Tuesday, December 9, 2008


My menu planning has become something I'm lucky to do 15 minutes before I start preparing. It's driving me crazy! Maybe it's just the time of year. Maybe it's that I don't yet know what to cook for Joe. Maybe it's the stress of his illness. I don't know. He goes in on Thursday for a heart cath/angiogram. Depending on what they find, he may get a stint or angioplasty. We will have to wait until it's over to know. Needless to say, our stress levels are high.
I'm continuing to look for sites with heart-healthy recipes so I can get back into my weekly menu planning. Until then, I'll take it one day at a time...

Last night, I fixed Grilled Orange Chicken Fingers, butternut squash, brown rice, and spinach salad. Everything was yummy and the kids asked for seconds!
Tonight, Joe is eating left-overs and the kids and I are having Zesty Corn Quesadillas and fresh veggies with ranch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Diagnosis Changes Everything

Trying to figure out how to proceed with my menu planning. Last week, DH was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease. He's only 41 and in pretty good shape. But, his family has lots of history of heart problems...among other things. So, I've got to get more serious in my planning and preparing of the family meals. Not just for him but for our boys as well. You never know who's genes they got!
We don't get final numbers of how bad things are for a couple more weeks. The Calcium test he took a week and a half ago showed blockage. The Nuclear Stress Test he'll take on Friday will tell us more. From there, we'll hopefully move forward with a diet plan and medication. Then, I'm hoping he'll be returning to his old self. It has been about 6 months since he's been able to exercise without pain. He misses his runs and mountain biking.
After consulting both the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic sites, this is the menu I've come up with:

Mon: Joe was out with a client so I served Rigatoni I'd had in the freezer with a spinach salad.
Tues: Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto; steamed squash and zucchini; grape and craisin salad with walnuts
Wed: Chicken & Asparagus Penne; whole grain bread; fruit salad
Thurs: Veggie & Hummus Pitas; Orange slices
Fri: Happy Hour
Sat: Asian Pork Tenderloin; Snow Peas with Water Chestunts; Brown Rice with Apricots; Mango Slices

This is going to take some getting used to. I'm hoping to find more places to pull recipes from. If you have any, please pass them along!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Menu Monday

Week of October 20

Monday: Roasted Shrimp and Orzo; salad

Tuesday: Potato Soup; Raw Veggies

Wednesday: Tangy Pineapple Chicken; Rice

Thursday: Roast Beef Swirlwiches; fruit

Friday: Out of Town with Friends and They're Cooking!

Saturday: Out of Town with Friends and They're Cooking!

Sunday: On the Road

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Invitation To Look At My Rear - Tell Me, Do You Like What You See?

Well, yesterday, I finally did it. I invited everyone and their brother to look at my rear...I put a bumper sticker on my car. A friend of mine had a clever political sticker and I complimented her on it. She offered me a second one she had. With some hesitation, I took it. Actually, I had no problem taking it. It was applying it on my car that caused me some angst. It actually took me about a week to work up the nerve. I worried about what everyone would think of me. After all, I know what I think when I see folks sporting "that other candidates" sticker! Besides, I have to go to my church 5 days a week. What would they think?
I suppose I should explain. See, I've held my political views since I can remember. They differed from those of my family (the one that raised me; not the one I raise) so I can't say I was born this way. And over the years, I've seen a shift in the views of many who now cloud religion and politics. To them, somehow being a Christian means you can only vote for one party. Well, I will tell you I am a Christian and I don't vote for "that" party. I've learned that God has always given us choices. He hopes we make the right ones; he loves us regardless; and he never takes our choices away. His son spent a lot of time with folks who were less fortunate as well as those who were, shall we say, undesirables. He treated them like He did anyone else. He fought for them. I apply this to how I live and that's why I vote the way I do. Unfortunately, I believe many people have taken their own morality and tried to impose it on everyone else. Taken away their God-given choices and tried to make one way the only way. I believe that if you choose to live a certain way or make certain choices that's your right. Just because something isn't a law doesn't mean you will change the way you chose to live.
So, with the explanation out of the way, I can tell you I had a few other drivers smile at me today. And, I got a good feeling when I passed someone who had a sticker for "my" candidate. There aren't that many days left until the election. So, my sticker won't be on for long. But until then, make no mistake, I'm a CHRISTIAN MAMA FOR OBAMA.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guess What's Finally Here?

Three things:

1. Those cooler temps are finally arriving. Why just today, the second day of Fall, Charleston was a brisk 78 degrees. By all accounts, this does beat the heck out of the 90-some degree weather we had last week. But, truth be told, we don't get Fall here. The leaves don't turn pretty shades of red, gold, or orange. They just die and fall. They go from green to brown. And I mean the crunchy brown, not the pliable brown. But, alas, it has arrived. We wake to temps in the 60s that climb to the 80s by lunch. That makes it a bit hot for jeans or jackets. So you have to decide between the two. Jeans with a sleeveless top or a jacket with shorts? Conundrum, I tell ya. Hope you're enjoying Fall wherever you are.

2. Darius Rucker's Learn to Live album is finally for sale. I must tell you, I have loved Hootie for, well, ever. I don't miss a Homegrown concert, except this year due to poor, poor planning on my part. Earlier this year, Darius, gone solo, entered the country music scene with Don't Think I Don't Think About It. (Number One on the Charts!!!) Well, it was love at first listen for me. The tone of his voice is perfect for this genre of music that has somehow found its way into my soul. It isn't that he's really changed anything. I think country has changed to meet him. If you listen, and I dare you, to a country station, you'll see what I mean. For crying out loud, Kid Rock has a country hit right now! So check our Learn to Live on iTunes.

3. Maddie is home! My friend Loreen and her husband finally have their little girl. Loreen and Maddie touched down in Charleston today after a very long flight from Vietnam. Keeping up with her blog over these past two weeks brought back so many memories of our trip to China to unite with our daughter. I imagine right now, Loreen is trying to get her boys to start thinking about going to bed. She may even think she's going to get Maddie to go down. But, the time change will play a big part in her plans. It may be a week before Maddie realizes she shouldn't get up at 3 AM to play. Ahhh, the memories of those things that we thought would kill us. But now that they are memories, we kinda miss them.

Weekly Menu 8/22

I believe all recipes this week, other than the Shrimp Fajitas, can be found in previous posts. It really isn't like me to cook something more than once. At least we'll know it's gonna be good!

Monday: Chicken Coleslaw Wraps

Tuesday: Pizza Night

Wednesday: Red Chile Pork Tacos w/Caramelized Onions; Salad

Thursday: Shrimp Fajitas

Friday: Happy Hour

Saturday: Taco Meatball Ring

Sunday: CORN (clean out refrigerator night)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekly Menu 9/15

Monday: Chicken Wings Waikiki; Cole Slaw; Fruit Salad

Tuesday: Baked Ravioli; Salad; Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Overnight Casserole; Rolls

Thursday: Fiesta Wraps; Chips with Bean Dip
(repeat of last week because things got so hectic that we ate out instead of fixing these)

Friday: On the Road Again Until Sunday

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekly Menu 9/8

I've finally gotten up the nerve to restart my Weekly Menu Planning. So far, this school year has proven to be quite difficult as far as the Rices sitting down for a meal together. Last year, we had one night a week that nothing was going on. This year, we have none. On Mondays, Jonathan has soccer from 6:15-7:30. Tuesdays, there is Jonathan's student council and guitar until 6. Wednesday is another soccer practice for Jonathan, this time from 5-6:15. On Thursdays, we struggle with yet another one of Jonathan's soccer practices from 7:30-8:45 and Porter's football from 5:30-6:30. The weekend finally arrives and we get a breather. Saturdays and some Sundays are chock full of soccer and football. Add to this church service, youth group for Jonathan and yet another Football practice for Porter on Sunday and we're finally done!

Because of our busy schedule and that of the other families we do our MR2 dinner with, we have decided to change it from Sunday night to Friday night. Making it a bit more casual and instituting a Happy Hour/Appetizer feel. This first week will be my turn and I can't wait! In the meantime, here's what I've got cooking this week...

Monday: Shrimp and Grits Casserole; lima beans

Tuesday: Chicken packets; broccoli

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes; fries

Thursday: Fiesta Wraps; Chips with Black Bean Dip

Friday: (MR2 Happy Hour) Mini Chicken Kabobs; cheese and crackers; Mambo Margaritas

Saturday: Spinach Calzones; fruit

Sunday: Leftovers

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekly Menu 8/18

Monday: Five Guys (This is a treat because tomorrow is the First Day of School!)

Tuesday: Chicken Casserole; snap peas; rolls

Wednesday: tacos; spanish rice

Thursday: Sandwiches; veggie sticks with ranch

Friday & Saturday: We're on the road again...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey Murphy! I think I'm living your life...

Ever have one of the days when everything that can possibly go wrong does? Ever have one of those weeks? Well, welcome to my week! We're actually leaving for vacation on Friday (egads; that's tomorrow; I remember when I had all week ahead of me!) and I'm doing the rush to get IT all done. Found out over the weekend that my cousin and his family are coming to town next weekend and they need a place to crash for one night before their rental is available. Obviously, I offered my house as it will be empty. Just makes sense. So on top of all the packing, planning, regular activities, doctor's visits, etc. I'm having to REALLY clean my house. Not just kinda clean it but REALLY clean it. I discovered it's been quite some time since I've REALLY cleaned my house.

