Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jenna and Josh

As I try to type with the tears still coming down my face, I keep thinking of all of the things that I should have said tonight to Jenna and Josh. 
My "sister-in-law" just got married tonight. Still can't believe it. I gave a toast and then afterwards thought of all the things that I wanted and had even written down to say. With the many distractions at the reception for me, i.e. trying to keep track of 4 girls, I was not able to portray what I wanted to say. So here is what I was wanting to say and went over in my head so many times but was not able to get out at the toast. 
Jenna and Josh,
The day finally came and it is going to go so quickly but it is evident that your love for each other is going to last a lifetime. You are both so different yet you perfectly fit together. I have always secretly hoped that your relationship would last and that you would one day get married. After the first year of Josh being away at college I knew that it was going to last! Your love for each other never grew apart and you both "knew that you knew" that you were supposed to be together forever. 

Jenna, I have known you since you were 11 and Josh came along not too long after that:) You were in my wedding and I remember people telling me, "Before you know it, your little sisters will be the ones walking down the isle. It seemed so far away but now it is happening. It really is hard to believe that you are married! 
Jenna, our relationship has grown in so many ways over the years. I remember when I went with your family to Florida when Nathan and I were dating. I was a little nervous about riding there without Nathan since I was going there to surprise him, but was glad to have you there with me:) We bonded and our bond is only going to get stronger and stronger in the years to come. You were in my wedding, you were there for all the girls births, you have been to every event possible for the girls, you come over to hang out and babysit all the time and you are always willing to talk on the phone:)
Your love for the girls makes my heart and Nathan's heart overflow with joy.
You love them like you would love your own kids and of course, they love you sooooo much! You are such a strong person and your bubbly personality is contagious. I absolutely love hanging out with you and I am going to miss our time together more then you know. You are my little sister and you always will be and Nathan and I will forever be there for you!

Josh, I have known you it feels like almost as long as I have known Jenna:) Even though you are younger then Jenna, you have always been so mature and a strong leader. I love that you are so funny too and keep Jenna on her toes all the time. Your humble spirit sets you apart and your unconditional love for Jenna is amazing! I love that you have fun with the girls and are willing to do whatever they ask, like dance the wii or let them call you "tv" for "phillips tv." You go along with it and get down to their level:) Even though Nathan likes to joke on you, he has said all along that Jenna would be lucky if  she ended up with you. So, we feel lucky and blessed for you to marry Jenna. There is no doubt in my mind and Nathan's mind that you will take care of her and love her forever. 

Even though it is going to be hard to see you both go and move away from home, I know that it will be good for you. It will be so much fun at times and yet so hard at times being away, but God has it all planned out. If you continue to follow Him and seek Him first, then you will stay strong. Never loose sight of seeking to glorify God first! He will be there with you through it all! Of course, you know that you have a family always there for you and most importantly we will be praying for you always.  

Me, Nathan and the girls hold you both so close to our hearts. We love you forever!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It has taken me quite some time now to post anything since the beginning of the year.
I loved starting this blog then I got hesitant when I started realizing that I'm not really
sure what I'm doing! I takes me too long to find out how to do things the correct
way on the computer. I get frustrated and give up. I am determined now though
to keep writing and to eventually figure things out:) Things may not look
pretty right now, but I'm ok with that. In time, I will figure out what I'm doing!

I know this was forever ago, but better late then never:)
At least I will be able to remember a year from now what we did:)


It began with all the girls excited about starting their new activities and school. Nathan and I were looking forward to the start of a new year with some simple goals that we had set! We had enjoyed the Christmas break but we were now ready to get back into a routine:) 

Juls had her first swim class. She talked about it all day, packed her bag, put it by the door at 10:00 A.M. Her swim lesson was at 6:15 so we had a long day to wait but she made it through the day and got to go to her first class. Her cousin, Will, was taking the class too which she was super excited about him being there. She was so proud of herself, listened to the teacher and was sad when the 
class was over. She did great though!

Lydia started her first day of school with Miss Carol. She had been counting down the days for like 2 weeks of when she would get to start. She now gets to go with Natalee on Mondays! Grandpa had given her a free meal coupon for Chic-fil-a and told her to tell us to take her on the first day of school, so we did. We all ended up getting coupons and went to chic-fil-a for dinner!

