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, January 30, 2010

Six Going On Fifteen

I'm not really sure if Jace is going on fifteen or acting like a normal six year old. I tend to think that most of his behaviors are pretty normal for his age, actually. But I think that only because I don't know any better and am more likely to under react than over react. Even when he acts out and I don't like it, I still figure he's being his age. That little incident we had a few weeks ago (read this is you're not familiar) is one exception. It was very inappropriate and I didn't care if other six-year-olds were acting out similarly...that best never happen again. But it got me thinking.

That's what I do, though...I think. I know enough not to try to have lengthy sit down chats with Jace to get to the bottom of why he's behaving a certain way. He probably doesn't even know. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to know why, and make whatever changes can be made to assure better behavior.

So, I've been pondering this and asking little questions here and there and doing some reading. With all of this and a journal entry Jace brought home on yesterday, I think I may have figured out something.

Jace's reading class has readers that have some blank pages in them for journaling. There's a space to draw a picture to go along with the sentences he writes. Jace's reading teacher had written a note above his work explaining that Jace had been asked to journal independently for two days and she was disappointed in what he'd done. He had drawn a very colorful picture of a bleeding eye. All he'd written on the two pages were the words "blood," pointing to the red dripping from the eye, and "love it or dead."

We talked to Jace and found out that, according to him, it was another boys idea to draw eyes. We reinforced the importance of making good choices for himself and taking responsibility for his own actions. I asked him if he understood why the picture wasn't OK for school. He said, "Because it's not nice." This is true. It's also gruesome, disturbing, unpleasant...but 'not nice' works too.

We had him draw a new picture and write something else to turn into his teacher that would be appropriate, nice. While he was working on it I asked him if it was a nicer story. He answered, "Yeah. It's a 'once upon a time' story." He drew a picture of a pink fairy and wrote three short chapters about her desire to learn to fly. Of course there was a happy ending when she succeeded.

I was satisfied with this, but found it interesting that 'once upon a time' stories about fairies are creative and imaginative. But bloody eyes are not OK. Hmmm....

Last night after he'd written his story and things were back to normal here, Jace was reading one of his library books next to me on the couch. I happened to look over and noticed the word blood written in red ink, looking like the letters were dripping. The book he was reading was from the Geronimo Stilton series that he's been really enjoying. The books were recommended by the librarian when I asked what might be good for him to read that is at a 3rd or 4th grade level. I didn't think to read the books first. There's a cute mouse in reading glasses on the front of each book. But in light of what's gone on at school and seeing the bright red "blood" in his book I asked him if it was a scary book.

"This one is! I'm really enjoying it but I can't believe I'm reading it right before bed!"

"Do you like scary things?"

"Yeah, but I might have crazy dreams tonight."

"Is there anything about bleeding eyes in that book?"

"No, that was my idea." He put the book down and all the excitement went out of his voice. He felt like he was being punished again. My heart strings...

I quickly told him that enjoying scary stories was OK. He knows that Scott and I watch some adult shows that are scary and we enjoy them. But that we know when frightening things are OK and when they're not. School isn't really the place for stories like that. I gave him permission to write them at home, if he wanted, and to let Dada and I read them to help him learn how far is too far.

I hope I'm doing OK and not encouraging him to grow up too quickly. I don't like to hold back his creativity, but it seems as though his higher reading level might be leading him to read things he isn't quite ready to grasp at six years old. Maybe ten-year-olds handle vampire mice better. I read the book today...that's what it's about.

So, forward we go. I'm going to let his reading teacher know what I've discovered this weekend and see if she has any advice. I've been known to say that I'm still a first time mother. It's the truth, and I will be for many years. Every one of Jace's first is a first for me and I really have no idea what I'm doing! Well, I do know this...most days I'm doing my best. That's the goal, right?

Please, please tell me that's the goal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ready to Go

Just a quickie...

Yesterday the kids were all playing on the playground at Gracie's school. I was tired so when I wanted them all to come in and head to the van I asked Jace to get Tyler. He picked him up and Tyler started to cry. I don't think Jace hurt him, at least not intentionally. Jace put him down, shrugged and said, "Well, if he cries he goes to mama."