But on top of everything else, this guy Murphy has dumped his luck on me. Monday I was at the doctor with Jonathan who'd had a sore throat for 4 days. He got a fever Sunday night so I was concerned he may have strep. No strep, just an infection. Viral, of course. No meds. I had to call his Swim Team Coach and beg out of the City Meet individuals. I did promise, however, that no matter what he would be at the Relay event on Tuesday. Thankfully he was feeling better on Tuesday. I really didn't want to send him to swim with a fever. Tuesday it was another doctor's appointment for Jonathan. The dermatologist. Then, straight to guitar lessons. Wednesday was spent in the house doing sooooo much cleaning/organizing. Oh, and a trip to the vet for the Weimaraner who's had diarrhea for 4 days. Joe did that one for me. I've learned to accept my limits and ask for help. Today (Thursday), Millie has a dentist appointment at 2:00. She's having work done and will be out of it before, during and after the appointment thanks to Valium. I'm hoping I can get the bathrooms cleaned and sheets washed while she's recuperating. Friday, will be full of last minute packing, cleaning and stress. Last time we went on a trip, I forgot to put the dog in the car. Thankfully I wasn't too far before I realized it and came back for him. Millie does have dance at 11:00 then I'll swing by Joe's office and we'll leave from there.

I've noticed everything on my To Do List isn't marked off. Not all of it will be. That's life, I guess. Just hope I remember to put everyone (and every dog) in the car. Oh and I have to make a return...I'm giving Murphy back his life.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Humph! Day

Last night my son, Jonathan, received an award for the Most Valuable Swimmer on his Swim Team. The MVS. He's not the strongest swimmer. Not even close. But he has that certain something that, at times, seems like a stroke of luck for Joe and me. He's kind, thoughtful, and a team player.
So, where is the Humph! you ask? Well, that comes in because I missed the presentation. I was, at the time, standing on the pool deck fully clothed and drenched. I was accepting the gratitude of one of the moms of the two 4 year old boys I'd just rescued from drowning. I still cannot believe it happened; that I saved these little boys without any hesitation or thought. I saw them struggle, try to use each other for leverage to get to the air, go under and not come back up. Instinctively, I jumped in, grabbed them both and hoisted them up to the pool deck where my husband and a friend ran them over to their parents. Both boys were fine. They were breathing and crying but their tummies were no doubt full of water. I am just so glad that I was there and paying attention.
After the commotion, people were saying I needed a metal; I was a hero; I'd saved the night. Humph! I only did what anyone would have done. That, my friends, is not being heroic. It's being human.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekly Menu 7/14


Last week, there were two nights we got side-tracked with the menu I'd planned. So, you'll see two dishes from last week's menu on this week's. (If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.)

Monday: Chicken Parmesan; Garlic Bread, Salad

Tuesday: Swim Team Awards Dinner (it's catered so no cooking for me!)

Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie; Salad

Thursday: Moroccan Shrimp with Cous Cous; Rolls

Friday: Ham and Grits Crustless Quiche; Crescent Rolls, Fruit

Saturday: County-Style Pork Ribs; Slaw; Corn

Sunday: Leftovers

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Humph! Day

Sparing you all the sorted details, Joe and I have had a huge disagreement with his mother. It has taken almost two weeks for him to work up an apology. I am still working on it. It has proven quite difficult because, frankly, I don't know what to apologize for. She did something so wrong and socially unacceptable and after a few failed attempts to ignore it and then asking her to stop, I finally gave in to the anger boiling within me. So, I cannot apologize for giving in. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. If you are asked to stop a conversation and change the subject and you choose not to, you should realize and accept the wrath that follows. Not change the facts around to make the other person look more guilty than you.
We have spoken to our pastor, listened to other clergy, and sought the advice from other religious people. They have all said the same thing. We need to forgive her, set boundaries and move on. (Humph...easier said than done!) I know that if I do this, she will bring it up every time I see her. It will always be a fight ready to be fought. Maybe this is where the boundaries come in. But at this point, the problem isn't just with her. It's with other members of the family as well. Instead of seeing what she did as the instigating factor, they see me as the *itch that disrespected their matriarch.
To complicate matters even more, my children were to spend a week with her this month. Joe and I were going to spend our 17th wedding anniversary child-free. I'm having a hard time sending them. What she did affects them. Her judgment has come into question. Plus, I worry about what they will overhear her say about me. Joe and I discussed this and decided to play it by ear. Maybe the kids wouldn't go. Maybe they would go under his supervision. Or, maybe they would go, as planned, by themselves...if we could come to an understanding with her.
However, last night, Joe read me the apology he had sent her. I couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth. He brought up the visit and told her when we would be bringing them and picking them back up! (Humph...so much for being on the same page.)
Hours later, at a swim meet, Joe was talking with a friend about any upcoming trips we had planned. He mentioned the visit the kids will be taking to visit his mom. Porter, who was standing with him said, "Oh, does Mom know?" (Humph...seems my 8 year old knows me better than the man I've known for 22 years!)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Menu Monday

Monday: Picnic for my Step-father's birthday.
I'm taking Creamy Pasta Salad With Celery (recipe found on page 97 of the June '08 issue of Everyday Food) and Deli Sandwiches.

Tuesday: Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas (recipe found on page 178 of the July '08 issue of Cooking Light); Melon

Wednesday: Taco Meatball Ring; fresh fruit

Thursday: Cranberry Turkey Wraps; SunChips

Friday: Chicken Parmesan; Garlic Bread; Salad

Saturday: Country-Style Pork Ribs; Slaw; Baked Beans

Sunday: MR2 dinner at a neighbors

Friday, July 4, 2008

6 Words Sum Up The Week

With Friday being the 6th day of the week (by my count), I hope to post this exercise weekly. Choosing just 6 words that say it all. Feel free to join in!

Thankful for Independence
With You's Better

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence - It Don't Come Easy

Tomorrow is almost here. The day we celebrate our Independence. But do we really think about it? Most of us, as living Americans, were born in America. We've always been free. It's all we've known. We never fought to gain our independence. What can we do to understand what a monumental thing this freedom is? Suppose we can check out books from the library or try to recall our 8th grade American History class. But can all that really explain "freedom"?

I dare to go one step further and claim that all we really know about fighting for freedom is what we remember doing as an awkward teenager as we fought for freedom from our parents. (Those were some fights, right?) If you think long and hard about this, we started this fight way before our teen years. It began when we were toddlers. Possibly before. Our desire to do things on our own, without help or assistance. That's how we learned to walk, think, make mistakes...and no doubt there've been some doozies! So, how'd your parents do allowing you to claim your independence? Did they fight their protective feelings and let you do it yourself? Or did they hover over you and help you when you really didn't want or need their help? No matter what they did, how are you doing with your kids, if you have any? Not to say it's easy, but I've always thought the number one job of a parent was to get your kids ready for life. That means giving them their independence long before it's comfortable for you. Sure, it's hard to watch sometimes as they make the wrong choice and have to learn a hard lesson. But imagine if they don't get that chance until their on their own. Now, I'm not talking crazy stuff. I'm talking little steps. Picking an outfit, a snack, an afternoon activity. Starting here will lead to much larger monumental stuff like deciding to play or work on a project, to go to bed at 9 or 10, to go with the crowd or stand on their own. Easy? No way. Important? I think so. Evidence? My 13 year old. It's worked with him so far.

My plan is to give my kids everything they need to become valuable, happy adults. It is my hope that when they move out of my house, they will be able to make it on their own and not run to me with every small problem. I want to have an adult relationship with my adult children. To enjoy the men and woman they become. To do that I have to grant them some independence now and celebrate it. There's more on ways to celebrate your child's independence here. So today, tomorrow and always, I will relish in my kids independence. Celebrate it with gusto. Realizing every day that it don't come easy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Humph! Day

Let's make Wednesday, what's usually known as Hump Day, the new Humph! Day. A day to talk about those things that make us say a big "Humph!"

Like tonight when I was slaving over a hot stove, trying to keep the four year old out of the freezer, listening to the thirteen year old go on and on about a guitar he saw, and telling the eight year old for the thousandth time today to not run in the house when the phone rang. It was my DH who is in Monterrey this week. Poor guy. Sure, he's on business and he had to give a presentation in front of a room full of folks he didn't know but he also got to go on a great hike while all those folks played golf. Anyway, he'd called to tell me he was done with all the "work" of the trip and would be taking it easy tonight. He and some co-workers have reservations at some swanky restaurant. (Humph!...I'd better microwave the beef; it's not quite thawed out.) After dinner he will probably go out with some of them and retire to his room for some peace and quiet. (Humph!...I bet I get to watch re-runs of George Lopez with the boys tonight - again!) He goes on to say his fight doesn't leave until mid to late morning tomorrow and arrives in Charleston around 10:30 tomorrow night. (Humph!... let me drop everything, keep the thirteen year old up and run right out to get you...no really, let me.) He says he knows it isn't easy for me to watch three kids and two dogs when he's out of town. (Humph!...we'll see how he does in August when I'm out of town for the first time in 5 years!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Yes, We're Eating

In case you're wondering what's on the menu this week, here it is...

Monday: My brother's birthday dinner. Eating at my mother's.

Tuesday: Italian Chicken Wraps and fresh fruit

Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie and crescent rolls

Thursday: Sweet & Sour Apple Honey Chicken, rice and squash

Friday: Fourth of July Picnic

Saturday: Red Chile Pork Tacos w/Caramelized Onions, Spanish Rice and Salad

Sunday: MR2 dinner at a neighbors

Some of these are repeats because the family loved them and wanted them again!