Natalee and Lydia started gymnastics! They were super excited about starting and loved it! They go on Tuesday nights once a week now.

We went to Tori's homecoming. She was always!

The third week of January was rough. Alyssia woke up one night throwing up and was sick for about 24 hours. 4 days later Julianna started throwing up and it took her 4 days to get over feeling sick. The day after Julianna was better, Natalee got sick. She woke up throwing up and had to miss 2 days of school. Lydia made it through without getting sick somehow and Nathan and I survived. It was a long 2 weeks!

The last weekend in January it snowed! Nathan got home before 4:00 in the afternoon and was able to go outside with us. The girls had so much fun!

♥♥♥ I love you ♥♥♥ 45/365
Photo Source by: Skley

Nathan and I both needed some time together and a chance to say "I love you" many times throughout the day. So we ended up having a "date weekend."

My mom and dad watched all the girls while we went out to dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed our peaceful meal where we could have an uninterrupted conversatoin, taste and savor our food and even get dessert!

Date night (afternoon)  again! This rarely happens but it just so happened to work out where both of our parents asked to watch the girls in the same weekend. So, we took advantage of it and went out Saturday night and then on Sunday after church for lunch and the afternoon shopping. It was so nice to be out for the afternoon by ourselves. We tried out the "cookout" in Newport News and loved it. Next time we will bring the girls! Very affordable. Good food. And you get a milkshake with your meal!
We got to spend a little time at home with no kids!
We love our parents for being able to watch the girls. We love our "date times." It was a much needed weekend and lots of fun for us and the girls:)

It was back to the routine the rest of the week:
School, swimming lessons, gymnastics, church activities, etc.


Every day leading up to February 22nd, Lydia's birthday, we were all well aware of. Lydia absolutely loves her birthday and the lead up to it! She actually started the countdown 56 days before her birthday.   She always tends to stretch out her birthday into at least 3 or 4 different parties. This year her birthday fell on a Friday so we invited the whole family over for dinner of her choice, homemade macaroni and cheese with hot dogs! We all ate dinner, had cake and ice-cream, played games, Lydia danced and opened gifts. Her birthday is always so much fun! 6 years old and growing up way too fast!

   girls practice gymnastics everyday!

On a cold rainy Saturday, Nathan helped the girls make some 
fashion jewelry and they loved it!

Paw-Paw on his birthday with some of the great grandkids!

We spent some time with Luke on the weekends before his deployment

We did hair-braiding, played dress-up, had 
a picnic and the girls later proclaimed
 it as "the best day ever:)" They have a lot
of these and I hope many more!

Natalee all set to go for her first soccer practice
of the season with Nathan as her coach:)

Half Marathon in Virginia Beach!
After a night in a hotel with almost no sleep,
we were happy to all still make our goal of
running under 2 hours!

Girls had a little party for me set up after the race
for my birthday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pepperoni Lasagna Roll-Ups

When you feel up to letting the kids help prepare dinner, then this is a good recipe to do! The girls have so much fun putting this together and love eating it just as much. I had some leftover lasagna noodles one time and tried this recipe from Taste of Home. I'm glad that I did!

  • 6 lasagna noodles
  • 1-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. teaspoon dried basil
  • 48 slices pepperoni
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese, cut into thirds
  • 2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  • Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Combine the ricotta cheese, chives, oregano and basil; spread 1/2 cup over each noodle to within 1/2 in. of edges. Top with pepperoni and Swiss cheese; carefully roll up.
  • Place seam side down in a greased shallow 1-qt. baking dish; top with spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Chicken Potpie

There are a couple different reasons why I like this recipe:
- it is budget friendly
- it freezes well, so I can make two and save one for the next month
- I can make just this for dinner with maybe some bread and it is a well balanced meal
- Nathan and the girls (for the most part) like it.


  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)

  • Place the carrots, potatoes and turnip in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Drain vegetables and place in a large bowl; stir in the white sauce, chicken, peas, mushrooms and onions. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. round baking dish.
  • Place pastry over filling; trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in top. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months or bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
  • To use frozen potpie: Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before baking. Cover edges of crust loosely with foil; place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°; remove foil. Bake 55-60 minutes longer or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 4 servings.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. She loves to make soups during the winter and this is one of my favorites that she makes. I like to make it and eat the leftovers. Nathan likes to take it to work during the winter. You can make it more spicy by adding jalapenos or more rotel chilis. You can add black beans, etc. The next time I make it, I may try adding some additional ingredients but it is still good as is!

