Santa stop here

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Question Friday

I hope everyone had a great week. I can hardly believe it's time for Five Question Friday (5QF) once again. If you'd like to join the fun, just click on link to the right for more details.

1. Did you have a favorite blanket or toy as a kid? If so, do you still have it?

Oh, I have a hideous stuffed monkey with plastic "hands" that used to hold a banana. The banana is long gone and there is some pitiful residue where the damage was repaired with tape. He is stuffed with those tiny styrofoam beads like bean bags, which I'm certain would not pass anybody's child safety standards in this day and age. I am speaking in present tense because I do still have the thing. He has been banished to the shelf of my daughter's closet (she was scared stiff of it when she was little and just thinks it's plain ugly now that she's older). Poor monkey! I guess I should put him on the curb for err, uhh "pick up" tomorrow. Is there some ceremony for getting rid of cherished lovies that are filthy dirty, a safety hazard and no longer so special?

2. Do you dream in color? When I can remember a dream I think it is in color. I've never really thought about that, though. I'll have to pay more attention next time.

3. How tall are you? Do you wish you were shorter or taller?

I am 5'6" which I think is about average for a female. I am the shortest sibling in my family, but I'm okay with that. Don't think I'd rather be any taller or shorter.

4. If you could have anyone's (celeb or other) voice as the guide on your GPS, whose would it be?

I don't even have GPS, but I'd probably have to say Peter J. Fernandez. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and always love when he's the narrator.

5. Do you return shopping cart to the corral or just leave it wherever in the parking lot?

Oh, I always make it a point to return the shopping cart to the corral or sometimes I'll return it to the front entryway of the store if it's closer than the corral from where I parked. To this end I usually make it my business to park near the cart return, but shhh! don't tell my "don't-you-know-you're-more-apt-to-get-a-door-ding" husband about that! If I find a stray cart on the lot on my way into the store, I'll take it in with me and just use it if it's not one of those pull to one side or wobbly, squeaky wheel varieties.
I guess that's all for now, folks. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so let us all be thankful. --Buddha

Well, blog family, it is Thursday once again and time to list things for which I'm thankful. This could go on and on, but I'll save some for the Thursdays to come.
(1) I am thankful for my health and strength (and blog buddies who tell me I'm a "foxy mama"!). Dealing with my mother-in-law's Alzheimer's disease and my grandmother's dementia and learning of all of the families struggling with other medical conditions really make me thankful for my soundness of mind and body.
(2) I am thankful I still have a roof over my head. Times are really tough in our household right now, and I still haven't landed a job. Maybe if I spent a little more time job hunting instead of blogging...
(3) I am thankful for the faith to know that this (financial hardship), too, shall pass and God will put me right where he needs me the most as far as a job is concerned.
(4) I thank God for my family and friends, including all of my blog acquaintances whom I ask God to bless abundantly every day.
(5) I am thankful for the little bit of rain and my flowers that are still blooming away in the Texas heat. They bring me a little joy each day.
Until next time, blog buds...

Welcome Wednesday

Hi, blog family-I'm a little late to the party, but I just joined in for Welcome Wednesday. Maybe you can stop by the hosts' blog, check them out along with their featured blogs, and add your name to their blog hop. I'm still learning the ropes for all of the following and blog-hopping business, but I'll be better next week!

Dinner, anyone?

I'm having trouble getting this to shift up so the wording is flush with my pic, but it deletes the pic everytime I try to "correct" it; sorry about the gap. It's here to stay!

My goodness! Abandon your blog for a day or two (or three in my case) and everyone else goes on with business as usual. I have some serious catching up to do in the blog world, and I can't wait to get to it. I wish I could say I was filling out applications for employment and going on countless interviews in my absence, but alas, I was just "otherwise occupied." I'm hoping I can tell you all about what's been going on in my life, but I don't even know where to start-my traumatized child, my grandmother who is suffering from dementia, the new recipe I tried for dinner last night, the visit with my friend whom I rarely see just 'cause life is like that when you have busy kids... Ahh, where to start? I think I'll start with the new recipe I tried for dinner last night. My good friend invited me to bring my daughter and niece over for a "play date" with her daughters and nieces who are visiting from out of town. I'm sure my 12-year-old would cringe at me mentioning her and "play date" in the same sentence, but I don't know what else to call it. Anyway, before I left we were discussing dinner menus. Both of us have attempted in the past to put together simple meal plans that we can shuffle around and plan meals for a month at a time. That is indeed a noble concept, but I have not personally mastered it. In my organized mind, I would have some kind of software where I come up with 30 meals I know my family will enjoy and the computer generates a 30-day meal plan that's different from month to month. It also gives me my weekly shopping list to prepare for said 30 meals so I'm not having to run to the store every other day to get one or two items (which inevitably turns into $40 worth of groceries minus the one or two items I originally went in to get but which I forgot). Anyway, what I have managed to do is come up with theme days for the week. They go like this:
Soul Food Sunday: pot roast, smothered pork chops, fried chicken (compliments of somewhere other than my kitchen because I rarely fry stuff much to my children's dismay) with all of the trimmings--homemade mac-a-cheese, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, greens, cabbage, cornbread, etc. You get the idea.
Mama Mia Monday: all things Italian-
Tex-Mex Tuesday: tacos, enchilada casseroles, beans & rice
One-dish Wednesday: this is my favorite in the winter-stews, pot pies, quiche, chicken & dumplings, stir-fries, etc.
Thrifty Thursday-that means leftovers (if we have Hubby tends to take leftovers for lunch, so sometimes it's slim pickins to have leftovers for dinner) or sometimes breakfast for dinner
Finger Food (fish & chips during lent) Fridays: wraps, burgers, turkey dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets
Soup/Salad/Sandwich Saturdays: any combination thereof. I love homemade soups! I go the extra mile and toast sub rolls and splurge on extra trimmings for the sandwiches when that's the main meal.
We don't always stick to the above themes, but at least if I've waited until 4:30 to start thinking about what's for dinner, I can narrow it down to a specific category and go from there. Okay, I think I'm way off track. I'm supposed to be sharing a recipe with you, so here goes:
Spicy Shrimp with Grits
Servings: 4
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz smoked andouille sausage or cooked link sausage, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined (tails intact if desired)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

