Saturday, May 30, 2009

Album and a bag for under a buck!

Here's a deal that's really great (we have Andrew Peterson to thank for directing us to this!):

Several of the artists with Andrew's new label, Centricity, are offering digital downloads of their entire album for $.99 for a limited time. Click on the store tab and then the digital download banner.

Going to this site, we were introduced to a new group, Downhere, that we have really enjoyed! We downloaded their newest album, Ending is Beginning, (for $.99!), and we're addicted to it! The sound of their music has lots of piano and symphony in it. (Hey, Carolyn...this isn't going to be your kind of piano/symphony cup'o'tea!)

Our favorite two songs (right now) are "My Last Amen" and "Hope Is Rising." (Tiffy, I think y'all will like them too! Want me to get you a cd for our Christmas present?) Great songs on there for the treadmill!

Their newest album, Ending is Beginning, reminds us that the end of our life here on earth is actually just the beginning! And I just have to give another plug for Andrew Peterson, for his song Far Country on his Far Country album, for it has the same premise; here on earth we are living in the far country, and one day we will truly be home. It's hard for me to mentally put a grip on that concept (Labronda, don't get a tummy-ache!) , for I so dearly love life here on earth with the amazing family and friends with which I've been blessed; however, I do have hope and faith that the life to come is going to be so much more!

I remember sitting on the "brown, leather sofa" as a little girl with my mom and 'confessing' to her that I couldn't say that I loved the Lord more than her, and she hugged me and sweetly said that God loves me more than she ever could and that my understanding would only grow in time...hmmm, that momma of mine seems to know what she's talkin' about!


On a completely different topic...enjoying life here in this far country...here's a great bag that I found online!

It says, Save Water/Drink Riesling!

RieslingRules.com is giving away this free reusable shopping bag when you join them in raising awareness of the precious nature of our water resources.

Click here to order.
Now go back and get that album before times up!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh...to be a better mom this summer!

This week has been so wonderful...other than Cricket's first bee sting (ouch!) and the pain in my right heel...too much running around in my YellowBox (summer-time must have's for me!) and exercising on the treadmill, I guess!

Yep...Cricket's hand is still pretty swollen today after she was stung by a bee (on Tuesday night!) while she was helping take supper outside for the family. He just sort of landed on her hand, and while she was trying to see what it was, he stung her! Bless her heart! Today she says it doesn't "pinch or itch"; it's just still pretty puffy! Thankfully, it was on her left hand!

But the house is still pretty clean from having company (one reason why I like to keep having company!), and it's been so nice to not feel the pressure to stay on a school schedule...funny thing is that I'm probably doing better now that we're off of a schedule; I just hate the feeling of being behind the 8-ball, so now that I'm more relaxed I've had more time and enjoyment of getting things more organized around here, washing/ironing, playing (dare I say the 'craft' word! blech!), keeping bedrooms straightened, etc. I LOVE summer-time!

I'm really trying to get more habits formed around here. I've always kept a schedule around here that has our 'let's just at least aim for this' plan, but as the girls get older and our family changes, I need to update it and tweak it a bit for next year's school schedule.

I'm really trying to work hard toward getting on a schedule that flows naturally as a result of habits, and I'm also trying to get back on a schedule of planning our meals...it really helps me when the "freak-out hour" comes just before supper-time, and I feel as though I'm behind the 8-ball! So I'm working on some new recipes for our family, and I'm trying to clean out our pantry and out-door freezer in preparation for the new school year. It'll be here before we know it!

I think I'll keep the same plan to keep the house straightened (until our Bonnie comes back!), but I'll just work harder at stickin' to my plan! I'm such a perfectionist that it's more my nature to let it all go....so that I can get it all back together, but doing a little bit each day really does help! But... oooh, I really struggle with staying on top of our laundry! But this summer, I'm going to try to curb that struggle as well as try to rid our home of some of the extra clutter and get us more organized for the new school year. (Tips?!?) Yes, we're working on railing those daily habits!

Until 'my Bonnie comes back' here's our house-keeping 'let's just at least aim for this' schedule:

Monday – Organize calendar/meal plans for the week; Water houseplants; De-clutter tabletops; Change bedsheets; Tidy bathrooms

Tuesday – Clean windows/mirrors; Tidy bedrooms/closets

Wednesday – Vacuum & Mop; Dust

Thursday – Grocery shopping and errands

Friday – Clean bathrooms

Saturday – Laundry? Offer help with Honey-Do's?

