About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missing Connections

There's a song that Trace Adkins sings called "One of Those Nights." It's a rather hot song. I like to listen to it when I'm feeling attractive and perhaps a bit feisty.

"But baby you always leave
One of those smiles on me
After one of those nights
Just like last night
Oh my, what a beautiful thing
Just you and me
Those tangled sheets
Were wrapped around us
Baby, thanks to your love
It was one of those nights that leads
Right to one of those days that leads
Right to one of those nights"

Lately, though, it's been popping into my mind as I smirk to myself. Scott and I have been off somehow. We're good, mind you, no scary unresolved issues. It's just that sometimes we don't click as wonderfully as other times. Now is one of those times.

There's a lot on our minds...house, truck, moving, kids, life...you know how it goes. And for some reason that always translates into touchiness, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings (sometimes actual hurts too).

What I mean is, a few night ago I cuddled up behind Scott in bed and we talked for half an hour without incident. Last night I tried to do the same thing and my arm fell into that soft and uncomfortable spot between ribs and hips. Apparently he doesn't like his internal organs mushed. So, I rolled back over and the covers got tucked under me and pulled off him. That didn't go over well. In the end I settled for simply sliding my foot back to rest against his leg. However, his leg was not where I expected it to be and I dug a little skin off him with my toe talons.

I called it quits at that point. "I know you love me. You know I love you. But I'm calling it quits for tonight, hoping we'll wake up tomorrow and be able to snuggle again without drawing blood." That's when Trace's song popped into my head. My brain has a strange sense of humor.

So, tonight I'm hoping for something different from last night. I'm not necessarily looking for a Trace Adkins night (I'm not sure I have the energy for that much steam) but something that leaves me smiling instead of smirking or sulking would be lovely.

In the meantime, here's hoping you all connect with your loved ones today and in the New Year! Happy 2010!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Symbolic Syllables

Tyler turned two years old a few days ago. We didn't do a whole bunch for his big day...got pictures taken and he opened a few gifts and cards. We'll celebrate more for his half-birthday in June. Jace and Gracie's birthdays are in May and June and I decided it's really convenient to get new clothes and toys every six months. It's also a little easier on the check book. So, since Tyler really doesn't care yet, we'll have a cake and sing his praises this summer!

Being that Tyler is our youngest I didn't know if I'd have any issues with him turning two. I'm not one of those parents who drags my heals and doesn't want her children to go up, but there is something that pulls at my heart strings knowing that my baby really isn't a baby anymore. More than stressing over Tyler's birthday, I did comment to Scott that I might be struggling with the fact that Jace will be seven years old in five months.

"Seven?" he said. "What's the deal with that? It's not like he's going to start driving or anything."

"No...but that does remind me that the other day when I was returning that book the cashier asked for my driver's license and Gracie asked when she'd be able to take driving lessons. I said, 'Uh...when you're 16.'

She countered with, 'What about 13?'

'No, 16.' The cashier just smiled and shook her head!"

Scott reminded me that we don't negotiate with terrorists and children are terrorists. Both are true...and Gracie won't be driving at 13 years old. Silly girl.

I refocused our conversation. "Back to Jace...it's not that turning seven is any huge milestone to most, but it seems like a big deal to me because it has two syllables."

"What?!" Lots of laughter. "Are you serious? You need to blog about this...mothers are crazy."

I'm sorry that he lumped all of you other moms in with me. Maybe you're not all as crazy as I am. Or are you?

It's not even that I don't want Jace to turn seven, I just can't believe it has gone by so quickly. He was my baby once. I remember when he turned two. It wasn't that long ago, but long enough, I guess, that my little Jace is growing into a big Jace...two syllables old. In a few months, now, let's not rush things! (Wink, wink)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Quiet Gebel Family Christmas

It's now two days after Christmas. I'm just starting to organize and rearrange to fit in all the new stuff with all the old, and maybe to get rid of some of the old!

Christmas day I did manage to get the doll house Santa got Gracie moved into her room and to unpackage all the dolls and accessories she unwrapped that morning. As far as packaging goes...you know the plastic pieces that hold the tags onto the clothes at the store, the ones that you try to break with your teeth even though you know you shouldn't? Well, barbies, barbie clothes, barbie shoes, barbie cell phones and water bottles...all of it is held to the card board with little mini plastic things. I think I could have made another whole doll with all those pesky little pieces! In the end, though, the jolly man did a great job! Gracie loves her dolls and their house! She's been in her room every day playing with her them. And when she's not there she's been painting and coloring with the princess art things she got from her grandmas and grandpas. She's a happy girl!

Jace got Legos. He got other things too...books he's started to read, clothes he's already set out for the first day back to school...but he got a lot of very cool Legos! He now has a bin to store all his new and old blocks in. It's big and he can sort through it and he can't wait to play with it! I just shooed him outside, though, so he'll have to wait! However, that is today's major project...getting all the Legos in one place and keeping them in the office, which is going to be where Jace plays with Legos. In the past he's moved his Legos out of the boys' bedroom so that Tyler could nap, but this way they'll already be out. Another bonus is that he can create and leave things set up and I won't step on them in the middle of the night when responding to Tyler's cries or checking on the tooth fairy. (By the way, Jace lost his 4th tooth last Tuesday...he's quite cute with his missing teeth!)

While we're discussing Legos, though, I feel I should let you all know something. In an effort to get more for less I bought Jace a set of Lego-knock offs. They were about half the price and instead off getting him just a truck and trailer I was able to get him a set with all the makings for both fire and police stations, a helicopter, a plane, and four other trucks. It seemed like such a great idea! Alas, they're not as good. Most of them stick together but some of them don't. Scott was not impressed. In the future, I'll surely stick to the real thing!

And Tyler...he got lots of things he loves. Tractors. Trains. Cars. He wasn't so interested in actually unwrapping the gifts, but once he saw what each new present was he couldn't wait for Dada wot get it out for him!

Jace summed up the gift opening well. "It was a Lego, Barbie, and wheels included Christmas!"

The kids were thrilled, and two days later still are. Scott and I enjoyed the excitement in their eyes and have eaten our share of cookies, even frosted a few! It's been a great few days! I do have one question, though, how is it that after spending a few days in pajamas I have so much laundry to do? Oh, well, I guess the World's Greatest Mom (that's me...Jace got me a magnet that says so!) better get her basket and start sorting! We might want clean clothes for New Year's!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Presents

I was in the kitchen taking cookies off the tray when Gracie yelled, "OW!" and came running. I was all ready to scold her and Jace and tell them one more time that Santa is still watching. But...

"Mama! Tyler's feeling better. He just hit me with a tractor!" And off she ran, and tried to get him to hit her again! I guess she's glad he wants to play today.

Yesterday was a different story. To catch you up, if you didn't already know, Tyler hasn't been feeling well. He had a slight fever on Tuesday and sounded a little hoarse by that night. I figured he was getting a cold. At just about 3:30 Wednesday morning, though, he woke up crying in pain. Clearly this wasn't any old cold. Health care being what it is (and I'm not getting into a political debate) I waited to call until 6:00 am, when the appointment line opens. I not only took the earliest appointment available (3:50 pm) but also left a message for Tyler's doctor. Leaving a message via the call center is the only way to get in touch with your doctor. We can't call directly or make appointments directly...everything through the 800 number. When you leave a message the doctor, or rather the doctor's nurse, has 72 business hours to get back to you. With the holiday weekend coming quickly I didn't hold my breath. But I'd done what I could and cuddled Tyler close.

During the morning he didn't seem to be doing too badly, although he wasn't eating anything and drinking very little. Increasingly, too, he was having a harder time breathing. When it came time to go to his appointment Scott took him in and I stayed home to catch up on the cookies I'd been planning on baking.

This was my first present...Scott doesn't take the kids to appointments. He claims that he doesn't know how, but honestly, I figure it out as I go and he's pretty smart. Besides I was making the cookies for him to take to work with him. So he didn't complain and stepped up.