He did. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

24 Hours

That's a long time, right? I used to think so. In fact I remember when I was younger and on summer vacation and making it through three hours in the afternoon with nothing to do seemed like forever. But lately, let's say over the last several years, a full 24 hours has not seemed like long enough to get everything done that needs to be, or at least not get it all done well.

First off, I need sleep. I know some people who get five or six hours a night and then drink pots of coffee to keep going throughout the day. I don't like coffee and I don't like to keep my body going with other caffeine sources, although I admittedly do sometimes. I need at least eight hours to feel refreshed and remain my happy self the other 16 hours.

That's right...if I get my beauty rest* then I've now only got 16 hours to get the kids, the laundry, the house, and myself clean (and it sadly usually happens in that order)! Thankfully Scott can clean himself, but there are other tasks to tend to aside from cleaning. There are groceries to buy and put away, not to mention making them into palatable concoctions. There are books to read, games to play, and kids to take to and from school. Nails need to be painted with Dora sparkly nail polish. People need their heads shaved, their buttons sewn on, and their toe nails clipped. Recycling and garbage** have to make it to the garage and once a week to the curb. And let's not forget play dates, Cub Scouts, holidays, vacations, speech therapy, social gatherings, visiting, and the possibility of simply relaxing.

In the midst of all this, that must somehow fit into 16 hours, I'm supposed to find time to exercise? Yup...that's where this whole post has been leading! I've been walking pretty regularly with Tyler for the last two weeks while we wait in the afternoon for Jace to get out of school. Jace's day ends at 2:30 but I need to be in line to pick him up around 2:00 or I won't make it to Gracie's school in time to get her and I'll have to pay for after school care. I have spent that half hour waiting doing a variety of things over the past 100 or so days. I used to regularly edit my articles and work on new ideas, but then Tyler decided to be awake and climb on me making writing a difficult task. Until the last couple of weeks I mostly read books or worked in puzzle books. Sometimes I call someone and chat the time away. But I've decided to walk for that half hour. I must say...it feels good. I love walking, but it often feels like a waste of time that could be better spent doing anything in the previous paragraph. Maybe that little step (it's actually several hundred steps) will lead to a healthier me. We shall see.

I'm still not sure how to divvy up my remaining 15 1/2 hours fairly to complete the rest of what needs to be done, but at least I'm multitasking smartly for 1/48th of my day.

Special notes:

*I know it has long been thought that the phrase "beauty rest" refers to the looks of a person. However, I believe the intended meaning is that our moods become prettier with adequate slumber. Trust me...if I don't get enough sleep I'm rather ugly.

**Please say a little prayer that we remember to take the garbage out this week. We've missed the last two weeks and pretty soon we'll be running our own dump. And I just noticed that garbage and garage are only one letter different...odd.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Learn Something New Every Day

I can't believe I forgot this one little exchange from yesterday morning, but I didn't think of it until I was telling Scott last night when we were all snuggled into bed. I could have included it in yesterday's quotes, but perhaps it was meant to have it's very own post.

Jace, pride filled: "I'm going to be seven on my next birthday."

Gracie, picture her with her tongue sticking out, saying this in a "ha! ha!" kind of voice: "Your brain's gonna stop growing on your next birthday."

Jace, first defensive, then uncertain: "Yeah, but I'll still be able to learn! Right, mama?"

See, Jace read a book about the human brain last summer and this was one fact that the two of them always remember and tease each other with. At first Jace was very concerned, but he always feels a little better after I assure him he'll still have plenty of space in his brain to fill with fascinating facts. I'm not sure he'll really breathe easy, though, until he's seven years and one day and able to fit in a few more facts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Great Quotes From Today

"This is all very interesting, but why don't you read to yourself for a while."

"Ok....Wow!...Mama, when you want me to tell you, you're really gonna like this fact....Oh! I didn't know that!...Mama, I have a great fact about dolphins to tell you when you want to hear it....Oh, my goodness! I didn't know that. This book is full or really great facts. Mama, are you sure you don't want to hear this one right now?" (Jace from the back seat on the ride home from school. He got a new book about ocean animals.)


"This is a business transaction. Honesty can get set aside for a time." (Scott)


"Put the cow on the ground. The cow belongs on the ground." (Me)


"You're gonna want your helmet for this one, Gracie." (Jace to his sister before pushing her around in the wagon.)


"Can I invite Samantha over?"


