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!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Today's my 31st birthday. That's right...I said it! I enjoy birthdays, not as big, loud reasons to party, but as sentimental milestones...not that I don't like a happenin' celebration from time to time, though. So, for the last few days I've been thinking about life goals, past successes and lessons learned, my faith, my relationships, everything.

I like thinking. I like dreaming and planning. It's a wonderful birthday present. Then there's reality.

Earlier I was out painting flowers on Gracie's bed and wondering where I'd take my creative abilities if I had all the opportunities I could ask for. Would I buy a bunch of fabric and a dress form and start making my own clothes? Would I paint ceramic serving dishes and sell them at flea markets? Maybe I'd dabble in a few genres of creativity...writing, sketching, baking. With all the wonderful ponderings swirling through my thoughts Scott comes in and says he thinks we need a new sewage pump. Plop! Back to what's real and needs to be dealt with...life, in all its glory!

Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stretching Food

There are lots of ways to stretch food. In soups you can add more milk or water or broth and throw in some beans or pasta or veggies. Essentially, I guess, you're making more soup, but it stretches the original batch none the less.

Casseroles are great for using leftovers, rather than tossing them out. I don't know about you, but I almost always have at least a serving and a half left over after a meal. Not enough for another meal, but too much to throw away. We also have leftover nights where we clean out the fridge and everyone gets their favorites while not having to suffer through things they didn't like the first time 'round.

Since we're talking about servings...did you know that a bag of chips (at least the one that's still in my cupboard) has 11 servings! Scott and I could easily finish a bag off between the two of us. When we started Weight Watchers and, therefore, started paying attention to serving size we found that things lasted much longer. That stretches the dollar I pay for groceries quite nicely.

My last idea isn't for everyone. But sometimes I just don't feed the kids.

They have gotten fussy and finicky and picky and particular and many other great descriptive words I could come up with. So, rather than putting a scoop of some side dish on their plates to get looked at funny, I put a fork full. They still won't actually try a full fork full, but I'm wasting a lot less that way. If they actually, by some alignment of the planets, like whatever decorated their plate they are welcome to more.

Now, of course, this creates even more leftovers, but at least they can actually be eaten or made part of a casserole, soup, wrap...something. If they get scraped into the trash, well, then no one gets them and I might as well toss my pennies away too. It's actually probably more like quarters with these three!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting the Monkeys to Eat More Than Bananas

Our kids used to be very easy eaters. They weren't picky, loved all the food groups, and were willing to try new things. Over the last year or so I've been struggling more and more with them. Almost every dinner is a tug of war. And we have very simple rules: Just try it. If you don't like it, don't eat it. If you're still hungry after dinner and there is no more of what you do like (even if there is) you may have an apple, banana, carrots...something healthy. See? Nothing complicated.
Still, things they used to like they don't anymore. Things they liked last week they don't this week. Things they didn't eat the first time they will when rewarmed. I don't get it! They even spit out pizza the other night!

I know! It's amazing I haven't lost my mind!

I've tried to get them more involved in the cooking process to get them more interested in the eating process. It's not working so well...they love to cook, but that is not related to whether or not they'll eat the food! Anyway, tonight Gracie chose one of my favorites, tuna melts. The recipe was out of Paula Deen's children's cook book.

I've always made tuna melts by slapping tuna on one half of a roll or a piece of bread, a slice of cheese on the opposing side of the soon-to-be sandwich and broiling it. This occasionally leads to picking the cheese off the sandwich, but what's a mom to do? Paula Deen, in her culinary brilliance and motherly wisdom, mixes shredded cheese into the tuna mixture and then tops the sandwich with potato chips before baking it!

I know! So smart!

My only suggestion would be to leave the chips off until after the baking (wrap sandwiches in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes). I was looking forward to the crunch that it didn't have. Gracie pointed out that was because the chips were touching the tuna and got wet from it.

I know! She's smart too!

The other meal idea I have is something I threw together last night. I must have been channeling mom, who can never repeat a recipe because the original is just a mish-mosh of things from cans and bottles and containers. It's almost always good though, as was my dish last night.

I was online chatting with Mary and mentioned that I had some meatballs in the fridge and wanted some ideas for what to do with them, excluding spaghetti and subs. She suggested stroganoff. I found a recipe that called for cream of mushroom soup, beef broth, and wine. What I had was cream of celery soup, beef bullion cubes, and sparkling apple cider. Let me tell you...mmmmm.

If you'd like to try to recreate this original (I think) creation, I simply dissolved the bullion cube in one cup of boiling water, mixed it with the soup and about two cups of sparkling cider. I let it cook on low in a large saute pan with the meatballs. Just before my egg noodles were ready, I mixed some corn starch and cold water together, stirred it into the faux stroganoff, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

I know! I'm pretty clever myself!

