Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Shopping Via the Internet

I began my Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. NO, I was not one of those people up at the crack of dawn, standing in a line, elbowing my way to the deal of the century. I guess it was about 3:00 p.m. when Chuck and I mosey-ed on down to K-Mart to start making a dent in our Christmas list. Surprisingly, we STILL managed to get several things at TERRIFIC prices. Plus, the crowd was manageable and the check-out lines were moving like well-oiled machines. But the "holy Grail" of Christmas shopping came later that weekend when momma racked up doing some online shopping. My life will never be the same. :)

Where do you go when your nephew asks for an obscure DVD for his gift this year? Well, AMAZON, of course! Where do you turn when your dad wants some jeans, but wears an unusual size not found in stores? Yep. Amazon to the rescue again. Throw in free shipping and zero tax and momma starts doing her happy dance. Remind me to show it to you sometime. It's awesome.

Next, I head on over to where my mom had seen a purse on clearance that she wanted. To my surprise, they were having a 50% off sale on three of their most popular styles in retiring patterns. Well, for less than the cost of a purse on clearance, I got dear old mum a bag I would have never been able to buy for her otherwise. And there's always her birthday for that purse she had her eye on. I have never heard of Vera Bradley selling anything at 50% off. I had to pay shipping, but completely, totally worth it. YAY!!!

Santa has also been doing some online shopping, himself, for the little red-head. Jamie had been wanting a Miss Piggy doll like I had when I was a girl, and I haven't been able to find one anywhere locally. Ditto for the new Monster High dolls. Once again, Amazon hooked us up with Miss Piggy and we found two of the new Monster High dolls together on eBay for a steal (cuz Target was all sold out)! Combine all that with the fact that I did not waste any gas searching all over for all of the above items, I did not have to deal with traffic, crowded parking, harried shoppers, distressed sales clerks, or long check-out lines, and I would say woo-to-the-hoopty-hoo!!! It's no wonder I am in more of the "Christmas spirit" than I have been in years. Just a few more items to check off my list and I'm done! And I've given myself a deadline of this Saturday to have it all completed so I can relax and enjoy the rest of the season in peace...

Did any of you do any online shopping this year? It's SO the way to go, don'tcha think? Are y'all finished up with shopping or have you even started? As I was reminded this morning by the red-head... "Only 17 more days 'til Christmas Eve!!!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday...Top 4 Christmas Songs (No. 4)

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," isn't it? We have finally finished all the decorating (inside and out!). Whew! It's so wonderful to sit back and look at the tree in the evening or drive by houses all lit up for the season. Those sights make me happy. That's the reason I chose to share this song today for a little music therapy.

When I started this party on Thursdays over a year ago, I had no idea how much positive feedback I'd get from it. Some of my blogger friends are even jumping on the bandwagon and sharing a little music therapy of their own. That also makes me happy! Music is such a wonderful way to bring people together, no? So anyway, while talking to my friend Hollie, she mentioned that she was going to be sharing a Christmas edition of MTT and I thought I'd take her great idea one step farther and count down the next four Thursdays sharing my favorite Christmas songs with you. What are some of your favorite Christmas songs? Leave a comment if you'd like. I'd like to see if there are any obscure ones I could add to my list! Well, without further ado, let the awesome Christmas music begin!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cards or No Cards?

I got my first Christmas card of the season yesterday and it was BEAUTIFUL!!! A sweet family I know that moved recently sent a precious 5x7 flat card/picture of their adorable children and I immediately showed Chuck and the girls and hung it on our refrigerator. I want to message her on Facebook and tell her how much I appreciate her sending it and how much I think her kids have grown. I will also (somewhat) apologize for NOT sending out Christmas cards this year. Again.

Yep. You read that right. I may be the only person on the planet that is NOT sending out Christmas cards. In fact, I can't remember the last time we sent any out... but it's been several years. Are you surprised? Shocked? Disgusted? Don't be. I've pretty much given up the Christmas card guilt and have become okay with my decision. For the most part.

I enjoy getting Christmas cards and I keep the photos that come with/on the ones that people have taken the forethought to do in advance. Like I mentioned earlier, I like to see how people's children have grown from one year to the next and I bet I even have some relatives who don't live close by that wish I would do something like that with my crew. In a small way, I do too, but written correspondence has not always been my strong suit. In fact, I'm STILL working on thank-you cards from when Anna was in the hospital back in September. I'm SO not the typical southern lady, am I? So Christmas cards... eh. I just quit bothering a few years ago when life (along with the holiday season) got a little too hectic for us.

At first I decided that I would only send out cards to the people who were so kind to send us a card. Boy did THAT cut the list down in a hurry! And then after a year or two of that, I just got busy and forgot to get them out on time. In fact, the unopened, very full box of cards is still tucked away waiting for their chance to grace another home's mantel or doorway (and eventually their garbage can or recycling bin). Sigh. It just seems like a lot of waste to me.

This is the part where my sister will start calling me a hippie, or a snuggler of the trees, but think about it... Even if ALL the cards got recycled, it still seems a little excessive to me. With all the social media that we have today, I can keep in contact with anyone I want to and post pictures of my kids to my wall. I can wish everyone a Merry Christmas without waiting in line, buying said cards, purchasing stamps, hand addressing and then tieing up the wonderful USPS who are busy enough making sure Aunt Edna's fleece-lined booties make it to her house before December 25th. See. I don't send Christmas cards because I care. ((Snort.))

I understand that for many of you, it's a tradition, and trust me, I am in NO WAY trying to lure you to the dark side. I still have many Christmas cards signed by family members who are no longer with us and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I'm simply explaining to you why your mailbox will be missing a Christmas card from our family. We all have to do what works for us. And for me, it no Christmas cards. Is there any part of Christmas that you dread because it's "what you've always done in the past" or because it's what you think you are "expected" to do? Grinches UNITE!!! Let us all cut back where we can and make the holiday season a little less chaotic for ourselves and those around us. Who wouldn't like a less stressful Christmas? Sign me up!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preparing For the Rest of the Holidays: Deadlines or Dreadlines?

It's upon us, folks. The wonderful holiday season is officially in full swing with Thanksgiving being tomorrow and then it's full speed ahead until Christmas. Whew! Where did the time go? I know I keep asking that, but seriously. This year has FLOWN by. Are you ready for what lies ahead? It seems I get to this point every year and wish like the dickens that I had started earlier. With everything. I'm a planner by nature, so why in the world does this time of the year send me reeling? I have a couple ideas: expectations and procrastination.

I've worked myself into a tizzy this week preparing for overnight guests and family at our house this Thanksgiving. Wait! That's not procrastination, you say! You're right. But it IS expectation. I have a sickness and it's called I-want-my-house-to-look-like-a-magazine. Unrealistic, I know. But it doesn't stop me from trying to live the dream. I like things organized and put together in an esthetically pleasing manner. Unfortunately, I take things to the extreme and don't know when to say "enough." This would give you the impression that all I do is constantly organize and that my house must look amazing. Ha! I wish. And that's where the procrastination comes in.

Nothing like "company coming" to try and tackle all the projects I've been putting OFF. Painting, rearranging, tossing... Mental note: Make a list of tasks to be done and then make a deadline to finish them THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. Not just before your company is to arrive. Before the holidays. That would seem simple enough,, right? Yeah. One would think. The planning part I've had down pat. The deadline, not so much.

For instance, wouldn't it be wonderful to have all of your Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving so you could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the season? I've said in the past, " start Christmas shopping in January," but I've never given myself a deadline to have it completed. I've said, "put Christmas tree up November 1st," but have never had a deadline to have the decorating COMPLETED. Therefore, I'm always running around finishing up the final touches way after the fact, driving myself and all around me insane. FYI: my tree is still not up yet. Cuz I've been painting bedrooms, and rearranging furniture and making coffee tables out of discarded items. Madness. But back to deadlines... Doesn't that make so much sense? And perhaps that's what the rest of the world does. But for me, this is a revelation.

Many of you would argue that setting a deadline for the things that are supposed to be pleasant and fun would put a spin on the holiday season that you just don't want: one of just another task to be completed or a chore. And you may just have a pretty valid point. But momma works best under pressure and on a time schedule over here. Essentially, it's just a more organized way of waiting to the last minute, nailing all of my strengths and weaknesses in one fell swoop. Genius. I can't lose!

