Thursday, September 3, 2009

I tried a new recipe!

When it comes to sweets, my husband prefers cake over just about anything. He likes cookies too, but something about a homemade cake makes him very happy.

I've started following this blog that gives tons of fantastic recipes. Last night while dinner (BBQ chicken and baked potatoes) was in the oven, I decided to throw a cake together.

I had printed out the recipe for Maple Fudge Sour Cream Cake a couple of weeks back. The only thing in the recipe that I don't always have in the house is sour cream. I had bought it during the last store trip, though, because I knew I wanted to make the cake at some point.

I love recipes that call for items that normal people who love to cook or bake would already have in their kitchen. That's one of the reasons I love this website so much. There are plenty of recipes I've found that I plan to try out in the next few months.

It took just a few minutes to put the cake together. The recipe states it should be baked in a 9x9 in. pan, but all I had was an 8x8 in. pan and it worked out just fine. The icing gave me a bit of trouble. I had to add a little bit more milk after the butter, milk, and brown sugar was boiled together and had cooled down. Adding that milk right after I put in the icing sugar made the icing just the right consistency, though.

This cake has a great taste. My husband liked that the cake part wasn't incredibly sweet. That's how he prefers his cake. The icing was sweet and had a great flavor. I liked that it made a small cake. Sometimes when I bake a cake in my regular cake pan (9x12) it's too much cake for our small family. This cake was perfect after our dinner with a cold glass of milk.

Check out the website for some great recipes. Those Mennonite girls can cook!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I'm borrowing --- okay, stealing! --- Amy's idea for a post. She wrote about what she's looking forward to this month.

September marks the beginning of my favorite time of year. Fall is my favorite season and there is lots to look forward to!

Here's what I'm looking forward to this September:

1. Gary's day off on Monday (Labor Day).

2. Gary's birthday on the 17th.

3. Our wedding anniversary on the the 25th ( 17 years and still in love :))

4. Trips to the lake during the week when everyone else is at school/work! Evan and I get our lake back to ourselves!

5. A new baseball season. First game a week from today. Love to watch Evan play baseball.

6. Settling in to our school routine, so everything becomes a little less harried.

7. Hoping for a short getaway to Blue Ridge, GA with hubby and son --- even if it's just for a day!

I know most people prefer spring, but I think this time of year is so renewing! It's the beginning of great things to come!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Memories and connections

While I was in West Virginia visiting my family, my dad had me go through books that belonged to my Aunt Fran. She was quite a reader and left hundreds of books behind when she died. She had probably given away even more, supplying friends at work and probably some family members with reading material for countless years.

It was the same when I was growing up. I don't know how it started, but she must have noticed I liked to read. From then on, whenever I was at her house, she would give me dozens of books. Often she would just let me go through them and take what I liked.

It's funny how I had forgotten some of that.

Fran and I hadn't been close for a long time. It makes me sad to admit it. Gary and I moved to Georgia in 1993. I wasn't always around for family get togethers. She was a busy career woman. I was busy being a wife and working and then being a mom. We lost touch.

I heard about her life the same way she heard about mine --- through other family members. My grandma would tell me about her. My parents would let me know what was going on with her. Once in a while she'd answer the phone when I was calling my grandma. We'd catch up for a few minutes. A couple of times I sent her an email. That was really the extent of our adult relationship.

The distance --- both physical and emotional --- over the years made it easy for me to forget how very much alike we were. I usually heard from someone in my family when I went back home that I was "just like Fran." It bugged me. Fran was tough, sarcastic, sometimes hard to get along with. I wanted to be the saintly sort of wife and mother that everyone speaks about in angelic tones.

But Fran had a more complex personality than I gave her credit for. She wasn't just tough. She was also very kind. She wasn't just sarcastic. She was incredibly funny. She wasn't always hard to get along with. In fact, many, many people at her funeral talked about what a great friend she was. Loyal. Trustworthy. Giving.

Just a couple of weeks before she died, I was in her room. She was in a lot of pain, so I would try to distract her by talking. Sometimes I would just sit in the room with her. I said something to her about myself, something I never really talked about with other people and she said she was exactly the same way.

She died on January 3rd of this year and I have thought about that moment for months. It was a quick moment of connection, but it left me with a strong sense of family with regards to my aunt. I recognized something in her that was also a part of me and it made me know that we were, in many ways, cut from the same cloth.

In the past six months, I've often wished I could have known her more. I've wished I could go back in time and fight harder to have a friendship with her. I've wished I would have made more of an effort and I've wished she would have too.

I lost my grandma just a few weeks after my aunt died and I knew losing my grandma would be hard. Walking into my grandmother's house (where Fran also lived and where we went to go through Fran's books) and my grandma not being there just felt completely wrong. Looking at my grandma's things made me sad. I miss my grandma. I miss that relationship that I know will never be replaced or recovered.

Mourning Fran has been a different experience. I have so much regret associated with her passing. It feels like part of me that should have grown didn't grow. I feel like I missed out on knowing someone. Even though she had always been part of my life, I feel like I missed out on getting to truly know her. And I missed out on getting to know someone with whom I had so much in common.

Going through Fran's books was harder than I thought it would be. I kept many more than I intended to. Some, like her recipe books, I just had to take. I may never open them again, but I couldn't leave them behind. She had such a love and passion for cooking. I knew she held them in high regard.

One book I didn't hesitate to take was a copy of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have always loved the movie, even years before I moved to Georgia. In fact, I wrote a paper in college about Scarlett O'Hara! As soon as I saw the hardbound copy of the book tucked away in some of my aunt's things, I knew I was going to take it home.

I got it out tonight. It is the first time I've opened the huge tote of books in the 2 weeks I've been home from my trip to West Virginia. I turned to the first page and started reading.

I was surprised by the memory that came to me. This book used to be in my aunt's living room when she lived at Maxwell Hill, years before she moved in with my grandma. I had completely forgotten that. I remembered being at her house, sitting in her living room that she had decorated so nicely. She had worked hard for that home of her own and she was so very proud of it.

The book was on the coffee table. I had walked into the living room during a family get together at my aunt's. I was the only person in there. Everyone else was scattered throughout the house --- some in the dining room, some in the kitchen, others in the TV room. I clearly remember picking up the book, opening to the first chapter and starting to read it. I sat there for quite some time before one of my younger cousins distracted me. I remember putting the book down where my aunt kept it and going off to play.

I don't know why I had forgotten that, but it feels so great to remember it! Maybe the reason I love the movie is because of that early experience reading the book. Maybe my aunt loved the movie too. Maybe that's just another way that we are so alike.

It's true that I'll never get to know her the way I should have when she was living, but I'm so thankful for the moments of connection I can still have that make me realize we were family and much more similar than I could have imagined!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to normal

We're done with vacations, back to baseball, and have started school.

Summer may still be around on the calendar, but the summer attitude has left the building.

And that's kind of okay with me.

My sister blessed me with lots of homeschool materials from BJU and so far it's been going pretty well. I miss Abeka, just because I was so used to it, but my son wants to segue into the online classes at BJU in the next year or so. We need to get used to how they do things.

Things on my plate right now:

1) Getting back on my diet/exercise plan, which I have blown off for the past month. I had 3 visits to King Tut's Drive In during my 2 weeks in WV. A personal best (or worst!). And that wasn't the only bad food I ate! And, even though we were busy the whole time I was there, I didn't exercise as much as I had planned to.

2) Making sure we stay on track with school. We are most successful with homeschooling when we have structure and order. I crave chaos, ergo complications arise. I am determined to stay on top of it this year.

3) Husband is head coaching Evan's baseball team. I am the Team Mom. Lots of extras to do that I have never been responsible for before. It's fun. I've always liked being involved with baseball, but it's just a different avenue. I'm liking it so far.

4) Fighting with our water heater. Such is life. We always have some little aggravation to contend with. Dealing with a leak in the water heater right now. Hoping to get it replaced in the next 2 weeks.

5) I'm playing with the idea of going back to school to get my Masters of Arts in Teaching. I am both excited and terrified of the idea. Found a school nearby that offers it. It's 2 evenings a week. It's something I'm thinking about for next fall. There are tons of opportunities to teach in homeschool-y ways around here. Groups (not co-ops) that offer actual credit for homeschoolers in certain subjects. Plus I am surrounded by private Christian schools that need teachers. I love the idea for the future, so am considering it. It would take me 2 years to get the degree. Again, excited and terrified, so I'm not sure where I'll go with this.

