Friday, April 30, 2010


...Anna loses her first tooth.

And there was much rejoicing.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Busch Gardens

I'm still trying to play catch-up from our trip to Florida, so here are a few gems from our trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Tony had to work that day so it was just us, Wendy and the kids and Donny, Lena and Cora. It was warm and crowded, but we had a great time trading off on kids and rides so we all had a chance to ride a roller coaster or two as well as watch the kids ride the kid rides.

We started out with a ride around the park looking at all the safari animals. We loved that there were no fences and that the animals could roam all over the place. Josh just really liked being on the train.

When we got off the train, we found some animal handlers who were letting the kids pet an iguana and the hugest bunny I have ever seen in my life. Cora was fascinated by the bunny...

I didn't get too many pictures from that day, simply because we were rarely all together and the camera stayed in the stroller so as not to fall out when we went on the roller coasters...But Sam was insistent that we get one (or 500) pictures of all the tiger stuff.
It was a wonderful day...filled with fun and family. We were so exhausted by the end of the day...but in a good way.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pork Tenderloin

Now that Tony is home, the era of corn dogs, peanut butter sandwiches and chicken tenders for dinner has come to an end. I get to start cooking real food again. I have a whole stack of recipes that I have squirreled away over the past 6 months and plan on using Tony as a guinea pig as I try them one by one. But he's a willing guinea pig. After all, he's been eating tuna, yogurt and take-out for the last 6 months.

For dinner on Sunday, I kept it simple...using a tried and true recipe that my sister-in-law Angela shared with me several years ago. It is not only simple to make, but I have yet to find a single person who doesn't like it. I even made it for our ward's Christmas enrichment dinner. It was a raging success. I just can't believe I haven't shared it before...

Pork Tenderloin

Mix the following in large Tupperware bowl with lid:

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. marjoram
1 Tbsp. rubbed sage
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 pkg. pork tenderloin (usually comes in two pieces)

Shake in the bowl to coat and let marinate for a couple of hours to overnight. Place in 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and bake covered in aluminum foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Yum. I serve it with these.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


...all seems right in the world.

It is so good to have him home. Where he belongs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We Did It!!

Welcome home, Tony!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Yankees? In Tampa??

Yessir. The Yankees hold their Spring Training in Tampa. So while we were in Florida, Tony managed to get some tickets to see them play at the George Steinbrenner Stadium against the Toronto Bluejays.



Sunshine. A win.

Donny with a turkey leg.

Need we say more??

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our New Guilty Pleasure

We interrupt the Florida update posts to divulge a nasty little secret the kids and I have been hiding. We are OBSESSED with Billy the Exterminator on A&E...we've watched every episode over the last two weeks. This dude is hilarious, obviously knows his stuff, may be a little eccentric, but in this animal lovin' family, he is a huge hit.

If you haven't seen this guy or his show before, check him out here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Downtown Disney

The last day we had in Orlando, we decided to just hit Downtown Disney because we still had to make the trek back to Tampa so that Tony could go back to work the following day. We still had a great time eating lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe,

seeing MORE princesses,

checking out Lego Land,

letting Josh crawl all over the toddler park,

offering up Sam to the Dinosaur gods,

and just for me, a trip to Ghirardelli. 


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom day was all about Anna.

Don't get me wrong...we all had a fun time on the rides (Splash Mountain, Aladdin's Carpet Ride, Big Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House) but let's be serious. We had our eyes peeled for princesses the whole day.

It was a divide and conquer type of day (thank goodness for cell phones) and we managed to get our personalized mouse ears and to see pretty much everything we wanted to see.

Including Belle.

After two full days on our feet, the only one of us with any energy left at all was Josh (because he got to ride around in his stroller all day) so we made it an early evening. And Josh, with all his energy, kept us entertained while we waited for the bus back to the hotel. By finding his ch'i.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Disney's Hollywood Studios

These next few posts are going to be a bit boring to most of you out there, but I wanted to share with our families (and get it documented for our blog book) some of the highlights of our trip to Florida.

We got to Orlando early late in the afternoon and Tony picked us up at the airport and we drove to Shades of Green, which is the military resort that is located within a few miles of all the Disney parks. It is really very beautiful...notice the MIA/POW flag flying under the American flag. They had the cutest American Mickey in the lobby and the kids were so excited for their first glimpse of "the mouse." We got all settled in and had dinner...this is the first picture of the entire family we've had in months...