An hour after the appointment began Scott called to let me know that Tyler was having "severe respiratory distress" and they were being transported via ambulance to the emergency room for a closer look.

Yes. I took a deep breath too.

I told Jace and Gracie that Tyler's lungs were hurting him and Dada was taking him to the hospital so the doctors could look at him there. They asked if he was going to have to stay, we didn't know. But I asked them to find something to do until Dada called back with more information.

It was time for my second present. The kids got photo albums down and started looking through them, pointing out pictures of their little brother.

"Tyler was so cute last Christmas in New York."

"There's where we went to see Tyler in the hospital when he was born."

"Tyler is so silly!"

I listened from the kitchen with proud tears in my eyes. They love Tyler and were worried about him. I love how they expressed that stress, sharing memories.

After several calls back and forth...long story, short...Tyler was admitted to the hospital and I spent the night there with him. He had croup and was having a difficult time with it. For a while he was getting breathing treatments every couple hours. However, as the night went on they were able to stretch them out and the nurses all listened to his little lungs and smiled.

That was perhaps my best gift. Tyler and I got to come home. He's still got a nasty cough every so often, and may for a while, but he's breathing more easily.

One of the nurses commented that she was worried about him last night and there was talk of transporting him to a specialty hospital. Thank God I didn't know all that at the time. My mind jumped to some scary places as soon as Scott said ambulance. I'm glad I wasn't privy to what a rough state my baby boy really was in. And I'm even more glad that he's no longer there.

Right now Scott's at work, sharing holiday spirit in the form of cookies. Jace and Gracie are happily playing outside and Tyler is taking a nap. The four of them are really all I need, all I want for Christmas. So even though Santa has a few items to drop off for the kids tonight, I've already been taken care of.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Whole Fam Damily

Everyone knows that we don't choose our family, right? I mean it takes some of us longer to learn that then others, but we all find out sooner or later than just because we're related to someone doesn't mean we're perfect.

I'm not sure why we put family on a pedestal to begin with. But we do. There's always that one aunt who is exceptionally stern (read scary) but we view her as the exception, not the rule. We ignore rudeness, look past improperness, and try to see the good in everyone who lives in our family tree. I don't think this is all bad, but why is it wrong to see people for who they are? Flaws and all.

This may seem like a strange thing to write about days before Christmas, but so much of the holiday season is about family. And since we're expected to deal with family maybe it's the perfect time to focus on the facts about family.

My family is good. Not perfect, but good. I've had ups and downs with various members, but overall they're decent, hardworking people. In the past, though, during some of those downs, I dreaded the holidays. I didn't want to be fake and didn't want to throw off the whole status quo. Thankfully, I'm past that...but not everyone is. I've heard a lot about the stresses of going home to visit parents, white lies being told to keep from having to see relatives, and general discontent regarding the whole fam damily.

Let me lay it out...they're human too. Moms make mistakes. Aunts can be obnoxious. Cousins cantankerous, and grandpas grumpy. Brothers can bother and sisters might make you sad. Uncles could cause ulcers and dads don't deal with anything. It might all be true in your life, or maybe just some of it. But that can all be said about me from time to time too. If a line gets crossed...deal with it. Don't let pieces of sand burrow under your skin and holiday after holiday irritate you more and more. Take the pot off the burner before it boils over in the middle of dessert.

In the end...don't feel like you have to love family just because they're family. Love them, spend time with them because you want to. Because you choose to. Choose your "family" whether they're friends you've met through the years or family in the more traditional sense.

To bring it back to the reason for the season...Jesus chose his family. Those nearest to him had no blood in common, but they were his brothers and sisters none the less.

Like I said before, my family is good. Scott and I have chosen family and friends to be with when we can. I know we don't see any of you often enough, but we do love you and think of you. So please don't read this and think I'm talking about you...none of you have caused me heart ache (at least not in some time!) but I am talking to some of you. Some of you are the reason for this post...having shared your uncertainties regarding how to deal with family members. So, take this for what it is...my thoughts on whether you should divorce your family, confront your aunt, or talk down your mother-in-law.

Here's hoping the light of Christmas helps each of us appreciate those we choose to spend it with and illuminates how we should treat all those we love and tolerate.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Countdown

For a week or two the kids have been letting us now how far away Christmas is. Maybe that's why we were done shopping early...

"Ten days until Santa comes."

"One week from tonight Santa comes."

"Mama, there are only four days until Christmas!"

See, there's no way Christmas was sneaking up on us this year.

We've talked about lots of other things regarding Christmas too. We've gone out to see Christmas lights...found out the kids do not count traffic on Interstate 95 or lights on inside the house as Christmas lights.

We've made cookies, most of which we've eaten, and will continue to make more until well after New Year's, I suppose. There are so many kinds I want to taste this holiday season.

We've sung and listened to Christmas carols. I watched Gracie sing at the top of her lungs at her school and listened to Tyler "pum, pum, pum" from the back seat.

We've even talked about how Santa makes his list, how to get on it and who might be on the naughty list. After scolding Gracie about something and threatening her with, "Santa's still watching, you know," she wondered why Santa doesn't have more lists.

"What if Santa had three lists...one for kids who are good and bad? Or what if he had four lists. The fourth one could be called Silly!"

If Santa has four lists...our kids are most certainly on the Silly list! They've not only kept us aware of how far away Christmas is, but Jace has written his own list...a schedule of the order we'll open our gifts. And don't worry, he checked it twice...knowing him, three times.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Is In The Air...

This is our third Christmas here, in Georgia, and although we enjoy our holidays, they don't always feel quite right. Part of that is the lack of family get togethers. The other part is the weather.

Scott and I are accustomed to two sorts of family gatherings. One is big, one bigger. What I mean by bigger is "so many people that the family function can no longer be held in someone's living room." On two sides of our family local fire halls are reserved for a day and aunts, uncles, and cousins file in to sit in folding chairs and enjoy feasts of dish-to-pass favorites. Gifts are exchanged and stories shared. Young couples introduce new babies. Younger family members bashfully introduce new girlfriends or boyfriends. It's how we host a family get together!

The other sides of our family still crowd into an Aunt's or Grandma's living room. The same traditions take place...food, fun, family. Cards are pulled out and serious games of Euchre or Shoot the Moon ensue. Football, along with cheers and disappointment, provides background noise on the television. That's a family get together too!

And whichever I'm part of, it feels like home, like the holidays. And this year, we're not part of either...big or small. We're sticking close to our home, in Georgia, and enjoying our little branch of the family tree. The kids are excited. Scott and I are too, and we're hoping Santa brings a buyer for our house. Aside from that nagging concern in the back of our brains, we're happy to have three beautiful, happy, and healthy kids who can't wait to scatter reindeer food on the lawn and chose the perfect cookies for Santa himself.

And there's some good news regarding the reindeer food...they won't have to dig in the snow for it! Last week I wore shorts. Today I pulled weeds. Tomorrow we're going on a family bike ride. It feels nothing like Christmas to a couple of Yankees who keep hearing stories about all the snow that's fallen back home in New York! But we'll manage. I try to enjoy the holidays sans snow because I know there will come a time when I'll be longing for shorts in December.

For now, though, extended family and snow are in our hearts and our thoughts...and Christmas is in the air.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

He Likes Me...He Really Likes Me

I've heard that the best indication of how your spouse feels about you is not in how he talks to you, but in how he talks to others about you.

Scott tells me he loves me daily, more than once. I learned in college in some relationship class that well connected couples share at least ten non-sexual touches a day. Scott makes it a point to give me that attention. Even though I feel like the most special girl in the world with him I was still a little speechless and slightly teary after bumping into a co-worker of his at the store today.

Apparently he likes me. We were talking about all the shenanigans with Scott's orders, whether the kids and I are tagging along or not...it's really almost all I talk about these days! She said several things that touched me but perhaps the most direct and simple was, "He wants you to go."