"She's part Indian which means she's strong and she could help me move the bigger sticks around in the woods." (Jace, referring to one of his classmates who I've met and doesn't look either Native American or to be from India...but whichever Jace believes she is, partially, apparently that ethnic background also makes her strong.)


"Gracie...get your hand out of your pants!"

"But my panties are in my butt!" (It should be noted that I had a similar exchange with Gracie two years ago. I remember we were in the car outside Jace's preschool, waiting for his day to be done. I was on the phone with my mom and suddenly noticed Gracie's pants were around her ankles. When I questioned why she had pulled her pants down, she told me her panties were in her butt then too. So, at least we're making progress.)


I think that's it for now. Hopefully enough of a glimpse into the beginning of our week to keep your week going just swimmingly...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham

Actually I do like green eggs. I know this because Jace has made green eggs for dinner more than once. They're very easy, just add blue food coloring. And I love ham. In light of this, my post title may seem a bit misleading. Really what I was trying to get at was the negativity that Sam held through out the this book. That's how I'm feeling today.

Usually I'm very positive. There are many things I enjoy, embrace, and simply like. But today I feel like Sam. I want someone to buy the house and I don't think anyone ever will. I want Scott's truck to miraculously fix itself and I'm pretty sure that's not gonna happen. I want Tyler not to cry when Jace shuts him out of a room. I want Jace to poop in the toilet and wipe sufficiently so that his underwear wrinkled but clean when he throws it in his dirty clothes hamper. I want Gracie to cut the attitude.

And I don't like Play Dough.
It's sad, I know.
A childhood fave...
I used to rave.
But now I just cringe,
And say, "No."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tyler Talk

Tyler is our youngest. He just turned two years old last month. So, the fact that he's not talking isn't a huge deal, but it's one of those things that makes my life more difficult. I like easy.

Tyler's pediatrician thought that perhaps a speech therapist could help him verbalize more and after thinking about it some we decided why not give it a shot. It wasn't going to hurt anything, and maybe it would help. It's been four months now and, although there has been progress, it's nothing to write home about.

Today we were working on a puzzle with Miss Melanie, the speech therapist, and she pointed to something and said, "Tractor...well, I guess it's more of a bulldozer." I looked at it and called it an excavator. She laughed, saying, "It's obvious you have an older son too."

To which I said, "And at Tyler's age Jace knew all the names of each construction truck. He'd correct me if I was wrong. That's why we're so befuddled by Tyler."

I know we're not supposed to compare the kids, but it baffles me how Jace and Gracie could be saying so much at this age and Tyler still seems like a baby in so many ways. It's hard to think of him as older because he isn't talking, hardly at all. He does say the "c" sound for cup and very occasionally pops out with a two word phrase like "Dada go?" When he said that it was pretty cute...he had his little hands up and his head cocked to the side, questioning. But it's so rare. I just wish he'd communicate with words!

The really great thing, though, is that his comprehension is perfect. When we were working on that puzzle today Tyler went to the door and pointed at Miss Melanie's red Explorer after he put in the red truck piece. He ran and got his blue pick up and his loader after putting in the those pieces. She was smiling about how smart he really is. At the same time she was shaking her head, "He's got it in him. We've heard him say the sounds. One day he's just gonna start talking up a storm."

Miss Melanie's probably right. I wonder when one of these days will be.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lesson Learned?

Jace is six. Actually, he's six and a half, which is apparently when a little hellion comes out every now and then. Now, for Jace that usually means taking things too far. He and Gracie and playing and he gets a little rough and she cries. Jace is being a horse for Tyler to ride on and bucks a little high and Tyler cries. You know, that sort of thing . A pretty tame hellion, I admit, but it's starting.

Then last Friday, out of the blue, we get a phone call from the Assistant Principal at Jace's school. He was upset with the way another boy adjusted the radio antenna and spit in his face. The other boy pushed Jace. Jace picked up a pencil and tried to stab him in the neck. Thankfully, Jace was blocked and no one was hurt.

But, yeah...our jaws were on the floor too. We were shocked, angry, worried, frightened. What the heck had happened to our Jace. He'd never been outwardly violent before (and I hope he never is again). But this had happened. So, the school's punishment for any sort of fighting is the Opportunity Room. In my day we called it in-school suspension...and my first grader got tossed in it!