Road Trip Training

Yesterday I told you about the beginning signs of a patience testing road trip. Today we had another flag go up, but I tried a new strategy.

All three kids are antagonistic in their own right, but Jace takes the cake when trying to get Gracie's goat. (Anyone know where that phrase came from?) And, of course, Gracie's reaction is a high-pitched screech. I think she usually squawks "no!" or "stop it!" but most of the time it's really hard to understand because it's in a range that I don't comprehend. Whatever she says, though, her reaction drives me bonkers.

So, today when it happened in the car I told her the correct response was to calmly say, "Jace, please stop." And then we practiced. Jace annoyed her and Gracie responded, personalizing things a bit with a little note of whining. After a few practice runs they stopped and moved on to playing.

After that, when she'd screech I'd say, "Ut oh, looks like we need more practice." They'd giggle and practice a few more times.

I'll take giggling and mock annoyance over pterodactyl noise any day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Stop It!"

We're less than three weeks from a lengthy road trip. When I say "we" I mean me and our three lovely and delightful children. When I say "lovely and delightful children" I mean most of the time.

Anyway, this road trip is going to include a total of about 25 hours on the road, broken into legs ranging from four hours to almost 10 hours, further broken up with rest stops and eating out, maybe the occasional sanity stop too!

So the other day I'm in the car with my monkeys sitting in their seats, which are next to each other. Yes they can touch each other. I don't know if it's a great idea...but it's how things are. So, they're sitting there riding, singing along with the radio or playing with toys, I'm not really sure what they do back there...except when I hear it.

Jace started out with a sharp whisper, "Stop it!" Then again, more pointed, "I said stop it! Gracie! I told you to stop."

Gracie gleefully responds, "What? I'm just staring at you?!"

Oh, yes, it is going to be a fun trip! Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I make a conscious effort not to spend 24/7 on the computer. I still probably spend more time than I should. Every time I sit down I pick it up and check email and facebook, maybe a blog or two. But I rarely spend hours on it, so I think that makes my computer time acceptable! Plus, it's where I write. Sort of.

I keep my articles, in all their stages of incompleteness, on our network. I'm not sure exactly where that means they are, but someplace between the desktop and the laptop...my work is saved there! After I edit something I print it and it sits in the living room where I occasionally pick it up, read it and make changes. When Scott has to be at work overnight I spread all sorts of papers, books, and general writing stuff out in front of me on the bed and really throw myself into it for an hour or two.

Normally, though, I think my writing. When I'm in the car and the kids say something funny (which you know they do often) I make a mental note of it. When I'm cooking, baking, doing dishes, or folding clothes, I let my mind wander to my mental notes and play with the ideas a little. And when I'm in bed, waiting to fall asleep, trying to stay still so Scott can get a little rest before his alarm sings long before dawn, I really tackle my ideas, notes, edits...all in my head.

So, whether it's from lack of sleep, too many children's books, or simply my unique brand of cleverness, this is what I came up with last night: Scott hopes that I'll earn come bread (or is it dough?) from writing stories in my head while in bed. (I prob'ly should be sleeping, though.)

So? Can I make millions?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Helping Out

Our kids want to help. I know it won't always be that way, so I try to take advantage...but, how helpful are they really?

Jace tried to change Tyler's diaper the other day and did a great job getting the wet one off and wiping him. Then he practically picked his little brother up by the ankles, causing crying and twisting on Tyler's part, when attempting to put the clean diaper on.

Gracie likes to help fold clothes and has gotten decent with her shirts, just in time to start hanging them all. (We watch a little too much What Not To Wear and my fashionista likes to hang her shirts now!) Everything else pretty much ends up as a bunch of cloth in the baskets.

Tyler likes to throw his diapers in the garbage. Very helpful, except when he tosses his cups, his toys, anything else he happens to get his hands on!

And this morning, Tyler, who is still in a crib, burst into my room! None of our kids have ever crawled out of the crib, which doesn't mean Tyler won't, but I was stunned! Then I find out that Jace got him out! This is even scarier to me...I quickly think that one of these mornings I'm going to have to call 911 because both boys have gotten hurt! Thankfully, Gracie's bed is almost complete and Tyler will inherit her toddler bed.

Well...thankfully that there isn't as far to fall...but he will be able to burst into my room every morning. Rise and shine!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grandma Has No Idea!

Just about every day when Scott gets home I fill him in on the newest crazy thing the kids have done or said. Lately, there's a lot of that...crazy kid things. We've been in the car a lot, driving to play dates, doctor's check ups, museums, grocery shopping...ample opportunities for lots of car conversation.

Today we wondered what it would be like to be two animals at the same time. Gracie got a Little Mermaid doll that started that topic. In case you're wondering, Jace would like to have the head of an alligator and the tail of a shark (they're faster). Scary! Gracie would like to be part horse and part fish. And I think I'd be awfully pretty as a polar bear with a peacock's feathers!