  • 2 cans cream of celery
  • 2 can enchillada sauce (mild)
  • 2 can refried beans
  • 2 cans rotel chils (small ones)
  • 1 fat can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 big can of corn
  • Montary Jack cheese
  • cut chicken pieces (white and dark meat) big pack
  • tortilla chips
  1. Boil chicken until cooked all the way through and cut up into small pieces.
  2. Pour out about half of the chicken water into another pot. (in case you need to add some if the soup is too thick)
  3. Dump all the ingredients into the pot of water with half the water and let simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add cheese on top to serve and serve with tortilla chips 

Banana Nut Bread

I got this recipe from my mom. It turns out yummy and moist every time! Nathan and Lydia prefer it without nuts, but the rest of us like it with the nuts. We like it served warm for breakfast. It is a great way to make use of those browned bananas.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
  • 3 mashed bananas
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
  2. In a bowl, mix together baking powder, baking soda, flour and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and blend.
  3. Add bananas and nuts and stir.
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then put foil on top for at least ten more minutes. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

We love to grill out and Nathan especially likes a good burger. I usually make a simple homemade burger, but he also loves it when I make these burgers for something different. I got the recipe from Taste of Home and adapted it a little bit. The girls will eat this too!

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley 
  • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 4 hamburger buns, lettuce leaves and tomato slices are optional
  1. In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, parsley and 1 tsp. mustard; set aside.
  2. In another bowl, combine the onions, bread crumbs, ketchup, salt, rosemary, sage and remaining mustard. 
  3. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight thin patties.
  4. Spoon cheese mixture onto center of four patties; top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal.
  5. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees and juices run clear. Serve burgers on rolls with lettuce and tomato if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Strawberry-Bacon Spinach Salad

My mom made this salad one time when our family got together and it was a big hit. She got it from a Taste of Home magazine. I had to get the recipe! The homemade dressing is what makes it so good!


  • 1 package (6 oz.) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 8 bacon strips, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, bacon, onion and walnuts. In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Serve with salad. Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuna Stroganoff

This is a simple, low-budget, kid-pleasing dish. It is not the healthiest meal in the world but we like to fix it every once in awhile mainly because all the girls like it and it is good too! The girls don't really eat tuna fish by itself or on a sandwich but they don't mind it in this recipe. Two of the girls will eat the mushrooms in it and two won't, along with Nathan. I think it's better with the mushrooms so I still put them in there. I usually double this recipe. You can also substitute the tuna for ground beef. They love it whenever I make it!

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 can (7 oz ) tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 can  ( 4 oz. ) mushrooms, drained
  • hot cooked noodles or rice
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Melt butter in skillet; saute onion until tender. Combine soup, sour cream, garlic powder and pepper; add to onion. Add tuna and mushrooms; heat through. Serve tuna stroganoff over hot cooked noodles or rice. Add fresh snipped parsley if you want. Our favorite way to eat this is to mix egg noodles in with the tuna yummy! I got this recipe form the book,  "Beyond Mac and Cheese."

Baked Ziti with Sausage

This baked ziti is a great recipe for parties, potlucks and holidays, because it feeds a crowd. If you are looking for something that is kid-friendly, then this is a great recipe for that too. When I make this, I don't have to worry about any wining girls and most of the time, Natalee and Lydia are asking for seconds!  Although, this recipe  calls for mild Italian sausage, feel free to use hot sausage if you like spicy food. This recipe was taken from


  • 16 oz. ziti pasta
  • 8 oz. mild Italian sausage, casing removed, choppped
  • 4 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions for "al dente." Drain.
  3. Brown sausage. Drain. Mix with 3 cups of the spaghetti sauce, the cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and italian seasoning.
  4. Spread the remaining 1 cup f the spaghetti sauce in a 9 x 13 pan. Top with half of the ziti. Top with half of the sausage mixture. Top with remaining ziti and remaining sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese over top.
  5. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Remove cover, and bake another 20-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
  6. Let baked ziti rest 10 minutes before serving. 