Cook grits according to package directions. Stir in green onions; set aside. Meanwhile in a large skillet heat oil. Add sausage, onion, bell peppers & garlic. Saute about 3 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes, salt, pepper & Old Bay seasoning. Cover; cook until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Spoon shrimp mixture over grits; serve immediately.

Eastlyn's review of above recipe...
"3 minute prep time" means you either have a sous chef or you have already sliced your sausage, peeled & deveined your shrimp, chopped your green onions, onion, peppers, tomatoes, etc., and it takes you 3 minutes to retrieve them from the fridge. It took me the better part of an hour starting at ground zero.
I used brown rice in place of the grits because I forgot I was all out of grits and didn't want to run to the store. It tasted wonderful with the rice.
I used 2 Hillshire Farms Spicy Beef sausage links in place of the andouille sausage which one rarely finds in these parts. It added just the right "bite" to the recipe.
I used frozen bell peppers, and my finished product was a little runny. Since this was my first time making this dish I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be that watery or if using the frozen bell peppers increased the liquid. Next time, I will add about a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a little water to my skillet for the final five minutes of cook time to thicken the sauce just a little.
I used the optional 1/4 tsp of salt.
Final outcome: When I first saw the list of ingredients, I almost abandoned this recipe. Then, I realized that most of it I usually have on hand anyway. This was an easy dish to prepare and super tasty-not too spicy or salty, but an excellent blend of textures and tastes. My family give it 2 thumbs ups. We'll definitely make it again. Bon apetit! Until next time...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sleep deprived Saturday

Just got off the blog with Danielle over at Her theme today is Sleep Deprived Saturday. Since I was yawning as I read her post (not because it was boring or anything, but because I'm tired, too), I thought I would share a "tired-tail tale" as well.
I remember vividly when my son was a newborn, and the whole motherhood thing I had always dreamed of was finally a reality. Oh, the precious moments, but oh the lack of sleep, too. I had a rocky start (pun totally intended there) with breastfeeding as my breasts were so engorged and rock hard I thought surely I had "quick-crete" in my boobs instead of mammary glands, and when my milk supply came in they had turned to concrete. Thank God for lactation consultants who have 24-hour answering service, but I digress. It was beyond that time and I was up in the wee hours of the morning nursing my sweet baby in the rocking chair near the foot of the bed. My Hubby on the other hand was not only sleeping soundly all snuggled under the covers, but also snoring to beat the band! Every saw sound that came forth from his mouth/nose sounded like a taunt to me: "Ha ha, check this out! I'm sound asleep and you're not." I can remember holding tight to my precious little bundle snuggled at my breast because I was having some serious thoughts about chunking him right at his Daddy's snoring head! I didn't of course, but now almost 14 years later I can admit that the thought certainly crossed my mind for a split second. I think I removed a sock, balled it up and lobbed it in the general direction from which issued forth the ruckus.
I think the key words there are "14 years later" meaning I survived the whole sleep deprivation thing, so there is hope for you moms with small children. I do look back and miss that special bond that nursing both of my children created for us with great fondness. I do NOT look back and miss being sleep deprived nearly to the point of insanity. I think even if we do take the advice of those who have come before us and "sleep when the baby sleeps," we can pretty much agree that broken rest is not the same as a solid 6-8 hours good night's rest.
Nowadays, I am sleep deprived by my own doing: this blog business is the main source of my lack of pillow time. You may have noticed I am a night owl, but I've been up to 2 and 3 in the morning trying to keep up with all of the blogs I follow. You guys just keep coming up with such good stuff I can hardly tear myself away from the computer...even to sleep. I'm sure that will change when I'm back to working 40 hours a week outside the home! I'll deal with it for now :-).

Friday, July 23, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

The rules for this award are:
  • 1) Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
  • 2) Share 8 things about yourself that other people may not know.
  • 3) Pay it forward. Pass this award on to another blogger whom you love.
Thanks, Big Fat Mama for the blog award. I am honored to have received it.

8 things you may not know about me...

(1) I am the middle child of four kids (one older brother; a younger brother and sister who are twins). My name "Eastlyn" is Old English meaning from the east waterfall. It is not a family name or anything like that. My mom just found it in a baby book while she was pregnant and liked it. I looked in every baby name book I could get my hands on and finally hit pay dirt when I was working on a research paper in college a long time ago.

