Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Spirit Is Still Alive

An amazing thing happened to us at Cracker Barrel a week or so ago...

As the hostess seated us at out table, I noticed a young man/ teenager at the table in front of us finishing up his dinner. I also noticed that he was looking a little longer at Anna than I thought was polite. As this happens more frequently than I would like to admit, I went back to my usual "let's not make eye-contact with anyone, lest I'll get my feelings hurt while they try to decipher what's wrong with my handicapped child" stance. The waitress came, took our order, brought our drinks, and our dinner continued as normal until...

The young man finished his dinner, and before he left, stopped by our table, knelt down and began to talk to my husband in a low, soft tone. He explained that Anna reminded him of someone that he had grown up with as a little boy, and though he didn't have much cash on him (only two dollars, actually), he asked us if we would take it and buy something she would like for Christmas with it. I jumped up from my chair and proceeded to embrace him in a death-hug (a signature move of mine). The only words I could utter were "Thank you! God bless you!" as I unsuccessfully choked back my tears.

I "happy cried," as Jamie Ruth calls it, through most of dinner and thanked God for the kindness, the mercy, the gentleness, and the compassion that was shown in this young man's actions. It was the best Christmas present I have ever received and I will never forget him for as long as I live. Thank you, young fellow in the navy pea coat. It's obvious that Santa, angels, and even Jesus can take on the appearance of hungry patrons this time of year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... O Holy Night

I had the privilege of seeing David Phelps in concert several years ago. He has one of THE BEST voices on the planet and this video is one of my favorites of his. I said last week that "Ave Maria" had become my new favorite Christmas song, but depending on the day, this one keeps sneaking back into first place! David does this song like no one else I've heard. Enjoy today's music therapy as we prepare to celebrate the most divine of all nights...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homemade Teacher Gifts

I'm a little late posting these, but I wanted to show you what I made for teacher gifts this year. I am horrified because I have just now realized that I misspelled a word on the tag that I gave to three TEACHERS and a NURSE! Oh well, that's what happens when you stay up past midnight for two nights in a row trying to finish Christmas gifts at the last minute! You put "We 'wisk' You a Merry Christmas" instead of "We 'whisk' You a Merry Christmas!" MORTIFIED, people!

Anywhoo... at least the towels are cute and there isn't anything permanently misspelled with embroidery or anything. Mental note: explain to the teachers and the nurse that even English majors with a college degree (AND Spelling Bee Champions of their 5th grade class!) succumb to the occasional whoopsies. Maybe there's a Hallmark card for that. I'm holding out hope! LOL! Murrrie Christmass frum hour howse two yorz!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dr. 35950

I'm a sucker for shows about plastic and reconstructive surgeries. I blame this, in part, on my secret desire to work in the medical field. And I guess I like a good "before and after" photo. Anyways, I used to watch a lot of "Dr. 90210" and follow Dr. Robert Ray and his crazy antics, but I don't think the show comes on anymore. So when an old friend of mine was in desperate need of a rhinoplasty, I thought, "Hey, I can do that. How hard can it be?"

Meet Frosty. (Did I have you going? For just a second, even? Nah, I didn't think so.) Sometime last year this poor guy lost his nose. Apparently, my husband was unaware (I, of course, had his nose safely tucked away in the kitchen junk drawer) because he was a little freaked out when he couldn't find the missing part in the attic. This snowman has sentimental value to both of us because it was the first Christmas decoration we bought when we got married. If memory serves me correctly, Frosty rode home from K-Mart strapped to the top of our clown car, I mean, our tiny Honda Civic. We proudly displayed him on our front porch in all his tacky, plastic glory. Ahh, memories....

So I HAD to help a fella out. I mean, he's like family. Dr. Pearson to the rescue! I prepped him for surgery by cleaning the affected area with alcohol and then scuffing it up a little with a sanding block (per the instructions on the bottle of E 6000. Don'tcha just LOVE E 6000? It and duct tape are my faves. Oh, yeah, and super glue. But I digress...).
Look at the poor fellow. Frosty without his carrot nose... a travesty, I tell you. A complete travesty.
After I waited the appropriate amount of time to let the glue get sticky, I reattached his nose. But then problems arose in the operating room. Because the nose was so tall, it began to lean.... Look, Frosty can't be greeting my guests with a crooked nose. I've got an image to uphold. So in comes the blue tape (I love blue tape. It should have been included with the aforementioned list. Again I digress...) and viola! Straight as an arrow! Sporting the blue tape, he looks like a real plastic (no pun intended) surgery victim, I mean patient.

Frosty recovered, lying down of course, for the recommended 24 hours like the E 6000 instructions dictated. And now, he's as good as new! He's still taking it easy, though. I've not yet put him outside, but I think he's enjoying hanging out with the inside decorations this year. I can't be sure, but I think his little nose-job has boosted his self-esteem. I thought I overheard him tell our wooden, stand-up Grinch figurine that he's thinking of asking for a little lipo next year...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... Ave Maria

I heard this version of Ave Maria yesterday for the first time and undoubtedly it has become my new favorite Christmas song. I had the instrumental version played at my wedding and until yesterday, I had only heard the lyrics in Italian. What a wonderful love song it is! I've cried listening to it and it gives me goosebumps every. single. time. I cannot imagine the way Mary must have felt in the months leading up to the birth of the Messiah, but I think this song is a beautiful description of her heart. I'm sure when she was told she had found favor with God that she never expected the the road her life would take. Enjoy today's music therapy. It will truly do wonders for your soul!