It's true. He does. I knew that but hearing it from her touched me. Even writing this now I'm tearing up. Sometimes it's easy to feel like nothing special when day in and out my role is to cook, clean, pay bills, and run errands. It's easy to feel like a bedraggled, tired mom. It's easy to forget that first came love. Even though we say it all the time and try to show it all the time, hearing it from an outside source is elating.

Nine and a half hears after "I do" we're going strong, stronger than I knew possible. No matter where we end up because of practicalities, that simple fact that we want to be together will remain our goal. And it's good to have goals.

And for the record, I want to go with him too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Life Immitating Art

Have you ever read a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book? I used to love them when I was younger. Basically, you'd begin reading and after a few pages you'd be faced with a decision - go to page 14 to ask the shopkeeper for help or go to page 43 if you want to keep wandering through the market. I loved skipping between stories and finding new adventures and going back to the beginning if I didn't like the outcome of my first adventure. I didn't realize that my life is a choose your own adventure story all it's own.

A week ago Scott and I had made the decision that he would be moving to Washington on his own and the kids and I would stay here for another year. We were confident that this was the mature and financially responsible thing to do. I wrote about it and sent it out in the Christmas letter. We had accepted it.

But then we turned a page and found out that we could go to some other page if we wanted to try a different adventure. We've spent the last few days looking at other possibilities, some that we've thought of before and some that are new ideas. I feel like I'm wired and exhausted at the same time. I don't know what the best decision is...I'm not even sure what trumps what in the decision making process. There's finances, being together as a family, schools, who knows whatever else.

So, even though the decision had been made...it's back up in the air. What I'd like is for God to clearly point out His plan for us. I have prayed on this and don't know if my desire to be with my husband is clouding my judgment or not. I don't want to miss His guidance or misunderstand it. I was thinking maybe He could put up a bill board with neon arrows pointing at it. Or I could look out the window and see an angel fulfilling duties as a messenger of God, bringing me a personal note saying "stay" or "go." I mean, I'm not asking for a burning bush or anything...just clarity.

So, if you're the praying kind...say a little prayer for us. If you're not, keep us in your thoughts. None of it can hurt and we can certainly use all the help we can. A year ago we started with Plan A for this whole relocating thing. I think we've gone through the alphabet and are back at the beginning, with subheadings and bullets.

By this time next year we should know what's going on. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cookies for Santa

The kids and I had a little conversation about leaving things for Santa. We saw something on TV where a little boy said he'd left a sandwich for Santa last year...and he must have liked it because he ate it up.

Jace: "Maybe we can leave Santa a pizza. I bet he'd like that even more than a sandwich."

Gracie: "Or we could just leave him a bag of chocolate chips."

Mama: "Hmmm...a whole bag?"

Gracie: "Yeah. Then he could just have Mrs. Claus make him cookies."

Always thinking...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I come from small town, rural USA. (Honestly, most of you reading this know exactly where I come from!) Pike, New York is in a county that, at one time, boasted more cows than people. I'm not sure if that still holds up...but you get the idea. I lived in the country.

Most, if not all, of my neighbors were white...probably still would be if I lived there now. In high school we joked about having token families as our exposure to diversity. Scott grew up a mile down the road...same Caucasian experience as me. Yet, somehow, we're not racist or prejudiced. Well, Scott is a bit prejudiced against stupid people, but that's across every nationality, religion, and sexual preference.

What's my point?

Here, in the South, the wars still on! The ratio of black to white here is a heck of a lot closer to 50/50 than back North. I guess having neighbors of a different skin color, and being pleasant to their faces, doesn't actually mean anything about how you feel and act behind their backs.

And there aren't just issues between African Americans and those with Eastern European ancestry. A few days ago I was part of a conversation that started something like this:

"Look at them...all stuffed in that truck. How many of 'em do you think are in there?"

I was taken aback. I saw no reason to refer to the people in the other vehicle with such disdain. After getting over my shock I was offended, for the people in the truck and because this woman, who was riding in my car, assumed I would play right along with her nastiness. I didn't.

I wasn't rude to her, but was confident in my status as no better than the people getting gas next to us. I'm pretty sure that she didn't learn anything from my stance. She kept laughing and making comments. I was even direct and asked her not to talk negatively about the passengers in the truck. She laughed and got in one last comment. Arg.

Obviously I'm still a bit riled by this. Every culture has stereotypes about it and sometimes talking about them can be funny and light hearted. Other times, when comments are mean spirited and said with a smirk...it's prejudice. There's no need for it. There's no reason for it. Don't we all know enough to know that no whole grouping of people is worthy of outright badmouthing just for being who they are?

Not all bald men are scary, even though I know there is a community of white men with skin heads that hate on a grand scale. Apply this to everyone...and stop your freakin' judging and obnoxious rudeness simply based on skin color, ethnicity, religion...any of it. Seriously, people!

OK, even though my letting off steam tends to be a quiet little tea kettle whistle, I do feel a little better. Maybe, somehow saying my piece will ripple out into the greater world and make a difference.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle

A few days ago Jace told me that a girl in his reading group, Meredith, was working on a story about the two of them. Instantly I was intrigued. Meredith was in Jace's kindergarten class and he was quite smitten with her then. He talks about her daily. Until now I didn't know if his admiration was returned or not. He went on to tell me more.

"It's going to be a chapter book. She hasn't finished it yet, but she told me the chapters. Chapter one is called Love Birds. Chapter two is Broken Up...Maybe. Chapter three is Together Again."

The smile on his face was so big! I told him I'd like to hear more about the story as she got a chance to work on it. He couldn't wait to read her story either...anticipation was in the air. So yesterday, in the van on the way to get our Christmas tree, Jace announced that Meredith had written a little more...would we like to hear it? I hadn't had a chance to tell Scott about this love story in progress so Jace recounted what he'd earlier told me. Scott took his eyes off the road long enough to roll them at me and cautiously said, "Go ahead...tell us what she wrote."

"Well, Meredith and I had dinner and then we went up a mountain where I named a star after her."

"Aren't you the little romantic?" I commented.

"Meredith came up with that. She's getting used to it."

"Used to what?" Scott questioned.

"Used to me loving her. I loved her in kindergarten too, but now she'd used to it. She even let me help her with her book. I gave her the choice of going up the mountain in a 4-wheeler or an F-150. She chose the F-150 so that's how we got up the mountain where I named a star after her."

I think both Scott and I were speechless, or afraid that we'd laugh if we said too much, because we both just said, "Oh..."

Then, last night, at Scott's work Christmas party, he and I were dancing. The room was dimly lit by chandeliers of eight or nine light bulbs each. As we held each other close and sang the words of a country love song, turning around the dance floor, Scott giggled. Summoning all the intoxicated romantic energy he could find he said, "Hey...there's a light out on that one. And that's the one I was going to name after you." More giggling.

I fear that Meredith might be disappointed if Jace turns out like his dad, but only when it comes to silly, romantic notions. Jace couldn't have anyone better to look up to to learn how to be a caring, strong, nurturing, loyal, committed, amazing, and entertaining husband. There's no doubt Scott loves me, or that Jaces adores Meredith. With a few deep breaths and a sense of humor we should all enjoy the amorous adventures yet to come!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lessons Learned: The Gebel Way

I will tell anyone who wants to listen that I am not a teacher. What I mean is that I don't sit down with workbooks and lessons and try to get a point across. However, I do take frequent opportunities to ask questions and get their little minds thinking or answer questions they have for me. I have no problem using the radio, passing trucks, or even the television as a tool to challenge them or instill some pertinent information in them.

Depending on our surroundings for intellectual stimulation can make things interesting...like the time I had to explain that Toby Keith can sing "slap your Grandma" in a song and that's OK but that in any other context it's not nice to say that or act on it. See? Interesting.

