Santa stop here

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Just wanted to post a quick hello to wish everyone in the blogosphere a very Merry Christmas.  It was my intention to have my semi-sort-of-annual newsletter posted here and a cheery photo greeting card with the link printed across the bottom so I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.  Alas, I haven't given much thought to a family newsletter or photo greeting card and Christmas is already here. *sigh* C'est la vie, my friends.  C'est la vie!
I thought I was doing a great job of being on top of shopping, wrapping, baking, etc. Still I found myself out in the streets for 5 hours this morning wandering about from one store to the next in the rain.  My list of things to finish for tomorrow's dinner at my brother's house is still quite extensive and I'm pooped!  I will probably bake a little then lay it down and get up and go to church and come home and bake a little more and call it a day!
For family gifts I baked cranberry orange bread, peppermint meringue cookies and made rum balls.  I still have spicy cheese straws and sugar cookies to add to the baskets.  I made a fudgy peppermint cake to take to my brother's and will probably do a potato salad as well (I know that's not the "usual" fair for Christmas, but he's "doing meat" so I'm assuming it will be smoked or barbecued.)
I'll be back to let you know how my baking turns out.  I'll even try to remember to take some photos since my internet explorer is back up and running.  What sweet treats did you leave for Santa?
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


One thing I LOVE about the blogosphere is the inspiration we gain from others' creativity and ideas.  Carol over at Knee Deep in Mommahood pens the most extraordinary letters to her husband and daughters.  I am always in awe of her talent as a writer and how well she expresses her feelings.  I know her family will treasure her words for years to come. Today my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, so I decided to try Carol's approach with a letter of my own.  Here's what I came up with...

Dear Michael,

Happy Anniversary.  How is it possible that 15 years have flown by so fast? Or was that fast at all?  Sometimes it seems like light years ago and sometimes it was only yesterday that I walked down that aisle on my father’s arm mesmerized by all of the guests who had come from near and far to celebrate our special day with us. We had our share of bloopers and blunders that day, but they were life lessons in and of themselves: our wedding day was not picture perfect but it was lots of fun, and we all survived.  Just like in life itself.
When Shawn escorted Aunt Martha to her seat, he took one look at the crepe paper draped across the pews, glanced around and ripped it off so Aunt Martha could enter the pew.  I guess he was supposed to escort her around to enter from the other side, but we didn’t go over that at the rehearsal the night before-I wouldn’t have know what to do either.  I remember my cousin easing out of her pew to get a shot of me gliding toward the altar.  She stepped on the train of my dress bringing me to a screeching halt.  John, our cupid and lector, fumbled a bit searching for his place and finally read the wrong reading and the show went on.  After all was said and done, as we collapsed, exhausted in the limousine, I looked at you and noticed for the first time that you were wearing your mother’s 3-rose corsage instead of your single rose boutonniere.  What did your mother have on? Then there was your dad who was in almost all of our wedding photos until Chermain pointed out that he was still standing there while everyone else was rotating in and out of the photos.  Ahh, the laughs!

I know I don’t tell you often, but you are my rock and I love you.

I sometimes complain that I have to do everything myself.  We often have difficulty synchronizing our productivity: I’m tired when you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.  You’re exhausted when I catch my second wind and feel productive. I realize you put in long hours to provide financially for your family.  I am grateful for every dish I don’t have to wash and every piece of clothing I don’t have to iron because you pick up my slack when I desperately need you to

I know I don’t tell you often, but you are my rock and I love you.

I once scolded that parenthood changes women much more than men (because we women do everything, of course).  Men would continue to work, eat and sleep whether they had a family or not.  I have come to realize that parenthood changes men, too.  You may not act all warm and fuzzy with the kids or wear your feelings on your sleeve as I do and get all crazy and emotional about things, but I can see how deeply you love us all.  It is evident when you quietly ask me if I thought I might have been a little rough on one of the kids when I snapped at them for one thing or another.  It is obvious how happy you make them when you surprise them by stopping by Wendy’s for an after school “snack” that mean old mom surely would have vetoed.  Your love for us is evident when you come home after working your shift plus someone else’s and tell us you had a good day and then get up 4 hours later and start all over again.

I know I don’t tell you often, but you are my rock and I love you.

You, my friend, are a lesson in patience from which I would do well to study and take notes.  Your ability to remain as cool as a cucumber no matter what is going on astounds me.  You are like an island in the midst of a storm.  The water and wind may swirl around you, but you are calm and laid back, steady and unchanging.  You balance out my excitability and quick temper.  You are the yin to my yang.

I know I don’t tell you often, but you are my rock and I love you.

We never chose “our song” or “our special place” but we have 15 years of memories of us as a family: the good, the bad, the happy, the sad.  I love you for eating whatever I put on the table without complaining.  I love you for holding your tongue when you come home to chaos after working long hours.  I love you for wanting me to be happy.  I love you for appreciating the things I do for you and our family.  I love being close to you at the end of the day.  I love your hearty laughter that can lighten a tense mood in an instant.

I know I don’t tell you often, but you are my rock and I love you. Happy Anniversary.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas parade

Every day seems like a busy day although for the life of me I cannot account for where my time goes.  My house is not tidy, so I'm not cleaning all day long. My meals aren't planned months in advance, so I'm not organizing daily/weekly/monthly meal plans and coordinating grocery shopping lists.  Neither my kids nor I are not well-dressed, so I'm definitely NOT spending my time shopping.  Where do my days go?
Anyway, yesterday was a usual busy day around here.  It started with a one-mile run at the park.  For all of you in-shape mamas out there, don't applaud me just yet.  I normally do not run, period.  I'll walk all over the neighborhood for over an hour, but I've never been much of a runner.  Yesterday's "circumstance" came about as the result of a fitness program to which our pediatrician referred my daughter.  Because she is overweight and we have a family history of high cholesterol and hypertension, etc. Alisa qualified for the program as "high risk" for health issues later in life.  Anyway, the one-mile "run" was to establish a baseline for Alisa's performance, and since I was there along with another mom, we decided to walk the mile to encourage our kids.  The other mom asked if I wanted give running a try, and I agreed to try and run one lap around the park (5 laps make one mile). We ended up doing a walk one lap, run one lap type thing, which wasn't so bad.
After that we returned home to scoop up my son and take him to All-Region band try-outs.  The school was literally down the street from the dealership where my BIL works, so I dropped off my son and then went to get my oil changed.  When we returned to the school, Alisa and I waited a bit longer for Aaron to finish up.  There were 44 trombones trying out for about 9 spots, so we'll see how Aaron faired tomorrow.  He doesn't think he made it, but there's always next year when we can afford for him to take the private lessons the school offers.
Later in the evening, my sister dropped off my nephew and we made our way downtown for the lighting of the Christmas tree and the Christmas parade.  The temperature had really dropped, and it was cold outside, but the parade didn't last too long, and it was a lot of fun to see the cars, trucks, trailers and Elvis impersonators riding mini-bikes all decked in holiday lights!  Sorry, I would've taken pics, but (1) I forgot my camera; and (2) ever since I've had to resort to logging on with googlechrome vs internet explorer, I can't upload images to my blog.  If anyone has any tips about how to resolve that I'd love to hear them!
When I returned home I was supposed to stop by my mom's to help her put together a craft for her Parent's Day Out students.  My sister and BIL were there so I delivered my nephew to them and ended up staying a bit longer than I expected to finish the craft.
Finally, after I returned home, I mushed together sausage, baking mix, shredded cheddar cheese, minced onion, garlic and celery and shaped them into balls for another "potluck" the hubs was having on his job. 'Tis the season!  I'll try and post some of the recipes I've tried recently as soon as I figure out the attaching a picture thing.
Speaking of recipes...back in August or September around the beginning of the school year, someone posted on their blog a recipe for homemade granola bars.  They wrapped them in wax paper, sealed them with a sticker and ribbon for their child to take to school (first day of school treat maybe?).  Anyway, my cousin asked me for a recipe for granola bars, and that one came to mind only I cannot remember who posted the recipe!  If you are that person or remember that post or just have a great granola bar recipe, please leave a link in the comment section if you'd be so kind.  Thank you! Until next time...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Spirit

Happy Holidays, everyone.  I'm off off to brave the crowds at an outlet store with my mom.  Shopping is so hard to do when the "holiday spirit" hasn't hit you.  Well, the spirit has certainly hit (at least I've got my holiday blog up even if my tree isn't, right?), but the paycheck hasn't hit the bank yet!  Here's hoping all of you have your trees up and lit and  you're experiencing an extra helping of holiday cheer right about now. I'll let you know how I make out with the shopping!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Five Question Friday 12/03/10

I thought since it is now December and I don't ever want you to get bored visiting my blog on Five Question Friday, I'd woo you with my very own rendition of my favorite Christmas carol.  ::clearing throat::  Mi-mi-mi-mi. La-la-la-la.  Eh-hem.  That was just the warm up folks.  Here goes...What? You can't here what I'm singing?  Well, according to my cousin, maybe you're luckier for it. I will let you know that although I usually sing alto (or whatever the people next to me sing, really), I CAN hit that really high note at the end of  "O, Holy Night."
Anyway...moving right along to the real reason I'm sitting at my computer when dishes and dust are calling me by name: Five Question Friday blog hop hosted by Mama M over at My Little Life.  Please hop over to her blog to get the official rules and original questions to post on your very own blog. Don't forget to link up so others will know to check out your answers to this week's questions.