That's it for the time being. I hope to be more prolific with this blog this fall!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The best laid plans . . .

Last Friday I had planned to take on the task of organizing our upcoming school year, but that didn't happen.

Instead I ended up going to the World Series in Jefferson, GA with my son and husband. They left Thursday morning, but I went Saturday afternoon. I'm so glad I did!

We all had a great time. The kids played hard. They didn't win, but they won some games and had fun. My son met kids from Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and other parts of Georgia who all love playing baseball too. They traded pins, they participated in Opening Day ceremonies, they ate bad-for-you concession stand food, they swam in the hotel pool, and ran around the halls in the hotel more than they should have been allowed to. They asked the lady at the hotel desk to make chocolate chip cookies for them and she obliged every single night!

It must have been as close to paradise as you can get for an 11 year old boy!

It was kind of great for my husband and me too to see our son so happy and having so much fun. I'm glad I got the opportunity to go.

We got home Monday evening and the race is on to get everything in order to be ready for our trip to WV next Thursday.

But first --- I'm going to work on those school plans TODAY!

At least that's the plan for now. . .

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Friday plans

My husband and son just left about an hour ago to go to the Dizzy Dean World Series with my son's 11 year old All Star team. I'm not sure how long they'll be gone -- it'll depend on how many games the team wins -- but they'll be away at least 3 nights.

What on earth am I going to do with myself?

Cleaning is always an option. The house is in much better shape since we've had a break from baseball last weekend, but I could always find something to do like deep cleaning, decluttering, etc. So I plan to do a couple of little projects involving cleaning and decluttering.

Another thing I really need to do is work on our upcoming school year. I've been thinking about this a lot, so I was very excited to run across this post from Kris about having a Mom's Retreat.

Kris uses the time to get away from the house and make plans for her family's upcoming school year. I think this is a great idea, but I'm planning on doing this at home tomorrow. Because I'm a total geek, I'm really excited about it!

I don't always take enough time to plan ahead, think about where we want to go with our schooling for the year, or think through the things that are working well or not working at all. I need this time to focus and make some choices about curriculum for the upcoming year.

I can really see the benefit of getting away from the house to do this, but since my house is empty (except for me and our little pug, Smokey) I think sticking around here to plan out the details will work too.

I'll let you know how my Friday "at home" Retreat goes. I'm hoping to get some issues resolved for the upcoming school year so we can start off right.

I'm also checking out this post on planning tips by Kris. I'm getting some great inspiration from her blog!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Music at the Lake

My son and I went to Lake Allatoona this afternoon to soak up some sun. Wednesday is "free day" at the lake. You can park without paying the $5 parking fee. (By the way the fee used to be $3. They just raised it 2 months ago!)

It was a very busy day at the lake. People cooking out, playing at the beach, riding their jet skis, driving their boats. After we had been there about an hour a couple of guys pulled up, unpacked their car, started cooking out, and playing their stereo in their car for all around them to hear.

They actually weren't "blasting" their stereo. We could only hear it so clearly because they were just a couple of picnic tables away from us. Still it annoyed me. I never like to hear loud music being played. My husband even gets annoyed with me because I don't like it being played too loudly in the house, but people playing music outside really IRKS me and I'm not completely sure why.

I remember years ago being at Cranberry Glades with college friends and a college professor and his wife, with whom we were also friends. We did some walking and cooked out. One of the guys suggested pulling out his "boom box" and the professor said "I've never understood why people have to go out in nature and listen to music." So the boom box stayed in the car and I remember thinking I had found a kindred spirit in that loud music hating professor.

Our afternoon wasn't ruined because of the two guys playing music from their car, but it would have been a lot more peaceful if they had just brought their iPods!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Homeschoolers, you should fear me

I got a response from the email I sent to my state senator about a possible bill allowing homeschoolers to participate in public school sports. He was very receptive and said he and some other colleagues were drafting legislation in support of equal access and in support of homeschooling in general.

Very nice to know.

What's not nice to know is that, apparently, in my quest to help my son fulfill his goals, I will personally bring down homeschooling.

I apologize, in advance, for the disruption.

What bothers me about that article in Home Education Magazine is it's like that dude behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.

"Pay no attention to the myriad of homeschooling laws your state has. Forget about the fact that your tax dollars support public education. Try not to remember that your child is subject to standardized testing. Forget all of that and believe it is the homeschooler whose child wants to play sports in public school that will put the final nail in the coffin."

I'm up to here with it. (I'm holding my hand way above my head -- fyi.)

I choose to face reality in this situation. The fact is we have a limited right to homeschool --- we don't have complete homeschooling freedom. We live in a country where the majority of children attend public school, therefore they have the most access to certain undeniable educational advantages. That's a hard truth, but it's still true.

I am willing to make sacrifices to homeschool. And, make no mistake about it, there are sacrifices involved. We spend money that public schoolers don't have to spend in order to educate our son. Plus we pay for other kids to be educated through tax dollars. I wanted to do a science unit study that involved a microscope, but couldn't because the microscope I wanted was so expensive, so we put it off for a while. My son wants to take a homeschool enrichment class in the fall and I'm not sure we're going to be able to afford it.

There are sacrifices.

There are also undeniable advantages to homeschooling. My son can pursue his interests. He loves to learn about World War II. We study a lot about it. He is good at math and I know he doesn't need to go over for the fourth time in a week how to cast out 9s, so we skip that. We are planning a Civil War study in the fall and we'll go to every Civil War cemetery, museum, and battlefield in our area (there are plenty in Georgia) to make that part of history come alive for him in a way it wouldn't if he spent the time just reading about it in a classroom.

Not to mention there is no doubt I have his best interests at heart. I can guarantee he will get what he needs, because I'm willing to fight for it.

So, I get it. I'm on board. I love homeschooling. I'm proud to talk about the great things about homeschooling, but I'm honest enough to admit some things bug me about homeschooling.

Why can't I be sad that my sports loving son won't have access to a competitive sports program if things are not changed? Why can't it bother me that he can only receive the Hope scholarship retroactively if he maintains a good grade in his first year of college? Why can't I worry just a bit about the cost of his college education when he doesn't have access to all of the scholarships that are available to public schoolers?

I belong to two local homeschooling message boards and haven't mentioned my email to my state senator on either of them. Want to know why? I would be blasted for doing it. "We are fine homeschooling and we don't want our freedom taken away because your child wants to play sports."


Just stay behind your curtain. I'll stand there with you.

"Don't think about the four homeschooling families I personally know whose kids now go to public school just so they can have access to the sports programs."

It's hot behind this curtain. I don't think I can stay here much longer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I immediately regretted hitting the send button

I found out a week or so ago that my homeschooled son is not allowed to participate in sports through his local school district. He loves sports. We've always paid for sports programs for him, but some things we can't provide. Like access to a huge baseball, basketball, or football program.

I have mixed feelings about this issue. The thoughts that fly through my head while thinking about this include:

1. We have the right to homeschool.
2. We incur extra expenses to homeschool because we buy our own materials.
3. We still have to pay taxes to our local school district. We don't have the choice to stop that.
4. My son is heading into the sixth grade. The baseball program he is in will only last a few more years.
5. My son loves sports and playing on a team.
6. The homeschool options for teams are not convenient for us.
7. My son has said multiple times that he wants to keep homeschooling through high school (We've told him if he decides he wants to do something besides homeschooling, we are willing to consider it.).
8. It bugs me that we don't even have the option of considering school sports. How can they make us pay for something we don't use then not allow us to use the portion we choose to use?

It makes my head spin.

I read that 24 states allow homeschoolers equal access and that Alabama and Louisiana are considering measures to allow homeschoolers access to public school sports. Armed with that information, I chose to email my state senator to see if any legislation like that is being talked about in Georgia.

So, I sent the email and immediately wished I hadn't sent it because I can only anticipate two responses:

1. "Thanks for your email, but we are not currently considering any legislation regarding this issue."

2. "Thanks for your email, but if you want your son to participate in public school sports, you should enroll your son in public school."