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." Ave Maria, indeed!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Money Matters Monday: Keeping a Lid on Christmas Spending

Yes, I DO realize that I have only been blogging on Mondays and Thursdays, thank you very much. If you're still following along, bless your sweet little heart! I realize there hasn't been much variety to my lil' ol' blog, but that's going to change, I promise. You understand. It's CHRISTMASTIME, for crying out loud. I'm up to my neck with everything, just like the rest of you. Here's hoping y'all are keeping things together better than I am. But that's another post...

One thing I'm NOT crying about is the state of our finances. At Christmas. Talk about an oxymoron! This is what we already know: Christmas is WAY too commercialized. Any given family spends ENTIRELY too much at Christmas on things. Christmas lists grow by leaps and bounds from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. And I'm not just talking about what to buy, but also whom to buy for. I've taken a little more control this year, and it's made all the difference. Well, that and Chuck's big fat bonus check! All I can say is "Whoopity-doo!"

We have been blessed beyond belief because Tyson Foods had such an excellent year (thanks, Tyson!). There have been years where we didn't get a Christmas bonus, but when we do, we almost always buy Christmas with it. This year we were able to do that PLUS pay off several of our bills and start an emergency fund (would Dave Ramsey be so proud, or what?!). We still have a ways to go, but what a relief it has been to cut our bills in HALF. I can only imagine the weightlessness I'll feel when it's ALL gone. This has only fueled my fire to get the heck out of debt. It really is a big ol' burden. You don't realize just how much a burden until you are released from it (or part of it, in our case!).

I've also played it smart this Christmas. I began picking up things earlier in the year. On SALE. At the end of the season. To the tune of, like, 75% off. You can't do this with everything and everyone, of course, but keeping your eyes peeled for deals all year long is smart Christmas shopping. I also like to shop at stores like Tuesday Morning and Ross where you can find really nice things at a discounted price. I guess it goes without saying that I'm also making some presents too. They are for the girls' teachers. I'll be showing those soon.

We are also not exchanging gifts with extended family or friends this year. I know that a lot of you think it just can't be Christmas without giving gifts to all those we know and love. But it adds up. Quick-like. I prefer to give my friends a birthday gift and let them know that my Christmas presents will only include the immediate family. I've flat out told friends, " Do NOT buy me a present this year. Your friendship is my present!" (Yeah, I'm smooth like that.) But you know what? The relief on their face was priceless. I consider that my gift to them!

If you feel you must buy presents, agree to keep it just for the children. We all have more than we need, anyway. And so do the kids, for that matter. You might suggest to girlfriends or extended family about having a get-together for breakfast, or finger foods one evening, and just enjoy each other's company. Your pocket book will thank you and you won't have to up your Rx of Xanax come January when you're trying to balance your checkbook and pay the bills! Merry Christmas, all! Here's hoping you wallet is the only thing getting fatter this holiday season!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... Happy Birthday Granddaddy!

Today is my granddaddy's 85th birthday! For as long as I can remember, he has played the guitar and the banjo and I have always loved to listen to him play. He even played in a bluegrass band until just a couple years ago! "The Possum Song" was always a crowd favorite, but today I've chosen to play "Man of Constant Sorrow" just because it is one of my favorites and one you will probably recognize. I love bluegrass music. I don't know if you have to be southern to appreciate it, but I hope you will, wherever you hail from. Happy birthday granddaddy! I love you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Money Matters Monday: Before and After... FINALLY

It's been a long week. And I mean LLOOONNNGGG. I've completed a month-long sewing project, lead a Girl Scout meeting, attended a funeral, walked 10 miles, celebrated a birth, organized a delivery for food, went shopping for Christmas presents, wrapped said presents, (okay, I'm not even done with my list, but you get the point, right?!)...

So I'm just now getting around to showing you this awesome "Before and After" that I did a couple of weeks ago. I got the idea from one of the MANY blogs I stalk, I mean follow, but I can't remember which one. Sorry... But here is the before: Typical, girly, desk chair. It was okay, other than it was filthy and stained and I never liked it to begin with! LOL!

See what I mean? It was in dire need of a little "Va-va-va-voom." Cuz it belongs to my red-headed diva. And because I have a sickness. It's called "Can't-leave-well-enough-alone-itis."
I'm holding out for a cure. Anywhoo...

I unscrewed the back of the chair from the seat and turned it over to "eyeball" (technical term) how much fabric I would need to cover it. I did the same for the seat part.

Because I do not have a staple gun (hint, hint to anyone that wants to spread a little Christmas cheer my way!), I simply used a glue gun to hot-glue the fabric to the bottom of the chair and to the back of the chair, tucking the fabric inside the plastic on the back (sorry, no picture of that part!).

And here's the "After!" Tah-dah! Pretty swank, don'tcha think?! It goes much better in her pink, black, and white bedroom now. She loves it and I love it too! And it didn't cost a thing cuz this was remnant fabric that I already had on hand. Ka-ching! What do you think? Makes you want to cover YOUR desk chair now, right?! Been there, (and now finally) done that! LOL!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... CAN

Rick Hoyt and his father are a complete inspiration to me. Rick has cerebral palsy due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck during birth. As a baby, his parents were told that he would never be a functioning member of society and they should just put him in an institution. Of course his parents had other plans...

As a child, the Hoyts brought Rick up as they did their other sons: They gave him a hockey stick to hold while his brothers pushed him around in his wheelchair. They held him in the pool so he could splash and "swim." Because of a computerized communication device, Rick is able to "talk" to his family, though he has never uttered a word. He went on to graduate from high school AND college.