(2) I'm a little on the sensitive side including but not limited to crying every year when Frosty melted in the greenhouse 'til I was in junior high school. Let's not even talk about ET!

(3) I once lived in a one room "house" with a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing for 2 years. There was also no telephone in my village, but we did have a telegraph office. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, Central America.

(4) My one sister and I are practically polar opposites when it comes to fashion sense--she got it all. I got none. I am very Plain Jane. Several years ago I cut off my hair in support of a friend who is a cancer survivor and just never bothered to grow it back because short is wash and go and way too easy! I rarely wear make up at all.

(5) I love to try new recipes of all kinds, especially desserts.

(6) I collect cookie cutters-have some really old ones from my great-grandmother as well as pretty decorative ones. Otherwise, I'm not much into collecting "stuff"--just something else to have to dust or clean. I like stuff that is pretty but still useful.

(7) I am a very organized person in my mind; however, I admit I'm probably the world's worst housekeeper. Family members have threatened to call in Clean Sweep or any number of those shows where they humiliate people on TV for the cluttered state of their houses and then help them get rid of stuff. It's not that we're nasty; countertops do get wiped down, food stored at proper temperatures and toilest scrubbed. It's just the paper stuff (junk mail, bills, school papers, etc. ) stacks up everywhere! We're just a bunch of packrats around here and it's a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start!

(8) Being a mom is the one job I have always wanted more than any other. I love my two kids dearly. Still, I sometimes wish I had a couple more, even at age 40+.

I am passing this blog award on to Nicole at

Thanks again, BFM, that was fun! Until next time...

Five Question Friday

1. What were your school colors?

Elementary and Junior High were both blue and gold. I'm not talking nice subtle navy and tasteful, warm goldenrod either. I'm talking bright aqua blue and don't-look-directly-at-the-sun gold. High school colors were green and white. I can live with that. Go Colts!

2. What is the best compliment you ever received?

I think one of the greatest compliments I ever received was from my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Duke. She told me I was a very conscientious student. I would like to think that to this day I'm still "careful to do what one knows is right; controlled by conscience." Come to think of it maybe it wasn't a compliment after all. Maybe I was the class snitch always writing the "bad" kids' names on the board in the teacher's absence...Actually, I think it was more of a "self-fulfilling prophecy" sort of thing. I didn't even know what conscientious was in the 6th grade. After I figured out how to spell it and looked it up in the dictionary, I tried to remember to be honest, scrupulous and careful in all that I do.

3. Do you buy cheap or expensive toilet paper?

I buy whatever is on sale or whatever I have a coupon for. Charmin Basic has fit both categories for the past couple of shopping trips--don't you just love double whammies: on sale plus a coupon?! I learned a while back that cheaper doesn't always turn out to be less expensive. Some of the off brand or store brands are so flimsy that you use 3x as much--where's the savings there?

4. Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you? Or have you had one for someone else?

OMG! My sister has caught me twice with the surprise party business. Ever heard of the saying, "Caught me once shame on you, caught me twice shame on me"? The first time around wasn't a monumental birthday or anything which is probably why I was so surprised. Little did my sister know that she should have coached my Hubby better about how to get the guest to the party on time. I was supposed to be going to my sister's to "watch a fight" with a bunch of friends. Okay, let me tell you a couple of things about myself that are quite significant to this story: (1) I'm not a big sports fan, especially not boxing!; (2) I do not shop unless absolutely necessary--as in the kids' toes have popped completely free of their shoes or they cannot button their jeans at all. So, I was taking my sweet time about getting home after whatever activity the kids had going on that afternoon. I had even taken the kids shoe shopping, which I rarely do. My husband was trying to hurry me along once I got home, but I was tired and didn't want to go at all. I kept telling him to go on by himself that I really wasn't interested in watching a fight...When he kept persisting, I finally folded, huffed into jeans and a blouse and stormed to the car. I was in a foul mood! We pulled onto my sister's street going on 9 p.m., and it was wall to wall cars. My thought, "Great. There's nowhere to park. Someone else must be having a fight party, too." When we arrived and all of my friends and family shouted "surprise" I was truly taken aback and sincerely surprised (and still peeved with the Hubby for making me late to my own surprise party)! The surprise was almost on them :-). You can read all about the sort of surprise party I threw for my cousin in " very, very quiet" (June 2010).

5. What is one material possession that you "can't live without"?
Although I love my computer because I can type faster than I write by hand and because I can find stuff super quick on it, I'm pretty much a dinosaur when it comes to technological advances. My sister put me on her family plan and presented me with a cell phone a few years back because I didn't have or want one, but I was taking care of her child, so she wanted me to have the cell phone. It's nothing fancy (she did upgrade it to one with a camera which I don't know how to use). I don't text or tweet. I just answer it, check messages and make the occasional call. I still don't know where it is half of the time. It is not a part of my person at all times.
I would have to say my Bible is one material possession I "can't live without." As much as I would like to think I know it word for word all by heart like Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, I admit I have to refer back to the Good Book all of the time.