So, one thing that we do pretty much weekly as a family is watch America's Funniest Home Videos. Something I say several times during this show is some variation of, "Why do boys do such stupid things?" I wasn't intentionally trying to teach the kids anything about foolishness, but they learned anyway...at least Gracie did.

Friday morning it was a cool 44 degrees when we left for school. Gracie, Tyler and I had sweatshirts on and I asked Jace if he was going to wear his and he said, "No, I won't be cold. I'm a boy."

To which Gracie commented, "And boys do stupid things, like not wear jackets when it's cold outside."

That same morning we saw a boy getting on a bus with only shorts and a t-shirt on (at least my son had pants and long sleeves!) and Jace said, "See! He's not wearing a jacket."

And Gracie added, "Because boys do stupid things, like wear shorts and t-shirts without jackets when it's cold outside!"

Jace just laughs at her. Scott and I laugh at all of them, constantly picking up on things we don't know they're even noticing. Little sponges.

So, we'll continue to be entertained by them...and I'll hope and pray that none of our kids end up on America's Funniest Home Videos as a lesson for someone else!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dat-da-dah! Disney!

It hasn't even been a week since getting back from our family vacation to Disney World, yet it feels so long ago. Incredible is the word I've been using to describe our trip. We had so much fun, but were relaxed most of the week. Can you ask for more in a vacation?

Disney World, as a place, wonderful. The sights were worth seeing and the people were simply lovely. Every employee smiled and many handed out stickers! How can you not be happy there? I had lots of questions and concerns and a few unforeseen obstacles. I never felt like a nuisance when posing my questions and concerns and got prompt and helpful answers.

Our kids were simply lovely too. They all got
tired, but even then were on their best behavior.
Jace even got sick to his tummy once and still acted like a big boy about it! We took naps and went to bed at normal times and still saw everything we wanted, although not everything that there was to see!

We had several character greetings, at meals and at some of the many meet and greet spots around the parks. We saw Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Chip, Dale, Lilo, Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Belle, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, The White Rabbit, Alice, Snow White and her Stepmother and Stepsisters, and I'm sure some others I'm forgetting to list! It was all quite exciting.

As a family, we enjoyed five days at the parks! For our first time, that was a great amount of time. Now that I've been there, I could do it in less, but having so much time made naps and switching parks to get in everything we wanted to do much easier than trying to jam everything into a shorter amount of time.

We did one late night (our last night there) and saw a parade in lights and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. For those who are curious, the fireworks aren't really "over" Cinderella's castle like I'd always heard. They're off to the right of her castle. It's, of course, the busiest right in front of the castle, but there are plenty of viewing spots all over the park. For the parade, there's also no reason to cram into the circle in front of the castle. We watched from near the end of the parade route and really enjoyed all the lights music!

In case you're not convinced, let me say one more time, we had a GREAT time. All five of us laughed and smiled all week long and even came home feeling refreshed. Here's the bottom line too...the whole trip (including tickets for five days, lodging for six nights, meals, snacks, and souveniers) cost $2200. Not bad, huh?

Hopefully we'll do this again...if not Disney, then some other great family vacation...but hopefully Disney! But for now, it was wonderful to have that time for just us. I think everyone should look into it...and the commercials are right. It might be more affordable than you think. Why not look into it? You know you want to...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Better Things To Do?

I know you're all sitting on the edge of your seats to hear about the rest of our Disney World Vacation. I'm quite excited to go on and on about it, too. I'm waiting, though, until I have the pictures on the computer and can add a few to my comments about our incredible vacation. Hopefully in the next day or two...

In the meantime, I heard something on the radio that baffled me just a bit, and thought I'd share. Apparently someone is trying to get a bill through Congress that will regulate the volume of commercials so they don't come blasting in when you're watching your favorite shows. I appreciate the sentiment, but really? I mean, seriously? There isn't something more important they could be regulating, debating on, discussing?

I just thought I'd put that out there for you to think about today. Have a good one!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Big Boy Choices

He’s only six. Well, technically Jace is six and a half years old now. We did just celebrate his half birthday the other day! However, the number of years he’s been alive is deceiving. He’s so strong in spirit and has an incredible heart...he often seems more grown up to me.

We’re at Disney World. Today we came back to our room for naps at lunch time and Jace looked really warn out. He got up after his nap and sat in a daze for a few minutes while we were getting ready to go back to the parks. He told Scott he had to throw up…and did.

Scott put it this way, “It was like a switch. He lifted the toilet seat and blaht. Most of it made it in the toilet too.” There was definitely a hint of pride in Dada's description.

So, we decided to hang out for a while and let him rest before trying to walk around for a few more hours. An hour later he said he was ready to go. He’d eaten some grapes and had some water and kept everything down so we went for it. As we were walking to the bus stop he just kind of plodded along. Jace doesn’t skip, so plodding isn’t all that unexpected, but matched with the dark circles under his eyes and the ashen color in his cheeks…he just didn’t look ready to have fun. When we got to the bus stop I asked him one last time.

Jace, if you’re still not feeling good I’ll stay with you. What would you like to do?”

Quietly, he said. “I think I should stay.”

So, Tyler, Jace and I walked back to the room for some R&R. Along the way I told him I was proud of him for making such a hard decision. He said, “It was hard, mama, because it would have been fun, but not if I was sick.” He’s right and I couldn’t have said it better.

Later, after he threw up again and the color started to return to his cheeks we walked to the food court to pick up dinner. When we went past the pool he made a few comments about the swimmers and the life guards. The best one, that let me know he was feeling much more like himself, was, “It’s good that the life guards are here to save people because you can’t enjoy Disney World if you’re dead.”

And that’s Jace. I’ve never sure if he’s being funny or serious. He certainly keeps a proud smile on my face! And when we got back to the room he ate his dinner (and kept it down), told me how much he enjoyed spending time with just Tyler and me and that he hoped Dada and Gracie were having a good time at Magic Kingdom. Could anyone ask for a more precious six and a half year old son? I don’t think so.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Classic Queen By Our Little Queen of the Nile

This is Gracie's current version of "We Will Rock You." It has changed many a time. No matter what alterations she makes, it remains one of her favorite things to clap to and shout at the top of her lungs! And, she's even getting Tyler to sing along with her.

We will, we will rock you! Rock you!

We will, we will rock you! Rock you!

Got mud on your face. Big disgrace.

Chicken pox all over your face.

By the way, I got this little costume for $1.74. Can't beat that! And, no, no one has chicken pox. Everyone is healthy, happy, and ready for a group sing along!


We all know that kids say things each and every day that make us smile, chuckle, almost pee ourselves laughing! They're really great entertainment, aren't they? Tyler hasn't quite gotten there yet, although he does make us laugh with his little bird lips (he puckers them so they look like a beak, in my opinion), his joyous eyes, and all the grand ways he plays. But he doesn't say much yet.

That's why he's taking speech therapy. He's almost 23 months and working at about a 12 month level for spoken language. Everything else is fine...he can comprehend everything we tell him, just doesn't speak to us in the same language. So we're working on it. He's discovered the word "more" and tries to get everything he wants saying that. He has said a few other words, though, and will hopefully blossom even more over the next few weeks and months.

While we're waiting for Tyler to crack us up saying something sweet and silly we'll just have to keep on enjoying his brother and sister.

Like last week when Jace asked if Tyler's progress with speech.

"Has Tyler's paleontologist been to the house yet today?"

"Um...(stifled giggle)...do you mean speech therapist? (not-so-stifled giggle)

"Oh! Yeah. She doesn't look at his bones. He's not a prehistoric animal. Duh! I meant speech therapist!"

Really? Our almost two-year-old can't say cup or please or mine yet but our six-year-old can correctly pronounce and knows the meaning of paleontologist? Good grief!

And to answer your question: yes, we have our hands full. Wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, November 13, 2009

And So It Begins...

....The holiday season. Strangely, though, my holiday season is beginning this year with a car wash and baked food sale. Fundraising car washes in November are really not something I'm used to. However, tomorrow Cub Scout Pack 269 will be out washing cars in 70-something degree weather. I'll be manning the bake food sale table.