Today, is the half-way mark of 2008. How's the year treating you thus far? It's not too late to change things if you don't like where you are so far. That's what I'm working on. I'm trying to be the me I used to be. When I only had one kid, I was a fun, involved, creative mom. Now that I have three, I'm tired, easily frustrated, overwhelmed. As a friend, I used to show I care more. I'd call. I'd entertain. Now, I email occasionally. I send cards late. I miss spending time with friends. Frankly, I long to be my old self. So I'm trying to find her again. I'm hoping to release the things from my life that are weighing me down and keeping my fun self from emerging once again.

How to get there? Slowly I'm finding. It takes time to uncover the past and let it go. Once it's gone, though, happiness awaits. She's standing there holding the hand of the wonderful me I used to be.

Now, I'm gonna run out to my freezer to check on the soft drink cans I've been freezing all morning long. We're going to make these adorable lanterns out of them! We're half-way done.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekly Menu 5/19

Wow! It's already that time again! Luckily this will be an easy week for me in the kitchen. With all of the activities we have going on, we will be eating out twice. Once is for Jonathan's Orchestra Awards Banquet and Picnic and the second time, we will be in route to the mountains for the long weekend. I also haven't included any weekend meals as those will be planned later today with the friends joining us for the mountain fun.

Monday: Pork Taquitos (this pork is left over from the tacos we had last night. It was so yummy and since the kids had beef tacos last night they won't feel like they're eating the same thing twice!)
Spanish Rice (again, left over from last night)

Tuesday: Shrimp & Grits Casserole
Lima Beans

Wednesday: Chicken-Peanut Chow Mein
Pot Stickers

Thursday: Picnic/Awards Banquet

Friday: On the Road

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's What's For Dinner

This week, I'm a bit late posting my weekly menu. Rest assured I made it on Sunday (even though it was Mother's Day) and I've been loyal to it thus far.

Monday: Chicken and Asparagus Crepes (not as difficult as they sound)
Fresh Fruit

Tuesday: End of Season Soccer Party - Eat Out!

Wednesday: Chicken Coleslaw Wraps (delicious!)
Raw Veggies
Pound Cake with Strawberries, Pineapple and Whipped Cream

Thursday: Grilled Steak Ceasar Salad
Whole Wheat Rolls

Friday: Left Overs

Saturday: Asian Beef Noodle Soup
Egg Rolls

Sunday: MR2 Dinner (here)
Chips & Salsa
Red Chile Pork Tacos with Caramelized Onions
Spanish Rice
Key Lime Pie

So that's my plan and I'm stickin' to it!

Political Musings

Yesterday I read an article about racial slurs and threats made to some Obama campaign volunteers. I suppose I'm naive. I had no idea folks still felt this way. Obviously I know there are white people who think they are "over" black people. But I had no idea people voiced their opinions so loudly, publicly, or proudly. Do they not realize that such behavior makes them look stupid? Moronic? Out of touch? Lower than low? I mean come on! Haven't we overcome this elitism? Can't we all agree that we are all people? God's people? He doesn't separate us? Why should we?

There were many unsettling comments in this article that left me horrified. One of the least offensive comments from this article was made by a West Virginian man. He said, "whites take care of whites and blacks take care of blacks." I'm confused by this. I thought that in this melting pot called America we took care of everyone. Here we have a man (Obama) highly intelligent, highly motivated. Wanting to improve our country. For all of us. Not just those who share his skin color.

Hillary has repeated that no democrat has made it to the White House without winning in West Virginia since 1916. Why, I ask you, do we put such stock in a state that is obviously so far behind the times? I hope it's not that they truly do represent the masses. If so, I'm happy to be a minority. Someone who can see people for more than their skin color. Can we please kick West Virginia out of the Union?

On another political note, I have to ask...why has Hillary's gender not yet come up as a negative? Yes. I am a woman. I do believe women can do the jobs of men. BUT, I believe that with the less than positive reputation Bush is leaving for our country, we have to ask "Is this the time for a female leader?" We have so much to work out with Iran, Iraq, China, Korea...the list goes on and on. Most of these countries hold women in such disregard. I worry that will only prove problematic if we elect a woman to lead our country AT THIS TIME. I'm afraid it will be catastrophic for her to try to make headway with men who don't respect her simply because she is a woman. I'm not saying Hillary isn't a strong woman with the intentions to do great things for her country. Obviously she is. Her many years of service to this country prove that. And you don't have to agree with her platform to give her that much. She's done more than most of us for this country. I'm just asking if this is the best time for a woman president.

Politics is never an easy subject. This post is simply my opinion.

Nothing To Say

Wow. I cannot believe how long it's been since I last posted. I've been so busy reading blogs that I've felt as if anything I had to say was immeasurable to the words of wisdom I was witnessing elsewhere. What have I been reading?
Fun Being Frugal - always has freebies!
Blissfully Domestic - a really fun blog.
Bella Dia and The Crafty Crow - sister sites that have great ideas for crafting.
The Household Helper - who doesn't need this?
I'm An Organizing Junkie - oh, how I aspire to be!
These are just a few of the blogs that I frequent. There are more and I'll post about them in the future.
In the meantime, I've so much more to say. When I get another moment in my day, I will post another entry.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How'd It Happen?

Last night, I did something out of character. Something I said I wouldn't do. I've said it before, I always buy on sale. Not everything. But I never buy clothing (especially for myself) that isn't on sale. I like to rack up the savings. It feels like an accomplishment to me. Almost a game. To see how much I can save on an item. But last night, I threw all that to wayside. I attended a clothing show at a friend's house. When she gave me the invitation, she said, "Please come. You don't need to buy anything. Just come have a glass of wine." She was talking my language. I needed a glass of wine after Joe's trip. Heck, I needed two glasses! So I went. And I had my two glasses. Sat through the unveiling of the Spring/Summer collection of CAbi clothing. Then, I found myself trying on a few items. Next thing, I know, I'm writing a check for two of those items. $137 later, I'm scratching my head. Wondering 1. how it got to be 10:00. I'd said I'd be home by 8:00. 2. How I was going to explain this. And, 3. Did someone fill my glass a third time without me knowing?
Well, the reason it was 10:00 is because there was a presentation (unveiling) of the line. I wasn't expecting this. I thought the whole night was a drop-in thing. I decided to go early, at 7, so I could leave after my 1, maybe 2, glasses of wine and make it back for American Idol. Didn't happen. As for explaining my purchase...I'm working on that. Truth is, the items I bought are really cute. I can get tons of wear out of them. I can wear them together and they will mix and match with lots of stuff I already own. They just happen to be more than I spend when I shop. But is that entirely wrong? Don't I deserve it? Maybe the answer is yes but the responsible side of me is throwing a fit. She's saying, "Hey, you're trying to CUT expenditures. You're paying mortgages on TWO houses. This was NOT smart." And I know she's right. And, it's just what Joe will say when he sees the check book. Oh, how I'm not looking forward to that. I left saying, "I'll be home at 8. I'm just going to have a glass of wine. I'm not buying anything." I was two hours late. I had two (maybe 3?) glasses of wine. And I did make a purchase. Today, I'm eating my words. Hopefully, in two weeks (when the clothes arrive) I'll be looking really cute in my new outfit.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekly Menu - The Importance Of

I love to cook. It's an art, I believe, to find a recipe I think my family will love and recreate it. The reward is my family enjoying a meal I really put my heart into. I start my process on Sunday when I begin my Weekly Menu, which I've been doing for several years now. I live by this for the week. Sometimes I stray. Plans change. A day goes bad. At which point I'll either re-arrange the menu or beg my husband to bring something home. But for the days that don't change, my Weekly Menu is a lifesaver! Each day of the week is listed along with any special happenings that may interfere with cooking or enjoying the meal. For instance, Scouts, Sports Practices/Games, Orchestra Rehearsals/Concerts, Student Council, etc. are all noted next to the day. This helps when I'm deciding what that night's dinner should be. I don't want to decide to fix a labor intensive meal if I'm also going to be carpooling children around all afternoon. And, I should note, that although we are a very busy family, most weeks, we eat a home-cooked/fixed meal every night.

And it should also be noted that my kids eat strange things (as far as kid's eating habits go). I've never changed what I fix before I know my kids won't eat something. I've never treaded lightly on this endeavor either. My kids eat spinach, artichokes, asparagus, all kinds of meat and seafood. I do have one who will not touch a bean. And no one in my family likes raw tomatoes. But my rule is and always has been "You must try something before you can say you don't like it." And know, Mom doesn't give up on a food after you say you don't like it just once. There must be multiple attempts at palleting something. I don't want to raise a child who becomes an adult who doesn't eat anything.

So, without further ado, here is this weeks menu (4/27 - 5/3):

Sunday: MR2 dinner (Weekly dinner with two other neighbor families. I call it MR2 because one of the families' last name starts with an M. The other two start with an R. The total number eating at this event? 13! 7 kids and 6 adults. We rotate this and this week Stefanie is cooking.)

Monday: Shrimp & Snap Pea Salad (pg. 27 of Everyday Foods, May '08 issue)
Broiled Mango

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes
Raw veggies (probably carrots, broccoli, cauliflower)

Wednesday: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
Snow Peas

Thursday: Left Overs ( I try to incorporate left overs into our dinner planning each week. Of course, sometimes, they make perfect lunches and there aren't any. I got the idea from HomeEc 101. They call it CORN which stands for Clean Out Refrigerator Night. I must say they get more inventive with their leftovers than I do. I just throw them out there and let my family pick what they want. These gals throw them all together and actually whip up a "new" meal. I'm not that inventive. I need a recipe to follow. But good for them!