So, today was the big day in the Opportunity Room. This morning on the way to school I gave him a few things to consider while he was in there, assuming he'd have a chance to just think about his actions between all the homework I figured he'd be working on. Without scaring the bejesus out of him I tried to impress upon the seriousness of having to spend a whole day secluded in this room.

I wondered about his experience there all day. When I got to school to pick him up, I waited nervously. Out he bounded with a trophy in his hand! Yes, a trophy.


So, calmly I asked him what the trophy was for. Jace wrote an essay after Thanksgiving break that was entered in a contest for young Georgia authors. He won - 1st place for first graders. This morning he was given the trophy on the closed circuit TV at the school...then he went to the Opportunity Room.

Even though that is hard to swallow, it gets better. After quietly praising Jace for his award I asked how his day was.

"The Opportunity Room wasn't as bad as you thought."

"Why? Didn't you have to do work?"

"Yeah, I had a little work. But when that was done I got to read the rest of the day."


If you don't know Jace...he loves to read. He gets six 3rd or 4th grade level books each week from the library. He reads them at least twice before we go back the next week.

So, all in all, on the day Jace was supposed to be taking time to consider the extremely poor choices he made...he got to spend a relaxing day reading, coloring, and getting a trophy. Hopefully, despite the efforts of the school, the message sunk in and we won't be visiting Jace in the Big House some day. Although if he does end up locked up, he's apparently good with a shank.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What I Learned On My Day Off

Oh! Wait a minute...I don't get a day off. Well, either way, I learned a few things today. Cool, huh?

1. Venison is quite tasty in many ways. Until recently my favorite was in some sort of Italian dish, spaghetti or lasagna. Tonight, however, I found a new fave. Marinate it in Italian dressing and baked it. Then wrap it in bacon and finish in the oven until the bacon is cooked. Talk about flavor...oh, so good.

2. "Don't jump on the furniture" is not specific enough. I should have also stated not to attempt jumping over the furniture, not to jump off the furniture and not to jump over your sister onto the furniture.

3. The last few chapters of a really great book are hard to put down, even if there are children crying all around you.

4. Laundry doesn't fold itself.

5. America's Funniest Home Videos can calm even the wildest of beasts. Well, at first, then it gets them riled up, laughing uncontrollably and LOUDLY at teenage boys doing inherently stupid things.

6. It's nice to have a few extra hours with the children. I'd like to hypothesize, though, that it will also be nice when they go back to school tomorrow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What're Wits?

"Mama, what're wits?"

Jace posed this question out of the blue earlier tonight. I shook my head to clear the thoughts that were being thought and tried to follow his question. Instead of comprehending right away, though, I countered with the ever brilliant, "What?"

"Wits. What are wits? They're on a mouse."

Um, yeah. That doesn't help. "What?"

"Geronimo Stilton is scared out of his wits. What are his wits?" (Geronimo Stilton is the main mouse in the book series that Jace is currently in love with.)

"Ahh...OK. Well, wits are...well, wits are like smarts. If you are witty then you're clever. If you have your wits about you then you're able to think straight and clearly. If you're scared out of your wits then you can't think straight and clearly. And this applies not just to mice, but to humans as well."

So, how'd I do? Think I had my wits about me when answering Jace's question!?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Diagnosis: Pre-Sick?

I'm tired. I could probably sleep but I'm more interested in rest, quiet. I'm not exhausted, just worn out.

I have a head ache too. Not a migraine or anything close, just a slow, steady pain in my head.

My throat hurts. I can still swallow and talk, I just feel it more when I do.

My eyes are heavy. Every so often my ear aches. I'm slightly chilled.

I'm sick. I'm not sitting in my bathrobe, with a red nose, surrounded by used tissues. I'm not sick enough not to make dinner. But I don't feel well either. Maybe I'm pre-sick. Maybe this is the build up. At the chance that I've caught some nasty illness before it catches me completely, I'm taking it easy.

And I have this to say...I don't want to be so sick I can't function, but at least when I'm that sick I have a reason to stay in bed and cover myself with blankets and watch movies. Right now I look normal but I'm acting lazy.

But lazy is the perfect home treatment for the pre-sick, and I think that's me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stuffed French Toast

I feel like I need to lighten things up a little. I don't know about you but all this chit chat about faith, selling houses, moving, life...it weighs me down after a while. That's what I tell myself when I get on the scale, at least. In leiu of a salad we had stuffed french toast for dinner tonight.