Rick and his father, Dick, have competed in numerous marathons as a team. This began when Rick was young and wanted his Dad to "run" with him in a charity race for a boy who had become disabled. Rick wanted to show this young boy that just because he was disabled, his life could indeed have meaning. Many years, and many races later, Rick and Dick are known as "Team Hoyt" in racing circles and their motto is "You CAN."

This video is a wonderful representation of a father's love for his child. I like to watch it when I feel that I'm at the end of my rope and I'm struggling to be the kind of mother that my handicapped child needs. The words of the song say "I know my redeemer lives" and I know that he does because the love that is displayed between this father and son goes beyond the natural love we have for our children and our family. It's supernatural. When we live our lives by focusing on "us" less and "others" more, we are displaying the kind of love that Christ has for us. I hope this video inspires you the way it inspires me. When you're down and think you can't go on, remember that "you CAN."

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Monday, November 29, 2010

Money Matters Monday

  1. Well, after a short hiatus to the mountains, I'm back in the blogging world. Yay! Did ya miss me?
  1. I'm really surprised we didn't spend more money than we did on our trip, but I'm pleased to report, we only spent around $500. I can hardly believe it myself. And some of that was on Christmas presents (of which I cannot go into details about for the obvious reasons!). But what I CAN say is that so far, I have six presents accounted for and that makes me uber happy. :D
Today's Money Matters post deals with the evil that is the "Friday After Thanksgiving Shopping Day." Yes, I got out in it. No, I didn't get out at midnight like I have before. Yes, I got some SWEET deals. Yes, I loaded up on Xanax to deal with the hustle and bustle. ;) No, I'm not kidding. LOL! The end!
Forgive me for the brevity of this post, but I must get back to the details that were left unattended while we were away. Did anybody else brave the crowds for some great deals? Was it worth it for you? Come back tomorrow for an awesome "Before and After!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday...Me, Chuck, A Park Bench, and Edwin

Eleven years ago today, I sat on a park bench at Oxford Lake and was proposed to by a guy I had only known for 2 and a half months. As we talked about what people would say (and how we really didn't care WHAT they thought!), we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. I asked Chuck this morning if he remembered what today was and he said yes. I asked him if he had any regrets and he said, "Only that I didn't meet you sooner." Sorry, ladies. He's all mine... ;) This was our song back then. Since you can't have Chuck, enjoy a little Edwin on me!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Money Matters Monday... Homemade vs Store Bought

Today is Chuck's birthday (Happy birthday, babe! Love you!!) and JR has INSISTED that daddy have a cake (or the equivalent) to sing "Happy Birthday" over and put candles on. My displeasure is twofold: Momma is trying to cut calories and spending some dough on a delicious item from the bakery did not fit into my budget after buying the birthday boy his present (a new camcorder... I know I ROCK!).

I decided that I would make cupcakes with chocolate icing in hopes that I might only eat one instead of, oh, I don't know... SIX (I'm a cream cheese girl, myself) and to also save a little money as well. So it was off to the Pig this morning to pick up a yellow cake mix ($1.25), some chocolate frosting ($1.58) and a dozen eggs ($1.65). So for a whopping $4.84, we've got 24 cupcakes (that I'm hoping he'll take to work tomorrow and share) AND breakfast for the rest of the week. I know I could have saved even more money by going to Wal-Mart, but my sanity has to be worth something, right?!?! Plus, it'll be made with love and that's something that store bought just can't compare to. Of course, love can only take you so far. I only hope they're edible! LOL!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... UnPlugged

Today's Music Therapy is for all you poets out there. I think, lyrically, this is this most beautiful song in the world. Although 18 years have passed, Eddie Vedder still makes me swoon (even knowing that he's a flaming liberal. What can I say, the heart wants what the heart wants!). Today I'm reaching across partisan lines and embracing a little Pearl Jam. Enjoy!


Sheets of empty canvas

Untouched sheets of clay

Were laid spread out before me

As her body once did.

All five horizons revolve around her soul

As the earth to the sun

Now the air I tasted and breathed

Has taken a turn.

And all I taught her was... everything

I know she gave me all that she wore

And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds

Of what was everything

All the pictures had all been washed in black

Tattooed everything.

I take a walk outside

I'm surrounded by some kids at play.

I can feel their laughter

So why do I sear?

Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin 'round my head

I'm spinning, Oh, I'm spinning.

How quick the sun can drop away

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass

Of what was everything.

All the pictures had been washed in black

Tattooed everything.

All the love gone bad, turned my world to black

Tattooed what I see

All that I am, All that I'll be... Yeah.

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life

I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky

But why, why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today's Top Ten

Here are the top ten things I should be doing right now instead of blogging:

10. Laundry. 'Nuff said.

9. The bills. I'm about 6 days behind here. That ought to make a great "Money Matters Monday" post for next week!

8. Finishing the tunic I'm making for JR to take to her Girl Scout meeting tonight. At least it's all cut out...

7. Calling someone from my bible study to tell them I had forgotten about JR's Girl Scout meeting tonight when I said I could make the rescheduled time for 5:30... TONIGHT! Oops!

6. Locating my pocket calendar to keep stuff like number 7 from happening again. ;)

5. A shower probably wouldn't hurt...

4. Getting birthday presents for my sister and Chuck (whose birthdays are Sunday and Monday, respectively).

3. Mailing my step-dad's BELATED birthday card. Where IS that pocket calendar??!!

2. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets... or finding a housekeeper willing to work for leftover Halloween candy.