So while I'm not finished with my Christmas shopping (heck, I haven't even STARTED yet. Gulp.), I am still going to set myself up a little Christmas schedule, complete with deadlines, to help ease the chaos that inevitably ensues with each Christmas season. What about you guys? Do you have a plan or do you wing it? Check back later for how it all goes down. I'm getting excited! Happy Turkey Day, you all!

Friday, November 18, 2011


How did it get to be Friday already??? This week has totally gotten away from me. I've been pretty busy, volunteering at the school and trying to get this house in order for Thanksgiving next week. WHAT??? I know. My house STILL looks like a tornado went thru. Why does things have to look worse before it gets to looking better?

Anyway, I saw this on another blog a while back and thought it was pretty awesome. Until I can get my crap together and show you what I've been working on in the house (painting Jamie's room, upcycling a coffee table and re-doing the mudroom) I'll just leave you with this gentleman. His message is a little more important than mine and heck of a lot more entertaining. I dare you share it. I did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Get Permanent Marker Off Hardwood Floors

Yep. That's some good old-fashioned Colgate paste. Who knew?! Well, Google did. Naturally. :)

Excuse the craptastic photo. It was taken on Chuck's phone and I tried to enlarge it. Photographer extraordinaire, I am not. The pics below I took with my camera to document what happens when you leave a seven year old and her friend alone with some hi-jacked Sharpies from my office. No, they didn't exactly draw on the floor. Black permanent marker just happened to seep through the paper they were drawing their masterpieces on. Sharpies are cool like that.

To say I freaked is putting it mildly. Thank God Google came to my rescue. What on earth did we do before the Internet? I shudder to think...

Ahhh, more Sharpie loveliness. But, with a smidge of toothpaste (it HAS to be paste... no gel. Luckily we had some.) and a washcloth.... viola! Instant restoration with no damage to the finish.
Gotta love that. Just rub the toothpaste in with your finger and wipe the residue away. It doesn't get any easier than that.

And there's your "after" shot. I could hardly believe it, myself. Thank you, God and Colgate toothpaste!!! FYI...Chuck also said it will work wonders to get the stinky smell off your hands (like chicken smell if you work at a processing plant or garlic if you happen to use it on the chicken that comes from the processing plant). I sure love a good household tip, don't you? Hopefully you won't need this particular tip any time soon. Public service announcememt: Kids, Sharpies are NOT your friends. Oh yeah, and stay in school. ;) I'm gonna go stare at my ink free floors now. Catch y'all next week!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday... Mercy Me - "Move"

There's been a lot of sadness in the news lately with all the Penn St stuff (which is unfathomable, btw) and the passing of rapper/entertainer Heavy D. I also read where Wyatt Knight who played Tommy Turner in "Porky's" committed suicide this week in Hawaii after dealing with the physical and emotion pain of treating his stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. ((sigh)) Throw in some more flailing economy and whatever personal issues you might be dealing with and you've got yourself a recipe for some delicious depression.

Sometimes life can blindside us with something tragic right out of the blue. And then sometimes, it's just "the straw that broke the camel's back" that can send us reeling into the throws of sadness and despair. I have come to realize that it is not our circumstances that define us, but rather the way we react to those circumstances that determine our state of mind. Sure, go ahead and cry your eyeballs out. Shedding tears is very therapeutic... and it's not healthy to keep feelings and emotions bottled up inside you. But the moment after you're all cried out, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and put one foot in front of the other.

Life is hard and we ALL are dealing with something monumental. Myself... well, I'm choosing to move. I don't want to stay in that pit. And one thing's for certain, nothing ever stays the same (which is good news for those of us who are dealing with heartache right now). So if yesterday was unbearable: good news! Today is a new day! In a day or two, after putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, you'll be amazed at how far you've come. Remember, a journey begins with one.single.step. I'm not asking you to jump up and run to Happy Town in 27 and a half minutes. Just take one step in the opposite direction than where you were yesterday.

I've chosen this song for my music therapy today because it inevitably gives me the kick in the pants I need to keep going no matter what life tends to throw at me. I pray blessings for you today and much, much happiness in spite of ALL that's going on in the world around us. Now, let's MOVE!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Cookin'? Granny's Butternut Cake!

Ain't she purdy? Well, let's just cut to the chase, shall we? Yes, I, Lindsey Pearson, ACTUALLY made said cake. Shocking, I know. Yes, it was a labor of love. Pains and all. ;) And YES, it was edible. What am I saying, they LOVED IT!!! Success is so sweet. Kinda like this hunk of butternut deliciousness pictured above.

Like I said in my last post, I want to start cooking my way through a cookbook (ya know, all "Julie and Julia" like) so I decided that Chuck's birthday, yesterday, would be a good jumping off point. His grandmother (God rest her soul) used to make this for him EVERY birthday. It's his favorite. I prefaced the ordeal by saying that I was in NO WAY trying to replicate what Granny did so effortlessly... the woman worked magic in the kitchen. I was just trying to do something nice for his birthday and with any luck, not send anyone to the hospital with food poisoning. Kidding. ;)

There are no pictures of the process and that's probably a good thing because I made a MESS of the kitchen. I'll have to work on documenting this cooking thing. *Babysteps. :) But the end result turned out much better than I imagined, so I'll consider this one a win! He was SO surprised and raved and raved about how good it was. So without further ado, let's get to the recipe in case you want to try this one for yourself:

For the cake:
1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 TBS Butternut Flavoring
(I went to three stores looking for butternut flavoring. Apparently it's not as common as it used to be. Actually, the one I found was a vanilla and butternut combo, but it worked fine. For those that are local, I found it at Foodland.)
Mix cake according to directions on box, adding the 1 TBS Butternut Flavoring. Bake in three layers.

For the filling and frosting:
1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)
1 stick butter (softened)
1 box confectioners sugar
1 TBS Butternut Flavoring
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
(Last Thursday I went to visit my folks and got a sack full of pecans from their two big trees in the front yard. This little cooking adventure, if nothing else, taught me that I am NOT the best sheller of pecans. It is apparently a learned skill that takes time and patience (both of which I'm a little short on lately). Those little bags of nuts in the grocery store that are all pretty and perfect and WAY overpriced? Yeah. Worth every penny. Anyhoo, I DID roast them in the oven for a bit and it made a world of difference, so don't skimp on that step.)
Cream together cream cheese, butter and sugar until well blended. Add flavoring and nuts. Spread between layers, on the sides, and on top of cake. Then you're done! Yay!

In case you're wondering, Jamie put the candles on the cake. She made sure Chuck knew that the number of the candles was not really the age he was, but that we didn't have enough candles for all that. LOL! The red-head strikes again! She also "made" him a present by painting a hand in fingernail polish on one of our guest soaps and wrapped it in ribbon. Others might shake their heads and wonder "WTH?" I beam with pride cuz momma has a resourceful DIY'er on her hands! Anyway...let me know if you make Granny's delicious cake. Or the fingernail polish hand soap. ;) As long as it's made with love, I don't think we can go wrong!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cracking Open the Cookbooks... Go Ahead and Pick Yourself Up Off the Floor

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a cook. I CAN cook, I just do not enjoy it the way a lot of women do. My husband LOVES to cook, however, so he has become the designated chef for our family. Truth be told, that's MORE than okay with me, but I wonder sometimes how this reversal of roles in our kitchen will affect my litlle redhead as she embarks on her own journey to become a domestic goddess. Somewhere inside me I feel like she should see her mom cooking (as old fashioned as that sounds and even though she could learn SO much more from her dad). So today I had an idea that would put me back in the kitchen more, improve my culinary skills, and could perhaps be fun to boot. Lemme explain...

I've been rearranging things in the house lately and have finally put every book I own in one bookcase in the office. This includes cookbooks as well. Sure, it would make more sense for cookbooks to be in the kitchen, but I've got limited real estate in there as it is. And besides, for a gal that doesn't cook much, I've got A LOT of cookbooks. Many have been handed down from Chuck's grandmother and my mom, but Chuck and I have accumulated a fair share of our own. It hit me today that I should put those suckers to use or just get rid of them. So I've chosen the former.