I'm not sure that counts as "light" but it did have bananas. That's something, right? And our protein came from nuts instead of red meat...I know, I'm grasping for straws.

Here's the real deal:

Tonight was Gracie's night to cook. She's an ambitious and excited little chef-to-be, but she is only 4 1/2 years old. Her skills are limited. Plus, she's not all that interested in attempting recipes that are too far from her faves...pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, breakfast foods.

That's why this seemed like a good new thing to try. At least once a week we have either french toast or pancakes for dinner. Sometimes there are apples and oatmeal in the pancakes. Other times they're shaped like Mickey himself. But we haven't done all that much that's exciting with french toast...until now.

We first saw someone make these on Food Network. The woman (Terryl Garve) has her own restaurant and Bobby Flay thinks that her stuffed french toast is the best breakfast food he's ever eaten. Seemed like something we had to try.

Gracie and I decided on a simple egg mixture of eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla to mix our peanut butter and banana sandwiches into. Ms. Garves added orange juice and rum to hers. Sounds delish doesn't it?

Even without the extra sass of OJ and liquor, I do think ours looked pretty tasty. Don't you?

Gracie did.
Tyler did.

Jace did too.

Even I thought this was a winner of a recipe. Simple enough for a 4 1/2 year old to play a mojor part in creating. Decently well balanced with no green in sight. And yummy to boot!

Sadly, though, with everything it had going for it...I couldn't clean my plate. Whew!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Faith Alone

I think I have a decently strong spiritual faith. I believe in God, in the Trinity that God has with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe that He is all powerful. I have faith.

But is faith enough?

That's the question I've been struggling with recently. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. God knows I haven't come to any firm conclusions on my own.

I suppose some background information is in order. I was raised Catholic and went to church pretty much every Sunday. We didn't miss many weeks. I went to church school when it was Sunday school and even when it was CCD, and I'm not even sure what that stood for! I even went to a Catholic college, where I was confirmed. For those who aren't Catholic, this is basically becoming an adult in faith. Before confirmation my parents and Godparents were responsible for me faith-wise. By being confirmed I accepted responsibility for my own faith.

Since getting married, Scott and I have discussed going to church many times. We have gone off and on. We're currently off. Scott's upbringing was different from mine. He's most comfortable with going to Catholic mass, but has never felt any guilt over not going. We went for a few months to a church in Washington. I really enjoyed the choir (the music is one of the things I miss most about going to church) but the congregation wasn't overly friendly. Unfortunately Catholics aren't known for their outgoing friendliness. Scott wasn't put off by not being greeted at the door. However, he couldn't handle the very old priest. The poor man started coughing in the middle of his sermons and when he regained his composure he'd forget where he was until someone shouted something out to remind him. That's what did Scott in. We haven't made our way back to church since then.

I've tried different things to become involved, working with a youth group, attending non-denominational Christian services, bible study groups. I enjoy exploring my faith. I enjoy renewing it. I like smiling with God. I just don't like exploring, renewing, and smiling without Scott.

I want him to be part of my faith life. I want it to be our life together, not mine. Our talks about faith leave me feeling like our beliefs are in tune, but putting them into practice...we're not driven to do that in the same way, or we weren't.

What's happened is that I don't miss mass as much. I think of going back to church in very non-faith ways.

"It would be a great way to meet people when we move."

"I do miss the music. Maybe I could join a choir."

"I like the intellectual conversation."

"It would probably be good for the kids..."

But I've found that when I think about going to church I don't think about God. God is in the rest of my life, in my heart. So, is religion necessary? Or can I make it, should I be trying to make it, on faith alone?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Draggin You Along...

Part of me wonders if I should continue to blog about the stressful parts of our lives...namely trying to sell the house and move. I worry about all of you reading about our lives and getting ulcers or overeating to cope. I mean I'm tempted, why wouldn't you be? But I've decided not to spare you...you're likely able to take care of yourselves and it does help me to process my life in words.

I'm reminded of grad school right now. Remember "putting it out there to process?" That's what I need to do. Hmmm...maybe I should hire a therapist?

Anyway, back to my stress. One of my blog followers asked if the nibbling (on the house, renting to own, by a couple moving back here in a couple months) would become biting in July when they're able to apply for a mortgage. The quick answer is: no. That couple decided not to bite.