Well, folks, that was a lot of fun...a little more time consuming than I thought it would be, but that's the sign of a good blog entry: the opportunity to remember and reflect and laugh at the past. If you'd like to participate click on the "Five Question Follow" button on the right hand side. It will take you to the blog where you, too, can pick up the button and get the questions. Until next time...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday

Good morning, I thought I'd finally get around to joining one of the "theme days." What better way to start than with "Thanksgiving Thursday"? I am a huge children's movie fan. We have a collection of VeggieTales that my children no longer watch but that I can't help but pull down off the shelf from time to time to watch. Here are a few lyrics about thanksgiving from Madame Blueberry:

"Because a thankful heart is a happy heart

I'm glad for what I have; that's an easy place to start.

For the love that we share 'cause He listens to our prayers,

That's why we say thanks every day!

Now, having said that..."

1. I am thankful for my relationship with God who loves me and cares deeply for me and blesses me abundantly and always has my back.

2. I am thankful for a husband who is easy-going and a lot more laid back than I am, who rarely complains about the state of the house even after he has worked long hours and come home to chaos and/or Hamburger Helper for dinner.

3. I am thankful for my kids who love simplicity almost as much as I do (or at least they're willing to put up with my love of it and show appreciation for what they have instead of whining about what they don't have--for the most part).

4. I am thankful for extended family: for my 92-year-old grandmother and all of her "good years" which are quickly spiraling into dementia-tainted confusion; for my mother who cares for her mother and her own grown children and grandchildren at times; for aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and cousins who are always willing to pick up/drop off kids on a moments notice and rally together to celebrate everything.

5. I am thankful that I passed the NCLEX on the first try!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rainforest Cafe

Me and Hubby

Big (okay, "older") Brother and the Birthday Girl

I'm so busy popping in on other blogs and relishing the comments you guys are leaving on my posts that I almost forgot to publish something new. I can definitely see how one could get behind with this blog business!
Yesterday, we did take Alisa to Rainforest Cafe to celebrate her 12th birthday. I cringed inwardly as I thought about the trek across the metroplex and overpriced menu items, but it was all she asked for--no long list of wants/gifts, no cake, no fanfare. I figured letting her choose where she wanted to go was the least I could do, so I sucked it up and we headed out.
For those of you who might not have been to the Rainforest Cafe be forewarned that it is an extremely fun place to visit unless you are 2 years old and afraid of life-like mechanical animals that come to life every 15 minutes in a dimly lit atmosphere. The family seated at the table next to ours chose to pack it up and leave shortly after their drinks were served rather than torture their terrorized little daughter further. I wanted to lean over and tell them that "this, too, shall pass...give her a couple more years and read some jungle-related books with cool, lifelike pictures in the meantime" but I didn't. They didn't ask for my advice. I personally liked the elephants trumpeting and waving their large ears back and forth, but that picture came out a little too dark.
On the way home I stopped by my sister's home and swapped Alisa for my nephew. My sister took Alisa to the movies to see Grown Ups; I took my nephew home to ride go-karts with my son. Alisa ordered a huge brownie sundae at the Studio Movie Grill with her Aunt Shannon. Here's hoping she enjoyed her day. It seems like not so long ago (certainly not 12 years ago) that I was pregnant and anxiously awaiting her arrival.
While I'm on the subject of celebrations and enjoying one's day, I'm weighing my options for celebrating my graduation/passing the NCLEX. I'm thinking it may involve authentic Mexican Food as in a run for the border. Alas, that will have to wait just a little while until I'm gainfully employed and have the funds available. Meanwhile, I'll use what's left of my graduation money and finally go and get that massage I've been dreaming of and treat myself to a hunk of red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Yes, that sounds like a good plan to me! Until next time...

Monday, July 19, 2010


Good morning, blog community! Just wanted to share the great news that I did indeed pass the NCLEX (nurse license) exam. I logged on this morning to the test site and paid my fee to discover the good news. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I keep telling myself, "Oh ye of little faith!" Gotta work on the "keeping the faith" part of me.
Now, my focus will be on seeking employment. I have a couple of applications in for Graduate Nurse internships at a local hospital. I'd like something a little closer to home, but I guess the name of the game is get your foot in the door somewhere, then transfer where you want to go. Have a great Monday, and I'll keep you posted on the job search, etc.
Today is my daughter's birthday, so I'll post more later once we figure out what we're doing to celebrate. Last I heard she wants to check out the Rain Forest Cafe. Being that she is now a 12-year-old, that is subject to change at any moment. Until next time...

Friday, July 16, 2010

No news...probably not good news

Hello, blog family-
Just another quick update for you regarding my licensing exam. Unfortunately, things aren't looking very good. Here's how it has worked for my friends thus far: One took his exam on Tuesday, and by Thursday morning they checked the Texas Board of Nursing (TX BON) and had been issued an RN license number. Others took their exam on Wednesday and had their results by Friday. I took my exam on Wednesday and as of this evening do not yet have a license number posted on TX BON. There is another way to get results. I could log on to the testing center website and pay a fee to get my "unofficial results."
I did call the testing center who recommended that I check back on Monday for my results. So, anxious as I am to know, I will wait out the weekend and try again on Monday. If nothing is posted on TX BON, then I will pay the fee to learn officially that I did not pass and go from there.
I'm hanging on to a thread of hope that there was a type-o in my name or some other "technical" error that has prevented TX BON from assigning me a license; however, that thread is very thin and fragile as my gut instinct is telling me to expect the best and prepare for the worst.
All is not lost even if I failed the test because I was raised with the saying, "if at first you don't succeed, try and try again." The only problem is a second try can't take place for 45 more days (of agony and studying) and will cost me another $200 (that I don't really have)! Oh well, c'est la vie. I'll just see what Monday brings. I appreciate all of your prayers and support. Until next time...

