This week, I used a new (to me) recipe from Taste of Home magazine. Lately, Taste of Home has become my go-to for great new recipes that make the whole family happy. I get scarily excited when my new one arrives in the mail every other month.

Blueberry Cheesecake Pancakes
(submitted to the magazine by Donna Cline)


3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. whipped topping
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 c. fresh blueberries
3/4 cup maple syrup, warmed
additional blueberries optional

For topping, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and whipped topping until smooth. Chill until serving.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the eggs, buttermilk, and butter; add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until the second side is golden brown. Spread topping over pancakes. Top with warm syrup; sprinkle with additional blueberries if desired.

I followed the recipe pretty much verbatim this time, except our grocery store on base doesn't carry graham cracker crumbs (that I could find), so I used the cinnamon grahams and made crumbs of my own. Definitely a very yummy substitution! We also did not find it necessary to have the maple syrup, although I'm sure it wouldn't hurt the flavor at all.

We all, hands down, LOVED these pancakes! Even Island Dad, who is not normally a breakfast food fanatic, has requested that these make a repeat appearance on future Pancake Sundays.

Stay tuned for a return to Muffin Tin Monday tomorrow (which, for us, of course, is really Tuesday).


Island Nanny Visits

My mom (Island Nanny) arrived for a 16-day visit last Wednesday. The entire Island Family is thrilled to have her here! The Island Kids (especially Island Boy) love having her to play with, I love having another adult to talk to all day, and getting a bit of a break is nice, too! Island Dad and I have a couple of date nights in the works.

This morning, Island Dad actually watched both kids, while Island Nanny and I went with the Base's Outdoor Recreation Center on a hike, known around these parts as a Boonie Stomp. We went down island to a place called Tarzan Falls. It was rated as a moderate hike, although it was probably about as difficult as either she or I would care to tackle again. We started off on relatively flat, grassy, highlands. This quickly turned into a sticky, muddy, downhill trail occasionally spotted with some rock underneath. We both slipped and fell flat on our backsides at least once. We even found ourselves at times crab-walking (me) and crawling on our hands and knees (her, on the way back, up a very steep, muddy hill). But the view at the bottom was so, SO worth it!

Our first stop was at the top of the falls.

We took a few pictures, then moved on down the trail to the bottom of the falls. We were hot and sticky (not to mention very, very muddy) by the time we got to the bottom. However, the mist and the breeze created by the falling water, combined with sticking our feet into the chilly pool at the bottom of the falls was exactly the perfect way to cool off!

It was a wonderful mother-daughter bonding experience!


Pancake Sunday

It has been ridiculously dreary here on the Island today! Rain, rain, rain, and not a speck of blue sky in sight (which is amazing, because usually, the rain blows over pretty quickly).

Island Dad had to work this afternoon, and so the Island Kids and I went up to base, got some lunch, did some shopping, and hit the grocery store, as well. By the time we got back, though, it was so late in the afternoon that instead of an actual nap time, I let Island Boy have "quiet time" watching Finding Nemo. He sat pretty well for most of it, and does enjoy the movie, so it went reasonably well! He recognizes most of the characters, and when he spots a clown fish in real life, he calls it a "Nemo." For the joint 1st and 3rd birthday party I am looking at this year, I think we are going to go with a Nemo theme. He likes it, it's gender neutral, and, hey! We live on an island with lots of ocean and coral reef around, so it's perfect!

On to the pancakes!

This week, we had strawberry banana pancakes with chocolate chips. They were amazing! Island Boy downed four or five of them in as much time as it took me to eat six. The child loves his pancakes!!

Strawberry Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Chips 


1 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 c. milk
2 Tbsp. mashed banana
2 c. chopped frozen strawberries (I chopped them in the food processor)
mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Stir in egg, milk, and mashed banana.

Fold in the chopped strawberries.

On a heated griddle (with the frozen strawberries, you want to use the highest setting, to ensure that they thaw while the pancake cooks), pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls. Sprinkle chocolate chips on the up-side before flipping.

Cook until sides start to look dry and bubbles start to form in the top (with the strawberry chunks, this may take longer than normal, and if they do not flip easily at first, give them a bit longer, then try again). Cook another 1-2 minutes until done.



Five Things

The Island Kids and I drove down the Island today to do some shopping at the Naval base. It's a fairly long drive, for an island (30-40 minutes). On the ride back, Island Girl was sleeping and Island Boy was fairly quiet, which gave me some time to think.

We have been here for a little over two months now, which is incredibly hard to believe in some ways. There are things that I love, or am learning to love, about living here. Here's a list of my "Top Five," in no particular order.

1. Riding down Marine Corps Drive. Starting from our place and heading south, you see lots of strip malls and plazas to start with. This has given me a great start on a list of places I'd love to check out on the off chance that I actually get a morning out without the Island Kids. Right. Once you get south of that, though, you get this gorgeous drive along Tumon Bay, practically on the beach. On the other side of the road is mountains. Tall, verdant, mountains.

2. The weather. It's a given. You really can't beat it! I keep thinking that summer is almost over, and that fall, and soon winter, will be here. And while, yes, Christmas will be upon us before I'm ready, the snow will never arrive. And, I suppose, if it does, we're all in pretty big trouble, haha.