The first day at Disney we spent at Disney's Hollywood Studios where we met tons of characters (The Incredibles, Mickey, the guys from Up, Handy Manny and the Little Einsteins), got lots of autographs, and went to lots of shows (Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Playhouse Disney). The kids were great sports and walked until their little legs just about fell off.  Then we stayed late to see Mickey's Fantasmic Show. We had to get there early to get good seats and a bunch of teenagers there for Spring Break got a wave going through the audience. The only reason I mention this is that Sam LOVED it! It was so funny to watch him play along.

It was an awesome way to end the first day at Disney!

Monday, April 12, 2010


After spending three of the last four years at our house, sadly the McIllece Family Bracketology Trophy began it's long journey over the Pacific Ocean today to its home for the coming year. But don't get too used to having it around, Dave. I'm just sayin'...

And a quick and not so good update on my sweet dad. They are home from the Mayo Clinic with news that the only option available is chemotherapy at this point and that he can receive that treatment at home in Alaska. I think he is grateful to be able to stay home. We are too. Thank you all for your sweet thought and prayers on behalf of our family. They are felt and appreciated.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Walking With Dinosaurs

The Air Force has a really neat program in place for families with deployed parents. They issue the family what are called "deplayment" cards and they entitle your family to some really fun, COOL stuff for free. So today, a group of us took advantage of this and went to see Walking With Dinosaurs at the Spokane Arena. The big kids were so excited, but you can tell by the look on Josh's face that he wasn't so sure. At one point Anna, Josh and I went to the restroom while we were waiting for the show to start and Josh was convinced that the dinosaurs were going to eat Sam while we were gone.

The show is really a neat thing to see. The dinosaurs are huge and in some cases, a little scary. But the set and the dinosaurs themselves are so cool!! I took a little clip of the Paleontologist talking about the Ankylosaurus. I would have gotten a clip of the T-Rex, but Josh fell asleep (if you can believe it) and I had to cover his ears because that thing could ROAR!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

All About Josh

Josh is well, let's say, the most PARTICULAR of all our children. He is darling and so sweet, but inherited a little OCD from his mother and a little stubbornness from his...mother. But we all adore him and he has made our little family complete in a way we never thought possible.

This week, we celebrated his 3rd birthday...a day late because we were on the plane on his actual birthday. He didn't seem to mind.

This is a pack of cars from Grandpa and Grandma Nichols. I wonder which one was his favorite vehicle in the box. One guess.

And the bubble gun. We searched high and low for one of these things at Disney and Grammy Joan finally found one, paid a small fortune for it and then lugged it all the way back to Spokane without Josh seeing it. Awesome.

In honor of his special day, here are THREE of Josh's favorite things:

1. School buses. City buses. Military transport buses. Correction facility buses.
2. Thomas the Tank Engine.
3. Having Anna read to him in her bed right before he goes down for the night.

Things he hates:

1. ANY life-size Disney characters.
2. Actually wearing 3-D glasses to a 3-D showing of How To Train Your Dragon.
3. Not getting his way...

Since he is still a little behind in his speech, the school here on base wanted to start him in a speech program the minute he turned three. So we met with the school speech pathologist the day after we got home from Florida and they wanted to start him right away, two mornings a week for about 3 hours starting THE NEXT DAY. A little hurried for my taste. But the thing is, he gets to ride a bus to school (see #1 above). It is a regular-sized school bus with little booster seats and seat belts. They come right to our door to pick him up and drop him off right at our driveway. Wow. Not really ready for that. But he did great. Gave me a kiss and jumped right on.

He could have at least shed a LITTLE tear...

I sure did.

We love you, Josh!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comin' Down from Vacation

This is a little bit how we all feel today after 6 hours in the air yesterday. Josh is just lucky enough to almost entirely fit curled up in ONE airline seat...

But it is so good to be home.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Loves and Kisses from Florida

Thank you so much for all the thoughts, prayers and support that you have offered to me and my family. My father's case has been reviewed and accepted by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and he and my mom will be leaving early next week. Hopefully, we will know more about his prognosis after this next weekend. I so appreciate my friends...even my never-met-you-before bloggy ones!!

I have been offline until today, so I have not had a chance to respond personally to any emails or comments, but we will be home the middle of next week with stories and pictures to share.

Catch up to you all soon.