In the style of the movie "Julie and Julia" I thought it might be neat if I took a cookbook and "cooked" my way through it (or at the least, try and make one recipe a week from the different cookbooks that take up a whole shelf and a half of my gi-normous bookcase). I would feature the recipe on here and tell you where it came from and also tell whether it was a hit with the fam or an epic fail. I think I'll call this series "What's Cookin'?" (or more appropriately "What's That Bubbling Over On the Stove, Momma?" LOL!). Seriously, though. I think this could be fun. Look for a "What's Cookin'?" post later in the week!

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Watch"-ing the Redhead Learn Time Management

My husband works with a man that frequents auctions and on more than one occasion, we have been the recipients of some of the treasure that he has bought "sight unseen." Last night Chuck brought in a "Little Miss Chatterbox" watch from Avon (new in the box) that Mr. Arab had sent for Jamie. She loved it so much that she had to sleep with it on. Adorable, right? But momma has reasons for loving this watch too.

This morning while barking out how much (or little) time is left before she has to walk out the door to get to school, I stop myself and begin to shift gears. Taking Jamie aside and showing her on her watch that when the "big" hand gets to the three, Nana Mary will be here to pick her up and she MUST BE READY. I've done this before with the clock on the wall, but something about having her own beautiful pink time piece to keep her on track made all the difference. Insert "Halleleujah Chorus" here! Without missing a beat she said, "And now I'll be able to know when it's time for lunch, too!" Priorities. I've taught her so well! With me and "Little Miss Chatterbox" in her corner, she just might be able to conquer the world! Thanks, Arab. I think our mornings may be taking a turn for the better. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday.... I Wanna Put On My My My My My Boogie Shoes!

I have been singing this song since early Sunday morning and I knew then I had to share it for some music therapy today. There are more "cleaned up" versions on You Tube, funkier versions, more versions in stereo and HD, but this one came from "American Bandstand" (didn't we all look forward to that show on Saturdays?) and this version sounds like it's coming right out of our 1975 television set. I'm a traditionalist, what can I say...

I had an epiphany that if I just put some of my favorite dance songs (like this one) on my mp3 player, and danced around like a maniac (like I do when I hear this song... I can't help myself) maybe I wouldn't have to spend so much time on the treadmill. After all, boogieing AT LEAST 3 nights a week in college was my fitness regime back in the day. ;) Couldn't hurt to give it a re-try, right? Put a Swiffer Sweeper in my hands and I could have a clean house AND a cardio workout. I think I might just be on to something.... I'm going to put on my-my-my-my-my boogie shoes and give it a try! Enjoy a little KC and his Sunshine Band today and Happy Thursday, y'all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good Deal!

I'm always inclined to share the love when I try something and it rocks my face off. This would be one of those times.

For most of the year, I get my morning caffeine fix from a can of Diet Coke. But something about cooler temps gets me craving a good cuppa joe, even in the evenings. To keep myself from being wired til all hours of the night, I try to keep decaf on hand. But what happens when I look in the cabinets to find we are OUT of coffee? Well, momma sets off to get her some.

There are two Wal-Marts within 15 minutes each way of my house that I try to avoid at all cost, especially if I only need an item or two. For those quick trips I tend to mosey on down to my local Walgreens that is (almost) walking distance from my abode. Not wanting to spend a lot of dough on some java(cuz it was not on sale) I opted to purchase the Walgreens brand (Cafe W) of decaffeinated coffe in original roast this time around. Momma was NOT disappointed.

This coffee is delicious. Better than the Dunkin' Donuts brand I bought last time, fo sho. I've served it to guests and THEY have asked what kind of cofee it is. They can hardly believe it when I tell them it's the Walgreens brand! I'll be trying the fully leaded kind next and scouring the circular just waiting for it to go on sale! Are there any off-brands that you like better than the name brands? Looks like an "off-brands" post may be in my future. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday... Anna's Song

Today at 10:00 a.m. I will be meeting with Anna's teachers to establish a new IEP that will enable her to return to school for half days following the brain surgery she had on September 27, 2011. She is surpassing all expectations with her recovery, and we couldn't be happier.

Last night, for example, we got her to "blow kisses" to us for the first time ever. Words don't do justice to just how huge this is! Since surgery, she has been much more alert and focused and (obviously) able to follow directions better than ever. She acts like she feels so good and of course, that makes the rest of us feel good! Time will tell about how the surgery will affect her seizure disorder, but if the past few weeks are any indication of what we can expect, we are over the moon!

I have always loved Natalie Merchant and this song, but when I stumbled upon it again while Anna was in ICU, I knew WHY I have always loved it. Little did I know all those years ago as I sang along to it in the car, the REASON behind the song and how much I would relate to it with my very own little "wonder." I sat in the waiting room that night, tears streaming, feeling like Natalie Merchant had written this song just for me. I dedicate it to my precious wonder, Anna, and know that without a doubt "with love, with patience and with faith, she'll make her way."

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Superwoman" is an Oxymoron

I got a letter in the mail the other day from my GP informing all her patients that she will be closing her practice at the end of November. My first reaction was a gasp due to shock, followed by sadness then frustration. I LOVE my doctor. She takes extremely good care of me. Getting re-acquainted with another physician and spoon feeding them my complete and somewhat complex medical history AGAIN is not at the top of my list of things I dearly enjoy or have time to do. Hmmph. But then it hit me.

This doctor is a mom to three children. Two are twins. Last year she lost her dad. She is married. And she ROCKS as an M.D. One thing that's NOT on her resume is Superwoman. Pardon me for not cutting her a little more slack. In her letter she states that she has chosen to spend more time with her family and I say good for her! As modern women, we are taught that we can have it all. I'm inclined to believe that is a bald-faced lie. I jokingly refer to myself as "every woman" and belt out Chaka Khan's iconic chorus with the rest of my Generation X sistas, but deep down inside, I don't believe wearing a plethora of hats is something we can do for an extended period of time without someONE or someTHING getting the short end of the stick.

I'm NOT saying all women should stay home and not work. I'm NOT saying you can't balance children and a career. What I AM saying is that it is my opinion that smart people know their limitations and realize that you can't be everything for everybody. How many men do we see driving their kids to school, putting in their eight hours at the office, taking the kids to Scouts, throwing in a load of laundry when they walk in the door, fixing some grub for the family, checking in on their aging parents, helping the kids with homework, overseeing bath time, balancing the checkbook, paying all the bills, keeping up with their personal grooming head to toe, and still finding time to connect with their spouse before collapsing from exhaustion just to get up and do it all over again the next day? Exactly. You're picking up what I'm putting down. Women are extraordinary, no doubt.

But we shouldn't feel like we have to adhere to that pace to be successful. What if we all just pulled back and focused our efforts on the things in life that mattered most to us? And that list is different for all of us, friends. Where am I spreading myself too thin? What or who can use a little more of me? Interesting questions. I'll be pondering these while finding another physician. See, she never stops helping me be the best possible me. Thanks, Dr. Clifton. You will be missed...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Entertaining on a Dime... Actually on $8.64!

Thank you, Dollar Tree, for saving my hide once again. We threw an impromptu Italian dinner on Friday night for some friends and because I'm the hostess with the mostess, I felt the need to stock a make-shift bar with a few different red wines to compliment the hub's eggplant parmesan. Realizing Thursday night that there was no red wine glass to be found in the whole house, I set out to find some.

First stop was Wal-Mart, and their assortment of glassware was so pathetic that I'm not going to waste your time bad-mouthing them. Remembering that I had gotten some margarita glasses at a good price for a friend at Belk a few years ago, I headed there next. I did find a suitable set of wine goblets but they wanted $34.00 for a set of FOUR! Sorry, Belk. I am SO not spending that.