Friday: Chicken & Asparagus Crepes
Fresh Fruit

Saturday: Date Night

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stimulate This!

President Bush is having the tax rebate checks mailed early. They will start going out on Monday. Now before you get all excited and try to figure out just what you're going to spend your "free" money on, keep this in mind. You will be taxed on this money next April. My advice, figure out what that amount will be, set it aside - a money market account or interest bearing savings account would be great - and do something equally as smart with the balance. I've heard people say they were using the money to go to Disney, buying this or buying that. My thought on that is this, think about what you've already bought (and are still paying on) and PAY IT OFF. Now, I know, this isn't very exciting. You'll no doubt have to watch your neighbors sport new items and all you'll have is fewer bills in your mailbox, less headache every month when you're trying to figure out how to make all your payments, and, oh yeah, more money left in your checking account because it's no longer going to pay those bills. Now, use this money to stimulate the economy.

I have long thought America is falling short on the American dream. Sure, we can dream it and achieve it. But with work, people. Not with credit! There are so many people living beyond their means. It makes me sad. While I'm on this soap box, I'll confess, we do have a balance on a credit card or two. Things come up and that's our recourse. I'm not talking designer clothes, dinners out, or anything extravagant. No trips to far away lands, or Disney. I'm talking life. So, our balance isn't high. But it is there and I wish it wasn't. Now with two mortgages, it's a bit harder to pay it off. But it is going down. Next month is our last payment on my car. We'll then own both of our cars. The money that would have gone toward the car will now go toward our debt.

Bush originally wanted us to stimulate the economy by buying more. Now he wants us to use the money to buy the food and gas we need daily. I suggest we make cutbacks on what we spend on both. Use coupons for food, shop for the best prices on groceries(this internet site is great for both), join local co-ops if you have them in your area, in short, do what ever you can to save money on your groceries. As far as gas goes, drive less. Combine errands. Pick one day to get as much done as possible or at least group errands by location and tackle them by side of town. Ride your bike instead of drive for short trips when you don't need a trunk or have to transport kids. Ride-share and carpool. Do not, I repeat, do not use this check to pay for gas. The gas problem isn't going anywhere, your rebate check will be gone before you know it. And you'll still need to gas the car and eat. Why not put actions in place to help you long term? Stimulating, isn't it?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Give Me A Break!

You all know my my husband travels. When he took his job, he didn't travel quite so much. Over the years, he has proven himself, gotten promotions, and increased the number of places he MUST go. In this same amount of time, I can count one time I've been away from home. He swears, when traveling for business, he's not having fun. But something about eating good food for free and not having to share your meal with a young child or listen to the bickering, whining, complaining or witness the teenager roll his eyes, makes me wonder what the *&^@ he's talking about. Who cares if it's FUN? It's FREEDOM. I know he's there working but come on. He has a bed to himself. No little feet coming in in the middle of the night just to let you know he/she had a bad dream. No said body climbing in the bed and falling back asleep all the while pushing his/her feet in your back and subjecting you to the sounds of him/her sucking on his thumb/her finger.
Today, this was all highlighted. Joe left on a pleasure trip. He actually got off work early, met up with three friends, and drove to North Carolina for the weekend. Their hope is to spend the weekend exploring new mountain bike trails. He spent many nights searching trails on the internet. He was well prepared. Now, he hasn't ridden in a few weeks and even that expedition was the first in months. So, I'm sure I'll hear all about his aches and pains for days after his re-entry into family life. Also today, I had coffee with a friend. She is quite often taking trips, leaving her kids with her husband. Today, she asked me to join her on one in August. In my mind, I was trying to figure out how in the world it would work. It's a Thursday through a Sunday. How would Joe do it? The kids will not be in school in August. What would he do with them? Would the house be a complete disaster when I returned? Probably. I was sick this week. A stomach thing on Wednesday. The house fell apart. Granted, it didn't have far to go. But it got there. And there it stayed. No one lifted a finger. Of course, there were plenty of complaints but no action. I reached my breaking point Thursday afternoon, after a day of compiling a list of members of our neighborhood swim team and all of their registration information, and assembling and mailing 106 newsletters for my son's orchestra. As soon as Joe got home, he asked, "So, were you in bed all day? The house looks like you were in bed all day." (I know, GASP! HE SAID WHAT?!)
So, I need a break. I most definitely cannot wait until August. But, instead, this weekend, I will transport two of my children to separate birthday parties, prepare for a third one early next week, get the third child ready for soccer out of town (to be transported by another family), and just try to survive without screaming too loudly. No promises. Just hopes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

I had hoped to celebrate Earth Day by planting some new plants in the yard but alas, the weather is cold and threatening rain. I did other things instead. I had my annual physical. Preserving my self instead of Mother Earth. I did have to drive there (in my non-hybrid vehicle). Then, I joined the local Freecycle site. I had high hopes for this alternative to buying everything new and throwing away the old. However, once I was accepted as a member and read over the recent posts, it seems there are many more "wants" than "don't want anymores". And, the things they want, I don't have. We'll see how this plays out. The premise of it is quite intriguing to me. A lot like Craigslist without the exchange of money. I love Craigslist. We outfitted our cabin with items found on Craigslist. Well, that's not entirely true. We added some items we found on Craigslist to what we had saved over the years. Joe equated himself to the crazy guy who decides to build a boat. He saves all kinds of stuff for the boat. The neighbors think he's a nut but he continues to save. One day, he builds his boat. And the crazy man wins. Well, this is what happened with our cabin. We saved so much stuff for a cabin that we had to rent a storage unit. Family and friends, no doubt, thought we were nuts. Years later, we found our cabin. the storage unit was emptied and everything found a new home at our second home. And the crazy people win!

But this is supposed to be a post about Earth Day. I do have a quick trip to make to the grocery store. In honor of the day, I will be sure not to leave my canvas grocery bags at home. Instead I will leave this post to put them in the car. That way, I'll just need to remember to take them into the store!

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What A Difference 15 Minutes Makes

Yesterday I read on MotherLoad: The MomAdvice.com blog how important it is to take time for myself. As our lives get busier and busier, we have to carve out small pockets of time for just us. To re-energize. I have had a very hard time finding just where to begin my whittling, much less carving. For years, my husband has told me to wake up earlier. Not so much to find time for me but to get all my chores done. I'm so not a morning person and 6:15 seemed early enough for me. If I couldn't get everything done between 6:15 and 11, it obviously wasn't important enough to me. So why would I wake up earlier than 6:15 to get it done? Well, I'm also not a night person. It's all I can do to hold my eyes open through a 10:00 show. No matter what it is. Obviously, I won't stay up later to get more stuff done. And, I find it difficult to do this stuff while my dear husband is laying around watching TV at night. So for years, things have been left periodically unattended. I say periodically because I do take care of them. Just not on anyone's schedule other than my own. But yesterday's urging was different. This was a coaxing to find time for myself, not my chores. I'm proud to say that last night, I set my alarm for 6 AM, put the coffee on Auto Brew, and hit the sack. No, I didn't make it through the 10:00 show I was watching. All was going well until Porter entered my room at 4:17. He'd had a bad dream. He climbed into bed with me, taking his father's place. (He's in DC this week.) I was left listening to him suck his thumb (yes, he's 8!) throughout my remaining hour and and 43 minutes of sleep. I must have gone back to sleep because when the alarm went off, I jolted to attention. Determined to follow through, I threw on my robe and slipper socks and descended the stairs to kitchen where I had to wait for the coffee to complete it's cycle. Note to self: Set Auto Brew to an earlier time tonight. So, other than waiting on my coffee, how did I spend my extra 15 minutes? I read a magazine. Real Simple. It came yesterday and all I was able to do then was flip through it. I actually read an article. Something I haven't done in ages. At 6:15 I woke Porter and we began our normal schedule. Although I was a bit more bushy-eyed and productive. Then, I took the advice of a fellow reader of the MomAdvice blog. She doesn't allow her kids out of bed until 7:00. Obviously this won't work for all of my kids. Porter's bus comes at 6:45. Jonathan already gets up at 7:00. Millie, however, will wake up around 6:30 and beg for me (not Daddy) to come get her. She's four and quite capable of getting out of bed by herself and walking downstairs to me. But everyday it's the same. "Maaaaahhhhhmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy!" Today, I walked into her room and told her I'd be back at 7:00 to get her. It was still too early for her to wake up. And, SHE WENT BACK TO SLEEP! So in reality, I had 15 minutes before Porter got up and 15 minutes between when he left for the bus and when Millie and Jonathan got up. That's 30 minutes! Half and hour! One TV show (as I've always explained time to my kids)!
I hope I can continue with this. I'm sure it will take me a little time to get used to waking up so early. I'll probably get tired earlier. But once I get used to it, imagine difference it will make!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jonathan's Dynamite at 13

This past week, my oldest son turned thirteen. He entered the dreaded teenage years. He's on his way to adulthood. That slow, am I ever gonna get there, track to adulthood. The one you think you've finished long before you really have. I cannot believe thirteen years have passed since he was born. I remember that night (and very early morning - he was born at 12:35 AM) of labor like it was yesterday. Which I think says something for my memory. Even at 40, I'm doing OK.

