Dear Allen,

 Can you believe it's been 8 years? Some of those years have seemed like the longest of my life. Others have gone by so quickly I wish I could go back and experience them again.

I know that getting here hasn't been utopic. You and I are intense people. We run hot and are very devoted to our own ideas. We are powerhouses in our own right. We had achieved much on our own and were totally comfortable as individuals. We were also poorly qualified for marriage and obstinate in our ignorance. We had convinced ourselves, and probably others, that we were happy alone and didn't need anyone else. Boy, were we ever wrong.

When I think back on who I was when I met you, I realize I was incomplete. Over the course of our 8 years as husband and wife, I have also learned how to be selfless, empathetic, compassionate, faithful, hopeful, and much, much stronger. Without you, I could never reach my full potential.

We've flipped houses, climbed the corporate ladder, ventured out on our own to brave the big, bad world, poured and blood, sweat and tears into our efforts. While those endeavors have molded us and given us satisfaction, there is no denying our most significant contributions in this life have been our children. We have given three precious souls their mortal bodies and the most wonderful opportunity anyone could be given. They are such special little people. I am amazed at what I learn from them. I am often overcome by depth of love I have for them and how badly I want for them to be happy in this life.

I know that I have chosen a wonderful father for them. You are quick to show affection and you dote upon them when you are home. You show them the wonders of nature and demonstrate how to care for life. You brush their hair and rub their backs. When they are sad, you hold them tight. You show them how to serve others and work hard. I know you spend countless hours thinking of how to be the best dad you possibly can. Of all the gifts I could have ever given them, you are the only priceless one and undoubtedly the most important. These girls will grow to admire an honorable man and have hope in marriage because of you.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

I know that you are fueled by your devotion to this family. And you start with me. I know you walk out that door every day for one reason: me. I know you want nothing more than to know I am happy and content and finding joy in this life. I love you for that. I love that when you know what is right, you will stop at nothing to make it happen for me. I love that you understand my sarcastic sense of humor and are strong enough to withstand it. I love that you look beyond the wear and tear of bearing your children and see all of the imperfections as badges of honor. I love that you revere motherhood. You are a complex person with depth and integrity. I'm both challenged and fulfilled as your wife and I wouldn't have it any other way. You keep me interested and on my toes. We both know that is exactly what I need.

Together we are unstoppable. Neither one of us could achieve alone what we can together.While I'm not perfect (yet), I want you to know I work hard to try and be the wife you hoped for. You lived worthy of an eternal companion knowing, someday, you would find me and I fully intend to be by your side as we journey through this life and into the next.

Happy Anniversary.

Photo: Kelsey's Kreations


Rain Dance

We had torrential rains in Bosque Farms today. Allen was traveling. The kids and I were sick of looking at one another. When it started coming down in buckets toward dusk, I just turned them loose. When you can't fight it, might as well join it, right?

California Love

We went to California for our niece's baptism at the beginning of September. We had a great time! The kids loved being around their cousins and friends. We really enjoyed seeing our family and friends, too.

We got in Thursday and took it easy on Friday. Saturday, we went to Sac-town to visit Allen's brother, Craig, and his family. We started at Fairytale Town and then went to their new house for lunch. This was a super cute place for the kids. They had a blast.

The Old Lady's shoe. I'm not sure that adults are supposed to come down the slide, but does Allen really count as a adult anyways?
All of the kiddos (except Emily) in the cheese.

We had someone to see or something to do every single day we were there. Sometimes I remembered the camera, others I didn't. We had a professional photographer at the baptism and I totally forgot my camera. Monday we hung out with family and went swimming. It was way hot so we loved hanging out by the pool.

Aubree. How cute is that?
Allen and the girls
Uncle Brent and Ben
Gma and Lexi
Dani in the baby floaty.
Tuesday we met some friends and had dinner while the kids acted like schizophrenics. Wednesday, we went to Pixieland with my dad and grandpa. I forgot the camera and was really upset, but Allen took these pictures on his cell phone. Thank goodness he thought of it! I went there as a kid and have really fond memories. It was really neat to see my kids with their grandpa and great-grandpa. We had a great time and the weather was beautiful.