1. What's on the top of your holiday wish list and why?!
I try to encourage my family to write down on a wish list things that they want/need throughout the year.  This it to include mundane stuff like socks and underwear (obviously needs) and all of the extras.  It's like the ongoing grocery list stuck on the fridge, and everyone understands that these are suggestions only--some will be purchased some will not.  This way when birthdays, Mother's days, Father's days, etc. roll around or a little extra cash trickles in I have a clue as to what to get.  I started this tradition some years ago when my daughter fell hook, line and sinker for some "video now" electronic toy that she just had to have for Christmas.  She used it for about two weeks and you could no longer buy the little discs by the next time Christmas rolled around!  My idea doesn't work very well in my household b/c people take their lists off of the bulletin board in the kitchen to add something to them then they get lost in the mountain of bills, ads, mail and graded school papers that clutter my kitchen table never to be seen again!  Or, as is my husband's case, he just mentions things he wants at random times and expects me to remember 6 months later.  Anyway, I just put that idea out there for those of you organized folks that may benefit from such a system. Back to the original question, what's at the top of my holiday wish list?  I'd have to say as of a couple days ago, a food processor is at the top of my list.  Laura at "Home is where the heart is" posted a great recipe for Korean meatballs that involves chopping up chicken breasts in a food processor.  I've found so many recipes that require one.  I'm wondering how I've lived this long without one.  A new vacuum would be pretty close to the top, too.  My husband refuses to buy me "tools" as a gift.  I think it's just because he doesn't want to come off as a male chauvinist to his friends: "What'd you get your wife for Christmas?" "I got her a vacuum cleaner."  "Dude, you should have gone to Jared's!"
2. What is your favorite Christmas gift from the past?
I'd have to say a Christmas wedding was probably my greatest past Christmas gift.  I don't usually ask for much (you can never go wrong with a Target or craft store gift certificate IMO), but I love the Christmas season and we had an absolute blast getting married in December.
3. If you had life to do over, what would you be when you grow up?
I remember back in high school I considered going to medical school (ob/gyn).  I took 3 years of Latin for crying out loud!  In my not-so-infinite 18-year-old wisdom, I decided 8 more years of school was simply unreasonable.  I was also discouraged by malpractice insurance rates for ob/gyns and having to look "down there" when there wasn't a baby crowning (you know, the gynecology part of the business).  In other words, I completely talked myself out of becoming an ob/gyn. I still love all things labor and delivery, and would probably be a nurse-midwife when I grow up if I had to do it over again.  I've got the "nurse" part out of the way, so I may still be able to manage the "midwife" part.  I'll just have to change "when I grow up" to "when I grow old."
4. When do you put up your tree?
We don't have a set tradition for putting up the Christmas tree.  Now that the kids are 12 and 14 we should probably be better about stuff like this so they have a sense of tradition before the fly the coop!  It usually gets put up about 2 weeks before Christmas (and has been known to stay up past Spring Break--in my defense, I live in an older home when everything was built with walls and doors unlike today's homes where rooms blend together and are spacious and open.  The tree was in the dining room which has no dining room table or any other reason to go in there except to look at a Christmas tree, so it was kind of out of sight out of mind).  One year, I stopped by the grocery store the day before Christmas eve for a couple items and dragged home a real tree that was drastically reduced for obvious reasons.  You'll be glad to know we did not leave that one up until Spring Break!  Now, I feel a little guilty, so maybe we'll put up our tree this weekend.
5. What is your favorite Holiday?
Is this one of those questions where you ask several questions whose answer is "stop" and then you ask what do you do at a green light?  You asked about Christmas gifts and Christmas trees and then expect me to say "Christmas" for this question, right? Maybe not, but my favorite holiday is Christmas.  I love the lights and music and warm fuzzies derived from helping those in need, the giving spirit, the family time, the reunions with friends I haven't seen all year, the baking, etc.  I also love the Advent preparation (our hearts, our homes) that leads to Baby Jesus, the Word made flesh.  I love it all!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday

It's been a while since I've joined Mama Hen over at Mama's Little Chick for Thanksgiving Thursday.  I didn't even post how thankful I am on Thanksgiving Day! (Shame on me.) This will be brief as I have "miles to go before I rest" and rest I must for a change.

  • I am thankful for this Advent season as we prepare our hearts and homes and families for the birth of Baby Jesus.
  • I am thankful that I have a little gas in my car, a little money in my checking account, food in my pantry and fridge (in particular the baking goods!), and  a roof over my head this holiday season when not everyone can say the same.
  • I am thankful that my FIL slipped away peacefully with family nearby and that he will be "home" for the holidays.
  • I am especially thankful for all of the blog love you all have shown me over the past few trying weeks. Thank you and I appreciate you.
  • I am thankful for my family, especially my hard-working husband and children who do their best in school. I don't tell them nearly enough how proud I am of them. Also, I am thankful for my two SILs upon whose shoulders the burden of making all of the final arrangements for my FIL fell.
  • I am thankful for a God who keeps blessing me over and over and over again until my cup overflows.

What are you thankful for as we delve into this holiday season?

My friend is hosting a give-away

I haven't done any giveaways yet...I'm just not that sophisticated.  However, I think it's always fun to enter and win something, so I wanted to let you know that my friend Cam over at "A Woman's Place" is hosting her Full of Grace Creations Monday morning giveaway.  The prize is a beautiful, hand-crafted fresh water pearl bracelet as shown here.  Please hop over to her blog (click here) hfor a chance to win.  The rules are quite simple and the deadline is 12 noon (California time) on Sunday, December 5.  The winner will be selected next Monday, December 6th, so it will probably arrive in time for Christmas.  Even if you're not into jewelry, this will make a nice gift for someone who is!  You can always visit Cam's Etsy store at Full of Grace Creations (click here) to check out more of her hand-made jewelry.

Have a great day, and may the "blessed" blogger win!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Free at last

Yesterday, my kids and I made our final visit to room 1312 on the hospice unit where my father-in-law resided for his final days.  My youngest SIL (I'll call her "D") and her family were already there keeping vigil at the bedside.  My FIL had complained of pain in his left arm and was given morphine earlier in the day, and had been unresponsive ever since.  The nurse had explained that he was already showing signs of dying: his ears had relaxed (I'd never heard of that, but I guess it makes sense), his hands were growing cold, his heart rate was slowing down, etc. A glance in my FIL's direction let me know he wasn't "long for this world" as the old folks say.  D was dabbing at her eyes while her two young daughters sat on the other bed in the room quietly reading and drawing on paper.  What to say at a time like this?  I spoke gently to my FIL, letting him know we were present and that we loved him.  I imagined how dry his mouth must be since he was breathing with his mouth open and his lips appeared to be stuck to his teeth giving the appearance that he was bearing his teeth.  I wet a sponge-tipped swab with tap water and applied a little "mouth moisturizer" to it before gently rubbing it along his lips.  FIL responded to that since his lips were no longer stuck.  He puckered up a bit and tried to suck the moisture from the sponge.  Funny how that survival instinct just kicks in. His eyes opened briefly but were quite groggy and unfocused from the medication.  I know it was very difficult for my kids to see their grandfather like this, but I'm glad they were with me.
I read Psalm 27 to my FIL and almost couldn't finish between the tears distorting my vision and the fact that I didn't have my glasses with me.  I held his balled up hand, rubbed his emaciated shoulder and kissed his cool cheek for what I figured would be the last time.
My plan was to take the kids to my mom's  house so they could attend mass with her and then tell my husband about the latest development and return to the hospital with him after he made it in from work.  The hubs chose to avoid the hospital and remember his dad from our visit the day before when he was at least a little responsive, so we didn't return to the hospital.  My SIL "P" called just after 10 p.m. to let us know that Famous Granddad had quietly slipped away surrounded by a miniature lit Christmas tree, quiet music and several family members. All choked up but trying to keep my voice steady, I relayed the information to my husband who simply acknowledged my words, finished watching whatever game he was watching on TV and went to bed.  Thankfully, I didn't have to make all of the calls.  I don't think I could have if I wanted to.  I'm okay as long as I don't have to say it out loud.  I called my sister and my mom and let them know, swallowing around a lump that felt like a walnut wedged in my throat.  Then my kids and I prayed the Rosary before turning in for the night.  I know the Bible tells us not to mourn like those who have no hope when we lose a loved one, but hot tears are still stinging my eyes now that everyone has gone to bed and my house is quiet .   I'll close with the words to a song a lady from my church used to sing so beautifully.  The words are fitting for the occasion.  I'm guessing the title is "I'm Free" but I do not know to whom to credit the lyrics:

I'm free, praise the Lord I'm free!
I'm no longer bound;
There are no more chains holding me;
My soul is resting
And it's a blessing
Praise the Lord, Hallelujah
I'm free!

Good night and thank you for your continued prayers.  Until next time...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Comfort measures only

Yesterday was a tough day for our family.  After being discharged from the hospital a week ago Saturday and placed in one rehab and then another two days later, my FIL was readmitted to the hospital with unexplained bleeding from the rectum late Thursday night.  The GI doctor came in to speak to three of my sisters-in-law and me yesterday evening.  He explained that the cause of the bleeding was unknown and he could do any number of diagnostic tests such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy, but that they may cause more discomfort for my FIL than benefit.  After all, even if they found cancer or another problem would we, the family, want to take extraordinary measures--chemotherapy, radiation, surgery--when they more than likely wouldn't do much to improve his health?  Anyone looking at my poor, frail shell of a father in law knew the answer was "no."  Tears stung my eyes, but I blinked them back.  I have seen the signs of disengagement for weeks now-dramatic weight loss, refusal to eat, difficulty getting around, loss of independence, disinterest in dialysis.  At age 84, my FIL, whom I simply adore, has accepted that he has run a good race and is ready to cross the finish line. He’s not interested in another lap around the track, and I don’t blame him. He longs to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done."  My mind wants this for him, too, but somehow my heart is a little slower in accepting the reality that lies ahead.  My sisters-in-law made the decision to transfer him to the hospice unit of the hospital this evening where he will receive comfort measures only.  No more dialysis means death is surely imminent.  The doctor said it may be a matter of days or a matter of one can know for sure.  I'm praying that it is only days if not hours because I want my FIL’s last days to be peaceful.  I don't want him to get to the point that he is suffering and in undue pain and totally dependent on morphine around the clock to be at rest.  Please keep my FIL, Mendola White, and our family in your prayers during this most "mixed up feelings" of times.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five Question Friday strikes again! 11/19/10

First of all, let me start by saying "Happy Birthday" to my mom and my good friend Estella M.  I love you both and hope each of you enjoys your special day.  
Having said that, let's move on to...
Welcome to newcomers and faithful followers alike.  If you'd like to join the fun visit Mama M. at My Little Life to copy the questions and link to the blog hop.  The questions are usually lots of fun.  Here goes...

1. What Christmas song do you loathe?
Can’t say that I "loathe" any Christmas songs.  Even the corny or annoying ones grow on you after a while.  I may change my mind after seeing what others have to say on the matter.
2. Do you and your significant other cuddle at night or sleep on opposite sides of the bed?
We “spoon” always.
3. Have you ever had surgery?
Not unless you count the time I had a really bad blocked duct of some sort in my lower eye lid and they had to lance it.  That was my one and only stitch, too!
4. When do you typically have your holiday shopping done?
Never.  I do not shop, people!  Okay, so sometimes I am forced to brave the mall, shopping centers, and department stores around this time of the year.  I’m usually done by the week day before Christmas.  It’s totally a money thing…buy a couple of gifts this pay period, a couple more the next, etc.
5. If money were not an issue (and you HAD to pick something), what would your ultimate luxury item be?
That cute 2-seater convertible Mercedes.  There are some numbers that better define it, like 250 series or something, but I’m not that into cars!  I’d also love a beach house on an island somewhere…IF money were not  an issue.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It is in giving that we receive

My goodness!  All weekend I was thinking of posting about my trip to the grocery store last Friday, and I never got around to doing it.  Today, I logged on to see that I was a featured blogger for my friend, Danielle, at My Life in Jenga for her Sunday blog hop, Swing by Sunday.  If only I had updated my blog!  Well, here goes...
With the holidays fast approaching, everyone's in need of donations to help those in need.  My daughter's band director e-mailed a list of needed items for Thanksgiving baskets.  On Friday I needed cash to purchase tickets to the high school playoff game so I stopped by the grocery store near my house.  At this particular store you can get cash back in any amount, not just increments of $20.  I went down the baking aisle since I needed a cake mix anyway and noticed apple pie filling was on sale, too.  I added a can to my basket since that was one of the items on the band director's list.  When I went to check out, the pie filling rang up regular price instead of the sale price.  It was only 20 cents difference, but 20 cents is 20 cents, right?  I didn't want to hold up the line, so I completed the transaction, paid for my things, doubled back down the baking aisle to make sure I hadn't read the sign wrong, and finally skipped over to customer service where there was no line.  I explained the mix-up, and the customer service rep went to check for herself.  Sure enough she brought back the tag and refunded my money--not just the 20 cents, but the full amount for the pie filling.  I tried to explain that I still wanted the pie filling, and she explained that if it rings up the wrong price then it's free!  Woo-hoo, score one for Team Charity. 
This experience reminded me of my cousin who had a minor "accident" in her new car when she skipped school one day.  The only words she could remember as she tried to figure out how she was going to explain this to her parents was her father telling her, "When you do bad things, bad things happen."  Well, I just want to put a different spin on that phrase, "When you do good things, good things happen."
My next trip to the grocery store I picked up a couple canned vegetables and instant mashed potatoes to go in the baskets as well.  Times have been very tight this year as I finished my schooling without working.  I came pretty close to needing one of those baskets myself!  I think it is oh so important to give what you can when you can to help another because you just never know when you may be the one in need.  God is so good-my family and I haven't gone hungry yet!

Speaking of hungry...I am so sorry about the candy corn cookie recipe I have been meaning to post.  I started the post but have been having technical difficulties with my computer at home, so I haven't finished the post.  In the meantime, you can check out the Land O' Lakes site where I found the recipe (click <here>).  I made them for Halloween, but they'll be cute for your Thanksgiving table, too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A night of jazz

I feel as if I'm always writing posts about how hectic life is and it's true-life does get (stay) busy a lot when you''re a wife and mother (and daughter, granddaughter, sister-in-law, friend, etc.).  Just wanted to slip in a post where I tell you about what a wonderfully relaxing day I had.  Enjoy this rare gem not often found on Wilborn-White News.
My day started as usual: rustling kids out of bed and fixing breakfast and lunches.  After getting kids off to school, the Hubs and I dropped off paperwork at the doctor's office and proceeded across town to check out a health and rehabilitation center to which the hospital would like to discharge my father-in-law who can no longer live by himself. (Long story short: my FIL fell again on Friday and was hospitalized to determine if there is a neurological cause for the frequent falls. He is doing all right but not eating well and very weak physically.)  
My brother-in-law treated me and the Hubs and their "play sister" to lunch at a local barbecue joint, which was nice-good company and good food.  Next, I took a nap before time to pick up Alisa from school.  It was pretty brief, so I crawled back in my bed after I returned from picking her up.
The highlight of my day was that our tickets to the jazz concert at my son's school included dinner!  I didn't have to figure out what was for dinner or prepare it.  Boudreaux's Cajun Cafe catered the event and served tossed salad, blackened chicken, red beans and rice, green beans, rolls and bread pudding for dessert.  The jazz band was awesome, too.  I'm sure that concert was all the incentive Aaron needed to consider trying out for the jazz band next year (possibly next semester).
Now, I'm back off to bed so as not to completely negate the "extra rest" my earlier naps afforded me.  Good night to all.  Until next time...
p.s. I did make the "sparkling candy corn cookies" over the weekend.  I remembered to take pics and will post them along with the recipe soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five Question Friday 05 November 10