As a last resort, I thought I'd try Dollar Tree. And Ba-Bam! Eight red wine goblets (all a nice shape and quite sturdy) to the tune of $8.64 tax and all. And at that price, if one (or two:D) get broken along the way, I won't be reaching for the Pinot Noir to drown my sorrows! LOL! I've been wanting to add some champagne flutes to my glassware collection, so guess who's making a return visit? :) What are some of the things you frequent your local dollar store for? What's been your "deal of the century" there? Leave a comment and we'll all compare!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Throwing Caution to the Wind

Sometimes I get too obsessed with my schedule. I can't play with the girls, cuz I've GOT to get these dishes done. I can't invite anyone over because today is laundry day and I CAN'T get behind. I couldn't possibly break our evening routine or the earth might stop still on it's axis. And where does that leave me? Checking off my unending to-do list, up to my elbows in dish suds, and smelling "April fresh." And that's about it.

I don't know what's gotten into me lately, but in the last 24 hours, I have made a conscious decision to put more effort into my relationships than into my domestic duties. I have stepped over toys making my way out the door to walk with a friend. AFTER supper. On a school night. Gasp! I've left laundry in the hamper to go and have breakfast with another friend. What's for supper tonight, you ask? I have no idea. I've decided to write this blog post about how good it feels to "let go" and worry about dinner later. And as far as I know, the world is still turning. Wait... Yep. Still turning. ;)

Don't worry, this outrageous behavior will in no way become the status quo around here. I just think that living life on "housekeeping auto-pilot" can be just as detrimental as never adhering to any schedule at all. In a hundred years, your floors will be mopped by someone else living in your house. Your dishes will be packed up in your great-grand daughter's attic. And what will be said for your life? I hope my life will read like this: "She played with her girls. She loved her family. She listened to her friends. She welcomed everyone into her heart and into her home." Balance. And who couldn't use a little more of that?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Me and My Ride Compare AKA: Random Musings About Momhood and Minivans

Both are indispensable for getting the family where we need to go. With all the crap that comes with. ;)

The kids take a toll on us daily and it shows!

Speaking of, both of us could use a little TLC in the grooming department.

We are both NOT the latest model, but was top of the line back in the day. ;)

You can find us sputtering around, "running on empty" half the time.

The older we get, the more maintenance we require!

The kids love us and all the bells and whistles we provide for them, but would NEVER admit said love for sheer embarrassment.

Yesterday, my battery died in car line. I'm hoping this is where we draw the line with our comparisons (she writes, laughing nervously). Although, Chuck DID drop everything to come and get me going again. Loving the romantic connotations here. I'm lame, I know. I drive a minivan, remember?

We are both a lot bigger than I thought necessary, but FABULOUS nonetheless!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Food For Thought

Every time we get a puppy, Anna has some life-threatening hospital stay. I'm thinking this may be our last puppy for a LONG time. Like ever.

Every time I make plans to "change my life," life, as it turns out, has OTHER plans for me. Life lesson: I'm really not as in control as I think I am.

Dreaming about someone I love that is no longer with me is almost like being with them again. In my dream I remember what their hands look like, and how their hugs felt long after my conscious mind had forgotten. Sigh...

Hollywood has not come up with an original movie idea in YEARS (with only a few exceptions). Quit making money off of someone else's brainchild. Re-makes are old and putting a movie in 3-D and re-releasing it is just lame. Of course the last movie I saw in the theater was "High School Musical 3" so my opinion might not carry much weight.

I am currently dealing with an apparent card hoarding addiction. Only yesterday did I successfully discard cards given to me when I graduated from college. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO, people. Gah! I'm letting go. Moving on. What exactly was I holding on to?

I find it most intriguing that after visiting New York last month, us southerners are quite repressed in our thoughts and actions as a whole. Why IS that?

Finding an old pay-stub or checkbook register from years ago can really put things in perspective and put your present financial circumstances in a far better light than you imagined. Just think how much better it can be five or ten years from NOW...

"Phineas and Ferb" is pure genius. If only summer vacation was really 104 days...

Is 39 too old to start making a "bucket list?"

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Year of "Me"

Back in December, as part of my New Year's Resolution, I vowed to make this year "the year of ME." I had big plans to put Momma "back on the list," so to speak: get back to the dentist, get some new glasses, finally get in shape, etc. Well, it's August 1st (WHERE did the summer go?), and "the year of Me" has yet to get underway. Typical.

So I've decided that today, August 1st, marks a new beginning... and with school starting in just a mere two weeks, what better time to devote a little more time to Momma! :) And, shall I even mention that the big 4-0 is only 322 days away???? Gasp. Shocking, I know. Seriously, I don't look a day over 28, right?... cough...cough.. Don't answer that. Just join me as I make some mid-life, er... I mean some MID-YEAR resolutions...

1. Because I want to ring in my forties as one hot momma (and I'm not talking about pre-menopausal flashes, people!), I've decided to try (operative word) to get back down to what I weighed when I got married 11 years ago. And in case you were wondering, that was 135 pounds. I weighed 162.4 on Saturday. Do the math. Yep. 27.4 pounds. But hey, if those people on t.v. can do it, I can too. So I'm back on Weight Watchers and the exercising routine.

2. Another goal I have made for myself is to run a 5K. A few months ago I was doing the "From Couch to 5K" podcasts and got to week 7 of the 9 week program., I quickly threw it to the wayside as soon as summer set in, however, and have not done much of anything "exercise-y" since. Yesterday I actually started back and did day1 of week 1 AGAIN. I thought I might be able to skip up a couple of weeks but...ummm.... NO. But the good news is that by September the 30th, I should be able to run the full 5 kilometers. And by training again, it will help me achieve goal numero uno. That's me...the multitasker. ;)

3.Got to, GOT to, GOT TO to make an appointment and go to the GP for a physical, the dentist for a check-up, and the eye doctor for some new specs. My current eyewear is six (yeah, count 'em: SIX) years old. I haven't been to the dentist in 9 years (don't judge me). The girls and Chuck go every six months, I just don't ever get around to it.. So that's all on the to-do list for when the girls are in school. I figure if I put it on here, I'm actually going to have to break down and make the appointments. Y'all can hold me accountable. Feel free. Please.

4. And this one is just a "want to" (but I could give you a list as long as my arm on why I "need to") and that is: Lasix eye surgery before the end of the year. Besides Anna grabbing at my glasses all the time, I hate running (or exercising period) with glasses because they always slide down my face when I get all sweaty. Not to mention when I'm all contorted trying to clean the toilet bowl, they slide down then too. That last one is a lame one for sure, but I had to throw it in there. Mostly because it's true. LOL! And if I could wear contacts comfortably I would, but I can't. So there. Convinced? Well, I tried...

5. And lastly (actually this is a pact my friend Lori and I made this weekend), NO MORE GRANDMA CLOTHES! T-shirts and elastic waist pants sure are comfy, but come ON. I'm 39 not SEVENTY-NINE!!! As soon as the girls get back to school, I'm giving my closet an OVERHAUL. I'm only buying things I absolutely love and that fit great. I figure I would rather have a few good pieces that are flattering, than a closet full of crap. And right now, my closet is pretty craptastic. Plus that whole ordeal would make for some pretty interesting blog posts, no?

So that's it for now. I thought I'd keep the list fairly short as to make the tasks more do-able. What about the rest of you? Where do you stand with your New Year's resolutions? Do you need to get back on the wagon and make yourself a priority? What are you waiting for? We'll do it together! I'm reminded of a quote that says "Life does not have a remote control. You have to get up and change it yourself!" Well said...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday... Singing Anyway

I've been in a funk lately... and not the "George Clinton and the Funkadelic" kind. ;) Most times, a somber mood is a catalyst for some righteous ramblings, but for whatever reason, I've become stricken with writers block. It's probably a good thing, actually. A couple of things I'm dealing with right now might be better resolved through reflection, contemplation, and prayer rather than the angry rantings of a lunatic! LOL! Although I realize the rantings are a lot more fun to read...

So, taking the high road (my little legs are so tired!), I've decided to choose a song today that I actually sing as a prayer. Inevitably, it moves me to tears every time I do. Cuz here's the deal: (Number 1) I'm a mess. I fail miserably as a wife, mother, friend, Christian, etc., etc., (we ALL do) because we are imperfect human beings. (And number 2) Life is HARD, folks. And quite unfair. Don't even try to trick yourself for one solitary second that it's not. Having a positive attitude is only going to take you so far. You can still do all the right things and have the rug swept right out from under you without warning. Why? I don't even have a clue.