Addie and Lexi on the Red Baron ride.
Lexi, Grandpa Bob, and Addie
Grandpa Tweet (my grandpa, 96) and Lexi
Me and Lexi on the roller coaster
Lexi and Grandpa Bob driving
Emily, Addie, Me, Lexi, Grandpa Bob and Grandpa Tweet
We saw some more friends Thursday and I had lunch with my best friend on Friday. We've been friends since 6th grade and haven't had girl's time in forever! Of course, I didn't have my camera on either of those days. Here are some random shots of us hanging out during the week:

Hannah and Emily. Let me just say, this girl has a way with babies. She had Emily laughing and giggling the whole time we were there.
Grandma Riddle and Addie. These girls just loved waking up to Grandma every morning. It's such a treat for them (and us!). Grandma made sure we were very well taken care of.
Addie coloring at Grandma's house.
We visited some more with family on Friday and had to leave Saturday. I didn't expect to have a great time traveling with the kids. But, they did so well. No one woke up in the night and they all fit in with everyone pretty dang well considering. When we had to leave, Lexi cried and cried and cried. As we were taking off, she looked out the window of the plane and in the saddest voice ever said, "By Grandma, bye Grandpa. I'll miss you and California." Leaving was tough this time around because our kids really enjoyed being around our family and friends. I'm glad to say we had such a good time and I won't dread going places with the kiddos next time. Thanks to everyone who lent us their goods so we would be comfortable! We sure do miss you!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Before I had kids, the idea of meat rolled into a ball and consumed seemed pretty disgusting to me. I've never been a fan of the meatball. I've recently given them a chance and have I been missing out! My family loves them and even my picky eaters usually have seconds. 
I've made my meatballs from scratch before and they turned out pretty good. But, as anyone who has made a meatball knows getting the balance of texture and moistness to be just right can sometimes be a bit tricky. Add to that my three kids who are usually in the throws of mutiny around dinner time and I've become a total cheater. Believe it or not, our favorite brand is Great Value. The Walmart generic. The homestyle kind. Italian tastes weird with any sauce but marinara. The homestyle is great with any type of sauce. They are moist and really flavorful. Of course, you can use any type you prefer.
This recipe is super simple and was a huge hit. I paired it with Roast Broccoli. If you've never had roast broccoli, you have done yourself a huge disservice. Even broccoli haters will love it.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

- Put your favorite meatballs in a greased 9x13 pan. (If using fresh, you don't have to cook them before you bake with the sauce, just toss them in raw. If using frozen, put them in frozen and bake for the suggested time at the suggested temp. - usually 40 minutes if preparing with a sauce).


½ c brown sugar

¼ c white vinegar

1 tsp yellow mustard

¼ c barbecue sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat sauce ingredients to dissolve brown sugar (I do this in the microwave in a glass measuring cup.
Takes about a minute.). Pour sauce over meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Serve over rice. 

I doubled the sauce because I wanted enough for left overs. Plus, I didn't want it to dry out during the baking time. I put quite a few meatballs in there, but left a little room between them so they would bake and not steam. I also checked on them a couple of times and gave them a shake and quick stir to make sure they were evenly coated with sauce and the tops didn't dry out. 

Roast Broccoli 

Cut up fresh broccoli leaving a little bit of the stem on the florets. You can cut them into whatever size you want, but you don't want to chop it into squares. You want it to be almost stick shape. 

Put on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Add a good amount of salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes until the edges are caramelized and a little brown. (see picture)

*For this meal, I was baking the meatballs at 375. I wanted the two dishes to come out of the oven at the same time so I just threw the broccoli on the lower rack (it's hotter down there when baking and it will give a crispier finish) when the meatballs had 20 minutes left. The lower position and longer baking time worked out great. 

 *I've included a link that will take you to the original recipe above.


A Rant

Allen has a great job.

He really has two jobs, though.

One of those he sought out. Here in New Mexico.

The other. Well, he was sought out to help with another project.

In California.

When I was 7 months pregnant.

We talked and prayed. And said yes.