Anybody ever heard the saying "better late than never"? Well, that's the principle upon which I'm operating this evening as I submit this post.  This morning, my "plan" was to deliver kids to their appropriate schools, then drop some clean laundry off at my FIL's place in time to go with him and my SIL to see where his new dialysis center is located.  And, finally, back home to bake a cake a toss a pound of beans in my crock pot for after my nieces memorial service tomorrow.  (And squeeze in a nap and clean my toilets.)  Well, I called to let my SIL know I was on my way.  As we exchanged the expected pleasantries, she told me she wasn't too good because her dad (my FIL) had fallen last night and they were taking him to the hospital.  I told her I'd meet them there.  So, that's where I ended up spending my day...until my son called to say he missed his bus.  I picked him up on the way from the hospital; then the Hubs picked up Alisa from school.  Somewhere in the midst of all of this my mom called to say my 5-year-old niece needed me to check out her heart because when she took a deep breath something had popped.  Once I made it home, I grabbed my stethoscope and mosied over to my mom's to see about my niece who was snacking on apple slices and running around the house.  She turned out to be just fine.  We read a couple of books she'd purchased at her school's book fair, then I left to pick up my son's friend and get home to get Alisa to dance class.  I called the hospital for an update on my FIL, and he was still in the ER!  They were waiting for a bed to on the telemetry unit (once a heart patient always a heart patient, I guess).  I just delivered my daughter to dance class and now it's finally time for 5QF!  Whew!  How dare I think I'm going to make it a quiet movie night at my house!  You can visit Mama M at My Little Life if you'd like to get the rules/questions or just see who all else is participating this week.  I'm guessing it's not too late to link up until midnight.  We'll see...

1. If you could have any talent and turn it into an occupation, what would it be?

Once upon a time ago, a professor explained in his lecture that people would lose interest in their favorite hobbies if they had to do them for money. Back then I begged to differ. My thinking was that would be the perfect partnership: getting paid for what you love to do. Nowadays, however, I think I have a better understanding of what the prof meant. There’s something about deadlines and expectations and such that take the fun out of doing what you love. Having said all of that I would have to say, if I could get paid to do something I feel like I have a little talent for, it would be blogging. I would have to be able to do it on my own terms, though.

2. Would you rather have a house at the beach or a cabin in the woods?

I think my husband and I would both choose a house at the beach—we’re sun, surf and sand loving people!

3. Is there any meaning or reasoning for the names you chose for your child/children?

Oooh, I love name stories! I’ve got to hop around to hear about everyone else’s. Here’ how mine goes… When I met my husband I think he already had names in mind for his future children. Prentice for a boy (after an uncle); and Ashley Nicole for a girl (just because he liked the name). I didn't like either one. I could see Prentice being teasingly called "princess"; and it seemed that every 3rd female child born in the 90's was named Ashley. I had a cousin named Ashley Nicole and our friends had just named their daughter...(you've probably guessed it already) Ashley Nicole. Our son was born first and didn't have a name for the first few days of life. I kept asking him, "What is your name, Sweet Baby Boy?" but he didn't answer. When the midwife returned for a follow up visit we needed a name for the birth certificate. I chose Aaron (b/c it's one of the first listed in all the baby books I thumbed through over and over; and b/c my grandmother had a friend by this name, and I thought it was a great "old man" name, too). The hubs agreed without a fuss, and we used his first name, Michael, for the middle name.

Since I named the firstborn, the hubs had dibs on baby #2 who turned out to be a girl. I didn't really want Ashley for a first name even though it is a pretty name, but it was the hub's final decision. We had a short list of first names: Elena (After Aunt Helen), Alana (after my mom), Elizabeth (just liked that one), and Aliya (hubs didn't care for this because of the singer by this name but spelled differently). Even though I hoped he would come up with something other than Ashley, I was okay with either of the above names with Ashley as a middle name. When I gave the final chin-to-chest push and baby girl entered the world, all eyes were on the hubs. He proudly announced that her name was Alisa Ashley. Everyone did sort of a double take, but it is what it is-no coming back three days later to fill out the birth certificate.

4. What is your guilty pleasure? (I know we've done this one before, but I'm guessing people's "guilty pleasures" change frequently. At least, mine do!)

I should ask for clarification on this question, but if we’re talking about sweets, then my answer is Bridge mix. I love that it’s a variety of centers dipped in chocolate, so it’s like a box of chocolates only in bite-sized pieces. There are chocolate covered peanuts, raisins, almonds, filberts, crème centers, caramels, toffee, etc. Walmart used to sell the “movie theatre” boxes for a dollar, but I haven’t been able to find them recently. Hobby Lobby sells bags of bridge mix near their check out counters. I only bought one bag because I had a 40% off coupon, and I ate the entire bag (over several days, mind you).

5. Do you live in a house that is deep cleaned or straightened?

Neither. Enough said.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Here's a quick and easy "treat" idea for you all.  I made this jack-o-lantern cheese ball for the teachers at my daughter's school.  It was too easy and I thought it turned out pretty cute.  I have no idea what it tasted like.  I just followed the recipe from Kraft foods and send it on its way.  Guess I could have sampled a bit before I shaped it into a ball, but I didn't.  If anyone else tries it, be sure to let me know how it tastes!  Have a great weekend and happy trick-or-treating (or trunk-or-treating if you prefer).  You can click <here> to go to Kraft Foods and look around for more recipes or click on the above photo for the original recipe.

Jack-o-Lantern Cheese Ball
3 green onions, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped red peppers
2 slices pepperoni

Make It

CUT 4-inch length from green end of 1 onion; slice remaining onions. Beat cream cheese and 1-1/4 cups Cheddar with mixer until well blended. Stir in sliced onions and peppers. Refrigerate 1 hour.

SHAPE into ball; roll in remaining Cheddar. Cut pepperoni into shapes for the jack-o'-lantern's eyes, nose and mouth; press into cheese ball to make face. Insert green onion piece into top for stem.

SERVE with RITZ Crackers.

Eastlyn's tips
I substituted "habanero" shredded cheese for part of the cheddar for a little added pizzazz and rolled the cheese ball in the habanero cheese, too, because it was a little more orange.
I also used yellow bell pepper for the mouth and eyes in place of the pepperoni only because I didn't have pepperoni on hand.
I mixed together the ingredients with my handy silicon spatula vs. an electric mixer and refrigerated the mixture over night.  The next morning it was easy to shape into a ball.  I wrapped the mixture in plastic wrap, shaped it into a ball then rolled the ball in shredded cheese in a bowl.
Bon apetit!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five Question Friday-29 October 2010

Howdy folks, it's the weekend all over again!  I'd love for you to join me and Mama M at My Little Life for Five Question Friday blog hop.  Check out her blog to get the official rules and copy and paste the questions.  Then, you can link up with other bloggers who are participating.  It's a lot of fun and the questions aren't all that hard.  If you'd like you can also answer the questions in a comment below, too.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.  Here we go...

1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?

I am nosy by nature and would want to be on a lot of different kids' bedrooms so I could hear what they and their friends are talking about.  I'd like to be a fly on the wall in a bakery or restaurant and find out about secret ingredients and techniques used to create culinary delights.  Then again, a food preparation work area is no place for a fly!  Furthermore, I might learn some things I wish I hadn't.

2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
Everything is budgeted around here, sort of (in my mind anyway). The hubs and I usually decide on a set amount we’re going to spend on Christmas, and I set out to take care of as many gifts as I can on said amount...practically down to the penny. Then, on Christmas morning some big ticket items miraculously show up for the kids. I have learned not to be the Grinch about such thing because it only dampens the Christmas spirit, but I’m the one who will have to find a way to juggle paying all of the regular bills when there is no longer an extra “cushion” in the savings account! Bah humbug!

3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?
I can honestly say I’ve never done a diet, fad or otherwise, of any kind. Diet is a four-letter word, and I was taught early on about the perils of using those-anybody else remember the taste of the original orange bar of Dial soap? It’s also “die” with a t tacked on for good measure. I like food from all of the food groups and I couldn’t see myself surviving for long on just rice and grapefruit or all meat and no carbs. I get super cranky when my blood sugar gets too low—you know, kind of like whatever sets off the Incredible Hulk only I don’t turn quite that green. Muscles may pop out on my neck and I may scream and roar, though, so dieting is generally not a good idea for me.