Bicentennial Park

Splish-splash Sasha, my 5-year-old neice

Here's my neice, Leyla (aka "Leyla-bug)

These are my two, Alisa & Aaron

These characters are my grandmother and Hubby

Most of the kit and kaboodle: Xavier, Leyla, Alisa & Sasha (my other neice)

I am thankful that I have kids who appreciate the simple things in life. If you have read previous blogs then you know that I am a recent nursing school graduate and am currently looking for a job (i.e., unemployed). Money in our household has been tight for some time. Needless to say, it hasn't been the most exciting of summers for my kids. We rent an occasional movie from the Redbox (and make sure to return it within the alotted 24-hour timeframe) and snack on microwave popcorn. We make weekly trips to the library and participate in their summer reading program. Last month we attended several "free concerts" at a new outdoor venue downtown. Enough of that, though. I think I'll change my blog name to "MakeDoMama".

My daughter decided she'd like to have a picnic with her cousins just for fun. My mind automatically started racing-do we have enough sandwich fixins to feed everybody? (money really is just that tight!) Won't it be too hot for a picnic in Texas in the middle of July?! The big kids probably won't have fun, etc...I had to catch myself before saying an automatic "no" because when you think about it, how much fun is a little picnic at a park with some sort of water play area, even in the Texas heat? I remembered all of the "tell your kids 'yes' ten times for every 'no'" teachings and realized I fall short of that. It's usually the other way around. I thought of all of the sappy emails where people lament the passage of time and regret missing all of the little treasures that go along with childhood because they were in too big a hurry or working too many hours. Finally, I recalled an absolutely dreadful, expensive "motivational" weekend workshop from years ago. I thought it was a big hoax and got my money back, but one thing I remember is them saying that we build our own mountains between where we are and where we want to be. For example, I am here in Texas working nonstop as wife and mommy. I want to be in Hawaii leaning to hula. I begin with the base of my mountain (the big problems): I have no money to travel. I don't want to leave the kids. Hubby doesn't have vacation time right now. Who will teach my Sunday school class?...we keep going until we reach the tip of our mountain with such menial excuses as: I have nothing to wear. I might miss my favorite re-run episode of _____ on TV. The moral of that lesson was sometimes we have to say "yes" in a have a little faith/"build-it-and-they-will-come" sort of way. So, I asked myself, "What would Mama Hen do?" and had to say "yes" to my sweet daughter for doing her best to have a little fun on an otherwise uneventful day.
I dug in the freezer and found a pack of hot dogs and a package of buns and threw the hot dogs in a skillet on the stove and the buns in the microwave to defrost. I grabbed the two bags of chips from the pantry and cut up the watermelon that I bought on sale last week. I filled an insulated cooler with ice water and also grabbed the Kool-aid jammers that had been chilling in the freezer (they were on sale for 69 cents/six pack, so that was a "splurge" even I could afford!). I loaded one of my reusable shopping bags with a plastic table cover, hand sanitizer, paper plates, cups and paper towels. I picked up my grandmother and neice, Sasha, from my mom's house (mom and dad were heading to a memorial service for a church friend), and my brother-in-law met us back at my house. We all headed to the park-Hubby included since he is on vacation this week.
It was hot but not unbearable under the tent-like canopies covering the picnic table area. The kids splashed around a bit then ate their picnic lunch and splashed a bit more. By 12:30 when the sun was high up in the sky and even the water offered little relief, we packed up and headed home to the air conditioning. It was a nice little getaway to spice up another ordinary day! I'll have to remember to tell Alisa thanks for suggesting it. Until next time...

No news...good news?

Greetings, blog family. Sorry to keep you all waiting about the exam results. As of right now, I know nothing yet myself. It hasn't officially been 48 hours; so, I am hoping that no news at this point is good news. I will definitely post whatever I find out as soon as I find out. Thanks for all of your prayers and positive thoughts sent my way. I'm still thanking God that the exam is over. I'll be ready to thank Him for another opportunity to take the exam if need be, but I really hope I can just thank Him for "prayers answered"! -EW