I've made sugar cookie dough and have it in the fridge, awaiting rolling, cutting, and baking. I'm making leaves. I'm not going to frost them, though. Hopefully they'll still sell with sprinkles. Scotch treats are done.

I'm also making an apple pie. That's not for the sale, though. It's for us. I've been wanting one and decided there's no time like now! Yum.

Next week things really take flight. Jace has a program at his school and cub scouts. There are Thanksgiving meals at Jace's school, Gracie's school, and Scott's work. I'll be making a pumpkin cheesecake, scotch treats, and fruit salad. It's going to be a busy week...but so tasty and fun!

And then...nine days from now...we get up, eat breakfast and go to Disney World!!!

I might possibly be more excited than the rest of my family, but that's OK. It's kind of like that saying, "If Mama's not happy, no body's happy." I'm hoping the fact that Mama's simply giddy means that everyone will have a great time on vacation!

And then the count down to Christmas is on. There will be other parties at schools, Scott's work Christmas party, and much more baking! Oh, yeah, and shopping! I'm actually almost done, but there are still a few things I need to get in the next month and a half. So, it begins...and I'm not only ready, I'm eager.

Eager beaver for holiday cheerer*!

(*I had to make it rhyme.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


You may call me a dreamer with my head in the clouds. You may call me an ostrich with my head buried in the dirt. You may call me anything you chose, but here's the way I see things...

Our house is officially off the market. The current look of things is that Scott will go to school in Connecticut in March 2010 and on to Washington state after that in the summer. The kids and I will stay here in Georgia.

I say that very matter-of-factly, but the truth is,as one very smart COB (Chief of the Boat) told me once, that this is all written in jello, subject to change.

We don't have orders yet, even once we do...those have changed in the past too. So here's what else could happen: Scott could get orders here. The market could improve and we could still sell the house and follow him. Any combination of the above and I'm sure even some other things we haven't thought of.

So, in all of this I'd like to say this: The Navy is not the devil. It's not the Navy's fault any more than it is ours for purchasing a home rather than renting. It just is as it is. I see no reason to play the blame game. Perhaps I'm naive in some people's eyes.

I hope this little vent/rant comes across in a positive and realistic tone. Today is Veteran's Day. It's a day to remember the past, especially those who have served our country and died in her name. It's also a day to show pride and thanks for those who currently work to protect us. That includes my husband. That includes the Navy. I have pride in both, and not just today.

On any day, I think we should give thanks for those who have paved the way in our armed forces to protect our country and bring us to where we are today. I think we should appreciate the sacrifices of those who serve, march, sail, fight, fly, and struggle in any number of ways to keep our freedoms and rights. And, no matter how emotional or frustrating this situation is, I don't think it's fair to say, on any day, that the Navy shouldn't move Scott away from us.

He chose to serve in the Navy. He is good at and enjoys his job. He chose me and explained to me exactly what I'd be getting into if I became his wife. I accepted his proposal. Together we've created a strong foundation, great family, positive outlook, and are ready to face the next challenge...it isn't the first and won't be the last. So rather than put down the military for it's role in the decay of family, why not admit that no situation is perfect (in or out of the military) and support us. Support those who are serving abroad. Support, hold up, and encourage families whose struggle may be related to their duty in the armed forces. After all, their service is a positive thing. And the challenges they and their families face are sometimes sad, yes, but necessary.

I don't think I'm oblivious, but some might say so. I think I'm positive and realistic. I think everyone should work on echoing my rose-colored view, especially on such a day of memorial and remembrance. It's easy to get dragged down in all that is life in the military, but why put the focus there? Why not concentrate on the bravery, strength, commitment, and love for their country that military members have? Why not slip on my glasses and feel the pride, every day, that I have in my husband, his job, our family?

Yes, struggling through these next few months or years won't necessarily be fun...but who's to say it's not the struggle we're meant to go through. It'll build us up in ways we never knew possible. We'll find emotional reserves we didn't know were there. Life will be an adventure...and I love adventure. How do I know? How am I so confident? Because that's what military life is, when you view it through my eyes, an incredible, pride-filled, uplifting adventure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Smart

Jace is smart. I may have mentioned that before. I've probably said it more than once because it's not only true, but flabbergasting and awe-inspiring.

Scott (my husband) and I aren't dumb, but we're not Jace-smart either...he apparently got some great recessive genes. Not only does he have incredible, sparking blue eyes and blonder hair than the rest of us, but he's witty, clever, and a little geeky. What a delightful mix!

Last night Jace told me about a book he'd gotten from the library at the school.

"Mama, this is a fiction book about a baby polar bear who gets lost and while he's waiting for his mama to find him he builds a snow bear to keep himself company. Some of his friends come to help him. Can you guess what animals his friends are? Here's a hint: they're arctic animals."

I guess a fox and a rabbit but he had to help me with the rest. "Let me spell it out for you. M-u-s-k..."

"A musk ox?"

"Right! Good job, mama. How about something that starts with a w?"


"Nope. W-o..."



He told me the rest of the animals then went on to explain, "This is obviously a fiction book. If it were a non-fiction story then I'd expect the wolf and fox to eat the rabbit and the duck, at least! They'd probably try to eat the moose and the musk ox and the bear too."


Recently, I met with Jace's teacher to talk about his experiences in school. At home he seems perfectly social, but apparently at school he has some minor issues with understanding how boys his age play. He had to go to the Principal's office a week or so ago after being involved in a fight on the playground. He was playing cops and robbers with some boys and two of them started fighting. Jace was a cop and tried to arrest them, not getting that they weren't just role-playing. He didn't get into any trouble, other than having to move his behavior clip down one color -- from blue to green, basically from excellent to good. When I picked him up hours later he was still upset and kept repeating, "I just don't understand. They were robbers. Why couldn't they just play robbers?"

Jace's teacher did say that she has seen improvement since he began in Cub Scouts. I know that he's getting something from it and that he enjoys it, but after this past weekend, Scott and I aren't sure we do. We went camping with the Pack and Jace was probably the best behaved boy there. In fact Tyler and Gracie were better behaved than many of the kids. If acting his age means that Jace should run amok, not listen, push, pick, and pester...well, I don't know that he needs to act his age.

I don't want to raise a socially awkward child, I'd prefer Jace's social network just followed directions, knew the rules and followed them. Too much to ask? Yeah, probably. I just never knew parenting a smarty pants like Jace would be so complicated...and Gracie and Tyler likely won't be any different. It's gonna be a long haul, as parenting often is, luckily there's an end in sight...Jace plans on moving out when he's 63 years old.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Money Well Spent

A few months back I posted about needing to figure out my new bra size, again, after all these children and nursing and weight gain and loss. I got to it back then, and determined the correct size. However, I only purchased one bra. Having only one bra that fits seemed like an OK plan, since I had several others that didn't. What I mean is that all these other sizes would work for the few hours during the day I was wearing them and then when I lost more weight I'd fit into at least one of them better, right?


What was a financial savings a few months ago was also an uncomfortable situation more days of the week than not. It occurred to me that I would probably enjoy at least one more bra of the correct size and last week I hit the stores again.

I tried on a dozen bras, some were comfortable, some weren't, but this one...that I passed by on my first walk through the intimates section...this one was comfortable, fit well, gave enough support, and didn't cost $30.00. I hesitated in the dressing room for a while. Only spending $7.00 (that's right, only $7.00) on a bra made me a little nervous. I had visions of sagging breasts only days after such a reasonable purchase. I convinced myself it was worth a shot, though, and took it to the register.

Let me tell you, it's been over a week now and I've worn this bra every other day without sagging or any other issue. I'm headed to the store tomorrow to pick up another, maybe two! The price can't be beat...neither can the comfort!