But, there's another couple interested now. So we'll see how this one goes...I'll keep ya posted there!

There's another little something I'd like to process with you all. (I almost wrote "ya'll" but decided to fight the urge. I don't know if "you all" is any better...hmmm) In the last year Scott and I have purchased and traded in cars like it was our job. If it was our job and we got paid for it that would be cool, I guess. But it's not, and we don't.

All this vehicle shuffling has been based on the information we had at the time. Every decision seemed like a good one. I wouldn't say I regret any of the buying or selling (although I really do miss that G8) but I do find myself shaking my head a little, smirking. If only I'd had the gift of foresight. It seems now that our first couple of plans could have worked out just fine. I might have even been able to keep the G8. Bummer.

I don't know what else to say...except I guess we'll continue to make decisions regarding our vehicles, the house, and life in general based on the best information we have at the time. I mean, that's really all we can do. Even though our hindsight is 20/20, as they say, I still do not have the gift of foresight, 20/20 or any other prescription!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nibble, Nibble...Sigh

Now, now...where have your minds wandered to? This post isn't about anything that happens behind closed bedroom doors, well not really...

Here's the bottom line. We put our house up for sale or rent or rent to own or please, please, please take it by owner. OK we haven't begged anyone...yet. We've had a few calls inquiring about the rent. We let them know what we're asking. They say, "OK, thank you," and hang up. We had someone set up a time to come see it and not show up. And we've have one couple that's actually nibbling.

Scott hasn't talked to them and he's probably the better judge of character, even over the phone. Maybe especially over the phone. But, I think they're seriously interested and I don't think they've been returning my phone calls and emails for a week now for no good reason. I think they actually want to buy our house. The thing is, they can't buy it until at least July. There have been some financial slip-ups and July is the earliest a bank will look at them for a mortgage.

I know...you have sirens and warning lights going off in your head. But I see it this way, they're being forthright and honest and working to restore their credit. That's a good thing. And if we can help them get back on track and get out from under our house...well, then, that's a really good thing.

So, they're nibbling and I guess we're negotiating, trying to find a financial balance where we're not losing more than we can handle and they're not paying more than they can handle. It's a tricky, tricky thing...that's the sigh.

So, as you can now see this has nothing to do with the bedroom, except for, perhaps, a few sleepless nights...tossing and turning waiting for the nibbling to turn into a big ol' bite!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Darnedest Things

I don't even know if "darnedest" is a real word, not that I don't make up words all the time. If it is a real word, I don't even know if it's spelled right, not that spell check will come anywhere close to catching it. But know what I do know? Not only do kids say the darnedest things, but they also make us say the darnedest things as well.

A few examples:

Jace: That car almost hit the van right where I'm sitting.
Mama: That would have made me very upset.
Gracie: That would have made me very upset too because I like the way Jace dresses every day and looks handsome every day.

Mama to Tyler: Get your hand out of my armpit! Go play with your own armpit.

Jace to his little 1st grade girlfriend: I'm asking Meredith if she'll allow me to get an F350. I hope she says yes.

Gracie, playing by herself: Let's watch these cars race...who'll cross the finish line first? Who do you think will win the race. Please log on to www.whowillwintherace.com and let us know who you think will win the race! (By the way, not a real website as far as I know. If you click it I will not be held responsible for where it might take you.)

Scott's three keys to parenting: 1. Stand up when you cry. 2. Only one child crying at a time. 3. Children are terrorists. We do not negotiate with terrorists.

My favorite exasperated thing to say: Either fight nice or don't fight at all.

Monday, January 4, 2010


With the new year upon us we're all looking for ways to tighten our belts and purse strings. Even if you're like me and don't make official resolutions just because the year changes, you're probably still aware of all the talk about saving money, exercise, and eating right that is out there right now. These are three things I'm constantly trying to learn more about. Really I'm hoping that one of these times Scott brings home a lottery ticket it'll be a big winner and I can hire a personal trainer to guide me through workouts in my personal gym and a financial planner to make decisions that'll have us set for life and maybe I'll even take some cooking classes. In the meantime, though, I stumble through budgeting, saving, and the rest of it on my own.