We knew there would be travel. Lots of travel.

Now, I have 3 kids 4 and under.

And Allen travels at least every other week. Usually, it's weekly. To CA.

Did I mention I have 3 kids 4 and under?

We are extremely grateful for his career and success there in. This job is a blessing. We have been sheltered from the economic disaster. We have excellent health care. Allen can take time off at will. He is working on a project that has really big potential and could be great for his career. We enjoy some of the finer wants in life. I know all of this.

Sometimes, though, blessings are also trials. Like marriage. Or having kids. Or owning a home. You know, the big stuff we all want? Usually trials masquerading as blessings. This is definitely one of those. They say that the good thing with these types is that after the trial is over, the blessing remains.

But let me tell you, if you haven't had a spouse who travels on a regular basis, it's hard. Really, really hard. Hard on the marriage. Hard on the kids. Hard on the maintenance of the home and yard. Hard on your patience. Hard on your self esteem because you feel guilty because you feel overwhelmed and then you are short with your kids and your spouse and then you feel especially horrible because if you only see your spouse for, oh, 10 or so hours a week, you want to be nice to them but you're so tired and burnt out you have nothing left for anyone. And believe me, when you only see your spouse for, oh, 10 or so hours a week, there is serious pressure to give.

So, Allen tries with all his might to travel as little as possible. But, he is really working in two states. He has two legitimate jobs. IN TWO DIFFERENT STATES. When he does go to California, he does so with intent and purpose and a goal to accomplish as much as possible while he is there. He has been making more trips than usual to train and educate a guy there so that Allen can hopefully make fewer trips as the project progresses.

On Thursday, Allen found out the man he has been training has left the project. He's going through a messy divorce and without notice is gone. All of those extra trips? Yeah. Kinda pointless. Now he has to start training a completely new team. Back to square one. 

Did I mention he's leaving Monday (I found out the Friday before) and won't be home until Wednesday night? Oh yeah. Tuesday is also our 8 year anniversary. Nothin' like spending your anniversary by yourself to kick up the romance a notch.

The sad truth is that we are merely surviving. This travel business has been going on for 7 months now. I'm tired. I'm resentful. I'm grumpy. My kids miss their dad. I'm tired of being resentful and grumpy. And sighing all of the time. I feel like I'm always sighing. Sighing when I hear about yet another unexpected trip. Sighing when at 5 p.m. on my third day alone the kids are at eachother's throats and I'm counting the minutes till they just go. to. bed. Sighing as I finally sink down into the couch at night. Alone. Sighing when I roll out of bed at 2 a.m. on the third night to comfort whoever happens to be up. Sighing when an hour later when someone else is in need and I'm on my own to do it all and know that in 2 hours I'll be up to do it all over again. Alone.

I get mad that he gets to leave every week. He gets to sleep, uninterrupted, at least one night a week. He gets to eat out at restaurants, alone, or with family. (All of our family, except for my mom and sister, live in Tracy which is the town we both grew up in and is about 20 minutes from the lab where Allen works. When he goes to CA to work, he usually stays with his mom.) He gets to eat without the shortlings throwing macaroni or spilling juice or whining about crayons and she's looking at me. He gets to take a nap on the plane. He gets to socialize with people whose vocabulary includes more than "mine!" and "Mom, I need..." and "poo!poo!".

I'm a pretty tough chick most of the time. But, I am not military wife material. I don't do kids by myself very well. Yeah, I can dig deep and pull up my granny panties and make it work, but it isn't always pretty. I get frustrated. I get lonely. I get burnt out. I yell too often. I feel sorry for myself. I find myself asking this question: Is it possible to be truly grateful and absolutely miserable at the same time? 'Cause I kinda feel both of those things all of the time right now.


Back to School, Back to School...

Lexi started preschool at Small Steps on September 2nd. She was excited, but had the poise of an old pro. I am so thrilled for her. In just a year, she'll be off to Kindergarten.

Lunchtime 2010


If you're going through hell, keep going. 
~Winston Churchill


There's no such thing as fun for the whole family.  
~Jerry Seinfeld

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.