3. The variety of food options available. First, of course we don't eat out every night. But Friday night family dinner out has become a bit of a tradition for us. So it's great to have a TON of options. Of course we have our pick  of Asian cuisine. Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Phillipino, Korean, you name it. We also have local fare, which we're just starting to get acquainted with, but love. Beyond that, though, we've found good Mexican, Italian, and even have found an appreciation for the occasional trip to TGIFridays or Chili's (but not too often).

4. The variety of activities available. We go to the beach. We take a walk around the neighborhood (which, try to do that in the northern tier in the middle of January...). We go to the mall. We can take a hike in the jungle. And we can do all of it as a family!

5. The phrase "Only On Guam" or O-O-G. Yes, it gets applied negatively by many people, self included. But I've also used it in reference to our drive back from Talofofo Falls, when we saw two, yes, TWO men walking their carabao (water buffalo) down the road. Separately. And the second one had two small-ish dogs riding on top of the carabao. O-O-G indeed.

There are many many more things I am loving about living here, and a few things I'm not loving quite as much, but am trying to get used to.


Muffin Tin Monday

For lunch yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and decided to try a muffin tin lunch. I've been following the blog for awhile, but haven't had time to try it, especially since we often wind up meeting Island Dad for lunch on base.

His work obligations did not allow that yesterday, so we were home for lunch.

Here is what I came up with!

Island Boy dug in before I could get  good picture of the entire plate (also, for now, I don't have 6-cup muffin tins, so just the cups will have to do!)

Clockwise from Island Boy's hand, we have half a grilled cheese sandwich, rice (which had been wrapped in nori, which he promptly removed and ate), rice still in the nori, the other half of the sandwich, more nori-wrapped rice, and raisins in the center.

Island Boy was a HUGE fan, and I liked the variety it allowed me to provide without it seeming overwhelming to him. We'll definitely be doing more of these in the future!

Island Mom's Night Out

Last night was the annual kick-off social for the officer's spouses club on base. As I am involved with the board, I kind of HAD to be there. Of course, I wanted to go, too. Break from the kids? Yes please! Unfortunately, Island Dad had work obligations that did not allow him to be home in time to watch the kids. So, I opted to take Island Girl with me, as she is pretty easy to please, and, you know, I'm still her main source of food. Island Boy, however, could not go with me. He would not have had much fun, for starters, and keeping him occupied would have distracted me from what I needed to do while there.

So I sucked it up and hired a babysitter. It's not so much that I don't like having babysitters. It's more that I still tend towards shy, and even when speaking to kids who are more than 14 years my junior, I get a bit self-conscious.

At any rate, another one of the club members has a daughter who babysits, and so I gave them a call, and she was willing and available! My only concern at this point was that Island Boy would somehow freak out and scream the whole time she was here. But, I started warming him up to the idea of a sitter when he woke up in the morning, and then all day he was talking about "[Babysitter] is coming to play with [Island Boy]!!" I was feeling pretty good about everything.

The babysitter and her mom arrived, and Island Boy seemed very happy, even when the mom and I left and Island Girl was with us (we carpooled).

When we returned to the house, a couple of hours later, Island Boy still seemed very happy, and the sitter said that aside from 20 minutes of crying for mommy somewhere in the middle, he was a very easy kid to watch (hooray... this means we can hire her again!!!)

Island Dad returned home shortly after, and we put Island Boy to bed together. I was reading him Llama, Llama, Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney. I was just getting to the part where Llama Llama thinks that his Llama Mama is actually *gone*, when all of a sudden, Island Boys face just completely crumbled and he started sobbing uncontrollably, just so scared! Island Dad and I both tried to calm him down, even showing him the part where Mama Llama comes back, but he would have NONE of it. Island Dad finally had to go get another book to read to poor Island Boy!

We think it was probably a combination of the wide-eyed Llama Llama in the picture on that page, the slightly anxious/scary voice I use on that page, and also the fact that Island Boy's own "mama" had just been gone. But the kid was thoroughly freaked out! I don't think Island Dad and I have ever felt worse about "subjecting" our child to something!!

Needless to say, Llama Llama and his red pajamas will be taking a break on the bookshelf for awhile.


Pancake Sunday Hiatus

We decided to take a break from Pancake Sunday today, as we were all actually up and moving in time to make it to church (at the chapel on base), but only if we ate a quick breakfast.

So I think we will move pancakes to a little later this week, and maybe for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is the BEST (well, second only to pancakes for breakfast on Sunday morning).

We wound up having a very go-go-go kind of day. Church was a big success, with Island Boy rather enjoying his time in the nursery, playing with the other kids and watching Veggie Tales. And coloring (!!), which is one of his very favorite things to do anywhere, any time. Island Girl hung out with us, as she is still a month too young for the nursery.

After church, we stopped by the base dive shop to get a complete set of snorkeling gear for me. I did manage to put an "Island Mom" touch to it and get a light pink snorkel mask. We also got a new mask and snorkel for Island Dad, as his went missing somewhere between our time in DC and our move here. In the very near future, I will be getting SCUBA certified, so definitely look for a post on that when it happens. Adventures and (I hope) great stories are sure to follow! Island Dad is already certified, he's just waiting on me.

We then drove on down to the beach at the Naval Base where there is some pretty decent snorkeling. Island Dad and I took turns watching the kids while the other one went out. It's so great to just be in the quiet water with no sounds other than your own breathing and the clicking of the fish cleaning off/eating from the reef.

The Island Kids had a fantastic time at the beach, as well. We managed a few pictures at the beginning of the trip (before snorkeling, hence the Island Parents are dry in the pictures).