1. Joyously SMACKING anyone who dares to say being a stay-at-home-mom must leave me with a lot of free time on my hands. Happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Money Matters Monday: What Matters and What Doesn't

I remember distinctly the first time I cut my hair really short. It was the fall of 1994 and I was going through an identity crisis. Me and my beau at the time were on the outs and I needed a change. I remember looking at myself in my rear-view mirror and not recognizing the severely shorn reflection that was staring back at me. I knew no one would approve of this drastic change I had made for myself, but that only added to my exhilaration. I felt liberated. I felt free.

While pondering all the ways that I could save money, the thought of letting my hair grow out has crossed my mind. It's safe to say I spend about $30 a month on haircuts and $75 every two and a half months (or so) on highlights to go with the needed trims (that's $75 for the haircut AND the highlights). Compared to others I've talked to, that's less than some folks pay, and a little more than others. But every penny counts, right? Umm, no.

Well, yes AND no. I'm all for cutting back. But there are some things that you just can't scrimp on. Cutting Chuck's hair with shears... yes. Buying the store brand beans in a can... sure. Alberto V05 shampoo on sale at CVS for 79 cents... you bet. But there are some things this momma will not scrimp on. The proverbial "line in the sand" has been drawn and here is a list of things I just can't cut corners on:

1. Tampons. TMI? Sorry. Just trust me when I say that Tampax Pearls make life worth living.

2. Frozen broccoli. If you want to eat all stems and no trees, that's up to you. We like our trees around here.

3. Moisturizer. Ran out of my Mary Kay moisturizer and bought the Wal-Mart brand of Oil of Olay. I literally have to use TWICE as much. Where's the savings in THAT?!

4. Razors. Getting older has brought on it's share of sensitive skin. Cheap razors make my legs look like a victim from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

5. My salon visits. Let's face it, for a stay-at-home mom, a visit to the hairdresser is like a mini vacation. Not to mention, my hairdresser has MAD haircutting and highlighting skills. She's a magician, I swear. :) I get grown-up girl talk and I get to catch up on all the celebrity magazine gossip I can stand in just a few short hours. It's pure bliss. I haven't seen my natural hair color in about a decade (it's mousy brown if you must know), so shocking the world (and myself) with it now just seems so unnecessary. Besides, having a short haircut cuts my "getting ready" time to nil and time IS money, right?
So like the day in 1994 as I was sitting in the chair at the salon, I ponder, "should I?" Convenience with a side of selfishness won out that day. And it's looking like another winning combination for today, too. :) We all have things that are important to us and worth every dime we spend on them. The trick is maintaining balance so we're not so quick to jump ship on this budget thing altogether. So, what is it that makes your list?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Music Therapy Thursdays... Defying Gravity

I'm a pretty big fan of the Wicked Witch of the West. Today's version of Music Therapy Thursday pays tribute to her (and my chosen Halloween costume this year!). Thanks to Lori and Melissa for introducing me to "Wicked." I think this version that Idina does is absolutely beautiful. If you are unfamiliar with the song (or the musical) you MUST listen to the words of this song. It is one of my FAVES!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Money Matters Monday

Well, it's been a week since I've put our family BACK on a budget and I'm here today to give you an update. One thing that I had forgotten from the last time I lived by a budget, was to leave myself a little "wiggle room." Note to self: not leaving enough cash to handle the things that will inevitably pop up during the week will have you running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying desperately to pull off some creative financing. It's NOT a pretty sight....

No worries, though. I pride myself on being the Queen of penny pinching. So with a few little tweaks to the budget (and a raid of my piggy bank!), it all worked out in the end. You laugh, but there are several ways that I can think of where you can get your hands on some "free" money in a hurry. Here's some of my tried and true faves:

1. The Yard Sale: Many people shy away from having them because they think it's too much trouble. I've just about got the whole thing down to a science as I have two every year. On a later post, I'll give you the deets on how to have a successful yard sale. For now, know that you are sitting on hundreds of dollars of unused stuff that is just taking up space in your closet and in your garage. That's right. HUNDREDS...

2. Roll Those Coins: I keep an old coffee can to hold the spare change that I collect from all over the house. If change is left in plain sight, it's mine! Money found in the laundry... mine! And yes, I've even found money in the couch. All mine! When you start using "cash only" instead of the check card, the change starts to add up. Get some paper rolls from the bank and roll those babies up! A friend of mine actually buys her Christmas presents with the CHANGE she saves throughout the year. Impressive, I know.

3. Sell Your Gold: I've done this a couple of times. That one little hoop earring that's lost it's mate, the ring your boyfriend from college bought you for Christmas, that broken neclace... that's money in your pocket. Gold is at an all time high right now, and many jewelers advertise with little signs in their windows if they buy gold. If you are unsure if yours does, give them a call. They can at least put you in the right direction. It can be VERY profitable. I would advise staying away from the tv advertisements and stick to your local jewelry shop, though, just to be on the safe side.

4. Selling Online: I heart E-Bay. I've never actually sold anything on there, :) , but several of my friends have. Sites like this and Craigslist are good places for getting a little more money for your stuff, as opposed to selling at a yard sale. I've been thinking I might sell some of my rubber stamps from my extensive collection when I decide which one's I can part with. When I do, I'll let ya know how it goes.

So there you have it: four easy ways to get yourself some cash in hand. Whether it's for a bill, for your savings, or for an emergency fund, go find some stuff that's taking up valuable real estate in your home and turn it into M-O-N-E-Y!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday.....Ahoooooo!

If this doesn't put you in the mood for some Halloween festivities, I don't know what will! Enjoy today's version of "Music Therapy Thursday" by the late, great Warren Zevon. Everybody, now: "AHOOOOOOOO.......!" :D

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mondays and Money... A Double Whammy!