Monday, November 2, 2009

All In a Day's Work

I don't get a pay check. I do, however, have a few jobs. I'm a Navy wife. I'm a mother. I'm an unpublished freelance writer. The writing suffers a bit, which is why I'm unpublished as of now, but I figure it's better to put that on the back burner than my marriage or children. Good call, don't you think?

Anyway, my two priority unpaid jobs have me whipped. Thoughts about everything from education to housing pull me from slumber early in the mornings and keep me awake long after bedtime. Scott and I keep developing plans and those plans continue to be derailed. It's Monday at the office!


Luckily, I do love my jobs. When I dropped Gracie off at school this morning she was asked to draw something she liked and she drew a picture of me. I'm so touched, honored to be her mother.

And when they're not leaving me speechless with heartfelt, uncluttered expressions of love, they're making me laugh, chortle, and chuckle!

Tyler's got mischief in his eyes, hidden behind that thumb he's sucking on, and he just unleashes his energy every so often...it's great to watch! He climbs on anyone who sits still long enough to become a jungle gym. He's simply fun!

Jace continues to read up a storm and funnel his knowledge to us whenever he can fit in a fact about reptiles or prehistoric creatures. I've learned a lot from him, and I'm sure that will continue to be the case. Just the other day he told me that when Tyler turns 2 years old in a few months he'll "finally be able to start living his human life and not just be a baby." All this time I didn't know babies aren't human! Too funny.

So, see, it's all in a days work, being tired and feeling worn out. But at the end of that day, I have a husband who loves, trusts, and respects me. And we have three amazing, intelligent, and amusing children. There's no job worth more.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm pretty in touch with me. I don't necessarily understand the inner workings of my brain, heart, and spirit, but I fully accept them all for what they are without that understanding. I'm not cocky but am honest, about my faults and my strengths. In my opinion, one of the things I do best is feel. My emotions are out for all to see, and why not? The thing that really gets to me is that some see that as a fault. Why?

Here's what I think...crying or being overly emotional can get in the way of living life, if it gets in the way of living. Makes perfect sense, right? For me, my propensity to tear up does not act as a stumbling block to decision making, but rather a way of cleansing the senses to allow for clear, mature, and nurturing decisions.

So, feel. Don't be afraid of feelings...they are one of the few things that are ours alone and no one can take them or void them.

Feel love so deep it's got to be a peek into God's love for us.
Feel joy so uplifting you remember, if only for a minute, what it was like to be a child.
Feel sorrow for a stranger.
Feel frustration.
Feel contentment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Little Things

I know I've been scarce. Life has been a bit "aaaaahhhh!" for me over the past few days. Rather than give you a blow by blow, though, here are the high lights...

The improving housing market is not improving here. We now owe more on our house than the realtor recommends listing it for and our contract is up on Saturday. So, we're taking it off the market. What does that mean for us? Well, the following:

1) I can leave match box cars on the floor and dishes on the counter.
2) The kids and I will continue to live here until the market recovers here as well as some lady on the radio news keeps telling me its doing other places around the country.
3) Scott will go to school in Connecticut in March and continue on to Washington state in July. The rest of us will enjoy Southeast Georgia living.

Gracie's feeling our stress (and we're still 5 months away from Scott leaving) and doesn't want me to leave her at school. She's gotten progressively more clingy and this morning cried. She has never cried. Gracie loves school and her friends and teachers. She's breaking my heart and I'm going to need to be stronger than I knew possible for all of us, apparently starting now.

Don't you fret, though. I'm up for it. Scott picked me for a reason, maybe a few. In this case, I'm positive, strong, focused, and creative. I'm already working on things we can do to "stay in touch" with Dada when we're not with him. And I calmed Gracie this morning reminders of all the exciting stuff that's going to fill our time for the next few months...holidays, vacations, random mom and daughter lunch dates! We'll make it...

And the market will turn eventually and we'll be ready when it does!

While dealing with all the emotions of this, Scott and I are trying to figure out the details of vehicles, money, day-to-day bicoastal living. No easy task. We'll keep you posted.

In other areas...I got my diploma from the writing course I took, but haven't published anything yet. I have three pieces in the final stages before submission, but have gotten side tracked.

My mom is slowly healing. Her focus right now seems to be on handling the MS so the injuries can get better. They're hoping to take a little trip next month, which will be tricky physically but wonderful for their spirits.

Halloween's this weekend...love me some candy. :)

OK, gonna go pick up the kids, but I wanted to let you know where I've been and how things are...until next time...

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Sigh

I vaguely recall noticing my mother "sounding old" when I was younger. There's no specific memory of this, just a general sense that she used to take deep, cleansing breaths from time to time and that - to me - made her sound old. I feel a little embarrassed admitting that I thought mom was old because of a possible propensity to sigh, especially because she probably wasn't much older than me when I would have been listening to her breathing.

And now, I sigh. Like many daughters do, I've become like my mother in some ways, and if she did in fact sigh a lot, this is one of the ways I'm like her. I sigh a lot. Deep, cleansing breaths.

Tyler: "Mama."

"Mama, mama, mama!"


Me: (sigh) "What, Buddy?"

(sigh) "Yes, Tyler?"

(sigh) "TYler! What?"

Gracie: "My legs hurt."

"My wrist hurts."

"I bit my tongue again and my tongue hurts!"

Me: (sigh) "I'm sorry."

(sigh) "I'm sorry."

(sigh) "I'm sorry. And stop crying."

Jace: "Can we watch cartoons?"

"Can we watch a movie?"

"Uuuhhhh! I don't want to _____!" (You can fill in the blank.)

Me: (sigh) "No."

(sigh) "No."

(sigh) "Didn't ask if you wanted to."

Scott: "Are you ready for bed?"

Me: (sigh) "Yes."

I also sigh when the washing machine or dryer beeps that its finished. I sigh when I sit down and when I get up. I sigh when trying to get the kids in bed at night and up in the morning. I sigh on Monday morning and Friday night. I really sigh all the time.

(sigh) I did, too, just now. Sighed. Can't help myself. It calms me, gives me pause when I'm frustrated. Breathing helps me relax and gives me a second of rest before embarking on the next task. With the lens that I look through now, as opposed to when I was younger, breathing is no longer a sound associated with being old. It now says to me: Focused. Motivated. Composed. At least that's what I tell myself because I'm certainly not old...just be sure to ask someone other than my kids for confirmation on that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Make New Friends...

It occurs to me that I not only reference country songs for every occasion, as previously thought. After my recent post about sandwiches and this one, about friends, I realize that I find musical inspiration everywhere!

Anyway, two years ago when Jace was getting ready to leave preschool and head into kindergarten his teachers taught him a song that I remembered fondly from my childhood. It goes something like this:

"Make new friends, but keep the old.
Some are silver and the others gold."

I love my friends. I guess if I didn't care for them they wouldn't be friends. But I've realized over the years that friends come in so many shapes and sizes. Some are life long. Some enter my life unexpectedly. Some I didn't realize were friends until they'd been present and accounted for, a stable shoulder, for a while.

I've been lucky enough to have friends from every point in my life. I married the "boy next door," pretty much. And he's not the only one from elementary school that is still a part of my life. There are some friends that I've lost touch with, but have reconnected and others that I've never lost touch with, and many that I happily share holiday cards with and nothing else. I'd feel at ease having dinner with any of them...they're all dear to me.

Through my transitions from small town high school to small city college girl to grad student and Navy wife I've learned even more about friendships...what they mean to me, how I form them, when I lean on them, why I want them.

I'm not going to share any nuggets of wisdom with you regarding my experiences, though. I know, you're bummed. But I don't think I have anything that "wow" to let you know. My friendships have been forged on common experience, good, bad, and long lasting. Those who know me and love me anyway... Those who laugh with me and cry with me... Those who have stories about me that bring joy to their hearts and smiles to their eyes... Those people are my friends.