That's it. Those are the only two things I can imagine hearing back from my state senator.

Of course, 24 other states have successfully passed laws regarding this issue, so I'm not sure why I feel so negative about it. Maybe something good will happen.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Congratulations Warriors!

Our Warriors took second place in the 11 year old State B Georgia Dizzy Dean tournament! The boys really did an excellent job!

The last 4 days we have been driving to and from Ringgold, getting home after midnight, and eating yucky fast food. It felt strange to get home last night at around 9:30 p.m., knowing we would not be heading back to Ringgold today. I made tacos and they tasted so great! I forgot how great home cooked meals taste!

The team has practice tomorrow night and then the weekend off. It is our first weekend home since the weekend before Memorial Day. It will be a welcome break.

Next up is the World Series in Jackson County, GA starting on July 16th!

But first a much needed breather! And a whole lot of housework!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Tonight our Acworth Warriors play in the championship game of the Georgia Dizzy Dean 11 year old State B Tournament!

If you happen to be in Ringgold, come by and cheer us on!

Friday, July 3, 2009


We are in the midst of our summer baseball blitz with my son playing 11 year old All Stars for our baseball association. Actually, I guess we're at the end of it. We have our state tournament this weekend, the next weekend off, and the world series the following weekend, then it's over.

The boys have played tournaments every weekend since Memorial Day, so our summer has gone by in a haze of travel, ballgames, and practices. We are looking forward to finishing up, taking a trip up to WV for much needed extended family time, and then getting back to life as normal.

Life as normal includes school and I have been going over so many things I absolutely want to include for Evan's sixth grade year. Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually get it all in? It hasn't happened yet, but one year it may!

I really love the summer with the hot weather, the unpredictable schedule, the novelty of every day, but by August I will be craving the familiar. I'll be ready for the days of schoolwork, the structure, and the predictability of life.

Sorry to be so out of touch with the blog lately. I'm anxious to write about some things when life (and my brain) settle down!

Until then, have a Happy Fourth of July weekend! We will be spending our holiday weekend on the ballfield in north Georgia rooting for our Warriors!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day

Every June it comes around -- another opportunity to tell the man who raised you thanks for doing such a great job.

It seems like kind of a set up, really. Of course, I am never going to tell him he did a bad job. If he'd done such a bad job, how come I turned out so great?

Here's a few thanks I'm sending out to my dad. It's not everything I could thank him for, but that list would take a very long time!

1. Thank you for working hard and sacrificing so much for a bunch of kids you claimed weren't really yours. Family joke. It's funny. Trust me.

2. Thanks for having such a great sense of humor.

3. Thanks for making me go to church. I didn't appreciate it back then, but I'm thankful for it now.

4. Thanks for being dependable. I know without a doubt that I can call you in a crisis.

5. Thanks for teaching me about our family's history.

6. Thanks for the long drives just looking around. I enjoy those drives now with my son too. One day he'll appreciate it.

7. Thanks for helping me with flat tires, empty gas tanks, and money for college.

8. Thanks for keeping such a tight reign on me when I was growing up. Believe it or not, I could have gotten into a lot more trouble than I did!

9. Thanks for spending time with my son and sharing your interests with him.

10. Thanks for staying happily married to my mother for 45 years! P.S. Happy Anniversary!

And Happy Father's Day! Now go take a nap. You deserve it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A hiatus from my hiatus

Quick post because I have some extra time and wanted to share a video!

I'm a Lost fan! I love that show! Tonight is the season finale! Arghh!!! What will I do? How will I cope?

Anyway, here is the sinister Ben (Michael Emerson) on Jimmy Fallon. Funny, funny, funny!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Life is getting kind of hectic with the school year finishing up, recreation baseball ending, and All Star baseball starting. I'm going to take a break for a while from blogging. I'll continue to check on blogs I enjoy reading.

I plan to be back when time is once again on my side.

Enjoy your life!

Friday, April 24, 2009

More dieting blah, blah, blah

What is so difficult about dieting/exercising is you have to continue to make the same good choices day after day.

Boy, would I just like a break from it all! Of course, having a break from it all (a long break) is what got me to this point to begin with.


This afternoon we drove up to the lake and my son spent some time fishing. My husband met us there and on the way home I decided to pick up dinner. My husband had a big lunch, so he planned on eating a bowl of cereal at home. Perfect time for my son and I to eat somewhere my husband normally doesn't like.


I pulled into the drive thru and took some time to look over the menu. Now if I had planned this out, I would have been better off. My Weight Watchers Dining Out book shows the points for food at Bojangles and I hadn't eaten much today. But it was a spur of the moment decision to go to Bojangles and the menu board in front of me seemed loaded with land mines.

I got fried chicken for my son and headed to McDonald's for a salad. I have had the salad many times and knew exactly how many points I would be consuming.

So I never run out of opportunities to make a better choice, nor do I run out of ways to really take a wrong turn in diet world.

What I love about Weight Watchers is that I can have what I want. I just have to make allowances for it. It is the only program I have ever been on that has made me understand the concept of portion control.

I seem to be really motivated right now with the diet and exercise thing. I just have to stick with it and keep making those good decisions.

And every day is another day of facing those choices.

I think I'm going to have to join Weight Watchers officially and start going to the meetings. Having the accountability of the weigh in would be very helpful and a weekly reminder that the choice of whether or not to be successful is really up to me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chick -fil-A

When you are dieting, Chick-fil-A is one of the best fast food places to visit. Sure, these days every fast food restaurant has some type of "healthy" option, but Chick-fil-A's healthier versions taste like there was some actual thought put into them.

The problem is Chick-fil-A is pricey! My son and I stopped by for lunch today and it was over $13! He got the number one meal (Chick-fil-A sandwich with waffle fries and a drink). I got a spicy chicken Cool Wrap and small carrot raisin salad and a medium drink. Spending $13 for two people to eat lunch is crazy!

But it's a treat out. We don't do it every day or even every week, so it's okay. Still I'm always a little surprised when I hear the total.

Here's a little video for all of us who have a fondness for Chick-fil-A!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yep, I'm old

I have a niece and nephew who are both attending my old alma mater, Concord College, except now it's called Concord University.

That's not why I think I'm old, though.

I was talking to my niece, Sam, who lives on campus. I asked her what my old stomping grounds were like now. I asked if they still showed movies once a month at the Student Union.

That was a big deal back in my Concord Days. It was always a recent movie and people would pile into chairs and couches to catch the movie. How great was that? Watching a good movie you didn't have to drive several miles for (or in my case catch a ride with someone who had a car!). Plus you didn't have to pay to see it!

Sam told me they didn't show movies like that anymore, but they do have an XBox and a Playstation in that area now.

What a shame, I was thinking when she told me that. Those poor kids don't get to experience the thrill of gathering together to see a movie!

Then I remembered it's 2009 and every college student has a laptop they can use to play DVDs. And I'm sure most of the kids have DVD players in their rooms.

The cable television at Concord --- which used to have about 13 channels when my husband and I were living there --- has also greatly improved. They have tons of channels now! Those spoiled kids get everything!

They don't have to wait once a month to see a movie. They don't have to become friends with the only person on their floor that has a VCR so they can rent a movie to watch. They don't have to run from class to their room to make a phone call, because they're all walking around with CELL PHONES!

By the way, Sam and Chris, I didn't have a car on campus. Is the Deli Mart still there? That's where I used to WALK to get some chips and pop to keep in my room as I watched ABC's movie of the week.

Hope you guys are having a great semester!

Here's a little music from back in the day, specifically for my hubby! Hey, honey! You're old too, but it's Friday, so smile!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Should I have tipped her?

We use a mobile groomer for our little pug, Smokey. She does a good job with the dog and she's been coming to our house about every few months or so for the last couple of years.

The price is pretty good. She charges $45 for each visit. She bathes him, brushes out all the "underfur", trims his fur if it needs it, clips his nails, and cleans out his ears. She does everything in her van and I love the convenience of it.

I've thought about cutting out this expense, because we end up bathing him at home too. But cutting his nails is a pain and the bath I give him is nothing like the one she gives him. I figure I'm actually paying about $15 a month for her service, sometimes maybe a little more and that seems like a good deal to me.