I've been talking to a couple of friends lately and MONEY seems to be hot topic around most households. Well, the lack thereof would be a more fitting topic it seems. I'm so sick of hearing about the economy and how the country is getting deeper and deeper into debt. What do we expect from our government when any one of us on any given pay period has to "steal from Peter to pay Paul?"

Most everyone I know lives paycheck to paycheck and none of us ACT like we do. We are all out buying new cars, traipsing all over town while paying out the wazoo for gas, and indulging our every whim with a little retail therapy. And that's just the grown-ups. We run out the first chance we get to buy little Johnny and Jane whatever their hearts desire, or worse: make sure they have whatever the brat down the street has so our little sweets won't be "left out." Pathetic. To coin a Dave Ramsey phrase, we are going broke trying to keep up with other broke people. Well, I'm DONE.

Last week I sat down and made out a budget (I know... it's such an ugly word) and frankly, I was SHOCKED to find how much of our hard earned money gets put into the "miscellaneous" category, and even MORE SHOCKED to tally up the balances on ALL of my credit cards. I had not done this in a while and it was sobering. I suggest you do it too and then we can both look around together and compare what we actually have to show for all that spending. Here's a hint: A BIG FAT BUNCH OF NOTHING, THAT'S WHAT!!!

I'm mad, can ya tell? And it's at myself, mostly. I KNOW what to do, WHY don't I do it?!?! I mean, I have already taken Dave Ramsey's seminar on Financial Peace SIX years ago. Sometimes you just have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired (another one from Dave) and I guess I reached it today when after carefully budgeting our moolah for the next two weeks, I find a lonely little bill that somehow slipped into obscurity and did not get paid. UGHHH!!! Don't you HATE it when that happens?! I know I'm not the only one. ;)

So after ranting on and on (sorry, I can get wordy) I'm on the wagon again. Yep. I'm on a budget ((wince)) and I have calculated that it is going to take approximately FIVE years ((gasp, gasp)) to become totally debt free (excluding the house). I'll dedicate my Mondays to blog about my Fiscal Fitness (did you see what I did there?? :D) and other money matters I may be facing. C'mon, let's get out of debt together!!! Who's with me??? To print out a sample budget to get started, head on over to It's an amazing website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Have Decided....

As I begin to address the ever-growing laundry pile in my laundry room, I am going to thank God that my family has clothes to wear on chilly mornings like today.

When I move to the kitchen to load and unload the dishwasher (again), wipe down the counters (again), and clean off the table and sweep (AGAIN), I'm going to thank God that our refrigerator is full and for the delicious supper that we had last night.

When I start to pick up the kids' toys and games and books that are strewn about the house, I'm going to thank God that my husband has a job and can buy us not only the things we need, but also the things we want.

When I change the sheets on the beds today, I'm going to think about the people who don't have a home to come home to or a soft bed to sleep on at night. I will pray for them and thank God for mine.

As I begin to grumble about the hardships of caring for a child with special needs, I'm going to thank God for the progress that science has made through medicine, surgery, and equipment, making any semblance of a normal life for us possible.

Thank you, God. You have blessed me with more than I deserve. Help me to continue to see you and your blessings in the details of my daily life. Amen....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday

As I was picking Anna up from school this afternoon, I heard this song on the radio. The sun was shining in the clear blue sky. The weather was perfect for Autumn. I passed the Fire Department where the American flag was whipping in the breeze. It made me thankful that I live in the southeast United States. I haven't always wanted to live here, but I'm loving my little "small town." Enjoy today's version of "Music Therapy Thursday," wherever you are!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Ol' Dad... He Ain't What He Used To Be

Every time I attempt to get on my soapbox about something, I think to myself, "Surely I'm not the ONLY person that feels like this." Most of the time I'm not, but something has caught my attention as of late and it's rampant, the "norm," if you will. And I don't like it.

If you know me, you know I'm a HUGE fan of the children's channels. I can guarantee that NOBODY was a bigger fan of "High School Musical" ( 1, 2, OR 3) than moi. "ICarly" is one of my favorite shows (true) and I think "Phineas and Ferb" is pure genius. Compared to what is on "regular t.v." as I call it (That's anything on the major networks and NOT The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon), most of the kid shows are pretty tame. I have had issues in the past with the sassiness of the characters and some of the cheeky language that they use, but last night I was overwhelmed by show after show with parents who are portrayed as mindless goofballs and the children who have NO RESPECT for them.

Sure, we could peck over every petty little thing on T.V. if we wanted to and then we'd have NOTHING to watch. But I think this is very disturbing and I'll tell you why. Where are kids taking their cues from? T.V. Who are kid's trying to emulate? T.V. stars. Who do they want to dress like, look like, act like? It's not you and me. We are LAME compared to Miley, Selena, Miranda, and the rest of the teen and pre-teen idols. EVERY parent figure on these shows are boobs. They are goofy, uncool, and lack intelligence. ESPECIALLY the men. What is this saying to our kids? Sure, we all thought our parents were big ol' nerds, too, back in the day. I get that. But the father figures I remember were from "Leave it to Beaver," "Growing Pains," "Family Ties," and "Diff'rent Strokes." They may have not been the coolest dads in their kids' eyes, but they were treated with respect. Last night on "Good Luck Charlie," the little boy's character said "I wonder what kids with SMART dads do for fun?" after he had tried to pull one over on his father. REALLY?!?! Could you have seen Arnold Jackson saying that about Mr. Drummond? For those of you under the age of 30, um... that's a heck to the NO!