With that in mind, I have two tips that have and do work regarding grocery shopping and saving money. When it was just Scott and I, and when Jace was little, I used to shop every 8 or 9 days rather than once a week. I found that once the kids were older I needed a more strict schedule, but I liked stretching the budget past a week. When I went back to once a week shopping I came upon another idea that I still use. I only plan 4 meals a week, at most.

I do plan meals, which I know not everyone does, but otherwise we might not eat! In planning meals I have a grocery list started (which we all know is essential to saving money at the grocery store, right?) and the other 3 days of the week we have leftovers or eat out of the freezer and cupboards. We don't get take out as one of the unplanned meal days. That counts as a planned day. Now, my job is made even easier by the fact that Jace and Gracie make a meal a week, so really I only have to figure out what we're eating twice a week! Cool beans, huh?

Now that I've imparted my wisdom upon you, let me tell you a little story about eating out of the cupboards. I like to leave you with a smile. I'll start at the end.

Last night Scott and I cuddled in bed, without injuring or annoying anyone (check here if you're thinking "huh?") and he said, "I hope this comes out right...I saw you put onions and garlic in a pan on the stove before I went outside. Then I came in for dinner and you put this slop in front of me that looked disgusting and I couldn't even see the onions and garlic that smelled so good before. But then it tasted so good. You're a good cook...somehow."

I was giggling the whole time he talked because I knew exactly what he was saying and he was right on. See, here's what happened. I've made spaghetti sauce before using canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Well, I didn't have any tomato paste, but thought it would probably still work, I'd just need something else to thicken it with. So I started with the onions and garlic, added a couple strips of pepper and a can of diced tomatoes. While I was looking around for something to add for thickness I came upon frozen spinach and thought to myself, "If I puree this and add it in no one will know how healthy this sauce is and it'll be thicker." You might see the flaw in my thinking, but I didn't yet.

I thawed and cooked the spinach, pureed it and added it in, quickly taking the 'spaghetti sauce' from red to a really gross brown green shade of yuck!

I panicked! I quickly put everything in the blender and blended, hoping the chunks of tomato would somehow overcome the intensity of the spinach. No such luck. I opened the other two cans of tomatoes that I had and pureed one and added the other whole. A little better, but still pretty gross looking. A quick search for anything red lead me to sloppy joe seasoning and carrots. I know, carrots aren't red, but they also aren't brown or green. I steamed and pureed the carrots. Yes, my blender got quite the work out! I added them and the sloppy joe mix. Brighter...still not red, but brighter and passable. Maybe just in my mind...but passable.

And it tasted good, so if I could get the kids past the color, well, we might be onto something new.

When it came time for dinner I decided that I wanted garlic bread, but I didn't have any rolls of any kind. We had a few pieces of bread left, but Scott needed them for his lunch today. So I mixed up a batch of drop biscuits, filled them with cheese. I served my spaghetti sauce over the traditional spaghetti noodles and sprinkled it all with shredded cheese, further disguising it!

And it worked. Everyone ate up and enjoyed! Whew!

Scott did admit further confusion brought on my addition of the biscuits. "I saw biscuits and thought biscuits and gravy, but couldn't figure out why there was spaghetti."

"The biscuits weren't biscuits they were garlic bread."

"I didn't taste garlic."

"That's because I forget about that when I decided to stuff them with cheese."

And that's the excitement of a non-planned meal at the Gebel house. Healthy and fun...it's like a game trying to figure out what the meal is! Go on, give it a try!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Five Words

After college I got married and moved to Washington state, where I attended graduate school. My new group of friends from grad school came to know my bestest friend from undergrad as "My Roommate Cathy." Since they didn't know her personally I always started stories about her with "My roommate Cathy blah blah blah."

(That's how I learned I had an accent. Caaathy. It's a Western New York thing I guess.)

Anyway, I have one of those stories.

My roommate Cathy and I lived together for four years. And four pretty impressionable years. One of the things she impressed upon me was the telling of bedtime stories. We'd be quiet in the dark trying to fall asleep and I'd hear, "Annie, are you awake?"

If I didn't answer she'd wait a minute and ask again. Sometimes she'd just keep talking as though I had answered. If I did answer she'd ask me to tell her a story to help her fall asleep. She probably fed me some baloney about it helping me fall asleep too because I would tire my brain out and then be ready for slumber by the end of the story. Whatever she told me I'd most often go along with her request and tell a bedtime story.