4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?
I must say I was quite the Miami Vice fan back in the day and probably saw most of those episodes. I’m sure I have a drawer full of episodes recorded on VHS tapes from the Fridays when I was babysitting or otherwise occupied. Nowadays, though, I don’t really watch much TV so I haven’t seen every episode or season of any of the new stuff. I love The Office, and my daughter checks out the DVDs with episodes from an entire season recorded back to back. I sometimes see a little of that (as in “Mom, come here…watch this part!”)

5. What one song always pulls at your heart?
Maybe if you’d rephrased the question to say what song doesn’t pull at my heart I could answer it more succinctly, but since you asked…I’m going to go with “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but sing along (usually in a very loud voice much to my children’s chagrin) and wonder how I’ll react when I am in God’s presence in Heaven. Another good one is “How Great Thou Art.” I’m usually balling by the last verse that talks about Christ coming (with shouts of adoration) to take me home…Oh wait, there it says in this verse how I’m going to respond, “Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim ‘My God, how great thou Art!’” I guess I don’t have to “only imagine” anymore. All kidding aside, any song that reminds me of Jesus dying on the cross for me, a lowly sinner, will tug on the old heartstrings and bring tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday 10/28/10

For the past few days, Lionel Richie and the Commodores'song Jesus is Love has been on my mind. I thnk it takes me back to my junior high days and a much more innocent time. In spite of all of the heartache my family has experienced, there's always something for which to be thankful.  So, once again, I'm joining Mama Hen for Thanksgiving Thursday. This week my list includes...
Thanksgiving for cool wind in my face as I ride my bicycle downhill.  Don't 'cha just love that feeling?! It almost makes the uphill climb worth it...almost!
I am thankful for dedicated friends who never cease to amaze me with their good times and in bad.
I am thankful for books on tape/CD from the library that allow me to "read" so many of the latest novels for free while I'm doing other stuff like laundry and dishes. (Well, almost free until you check out so many that you forget when to turn them in, and the due date slips past, and then you have to pay a fine.)
I am thankful for stolen moments with my Hubs who works ridiculously long hours.  Usually the kids and their myriad activities come first.  Recently, we have made it a point to spend a little time together on Mike's days off, and I admit it has been nice.  At first I wanted to whip out my list of "Honey do's" but soon realized he needed the down time after all of the long hours he works; so I've had to learn to relax a little, too.
Finally, I am thankful for the life of our niece, Kizzy Richardson, and for all of the songs and scriptures that remind us that everything litttle thing is gonna be all right.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog, left a comment, said a prayer or just wished us all well over these past couple of weeks.  I am encouraged by your warmth and generosity.  I love you and appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tragedy strikes again

Dearest Blog family, please keep my family uplifted in prayer.  One week ago my brother in law called to tell me that our niece (my husband's sister's daughter) who is a truck driver was missing. I received news from my brother in law this afternoon that her body was found.  She suffered a blow to the head which fractured her skull and was badly burned, but a positive identification was made with DNA and finger prints as no dental records were available. Specifics are sketchy at best, but the suspect believed to have committed this crime is in police custody.  I don't know what to say to my poor sister in law.  It just isn't the natural order of things for the elders of a family to bury their young.  Here, we've experienced just that very thing for two weeks in a row. 
I am okay, but my husband's grief is so very nonexpressive that I wonder where he stores all of his tears and sadness...surely he feels these things, too.  One of the hardest things for me is watching my children try to understand the cruelties to which life sometimes falls prey.  They are still reeling from the unexpected death of a classmate who was buried just last week.  This is very tough for them.  They were not really close to their cousin because there is a considerable age difference, but family is family, and when one member hurts or suffers, we all do to some degree.  I only hope that my faith is sufficient to get us through the next couple of weeks.  Until next time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Five Question Friday-22 October 2010

  Good Friday morning to you, folks!  I can't believe I'm actually getting this posted before lunchtime.  If this is your first time stopping by, welcome.  This is a blog hop hosted by Mama M at My Little Life.  Click <here> to visit her blog where you can copy and paste the questions, read the rules and link up with other participating blogs.  Here goes...

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

Wait a minute! Are there spouses out there who cook?! Do you mean to tell me I got a defective model? How am I just finding this out 15 years later? Actually, I was reading someone’s blog recently and she said her husband could boil eggs and cook rice. I was impressed. I have a hard time cooking rice on the stove every time. I rely heavily on my vegetable steamer/rice cooker. If you want to know how to boil an egg to perfection, visit my IRL friend Nicki Woo the Home Guru. The hubs does not cook unless he is on the brink of starvation and according to the scales at his last physical that won’t be happening anytime soon! I have tried to encourage him to just try to make someting as simple as Hamburger Helper: here’s the hamburger (which I felt compelled to specify does not come in the box), here’s the “helper” part; here’s the measuring cup; and here’s a can of green beans—Got it? I come home to a box of Popeye’s fried chicken (complete with fried apple pies only ‘cause they were on sale 2/$1) and hungry people waiting for me to add some sides. The Hubs fries himself an egg from time to time, but that’s the extent of his “cooking”; therefore I win by default. I am the better cook.

2. How often do you talk to your mom?

I talk to my mom almost every day. She lives less than 2 miles away. Sometimes, she pops in while doing her morning walks. Sometimes I return the favor t replenish my water bottle and take a potty break when I’m walking. Occasionally, we’ll miss each other for a day or two, but that’s not too often, especially with cell phones.

3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?

I love trying new recipes. The first time I try one, I follow it line for line. The next time, I’ll tweak it to suit my personal taste. I usually follow recipes, but I have gotten a little more adventurous with creating soups and casseroles without a recipe. If it turns out well, I try to remember what all I put together. Just as I admire people who can look at an outfit and make it without a pattern, I have great respect for folks like Lisa at Korean American Mommy with a God-given talent for knowing how to combine this and that and come up with a spectacular culinary delight or as we lay people call it: a recipe.

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?

Nope. My big toes are the longest and they stair-step down to the pinky toes.

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)

I do not dress up for Halloween. I have a tall pointy witch’s hat that I wear when I take the kids around the neighborhood, but I usually just throw on a solid orange t-shirt or my “itsy, bitsy spider” Halloween t-shirt. This year I am desperately in need of a haircut and there seem to be more and more gray hairs sprouting up along the front of my hairline, so I’m considering a bride of Frankenstein look!

Have a great weekend!  Until next time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday 10/21/10

It's been a while since I posted on the things for which I am thankful.  I think it is so important to follow Mama Hen's example and take a little time each week to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives in the form of people, experiences and physical things.
(5) I am thankful for Fly Lady and her do-able routines and encouraging baby steps approach to home economics that are helping me slowly but surely move my home out of its present state of CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome).  I don't think I'll be ready for any hard-core entertaining this holiday season, but I have every confidence that one day I will.
(4) I am thankful for other parents who volunteer their time and resources to care for groups of kids involved in extra-curricular activities.  I have volunteered to help the Band Booster Club raise money by selling concessions at the Friday night football games as well as the Ballpark where the Texas Rangers play.  This Tuesday, however, was my first time to "chaperone" the kids on the bus headed to the UIL competition.  It wasn't a bad gig, but bumping around without a seatbelt (I felt so naked!) on the old yellow school bus is certainly not something I'd want to do week in and week out!  I am thankful for the parents that volunteer to do this so the same people don't have to do it over and over again.  Bus #6 had a pretty good group of kids, if I do say so myself.  The night before the competition, a large group of parents, including myself descended upon the band hall to decorate their children's lockers with streamers, curly ribbon, posters, candy, etc.  You could tell the parents of the juniors and seniors-they came prepared-Christmas garland, mardi gras beads, pipe cleaners....  I had a sheet of white cardstock, some tape, glitter glue and markers.  By the time we left, there were 200 green and white helium-filled balloons floating overhead, too.  The parents made sure to adorn every locker so the kids whose parents couldn't make it wouldn't feel left out.  Thank you Band Booster Parents!
(3) I am thankful for homemade caramel corn.  Nothing says Fall to me like caramel anything: caramel apples at the fair, homemade caramel corn, caramel apple cider, miniature candy bars with caramel passed out to trick-or-treaters. I have a great microwave caramel corn recipe I will share next time I make a batch and remember to take pics along the way!
(2) I am thankful for community.  It really does take a village to raise a child...and to mourn the loss of one, too.  The Williams family has been engulfed in prayers and support this week as 13-year-old Kelsee was laid to rest following a car accident last weekend.  Organizations (like our PTA) have rallied together to arrange for families to volunteer to prepare meals during their time of loss.  Kelsee's classmates have had grief counselors present on campus this week to help the students cope.  For many of them, this is probably the closest they've come to death in their young lives.  That's what community is all about--rallying together in good times and in bad. (click on older post below to view my previous blog about Kelsee-"In an instant").
(1) I am thankful for understanding dance instructors who tell me I had better keep bringing my daughter to dance class even though we don't have money for tuition or to replace her pink tights with holes in them right now.
*Bonus: It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway...I am thankful for my husband, my kids, my extended family and everything that goes along with them all.  I am thankful for all of my wonderful blog buddies who keep me uplifted with their inspirational and entertaining posts and comments and who value my opinion and help validate who I am.  I love you all.
Now, I'm off to make my own "spirit shirt" for the band.  I've been "borrowing" my son's shirt, but as I knew would happen eventually, the day has come that we both need a spirit shirt at the same time.  I scored a t-shirt at Hobby Lobby on sale for $2.00 and purchased $1 worth of fabric and $.50 worth of Wonder Under fusible web.  I'll let you know how it turns out!  Until next time, dear friends...