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My life in a nutshell

Dear blog family and friends-
I've been preoccupied for the past couple of days with last minute preparations to take my board exam for nursing licensure. I would sure appreciate it if you could take just a moment tomorrow, July 14, 2010, to join me in praying that I pass the first time around.
All of my life I dreamt of being married with children. I wanted to stay home and raise my kiddoes and love them unconditionally and be the model wife who keeps a "Better Homes and Gardens"-neat home (complete with daily scrumptious home-made meals and desserts and fresh cut flowers on the dining room table) and wears sexy clothes and is active with all sorts of volunteer organizations, etc...I think you get the picture. Up until now, I have worked only part time, and still been there to serve on the PTA, teach Sunday school and drop off and pick up kids from school and extracurricular activities. My husband has been a real trooper and advocate for my staying home; however, our financial situation is rather grim. Hubby picks up extra shifts and signs up for overtime hours as often as he can, but he simply can't do it all by himself. I have a bachelor's degree in Family Studies from Texas Women's University from some time ago, and I loved all of the coursework. As my advisor liked to say, it entails human development from womb to tomb. I took classes in child development, sociology, psychology, nutrition, human development, etc. As the name suggests, though, there's only so much you can do with an undergraduate degree in that field. I selected Social Work as my minor thinking I could always get a Masters in Social Work and go into counseling if need be. Meanwhile, I figured the degree in Family Studies would help me since my main agenda was to be a stay at home mom anyway. Right?
Well, after college (the first time around) I ran off and joined the Peace Corps and spent 2 1/2 years in Honduras, Central America. I worked with local nurses and midwives as a rural health educator. One of my few material possessions was a copy of Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. I marveled at the birth stories and the lives of the midwives. I wanted a piece of that natural childbirth world!
After I returned home, I met my husband through a mutual friend and married him and worked full time and had my kiddoes (both at home with a midwife) then quit my job and attempted to settle in to my life as wife and mama. I thought about pursuing a "direct entry midwife" certification. This is where you apprentice yourself with a practicing midwife, take courses, attend a certain number of births as an assistant and then a certain number of births as primary caretaker. Finally, you take a certification exam. The downfall to that approach was that your schedule has to be such that you're available to attend births around the clock. With small children at home and a husband who works from sun-up to sundown at times, that didn't seem to be the best option for me (not to mention you have to build up a clientele, so steady income was not a sure thing either).
From a financial standpoint, it has been an uphill struggle ever since I quit working full time after my daughter was born. Even though my Hubby and I are both very frugal, and we try to live within our means there just never seems to be enough money in the bank. I do not regret the sacrifices we choose to make everyday, but I do wish there was "a little extra" to do fun stuff with the kids and with each other.
So, for a while I floundered between education and nursing, with nursing being a means to get to the wonderful world of midwifery eventually. I decided that nursing entails quite a bit of education, too, and there's always the option to teach nursing courses somewhere down the line. Three years ago I dusted off my backpack and enrolled in nursing school. I had to take all of my science courses and a couple of other prerequisites-chemistry, microbiology, anatomy & physiology I and II, speech and P.E.--before I could apply to the 2-year program. I just graduated May 18, 2010.
Now, here I am about to take my board exam. I need to pass because I need a job. I thank God for the past 12 years of being able to be home with my kids. I also thank Him for helping me make it through nursing school. Now, I'm just praying for the faith to "believe and receive" the blessings God has in store for me. Won't you join me? Thanks! Until next time...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Homemade pesticide

After all of that bragging about my gardening skills, I went out this morning to admire my flowers and noticed little holes nibbled in several of my white petunias :(. I patiently examinted the blooms for the culprit and several small worms (inch worms/tent worms) of various sizes and colors scooting around and munching as they went along. Well, of all things! I carefully removed them with a popsicle stick out of the kids' craft bin and placed them in a used butter tub while I went to my computer to research what to do about the situation. Since I'm an amateur gardener and would rather not have chemicals lying around the house, I didn't have any Sevin Dust (I only know about that stuff because I've heard my dad mention it), but I'd heard of home-made concoctions that will get rid of the pests without harming the plants. Here's a recipe I found at, a website that boasts "solutions for sustainable living" (note: there are underscores between grow_nat_pest_cntrl):

1 Tablespoon canola oil
a few drops of Ivory dish soap
1 quart warm water

Combine ingredients and stir gently. Pour into a spray bottle and spray affected plants (including under leaves) early in the morning or just before the sun sets in the evening. I'm guessing those are the times the little critters are out doing their damage. I mixed up a batch with a couple cloves of crushed garlic just for good measure because I heard most pests don't like that too much, and sprayed it directly on the worms in my butter tub. Within minutes three of them were dead, one was stunned (as I discovered when after several minutes he was trying to crawl up the sides of the tub again), and one climbed to higher ground on a small leaf that was in the tub with them. I might've sprayed a bit much and drowned them, or the oil interfered with their ability to breathe or the soap irritated them in some way. Whatever the case, the spray had the desired effect! My spray bottle and I will be taking on the rest of the critters in the morning. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rain, rain, don't go away!

What a happy way to start the day! I awoke this morning feeling refreshed and well-rested after sleeping in until 8:30 a.m. When I went to let the dog out, I noticed it was raining ever-so-lightly. My big green tub near the patio was full so it must have rained overnight as well. This has been the rainiest summer in a long time, and I'm enjoying it. I'm sure what's left of my lawn is, too. I tipped outdoors in my gown and filled my watering can with the rainwater to water the plants on the patio. They're a little too fragile to put directly in the rain because around here we never know if it will sprinkle, rain or storm. Anyway, I tipped across the backyard and thoroughly enjoyed the sensation of the raindrops soaking through the thin cotton of my gown as I stooped to admire the one bell pepper on my plant. I guess it's time to pick it because it's beautiful and orange if a little small. I was trying to wait and see if it would get any bigger.
I don't claim to be a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but the kids bought me a couple of petunias and a sweet pea plant for mother's day this year. The sweet pea plant looked a little worse for wear so, with my daughter's permission, I traded it for the pepper plant. I also planted a sweet potato because it started to sprout on it's own while hanging in my vegetable basket over the kitchen sink. I thought of the pretty light green leaves adorning the flowerbeds of my neighbors. That thing has practically taken over the entire little "garden." It's leaves are dark green, and it creeped all over the tomato cage I put around the pepper to protect it from that rowdy, squirrel & bird-chasing dog of mine. C'est la vie. That about sums up my feeble attempt at gardening. I thank God for all of the lovely rain.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Take me out to the ball game