But one thing I do know is having a relationship with God makes a difference while living in this broken, temporal, human existence. I stumble, but I don't fall. By God's grace and mercy I have a supernatural strength to endure the storms that come. I am certain that if it weren't for the plan that he has for my life, and my choice to accept it, that the circumstances of my 39 years on this planet would have consumed me physically, mentally, and emotionally and brought me to my ruin. Instead I have hope:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:28, 37

So as you listen to a little music therapy today by Heather Williams, ask God to come to where you are. He's just waiting for the invitation. "On my knees here I fall, in spite of it all... Hallelujah! And though it seems hard, I'm still trusting you, Lord... Hallelujah!" Hallelujah, indeed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.... Music Therapy Thursday

This song always makes me think of college... only because I used to stalk this band that covered this song! LOL! But I've chosen it today as my music therapy because there are some pretty big changes going on around here. Ahh... being an adult is SO fun.

First of all, we have decided to put the brakes on the remainder of all the testing Anna needs to qualify for brain surgery. Our last hospital stay was only slightly less than horrendous and Chuck and I feel that she just needs a break from the poking and prodding. She doesn't understand how all of this medical stuff might help her in the future, she just knows that it's ZERO fun. And that's putting it mildly. Right now she is doing well with the last medicine change; and though it's probable she will fail it eventually (as she has with the rest), right now she's doing well.

We have weighed our pros and cons and feel that right now, doing what we're doing is working for her and the rest of our family. We are not ruling surgery out completely in the future, we are simply putting the brakes on for a while. I guess you could say we are just "shifting gears" as far as surgery goes and are going to enjoy the ride for a while. It's summer, after all. ;)

The other big change looming is that, as of this week, Chuck will be stepping down as plant manager and returning to his previous job as shipping manager. This has floored a lot of people, but rest assured, it was a decision we BOTH made to better our family. There comes a time in everybody's life when you realize what's important and what's not. Money, though helpful, is not always the most essential part of what makes a happy home run smoothly. Status and power will not make the days I spend in bed with my seizing child any easier. Having a husband who is available (mentally and physically) will benefit ALL of us. I'm proud of the fact that we are not strapped financially or "house poor" so that we can make a decision like this and not regret a single second of it. We still have debt, but so much less than we used to thanks to the wonderful opportunity of him being plant manager for almost two years.

Now, thank God, we are no longer a slave to the workplace. His job will once again return to something that he does instead of being who he is. I'm looking at it as a wonderful opportunity to regroup as a family and I couldn't be happier! Thanks be to God for his mercy in this situation as it's literally been an answer to prayer. The stars just aligned perfectly to open up his previous job and to have his decision approved by the "higher-ups." They could have blocked him from doing it, but understand what we deal with at home and support him fully. How awesome is that? Sometimes life is so good. Now is one of those times!

A lot of people do not like change. Sure, it can be scary, but a rut is a rut. And just because your rut has become your "normal" doesn't make it any less of a rut. Just because everybody else thinks that living in a rut is the only way to live, doesn't mean you have to. Life is too short to live anything other than the best life you can. Start today to make the changes necessary for yourself and your family. What do you have to lose? The rut? Good riddance!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday...Fourth of July Edition

What song makes you feel all patriotic? "Born In The USA?" "God Bless the USA?" Surely, "The Star Spangled Banner" tops the list. As for me, I like to funk-tify my Fourth with a little Godfather of Soul. Plus, I'm a child of the 80's, so I had to go with "Living in America" for some music therapy today. Anybody got some totally awesome plans this weekend? Our weekend involves lots of swimming with friends so my kids are super pumped. As I lay on some sort of floatation device, drinking a cold drink, slathered in SPF 50, I'm going to be thankful for the freedoms that we as Americans possess and ask God to continue to bless this great nation of ours. And channeling a little James Brown, you might just hear a "HAH! I feel GOOD!" coming from the deep end of the pool...

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Front Door Gets A Patriotic Salute

Decorating for the holidays is something that I enjoy doing, but unfortunately, it can get costly. Lucky for me, I have an eye for bargains. While perusing the isles of a local decorating store, I spy these red, white and blue flowers that were marked down after Memorial Day for a cool two bucks.

That definitely fits Momma's budget! If you look closely, you'll notice that they were meant as cemetery flowers, but I saw a cute arrangement for my front door instead. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box, ya know? I also picked up two little picks of red white and blue "berry"-like thingies for a little extra jazz. Those little guys only set me back about a buck a piece. My bank account is loving me right now! LOL!

Combined with a little container I purchased last fall, some fake ivy and three little flags I already had on hand... now we have a lovely little door hanging that is pretty and patriotic! Stay tuned for more from the front porch as I reveal the before and after pics from our re-do and more Fourth of July decorations...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Changing the World...One Can of Spray Paint At a Time

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that bronze fixtures are where it's AT. From bathroom faucets, to ceiling medallions, bronze is boss in decorating circles these days. Crafty bloggers have been singing the praises of Krylon's Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint for evah. Naturally, I am the last to jump on the bandwagon, but better late than never, right?!?

I wish I could remember which blog I stole this from because I would give credit where credit is due. But alas, the brain has failed me again. Anywho... not long ago I noticed my floor vents were looking a bit shabby. Wanting to trade them for the ones with a bronze finish, I had decided that I would just buy one or two at a time until I had replaced them all, since buying them all at once would put a strain on the ol' pocketbook. But then I saw where someone had spray painted their vents and it looked fabulous, so I decided I would give it a try.

Exhibit A: Rusty, white, builders grade floor vent. Yuck.

And Exhibit B: Lovely, new-looking, fancy floor vents courtesy of ORB (that's Oil Rubbed Bronze for you newbies!)! You can't tell very well in the pictures but it's a beautiful brownish-black with just a hint of shimmer. Gawjuss!!!

Even the hubs agrees that they look mahvelous! And getting him to notice, much less comment on some floor vents, is a testament to it's fabulosity! All I did was wash them really well, sand the rusty spots with fine grit sandpaper and spray them down with very light coats until all the nooks and crannies were covered. That's it! One down... ten more to go! I'll give you one guess what I'll be doing in my downtime this summer... ;)

Here's another pic to show you how well they go with my black chairs. Lurve. Have you tried Kyrlon's ORB? I've seen it used from candle sticks and chandeliers to door knobs and drawer pulls. One blogger even sprayed her faucet in the bathroom sink! No lie! I'm hooked. Just wondering what else would look great in bronze after I finish up the vents... Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Seven years ago today we welcomed a feisty little red-head to our brood. The pediatrician we saw in the hospital said that she was the smallest baby in the nursery... with the biggest set of lungs! Not much has changed since then. ;)

It might sound strange, but I knew when I was carrying her that she was a strong spirit. I wanted her name to reflect her strength and to honor a family member (as we do so often here in the south). We decided on Jamie Ruth (after my brother who had passed away and my grandmother on my mom's side). I felt that since her name was unisex, it could hold it's own with her less than demure personality that was evident from the get-go.

Little Ruthie (as we called her in the beginning) was the antithesis of Anna's laid-back, easy going demeanor. She was a joy, don't get me wrong. But she always had this determined little furrow to her brow that accompanied her Frank-Sinatra-I'll-do-it-"My Way" attitude. It seemed that if I wanted her to go right, she'd go left just because she could.

The terrible twos were more terrible than I have time to write about here. And I'm only half-kidding. ;) She kept me on my parenting toes, so to speak, and because of that, I've read more books on strong-willed children and discipline than you can shake a stick at. I've joked in the past that if she had been my first child, she would have been my only! But as time has put a little distance between then and now, I believe that our relationship has become (among other things) a beautiful metaphor of "iron sharpening iron."

I've learned from this beautiful red-headed baby that a fiery disposition coincides with a passion for life like no other. I've learned that wearing your heart on your sleeve is really love in it's most innocent and sincere form. I've learned that though having "no filter" in your thoughts and actions might make you unpopular with others, it takes more guts to deal with the aftermath than simply being a wall-flower. I've also learned that the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" mentioned in the bible can be a typical Monday afternoon with a red-head after she's heard the words "no you may not!"