It wasn't just his entry into teenhood that amazed me. He also took part in his school's talent show. The talent he chose to showcase was performing the Napoleon Dynamite dance. So, clad in a curly blond wig, large metal frame glasses, jeans, a Vote For Pedro tshirt, and boots made out of the inside of his rollerblades, he performed without pause, the dance he'd watched on Youtube and learned within a two day period. Not only is he a really quick study but he has absolutely no fear of performing in front of people. I have no idea where this trait came from. I can attribute his webbed toes to his father, his facial features to me, and his sense of humor probably comes from both Joe and me. But this no fear thing has me stumped. It also has me very grateful. Memories of the sheer panic I'd feel every time I had to simply answer a question out loud in class are still clear. I would have never been able to perform the Napoleon Dynamite dance in front of my school. But he did and he did it magnificently. The cheers are still playing out in my head. In fifth grade, he gave the graduation speech at his elementary school. We still run into people who heard it and continue to say how good it was. He just has that something special. Someone told me he thought Jonathan had a future in either politics or ministry. Time will only tell what the future holds. He is extremely interested in medicine so we'll just have to see. In the meantime, he's Dynamite!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Challenge Accepted!

I caught this bit on the Today show the other day about buying green. This guy has actually written a book about replacing the products you use everyday with more green items. He's talking everything from using reusable containers for packed lunches instead of plastic bags, up to buying more Earth-friendly cleaners instead of your usual brands. Now I have to say, I am a creature of habit. Doing the same things I've been doing for years is easy. Not only that but I love to get a bargain and aren't all these "green" products more expensive? Now throw in the bizarre loyalty I have for certain brands and this is not an easy pill for me to swallow. Yet I listened, rather intently. I was beginning to sway. Then Matt asked the question, "Won't buying all this stuff be expensive?" To that came the reply, "You don't have to do it all at once. You're going to run out of stuff. When you replace it, choose a green product." Well this was like a huge light on the dark future that awaits us all if we don't jump on this bandwagon. It's that simple. Baby steps. No huge outlay of funds.

As Fate would have it, this week I ran out of a product that I use often, try to buy on sale, and have been loyal to since...well, forever. Bounce. It's one of those products I use without thinking about it. Kind of like zipping your pants. You do it so often you don't remember doing it at all. Anyway, Monday was laundry day. I used my last Bounce sheet on my second load. For my third load, I was scrounging the couch cushions where I sometimes put a sheet to freshen the room. I found one, only one. But there were loads and loads awaiting Maytag submersion. The fourth load dried Bounce-free. Yuck. I now know why I use a dryer sheet. But must it be Bounce? Just because it's what my mother used and I began using when I first starting doing my own laundry, must it be the brand I continue to buy? Today, I worked on discovering an answer to that question. With grocery list in hand (one that explicitly listed Bounce), I almost grabbed that orange box. But, wait! There was a green alternative a few boxes down. Sun & Earth. It was orange too. So I started the comparison. It was actually less expensive than my old stand-by. So I bought it. And when I got home, I used it. Upon opening the box I can tell you there was a dramatic difference. The sheets have a brownish tint to them. (Must be the lack of dyes.) They are also not as easy to remove from the box. And once you do, you have to separate them into two. There is actually a perforation. This is to keep them from clogging your dryer vent. (Remember those emails that went around about someone's friend who's dryer caught on fire from a dryer sheet clogging her dryer vent? I always thought it was a hoax. Maybe not!) My clothes came out static-free and soft. Not as soft as with Bounce but that's OK, these puppies will bio-degrade in just 21 days. Now, I must know, if I cannot use all 80 sheets in 21 days, will the left-overs disappear?

So I have thoughtfully joined the coalition. Don't know where it will take me exactly. But I do know it's gotta be much better than where I'd be if I didn't jump aboard.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

To Tell Or Not To Tell

That is the question! You know when you're eating dinner with someone and they get a piece of spinach caught in their teeth? It's uncomfortable to witness. You start licking your teeth, sub-consciously, trying to send them some telepathic message. I recently watched a show about this. It is amazing how many, when put in this situation, do not tell the person about the attention-stealing green cling-on.
This past week was Spring Break here in Charleston County. We took the kids to the mountains. While on the road, I noticed lots of bumper stickers. I'm not really a fan of bumper stickers. I have two, Touched By Adoption and a Georgia "G" decal. Both are in my window. It's the verbose stickers that I don't like. Sometimes I laugh because they can be funny. But, let's face it, if I'm driving a car, I really don't have time to be reading bumper stickers. And, do I really care how people in traffic feel about everything they insist on sharing? I mean if we're trying to sway public opinion, there must be a better way. I'd rather meet you for a coffee to discuss it than have to read it on the tail end of your car. But I digress...
Remember back when Bush was running for President? He had those "W" stickers. First it said "W for President" then it changed to "W The President" and then some got the "W Still The President." Do you know after all these years of a mistake-ridden presidency, folks still have these stickers on their car? Now, I'll let you in on a secret. I never voted for Bush. Don't really understand why anyone did to begin with, much less a second time! But it's a free country and I guess that's just how democracy works (or at least that's what we found out!). Anyway, do you think those folks who voted for him are proud that they did? Do you think they're proud of him? I ask because if I had voted for him, I would imagine that after this nearly complete (thank God!) second term, I'd have lost a bit of pride in his job. If I'd put one of those stickers on my car to show my support for him, I'm quite confident that I would have removed it by now. So, do you think these people know the stickers are still on their cars? Or, have they become like the attention-stealing green cling-ons? An uncomfortable thing no one wants to admit is there? I think we should start letting them know it's there. "Ummm, excuse me Sir, I know this is embarrassing, but you've got a little something stuck to the back of your car...."

Friday, March 14, 2008

How Are Your Abs?

I ran across an offer I couldn't refuse yesterday. A free Ab workout download. Just go here and download your own copy. You'll need to put it in your cart and enter "FREE ABS" as your code. There will be no charge with this code. After I downloaded it, I watched it once then did the workout. This is 20 minutes totally devoted to your abs. I was quite surprised that I was able to make it through the whole thing. And, I will say, I do feel it today. Hope you enjoy it! I'll let you know if I find one for other body parts...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Well, the rules are going well! I don't mean to sound surprised but I must admit I am...a little, maybe more. I haven't had to confiscate anything this week AND I've given out NO additional demerits! I'm thrilled with the results so far.
It has been a busy week with Orchestra Rehearsals, Soccer Practice and Student Council for Jonathan, pre-planning for the upcoming Swim Team season for both boys. Somehow, Joe and I got on the Board and with the season starting in just 2 months, there's already stuff to do. Last night I actually got out! I got together with some girlfriends, most of whom I hadn't seen in about a year. We all have kids born in the year 2000 and we used to have a playgroup when the kids were younger. It's amazing how comfortable the evening was even though we all have different stuff going on in our lives now. It was a good time, even if I did miss American Idol. But I must say, coming home so close to mid-night was a mistake! Thankfully Millie doesn't have school on Wednesdays because I'm still not dressed! Another thing I did yesterday was clean up my computer. It took ALL DAY! I ran all sorts of stuff to compress this, clean that and scan everything else and amazingly enough, things are running much smoother! Now, if I can just get my boys to stop downloading so much junk we'll be fine for a while. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do on FREE stuff and other blogs. This is going to be a busy day!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mom's Rules

For some time I have felt overwhelmed by the condition of my house. The amount of kids stuff has multiplied to excessive. And, it never finds it's way to an appropriate place. My kids used to understand that we kept toys upstairs. Now, I find dolls and their accessories, air soft guns and those darn BBs, plastic food, and many stickers, pens and notebooks everywhere I look. They're in the living room; they're in the dining room; they're in the kitchen; they're even in the bathroom! I was driving myself crazy picking it all up only to find them strewn about again in a matter of minutes. Yesterday, I decided I'd had enough. I made a contract for each of the kids to sign. It's very simple, there are only 5 rules.

RULE 1: All dirty clothes must be put inside the dirty clothes hamper, not beside, on top or behind. Clothes not inside the hamper will not be washed. If you don't have clean clothes, you will wear them dirty. I must admit, I got this one from a friend. When she first told me about it, I was shocked! Basically that she would do something so harsh. I think she's a great mom and this seemed contradictory to the Mom Pledge we take... the part about providing clean clothes for our kids. However, a quick clean-up in the boys' room yesterday changed my mind. There were more dirty clothes on the floor, dresser top and closet floor than in the hamper. And there's no excuse. The boys are 8 and 12. The hamper is right next to the bed. It even has a swing top so they don't have to work hard to get the clothes in there. So the rule is set.
RULE 2: No toys are allowed downstairs. This is our living area, not our play area. We have a playroom upstairs and there is tons of space to play outside. Any toy that is found downstairs without its owner will be confiscated for 1 week. I know this one seems harsh to most people. After all, parents should expect toys to be around. But, like I said, we have a playroom for that. Not to mention, I'm 40 years old and I feel it's OK for me to have a grownup house with the appearance of calm and tidy. It makes me feel more clam myself when I don't have to fight Baby Chou Chou for a seat on the couch.
RULE 3: The basket in the kitchen must be emptied each night. Any item left in it overnight will be confiscated for 1 week. This includes toys, extra shoes, clothing, socks, etc. (Remember Mom puts stuff in there during the day that you may not know is there. You must check the basket each night to make sure your stuff is out!) First, let me explain the basket. I have a box-style basket next to the stairs in our kitchen. The kids can put their shoes in it when they come home. There should only be one pair of shoes per child in the basket at any time as they also have shoe cubbies in their closets. During the day, if I find random items downstairs belonging to the kids, I put them in the basket for them to take to the appropriate place themselves. Problems I've had with this system have been too many shoes end up in the basket, socks congregate in here and never leave...until Maisy the Weimaraner eats them, and the kids just don't check the basket for their things so it get crammed full of all sorts of stuff. I'm hoping my new rule will make the system more efficient.
RULE 4: All toilets are to be flushed after use. Not doing so makes the house stink. We don't want a stinky house. If you don't flush, you will clean the bathroom and spray the house with air freshener. (If someone is showering when you need to flush, you may wait but don't forget, go back and flush!) I know this sounds like a no brainer but alas, it is not. I've even had to put a sign on the toilet lid that reads "Flush Me Please." I think the worst offender is Jonathan. You'd think a 12 year old would be experienced enough in bathroom etiquette that he'd know to flush. But morning after morning I enter the kids' bathroom to find the toilet full of yellow water. And, don't worry. I know he's the culprit as he is the only one to use that bathroom in the mornings. Hopefully having to clean the bathroom (my least favorite chore) will teach him.
RULE 5: Declining to help when asked is not an option. You stop what you're doing and do as you are asked. If you choose to complain or not do as asked when you are asked, you will receive a demerit. 5 demerits in one week = no allowance! So far we have one child with one demerit and this has only been in play since yesterday afternoon! Obviously this is a problem for our family. The other day, I had one of them decide not to play with the dog because the money he'd have deducted from his allowance by not doing this chore would not be as much as the extra money he'd just made babysitting his sister. Logical? Yes, in a sinister sort of way. An option? No. Although this happened prior to the rule's inception, this infraction is the reason for the rule. Now, to find a good tally system for all those demerits.