Well, not so much as a spectator but as a volunteer at hot dog stand P144 for the high school Band Booster Club. My son is heading to high school in the fall, and he plays trombone in the band. His school boasts that their band fees are very low compared to other schools because of the fundraising efforts of the Band Booster Club. Selling hot dogs and beer at The Ballpark is a major contributor to those said funds, and every family is asked to work at 6-8 games. So, last night was my first go at this. Who knew what I was getting myself into!
Let me just interject a word or two about fundraising: I understand the need for it, but in my opinion it is a necessary evil! I strongly dislike having to do it. I don't mind the magazine subscriptions so much or even the individual candy bars, but peddling all of the overpriced gift wrap, boxes of chocolates & candles, etc. drives me bonkers. I'd rather give the organization a $10 donation than spend the $10 on a $2 box of chocolates and have the school only get $4. I'll get off of that little soap box. Back to the main story...

Another parent stopped by my house to drop off a badge and directions about parking and where to go and when I arrived. Cool so far.

I was told by the parent who provided the information that business has been a little slow since this is a 10-game home stand (probably botched that up-sorry, folks, I know relatively nothing about sports lingo) and I'd probably be assigned the menial task of "wrapping hot dogs." Okay, I can deal with that. What I was not told was that it was "Dollar Dog" night and hot dogs were only a buck, which compared to $4.50 for a 20-oz bottled Coke or $3.oo for a 16.9 oz bottled water was a steal. Then, there were already 640 hot dogs warmed and wrapped and waiting for the eager customers, so no further wrapping was required for the time being. So, wanna take a guess as to what task the "new kid on the block" was assigned? How about cooking! There were three other adults and 2 student volunteers and nobody wanted to cook, so I said I'd do it. Volunteering is volunteering, right? I donned my hat and apron and set out to grill onions & warm "fully cooked" sausages on sticks & bratwursts on the grill as well as grilled countless boxes of dollar dogs. And to think I thought I'd just be wrapping/selling hot dogs! Beer was sold from a different location by volunteers with their Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) licenses, but in addition to the above mentioned fare, we had nachos, prebagged peanuts in the shells and assorted drinks. I had my handy meat thermometer to ensure the dogs and sausages reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, which took longer than I ever thought it would. How about an industrial sized George Foreman grill, folks? That would be handy.

All in all it wasn't a bad night, just busy, which in my opinion makes time pass a lot faster than when business is slow. They need help tonight and tomorrow as well, so I'd better get myself in gear so I'll be available for one or the other. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Strawberry muffins

Strawberries have been abundant and oh-so sweet and inexpensive this summer, so we usually keep some on hand to snack on. Back around Mother's Day, I had a taste for strawberry muffins, and I found the following recipe and whipped up a batch. I've made them several times since then as well. They make a perfect breakfast with a cup yogurt and/or fresh fruit and juice or mint tea...

Strawberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease bottoms only (I use cooking spray and no liners). In a large bowl, combine dry batter ingredients. In a small bowl whisk egg, milk and oil. Add liquid to dry mixture and stir until just moistened. Stir in strawberries and spoon batter into muffin cups. For the topping combine 1 T. sugar and 1/4 t. cinnamon; sprinkle even over batter in cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 1 dozen muffins
Note: I cannot eat cinnamon so I just omit it and sprinkle with plain granulated sugar. One time I forgot that step, so I brushed a little melted butter over the warm muffin tops and dusted them with powdered sugar to make a glaze.