Sunday – Lord's Day / Ahhh! A Day of Rest!

Everyday tasks: Make the beds. Do a load (or two!) of laundry...I guess that means that I have to find a workable way of returning the clothes to their rooms too! Clean kitchen counters. Keep kitchen sink shiny...this really makes a difference for me! Unload and reload Dishwasher. Keep things picked up and in their place!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Memorable May!

Whew...is it already the end of May?!? It's really hard for me to believe that May is almost over...which has had a lot goin' on!

We "wrapped up" our school year this past week; so we are thoroughly enjoying this week without having many commitments. {Hence...time to catch up on my blog...woohoo!}

Of course, this past weekend was a holiday weekend, and we successfully squeezed out every memorable inch out of it! And now it's Wednesday, and we're already closing in on next weekend when Daddy doesn't have to go to work every day! So now I look back and wonder where the heck May went! I still can't account for every day, but there were some pretty memorable days in it!

At the beginning of this month, I began (once again) Weight Watchers, and I'm so thankful for the great group of gals that are in it with me...it does make it more enjoyable! I think it's what works the best for me...I enjoy the monotony of writing things down (give me a checklist, and I'm all over it!), and the girls enjoy helping me track the calories, fiber and fat grams. I did really well on it after I had Cricket, so we'll see how I do on it this go-round! So after I attended my first WW meeting and took Cricket to soccer, we ran out to get last minute things for our cinco de mayo party...and stayed out way too late, for the next morning was the Belk Sale benefiting Bethany! And of course I didn't have time to sell as many tickets as I had planned on selling, sooo...I guess that meant I had to spend them, oh well...shopping for charity!


For those that know me, they know that I am NOT a morning person...but tell me that there's a sale that will end at 10 AM, and somehow I can muster up the strength to become a morning person! Oh my word...next year, I'm going to really push this sale! It's a great fundraiser! Bethany was able to sell tickets to Belk for $5, and Bethany was able to keep the profits! The tickets got one in the doors early at Belk and I'm telling you....everything was marked down drastically! It was like I was living a dream! You know...the dream where everything is marked down and you can grab what you can before the time runs out! The stores were so quiet (with the exception of cash registers' ringing and people hollering over sales!), and there were coffee stations with Krispy Kreme donuts (I did well, WW friends!) I'm telling you it was a dream! We bought a couple of little Ralph Lauren dresses for Cricket and Lovey (they're Lovey's favorite, and I'm pretty sure that they were only $10!), a RL shirt for AngelWings ($10), an MP4 player for $17, Ricci bought me some more Estee Lauder pleasures for Mother's Day (thank you, Ricci!), and I can't remember what other things we bought...I'm telling you...great sales all throughout the store; then they started to take the magic signs down when they opened up the doors to the public!

One thing that I've learned...being on the board of directors for Bethany means...fundraising! Previously, I didn't really know that 1/2 of Bethany's funds come from donations, and the other 1/2 comes from adoptions. There is no charge to the moms that come through and receive counseling and then choose to use another means of adoption. So this next year's sale, I'm going to come and get you gals to purchase these tickets and put on your shopping shoes...cause we're hitting the Belk stores early! In the name of charity!!!

Yes, I began WW just in time for our 4th annual cinco de mayo party...oh well! And for some reason, I didn't seem to get the camera out as often as I usually do, but here are a few pics of some of our closest loved ones that celebrated the special day with us.
As our tradition, I served the usual: Alals' chicken-spinach enchiladas, black beans with lime, Spanish rice (I ran out of time and fudged on this one with a semi-homemade version...if anyone has a good recipe for Spanish rice, I'd love it if you share it with me!), and for the first time I served a new appetizer, Black Bean Tartlets, that I thought was really yummy. Try it...I'm sure you'll love it too!

Black Bean Tartlets
Yields: 32 appetizers

Garnishes: sour cream, fresh cilantro

Ingredients for the tartlets:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water

Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add butter; pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add egg and ice water; process just until the mixture forms a ball.
Divide dough in half; shape each half of dough into 16 (1") balls. Press balls into lightly greased miniature (1 3/4") muffin pans, pressing evenly into bottom and up sides.
Bake tartlet shells at 450° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove shells to wire racks, and cool completely.