Monday, October 18, 2010

In an instant

My heart is heavy this morning as I mourn the loss of someone I didn't even know.  Let me explain.  My son played in a marching band festival on Saturday.  I did not attend for several reasons: (1) it was an all-day ordeal; (2) Mike was working a double shift which meant; (3) Alisa would be left alone or "pawned off" to another family member all of whom were busy.  I decided Alisa and I would hang out while I entrusted Aaron's care to the band directors and other parent chaperones in the Band Booster Club.  Aaron returned that night and casually mentioned that a band member had been hit by a car after Friday's game and killed and some of the other students were crying.  He didn't know the name of the student or any further details.  I asked if the band director mentioned it to the students.  He simply said, "No."
Fast forward to this morning. When I dropped my daughter off at her school there were crepe paper ribbons tied around the trees in front of the school.  As I drove slowly down the street, I noticed one tree had an "In Loving Memory" poster affixed to the trunk and cellophane-wrapped bouquets of flowers encircling its base.  Traffic was not heavy, but people were still dropping off students so I couldn't really stop and see what had happened.  I went back home, changed out of my flannel pants and into walking shorts and my shape-ups, grabbed a water bottle and set out again.  On my way I noticed someone had put red Solo cups in the chain link fence to spell out "R.I.P. KELSEE."  Two young ladies by that name came to mind.  The walk around the block seemed to take an eternity.  I neared the crepe paper-clad trees and read the full name with the date 10.15.10 beneath the torn and weathered photocopy picture of the 8th grade student.  The student whose face I recognized as she has gone to school with my kids since kindergarten: a year older than my daughter, a year younger than my son.  The same face I'd seen with pigtails on the playground across from the elementary school years before.  The same face I'd seen adorned with sparkly make up as she danced with her girlfriends at the talent show.  The same face I'd just seen at the football game a couple weeks ago...I saw the vice principal comforting a student in front of the office.  I saw teachers in small groups crossing from the cafeteria back into the main building.  What had happened?  Was Kelsee the same student who'd been struck by the car Friday night?
As I turned the corner continuing on my walk back home, the choir teacher with an entourage of male students dressed in black t-shirts were loading boxes into her car.  I'm guessing these were Kelsee's things that would have to be delivered to her family.
Hot tears began to glide down my cheeks as I mourned the loss of the same face a mother would no longer kiss good morning or good night.  Did I kiss my girl this morning?  Yes I did and she has warm brown sugars that rival everything Bath and Body Works has to offer!
I called my mom on my way home to see if she had heard anything about an accident involving this student.  She'd look it up on the internet and let me know.  I asked the assistant band director when I went back to drop off Alisa's instrument.  I was only getting bits and pieces: she was not hit by a car but thrown from a car and suffered a head injury.  My mom called back.  Yes, she remembered the newscast: 16-year-old driver, car full of teenagers (only supposed to have one other teen in the car), returning from a game Friday night; dark road; no one wearing seatbelts; Kelsee the only casulaty.  How does a mother make arrangements to bury her child before she's shopped for prom dresses and made arrangements for college?  How does a mother give herself permission to let go of the child to whom she never gave permission to date? How do you say good-bye to a child who has barely said Hello to the world?  As a mother my heart aches for Kelsee's mother. I can't even imagine.
We live in a world where we have so much at our disposal in an instant.  We speak a name into our cell phone, and the phone dials and connects us in an instant.  Car-pooling to work? Hop in the HOV lane and bypass the traffic jam to arrive to work in an instant.  We snap a photo with our digital camera or cell phone and see an image in an instant: no waiting around to finish up a roll of film then drop it off for processing which used to take several days.  Days like today also remind us that what we have and who we love today could be gone in an instant.
Please join me in praying for the family of Kelsee R. Williams and remember to cherish the ones your love while you can.  Until next time...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Five Question Friday-15 October 2010

Is anyone besides me having trouble with their blog lately?  I typed up a post late Wednesday night for "Thanksgiving Thursday" and received a message just below my post that "an error occurred while saving" or something to that effect.  I didn't think much of it because the blue "save now" box kept flashing gray to "saving."  When I attempted to "publish post" it never gave me the "okay, you're done; view blog" option.  I was tired so I just logged off thinking I'd publish it Thursday morning, but then Thursday morning there were two "drafts" saved but it was only part of the title and nothing in the post box!  I'd lost my post.  The same thing occurred last night as I typed my 5QF answers, but this time I saved to a word document so I could cut and paste this morning.  Is this a user-related problem or are others experiencing technical difficulties, too?'s today's post as I saved it last night:
Hip hip hooray for Five Question Friday! It's after midnight in my neck of the woods, so I'm going to go ahead and post this as if it is Friday already. Anyone wishing to join the fun can visit Mama M at My Little Life and link up with us. This really is a fun way to learn more about others in the blogohood, and I always enjoy answering the questions. Here goes...

1. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

I am by all means a seasonal candy eater. I’m a far cry from a chocoholic, but in February I have been known to eat the assorted chocolates that come in the heart-shaped, red cellophane-covered boxes…to a certain extent (I actually cut them all in half and eat the ones with caramel and/or nuts and “share” the rest). Around Eastertime I like jelly beans, especially the black ones, and “whopper eggs.” Christmas brings cravings for old-fashioned hard candies (ribbon candy), candy canes and red hots. As for Halloween…have you guessed yet? Candy corn, of course! Even though Brachs sells them year round, they just don’t have the same appeal in the spring or summer. I also like those horrid peanut butter flavored taffies wrapped in orange and black wax paper. Again, this is a delicacy in which I only partake IF my kids bring it home in their trick-or-treat bags!

2. Do you fold your socks?

If they are anklets (which I mostly wear), I just match them up and criss-cross one flat pair over the other in my drawer. For the few pairs of crew socks & trouser socks I own I do line them up and fold them over. I do not tuck one inside the other like my mom had us do when we were growing up.

3. What is something that you wish you had been warned about?

I wish I'd been told how closely tied your own emotions are to those of your children. Maybe someone tried to explain it, but it just didn't hit home until I had kids of my own. When one of them experienced even just a simple scrape or “boo-boo” my throat would close up as if I wanted to cry right along with them. I really came to understand the pre-spanking admonition, “This is going to hurt me more than it’ll hurt you!”
On a completely different note, I wish I’d been warned about the true (hidden) costs of home ownership. When the Hubs and I bought the house we’re in, we planned on having more kids, but since we stopped at two I have often wondered if we should’ve “downsized” right away to save on taxes, utilities, (clutterability) and upkeep. Now that we’re close to paying it off, we might as well stay put, but it has been a financial nightmare for me (the bill-payer) month after month after month.  I'd much rather have had a smaller home with less financial stress.

4. What is the most significant difference between you and your significant other?

I sometimes wonder if anything between the two of us is the same! I’d have to say the biggest difference is: he’s laid back and I’m high-strung passionate. My job is constantly lighting a firecracker under his behind gently motivating him to get in gear and do things; his is attempting to get me to kick back and relax a bit. I’m hoping that the kids will find a happy medium between the two when they grow up. I can always hope, right?