I've been a bit of a neglectful dog owner lately. We got the dog groomed in late December and I think I have given him a bath once since then! Smokey was a mess! And I told her that. I felt bad that the job she normally does for us was going to be a little bit harder than normal.

Here's the question: Should I have tipped her?

I thought about it, but ended up just writing the check for the usual amount. I remember reading in some article long ago that you shouldn't tip the business owner. Also, I thought, why tip her for bathing my dog, which is what I'm PAYING her to do? And, oh yeah, I'm kind of cheap.

Sure, he was a little messier than he normally is. Maybe a little smellier. But he's an indoor dog. It's not like he's out digging in the dirt or swimming in a pond.

So, I decided no tip, but was that the right thing to do?

Monday, April 13, 2009

I can't face the book

A girl (okay, now a woman!) I went to church/school with years ago looked me up the old fashioned way recently. She called my parents and got my phone number.

She called a couple of weeks ago and we caught up on the last 10 years or so. It's been that long since we have spoken! I hate to think I am old enough to go without talking to someone for 10 years!

Anyway, she asked if I was on Facebook. I told her no and she told me I should join up.

Should I really?

I know several bloggers I read are on Facebook. I am mildly interested, but here are the reasons I have not joined Facebook:

1. I already spend too much time on the computer.

2. I don't like the fact that I have to give my last name. I'm paranoid like that.

3. I already have two blogs that I ignore. I don't need something else screaming for my attention.

4. I'm afraid it might just be a gateway to something worse --- like Twitter. (My apologies to those who currently Twitter.)

So, those are my thoughts. I'm saying no to Facebook, but I would be interested to hear from Facebook users. What's so great about it?

Monday, April 6, 2009

A lovely week off!

We're spring breaking this week and it's starting in a less than stellar way.

Our fuse is out on our dryer, so I'm taking a couple of loads to the laundry mat to dry this afternoon. We lived the first 5 years of our marriage without a washer/dryer (including the first 5 months of my son's life!). I do not enjoy laundry mats. I've looked for the joy there and it does not exist!

Hopefully, the part for the dryer will be here tomorrow and my lovely dryer will be fixed tomorrow night!

Also, the weather is crazy! It's only supposed to be in the 40s today and tomorrow and we have a slight chance of snow flurries overnight, with freezing temps. I'm sure it won't accumulate, but even these cold temps with a chance of snow this time of year for us is very unusual!

It's going to be a hot cocoa night for sure! We're going to make the most of it! Temps should be back in the 60s by Wednesday!

Maybe these late cold temperatures will lessen the mosquito population this summer!

Gotta look on the bright side!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Diet lessons

I've been on this diet/workout thing for several weeks now. It's the longest I've stuck to something designed to make me healthy for a long time.

Gone are the days where I would just shove snacks into my mouth without thinking. I don't just stop at McDonald's randomly anymore while I am out. I don't consider eating a box of Whitman's Sampler a "snack" anymore!

Well, we'll see how I do with the Easter candy.

Anyway, here are some things that have been interesting to me as I have been on this diet:

1) I feel better after I exercise. I get kind of a rush that lasts the whole day. When I skip exercising, I actually miss it. I just want to do something more than ride my recumbent bike now. We've had 4 days of rain, but once it clears (should be outta here by Sunday), I'm going to start walking in my neighborhood.

2) I get cranky when I don't eat. I haven't experienced that much before because seems like I was always eating (which is the reason I need to diet!). My husband has always said he can tell when his blood sugar drops when he's skipped a meal or is late eating a meal. I've never experienced that until lately.

Example of my crankiness: Yesterday I had cereal and a snack bag of chips. I didn't eat more than that because I wanted to go out to eat last night after my son's baseball practice (an indoor practice, because of the rain). We were at that facility for about 2 1/2 hours. So, by 8:30 p.m. I was beyond cranky. I was really cranky! We ended up going out to eat and I was okay, but it's funny how much skipping a meal can affect your mood.

I have to work on not skipping meals. It really just sabotages me in the end. As is evidenced by the pizza and fries I had last night for dinner. I also had a salad, but the food choices were not good!

3) I'm an emotional eater. Because I have not been eating through my emotions as much lately, I cry more now than I have in years! I also seem to have more bad dreams. That may be because a lot of stressful things have been happening lately, but it might also be because my way of coping with stress (eating) is not available to me. I think the exercise helps the stress, though.

4) Things aren't as much as an aggravation to me lately. I'm more willing to try different things. I'm not as annoyed by a day filled with lots of things to do. I think my overall attitude is more positive.

So that's that. I just have to keep going. I have a long way to go. I have a lot of weight I want to take off. I just have to go forward and not backward.

I'm considering joining Weight Watchers. I've been following the plan at home, but I think the support of the meetings, the accountability of the weigh ins, and the ability to track my progress could all really help me in the journey.

New recipe to try this week that is related to health: Tammy's Strawberry Green Smoothie. I'm going to make them this afternoon, which is a hard time for me to stay away from snacking!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Morning Routine

I'm following Tammy's lead and listing 5 things I plan to do every morning! I love making lists!

My Morning Routine:

1) Exercise on my recumbent bike
2) Breakfast
3) Bible devotions with my son
4) School
5) Mid-morning walk (weather permitting) while my son rides his bike

Of course, schoolwork will continue after the walk!

Visit Tammy for more routines!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Reflections of a 38 year old

Yesterday was my birthday.

I never used to think about my birthdays much, until I turned 35. I remember being kind of melancholy on my 30th birthday, but it quickly passed. For some reason, though, 35 hit me hard. Every year since then, the hits keep coming.

It's not really about my age. I don't regret getting older. I don't mourn my youth. I just see time passing by more quickly every year and it's hard to get my breath. I wish I could just slow things down. I wish I could just see it all more clearly.

I love being on the ball field. I think being on the ball field, watching my son play ball is the way I would like to live my life.

I'm so focused when we're there. I'm not thinking about what I have to do next. I'm not planning tomorrow. I'm not trying to multitask. I am just there watching the pitches, watching the hits. Nothing is going on except the ball game.

I want to live more like that, because my day to day life is streaking by me. At breakfast, I'm thinking about the day of school work ahead. As we do school work, I am thinking about housework that I need to do. When I'm doing housework, I think about bills I need to pay. When I'm paying bills, I'm thinking about dinner and my husband getting home.

Even as I write this post, I am thinking about what I need to do next.

And I never really appreciate the moment that I am experiencing.

Except nights like last night, when I sat at the ball field on my 38th birthday and thought to myself I am just happy to be here, enjoying this time, this moment.

Maybe all these thoughts are just a part of getting older and hopefully wiser. What I really think it's about, though, is seeing the time slip away and realizing I have fewer moments left than I had yesterday.

I'm determined to change things. I'm determined to live in the present. Thoughts of the future or the next task will always be there, of course, but I want to value what I'm going through as I am living it.

So my new philosophy is "I'm going to live life like I'm on the ball field and take it one pitch at a time."

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to have a happy Monday morning

Take two biscuits from last night's dinner:

Split them open:

Add butter:

Take the Chocolate Gravy you made:

Pour it onto the yummy, steaming, buttered biscuits:


For my mom and sisters (who may be checking in on my blog): I only had one bite!!!!

And I feel deprived and lousy.

But my son is smiling!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Things that are none of my business

My son has friends in the neighborhood. A couple live on the next street over. A couple more live on the other side of our street.

They all love to get together and play. Since the weather has been warmer that involves getting out in our yard and running around like maniacs. They are playing some type of elaborate hide and seek game. I try not to get involved with the details. I just listen to the running and screaming.

I truly love when he has friends over. I love to hear them playing. It doesn't even bother me when they drink up all my bottled water. :)

What does bother me is the little boy across the street who is my son's age (11, in 5th grade) is CONSTANTLY on "restriction." They don't say he's grounded. They say he's on restriction. It really makes me feel bad today because all the kids are out playing and he's in the house on restriction.

This boy has been to our house countless times and he's spent the night before. He's always so polite, so nice. Sometimes he says the word c-r-a-p too often, but that's better than the alternative, I suppose.

I just wonder why he's on restriction so much. His mom told my son today that he's on restriction because he had some bad papers in school. Is it always because of bad papers, I wonder.