I've learned that six year olds can articulately explain the handicaps of their siblings to curious friends and neighbors as well as jump to their defense if they feel that someone is "staring" or not being sensitive enough. I've learned that when you pray to God for patience, He will send down as many practice tests as He feels is necessary until said virtue is mastered. I've learned to NEVER say "my child will never (throw a tantrum like that, eat chicken fingers morning, noon, and night, get a toy every time we go to Wal-mart, etc., etc.)... as she has inevitably done all those things and ten thousand more.

I've learned that sometimes we hurt the people we love the most because they are the ones that we can really let our hair down with. This helps me understand that I'm not always the target. Most times, I'm the safe haven. :) I've learned that letting my temper blow and getting down on a six-year-old level in an argument is lazy parenting and that you are never too old (and should never be too proud) to say you're sorry. I've learned that saying "yes" every now and again won't kill me. Sometimes it's down-right fun.

But most importantly, having Jamie has taught me that love never divides. It only multiplies. There's always enough to go around no matter how many kids you have, how many disabilities you have to deal with in a day, or how completely opposite your personality may be from your child's.

I couldn't be any more proud of my little Diva. She's following in the steps of her name-sake and exceeding all my expectations with her music. She loves the violin, plays songs on a horn by ear, and has been strumming Uncle Jamie's guitar since she was about three years old. She's inherited my obsession with Barbies and loves to cook like her dad. She has a flair for the dramatic, even with her wardrobe. I love picking out clothes for her when I shop. That girl loves her some bling! But her heart! I love her sweet heart the most. She loves deeply and openly and makes no apologies for who she is. In that sense, I wish I were more like her. Happy birthday to my sweet pumpkin pie! Momma loves you so!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sharing the Love

Ya know what I love? A product that lives up to all the advertising hype we as consumers are forced to endure during the 60 second commercial breaks from "Judge Judy" or "House Hunters International." I've found the "holy grail" of mops, peeps, and I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't share with you how incredibly awesome it is.

In the past I was a loyal Swiffer Wet Jet user. I liked the Wet Jet. It served me well. But Libman has taken the idea of the Wet Jet and made it better. Easier. Dare I say it... cheaper. Let me introduce you to the Libman "Freedom" mop. I'm in love with this thing. How so? Let me count the ways...

Starting at the top, the trigger is manual, so there are no batteries to buy or recharge. Ka-ching! There are no specific cleaners to buy either. The reservoir can be opened and refilled with any cleaning product of your choice. I've switched to using non-toxic, environmentally safe cleaners from a company called Shaklee, so I can just mix up a batch and add it to the mop. LOVE that. Also the cleaning pads can be thrown in the wash so there's zero waste. The mop comes with one pad, but I've bought a couple extra (about $6 each) as a back-up. They work really well, too, as they have these little scrubbers sewn in to the fabric. Sometimes momma's floors need that extra little scrubbing power!

The cost for a mop is about $20 which I think is a great buy. If you are still using a traditional mop (or a Wet-Jet) you need to RUN to your local super center and pick yourself up one of these bad boys. You can thank me later. And trust me... you will. ;)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Getting My Craft On

I'm a fan of the gift bag. Yes, there was a time when I meticulously wrapped presents and fussed with bows until they were "just-so." But now-a-days I'm a crazy-busy mom so I keep a stash of bags on hand (along with tissue paper, of course) so I can be ready at a moment's notice when a birthday party comes along.

I'm also a fan of re-using the bags we get throughout the year. Doing so keeps unnecessary trash out of landfills and keeps more moolah in my wallet! But lately I've become interested in using reusable shopping bags and wanted to start giving gifts in bags that could actually be used by the recipient for a long time to come.

I purchased this little gem of a canvas tote at Wal-Mart (for $5!) to house the gift I'm giving to one of Jamie's sweet little friends from church. Sure, it's adequate and cute enough... but it needed something more. What's a momma in need of some quality craftin' time to do? Bang out some embellishments on the sewing machine, that's what!

Ahhh... much better. No matter the crafting question, ruffles and a cute monogram applique is always the answer! Add a pocket and you're good to go! I hope sweet little Katy likes her new bag and all the goodies inside. Spoiler alert: this may be my "go-to" gift this year. I mean, what's not to love? So easy. So fun. So eco-friendly. And most importantly, so cute!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meet Jasper!

Welcome the newest addition to our family! Yesterday we gave Jamie her birthday present early and drove to Arab, AL to pick up this adorable little yorki-poo puppy!

Pardon the blurry photos. I'd like to blame the camera, but I'm afraid it's the photographer- not the equipment- that's the problem! With the help of our friend Olivia (who hung out with us all day yesterday and gave us awesome pet-owners advice!) we named him Jasper James. Jasper, because it's just a cool name, and James after his momma, Jamie. Yep. Baby girl is going to be most of the work...I mean pet care. So far so good! Of course, it's only day two!

You can tell by that smile that she's enamoured with him, as we all are. Well, everyone except Ginger the cat We're hoping in time she'll warm up to him. Right now she's not happy with ANY of us! LOL! It's been a long time since we've had a puppy and it's almost like having a baby in the house again. You know, without all the spit up and the worry for college fund! Can't wait to watch this little guy grow. Summer is off to a fun start!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts From a Burden Bearer

Something happened yesterday that happens to me quite often. So much so, in fact, that I'm tempted to start keeping a tally. It was brought to my attention a while back by friend of mine who said it happens to her all the time too. Sometimes it's a stranger, sometime it's not. But inevitably, for whatever reason, people seek me out to help them bear their burdens. Strange, right?

I'm starting to wonder about this unusual draw I have on people that enables total strangers to tell me their whole-life story in gory detail without batting an eyelash. And it happens EVERYWHERE. At a child's birthday party. While getting a pedicure. At Wal-Mart in the greeting card isle. In the office at school. For a split second, it's as if I've morphed into this person's long-lost friend and they begin to pour out their soul to me. I've heard stories about abuse, kidnapping, upcoming trial dates, in-law disputes and mental illness... Just to name a few. And that's just the four scenarios I listed above. These aren't just your usual gripes about your husband not helping enough, or how badly the kids are behaving. These are stories that will wrench your heart out. Like being homeless and jobless. Like being beaten by your boyfriend. Like watching your baby turn blue and stop breathing, unable to resuscitate her. And there I sit (or stand) wondering why this person has chosen me to divulge such secrets to. Why me? Why now?

Perhaps it's because I've stopped to listen. Perhaps they would tell their story to anyone with a willing ear. Or perhaps it's a divine appointment with a hurting soul that God has planned for in advance. His name gets brought up in the conversation at some point, by either them or me. The lady waiting for the attempted murder trial of her boyfriend said, "If you're a praying woman, remember me." I almost lost it. I told her I was and that I would pray for her. I wonder how she's making it and if she's sitting next to someone right now telling her story.

Chuck doesn't get it. It angers him that people "dump" on me (his words) when our life is FAR from a walk in the park. " Tell them you've got problems, too! Let one of THEM walk in your shoes for 24 hours and see how sane they'd be!" And he's right. We've got problems. Problems that all the money in the world can't fix. We hurt. We struggle. And maybe that's why I listen to these people. Because I know hurt and loss and frustration and fear. We ALL have our crosses that we bear in this life. But somewhere along the way, I've chosen Light and maybe people in the darkness of their situation are drawn to the Light I've chosen. Perhaps like the sleepy-eyed child they blink at It's brightness and reach for the warmth of It's rays. And if that's the case, I'm honored to be a conduit for the life-giving, burden bearing, one, true Light. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm BAAAACK! (Insert sing-song-y voice here!)

Whew! What a couple of months we've had! Tornadoes, no power, a short stint at my moms, plus all the "end of the year" stuff with all the girl's activities (parties and awards and a field trip... Oh my! LOL!). I get tired just thinking about it all! Springtime, at least in OUR household, is our busiest time. And though Momma loves her solitude that sending her children to public school affords, I AM looking forward to the laid back days and unhurried mornings that summer vacation brings.