Ingredients for the Black Bean Salsa:

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet yellow pepper
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, tossing well. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Spoon 1 tablespoon Black Bean Salsa into each tartlet shell; garnish, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

I found this recipe in the Christmas with Southern Living 2000

We served mango tea with fruit for the kids, sangria and a selection of Mexican beer for the mamas and the papas, and for dessert we once again served vanilla ice cream with your choice of toppings (toasted coconut, chocolate sauce, and Uncle Charles' roasted Spanish peanuts...thanks, Uncle Charles!) Of course, we were having such a great time that I didn't even start the waiting coffee...we were with such close friends and family that it was a very relaxed evening; it was wonderful!

Thankfully, God doesn't give us more than we can handle; the rest of that week I spent recovering from a ruptured ovarian cyst; Ricci took a day off of work to allow me to rest (there's not much more one can do but keep still and just rest...ahhh...that part's nice!), and he helped the girls with some of their schoolwork. There's nothing like knowing that you're in the home stretch...summer's awaiting around the corner!

Later that week, we celebrated 58th National Day of Prayer with our community. I have to say that I really appreciate this national holiday, and I also have to say that I struggle with knowing that others don't hold the same value of it as I do...why is it not more widely attended?

On the first Thursday in May, every community across the US is encouraged to hold an event at noon, and the theme for this year was “Prayer…America’s Hope” based on the verse from Psalm 33:22 which states, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Oh! How we need His unfailing love to rest upon us, and oh...we need to be faithfully putting our hope in Him!

This is the second year that I've helped facilitate our location's event, and I love seeing who participates in it! It's such a sweet time of coming together (denominations set aside) as a body of believers that desire our God to hear us as one church. Our pastor Jeremy led us this year, and he did a fabulous job; he opened up the time with a reading of Psalm 33, and then we spent time in prayer for our government, our military, our media, our businesses, our churches, and our families! What a sweet time it is! I'm thankful that my girls have the opportunity to hopefully grow up remembering this experience as a special one in our community.

That afternoon, we spent some time playing outside with Savannah, Ben, Emmaline and Jonathan (the creek is so full from all of the rain, and it's just irresistible to children!), then we had a memorable late lunch at Piccadilly (I'll spare you the details!) with friends before a play date at our new favorite park...welp...almost our favorite...I had to call the girls back to get back in the car...we'd have to come back to the playground, but not today...the battery was flirting with death! So after "I" took care of the car (at the fixit shop, of course! "I" meaning...I ordered a new battery, watched it being installed and paid for it! Yes, Daddy'd be proud!), we were on the road again!!

That next Saturday Jenna graduated from UT-Martin! Woohoo! We're all sooo very proud of you, Jenna! We were supposed to go to her graduation, but after the car was acting up and we were all so exhausted from busi-ness, we decided to play hookie and stay at home...I hear they call that a "staycation"! LOVED~IT! (Sorry, Jenna!) Others thought we were out of town, and it felt sooo good to just stay at home....the girls played while Ricci and I spent the day binge-watching this season of LOST. Wow~it's really picking up the pace....but now we have to wait until 2010?!? What's up with that?!?

Mother's Day couldn't have been sweeter...every year is sweet, but this one tops them all! The girls took the opportunity to call it a Mother's day weekend...who am I to argue with them?!? They started giving me gifts on Friday and Saturday....they're like their mamma, who just can't keep a gift a secret! Ricci bought me two new Adirondack chairs....I love'em! Come over and sit a spell in 'em with me! And they all made me breakfast in bed while the girls made me special cards and gifts.

AngelWings made me these gorgeous earrings...including the beautifully, wrapped box! Thank you, MaeMae! And thank you, girls and Ricci, for loving me and thinking that I'm the mom you say I am! I love you all...to the moon and back...and around and around....!

Speaking of Mother's Day, the end of this month has been a little discomforting (is that a word?) because our family will be getting together to 'lay to rest' our dear Alal, who has been so incredibly important in all of our lives. The flip side...we get an extra trip to see the rest of our family in Louisiana! That's good!

This past week, we've thoroughly enjoyed participating in some of the gardening lectures and workshops with Rock City's 1st annual Southern Blooms Festival! We've learned a lot and incorporated several of the lessons into the end-of-the-year schoolweek!

This past weekend, we did our usual Friday craziness and then had some friends over for an early Memorial day cookout. After we ate some yummy BBQ, we headed over to the Wilderness Theatre to see the movie, Night at the Museum 2, which was really good! There's nothing like sitting out under the stars with friends and watching a movie on the "world's largest movie screen"!