As my title suggests, I know it's none of my business. And I certainly don't have all the answers when it comes to effective discipline. Truly, I don't. Not even close. I just hear the kids playing outside and knows he hears it too and it makes me sad.

Of course, maybe it will make him do better with his work, who knows? One thing I do know is I would have a hard time keeping my son from playing with his friends.

I'm a sucker that way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beautiful day!

The current temperature is 79 degrees!

I love it!

We spent a couple of hours this afternoon at Lake Allatoona, which is about a 15 minute drive from us. While I was there, I thought about my poor husband slaving away at work to make it possible for me to stay home and enjoy days like today with my son!

I called him to share the experience, but it wasn't the same.

The day was warm and sunny, with a slight breeze. There were several boats on the lake. A few people were fishing. My son went wading in the water. His feet smelled like fish, so I made him shower when we got home.

Here's a question: Why do I seem to forget how to exist in the warm weather during the gloom of winter?

My son's first baseball game was Saturday. We knew it was going to be in the 70s. His game was at 1 p.m. We all ended up with sunburns because I forgot the sunscreen!

How many times have I lathered us all with sunscreen before a ball game? Still, I forgot the sunscreen!

We took lunch to the lake today and, again, I knew the weather would be good. I remembered the sunscreen, but I forgot to have my son take some shoes he could wear in the water, a towel, shorts or swim trunks, and a change of clothes. AND we forgot his fishing pole!

I seem to have some sort of warm weather memory problem. It's funny that I rarely forget things like jackets or umbrellas, but I do forget how to behave in sunny, glorious weather!

Regardless of my faulty memory, we had a perfect afternoon!

Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 71, so we might go back. We have cooler temperatures and some rain coming this weekend, so we might as well enjoy it while we can!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Taming the Beast within

I'm on a diet.

No, I am not calling it a life change. No, I am not saying it's my new eating plan.

I'm hungry. I feel deprived. I'm mad at everyone who can eat.

It's a diet.


My Sugar Monster is rearing it's ugly head and it wants access to something yummy!

I've been searching for alternatives to the bad stuff, things that will give me actual nutrition, but also make me feel like I am having a treat.

Hello, Beautiful! Where have you been all my life?

I've never been one for desserty yogurts. I've always stuck to the fruit ones. I love peach, blueberry, cherry, pineapple. The Pina Colada flavor is about as wild as I have gotten.

But the Sugar Monster put me in search of other alternatives and I came across the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Yogurt from Yoplait. It's 110 fat-free calories of delicious.

And it's helping me get through another day of my new lifestyle, eating plan, nutrition and energy focused DIET!

Next time I'm going to try some of the chocolate ones and see if I can get this monster off my back!

Here's what's taking up a lot of my time today!

I mentioned before that I love sites that have free resources for homeschoolers/teachers. A lady from a local mailing list I belong to pointed out a website created by Cindy Downes, an Oklahoma homeschooler, with ideas for recession-proof homeschooling!

I've been looking through all the different links this morning. It's a lot to take in, but I've come across several things that will work for us in the upcoming weeks as we plow through to the end of the school year.

Ms. Downes offers a good list of composition project ideas. I'm trying to find ways to make writing more interesting for my son. I let him have his own blog to try to encourage him to write, but I want to encourage more paper and pen writing too. The list is a great step in that direction, with ideas like creating a travel guide focusing on a country being studied and writing a Consumer Guide about a product that might have been available during a time period being studied. I would have never thought of fun things like that!

Ms. Downes also points out other websites that have good ideas. My son just this morning started working on his Amazing Animal Alphabet book. From the name of this project, you might assume it's a bit "babyish" for a 5th grader, but it actually reinforces several skills.

My son is using the dictionary to look up animals that start with the letter A. He's also looking for adjectives, action verbs, and adverbs that start with A. Next he's using some of those words to come up with a silly sentence such as "An angry alligator ate Allen." Then he will draw an illustration for the sentence and use colored pencils and markers to complete the drawing. Really, you can make this as simple or complicated as you want to fit varying age levels.

There are plenty of other good things on the site, so be sure to check it out. Even if you aren't a homeschooler, you can find some cool projects to do with your child.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grocery savings

Friday night's trip to Wal-mart made me realize what I had long expected.

Wal-mart is not saving us a dime.

The milk is more expensive than the milk at Kroger. Most of the other stuff is either the same or just a few cents less than regular price somewhere else. Plus if another place is having a good sale on something, it's cheaper to buy it there than to always expect Wal-mart to have the lowest price.

What a bummer!

For the last few weeks, I have been keeping up with the receipts from the shopping trips, just so I could compare. I have also been looking at sales ads like they contain the winning numbers for the upcoming lottery.

It takes some time, but it's starting to pay off.

I love to shop at Publix. I love everything about that store. The produce is the best, the meat is the freshest, and I just like it. Publix has Buy one, get one free offers every week. And those BOGOs are for good stuff that we use around here like cereal, bread, pasta, pasta sauce. It's not just buy one useless thing, get another.

Armed with coupons from the paper, I've started taking advantage of those BOGOs, more than I ever did before. I've also started finding out what's on sale BEFORE I plan a menu for the week. How elementary is that? Still, it's not how I did things before. I always just decided what we were going to eat and then shopped for what we needed. That's no way to take advantage of sales!

Last week, Publix had pork chops on sale. We had pork chops. This week they have ground beef on sale. We're having various recipes starring ground beef. They also have a good sale on canned chicken. I'm getting that for chicken salad. I usually buy Nature's Own whole wheat bread, but the honey wheat is on sale this week, so we're getting honey wheat.

Here's something I would never have thought about buying at the regular grocery store: HAIR COLOR! Boy, my gray is getting the best of me and I have a coupon for $3 off the brand I am partial to. Guess what? This month Publix has that brand on sale for $6.99, so I am going to get my hair color for just $3.99! I'm gonna wash that gray right out of my hair! Publix has a good sale on toilet paper, which beats the price I pay at Wal-mart. Plus, I have a coupon! Toilet paper is something else I thought I could never buy anywhere but Wal-mart.

Kroger has some good deals, but our Kroger is not the greatest as far as quality goes. Still Publix can't beat Kroger's price for a gallon of milk (Publix is the same as our Walmart -- $2.99, Kroger's milk is $2.59!), so we'll be getting the milk from Kroger. My husband passes right by Kroger every night, so picking up that milk is not a big deal for him.

While I am partial to Publix, I'm going to keep an eye on Kroger and might plan to pick up some other things there at some point. They do have the extra money off gas when you buy $100 worth of groceries at the store. That might make spending at least $100 there a month worth it.

CVS has a good deal this week. Buy $20 of products off the first page of their circular and get a free 6 pack of Charmin Big rolls. The products on the front page that I will be buying include Tide (their price beats the price I just paid at Wal-mart), Cascade, and Bounty Basic paper towels. I have coupons for all of those items as well.

Frugal Coupon Mom was on Dr. Phil today, talking about how she saves money. I checked out her website and I have a lot to learn. Still I'm doing better than I was! And in the next few weeks I hope to be doing even better still!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring is on the way

My son had a practice baseball game Monday night. When we got to the field at 5:15 p.m., the temperature was around 45 degrees. The game started around 6 and by 7 it was 41 degrees and windy. I gave up trying to cheer and went to wait in the warm van. By the time the game was over it was 37 degrees and my son and my husband (who helps coach the team) were frozen!

But signs of spring are all around me.

My daffodils are blooming. My son brought one in to me this morning. Very sweet!

We treated ourselves to lunch out this afternoon at Wendy's. We drove to the state park that is about 10 minutes from our house and ate there. On the way I noticed some of the trees have buds on them. It was still a little chilly, so we ate in the car, but got out afterwards. I sat at the concrete picnic table and watched my son skip rocks in the lake.

The high today was around 57. Tomorrow it is supposed to be around 64 and on Thursday 67! We are expecting some rain, but it'll be nice just to have some warmer temps!

I'll try to forget that Saturday overnight is going to be back in the 20s, with a high on Sunday of 46. I'll just take the warm days when I can get them!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gee, I should blog more often

I'm pretty good about reading blogs, but not so great about writing.

Some of the things that have been eating up my time lately include:

1. Keeping up with housework better. After coming back from WV, I was a little down and my little bout of depression certainly did not help my work get done. I'm doing better about it this week.