All that being said, our June is already BOOKED. Wait! What happened to all that "laid back" yadda-yadda and "unhurried" mumbo-jumbo? I guess that will have to wait until July! LOL! On the bright side, there should be LOTS of good, blog-worthy material to write about. So if you haven't bailed on me yet, I promise a feast of crafts, home improvement projects, life lessons, and lots of laughs this summer. So grab your ice cold lemonade, put you feet up, and hang with us as we try to get the very most out of our hazy, (not-so) lazy days of summer!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where Does The Time Go? Happy Birthday Anna...

There I sat, finishing up the scrapbook I was making for my little sister's graduation from high school. It was a nice distraction. Cutting, pasting, getting each page just right while reliving a few memories courtesy of Kodak. Waiting. My induction began at midnight. Three days past my due date. We were too excited to sleep.

Still newlyweds (married only for 11 months), Chuck and I could hardly believe the whirlwind our lives had become. We met Labor Day weekend 1999. Twelve weeks later, we were engaged. Seven months after that, we said "I do." And a short three months later (exactly a year to the day that we met!) I found out that we were expecting. It shouldn't have been such a surprise. We were trying, after all. Convinced our biological clocks were ticking themselves into a frenzy, we decided to have children right away. We never imagined it would happen so quickly, though.

We painted the nursery yellow. We wanted a gender neutral color palette... mostly because we decorated before we knew what we were having. Excited? A touch. Anxious? Of course. Living the fairy tale? You bet. I took one last look in her room before we left for the hospital. In a few short days, she would be sleeping in that pretty, yellow room. I could hardly believe it.

We were early (natch). We waited in the car in the parking garage of the hospital until the clock in the car blipped to 12:00 a.m. and then we made our way to the emergency room to check in. I noticed a sign that said to let the nurse know if you are in labor. I was thankful that I was being induced and that things were calm and orderly.

The labor and delivery room was smaller than I thought it would be. Chuck and I never toured the hospital or took any pre-natal classes like some other couples we know. There had hardly been time with my work schedule (I worked right up until the Thursday before I was induced that early Tuesday morning). We settled in... me in the bed and Chuck in a straight-back chair. Seriously. There were no frills in that room. This was before the Women and Children's Wing had been built with their spacious rooms and pull-out couches. My groom had to spend the next 13 or so hours in that puny, little, uncomfortable chair. Ask him about it sometime. We still laugh about it.

Things progressed quickly for us. Pitocin is a wonder. When it came time for the epidural, they made Chuck step out. That was the only time I freaked (only on the inside, of course. That's how I roll. lol!). I was scared, though. The nurse held my hands in my lap as I bent forward the best I could with my very large belly. A few tears fell on her hands as they held mine. I apologized. She reassured me. Then they let Chuck back in. I was glad we wouldn't have to be apart anymore.

And let's just say that the epidural worked like a charm! So well, in fact, that not only couldn't I feel my legs, but I couldn't move them either. Panicking that they would "turn off the juice," I threatened Chuck within an inch of his life that my temporary paralysis would be our little secret. My worry was unwarranted, however. I pushed like a champ and with the exception of one little funny moment, I don't think anyone would have been the wiser.

Yes, there was laughter in the delivery room as well as tears. The first time I pushed the nurse instructed Chuck to hold one of my legs close to his body as she held the other. After my first round of pushes, the nurse congratulated me on my efforts and Chuck let my leg go to rest until the next set. Having no control of my legs, the one he "let go" dropped to the bed like a sack of potatoes with a loud thud! He had ratted me out! Of course he apologized up one side and down the other (to me and to the nurse!) and promised to handle me a little more carefully next time. We all laughed. What did we know? We were novices. And nervous. It was a beautiful time.

The nurse left to tell our families to wait about getting their lunch because the baby was on the way! I pushed for about 40 minutes and at 1:26 pm, the most perfect, angelic little face met mine for the first time. "She looks like us!" I thought to myself (us meaning my side of the family! lol! Though for the first three years of her life, everyone thought she favored Chuck.). The expression on her face was like "What in the WORLD just happened?!?" I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. So small. So plump. Perfection.

The nurse gave me something for the "shakes" I had after delivery which made me sick. Then I was given something for nausea which put me out. When they brought her to me, I could hardly hold her in my arms, so Chuck got to hold her and hold her while I slept the drugs off. Before I crashed he asked, "What's her middle name going to be?" I told him that it was up to him. He could choose. "Really?" he asked. "Really." I wish I could have been a fly on the wall (or at least conscious) to see their bonding. He had waited so long to hold her. I awoke to the most precious sight of a father totally in love with his baby girl. He named her after himself...Anna Gentry.

She took to breastfeeding like a champ, which was a good thing thing since I was still out of my mind on medication. The lactation nurse asked "And this is your first baby?" "Yes," I replied all proud of my offspring. Only a few hours old and surpassing expectations! I gloated. "She's going to be a rocket scientist," I thought. "A pretty one."

Perhaps it was a delicious cocktail of drugs and new-mom-itis, but when they brought her to me in the middle of the night for a feeding, I sprang up out of bed like a child on Christmas morning! It was a feeling I can distinctly remember to this day and one that I've tried to conjure up the 7,000 times since then that I've been woken up in the middle of the night to tend to her. Like an addict, that first high has never been able to be duplicated, though, even though we've tried and tried! lol!

We brought her home to a house full of family and friends who had prepared the most wonderful spread of food. It truly was a celebratory time. I felt like in the "Power Ball" of life, I had hit all the numbers. Everyone "ooh-ed " and "ahh-ed" over her and for a brief moment, all was right with the world. I was full of pride and humility at the same time. I was overwhelmed and completely satisfied and comfortable. I was fearful in ways I had never experienced before and yet determined and confident too. Motherhood had come with all it's wonderful paradoxes. Life was so good.

I felt the unconditional love of a mother for the first time ten years ago today and 3,650 days later, I couldn't be any more proud of my sweet little Anna. These have been ,without a doubt, the hardest and most fulfilling days of my life. Happy birthday, sugar plum. You will never know how very much you are loved...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How To Organize Your Magazines & Newspapers

I have a problem. Okay, I have more than one ;), but I have one specific problem that sends my husband through the roof. I am a hoarder of magazines. There. I said it. They say acknowledging a problem is the first step in recovery. So thanks, Jennifer Ford Berry for writing "Organize Now" and helping me come to terms with my obsession...

Following along with Bonnie at House of Grace this week, we are at week 10 (can you believe it? Time flies when your organizing!) and are tackling our magazines and newspapers. We don't take the newspaper at our house, so I'm free and clear on that one. Ahh, but the magazines. I need help. Do you? Let's check out this weeks goals:

*Toss or donate all magazines that are more than one year old. (I'm ashamed to tell you that just the other day I found some paper crafting magazines from 2007. Can you say "Twelve Step Program," please?!? Be sure to check each room in the house for old magazines (cuz I've got 'em stashed everywhere.

Exhibit A: Side table in living room stash.... (how heinous does that lamp look, btw? Yikes!)

And because one stash of magazines in your living room is not enough, two cubes (almost full) underneath the entryway table...

Here's some hiding out in the closet in the office...

And here's some in a bag that we took to the hospital back in March. The bag is full...

Okay... back to the goals:

*Toss all newspapers more than a month old.

*Toss all catalogs and sales papers that have expired. Make it a habit to toss all sales papers from the places that yo never shop and if you find something you want from a sales flyer, clip it out right away and put it on your to-do list.

*Clip what you need from old magazines, then recycle them or donate them. The thrift store in my town sells used magazines for like a quarter, sometimes. Yes, they have enabled by obsession, but I've also donated stacks to them as well. :)

*Designate a specific home for the magazines that are left.

*Cancel subscriptions to magazines that you never read anymore. I have let many subscriptions go in the past year or so. There may be hope for me yet! LOL!

I try to justify my large number of mags because of my various interests. My faves are "Family Fun," "Woman's Day," "Better Homes and Gardens," (or any of their other publications like "Do It Yourself," "Small Room Decorating," or "Paint Anything"). I will not turn down a "Martha Stewart Living" either, or a "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee." My mother-in-law also gives me her cast-off which include "Redbook," (which I call the married ladies "Cosmo!") and "Martha Stewart Living." since I was a kid I loved "Highlights" and last year got Jamie her own subscription. I think I should get brownie points, though, because I have recently cancelled the subscription due to her lack of interest in conjunction with the cost.