Here's a couple of pics...taken in the pitch-black; sorry for the blindness y'all experienced afterwards! You know...it's important to make memories!

The three amigos! Marion & Indiana Jones!
Two peas in a pod!

George & Wendy and Co. (couldn't find the rest of them in the dark!)

Saturday morning, we all awoke a little later than we had planned...we had to get over to RC to make our hypertufas! (Don't worry...I had to look up the word as well!) "Hypertufa is a man made substitute for Tufa rock. Tufa is a spongy cellular rock found in limestone country and especially where water has been involved in the wearing and leaching out of the original materials to effect a porous spongy consistency. In many countries throughout the world this natural stone has for centuries been hollowed out and carved for tubs and planters." (quote taken from here)

We each made a garden container out of a mixture of Portland cement, sand, peat moss and perlite. Camera? Didn't even think of it as we ran out of the house! oops!

That evening, we ran up to Sewanee for dinner with Aunt Jan, Uncle Eddie & Erich. We made our traditional pizzas and ice-cream, and let the pups have a good time...mental note...next time remember to bring an extra tennis ball!And the girls gave cousin Erich quite the workout! They had him running them all over the house..Macy was riding on his back for at least 30 minutes straight until we told her to get off...then he just took the fun outside on a wild chase all over the property with flashlights....what more fun could a girl have?!? Thanks, Erich, for all of the fun!It's so relaxing being up there...well, I'm not sure it is for Erich! The waterfall was huge after all of the rain that we've had this month; it was difficult to hear one another when on their deck overlooking the falls. Before we left, I had to snap these photos...I know it's poor lighting...I just had to get this photo before they all moved!

Unknowingly, Erich's moving in for the "my favorite cousin" title! Sorry, Will!

I just couldn't resist this photo! I could make a collage of all of the different pictures of the girls and Uncle Eddie still looking for Waldo! This is my Uncle Eddie that partook of teaparty after teaparty with me as a little girl! We love you, Uncle Eddie!

Ooh...it is exciting that we've wrapped up our school year! Now, of course, I had planned way more than was reasonable, so we'll still be doing some readings together over the summer, but I find that enjoyable and not feeling like I'm behind the 8-ball! And the girls are participating in some summer-reading-programs, so they'll get to count their free-reading assignments as books that count toward these extra rewarding programs...woohoo! We're also enjoying soccer practice, swimming and will be enjoying tennis and music camps! Woohoo, Summer, bring on the F-U-N!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To blog or not to blog!

It seems that time has picked up and just will not slow down! It seems that my list of "things to do" doesn't seem to end...which is not a bad thing at all; it just seems that there's little time left to blog!

I still haven't jumped on the whole Facebook wagon, and I can tell you that I haven't even a clue as to what Twittering is! I don't think I'm interested in having one more thing to do! I do still like the 'ole pen and paper, telephone, etc. to keep up with close friends and family, so my question remains...to blog or not to blog.

I like to blog as a way to remember things (since I can't seem to find time to keep up with our family scrapbooks!), but I don't like the pressure of knowing that I haven't posted anything in quite a while...I just don't seem to have the time! And then I feel like I'm behind the 8-ball to update what/when/who/etc.! I'm hoping that this summer I'll have more time to get things done...like repaint the kitchen, learn some new recipes, take a cake decorating class, get out the sewing machine to make some fun things with the girls, read the books awaiting me in my mental queue), oh...and keep up with my blog!

Between traveling (we've done more than the norm this spring!), fundraisers, taking girls to classes/clubs, book clubs, hosting friends/family, etc. life has seemed to have sped up...everyone always said that this would happen as the girls got older...now I know what they meant!

So with open arms, I greet the warmer days of summer arriving! We're ready and waiting for some fun, lazy days at the pool with friends! I've got the beach bag packed and waiting with camera! Still lookin' for that extra time-slot to keep up with the 'ole blog! Maybe once we "wrap up" this school year (this week...yeah!), we'll have more time!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My non-working spouse!

Oh! What a fun day the girls had at "Take Your Daughter To Work Day"!

Last year, AngelWings came home telling us of all the wonderful things that she had gotten to see and do, so this year Cricket was thrilled that she was old enough to attend the festivities as well!