Thankfully I've made new friends and kept the old and my life sparkles with all the jewels I've been blessed to know.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pho - October's DC Challenge

I hope it's true what they say..."better late than never." It's been a crazy week, but I got my first Daring Cook's Challenge made and even remembered to take a few pictures. I'm still learning the new camera, though, so they didn't all turn out...but you'll have a few to make your mouth water!

So, October's challenge was Pho (pronounced fu, with a soft u). I was nervous from the get-go. Scott doesn't enjoy anything Asian except the occasional bagged stir fry with soy sauce on the rice. I know...he's quite adventurous, isn't he?! The kids barely eat anything I make anymore. They still love to help me in the kitchen, but they don't hardly eat what they make either! The other issue? Pho is a soup. Scott is not a soup guy. He likes to say that he doesn't like hot liquids. I love soup, though, so even though I was nervous...I was also excited!

There were some choices to be made this month. Pho can be made with chicken, pork, seafood, beef or vegetarian. I chose beef. There's also a long and a short version. I made the short version, purchasing my beef stock from the store rather than making it. Here is the recipe for the long version. Other than not making my own stock, I pretty much followed it.

So, what do you think? I thought it not only smelled fantastic, looked delicious, but tasted incredible. As my husband is not a fan of Asian flavors I don't get them very often and I just have to say, "Man! I'm missing out!"

This recipe wasn't difficult. The hardest part was finding the whole spices, and shelling out the cash! I recommend giving this a shot, though...yum!

Now, if you ask my husband and kids, you'll get a very different opinion on the success of this challenge. Tyler liked the noodles but nothing else. Jace and Gracie ate nothing but the salad I served with it. Scott, didn't even eat that!

I thoughtfully made Scott a variation, knowing his aversion to hot liquids. I pulled the flank steak out and thickened a bit of the broth to make a nice sauce.
In the end, this recipe will not be one I turn to again anytime soon. But, if the occasion arrises that I'm cooking for others, I might just pull it out. Like I said, I did enjoy it.
There was another part of the challenge too. Dessert wontons. We got to pick the filling and I chose marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and chocolate. That part was great. However, I couldn't find wonton wrappers. Obviously I was looking someplace they weren't and I might ask next time I'm in the store. (Weight Watchers has a whole article on wonton recipes this week.) For this I tried Lumpia wrappers, thinking, "How different could they be?" As it turns out, very different and not so good!
All in all, my first go round as a daring cook wasn't exactly great, but I shall not be deterred...I'll be back next month for more. You can count on it...and I'll try to be on time too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Official, I'm a Mom

From time to time you might wonder what really qualifies someone as "mom." Is it simply procreating or is there something more to it? There are a few things about my mom that stick out in my mind, that shout loud and clear..."MOM!!!"

First there's the fact that she always cleaned up after the pets when they emptied their insides out in the house in any fashion. Often we'd pretend we didn't even see or smell it and let her discover the pile of puke. I know it wasn't nice or pleasant, but Dad was just as guilty as the rest of it, which somehow made it OK when I was young. In any case, as I grew I always figured that when I was the one to scrape poop off the kitchen floor after bringing in bags of groceries...well, then I'd officially be a mom.

Lucky for me, we don't have a pet yet. We have, however, cleaned up after our kids in a similar fashion, which I think qualifies both Scott and I as parents.

Today I took my time with working my way through another miserable right of passage that without question brands me a mom: lice. I know, you're itchy aren't you?

I remember having lice checks at school. I don't remember if any was ever found on my head during the school year, but I remember the lines at the nurse's office, waiting to have our hair picked through with chop sticks. Even if I didn't have the nasty nits and bugs in my hair during the school year, I did in the summer...every year after 4H camp. I loved camp, had a great time, and came home with new experiences, crafts, and head lice every year.

I didn't enjoy sitting still while mom washed my hair with something gross smelling and then pulled half of it out with that little comb. Apparently, by the next summer, the memories of getting lice treatment didn't out weigh the ones of the fun I was bound to have at camp...because I'd go back and do it all again!

Well, Gracie hasn't been to camp, but she's had her first lice treatment. Unlucky girl. The teacher called me to come pick her up and we stopped at the store for the gross smelling shampoo, which thankfully no longer smells gross. After washing her hair with that we sat watching Dora and Diego for over two hours and I went through her long, strong, used-to-be-fond-of hair with a fine toothed comb. OK, I still do love her hair, but while I was trying to get every little egg out of it...didn't like her luscious locks then.

So, now I'm a mom. Hopefully I won't need to be reminded of this again anytime soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


"Sandwiches are beautiful.
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches.
I eat them all the time.

I eat them for my supper,
and I eat them for me lunch.
If I had a hundred sandwiches
I'd eat them all at once."

This is a little song I remember hearing when I was younger. I can't recall where I heard it, but I know it well enough that it still pops in my head every time I think about sandwiches. It's a fun little tune...maybe I'll sing it for you sometime!

Anyway, I do like sandwiches. I had one yesterday (chicken salad on a croissant) that was good but not worth what I paid! Why are some restaurants so expensive? My sandwich came with "seasonal fruit" or chips. I asked what the fruit was and she said peaches. I chose the fruit and was excited for a nice, juicy, fresh peach. What I got was a little bowl of canned peaches. Seriously? Needless to say, we won't be eating at that cute little place again. The decor was nice but I'm still not willing to pay almost $9 for that lunch, even though it did include a can of sprite.

Tomorrow I'm having a sandwich for lunch too. Scott and I will be on the road, traveling to our friend April's wedding. We're trying to make good time, eat healthy, and be frugal so we're taking snacks, drinks, breakfast and lunch with us. So we're going to have turkey sandwiches. I'm very excited...more for the wedding, time alone with my husband, and road trip in general than the sandwich...but the sandwich is exciting too!

I could go on about sandwiches, and maybe another day I will, but I want to work on writing shorter blogs. I've had some pretty lengthy ones lately. So, I'm going to go now and in a short time I'll be making grilled cheese sandwiches for Tyler and I for lunch today!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Charades and Other Games

People are always interested in knowing the secrets to a good, successful, and hopefully happy marriage. Now, I think I have a good, successful, and mostly happy marriage but I do not presume to know anything more than most others do...except for one key ingredient. And that is...wedded bliss hinges on willingness and ability to play games.

Seriously, think about couples you know...they challenge each other to finish thoughts, fill in the blanks, understand the meaning behind "thingy," and interpret hand motions.

As an example of this, yesterday I was telling Scott about how I'd used the air compressor to try to put air in the car's tire. Yes, I only tried because I couldn't find the right fitting. Honestly, I didn't look. I've looked before and not been able to find them. I've always gotten the right stuff out of Scott's truck, but he had that at work. Since the correct piece wasn't on the compressor it was only an attempt to put air in...luckily, the tires weren't that low and the warning on my dashboard went away when the temperature warmed up so all is well.

Anyway, I wanted him to be impressed by my autonomy but due to my lack of story telling skills he ended up laughing at me. See, I started telling him about the yellow thingy.

"Hose," he suggested.

"Yeah, I guess, but it's all twirly."

"OK. The coiled hose?"

In the end he was sufficiently impressed, because I reminded him to be. And I now know the twirly yellow thingy attached to the air compressor is a coiled hose. Good info to have.

The bottom line is, communication has long been known to be crucial to healthy, loving marriages. It must not be forgotten that interpretation, comprehension, and translation are all part of communication.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I'm not always one to be overly outgoing. I tend to show my true colors only after I've felt you out and you've felt me out and we've somehow mutually decided that we'll be friends. Even though you might not hear me tell a story that I think is so funny I snort and cry in my laughter until we've hung out for a year or two...I'm still pleasant. I see no reason not to be.

I like flashing a smile when I meet you on the sidewalk. There's no reason not to say hello to the greeter at Walmart. If you've bagged my groceries and are walking me out to the car to then put them in my trunk...well, then, why wouldn't we chat about the weather?

Now, I also tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, even I, who bubbles with friendliness, has off days. On those days my eyes might not meet yours, or my smile might be contrived. Nobody can be 'on' all the time.