So these are our new rules. Nothing too difficult. It should be noted that this contract has nothing to do with their regular weekly chores. Each child signed the contract and so far has entered into it enthusiastically. Lets see how long that lasts.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Found It!

Well, when I put my mind to something, I deliver! I promised to find a new drink and boy did I. Last weekend I purchased a bottle of Firefly vodka. I was out of vodka and had wanted to try this brand. It's made by some locals who I've become acquainted with recently. The vodka is a muscadine wine vodka which is different but good. Not knowing what the muscadine flavor would do to my typical vodka cocktails, I visited their website last night to check out some of their recipes. It took some time to find one that I actually had all the ingredients for. I settled on the Honeysuckle. Yummy! Here's the recipe...


1 ½ oz Firefly
1 TBS honey
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz Sprite or 7up
Stir Firefly, honey and lemon juice together in a tin shaker until honey is dissolved. Pour mixture into a rocks glass of ice and top with Sprite or 7up.

And now that you've got a cocktail to sip, here's the delicious dinner we had last night which I found in the March issue of my favorite magazine Everyday Food...

Shrimp and Cabbage Lo Mein

8 oz. linguini
1T vegetable oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 head green cabbage halved, cored and thinly sliced
2t grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4c fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2t sugar
1/2t red-pepper flakes

1. Cook linguini in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, return to pot, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar and red-pepper flakes; set mixture aside.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add shrimp and half of garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 2-3 min. Transfer to a plate. (Reserve skillet)
3. Place cabbage, remaining garlic, and 1/2 cup of water in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage in crisp-tender, 6-7 min. To pot with linguini, add cabbage, soy-sauce mixture, and shrimp; toss to combine. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

I served this with some egg rolls. My family loved it! The above serves 4 although 3 of my family of 5 went back for seconds and two of us ate it for lunch today.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My New Passtime(s)

I had no idea it had been so long since I last posted! Yikes! Wish I had some new drinks to add but I've been enjoying my old standbys. I'll get to work on investigating new ones the remainder of this week and fill you in.

So, no posting and no new drinks. How have I been spending my time? I've been becoming frugal. I've been reading lots of blogs on stretching my dollars and getting stuff for free. I've been so surprised by what I've read. Did you know it's possible to feed your family for $45 a week?! Haven't tried this yet. But you can read about it as well as other money saving ideas here, here, and here. Everyone who knows me knows I love to get a bargain; I rarely pay full price for anything; and, I can tell you just what I spent and where for any item you ask about. Although, with my mind succumbing to it's 40th year, that last ones a bit in question. Another thing that's got me floored is the amount of stuff you can get for free on the internet. I have filled out more free requests in the past week than I can remember (it's the 40 year old brain again). Although I haven't received anything yet, I'm awaiting hair products, books for the kids, a calculator, a magazine subscription, coffee, different food products, pet treats, cleaners and much more! I cannot wait for it to start rolling in. Oh put your hands down! Here's some links for you to get your own stuff...Brioni's Coffee, and Crypton Cleaning Kit.

Finally, to help me with my 40 year old brain, I've discovered Lumosity. Here, you can test your brain and awaken it, bringing it back to how it used to be. The good news is the games are quick so it only takes a moment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Proud Mama

Yesterday was a day full of awards for my boys. Yesterday morning I was able to attend the 7th Grade Awards Ceremony at Jonathan's school. He'd tried to tell me I didn't need to go. Glad I went, though, since he received two awards. The first was for the President's Award. This is for kids who had all A's. The second award was for the top 4 students in his Pod. He was one of the 4 and the things his teacher said about him made me cry. He said Jonathan was a student who no matter what always seemed to do the right thing. Then, as I'm sitting there fighting back tears, he gets up to collect his award and the kids all go crazy hooping and hollering their congratulations and approval of his being selected. I'm not sure if it was his receiving the recognition from his teachers or the approval of his peers that touched me more. I was and am very proud.
Then, last night, Porter had an awards ceremony with his Scout troupe. He received his Wolf badge. This was really an accomplishment. You just don't know how hard it has been to get him to put on his uniform and go to his meetings. So hard! I know scouting is not something he will continue with so you better believe we took the whole family to see him get this badge!
So, two boys awarded for great things. And here sits one proud mama!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Torn Between Three Lovers

Feeling like a TV junkie! My lovers? American Idol, Survivor, and the Democratic Debate. Yes, last night was hard for me. Without TiVo, I had no recourse. I became a flipper. I'd watch a bit of the debate and turn it periodically to see if Idol was anywhere near dashing someone's dreams. I never did flip to Survivor. Guess that should tell me something. Somehow in my flipping frenzie, I was able to watch Garrett Hayes get the boot. You know, Sweet little Garrett, you know him when you see him? The Leif Garrett clone? Well, actually the bi-product of combination of Leif Garrett and Peter Frampton. I cannot say I was surprised by his not making it to the top but I was shocked that he was first to go. There are several guys I would have picked to go last night. And, even though, the second to leave, Colton was not my favorite, even he was not one I thought would depart last night. Personally, I'm picking Michael Johns to make it to the final two. I think he's awesome. He's got the look, the stage presence and boy he can sing. And, I'm picking Luke to get a deal with a soap opera. He is dreamy and I think I could enjoy watching him for an hour each day. So I'm hoping the deal is with As The World Turns or The Guiding Light. (Two of my guilty pleasures!) As for the ladies, I missed the first one to go. And I don't know the name of the second one. I guess neither had made that big of an impression on me so I'm not going to miss them too much. I do like the girl with YES in her name, the Asian girl and Asia'h (who isn't Asian) is talented too. But I think there are too many of the girls on there just to fill in the weeks. They may be able to sing but they don't have that star quality.
The parts of the Debate I was able to see/hear were not what I was expecting. I thought that after the week of listening to the Clinton camp slap the hand of Obama for plagiarizing a portion of his speech, which I believe showed her desperation, we'd get more nastiness in the debate. The plagiarizing claim was strange to me since they only accused him of stealing the words of his friend and not those of Dr. King (whose words were in there, by the way). Do these politicians actually write their own speeches anyway? I've always thought they had speech writers. So what's the big deal? And what a tacky Xerox comment! Shame on you Hillary. So I guess you can tell who I support. Let me just say I'm not part of the country who believes Hillary is evil. I just don't think this is her time. She is obviously impassioned to improve our country and as a woman I think her amount of passion can be misconstrued. Now, would she make a good Vice President? Hmmm, something to ponder. Perhaps that would be too powerful of an administration.
Well, at least next Thursday promises to be a little easier for me. There won't be a debate so it's just an hour of flipping between American Idol and Survivor. That's just two lovers. Guess I'll just be feeling like a fool.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

She Says She Loves Me (Even) When I'm Sick

My seasonal allergies have begun. Somethings blooming and I'm sneezing, coughing, sniffing, and post nasal dripping. Not to mention my head is pounding and my teeth are aching. But aren't those daffodils gorgeous? Unlike my daughter, who suffers from allergies and asthma, I have no idea what I'm allergic to. I just know that every year this happens to me. I get it in the fall and I get it in the spring. This must be my spring attack, although it's a bit early if you ask me.

Well, just because I don't feel good, it doesn't mean I get to take time off. I still took Millie to and from school today and went to the grocery store for dinner tonight. It's just a little over an hour before Porter gets home and it will be time to fix a snack and dive into "our" second grade homework. An hour later, Jonathan will be home and he'll need a snack before getting ready for soccer practice. Dinner will have to be ready for him to eat before we start the carpool pick-up.