In the end, the dad from "Good Luck Charlie" actually pulled one over on the youngest son which I'm sure was a win for proud moms and dads everywhere. The young boy realized his dad wasn't such a goofball after all and all was well in the world of kid shows. Hopefully that little tidbit will also sink in to the minds of our impressionable youth as much as all the other innuendos they are bombarded with. We can only hope. I plan to talk to Jamie about this more in detail later and perhaps turn the T.V. off and nurture her love for books more than I have in the past. 'Cuz my reaction to having to give up my kids shows would be a pouty "What chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?!" And nobody wants to see me go THERE! LOL! ;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Music Therapy Thursdays

I got such a huge response when I posted a little "music therapy" a while back on Facebook, that I thought I'd continue the party over here on my blog. I'm the type of person that RELATES to music. I mean I REALLY RELATE. :) Every momentous occasion in my life has a soundtrack. Almost every memory has a song attached to it. Weird, I know.

So it's probably no surprise that while I choose to celebrate with a song, I also cope with loss and sadness by tuning on the tunes. Sometimes, mere words fall short of the emotions that we're feeling. But combine those words with a melody, and magic happens. While listening to a little "music therapy" I've laughed, I've cried, and I've boogied so hard I got a side cramp. :D But in the end, "music therapy" left me feeling lighter, better... dare I say happier. And for a lot less than a visit to your neighborhood shrink.

And so "Music Therapy Thursdays" has been born. I hope you enjoy today's version. I thought it was a fitting choice to kick off our little party... And if nothing else, Dobie's shirt will surely make you smile!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Today's Top Ten

The Top Ten Ways You Know That Fall Is On It's Way To Alabama

10. What's that?? Nuthin' but silence, baby. The kids have been in school for about three weeks. Nice...

9. You have went through your closet (and the kids' AND your husband's) to strategically remove all tank tops and anything abnoxiously tropical. (Side note: my husband does not wear tank tops or tropical prints. Your welcome, Chuck. )

8. The AC in your car has been moved from the MAX setting to the regular AC setting.

7. The pool and been drained. ((sniff))

8. You realize after a few minutes outside in the evenings that you don't need your arsenal of insect repellents, the vat of "Skin-So-Soft" you stocked up on, or the bee suit you bougt off E-Bay. So long suckas!! (Pun DEFINITELY intended!)

7. Somebody said SOMETHING about a football game on Saturday... :D

6. Mums are showing up everywhere from front porches to Homecoming corsages. Ahh, memories...

5. Neighbors are getting re-aquainted as heat advisories for the elderly and the very young have been lifted.

4. Your children come into the living room dressed for bed in last years flannel p.j.'s. True story.

3. You wonder how long you can make your pedicure last before it's "closed toe shoe season." I mean, why spend the money when they're just going to be covered up so no one can see them, right??!!

2. You start thinking that chili for supper is not such a bad idea...

1. Wal-Mart has started putting out their Christmas decorations. Fo real.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Can Dream, Can't I?!

It has occurred to me more than once when I view my blog that the cute little sillhouettes to the right are a little misleading. Well, only one, really. MINE.

I think that everyone else's is dead-on. I couldn't have done better if I had blackened out an actual pic of the kids and Chuck... but mine... well, it looks nothing like me. Kinda makes me feel bad, too, like I'm contributing to some kind of "false advertising" or something. It could definitely pass for the "me" circa 1993, but not the "me" of today, for sure.

I'm not completely to blame, of course. WWW. WIDDLYTINKS.COM did not have a slightly overweight female figure with super short hair, so I was reduced to choosing a sillhouette that represented me in a former life. Before kids. Twenty five pounds ago. When I had the time and energy to have a hairstyle other than the one I stole from Sinead O'Conner.

Maybe I should shoot those guys over at WiddlyTinks an e-mail and tell them that a body type of Queen Latifah and the hairstyle of Jamie Lee Curtis would be a more accurate representation of me these days. Maybe they would even be inclined to make that particular sillhouette for me. You know... just for kicks. I guess for now I'll keep it the way it is. And I'll keep to my South Beach Diet. And maybe sometime in the not so distant future, it may come to resemble me once again. I can dream, can't I?! ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Little Pick-Me-Up

Today I was reminded of something a dear older lady once said to me. Allow me to set the scene:

I was working as a waitress in a nice restaurant that was owned by a good friend of mine. Her mother was a frequent patron and you could just tell she had been the quintessential "50's lady" back in the day. I think she came from money, but that wasn't what made her classy... she just was. Anyway, at this particular time I was dealing with a bout of depression (as I have from time to time over the course of my life) and apparently it SHOWED. After we had closed for the day, Ms. Betty approached me to see why I wasn't my usual self and though I can't remember our conversation verbatim, I think she got the gist of what what going on. I will never forget what she said next though: "Well dear, why don't you just go and put you a little lipstick on?!" Seriously, Ms. Betty? LIPSTICK?!!

Sure, because God knows a little Maybelline is just what the doctor ordered. Go ahead and give Ms. Betty a Nobel Prize, y'all.... she's just discovered a cure for depression! I wasn't sure there was enough lipstick in the world to make me feel better. Hmphh. LIPSTICK. Don't get me wrong, I was kind and respectful. She had no idea how absurd I thought her comment was. I've thought about that conversation many times over the years and I almost always laugh out loud when I do.

Years later, I started selling Mary Kay and one of the things I learned was that even in a terrible economy... even during the Depression... women will (and DID) spend money on cosmetics. Lipsticks and the like are a small investment that yield a tremendous result: looking better on some level makes us feel better. Perhaps Ms. Betty knew this all along.