So the previous evening we laid out our clothes, Daddy prepared Cricket with her hot chocolate and AngelWings with her "coffee" (mostly milk...you haven't tried to wake up this tween!), and they headed out the door!

Lovey and I had a fantabulous time just spending the day together...we went out to breakfast together, did some shopping, got our hair cut (thanks, Maria!), lunch, more shopping...a wonderful day spent as "just you and me time"!

That evening when we were all back together, the girls told me of their wonderful day with their daddy at work. One of their favorite (and most memorable!) activities was the game that they played called "Reality Check." They were each assigned different jobs/incomes/familial situations, and they had to go to different booths...bank, realty, automotive, insurance, clothing stores, daycare, utilities, grocery, entertainment/recreation, additional education, and their favorite..."that's life," which was unexpected events!

AngelWings' "reality check worksheet" showed that she was an Group Underwriter, making $60,700 with a college degree; she was married with two daughters, ages 4 and 6, and one son that was a year old....and a non-working spouse, who was able to take care of her children while she was working.

Cricket's "reality check worksheet" showed that she was a data entry operator, making $18,000 while she was working on her college degree; she was married to a working spouse, and together they had a two-year old son. She quickly came up with the idea of saving her daycare money and having grandparents watch her son.

Ricci said that it was so incredibly interesting to watch how the girls made their decisions as to how they spent/saved their money. AngelWings rented a huge, flashy townhouse while Cricket bought a small, modest home. AngelWings went clothes shopping four times while Cricket bought only necessary, store-brand items...although she did immediately acquire a cell phone and extensive cable tv! They both chose a used vehicle (although Cricket's first choice was a Hummer until she saw what it cost to operate it)! They both also enjoyed going to the "That's Life!" booth where they would draw a card which was some life event: receiving an inheritance, taxes' being due, kids' needing to go to the hospital, receiving bonuses at work, needing to do home repairs, needing dental work, winning the lottery, etc.

AngelWings benefited $100 from a bank error...to which she told the lady at the booth, "I'm going to go back and buy me a new pair of shoes!"

Each of the scenarios had options of with or without insurance, so the girls learned quickly that if they had already purchased health insurance then they only had to pay a co-pay versus the full doctor's bill. Auto-insurance: deductable vs. full cost of replacing a car. This activity provided all of the children with a good sense of the benefits of having insurance and also real world experiences.

Later that evening AngelWings questioned us as to what the word 'spouse' meant...I guess that word hasn't come up as of yet with the girls! And we've spent the rest of the week laughing that she had wondered all day long what it meant that her spouse was broken...as in her non-working spouse!

What a fun day they had....and the fact that Ricci got any work done that day is beyond me! The fact that he set that heavy work-day aside for the girls to enjoy this experience is just one of the many reasons why we love him as husband and daddy! Thank you!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Supper time with Cricket

Supper time with Cricket is a hoot and a half! Every night...she keeps us rolling with laughter at what she either says or does. She always has! She just seems to have the perfect comedic timing and hilarity in how she describes everyday, normal things! This evening was no different!

On nice evenings we've been enjoying eating supper outside, and this evening while eating her supper, she loudly exclaimed, "This corn is freakin' good!"

Uh...I'm not sure where she learned that word...hmmm, but it was really good corn on the cob tonight! (I've been tossing an ear or two or five into my buggy at the grocery store every time I go since they're apparently in season [where? I don't know!], and Ricci's been grilling them for us! Hmmm!!)

Yes, Cricket has always (since she was eensy-teensy) kept us roaring with laughter at the things that she tells us....especially at the supper table.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"It's better to burn out than to rust out!"

Another great Steve Hartman interview which will sweep you away...I'm sure you'll enjoy!

video

This video reminds me soooo very much of my great grandmother, Mother Simpson. She died at the age of 101; she still lived alone and was still cooking...although not as frequently as she'd have liked. Those who knew her know that she fed half of the south in her lifetime....either in her restaurant or her home. I clearly remember a specific holiday when she sent my dad and I all over town to deliver meals to those that needed somethin' extra.

This spring marks the second anniversary of her death. Most of the town attended her funeral, for they all knew that something great was missing from here on earth. Yes, the day her spirit left the earth was a sad one, but we rejoice knowing that she is in heaven with her Lord. She served Him by serving others all she was able while she was here on earth! She's still quoted as saying, "It's better to burn out than to rust out!" What a lovely character she was!

We miss you, Mother Simpson!