2. My husband bought me red roses for Valentine' Day! I was shocked because money is tight, but the $15 bouquet he got from Wal-mart was beautiful!

3. For another Valentine's present, my husband and son cleaned my living room (decluttering, dusting, vacuuming), hubby cleaned the toilets, and swept and mopped my kitchen! Their hard work has really encouraged me to try to get over my blues. This week has been drastically more upbeat.

4. Cooking, cooking, and more cooking! Gosh! I didn't realize how much we ate out until we cut back on it. Last night while the guys were gone to baseball practice I made Old Fashioned Apple Cake. It was really good. It calls for 2 cups of sugar and I think next time I'm going to try to cut down to 1 1/2 cups. It was super sweet. I used Gala apples. Maybe that has something to do with it.

I also rewarded my guys for all their cleaning by making what is now our absolute favorite way to have chicken: Amish Style Oven Fried Chicken. This chicken is consistently good. I've been using a whole chicken cut up for the recipe. Next time I think I'm going to just get legs and thighs for a change. Those are the pieces we seem to like the best.

5. Homeschooling! We are hoping to finish up by the 3rd week in May and things have been going good with meeting that goal. My son is doing great!

Okay. There's a post! I feel better now!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A meme for me

I grabbed this from Angela because, like her, I wanted to post something, but am not feeling very inspired!

1. Make a list of things you can see without getting up: My entire living room because I am on my husband's laptop on the love seat.

2. Favorite football team: pro - Atlanta Falcons (I really don't watch professional football, but that's who my hubby roots for!); college - West Virginia University!!!

3. What are you wearing now? Black knit pants, short sleeved blue shirt with my favorite yellow sweatshirt over it.

4. What color is your bedroom? Just painted yellow last fall! It's cheerful!

5. What’s the last thing you read/are currently reading? Just finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, am getting ready to start Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas. I've read both books before. I need to get to the library.

6. Do you nap a lot? No.

7. Who was the last person you hugged? Evan.

8. What’s your current obsession/addiction? I'm really motivated with cross-stitching lately.

9. What was the last thing you said aloud? "That's cool!" in response to my son.

10. What web sites do you always visit when you go online? The blogs I keep up with.

11. What was the last thing you bought? Bottled water, chips, and chocolate milk on the ride back from WV from a convenience store while hubby was walking the dog.

12. What are you listening to right now? My son playing MLB on his Playstation. He just beat me a few minutes ago and is playing solo before time to take his shower.

13. What is something you wish you could do more? Visit family in WV.

14. If you could have any super power, what would it be? The power to teleport.

15. What is your favorite weather, and why? I like sunny days with just a hint of chill in the air. I love being outside on days like this when it's not too hot, but it's not cold.

16. What time do you usually get up? I try to be up by 7:30 a.m.

17. What is your most challenging goal right now? Exercising and eating right.

18. Say something to the person who tagged you: Nobody tagged me, but, Angela, thanks for the idea!

19. If you could have a house–totally paid for, fully furnished–anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? I know it would be a farm somewhere in West Virginia or in northern GA.

20. Favorite vacation spot? West Virginia to visit family. I also like stopping in Tennessee --- the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area.

21. What is your favorite children’s book? The Little House series, even though I never read it when I was a child. I only read it a few years ago. My favorite little, little kid's book is Goodnight Moon. I read that to my son every night for YEARS! Even though I have packed up a lot of his little kid books, that one is still on his bookshelf.

22. Name one thing you just can’t resist no matter how bad it is for you: Fast food. Sometimes it's just so convenient, it's hard not to fall into that trap.

23. If you could meet anyone famous - dead or alive - who would it be? Corrie ten Boom and her entire family.

24. Have you ever met anyone famous? If so who? I can't remember meeting anyone famous. Guess I would remember it, if I had.

25. If you could have any job in the world , what would it be? I'm already doing what I want to do --- stay at home, homeschooling mama.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I am incredibly unmotivated

We got back from WV last night. It was a fast trip. We left early Thursday morning. Quick trips like that EXHAUST me.

Maybe that's why today has been so hard.

I exercised. For the first time in about 2 months. That's progress.

I homeschooled my son. We actually got more done with that than I had planned. He has a Language Arts test tomorrow that I still have to type up. Rats!

I unpacked our bags. Everything went into the hampers, so I have washed 2 loads of clothes and will wash another load or two before bed.

I cooked brunch for my son and I. Bacon and eggs. We ate late this morning, because I got caught up in unpacking. I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. What a gourmet I am!

I balanced our checkbook, made a menu, and wrote out a store list. We are really low on groceries.

I thought about going grocery shopping. I put off grocery shopping until tomorrow.

Sadly, that is the extent of things I have done.

I have things from my grandma's house that I have to unpack, but I don't feel like doing that today.

I have to help my son study for his Language Arts test on modifiers.

Mostly right now I just feel like going to bed.

Ever have one of those days?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Yummy Strawberry Cake

I saw on Stephanie's blog that she hosts a First on the Firsts encouraging people to share something they've made from scratch for the first time. I've been trying to add some new recipes to my table lately, so I thought joining in with Stephanie's venture would be a good encouragement! Here's my first entry!

Okay, it was supposed to be Blueberry Cake, but my husband doesn't like blueberries, so I changed it. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of blueberries, I used 1 1/2 cups of strawberries.

I happened to get the most scrumptious fresh strawberries ever! They smelled fabulous, they looked fabulous. Hey, isn't it winter? Right. That must be why they were so expensive.

When I saw the cake on Randi's website, I knew I'd have to give it a try. I enjoy baking cakes, but have only used fruit in cobblers. My husband's not a big fan of cobblers. This cake seemed like a good choice.

I had to look at the recipe a couple of times to be sure I wasn't forgetting anything. Still I managed to overlook the part that said to mix the sugar and cinnamon together before sprinkling it on the cake. I sprinkled them on separately and I didn't do a great job at the sprinkling, but the cake still tasted wonderful!

So, this cake was a first for me, but it definitely won't be the last time I make it!

Check out Stephanie's blog to share your Firsts on the First!

Except next month I'll try to get the date right!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Going on

This weekend has gone on even though thoughts of my grandma are always there. We've had some errands to run, getting ready for our trip up to WV on Wednesday to go to my grandma's wake and funeral. My son started baseball practice last night. I sent my husband and son to Walmart today and I'm here cleaning up the kitchen and getting ready to cook lunch.

It's all so incredibly normal and I feel a little guilty about it.

I feel guilty because she's gone and my life is going on. I know that sounds crazy. She was 89 and even though we didn't think she'd go so soon, it wasn't as if we didn't know it would happen in the near future.

My life will, of course, go on (Lord willing.). I have things to take care of like a home and family. My husband and son will still do the weekly stickball this afternoon. We'll watch the Super Bowl tonight. Well, they will and I'll sit there and cross-stitch and pretend to be interested.

Tomorrow morning my husband will go to work. I'll school my son and probably be aggravated that I have to pick up 20 pairs of socks off the floor. I'll do laundry. I'll cook meals and wash dishes. Life will proceed as normal.

But in the back of my mind all week, I'll remember that she's not there anymore. She's not in that house in Beckley going about her day. I'll think about the fact that there's no one to call anymore and check on at that phone number. No reason for me to send cards that read "To my Grandmother" to her address. No reason to remind myself to pick up the phone on December 3rd every year to wish her a happy birthday.

I'll never hear her say my name again. Never get another card from her. I'll never again be able to ask her what it was like to be a wife and mom back then. I'll never hear her talk about her life or try to convince her to pull out those pictures so I can see her and my grandfather at the beginning of their life together. I'll never hear her use those unique expressions she has that no one else ever says.

And those special moments when I realize that this woman and I who share a middle name also share other traits won't happen anymore. I won't be able to discover anything else new about her.

It's difficult, but I draw some comfort from the fact that she lived these moments too. She was a wife and mom who lost family members and had to go on. She was a caretaker who had to make the best of things.

Even when the worst things were happening to her, like losing her daughter just a few weeks ago, and dealing with the uncertainty of her own health, she'd say "But you have to go on, Tina, because what else can you do?"