5. What are three words you would use to describe yourself? (And, just for fun...if your significant other is around, ask him/her what 3 words they would use to describe you!!)

I would describe myself as loving, passionate and au natural/genuine (think of Aretha Franklin singing, “You make me feel like a na-tu-ral woman!): what you see is what you get! I asked my Hubs who chuckled when I asked him to tell me three words that he would use to describe me and said, “I can think of one word: HOSTILE!” He chuckled some more at his own humor and then was snoring by the time I got back to my computer to finish this post. He has obviously mistaken my passion for hostility toward the kids when it’s an hour past their bedtime and I’m yelling at them to go to bed right now! I’m definitely going to ask for the other two words tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mean Old Mama

Last Thursday, the Hubs had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 9 a.m. about 45 minutes from where we live.  I always go with him because I am concerned with his health and I like to help him recall all of the past year's complaints: What about the pain in your hip? Did you mention the heartburn? etc...Actually, I just like the satisfaction of the doctor confirming that losing weight would take care of about 90% of his "ailments."  The Hubs tends to believe it if anyone other than me says it!  Anyway, I digress, this e-mail is supposed to be about Alisa, my 12-year-old daughter.
Because the Hubs had the appointment, and I was accompanying him, and my mom had to work and her car was in the shop anyway, Alisa had to walk to school by herself for the first time ever.  We had discussed this fact earlier in the week when I scheduled the appointment.  Now, keep in mind we live less than a mile from her school.  Even lugging all of her stuff, it would only take her about 15 minutes tops to get from our front door to the school's front door-that's walking at a snail's pace.  I can make the walk in about 6 minutes.  Nonetheless, I was almost as nervous as Alisa was.  I had to quell the urge to call the attendance clerk and verify that Alisa had made it and e-mail each of her teachers just to get the confirmation that she was in class.  I figured there might be more of the same once I begin working in January, so this would be good practice for Alisa.
Fast forward to the afternoon.  After the appointment the Hubs and I stopped for a late breakfast, ran a few errands and returned to the house to select medical benefits for next year and complete some other paperwork we'd been sitting on for a while.  Around 3:45 the Hubs asked if we shouldn't cut off and go get Alisa from school.  I reminded him that she stays after school until 4:30 to practice her instrument in the band hall so she doesn't have to drag her percussion kit back and forth.  I was standing in the kitchen washing up dishes, peering out of the window and waiting for 4:30 to roll around when I saw Alisa marching stomping down the street!  I was overjoyed to see her and shocked just the same.  I smiled and shouted through the open window, "Lu-Lu!"  I glanced at the clock wondering if time had gotten away from me.  It was only 4:20...that's when it dawned on me: The kids were out for a 4-day weekend.  Friday was a teacher in-service day, and Monday was Columbus Day/State Fair Day.!  Alisa glowered at me and then burst into tears.  My poor baby girl not only walked to school but had to walk home from school, too, because her mean old mama had forgotten her!  Her feelings were hurt and she was furious that I had abandoned her-not just that morning but that afternoon as well.  I felt bad.  I really did.  Alisa said she fully intended to hold this one over us for the rest of our lives; and trust me I believe that!
Thank God one of our errands that morning had been going by the hardware store to get a sample of "key lime green" paint to test on her bedroom wall.  If that act alone wasn't worthy of forgiveness, then surely the french fries and micro-size Frosty from Wendy's would get us out of the doghouse!
Alisa knows how much I love donut holes, so I e-mailed her this image: it's a donut hole running toward a donut, both with outstretched arms.  The caption reads, "You complete me."  {I couldn't upload the image for whatever reason, but if you click on either italicized words above you can see it.}  I think she even found it in herself to forgive us because she baked us these yummy cupcakes on Monday:
Good job, LuLu!  You really do make my life complete.  I love you. -Mom
Until next time, Blog Buddies...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

5QF-Saturday Edition

Well, yesterday was Five Question Friday, and I was trying really hard to get this posted in time.  There was just too much going on so I didn't get a chance to "link up" and play with everyone else, but since I took the time to answer the questions, I thought I'd post them anyway!  Have a great weekend blog buds.  I have a busy one, but all is well...

1. What do you listen to while driving?

I always have a book on CD going; sometimes I’m “reading” two at a time. I keep one in the kitchen while I wash dishes and cook, and one in the car while I’m out and about. If I forget my book, then I usually leave the radio off and enjoy the solitude. On the rare occasions that I turn on the radio, I mostly llisten to classical music or contemporary Christian.

2. What is your least favorite thing about Fall?

I don’t like for it to be dark when I get up in the morning. The getting dark early in the evening I don’t mind so much, but I need at least a little daylight to really feel awake.

3. What does your dream house look like, inside and out?

Let’s see, now. My dream house is called “Harmony House” and has a place for everything and everything in its proper place and everyone knows where those places are and puts things there when they are finished. That, my friends is my dream house. It could be a single-wide mobile home for all I care as long as it meets the above criteria. Just kidding…well, sort of. My dream home would definitely have lots of large, bright rooms with fresh cut flowers on my non-cluttered dining room table. Right now, I feel like we live in a bat cave b/c the Hubs likes a dark, cozy room with the TV being the only source of light! I’d have a “mother-in-law” suite around back that would house no mother-in-law but my well-organized, spacious craft room (It would be big enough for several 6-foot tables so I could invite friends over for our own personal scrapbook retreats every once in a while). I’d have a huge kitchen complete with state of the art appliances where I could cook, bake and decorate cakes and store my supplies to my heart’s content. I’d be sure to include a media room with lots of wood, leather and oversized comfy chairs for the Hubs. He deserves his own personal “man cave” space. I’d like a laundry room with a table for folding clothes and hanging rack. I’d like one of those built in doggy bath/showers in the mudroom. My boudoir (is that French for bedroom?) would be a cozy, romantic sanctuary for the end of long days at the hospital: big comfy bed with lots of decorative pillows (and somewhere to put them when I crawl in bed at night), wall sconces with candles. I can’t even burn decorative candles on the bathroom counter right now for fear of the whole house going up in smoke (check out domestic godlessness’s pics & comments if you don’t believe me!). The master bath would have a Jacuzzi/hot tub and separate 2 or 3 person shower. Although I rarely have guests, I’d like my dream house to have a guest room that I could decorate and “stock” like a hotel room. This would also double as my “prayer room” with an old-fashioned desk where I would have my Bible, a candle, and some religious articles for daily meditation with God. I’m getting carried away—should’ve dedicated an entire post to this question alone. The outdoors would sport a well-manicured lawn, shade trees, a walkway lined with solar-powered lights, and flower beds with a low-maintenance yet attractive mixture of greenery and colorful blooming plants. The backyard would have a great big tree my grands could swing from on an old tire swing, a more conventional swing for me to enjoy a glass of mint iced tea and a good book when the weather permits, some bushes that attract butterflies, bird baths, a small garden plot, wind chimes and an outdoor fireplace (chiminea). We don’t currently grill all that much, but I bet we would if we had a slammin’ grill, so I’ll throw in one of those in the backyard, too. I would want a year-round sparkling blue swimming pool complete with someone who knows what they’re doing to maintain it. We have a gravely neglected pool now that looks like the swamp thing may rise up out of it any moment now and devour us all. All of that would make up my dream house.

4. Would you ever own a minivan?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Honda Odyssey minivan. I only have the two kiddoes, but there’s always someone else in tow: a cousin or two, a neighbor, my grandmother, my parents, etc. Now that the kids are getting older, I’ve considered downsizing (I’m sure my kids would greatly approve of me in something smaller and sportier only because they’re thinking of getting behind the wheel when they start driving in a couple more years-Ha! We’ll have to see about that…maybe I’ll keep my handy minivan after all.)

5. Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

This one depends on how big of a hurry I’m in. I always wash my kids’ things first. After all, who knows who has been trying them on, right? If I’ve gone to the trouble (and I do mean trouble because shopping is akin to bamboo under the nails torture tactics in my opinion) to “shop,” it’s because I needed an outfit for something I’m going to attend! (Did I mention I don’t like to shop so I put it off ‘til the very last minute just about every time?) For this reason, I usually don’t have time to wash my outfits before I wear them, but I do think it’s a good idea to do so.

