Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Murphy's Law of Roadtrips

Chapter 1 : Murphy's Law of Roadtrips
Goodbye Colorado

I’ve been telling myself for weeks now that I need to blog about our adventures leading up to Hawaii and then all that’s happened since we’ve been here so that we can look back on it all one day and laugh.  This is our first big move as a family.  Dave and I met while I was stationed in Colorado Springs in 2005.  We got married in 2006 and stayed in Colorado Springs until 2008.  Then I was assigned to Kuwait, so I was able to leave Dave and the kids in Colorado Springs.  I was fortunate enough to get a return assignment to Colorado Springs in 2009, which is where we stayed until July 1st

On July 1st, the 6th Anniversary of our wedding, and the day after Jake and Bri’s wedding, we started our adventure – 3 carseats, 5 kids, 17 bags, a bunch of food, 2 cars, and a bunch of stuff we had yet to sort through, but figured we would do it along the way.  We had been in lodging on Peterson AFB for about 8 days by that point.  We had to drive west to ship our cars from LA.   We decided to make it a mini-vacation for the boys.  We drove down to Albuquerque the first night to spend some time with Grampy.

About an hour before we got there, I started to smell rubber burning, followed by a bit of white smoke coming through my air vents.  Immediately, I knew what the problem was.  Just about a month before that, I had experienced the same thing.  It turned out to be my air compressor and AC clutch.  I paid the $700 to have it fixed before we had to drive cross country.  Here we were, only 5 hours into our trip, and the darn thing quit again.  The parts and labor were warrantied, but by a mechanic in Colorado Springs.  There was no way we were going to drive back to Colorado Springs.

We ate dinner at Red Robin with Aunt Penelope, Travis and Grampy.  Aunt Penelope was able to help me find a decent place to take the Jeep in the morning to get it fixed.  At 7:15 the next morning, Grampy and I made the 45 minute trip to the reputable auto shop.  Sure enough- the compressor was bad again.  They told me it would be done by noon.  Dave made the command decision to continue forward on the mission west with 4 of the boys while Kaleb stayed behind with me until the car was fixed.  At 8:30 am, Dave left with a few bags and 4 of the boys.  Around 12:30, the shop called to inform me that there was more wrong with the car then they thought- a bad fan, some bad tubing, and it would cost more money to fix.  Needless to say, $842 later and at 6pm, Kaleb and I were finally back on the road.  Next stop Phoenix…

We are officially living examples of Murphy’s Law of Roadtrips. Some other time I will account all the ridiculous things we have had happen on EVERY single road trip we've been on.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chicken Cutlet Curry

On my very last TDY trip to Okinawa, Japan, I became slightly addicted to CoCo Ichibanya Curry House chicken cutlet curry (Level 2) scarfing down three servings in a matter of 4 days. Every time I ate it, it left me wanting more.  Sure enough, within 24 hours of being back home, I wanted Chicken Cutlet Curry.  I found myself aimlessly wandering Google, at 1 am, in search for a recipe for the addicting meal.  I came across several and finally just picked one (the easiest) and decided I would try to cook it.  So, for my birthday dinner, I cooked the following recipe for my family.  They all loved it.  We made a spicier version for Dave, Kaleb and I and then a mild version for the younger boys.  It is not CoCo Curry's, but it definitely satisfied my craving and introduced a new flavor to the whole family.

The recipe below is how our family cooked this meal.  The original recipe can be found at

5 servings short grain white rice, cooked and kept warm
2T of butter or olive oil
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups fine breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
1 block S&B Golden® curry sauce mix(med/hot)*
12oz sliced fresh mushrooms
salt, pepper and cayenne
2T peanut oil

1. In large stir fry pan melt butter. 
2. Add mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes.
3. Add water and entire brick of curry sauce mix to mushrooms.
4. Let simmer on high to thicken, stirring occasionally while preparing chicken (add cayenne to adjust heat level)
5. Pound chicken breasts out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
6. In pie plate, combine breadcrumbs with salt, pepper and other desired seasonings(ie garlic or onion powder, cayenne, parsley, etc)
7. Dredge chicken in egg then in breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
8. Cook chicken in large skillet with peanut oil.
9. Cook about 5 minute each side, until chicken is cooked through.
10. To serve, place serving of rice on plate, top with sliced chicken breast, then top with sauce. 