Monday, July 5, 2010

5th of July

What a busy weekend! I can hardly believe it's Monday again already, and I haven't blogged since last Monday. Whoever said "time flies" wasn't kidding. I guess I've been visiting some of the new blogs I'm following and neglecting my own stuff...I just have to find the right balance and stay on top of it all. I'll touch on the highlights and try to keep it brief. Warning: "keeping it brief" rarely works for me!
Tuesday 6/29 Mike & Aaron had their semi-annual dentist appts. Marching band practice was cancelled for Aaron since the a/c was out at the high school, but he still met at his section leader's house for a modified rehearsal. They were playing "Rock Band" on some video game system when I went to pick him up. I guess that's sort of considered practicing, huh?
When I stopped by my mom's house to pick up my nephew, Xavier, (who happens to be my daughter's best friend since I watched him since he was 5 weeks old and they were practically raised together), my grandmother (Grandmom) hopped in my car and buckled up as well. She just turned 92 and has dementia. She recently moved in with my parents because she was getting too forgetful to live alone. Was I going to tell my own grandmother to get out of the car? No I was not. She came on over to the house, too. Xavier and Alisa played for a while & when it was time to pick up Aaron, we all loaded back up in the car so I could deliver Grandmom and Xavier back to my parents' home after a trip to the pet store. When all was said and done, Grandmom returned to my home with her overnight bag packed. She told my mother she was going to spend a few days with me! Wow, this was news to me. I mean I'm not working right now, so it was okay, and Grandmom really isn't much trouble, but I should be studying for my Board exam for my nursing license at some point.
The following morning, Wednesday, 6/30, Alisa & I had our dentist appointments, so I dropped Grandmom back at my mom's house. Later that evening, my mom dropped off my 5-year-old niece, Sasha, around 5 p.m. I had already made the arrangements with my brother and sister-in-law to take Sasha to a singing dinosaur concert that evening and then let her spend the night. I guess mom dropped her off so we would avoid another "Grandmom hopping in my car to go, too" incident. That's about the time the rain started coming down. I held out hope that it wouldn't last and the concert would go on as planned, but I had no such luck. Sasha & I ran a couple of errands and then stopped by the Levitt Pavilion at 7:20 just to make sure the concert was indeed cancelled. It was. So, we returned home, cooked and ate dinner. We had cupcakes for dessert and then popped popcorn and watched "The Little Mermaid" (one of my favorites).
When Thursday July 1st rolled around, I was planning to attend the Carabali concert at the Levitt that evening. Aaron was at band practice, and Alisa didn't want to go, so Mike and I swapped Grandmom for Alisa and the three of us enjoyed the "salsa & merengue with energy" under the stars. I admit that I have 2 left feet, but still the music made me want to get up and merengue with the rest of the crowd. I had no willing partners, though.
Early Friday morning, 7/2, my grandmother's sister and nephew arrived in town from Chicago. My mom called and asked if I would bake a cake for Grandmom's birthday celebration on Saturday. 24 hours notice? Really? I felt like Larry the Cucumber on the intro to VeggieTales.
Bob: "Go on out there" [and play the tuba]
Larry: "But I'll look silly!"
Bob: "It's for the kids."
Larry: "Well, okay, but they better not laugh!"
(My kids have outgrown VeggieTales, but I still love them!) So, back to the grocery store I went trying to decide what kind of cake to make for Grandmom's birthday: strawberry or lemon. I decided on lemon cake with fresh strawberry filling and lemon buttercream frosting. The filling was a little on the runny side, but it tasted great, like stawberry lemonade.
Saturday morning, Aaron had to be at the high school at 6:30 a.m. to get ready to march in the 4th of July parade. I wanted to crawl back in my bed for just a little while because the parade didn't start 'til 9 a.m., but I figured I'd better make my buttercream frosting so all I'd have to do was assemble the cake after the parade. Grandmom's birthday luncheon at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen was scheduled for 1:30, and I wasn't sure how long the parade would last.
Although it had rained earlier in the morning, the weather was actually very pleasant for the parade. My cousin Barrett joined Alisa and me for the festivities. A little senior citizen set up camp right next to us and proceeded to talk incessantly throughout the parade. His wife was home sick. He has 2 beagles, named Honey and Sammy. He lives across from Lamar high school and watches his neighbor's dogs on occasion. He's a runner and also rides a bicycle. I thought to myself "bless his heart" and listened intently, excusing myself to snap a picture every once in a while. I could tell he really was a sweet person even if a couple cards shy of a full deck.
I rushed home (after stopping by Pep Boys to get a bulb for my front headlight which I just noticed was out) to decorate the cake and flat iron Alisa's hair and get myself read for our lunch date. We arrived only 7 minutes late, and that was because I missed a turn and had to circle around the construction on I-30 & Collins. North Arlington is like another city to me where I rarely venture.
Lunch went well. Aunt Ruth, Cousin Maurice, mom, dad, Barrett, Lorenzo Jr., Shannon & her crew, my sister-in-law, Renee and my kids and I all joined Grandmom to celebrate. Then we headed back to Mom's to have cake and open gifts. I think everyone was about stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable after Pappadeaux, so I served small slices of cake. Grandmom opened her gifts: beautiful cards, a night gown and several sets of bath and body stuff. What else do you get someone who is 92 and has recently moved in with someone else and has limited space for "stuff"? Consumables and gift cards, I guess.
Sunday, July 4th, I had to serve at 10 o'clock mass, and the kids wanted to go to early service, so Barrett picked them up and I went by myself. After mass, I stopped by my mom's to pick up the kids, and ended up visiting for a while with my Great Aunt Ruth whom we call "Ruthie Dear." Although she still uses words like "colored" and repeats the "N" word when quoting things her grandfather said, I just love to hear her talk about her mother, her Papa and her grandparents. Such a rich living history! I just try to take it all in because I know she won't be around forever to recount such stories. I guess that kind of counts for my "cherish the moment Monday."
Later that evening, my family headed to my sister's in-laws for a cook-out. Ed made the big, old-fashioned hamburgers with all of the trimmings. There were also hot dogs & hot links, assorted chips, fruit platters laden with grapes, strawberries and the best watermelon and canteloupe I've had this summer! I brought deviled eggs and my mom brought a cherry frosted cherry chip cake (I was off the hook for a change!). We left a little after 9 o'clock in search of a place to watch fireworks, and ended up in the parking lot near Steak N Shake watching the fireworks from The Highlands. It was the kind of carefree day that a holiday should be!
I'll try to keep my blogs a little shorter and more frequent so as not to bore my faithful followers to tears. I'm also going to post some yummy recipes from time to time as well. Thanks for stopping by...until next time!