**Make ahead directions: Follow recipe through step 4. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze. A day before you're ready to serve, thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Bake according to recipe directions. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Baked Parmesan Tilapia

This is a dish that I especially like to make during the spring/summer. However, lately I have been making it during the winter also because the kids love it! This is one of Lydia's favorite meals! She does dip the fish in ketchup, but at least she eats the fish!

This is a recipe that I modified from a Taste of Home magazine.

2lb (6-8) tilapia fillets
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder
olive oil

Thaw the fish and pat dry on paper towels. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, italian seasoning and garlic powder onto one plate.

On another plate, pour 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Doing one at a time, place a fillet in the lemon juice, sprinkle with desired amount of kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.

Dredge the fillet in the crumbs mixture patting it all over to coat all sides.
Put the olive oil in the baking dish and place the filets on top.
Sprinkle a little lemon juice over the fillets and drizzle or spray them lightly with olive oil.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. When the filets easily flake with a fork and the edges are browning then they are done.

We like to eat this dish with some french fries and green beans.

New Year's Eve and New Years Day

We tried to keep activities "low key" on New Year's Ever since we had been so busy over
Christmas break. Usually we go to a party or have someone over but it
just sounded like to much work this year so we decided to hang out
at home, which was nice:) We did go to the Y in the morning then 
came home and played. Luke came and picked up Natalee and Lydia to
go with him to get his haircut while Juls, Alyssia and daddy took a nap:)

Then we had tacos and ice-cream/oreos with the girls.  

Julianna practiced her ABC tracing and was so proud:)

After dinner it was a short movie and bed.

Nathan and I stayed up and went over some goals for this year.
We looked at our calendar and talked about what was happening
during the next couple months. It was really good to spend that time 
together! We stayed up until midnight, drank some sparkling juice
then went to bed!

New Years Day we spent some time at both of our parents house.
Then, prepared for the rest of the week with school starting back. 

Sunday, December 30th

We stayed home from church and let the girls sleep in, which was much needed. We read a story from their new Children's Bible.  The girls made a fort and played "puppies" while Nathan and I tried cleaning up the house....ha ha:)

* Nathan went and had lunch with Grant Mora, since he was in town cleaning up their house. He had fun catching up with him and the other guys there. He was sad though to say good bye to Grant for the final time.

* We spent the afternoon doing some reading and some review papers to get ready for school. Nathan came home and played on the trampoline with the girls!

* Kimmy and Sergio came over and hung out for a little while then said good bye to the the girls and us. They were heading back to Florida the next morning. It's always sad to say good bye:(

* It was cold outside so we stayed in and watched a movie with the girls until bedtime!

Saturday, December 29th

 We got the two little girls ready and woke the two big girls up at 10:00 to leave for Maryland. We were traveling to celebrate Grandaddy's 80th birthday. Bekah rode with us and helped entertain the girls:) It was a long ride but we made it!

* At the party we ate, watched a slideshow of his life, gave him a scrapbook that was filled with pages from all of us and hung out with family. It was good to see Grandaddy so happy!
The girls adore him and I am so thankful that we were able to be there with him to celebrate his special birthday.

                                  Bekah likes to get a picture of the 8 kids anytime we are all together!

* The ride home was even longer with the girls since the two little ones were tired but weren't going to sleep. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts and that helped for a little while:) We made it home though, did baths and put the girls to bed....then we went to bed!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday, December 28th

* Me and the girls went to the Y. I ran the trail and had a good run! Nathan went hunting for the day at a hunt club with a guy from work/church.

* Kimmy and Sergio came to pick up Natalee and Lydia and take them to Christmas Town with my mom and dad, Luke, Tori, Liz and Bekah. They felt special being able to go by themselves and had so much fun!

* I made a meal for Laura Poole. Me, Juls and Alyssia went to deliver the meal ( and saw sweet baby Olivia) , did a quick Coscto run then stopped by Chic-fil-a. Julianna had been promised to go to Chic-fil-a to play on the playground and get ice-cream (her favorite thing in the world to do:)

* The girls didn't get home until 10:30 and couldn't stop talking about all of the fun they had! Natalee rode her first roller coaster and Lydia went on DiVinchi's cradle! So they didn't get to sleep til after 11:00.

*  Nathan fell asleep by 9:00 and I finished getting ready for our trip to Maryland the next day.