I'm not trivializing depression. Depression is a disease that my family and I are all to familiar with and I know without a shadow of doubt that make-up cures NOTHING, except for maybe ugliness, but you know what I mean. Last night, however, I was reminded of Ms. Betty and her little antidote when Jamie Ruth wanted me to paint her fingernails. I usually don't keep my fingernails painted because I'm too hard on my hands: cleaning without gloves, crafting something, painting, etc. I admire other people who keep their nails well manicured, but it never seems practical enough for me to do it. But last night JR just insisted that we paint our nails the same color and have a "gowns only, red fingernails" club (seriously... I couldn't make this stuff up). So I relented thinking first thing this morning I would get the fingernail polish remover out and get back to my bare nails ASAP. Only I haven't....

It sounds crazy, but every time I look down and my flaming red nails, it makes me smile a little. I like the way they look even though I know they probably won't last through the day without getting a chip or a ding. But who cares, right? I feel a little fancy having my nails painted, and though it may seem impractical for my lifestyle, so what?! Nothing last forever, not even the impromptu manicure with your six year old. What's the worst that could happen? Having to repaint them at the second meeting of the "gowns only, red fingernails" club?

I like my nails so much that I'm thinking about getting my toes done. And after that, who knows? I might just take a cue from Ms. Betty and get the lipstick out. I'm not insinuating these little steps to better personal grooming are going to cure all that ails us emotionally, but if you're like me, it just might perk you up and bring a little smile to your day. And who could argue with that?

Anyhoo, I feel I must apologize to Ms. Betty. I know in her own way, she was trying to be helpful and if I hadn't been so obstinate, I might have seen that. I might have also realized earlier that sometimes little things can make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves. She's in heaven now. But I'm sure she's looking down on me and smiling... and you can bet she's wearing her lipstick.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"How are you?"

How do you answer a question like that? I think most people ask this question just to be polite. For whatever reason, society has coined the phrase to represent a greeting instead of an actual question for the concern of another. It's silly, if you think about it. Most times you could care LESS how the person you are talking to actually is. Heaven forbid they try to even TELL you about it. But what's even sillier is how we knowingly answer the question we know no one wants the answer to: "Fine!" And then perhaps we'll continue with our little exchange with a half-hearted, "And you?"

I believe we have lost a considerable amount of our social graces and I think that's a shame. Perhaps it's one of those things that we no longer have time for in this fast paced world we live in. I remember a time when neighbors visited with each other, and it was not the least bit inconvenient. It was welcomed. People would just "drop in" or "drop by" and I bet when they were asked, "How are you?" the someone doing the asking really wanted to know.

Nobody wants a Gloomy Gus around, that's a given. And we ALL have troubles, right? That's the main reason I fake it (like you do too) and quickly quip "fine" or "great." Sometimes I steal a favorite line from my step-dad and reply that "I'm hanging in like an old rusty fish hook." I suppose that answer is a little more acurate, though laden with humor to help muddle through the awkward exchange of pleasantries without commiting to an all-out conversation.

The bible tells us , however, that we should bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2) thus fulfilling the law of Christ. As the body of Christ we are not supposed to operate individually. We need each other for guidance, counsel, encouragement, and at times reproof. Do you have that friend or family member to "bounce off" of? When is the last time you were that person for THEM? When is the last time you really listened to what your husband or your children were saying? Are you keeping yourself to the confines of your home, and ultimately your mind, not reaching out to ask for the help that you need?

An aquaintance asked me yesterday how I was. I was going to brush her question off with my usual answer until she said I looked like I needed to talk and perhaps "unload" a bit. She told me to call her anytime, then told me she loved me. This wasn't my best friend, or my mom... it was someone who I don't even consider a close friend. But she took the time to see something I didn't even know I was projecting and really wanted to know about it. And that floored me. Just another example that God will use whatever and whomever necessary to reach us. He sees us in our pain and suffering and brings people in our midst to help us carry the load. Not everyone that asks you how you are is going to want to do that. But the next time you ask someone how THEY are, maybe you will think of this and be a burden bearer for them. I know I will.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why Six Year Olds Shouldn't Watch Sponge Bob

Let me set the mood:
I walk into the living room last night and find Jamie Ruth on the couch watching Sponge Bob Squarepants. I DETEST that show. It's stupid, irreverent, and downright annoying. Taking a deep breath, I conjure up my best "firm-yet-compassionate" parental tone and begin to voice my displeasure:

Me: "I don't LIKE Sponge Bob, Jamie."

JR: "Why? Because it's suck-ish?"

Me: "Did you just say 'suck-ish?'"

JR: "Yeah."

Me: "Where did you hear that word?!"

JR: "Sponge Bob."

By this time, Chuck had come in on the last of our conversation and gave me a look that said, "Was that matter-of-fact enough for you?!" while trying his best to keep a straight face. I knew the next 30 seconds were going to be crucial in making or breaking the point I was trying to hit home. With as much composure as I could muster, I pressed on:

Me: "And that's EXACTLY why I don't like it, Jamie Ruth."

Chuck: "Yeah, you probably shouldn't say that anymore."

Me: "It's not very nice."

JR: "Do you also not like it because it says 'stupid,' selfish,' and 'idiot'?"

Me: "Right. Those aren't nice things to say either. So, we're not going to say things like that, okay?"

JR: "Okay."