* For a mild version of this recipe use the mild S&B Golden® curry sauce mix.

** We made TWO batches of the curry sauce to suit everyone's taste. The above recipe only calls for one batch. 

*** The recipe called for about a 1/2 cup of shredded pepper jack cheese on top of the chicken breast before adding the sauce, but I forgot this and nobody noticed.  I plan to try this next time!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork

Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at


1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 (4 pound) pork shoulder roast
2 cups barbeque sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
8 hamburger buns, split

1.  Pour the vegetable oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker

2.  Mix together in medium bowl - the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, chicken broth, brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and garlic. Poor mixture over pork roast.

3.  Cover and cook on High until the roast shreds easily with a fork, 5 to 6 hours (or on low 8-10 hours).

4.  Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices. 

5.   Spoon pork into the buns.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ahh running- why do you hate me so...

I hate running.  Or maybe running just hates me – the roads, the trails, the treadmills, the tracks… it’s all a conspiracy to test my will and determination.  I don't think I've always hated it.  I've grown to respect it as a physical activity, but I still hate it.  I used to play soccer in high school.  I hated running then.  I particularly loved playing fullback because I didn’t have to run as much as when I played left wing.  Then I came into the Army in 1997.  I started running and have looked for every ethical excuse in the world to stop.   
My dislike of running really started at Fort Gordon during my advanced individual training from 1997-1998.  I used to get THE WORST shin splints.  Eventually I ended up with a stress fracture in one of my femurs of all places and was placed on a profile to do the swim event for my PT test.  After having to do that event, I swore I would never get a profile for an alternate event again.  The only thing worse then running for time is swimming for time.
 I think my true hatred of the activity began when I was at Fort Drum, assigned to the 10th Signal Battalion.  We fell under the 18th Airborne Corps, and under that regime, all Soldiers were required to complete a 4 mile run in less than 36 minutes IN ADDITION to the passing the Army Physical Fitness Test required of all Soldiers.  That meant we all ran… a lot.  I was always the one that fell out of formation and fell behind.  I was the one that some poor NCO would have to fall back to the rear with to “police me up” and make sure I finished.  I am the reason they have “fall-out NCOs” for formation runs.
In any case, I had a baby in 1999 and then again in 2000… both at Fort Drum.   Followed by another in 2005 and then again in 2007 in Colorado Springs (the altitude adding a whole other dimension to running).  Every single time, it was so hard to get back into shape- progressively getting harder with each baby.  Now I’m wise enough to understand that I had to retrain my new “post-baby body” how to run.  But, without fail, with every child I’ve had, it’s been harder and harder to get back into the swing of things. 

Here we are now- 2012… post baby Elijah… Baby #5.  I’ve been in the Army just under 15 years.  I’m older, I’m slower, I’m heavier, and I’m not anywhere near as energetic as I used to be.  It’s been 6 months since I’ve had Elijah and I’m now supposed to be able to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test.  Passing would require me to complete 15 pushups in 2 minutes, 42 sit-ups in 2 minutes, and run 2 miles in under 21:42.  Where do I stand?  Well, let’s just say I’m not there. 
But I’m determined.  I’m not going to let those roads, trails, treadmills or tracks beat me.  The only way to get better at running is to … well… run.  And so that’s what I’ve started doing.  I’ve started running.  Haven’t really set any goals for myself yet.  I’m just running.  Getting out there and doing it, I’m convinced, is half the battle.  I have my iPod, my headphones and my handy-dandy Nike+GPS app;  and then I run.  Slowly, but surely, I run.  I post my runs on Facebook to hold myself accountable.  Something about sharing my weakness with the world makes me want to try just a little bit harder. 
So, watch my progress and feel inspired.  Feel inspired to confront something you hate and not let it beat you.  My screen name on Nike+ is mwaychoff77.  I always post a start and end message on Facebook when I run.  I don’t mind displaying my awful stats for the world to see.  At some point, I’ll be embarrassed enough by them to kick my butt into high gear.  Feel free to cheer me along, have a good laugh, or even join me in my challenge to beat those pesky roads, trails, tracks and treadmills.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy Cheesy Chicken

  • Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at

  • Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cheddar soup
  • 1 (8 oz) container of sour cream

  • Directions
  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Place in slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar soup.  Pour over chicken in slow cooker.
  3. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.  Stir in sour cream about 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve with pasta, mashed potatoes, egg noodles or rice and a salad or vegetable.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cheesy Italian Tortellini

  • Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at

  • Ingredients

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 package of Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage (casings removed)
  • 2 (16 oz) jars of marinara sauce
  • 1 package of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (9oz) packages of refrigerated or fresh cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Directions
  1. Crumble ground beef and Italian Sausage into a large skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat until browned.  Drain.
  2. Combine ground meats, marinara sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW heat for 7 to 8 hours.
  3. Stir in tortellini and sprinkle mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top.  Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes on LOW or until tortellini is tender.

**This meal was prepared for my clan of 6 (Eli doesn't eat solids yet), with the intent of having leftovers.  For a smaller portion, cut all ingredients in half.

**For a make ahead, prepare all ingredients for sauce mixture and vacuum seal in a bag.  Toss in slow cooker on the day of.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Moving to Hawaii

So, this is a post to let family and friends afar know some details of the upcoming adventure for the Waychoff-Shockley Clan. Our military tour in Colorado Springs has sadly come to an end (temporarily I hope). We've made so many good friends and made so many memories here and are sad to leave. In July 2012 we will be moving to Hawaii (the island of Oahu) and have been reassigned to D Company, 53rd Signal Battalion. I am so grateful to have afforded this non-deploying assignment and to be able to work with some of the finest NCOs in the Army, as well as an amazing commander and a small team of civilians. This is a subordinate unit to the unit that I work in right now. I'm excited, nervous, anxious, and motivated for both the change in scenery and the change in responsibility. I will likely be working as a Platoon Sergeant responsible for the morale, training and welfare of about 40-50 smart, dedicated US and Australian Soldiers. The last time I was responsible for this many folks was when I was in Kuwait.

We are not sure what our plan for housing is. Right now we own our home in Colorado Springs and intend to rent it out while we are gone. Once we get to Hawaii, our first choice will be to live on a base where elementary and middle schools are available (possibly Schofield Barracks). If this is not an option, we have about 60 days authorized in a hotel to look for a suitable house off base. Our #1 concern will be finding decent schools. The school system is somewhat on the bad side in Hawaii. A lot of kids go to private schools, but we'd never be able to afford that with our clan.

The government will pay for our Dodge Durango to be shipped over, along with all of our household items. We plan to pay to ship the Jeep over so we can have two cars. We will have to rent a car in the interim. Hopefully we'll ship it in early June so that it will be there when we get there.

Kooper will not be coming. He is very old and we are afraid he won't do well on the flight. He will stay with our good friends Bri and Jake and hopefully live the rest of his time happy and comfortable. The tentative plan is to leave Diesel behind until we find a house and then have her sent over. The military does not pay for the cost to ship pets, but it's not too awful expensive.

Dave will not work for at least the first year we are over there. This will be good for several reasons - we won't have to worry about finding childcare, the boys will be able to participate in any activities they want (karate, football, surfing lessons) without having to work around our work schedules, and baby Eli will have a parent raising him instead of a daycare provider. Some other perks - Dave will be able to keep his gym schedule, I won't have to cook or do laundry and Dave will be able to play golf and go to the beach at his leisure (aka his GTL) :-p

Gabe and Brian will be able to continue their Kempo Karate in Oahu. This was actually where Kempo Karate was founded. They have several schools throughout the island. The boys may even have an opportunity to meet Grandmaster Martin T. Buell while we are stationed there and maybe even train with him. If all goes well, they will both achieve black belt before we depart Hawaii.

We will be in Hawaii for a minimum of 3 years. We already have quite a few friends that live there and are excited about rekindling those friendships (Dani and Chris I can't wait to see you) as well as developing new ones (Jeff and Lindsey). We are excited that the boys will be exposed to a new climate and culture, with most of them being old enough to appreciate and remember it when they grow up. I absolutely love the idea of it being warm enough for them to go outside very single day, year round, and to the beach every weekend!