She's right. What else can you do? You go on, praying to ease the pain that losing her has caused. You pray for your family who are dealing with all the details. You thank God that she lived to the age of 89 and thank Him that He let you keep your grandma for so long.

You prepare for the little rituals, the customs of saying goodbye to her. A wake, a funeral, a graveside service. The meal at the church she was a member of for so long aftewards with family.

You tell stories, you spend time with family. You cry, you laugh, you cry some more.

Then you come home. You cook meals, do laundry, school your son, pick up socks.

You go on, remembering her, because what else can you do?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I heart cross-stitching

A year or so ago they opened a store near my parents' house called The Amish Barn. I visit that store as often as I can and I always find something to buy.

You don't see a lot of Amish-y stuff in Georgia, but Amish stuff is BIG in West Virginia. My sister lives in Greenbrier County and near her is a store owned by a Mennonite family. They sell meat, cheese, and assorted other groceries. They have a separate building that houses their bakery. Yep, that's right. A bakery. I love going to that bakery!

The Amish Barn is not owned by Amish people (of course!), but they sell items made by the Amish. They have some really nice furniture. I have plans to buy some furniture from them one day. They also have food stuff. My son likes a particular type of seedless black raspberry jam and they carry it. I can't remember the particular brand. I just know it when I see it.

They also sell pictures, frames, candles, and some primitive-type things. Last year I started buying these cute little cross-stitch projects from them. They are from the Gentle People Collection from Douglas Designs out of Arkansas. The designs all feature "plain" people doing "plain" things. I bought one that is a lady picking apples from an apple tree. Another is called "Corn Man" featuring a man in a corn field.

Here's one that is finished showing a mother with a mixing bowl and a little boy in front of her with flowers behind his back. It's called "Surprise!". I framed it just to see how it would look, but this is not the frame it will stay in.
After I get this set of 3 finished, I plan to put them in simple wood frames and hang them in my kitchen. I've been cross-stitching since I was in my early teens and these designs are basic, but finishing them just makes me very happy!

I really love to cross-stitch!

There's a website address on the designs I bought from the Amish Barn, but it doesn't work. I did find Jeanette Douglas Designs, but haven't been able to find the Gentle People Collection from her site. Maybe it's not the same place.

I'm hoping to cross-stitch all my female relatives something this year! I gotta get busy!

Oh, my heavens!

Last night I made Amish Style Oven Fried Chicken that I got from Farmhouse Blessings. It was delicious.

You know what? Delicious just doesn't do it justice. It was the BEST chicken I have ever made and I've made lots of chicken. My husband (who can be a little picky) could not stop raving about it. And my son begged me to make it again this week.

And it wasn't just delicious. It was pretty. Pretty chicken? Yes, pretty chicken. I should have gotten a picture, but after we started eating we couldn't put the chicken down long enough to pick up the camera. The chicken quickly disappeared.

That chicken is going in my permanent recipe box.

I had mashed potatoes and biscuits along with the chicken. I should have made a vegetable, but I was late getting dinner on the table and I was a little flustered. By the time the biscuits were done, we just wanted to eat.

Actually, everything I have made this week has gone over big.

I made Potato Soup on Monday, another recipe from Lea at Farmhouse Blessings.

I'll make an embarrassing confession here. I have NEVER made potato soup. My husband and I will be celebrating our 17th anniversary in September and I am just a few years shy of 40 and I have NEVER made potato soup.

I know it's silly, but I was a little intimidated by making this soup. I thought for sure I was going to mess it up. Actually, I did forget the butter, but the soup was still very good. I think I went a little overboard with the pepper, still it didn't make it bad. The soup was just peppery.

I didn't get biscuits made to go with the soup like I had planned. Next time I think I'm going to make Amish White Bread to go with the soup. I made this bread from Tammy's Recipes on Sunday and it was fantastic. I've used Tammy's recipe for Homemade Wheat Bread before and it always comes out great, but I have never made homemade white bread.The Amish White Bread was simple to make and had a great texture and flavor. The next time I try it I might turn it into rolls rather than a loaf of bread. I think that can easily be done after letting the bread rise the first time by placing three small balls of dough together in a greased muffin cup. After giving it some more time to rise, it should bake into a nice dinner roll. I'll be testing it out the weekend.

I've made chocolate chip muffins twice this week, once on Saturday and again on Tuesday. My son is a big fan of the store bought chocolate chip muffins. You know the overpriced ones that come from the bakery? Well, the recipe I got from Born Blonde was perfect. I thought the batter needed more liquid, but decided to trust her judgment (since she has, you know, actually made the muffins before!). She was right. The batter was perfect. The muffins were delectable!

It's a nice breakfast for my husband and son. I like that my husband can just grab them and go. (He prefers to eat in the car. It makes his 2 hour commute just a bit more tolerable.) I also like that I can fix them the day before and let my son eat them for breakfast. I'm not always in the mood to cook first thing in the morning. This is a good alternative for my son who has never liked breakfasts that are convenient for me. He won't eat cold cereal. Breakfast bars are not his thing. Poptarts are something he can take or leave. Chocolate Chip Muffins? Those are a winner.

I'm going to try these muffins later this week with strawberries instead of the chocolate chips. I think they'll be really good that way too.

So, it's Thursday and it's been one week since my family has eaten dinner out. That's a record, people! I'm still having trouble with lunch ideas for my husband. Here's the scoop. Maybe you can help!

He's not crazy about sandwiches. He'll eat them once in a while, but sandwiches for lunch every day is not something he enjoys. He doesn't have a microwave. Any suggestions? Maybe a thermos that will keep soup or something warm. I've even thought about buying a small microwave and having him take it to work. The cost versus eating out would make the investment worth it, I think.

I'm going to do some more research about it. Leave suggestions, if you have any!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday -- No Eating Out!

I spent some time last week working on our taxes. What a thrill! I also took the opportunity to add up how much was spent last year on eating out. The total was embarrassing! Therefore, I have determined to make it through an entire week without eating out. I'm ashamed to admit that would be quite an achievement for our family.

I looked over several blogs for some inspiration and came up with a menu with a little help from bloggy friends! I plan on taking some pictures this week of the things I'm cooking. I'm kind of excited about it!


B - Oatmeal or cereal, toast
L - Egg salad sandwiches, soup
D - Potato Soup, biscuits


B - Chocolate Chip Muffins
L - Leftover soup from Monday dinner or leftover egg salad sandwiches
D - Pinto beans, fried potatoes, biscuits


B - Oatmeal, toast
L - Sandwiches, soup
D - Amish Style Oven Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, salad


B - Oatmeal or cereal
L - Sandwiches, soup, or leftovers from dinner on Thursday
D - Sausage Potato Casserole, fruit


B - Oatmeal or cereal, fruit
L - Leftovers from dinner on Thursday
D - Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes, fries


B - Sausage biscuits
L - Roast Sticky Chicken, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, rolls
D - Leftovers


B - Leftover sausage biscuits
L - Roxann's Mexican Enchiladas, salad
D -Leftovers from lunch, Strawberry Cake (Randi used blueberries, but I'm using strawberries)

Looks pretty good, doesn't it? And I'll have some pictures this week to prove it! So stay tuned!

Go check out some other great menus!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I can't get rid of my cable company

I'm annoyed with my cable company (Comcast, if you are interested in knowing which one). They charge ridiculous prices to loyal customers, while giving their new customers the best rates. Also, their customer service is non-existant. I have never run into so many people that work for a company and couldn't care less about customer service. After trying to resolve some issues last week, I was flabbergasted by the lack of quality customer care.

So, I'm on the lookout for a different company. Come to find out, my particular little area of metro Atlanta doesn't offer a lot of choice when it comes to cable television. We've heard bad things about DirectTV, so haven't been interested in going that route. Not yet, anyway.

The aggravation of it all makes me want to just get it all disconnected and become one of those unplugged families. Sometimes it seems like it wouldn't be that great of a loss. I've watched a lot of garbage on TV.

For instance, I used to watch Oprah and Dr. Phil all the time. Every weekday. Had to watch it. I stopped that a few years back. I decided that's just a waste of a couple of good hours. So, while for years I thought I couldn't live without it, those shows have been very easy to give up.