The good news in all this is Millie is able to entertain herself while I "rest." She just came in from swinging with a big smile on her face. She said she had a surprise for me. Behind her back, she had a couple of weeds. To her, they are beautiful flowers. She said she was so excited because these beautiful flowers mean we were going to have green grass soon and she loves green grass. She has told me several times today that she loves me even when I'm sick. If she keeps bringing me these weeds, I'm afraid I'm going to be sick forever. At least I know she'll love me forever, too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

When Fate Steps In

Yesterday, I ran to the grocery store to pick up one item. I was rather quick and returned to my car without missing a beat. I thought I was ready to return home but I was wrong. The guy next to me had other ideas, or just wasn't thinking at all. He was putting his groceries in his car when I got in mine. I turned it on, looked around, put it in reverse and looked again. Only this time, he was standing behind my car. "OK," I thought, he just needs to take his cart to the cart return (which was not far from my car), I'll wait for him to get back to his car before I go." If I thought he was inconveniencing me before, I was dead wrong. He actually began to take his time. He never made eye contact with me. But it gets weirder. When he gets right behind my car, he drops something. AND SQUATS DOWN TO PICK IT UP! Remember, my car is running and the reverse lights are on...and this is a grown man. Lucky for him, I was aware of what was going on and I was not going to hit him. But, if my kids had been with me and we'd been talking or the lady in Harris Teeter had given them a balloon and that had been blocking my view, things may have been very different, not to mention tragic.
I couldn't help but be disturbed by this. Was it his "La Ti Da" attitude at life? Was it his apparent trust of total strangers to put his wellbeing forefront of everything else in their lives? Whatever it was, we are both seriously lucky fate put me there on a day when I was alone and paying attention.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Baby Steps to Babying Self

I have long wanted to take better care of myself. To re-begin my yoga practice. To eat healthier. To take the supplements my body (as a 40 year old woman) needs. In short, I want to be all that I can be. Part of my struggle has been time. It takes about an hour for a good yoga workout. Finding recipes and doing the shopping for healthier meals (that my family will still eat) requires a lot of work. And, as for supplements, I have no idea where to start. But this week, all that changed. Dr. Oz was on Oprah and he listed all the vitamins/supplements I need. You can find the list at www.oprah.com. Then, while reading my new issue of Real Simple, I happened upon a great new website, zenhabits. Check them out at www.zenhabits.net. It has everything I've wanted to put to work in my life, mind, body, and spirit all in one place. While exploring there, I discovered iGoogle which provided me with a zillion cooking sites. Now, each morning, I receive a page full of links to recipes. Some are even healthy. Finally, today marked the first Thursday of Millie's extended stay at school. She will be there until 2:00, Thursdays only. I used my new-found time to put in an old yoga tape and stretch, pose and breathe. It was divine!
It is just my first week of taking care of myself. It will surely take some reminders (and a trip to the drug store for the supplements) for me to keep it up but I have faith in myself. I believe improving myself will only make my family better. So it's baby steps, one foot at a time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday is here and it has brought with it nausea, loss of appetite, and hope. No, I'm not in need of an EPT. Just a positive turn out in the vote. I have my idea of what a positive turn out would be. My candidate is offering an unprecedented presidency, change from what we've had for the past 8 years, and hope for the masses. The race is tight and I'm nervous. So, just 12 more hours of this before polls close in California. Who knows how long it will take to figure out the numbers. In the meantime, I guess I'll eat small meals of saltines and drink some ginger ale.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

He's Back...

No. Not Arnold, but Joe. After 5 long nights, he has returned. I let the kids stay up until he pulled in which was around 9:30. I even let our (his) one-year old Weimaraner puppy stay up. They were all thrilled to see him. I don't know which of us was more excited. Maisy (the dog) who couldn't stop wagging her tail and licking him, Millie who wanted to talk to him non-stop and do her twirly dance, Porter who wanted to tell him all about his recent air soft escapades, or me who just wanted to watch him with the dog and two kids. (Jonathan spent the night out last night.)
Yes, it had been a hard, long week for both of us. It was so good to have him back and see him return to our little world. This week teaches me one important lesson every year. It is simply this: Although there are times in parenting that I feel I can do a much better job than he can. I cannot, under any circumstances, do it without him. We are meant to do this together, learning from each other and trusting in ourselves.
Welcome Home Joe.

Friday, February 1, 2008

In My Quest To Become Green I'm Approaching Olive Drab

Not everybody's doing it but everybody should be. The state of our planet is in turmoil and we are the only ones around to do anything about it. We cannot take back every plastic bag we've used or every tree we've cut down. We cannot put back the water that we have let run on and on while we were washing our dishes or brushing our teeth. Nor can we replace the fuel we burned unnecessarily or air we tainted with chemicals from our hairspray. But, we can make changes now in how we live that will improve tomorrow. They call it being green.

I'm no different than you. I hear the simple steps that I can take and I want to join the movement. I take my own canvas bags to the grocery store instead of bringing home countless plastic bags that I'd no doubt add to my collection because I'm terrified to throw them away. I use both sides of the paper when I make grocery lists, to do lists and weekly menus for my family. I recycle my wine bottles, beer cans and #1 and #2 plastics from bottles of mixers. So, I'm approaching green but it's not a pretty green. The two cars we drive do not use flex fuel. I've not changed my light bulbs because, frankly, I think the "good" ones are ugly and most of my lamps would have them show. And I don't read labels for environmentally-friendly ingredients. Why? Because I don't know what to look for.

So, I have a lot of work to do before I can feel good about my part in this movement. For now, I am merely two-stepping to Soulja Boy. Which is about as attractive as the color Olive Drab.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Today marks three years since I first saw the face of the little girl God and the kind people in China decided would be my daughter. I remember it (the referral day) so vividly. First came "the call." The words, "Congratulations. You have a daughter!" followed by lots of information on her. Weight, height, the province where she was from, her age, etc. etc. All of it blurred and got all mixed up in my head. Luckily I was busy writing it down because I'd remember none of it. At the end of the conversation, a photo was promised. It would come to my computer inbox within minutes. I must have hit the refresh button a hundred times. And finally, there it was. I opened the email and then the attachment. I was sitting on Joe's lap shaking. As the photo opened I just cried. She was so beautiful! I cried out, "Joe, please tell me if she's ugly because I see the most beautiful little girl ever and I don't know if she really is or if I'm just seeing that." He assured me she wasn't ugly and I cried some more.

Today, I still cry when I remember all of the emotion I felt that day. And, I still look at her and see the most beautiful little girl ever.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Week On My Own - "Groan"

This is the week I dread every year. The week Joe leaves to be a part of the "Big Show." (He works for a golf association and this is their big trade show and learning seminar for the year.) He puts a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears into it each year. So, in reality, I'm without him longer than just the week of the show. There is much planning that goes into it which commands much of his time for weeks prior to the event. This year, the show is falling on Millie's birthday. Last year, it was on Porter's birthday. Last year, it worked out though. The show was in Anaheim and the one thing Porter had asked for was to go to California on a plane. He didn't know Joe would be there for his birthday so we surprised him and he and I went with Joe for part of the trip. We did the obvious Disney stuff and a bit more. It was a birthday he won't soon forget. But this year, it's different. Although the show is in Orlando and there would be the obvious Disney connection, the invitation was not extended to Millie or myself this year.
So, Millie had a party this past weekend. Our theme was a Winter Wonderland. Daddy was here but didn't plan any of the party. He did, however, grunt at the few tasks he was given to help pull off the party. (Yes, I'm still a tad bitter.) All in all, though, the party was a success. But, my Snow Princess turns 4 tomorrow and Daddy won't be here to help celebrate. We will have my folks over for an early present and cake thing. Then Jonathan will go to soccer. Not too eventful. Perhaps we can celebrate again once Joe is home.
In the meantime, I'll do my best to single-parent it and take care of our crazy dogs. I hate this week but I need it just the same. It proves to me just how easy I have it all the other weeks of my life. And, most of all, it shows me how much Joe does do when he's here, even if it is through grunts and groans.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Our First Real Snow

The kids had a long weekend. A five day long weekend. So we prepared to pack up and spend the time at the cabin, or the Ridge, as we've begun to call it. Well, Mother Nature decided to welcome us on our second visit as owners of property in the deep woods of Western North Carolina with the promise of snow. So we juggled our plans and left early. Snow was expected around 9 PM on Wednesday. We left home at 4:30 and pulled into the Hendersonville Wal-Mart just before 9. Joe ran in to pick up two sleds. While he was shopping for the best sleds ever, the flakes began to fall. It was magical. Jonathan hadn't seen real snow in about 8 years. Porter had never seen it and Millie doesn't remember seeing it. So hearing the joy in my kids' voices and the smiles on their faces was so special.

As we pulled into the driveway of the cabin, snow was really coming down. Somehow, we managed to get everyone to bed. By the next morning, the fun began. There was sledding, snowball fights, more sledding, snow man building, and yes, more sledding. Three kids have never had more fun. Then, after hours of fun, there were NAPS! It was truly a wonderful visit. One I hope will be duplicated for years to come.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Judge Not

As I've gotten older, I've perhaps become a bit more wise when it comes to judging people. I see it happen every day, though. Decisions on the type of person someone is, are often made after just a glance. No conversation. No background information. Just a glance. Imagine if this had happened to, say, Snow White. She ran away from home at a young age and took up with 7 men! She exchanged household favors for goodness knows what. And, just where did those favors end? Now, if you actually get inside of Snow White's day, you see she cooked and cleaned for these men. In return, they offered her safety from her wicked step-mother. But, if you don't go there, if you only glance from outside, she's a good girl gone bad.

I think I've always tried to instill in my kids that there are most often reasons we don't know or understand why folks make the decisions they do. For instance, a daughter of an alcoholic may never invite a friend to her home. Is she rude? Not a good friend? Perhaps it looks that way. And, some may shun her. If, however, they got in her life, they'd see the truth. A teenage boy chooses to celebrate New Year's Eve with his mother instead of hang out with his friends. Was it even his choice? Maybe he and his mother have a New Year's tradition. Maybe he's not really the weird kid his friends think he is. Another teenage boy eagerly spends the weekends with this grandparents instead of staying home and hanging out with his friends. Is he out of his mind? Or, is there something going on in his home that he desperately needs to get away from? Something that doesn't happen at his grandparents'?