All this said, there are are two women I have issue with. One is a bagger at our commissary. (If you're unfamiliar, the commissary is the grocery store on base. There are baggers who "work for tips only" and will also take your purchases to your vehicle and load them in for you.) I've seen her in the aisles of the store while she's on breaks. She's been at the end of my cashier's lane more than a few times. I've lived here for over two years. We've interacted. However, she has never said more to me than, "Plastic or paper?" She answers my questions with as short an answer as possible. And she wears a permanent scowl. I try not to judge, but really...you work with people! I bet if someone kept track the other baggers made more with their tips than she does because they smile or say hi to my kids or any of it! Enjoy yourself...just a little.

The other woman I haven't given years to impress me. She is a parent at Gracie's preschool. We've been there for two months! In that time, though, she's been on the phone every time I see her. I'm not really sure if she's talking to someone every morning and afternoon or if she uses the phone as a way to keep people at a distance. It's not just the phone that annoys me, though. She also keeps her foot in the door when signing her daughter in so there's no way she'll be trapped inside and faced with possible conversations. She doesn't say good bye to her daughter, just ushers her through the door, signs the sheet, and leaves. I have seen her give a brief wave to the teachers. And she parks in such a way that she'll be able to get out, regardless of what chaos this brings to the rest of the parents. The drop off portion of the parking lot is a one way U shape. She has never driven through it that I've seen. She parks in the entrance so the tail of her car is almost still on the road, then backs out when she's ready to leave. I have also seen her pull up on the grass, not in the driveway at all. This act, in and of itself, is not offensive. It's what most of us do when we don't want to get stuck in the U part, waiting for parents in front of us to come back out. However, instead of pulling straight out into the road and going on her way after scurrying out of the school, she does a 3-point turn in the road, stopping traffic in all directions.

Now, this woman might not annoy me quite as much, although probably, but her daughter is also unpleasant. She's not nice to Gracie and I'll assume she's not all that great with the other kids either. She's rude, bossy, takes things, a little brat. If I knew just her I'd think, "What a little imp," but having met(?) her mother I instead think, "How sad."

It seems to me that taking a little time to be cordial, pleasant, considerate to others encourages others to carry that positivity on in their days. It's discouraging when the rest of us consistently have to make up for one or two people's crabbiness, especially when we have to make up for it by trying to tolerate your kid's reaction to you. Frustrating. And I'm not even the teacher.

So, let your personality shine...and if it's a little dull, start polishing. Give it a good spit shine. Please.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Growing Pains

Edited for clarification

I have a friend back in Washington who I think of every time I want to start a sentence with "there's a country song..." because she was the one who pointed out that I can reference a country song for just about anything! Hi Hollie!

So, there's a country song that goes like this:

"There's gone for good and there's good and gone
and there's gone with the long before it.
I wish she'd been just a little more clear.
Well, there's gone for the day and gone for the night
and gone for the rest of your doggone life.
Is it a whiskey night or just a couple beers?
I mean what kind of gone are we talkin' 'bout here?"

Chris Cagle continues on, trying to figure out is his woman's coming back or not. Between you and me, I don't think she is. But, anyway...I thought of this song yesterday when I was thinking about growth.

Sometimes growth is obvious. Physical growth for example. Sometimes it surprises you that the kids need new clothes, again, but it can't be denied that they've grown. Sometimes we don't realize growth for some time after. This happens often with spiritual growth. If we're not focused on it, we might not even know where our spirit is, but all of a sudden the need arises for us to be faithfully present or we're challenged in some way and we realize our spirit has been growing all this time.

There's growth within us and outside of us, in our interpersonal relationships. Sometimes we tend to ourselves or others with great care and promote that growth. More often, though (at least for me) we find ourselves too busy with whatever to weed and water these little vines of friendship, love, personal growth.

We grow up, grow apart, grow old, and grow together. And none if it's easy. Change precipitates growth and it can be very emotional and not always seem like a good thing. But, in the end, I think growth is our goal. It's my goal.

I get nervous about change, but I embrace it too. I love that no matter how hard the change is or how long it takes to realize it...I'll grow. I'll learn something, about myself or my family. I'm face decisions that are exciting or nerve-racking. I'll come out the other side with stronger beliefs, closer friends, more to smile about. I may also have more questions, but the answers will come in time...with more growth.

Edited to add...this morning I was thinking about this post and wondering if it was clear to anyone else how the song related to my blabber about growth. With the chaos of life I didn't get a chance to log on and re-read it to see if it might be clear or a little foggy, until now. It's not foggy at all...there appears to be no connection. (sigh) What's a girl to do?

In my defense, I'm often writing these posts with Tyler climbing on me...at least. I can't recall if that was the case when I originally posted Growing Pains or not, but let's just say it was...so I can feel better about the lack of substance tying the topics together.

For the inquiring minds that might want to know, the tie for me is in the fact that there are so many kids of "growth" and "gone." Plus both words start with G. That's it! No big revelations. I was thinking about friendships and growing apart, or never growing together, or the ways we dance in and out of people's lives while we grow. While considering all that I heard the song and I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if we knew what kind of growth we were talking about at each stage of life?" So often I have an "aha!" moment way after the fact and realize that I grew out of a situation that at the time seemed pointless and painful. If only things were a little more clear...

(like my writing)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Puff Pastry - Daring Baker's Challenge

Well, well, well...the time has come for my first post as part of the Daring Kitchen. My little sister (and her two blogs - life and food) turned me onto this fun and exciting idea....get monthly "challenges" to bake and cook! Fun, huh? The excitement is increased in that we all (all the challenge members) reveal our posts all on the same day to show what we've accomplished. People from all over the world are baking the same thing I am. Some are better at it than others...in this case I'm "other." But we're all learning, sharing, and just plain enjoying ourselves!

So, without further ado...here's my first challenge:

Puff Pastry

The recipe was provided in the challenge, along with a wonderful video to watch on how to make puff pastry. That video make a world of difference. The recipe itself was rather lengthy and scared me a touch. The video made it much more approachable. Anyway, you can find the recipe at the end of my post.

It turns out that puff pastry needs to be kept cold at every step, which can be tricky here in Georgia. I'm not sure if that was the issue or if my egg wash dripped over he sides too much or if I twisted the cutter when cutting out my shapes...all or any of these things can effect the puffiness of puff pastry. Who knew?

Anyway, mine didn't puff wonderfully...but it sure tasted good!

This challenges was not only to make the puff pastry but then to turn it into Vols-au-Vent. Sounds pretty neat, huh? From what I make of it, this is simply puff pastry, cut out, baked, and filled. We got to chose our fillings and could go a sweet or a savory route. The recipe makes a ton of pastry, so many challengers did both. I had a great plan to make the savory for dinner and let the kids chose a sweet filling for another night. I still might do that, I have frozen dough left, but for now I've just done the savory.

I actually attempted baking the dough twice, with the same results...not so much puff. The first time I found out that our camera had completely broken and couldn't take pictures of my seafood filling. Since then, though, we've gotten a wonderful new camera and you can all drool over my creation!

I started with two pieces of bacon, cut into about 1" bits. I browned them in a nonstick pot and took them out to drain when done. I added sliced red onions and cooked them on low for a while, added mushrooms and let them be happy together. Don't they look happy?

I should note that I could eat this combination on just about anything. So good.

After this, though I tossed in some scallops to cook through and finished it off with some black pepper, a spoon of cream of mushroom soup, and of course the original bacon. It was lovely (and reasonably healthy...just don't count the puff pastry!)

See? Lovely.
We enjoyed some blueberries and garlic veggies to complete our meal.
I'm excited about my first Daring Challenge and can't wait for the next!
Now for the recipe...
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
There ya have it! Give it a try, or at least enjoy this indulgent treat from the freezer section of your grocery store...it was way better from scratch though. No matter what, though...enjoy! Happy baking!