Now these weren't just any stories. She'd give me five random words and I'd work them into a cute little tale about something that left a smile on her face. I'm good like that!

I haven't done that in a while, but every time I leave a comment on some one's blog and I have to type in the word verification to post my thoughts I think about story telling again. Tonight I think I'll weave a story using some of the verifying words I've kept track of. See if you can spot all five.

Once upon a time there was a girl, Lilah, who loved to dance. She was always a little on the plump side and felt self conscious so she danced in the shadows not under the spot light. As she grew her love of dance grew with her, but somehow, maybe because she didn't dance with the full spirit of Gedisti, the Egyptian goddess of movin' and groovin', she married a wonderful man who didn't dance.

The couple lived a very fulfilling life, but Lilah missed shaking what God gave her. Even with a house full of children and chores she wished there were more time for dancing. After birthing all those kids she found herself even more...curvy, shall we say. Her husband didn't mind at all, but she wanted to get a new hessi, the latest in fashion, and wondered how to tone and tighten while cooking and cleaning.

Then it hit her! Lilah turned up the vomns while dusting and doing dishes. She swished her hips and lunged her way from room to room while sweeping and vacuuming. After a few weeks of dingybics she started to feel a difference. Lilah was lovin' life. Her hubby didn't seem to mind either. He even took her to a work party where she tore up the dance floor!

Know what was so great about that night? No, her husband didn't dance with her, but he applauded her along with everyone else because she wasn't flugin on the edge of the dance floor. She flipped, flopped, and flailed right in the center of the floor. She had her time in the sunshine, or at least the glow of the disco ball! Lilah felt great, looked fabulous, and lived happily ever after.

Will You Marry Me?

When a couple gets married everyone talks about how much in love they are. That is unless they're gossiping about how she shouldn't be wearing white or "did you hear about him?" Mostly, though, we want our newlyweds to live happily ever after, complete with the pitter patter heart beat of head over heels love.

Really? Maybe when I was a teenager the syrupy "I'll love you forever, can't live without you" feeling was what I was looking for. Thankfully, though, by the time Scott and I got married I knew that ooey-gooey love wasn't what kept a twosome together for better or worse.

(An interesting thought: when I was little I sang the lyrics to Phil Collins' song Groovy Kind of Love as "we've got a gooey kind of love." Just thought you might find that fascinating too.)

Over the past many years I've met many different couples. The ones that are married have all gotten married for different reasons. The courtships have been different. And in the end, that's how it should be...we're all different people and our relationships should be unique to us. I must admit, though, that some of these couples I've said a prayer or two for, wondering if they realize or will learn too late that love isn't enough...marriage takes so much more.

I recently watched Enchanted, a Disney flick with Patrick Demsey and Amy Adams. Giselle is a fairy princess looking for her Prince Charming. At first she's smitten with a handsome prince who sings her off her feet. It takes her the course of the movie to realize that the butterflies in her stomach aren't true love...she wants more than fairy tale love.

I'm wondering if maybe we should be asking "Should I marry you?" rather than "Will you marry me?" Maybe if more newlyweds had considered more than feelings they would find themselves celebrating golden anniversaries years down the road rather than 50% ending in divorce. Things like faith, retirement goals, financial planning abilities, and parenting styles are important. Couples who haven't talked about where they want to live, if they want kids, or what they expect from a spouse are bound to put strain on their love and therefore their marriage. Whether you attend premarital counseling, have a checklist of questions, or simply date and discuss...qualify your spouse. Give your marriage a strong foundation. Set yourselves up for success.

And continue to do so. Marriage is an every day thing not a one day event. Choose it every day. Choose to do for your spouse, love them through their annoying habits, and check in often. Are your goals, dreams, plans, styles still the same? We change and grow as people. Be sure you're in tune with how you and your spouse are adapting. Grow and change together. Stay involved.

I'll step off my platform now. But not before saying that marriage is important and I believe in it. Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions to your loved ones before they tie the knot. Questions hurt nothing and the best way to have a great marriage is to start off on the right path. And don't judge couples based on the length of their courtship. Whether three months or three years, time matters less than how much information has exchanged hands during that time.

Look at me, starting off 2010 preaching! I'll try to be more light hearted next entry...but every now and then...heavy it what's necessary.