My husband jokes that we could have been millionaires five times over if those periodicals hadn't "four-dollar-and-99-cents-ed" us to death! He's probably not exaggerating too much, there. I guess that's one reason I tend to hang on to them for as long as I do. So that I don't feel that the money has been completely wasted, I donate some to my local thrift store and take a few others with me to Children's Hospital when we have a clinic visit. From experience, I can tell you that it super nice to have something to read and take your mind off of things while waiting in the surgery or ICU waiting room. Doctors offices, nursing homes, and gyms will also be glad to take your extra magazines of your hands. You could also send them to me. Just kidding. Well, sort of. ;)

Whatever you do, please don't just throw your old magazines and newspapers in the trash. Touring my local recycling center last week has re-opened my eyes to the responsibility we have to our earth. You can also search out crafts for your kids to do on the Internet with old magazines. There's a ton of them. Anything to keep them from a land-fill.

Speaking of green living, I got an iPad for Christmas and though I could download my magazine subscriptions to it, I haven't yet. I've been thinking of trying it with one of the one's a get regularly, but honestly, there's just something about the feel of a crisp new magazine in my hand and the relaxation I get from turning the pages. It's very zen. But my renewed interest in "going green" has convinced me that I should at least give it a shot. I'll let you know what I think when I do.

The library was getting rid of these magazine racks one day. They were on a table marked "Free" so I took eight of them.

I've put them on top of my desk with the intentions of corralling like magazines and making this their permanent home. I thought this would make a good reference spot since it's right above the desk. Right now non-specific things are just kind of thrown up there, but the plan is in place!

Berry's Tips for STAYING Organized:

Once a Month

-Dispose of all items you've read and don't want to keep.

-Clip articles or ads that you'll need or want later.

Every 3-6 Months

-Donate all the magazines you are done with to a charity or business of your choice.

-Toss catalogs from the previous season.

-If you keep magazines in your bathroom, update the reading selection and toss the old issues.

Once a Year

-Cancel subscriptions to periodicals you do not consistently read.

Come back next week as we organize our e-mail. My inbox this morning had 243 messages. This is why I'm loving this book. I hope you are too!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yummy Banana Bread

As I mentioned yesterday, I was down for the count last week with the worst case of food poisoning known to man (or so it seemed!). Momma was a pitiful pile of uselessness and unable to eat anything. All the while, the bananas I had bought to snack on after running was ripening themselves into oblivion. Not one to waste food ;), the first day that I felt better, I decided to make some banana bread (which surprisingly sounded palatable to my weak stomach!).

This is a recipe that I have combined from a few different ones and made into my own. You can make it with or without nuts, depending on your liking. Enjoy!

Banana Bread
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs (beaten)
3 really ripe bananas (mashed)
1 cup pecans *optional*

Melt butter and add to sugar, eggs, and bananas. Mix well. Add flour and pecans, mixing well. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour in a buttered loaf pan (I spray mine with Pam).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How To Organize Your Files

Well, this week all of you readers will get a double dose of organizational posts as I was out of commission last week with food poisoning. I'm linking up with Bonnie at House of Grace as we are working our way through the book "Organize Now!" by Jennifer Ford Berry.

Week 9 is about organizing your files. Do you have a have a filing system in place? What should you hang on to, anyway? Why does paper multiply faster than two bunnies in the spring? I have no answer for the last one. The first two questions Berry can help us with!

Week 9 goals are:

*Get your papers together! If you don't have a filing system, start here. This includes all stashes you've stuck here and there. Immediately sort the junk and toss, toss, TOSS! (Berry says that 80% of what we file is never looked at again!) Place remaining papers "to file" in one location where you will be filing (like a home office or work area).

*If you have a filing system in place, go through the files and toss all useless and outdated information. Shred personal and financial information before recycling. (If you do not have a shredder I personally suggest in making that a priority. We have been the victims of identity theft in the past and now I shred all paperwork with any personal information on it. It just makes me sleep better at night. :D)

*Set up your filing system. If you have a lot of papers (like me!) get yourself a filing cabinet. A small, portable filing container (like a crate or a large accordion style one) will work just as well especially if you are not the paper hoarder that I am. Berry suggests color coding based on categories and whatever you do, do not use "miscellaneous" for a category! Examples of some you might want to create are:

-Bank Statements

-Credit card statements

-Pay stubs/ work related expenses

-School info (one for each child)

-Home and auto insurance

-Health insurance

-Tax info

*Start filing! Go through all the papers you've gathered "to file" and separate them by category. Berry says to use broad categories so that you won't end up with lots of files with only one or two categories each.

*Berry also suggests making a master page that lists all the files under each category to save time later on.

*Choose one storage space for your addresses and business cards and update this space with new addresses and phone numbers. If using an address book, always put your entries in pencil so you can update changes as needed.

How To STAY Organized:

Once a month: File papers waiting in your "to file" bin. This should be a file folder or tray on your desk to put your papers that you are currently working on filing.

Every 3-6 months: Go through your files and toss anything you don't need to keep.

Once a year: Every January clean out your file folders, making sure you have all of your tax info together. Purge your files from the previous year and move files that won't be used in the new year to a storage box.

Two weeks ago I promised you a peek at my new (to me) filing cabinet. This little gem was a cast-off from my in-laws. And though it's dinged and rusty (in parts) and stickered to death, I am in love with her. I call her "Big Bertha" because, well, she's big (duh!) and Bertha sounded like a lass that could use a (ahem) makeover. I have delusions of grandeur where I imagine myself giving her a delicious coat of glossy candy-apple-red paint, but for now, she's in her "before" stage:

The top drawer is filled right now with some crafting overflow. And let's face it, there is ALL kinds of craft overflow around these parts!

Here is the second drawer and where the files actually begin. The categories for my files are as follows:

-Bills Once I pay a bill, I mark it paid with the amount paid and the date and then it gets filed here in case there is any discrepancy with any of my creditors.

-Blog This is where I put blog inspiration until I find the time to get the fingers to the keyboard!

-Capital One This file contains documents that pertain to an account I had with Capital One. Capital One said I owed them money. I did not. Had to get a lawyer. Needless to say I'm keeping this paperwork til the cows come home. And also it should go without saying, but Capital One is NOT in my wallet!

-Baby Okay, I could probably get rid of some of this stuff since my kids are, like, 9 and 6. It's pretty much stuff from the pediatrician about shots and stuff. Mental note: PURGE!

-Cards These are cards I've picked up and keep on hand (birthday, condolence, etc) in case I need one in a hurry!

-Keepsake cards

-Church This has info about our church, pamphlets, and so on.


-Credit cards

-Dish Network

-Edward Jones

-Fly Lady I printed out some of her schedules and keep them in here. Go here to check out her website.


-IRS Business

-Kirby Vacuum


-Marriage/ Wills Okay, I know I need a fireproof box for the wills/ marriage license/ birth certificates. Save your e-mail. Momma's working on it... ;)

-Old work Yeah. From, like, college. Mostly short stories and poems.

-Paint Samples Cuz when your toddler marks with lip gloss all over the wall and you've trashed the remains of the paint and can't for the life of you remember the name of the color you painted your living room... this folder comes in super handy!!!

-Personal Obituaries and a few college things and newspaper clippings.



-School Handbook, medication forms, etc.

-Seizure stuff This is for information sheets we have gotten from the neurologist that I give out to caregivers.

-Stories Yeah, more written work. I guess I could consolidate, huh?

-Wedding/ Honeymoon A few mementos...

-Warranties/ Manuals

Below is the third drawer. This contains:

-School pictures

-Anna's school work

-Jamie's extra work from school (I had big plans for summer with this folder!)


-Christmas crafts

-Sewing machine

-Sewing patterns

-Craft patterns


-Inspiration sheets

-Craft paper in folders arranged by color

-Foam/ acetate

-Pattern paper (scraps)

Below is Chuck's contribution to the filing cabinet. That's tax stuff. I don't even touch it. Which is why it's kind of just thrown in there. At least we know where the tax stuff is when we need it.

So that's it! Check back Thursday where we will organize our magazines and newspapers. See you then!