We will be keeping our current cell phone numbers when we move. We will provide a mailing address once we get settled. Hawaii is 6 hrs behind the East Coast so please keep that in mind when calling us (yes Dad, I am specifically talking about you!)

This is huge, exciting transition for us. It's the first time we will have moved cities as a family in over 8 years and the first time Dave and I have relocated together since we've been married!! The boys will have to make new friends, Dave will have to find a new softball league, and I will have to try not to lose my mind while everyone settles in. We will ALL have to learn to function without Mom and Dad Waychoff (aka Grammy and Grampy) and Dave's sister Katey, who have been a short 20 min drive away for the last 6 years. That will likely be the toughest part of the transition. They have been such a huge part of why our family has been able to function as well as it has for the last 6 1/2 years.

We can't wait to start this next chapter in our lives and hope you all have a chance to be a part of it. I can't promise a bed (unless you con one of the boys to give theirs up), but I can promise a floor or a couch if you decide to come visit. Pack some sunblock, a camera, and a swim suit and come on out for a visit. If you've always wanted to go to Hawaii but never really had a reason- feel free to use us as your excuse!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Top 20 Tips for an Effective Leader and an Effective Mom

1. Understanding how to manage your time efficiently will make all the difference in the long run

2. Ensure that both children and Soldiers do not mistake kindness for weakness

3. Understand the difference between efficient and lazy

4. Never forget your priorities

5. A hard right will get you better results then an easy wrong

6. A working knowledge of "Google" and an understanding of legitimate sources and bogus sources will save you from humiliation one day

7. When in doubt, feed them

8. Have a pen and paper everywhere you go; chances are if you don't write it down, you'll never remember

9. An ounce of kindness goes a really long way

10. "Because I said so" only goes so far

11. Set the example, for they will follow your lead

12. 100-mile-hour tape, gum, bandaids, and string fix just about everything

13. The sooner you accept that sleep is a crutch, the better off you'll be

14. Know when to pick and choose your battles; some battles just aren't worth fighting

15. You have to give respect to get respect

16. Remember to give praise for every reprimand you dish out

17. Remember that God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason- use them wisely

18. Find someone... anyone...that you can vent to - one day you will need to

19. Read

20. In the end, no matter what happens, remember - He has your back, He won't give you anything you can't handle, and He has a plan

Creamy Chicken and Chile Enchiladas

  • Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts cubed
  • 1 container of Philly Santa Fe Blend Cooking Cream 
  • 1 package/box of taco rice
  • 1 - 5oz Can of chopped green chiles
  • 10 - 6 inch flour tortillas
  • 2 - 10oz cans of green chile enchilada sauce (we use Old El Paso)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • sour cream, salsa, tomato, guacamole, lettuce, scallions (optional)

  • Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook Taco Rice according to instructions; layer in the bottom of the glass baking dish.
  3. Cook chicken over medium-high heat in skillet until no longer pink in the center.  Sir in cooking cream and chiles; reduce heat to medium.  Cook and stir until cooking cream is melted (approx 6 min). 
  4. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of shredded cheese on each tortilla; sppon chicken filling on top of cheese and roll tortilla and place seam-side down.  
  5. Poor enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle with remainder of shredded cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. 
  6. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, salsa, scallions or sour cream if desired.

**for a make ahead, prepare and freeze.  Thaw in refrigerator over night and cook for 30-40 minutes.  

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls

  • Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at

  • Ingredients

  • 12 leaves cabbage (two large heads)**
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil cabbage leaves 2 minutes; drain.
  2. In large bowl, combine 1 cup cooked rice, egg, garlic powder, milk, ground beef, salt, and pepper. Place about 1/4 cup of meat mixture in center of each cabbage leaf, and roll up, tucking in ends. Place rolls in slow cooker.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cabbage rolls.
  4. Cover, and cook on Low 8 to 9 hours.

**steaming the entire head of cabbage will make the leaves easier to work with and pull apart

**for a make ahead, prepare rolls and seal in vacuum seal bag; put sauce mix in a separate bag and store both bags in freezer.