Things aren't always as they seem. People's actions can have a reason behind them you'd never consider. I will continue to urge my kids to really know their friends. To become the kind of person who is kind and non-judgmental. To give folks the benefit of the doubt before they jump to conclusions and make a situation worse for anyone. I know this is a hard concept for kids. After all, creating controversy for others takes the spotlight off of you. Plainly, kids need the guidance from their parents on this. Unfortunately, there are quite a few who don't get it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You Gotta Love Good Customer Service

Being from a small town, I get to frequent locally-owned stores. There are great advantages to this but the most rewarding thing to me is the wonderful customer service I receive. This morning, I had three days worth of errands to run. (I've been home with a sick child for three days and today was her first day back at school.)

First stop, If It's Paper for birthday supplies for Millie's upcoming 4th birthday party. It's a Winter Wonderland Party. Not only was everything I purchased 50% off because it was considered Christmas, but I was able to catch up with the manager about her little girl who she adopted shortly after we adopted Millie. After a stop at the grocery, it was off to Carolina Girls for a Vera Bradley bag for my niece and a Webkinz for my other niece. Well, Webkinz were buy one get one free so I picked up a second one for Millie's birthday. There were three salespeople working and they all three spoke to me and offered a smile, even though they were also digging through an enormous shipment of boxes. From there, I had to go to Mount Pleasant Music to replace a book Jonathan lost earlier this year. He has a test tomorrow on it and it couldn't wait any longer. Well, wouldn't you know, they were out of the book I needed. But, Mike, the owner, offered to go get me one at a totally different music store tonight. Unfortunately, this will be too late for the test. So, he made a call to that store to see if they had it and is having them hold it for me. Have you ever? Well, I hadn't. This was the nicest thing any store owner had ever one for me. Next, I stopped off at Wild Birds Unlimited to look for some sort of seed house. You know, the houses that are actually made of seeds? The birds eat the whole thing. They had one but it wasn't what I wanted so I settled on a seed bell. After a 10 minute talk with the owner about her friend's bi-polar daughter and a current situation she's having right now, it was time to pick up Millie. (This is a good example of how we're put in the paths of others for a reason. I have a friend who has a family member who is bi-polar and I've heard her struggles. After admitting this to this woman, she talked and talked and talked. She was able to get so much off of her chest that she otherwise would have had to carry with her all day. I'm glad I was there; I hope it helped.)

Something tells me if I'd gone to chain stores for all of my needs thing would have turned out differently.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Me? Electronic Guru?

You've got to be kidding! I promise I'm not a live-your-life-by-your-horoscope person. But I do check it daily just to see. I don't believe horoscopes are any more than bendable predictions. That is, you can twist the meanings to fit any situation. So, I read it more for fun than anything else. And, as evidence to my belief, is today's horoscope. "You have an increased ability to understand electronics." Well, if you only knew how funny this was!

Last night I stole my husband's unused, for over a year now, iPod Shuffle. His brother gave it to him last year for Christmas and it never came out of the box. So, with my 7 year old getting an MP3 this year from Santa, and my 12 year old saving his money for a nearly $300 iTouch, I thought, "Why not? I should have one, too." So I downloaded the software. It was outdated (imagine that) and once running, it prompted me to upgrade. I plugged the thing into the USB port to charge and that's when my problems started. The light that's supposed to be on at this point wouldn't stay on. So I got my husband involved. He touched this, reconnected that, jiggled here, and jiggled there. All to no resolve. So I jiggled, touched and reconnected. And, the light stayed on! Then, an hour later, he turned the computer off...three hours before my charge was to be complete! Argh!

So, this morning I thought I'd try it again. Guess what? The light won't stay on! I jiggled. I reconnected. And, I touched so much of my CPU I think I violated my marriage vows. So, as anyone who obviously "has an increased ability to understand electronics" would do, I visited the Apple site. Went through some question and answer hubaloo that was supposed to solve all of my problems. It didn't. I'm pretty sure my battery is OK since the light is green when I push the battery button. I think my problem is that, for whatever reason, connecting the iPod to the USB doesn't automatically start the iTunes download. So, long story short, I have no way to download songs. Well, at least I tried. Maybe this increased knowledge will kick in by the end of the day and all will be solved.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How do You get where you're going?

This year, many folks received the gift of a Tom-Tom or a Magellan. These are GPS devices, for those of you who don't know. It seems like not long ago one was cutting-edge if she used Google Maps to find out how to get from here to there. But, alas, that's old school now. You're no one if you don't listen to the sweet sounds of the GPS mistress directing you through your day. Personally, I don't have one. I don't want one. And I find the whole thing rather silly. I suppose if I was a traveling salesperson, I may find it helpful. I'm beginning to think that these devices are part of a movement by "Geekies" to dumb up America, thereby solidifying their role as needed for years to come, as they'll be the only ones capable of doing anything anymore. It won't be long before we cannot read maps or communicate with others to find our way. And the ramifications of this are huge. Especially on our humanity. I am a big believer that we are put in the paths of others for reasons. (Call it witnessing, if you like.) Maybe because we have knowledge that they need. Maybe it's because of a shared experience. Maybe it is support. Maybe they just need a smile. Whatever reason, we're messing with the natural flow of the universe here people. Something tells me Tom-Tom and Magellan cannot offer the same warm-fuzzy feeling I get when a stranger smiles at me. The calm I feel and the calm I like to think I give others when I smile at them, which I do at my every chance. I like to make eye contact with people and extend a smile. Now, I won't say I haven't jumped on the impersonal bandwagon at all. I am a big internet/computer user. I choose it over the phone on many occasions. Heck, I even order my pizza online. So, I am guilty. But, for now, and hopefully for a long time to come, you will see me with a paper map or walking out of Gus' Stop 'n Shop, smiling the whole way.

Friday, January 4, 2008

...But I Don't Do Resolutions

My horoscope today said "Now is the time to make those resolutions you've been contemplating." I will say, there are a few changes I've been thinking I may want to make...but resolutions? I really don't do resolutions. It took me a long time to figure out "resolution" is another word for "slow failure." Sure, I've made years worth of resolutions, just like the next gal. And, I've lost sight of these resolutions long before the coming of Spring. There was one year that I did better than the rest. My resolution that year? To put myself first...or at least to think of myself more. I must say, this was a true challenge. Any mother can tell you that. We spend most, if not all, of our time putting everyone (and their needs) ahead of ourselves. It is natural but unhealthy. So this particular year, I became more selfish with myself and my time. I am still a damn good mother. I volunteer. I grocery shop. I feed my family well. I keep all of the clothes clean. But, I do not worry so much about how clean my house is. I do not hesitate to ask my husband for help. I do not try to do it all. I do look at myself in the mirror and find positives. I look at my family and my friends and see the reasons I love each of them. I review my life and realize how lucky I am.

But, I said there were some changes I'd like to make. Those are simple. I'd like to tend more to my friendships. Let those I love know it more often. I'd like to laugh out loud more and smile more at strangers. I'd like to keep singing at traffic lights, out loud for all it's worth. I want to make the joy in my life show to everyone I see. But these are all just changes, not resolutions. Because, I don't do resolutions.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hard Heads Go Bump In The Morning

My husband and my middle child are so much alike it is scary! My mother-in-law says so and I see it, too. This may be why they clash so much. Both get an idea in their minds and don't let go, no matter what. So, it's no surprise that they often pick opposing ideas and stick to their guns, nearly always resulting in arguments. This morning was no different. You need to know that South Carolina is experiencing a very cold snap right now. It was in the teens (wind chill) this morning when Porter left to stand at the bus stop. He hates to wear a coat. Perhaps his coat isn't cool enough, perhaps he thinks he's too cool to protect his flesh from bone chilling temps, I don't know. But, he refused to wear a coat this morning. In anticipation of this repeating argument, Joe and Porter picked out his clothes last night. Two long-sleeved t-shirts and a hoody. Joe assumed Porter realized that all of this would be going under his coat. Porter was certain the coat would not be a part of his wardrobe. After some sharp discussion of the subject, Porter left for school in his sock hat, winter coat hanging in the closet.

As Joe learns to pick his battles, I hope Porter learns, soon, that being cold doesn't make you cool.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hello 2008!

It is with fond farewell that we ushered out 2007 and welcomed in 2008. Obviously, by looking at the date of my last post, we've been quite busy. We accomplished so much this past year; celebrated to the fullest many occasions; lived the best we could. Regrets? We have a few. But, mostly, 2007 was a wonderful year full of second chances at life for a few family members and friends, deeper love in my marriage, a new decade of life for Joe and myself, many laughs with my kids, and a huge leap of faith toward realizing a dream.
December, alone, was probably the most elation-packed month of the year. Joe and I finally closed on a mountain home! This has been a dream of his for as long as I've known him (21 years). This dream became mine, too, after a few years of sharing his life. It took several years of serious looking to find the perfect place, but we did. The location couldn't be better and the house itself is great! We spent New Year's there with the kids and we all had a great time reconnecting. We don't have television so we spent a lot of time playing ping pong or board games, and talking. Even though the mortgage payments haven't yet started, it already feels like money well spent!
So, for 2008, we're very excited to see what awaits us in the North Carolina mountains. We named our cabin LeapStone as it is a huge leap of faith and a stepping stone towards dreams realized. I'll have to find a cocktail that signifies that sentiment...