Other topics this week have included why we dream, what you call words that start with the same letter or sound (alliteration, in case you didn't know), and life after death. It was while I was filling Scott in on Jace's and Gracie's takes on death, heaven and their exploration of reincarnation that he remarked, "Oh, Grandma has no idea!"

See, Grandma Jane offered to drive from New York back to Georgia with me and the kids later this summer. It'll be a three day trip, including a stay at a hotel, a tour through a cavern, and a visit with some relatives, not to mention over 17 hours in a car! During those long hours we may revisit Jace's musing, "If heaven is magical and people come back to life, do you think God knows or does He just turn around and say, 'Hey! Where'd all the people go?' "

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How You Know Where You Are

We've all heard "you know you're a redneck if..." from the very funny Jeff Foxworthy. And we've all gotten a forward or two beginning something like "you may have been a child of the 80's if..." or "you know you're from Western New York if..." Today I happened upon how you can tell where you are at the moment.

That's right...an alligator in the road. I've seen deer in the road, bigger the further North you get. I've had to stop for cows. This is my first gator in the road! I know, I'm such a dork for stopping and taking a picture. But there was an alligator in the road!
So, if you ever find your self driving in circles, wondering where you are...check out the wildlife. Just don't get too close!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Writing Through Hugs

I wasn't sure what to call this installment, but Tyler helped me decide. It's getting close to nap time, which normally occurs in the boys room. For the time being, though, Jace and Gracie are playing so well in there that I don't want to disrupt them. It's possible that Tyler might nap in mama's bed today, but for that he needs to be asleep before I lay him down, otherwise who knows what he'll drag out of drawers! Anyway, whilst I'm writing and he's getting sleepy he has positioned himself chest to chest on my lap, thumb in mouth, other hand on my shoulder. He's humming a lullaby and will likely drift comfortably away to dream land.

In the meantime, let me tell you about his older siblings. Jace is completely into the "I'm better than you" bit that kids seem to relish in. It's certainly not my favorite, especially since Gracie doesn't take to being called a loser very well. But we're there. Today at lunch Jace was ready to declare that he was going to done first (which is the norm...he eats insane amount and quite quickly these days) when he looked over and noticed that Gracie was actually eating her leftover pizza and not just picking at her food like normal. It went something like:

"Mama, guess what? I'm gonna be done eati...wow! Mama, look Gracie's almost done. I'm gonna eat the slowest out of all of us."

Never a loser himself...he'll just change the rules. True to his word, he was done after everyone else. Clever.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What is PC anyway?

I'm the first to admit that I'm not hop on what the current trends are...in fashion, language, or many other areas of life. I don't know what's politically correct to say and I just always try not to be offensive, even though I know that's impossible...people are offended even by sweet lil me!

I started wondering about it today though. Gracie (who's 3 for another week) said someone was fat and Jace (a graduate of Kindergarten) told her that wasn't nice. He's right, but why? It's true?

Then, later Gracie and I were talking about Uncle Jason, my brother. She asked why he can't talk and I said he was handicapped...wondering if that was the right terminology to teach her. Turns out...it was definitely the humorous choice.

"How did Uncle Jason get capped?"

I know...funny isn't it?

But as soon as I stifled my giggle and repeated "handicapped" I wondered if it was OK to laugh at that unintended play on words. Is it?

All this PC crap has me way too touchy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Really, I Understand.

I saw a mother today who hopefully feels less alone in this big crazy world after encountering me.

The kids and I had finished our fast food lunch and nap-inducing playground time. We were about to get into our vehicle to head home. The SUV next to us had doors open on both sides, one of which was blocking me from putting Tyler in. As first I was a bit annoyed. After all, Tyler's not light anymore and I didn't have just him...there was the diaper bag, my purse, my drink...I didn't really want to drop anything.

The annoyance instantly turned to sympathy when she came around the back of her car trying to manage a smile and holding tightly to the hand of a little girl, probably just starting to potty train. The little girl was obviously in need of a bathroom, highlighted by the fact that she was literally holding it...in the adorable way kids do. When they're other people's kids, that is.

The harried mom said, "I'm sorry. Someone had to make a pit stop. I'll be just a minute I have to get the other one out too."

"You're fine. Really. Take the time you need. My other two just got in on the other side. I understand."

I had all the strength I needed to not drop a thing and smile and talk to the little one while mom had her head in the car unstrapping the littler one. I hope as she walked across the parking lot she felt okay, less stressed, and hopeful. I do remember those days of having to unload one or two kids who can't unload themselves for a reason I'm not convinced is good enough. I know there were times that an understanding smile and nod left me feeling like there was a light at the end of my tunnel. I hope I passed a little of that on to her. Just a little.