That was fun, now I'm done, folks!  Have a great weekend.  Until next time...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kitchen pics

Pic number one is how my sinks have looked every night since 10/3/10 as FlyLady's first step is "shine your sink."  Pic number two still looks a little cluttered, but do you notice the whole strip of exposed countertop that even has a little shine to it (right by the stand mixer)!  This is sooo exciting to me-you all have no idea.  I have to do a little more rearranging and tossing to make space in all of those cabinets for some of the larger appliances, like the George Foreman grill (yes, it is duct taped together r/t a little "accident" my daughter had mistaking it for a step stool to reach something in the cabinets!  I'm just waiting for sparks to come flying out one day while I'm grilling burgers or chicken breasts).  I may have to toss my vegetable steamer/rice cooker because it's not acting right.  The reason it's on the counter is that I have vinegar sitting in the well with the heating element to see if that will remove some of the "hard water build up" and improve the performance.  If not, it's gotta go!  I haven't really tackled any other major areas, but I have to get on board with FlyLady's "getting rid of paper clutter" habit for this month.  In FlyLady's words: "I am not behind! She doesn't want me to try to catch up; She just wants me to jump in where I am. O.K.?  Okay, FlyLady, I'm with you all the way.  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update on the kitchen...

Hello, blog buds-just wanted to update you all on the progress in my kitchen...I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but I haven't had the time to post new ones yet.  I'll suffice it to say I am pleased with the progress, and I will post pics a little later.  I'm nowhere near where I hope to be soon, but there is improvement.  Adrienne of Stories from the Shoebox left a comment last week suggesting that I pay the FlyLady a visit, and friends it was love at first sight.  She teaches you how to quit living in CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome)!  I am on day 3 of her 31-day challenge.  As you have probably surmised, my house will not by any stretch of the imagination be completely clean or clutter free by that time, but at least I will be establishing some ongoing routines and habits to help me through the process!  I am so excited.  Click <here> or on  her name to learn more about FlyLady.
Also, if you want to see the extent of my daily horror (beyond the kitchen), visit Domestic Godlessness where I was honored humilitated to receive 4 out of 5 hearts rating for my mess!  (I'm not bragging, really.  I just feel like the more people who see my mess, the more people I'll have to hold me accountable for getting my act together!)  My plan is to incorporate FlyLady's tips into a daily routine and post updates as "stuff" is dealt with (ooohhh! that sounded kind of ganster/mob-like, didn't it *tee-hee*).  Well, that's all for now.  I will try to get some "improvement pics" posted this evening.  Until then...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Now or Never...

And, I'd frankly prefer the "never" half of that phrase, but here I go.  The first pic of my kitchen as of 9:33 a.m. today, Friday 9/24/10.  I thought better of posting this after my Five Question Friday blog hop.  I'd hate for my messy kitchen to be anyone's first impression of me!  So, I'm working today but will post on Saturday or Sunday.  I am going to add a pic every couple of hours and hopefully see some improvements.  I figure I have a good stretch before the Hubs rolls in from work and it's time to pick up kids from school.  I'm going to refrain from answering phonecalls and checking to see what's going on in the blogosphere, so I can work uninterrupted.  It'll be just me and my latest Stephanie Plum adventure (Finger-licking Fifteen by Janet Evanovich) compliments of books on CD from my local library.  I may, however, need a nap after a little while.  I'm even going to forego my morning walk to get this project underway.  Here #1 & 2
I tried to leave the mixer in both so you could see the layout

My kitchen counters are like a big horseshoe

Here's photo shoot #2 taken at 11 a.m. --not much progress to report r/t a phonecall from my sister and an unexpected visit from my mom to deliver my b-day gift!.  I'm headed back into enemy territory for now.

Okay, friends, let's fastforward to Saturday, October 2, 2010.  I did end up taking a nap.  Then, the hubs came home.  Then the kids came home. Then we went to the high school football game, etc... My kitchen still looks about the same, or dare I say it? even worse!  Gives a whole new meaning to "Hell's Kitchen" doesn't it?!  This snapping pics every couple hours is a real distraction.  Then, I have to download the pics from my camera to my computer and import them into my blog.  It is just too much!  I sent my pics to "domestic godlessness" and will let you know if they get published.  In the meantime, I just wanted to get on with my blogging and cleaning update.
On Thursday, I spoke to my friend John who has a bit of a clutter problem himself related to packrat tendencies.  (I loved Jinnia's comment about being a "recovering packrat" last week.  I look forward to the day that I, too, am a reformed/former packrat!)  We are challenging each other to conquer the clutter by November 2, 2010.  We didn't line up specific guidelines, but the gist is this: we e-mail each other photos of our respective clutter areas.  We call one another for progress reports and moral support.  Finally, we compare our accomplishments at the end of one month's time.
Switching gears...In the nursing world, one of the rules about documentation is: if you don't document it, it didn't happen.  Well, I feel almost the same way about my blog--so much happened this past week, but I can barely remember since I haven't blogged in a while.  Other than the clutter, here's what's been happening in my neck of the woods since my last post over a week ago:
Saturday, 9/25/10  I watched my nephew and two nieces while their parents all went to dinner for my SIL's birthday which was the day before mine.  I was invited to the party, too, but since it was a "couples" thing and my other half was working (as usual) I decided not to attend.  Instead I got to watch everyone else's kids.Sunday I attempted to make homemade whole-wheat rolls to go with my smothered pork chops, brown rice and salad for dinner.  The rolls didn't turn out all that great, but they were okay fresh out of the oven with a dab of butter, and the kids and I indulged ourselves a little.  Monday and Tuesday were a blur.  I just remember running lots of errands with the hubs since those are his off days and listening to him comment on how quickly his days off fly by.
Wednesday morning, I ended up watching my 2-year-old niece for a couple of hours while my mom attended a luncheon.   Later that evening the hubs and I attending a college planning workshop. It was one of those things like going to the doctor knowing he or she's going to tell you to eat right and exercise. The main idea of the workshop was that college is expensive and you have to know what you're doing in order to tap into the monies available to help you fund your child's education. Of course, the facilitator of the workshop just so happens to be in that very business! Well, will wonders never cease!

When I returned home after the workshop, I had a message from my other SIL.  I returned her call to learn that my 5-yr-old niece is recovering from pneumonia and still had a bit of fever.  Because they could not send her to school until she was fever-free for 24 hours, my brother and SIL needed somone to watch her Thursday.  I was just the woman for the job (do you see how I never get around to doing the stuff I'm supposed to be doing?  Have you all noticed a pattern of being utterly unable to say "NO"?)
Here I thought my poor little niece would be "puny" and napping most of the day.  I pulled out the hideaway bed in the living room so she could sip chicken noodle soup in bed and watch  her favorite VeggieTales (okay, so maybe they were MY favorite VeggieTales!) while I was a few steps away in the kitchen doing my thing.  But, nooooo!  She was obviously feeling much better and marched right in with her art kit in hand and a request for me to help her make some "signs" and posters for her room.  I'd try to linger in the kitchen, but she'd call me out in a minute, "E-ee! (that's the two-syllable version what she calls me) I'm rea---dy."  We ended up making and reviewing Kindergarten sight word flashcards and trying our hands at scratch art as seen on Nicki Woo's blog.  We read books and poems and finally took a quick nap before it was time to pick up my daughter from school.  Sasha's appetite was poor, but that was about all that was wrong!

Thursday evening, I went to hear my nephew sing in a choir concert at his school. My nephew had a solo part and sounded really good. I love to see his choir perform. It is so obvious that the music teacher at his school loves what she does. The kids all seem to have fun up there on stage.
For some reason I was exhausted by the time I returned home.  I went to bed "early" (as in around 11:30 p.m.) without ever even logging back onto my computer.  I even forgot about Five Question Friday, so you know I was tired.
Friday morning, I hit the ground running.  Had to get the trash out and get kids off to school in time to intercept my grandmother while my mom attended a meeting.  Then, I was up to my elbows in celery, carrots, onion and stewed chicken making chicken noodle soup to serve for lunch for the Women's Cursillo (this is like a semi-annual women's retreat in the Catholic church).  I worked the concessions stand to raise money for the band booster at my son's high school last night and got stuck on "nacho duty" once again.  Nachos aren't so bad, really--just messy and very popular!
*sigh* Ahhh, now I can feel that I did indeed do something with my entire week!
Now, it is after 3 a.m. and I'm about to fall into the warm spot my husband just vacated in my bed and catch some zzzz's  I will probably snore because I've been sneezing all evening and my nose is a little stuffy-welcome to fall allergies in Texas.  Lucky for the hubs, he'll be off to work and won't have to be bothered by it!  Good night all.  Until next time.