Chuck and I make it to the kitchen, put our hands over our mouths and try not to pee in our pants. Not necessarily a parenting moment for the record books. Especially since we didn't even make her turn the channel... right away. :) There are no books out there that prepare you for times like this. My hope is that she'll make it to tween-dom without irreparable damage... from Sponge Bob or the one million other innocence stealers out there in cheeky television land. "Suck-ish." Thanks, Sponge Bob...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Passing the Torch

There is a question that I ask my mother all the time: "Who are YOU and what have you done with my mother?!" This question usually follows some sort of behavior that was SO uncharacteristic of her in my youth (or the mother that I REMEMBER from my youth, anyway. LOL!). I swear, the woman had grandchildren, and now I don't even know who she IS anymore! ;) A kinder, gentler version of my dear mother has apparently body-snatched the whip-cracking, no-nonsense, rule enforcing, corporal punisher of yesteryear and left us with someone who reminds me more of, well, MY grandmother. It's funny how the birth of a grandchild does that to a person. :)

It's also funny how a fairly liberal, free-spirited co-ed, who has more than once put a bindi on her forehead, chanted in foreign tongues, contemplated the Wiccan lifestyle (I could go on, but I think you get the point) has now turned into... Yep. You guessed it: MY MOTHER. If anyone from my twenties were to meet me on the street right now, I'm SURE they would ask me the same question I ask my mom. And like my mom, I would be a little embarrassed as they checked off the characteristics that (THANKFULLY) no longer resemble the person I am today.

I guess the old saying is true: Having kids really does change things. That and the fact that I married a Republican. LOL! What that polo shirt wearing, pick-up truck driving, golf loving, SEC grad saw in this hippie wanna-be.... I may never know. Change is good, though. He now wears Birkenstocks and I vote Conservative, and as far as I know, Hell hasn't begun to freeze over just yet. :)

But seriously, I think that Americans are too busy trying to hang on to any semblance of their youth. Unlike the Native Americans who honor their elders, our culture idolizes the young. I'm coming to realize that beauty is not everything. Everyone is beautiful when they're 18. STUPID, but beautiful. Cocky, but beautiful. RECKLESS, but beautiful. Shortsighted, indulgent, narcissistic, immature.... but beautiful. As a person who always looked younger than I was, I couldn't WAIT to turn 30. I couldn't WAIT to be taken seriously. And as forty approaches... it's looking better and better all the time.

When I'm a grandma like my mom, I'll probably look back on my parenting skills and shudder... much the same way I do when I think about the brief period I didn't shave my legs or my underarms. And I'll probably laugh like I did right now. So I'm passing my torch to all the youngsters out there trying to find their way. I've got beds to make and dinner to prepare, and from looking at my mom and grandmother... some pretty big shoes to fill. :) I'll be happy to take their torch, and as much as I would like to set my past afire with it, I know it's made me who I am today. Exactly HOW is still unclear, unless magic was involved. :) And knowing my past, that's not entirely impossible.... (insert evil laugh here!)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Crazy May

No, it's not a real person.... it describes the time of year that inevitably finds me in a tizzy. Does anybody else out there go absolutley NUTS this time of year? It beats out the Christmas season around here, hands down. And I'm afraid my mental state is starting to show the wear with my physical state following close behind.

There is always an IEP meeting to attend, the end of the year teacher appreciation stuff (projects to be completed as well as parties to plan and buy for), let's add dress rehearsal and recital for dance class, Mother's Day, Anna's birthday, our annual Memorial Day beach trip, and Friday night Miracle League softball games. Aye!

To complicate matters, my grandfather who has lung cancer is not doing well and we are making every attempt to travel to see him as often as we can. The time is near, we've been told, so emotionally we are as whupped as we are physically. Aye-yie-yie!

So I HAVE taken it upon myself to step back from many of the duties that I have committed myself to for sanity's sake. This is UBER hard for me because I like to be a woman of my word (and I'm a control freak! LOL!) but something has to give and I can't be every woman... tho Chaka Kahn told me differently. :) I do hope to pick the blogging back up as it is so very cathartic for me. Please keep my family in your prayers and if you see a wooly-booger whirling around like the Tazmanian Devil, that'll just be me... trying to make it to June the first!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Only A Matter of Time

Today I am hanging in with my Sugarplum as she has seized herself into oblivion. One (if maybe the ONLY) perks to these days spent in the bed is the chance to watch all the awful daytime television that the law will allow. While Anna naps, I flip through the channels trying my best to find something, ANYTHING, that I can tolerate. Well, today I hit the jackpot.

I happened upon the Wendy Williams Show and I LOVE IT! That girl is so funny, and the best part, she got caught being photographed wearing a FANNY PACK and she is SO not apologizing for it. Gotta love a woman who will defend her fanny pack, right?

I, too, am the owner of a fanny pack (my sister will attest to this AND will bust my chops to boot if and when she remembers to). However, these days I have chosen to limit my fanny pack wearing to the days I have a yard sale ONLY (for cash holding purposes) for fear of being publicly humiliated by friends and family. But I must admit... I LOVE THE FANNY PACK! And what's not to love? All your possession's, close to you, safely zipped away, while your hands and arms are free to shop, walk, chase your kids, WHATEVER! Wendy's arguments for the fanny pack were similar and then she had photos of other celebs wearing THEIRS: Drew Barrymore, Donna Karan, Karinna (from DWTS), and Kanye West's freaky girlfriend. Okay, so much for the last one, but you have to admit, the first three are pretty credible, right?! Now sure, these celebs' packs are probably "designer," not at all like my purple, tree-hugger one, but a girl can only hope that today's the day that the fanny pack will make it's resurgence back into mainstream fashion. If not today, I'm holding out for tomorrow. It's only a matter of time... Until then, I'll be watching Wendy. :)