I haven't watched soaps since I was in high school (Santa Barbara used to be my fave -- anybody remember that one?). And those judges shows that dominate daytime TV? Yuck. One of the many good things about homeschooling is it makes you keep the TV off during the day. I don't think I'm missing anything. I might turn it on once in a while to look at the news, but 99 percent of the time, my TV is not on during the day.

I have had to weed out my TV viewing over the past couple of years anyway. Maybe getting it all turned off wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Some of the shows that have fallen by the wayside or are on the chopping block include:

1. Without A Trace -- good show, but not good enough to make the cut.
2. Supernanny -- after a while, I just wanted to smack the parents and take the kids and raise them myself.
3. Wife Swap -- was interesting the first season in a "social-experiment" sort of way, now it's the same thing, different families every week. It was super easy to give this show up.
4. Samantha Who? -- I thought this was kind of a cute show, but I don't have time for cute. It got cut after half a season.
5. Grey's Anatomy -- I tried to hop on this bandwagon, but I didn't get past the third episode of the first season.
6. ER -- I know. I'm horrible. How could I let this show go? I watched ER for YEARS, but every season it stole a bit of my soul. After Dr. Carter left, I had to go too. I've tried to watch this last season, awaiting Dr. Carter's promised return, but I have the last 2 episodes waiting on my TiVo and haven't attempted to watch yet.
7. The Office -- This show has some amazingly hilarious moments, but I'm getting tired of it. With regret, I might have to give it the old heave ho.
8. The Biggest Loser -- Can't handle another season. Yes, I am trying to lose weight, but it's not motivating to me in the least. I wish all the people on there the best, but 2 hour shows every week? Too much. Gotta go.
9. Lipstick Jungle -- Who needs soap operas during the day when they have one on Friday night at 9 p.m.? I have watched 2 seasons of this show and I still don't know why. If it is renewed, I will not be watching it again.

It would be easy to say goodbye to stuff like that, but giving up cable TV would also mean giving up these shows that I really feel like I couldn't live without. Okay, I could live without them, but I would always miss them.

1. Life -- I love Damian Lewis. I love this show. I hope, hope, hope NBC keeps it on for a while. I have fears that it won't make it next season, but I will stick with it until it gets the ax.
2. Lost -- How can this show get better and better? It does. It really does. People, if you don't watch this show, give it a chance. Rent the first season DVDs and you will not be disappointed. Believe the hype.
3. Eli Stone -- I'm holding on to this show, hoping it will get better. The first season was AMAZING and I am not just saying that because I heart George Michael and watching him takes me back to my Wham! days. The first season was really good. The second season (sans George Michael) is not as great. I still hope ABC gives it a chance to make it.
4. Monk -- Evan and I watch this show together. It is consistently good.

I also love catching old episodes of Andy Griffith. I would really miss TVLand. Hallmark shows some good movies sometimes. I would miss the heartwarming stories.

And living without Turner Classic Movies? I don't think so. I think it is the best contribution Ted Turner has made to society (and that includes his billion dollar contribution to the UN). I love old movies and have watched some terrific stuff I would have never known about without TCM.

I am positive my husband wouldn't approve of me giving cable the boot. First of all he could not make it through college football season without it. Then there's basketball, NASCAR, baseball season --- even I would have trouble giving up watching the Braves.

My husband and son watch Heroes and love it. They also watch Smallville. Hubby also likes Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, any sci-fi stuff really. And he just recently started loving House. I don't get that show, but he likes it. Reruns of it constantly clog up my Now Playing section on TiVo. My TiVo.

And that's another reason giving up cable would be hard. How could I say goodbye to TiVo? It has never done anything to harm me. Only making my life easier and making me less of a slave to the schedules set up by heartless TV executives. I couldn't say bye to TiVo. It unconditionally loves me.

So, there's the rub. I want to punish Comcast by taking my business elsewhere, but it seems I am hooked. I'm still gonna look around more, but right now I'm sticking with them.

Feel free to tell me all about your "must-sees" on TV!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things making my head spin

1. I keep thinking it's January 5th because we went out of town for an extra week and I can't catch up with the calendar.

2. I'm up to here with adverbs, but they're still talking about them in my son's language arts book, so I gotta go with the flow.

3. Because of headspin #1, I am behind in my goals for the New Year.

4. I can't make myself care about my goals for the New Year (which mainly focus on organization and --- big surprise --- losing weight).

5. It's only January 15th and I'm ready for spring.

6. I still have a pumpkin on my front porch. A pumpkin. From Halloween. I didn't even realize it until I pulled into the driveway this afternoon.

7. Last day for Spring Baseball sign up for my son is Saturday. As in Jan. 17th.

8. That means baseball practice starts in 2 weeks and life becomes a little more complicated.

9. I'm craving a sandwich with fresh garden tomatoes and mayonnaise on white bread.

10. The farmer's market in Acworth does not open until June.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Sometimes I wish I had little cards that I could carry around with the definition of the word tact on them. Some people just don't know what it means and I think they could benefit from the knowledge.

**It's kind of funny that I am writing this because I can be the queen of foot in mouth disease, but I have never made the following faux pas**

This has happened to me twice, which is why it bugs me twice as much. The first time a great uncle said it to me at some family get-together. This second time it happened at my aunt's funeral. The offender was someone with whom my family went to church.

Me: It's good to see you. Thanks for coming.

Offender: How are you? Where are you living now?

Me: Acworth, GA. It's near Atlanta.

Offender: Oh. I was in Atlanta once. {Here's where I start to cringe, cause I can really tell what's coming} I was there at a conference.

Me: What kind of conference? {Trying to head off the inevitable, knowing this guy has zero tact}

Offender: Just blah, blah, blah...{Can't remember what he said. I wasn't listening. Here comes the why you gotta tick me off? part} Atlanta's not my cup of tea.

This is what I don't understand. Why would you tell someone who chooses to live in a certain area that you don't like the area in which they have chosen to live? I have the same problem with people who tell me what I order at a restaurant is disgusting. I'm not going to offer you some of my food and I'm not inviting you to visit me, so I don't need to know your opinion about every single detail of my life.

I wanted to say that to him, but it was definitely not the time or place. I just wish he would have realized that.

It'll probably be another 15 years or so before I see the guy again. I will have my comeback ready by then!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I've been away

My family might have been a bit weird, but my dad, his two sisters, and all their related kin got together at my grandma's every single Christmas as I was growing up. We spent Christmas Eves together and got together on Christmas Day. We spent Thanksgivings together and a lot of other holidays.

We were a close bunch.

It never exactly changed. To this day Christmas Eve finds us at my grandma's house eating and opening a few gifts. Christmas Days have changed. As the kids have gotten married, we tend to go to the in-laws for Christmas Day. But Christmas Eve remains remarkably the same.

This Christmas we had planned to stay home in Georgia. Last Christmas my father-in-law passed away on Dec. 27th. It was a hard Christmas last year, so we wanted to spend a quiet Christmas at home. But plans change. My aunt was diagnosed with cancer in early December and my dad told me it might be her last Christmas. I knew we had to make the trip back home.

We spent a week at Christmas in WV with family. I spent most of my time staying with my grandma (who is 89 and also in ill health) while other family members traveled back and forth to Charlottesville, VA to be with my aunt. She was in the hospital for a few days before traveling back home and dying in hospice care on Jan. 3rd. Her funeral was last Tuesday and my son and I spent last week with family while we all said our goodbyes to my aunt.

She was an amazing woman. She was the Deputy Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Labor at the time of her death. She was always very work oriented, being promoted to a leadership position at every job she ever had in a short period of time. She was focused and committed. She was a hard worker and many people will remember her as someone who didn't suffer fools gladly.

But she was something else too. Underneath the fire, she was very caring. She would give anything to help a family member or friend. She was too generous for her own good and never really understood how much she was loved.

On a cold, rainy day last Tuesday in Beckley, WV, around 200 people gathered to bid my aunt farewell. Many of those mourners made the trek to the little cemetary in Sophia to say goodbye as she was buried. Family, friends, and co-workers all shared some time to talk about what a great person my aunt was.

Her death was unexpected. We thought something could be done to buy her more time. I think she deserved a better ending, but, as Christians, we leave all of that in the hands of our Lord. I know she's in a happier, pain-free place. That knowledge makes her death easier to take, but in no way makes it easy.

Bye, Fran. I love you.