This is My "Real" Blog: December 2007

Angie's Blog!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Leaving milk & cookies for Santa. . .and carrots for the reindeer, of course!
On Christmas morning, we made the kids wait until my parents got here to open presents. We let them "dig into" their stockings while they waited. Caroline, of course, had seen the dollhouse, so every time we turned around, she was making a mad dash for it. . .or saying, "House? House?"
I think we sufficiently surprised (and delighted) Edison.

This is the quilt I made for mom & dad. I also made one for my in-laws. I haven't posted either picture yet, because both sets of parents read the blog. I think both sets were pleased.

I also made scrapbooks for both sets of parents. . .layouts of my digital scrapbooking pages. Now that I've given both books, I can put my own copy out on the coffee table!

Pictures from the Retirement Celebration last night:

One of the ladies in the church made Bob & Sue a Double Wedding Ring quilt. It's beautiful!!

Edison, my helper bee, gave Bob & Sue a bowl with Hawaiian goodies in it. We gave them a 12-day cruise to Hawaii. Very cool.

I think that catches everyone up on pictures. Sorry that there's been such a delay. . . but I've been busy. And, I'm not going to be busy (at least not that kind) for a couple of days. Sorry. I try to keep a G-rated blog.

See you next year!!


What to do. . . what to do?


That's what I need to do.

Mark and I are going away for a couple of days for our 18th anniversary. We're not going anyplace exotic. . . West Knoxville, actually. We just need a couple of days to rest and spend together.

I didn't have any idea that this month would be so exhausting (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) but it has been. Between a children's Christmas musical, a HUGE bout with the crud, two Christmas Eve services, and two Christmas Sunday services, a retirement reception for our pastor and his wife, and tomorrow (his last Sunday). . . .oh, and add in Christmas, Dad's birthday, and a couple of work-related parties. . . I'm pooped.

Last night's reception and program went very well. There were a few hiccups. . .but there always are. Hopefully, no one saw them like I did. We did not run out of food (my big fear). . .in fact, there's lots of food left for our fellowship time tomorrow before Church. There were over 200 people there last night. . . most had RSVP'd, but a handful didn't. I wanted to pinch their little ears off. But, you always have to allow room for grace, right?

I think my favorite part of the evening was watching video clips that Bob's son put together. Great music, and lots of great pictures. The other very special part for me was having letters of congratulation read to Bob & Sue from all sorts of people. Both of our US senators wrote letters, as did a couple of our state representatives, some of Bob's old friends, and the highlight for me. . . Tony Campolo (his favorite preacher & author) and President Bush. Pretty cool.

Tomorrow will be a tough morning. I have a lot of great memories from the last 13 years. Sadly, they're probably going to come flooding over me at the most inopportune time. (Like, when our trio is singing. . . you know. . . in front of everyone!) I hear reports that the service will be recorded to DVD, if so, I may put some "excerpts" on YouTube, and put links here.

Other than that, it has been a good day. My wonderful husband let me sleep in this morning. He wrangled children while I rested. Doesn't get much better than that. After getting up (way past 10:00 a.m.) we started dismanteling the Christmas tree, and putting away decorations. At about 11:00 p.m. tonight, that job is finished.

No, we're not that slow. . . we stopped along the way for Edison's haircut, a quick trip to the grocery store, and dinner out at KFC. (We are living right, I tell ya!)

So, I close this post with a couple of pictures -- because you've begged -- and with my New Year's blessing. I will not be posting until after the new year. I pray that you will be blessed -- because you all have blessed me so much. I never thought I needed a blog. I always thought blogs were for frustrated writer-wannabes. Turns out, bloggers are a very cool breed of people. I have met dear, dear friends through this medium that have touched my life in very significant ways. Somewhere, deep in my heart, I have to believe that God would have somehow brought us together--even if we didn't have blogs. It's like it was "meant to be. . ." (Everybody Loves Raymond reference. . .it's a stretch).

So, thank you. Thanks for reading when I have nothing to say. Thanks for reading when I have a soapbox and I decide that I need to use it. Thanks for encouragement, laughs, challenges, and friendship. I pray that 2008 will be a phenomenal year for you and yours. And, if it is at all possible, I would love to meet (and HUG) some of you in person this next year. Let's see if we can't accomplish that, okay?

Love and Best Wishes. . . . .

I'll put pictures in a separate post. Blogger always makes the spacing go ka-flooey when I put pictures in a previously-typed entry!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Agreed to Do This. . . .

One of my favorite blogs to read belongs to "That Chick Over There." She's funny, irreverent, and has a brilliant way with words.

One note of caution: do not read her blog while drinking things. Computer monitors and Diet Coke do not mix well. I'm speaking from experience, here.

Okay. . .anyway, her challenge was to "Whore Your Loot" after Christmas. I'm not a big fan of the word "whore," but in the spirit of all things holiday-ish, and to keep me from working on the scrapbook which had me up until 2:30 this morning. . .I'm going for it! Basically, you're supposed to name off your presents. Kinda fun. . .so here goes:

From my lovely son, I received not just one, but two cookbooks. Edison got me Rachael Ray's newest cookbook which includes 15-, 30-, and 60-minute meals. He also got me Paula Deen's "Lady & Son's Desserts" cookbook. The best part of that? The picture of her son, Jamie, on the cover. Yum. (sorry)

My friend, Beth, sent me a beautiful video (link is here) set to the song, "Finer Things." I got it on Christmas Eve, and bawled like the proverbial baby while watching it. Look for the link for "Finer Things in Life" and give it a click.

Mom & Dad got me a black onyx necklace. It is gorgeous. The gold chain is super fine, so I worry wearing it while holding Caroline--but I braved it on Christmas Day, and wore it anyway.

Mark's Mom & Dad got us (mark & me) a new digital camera. It is the BOMB. We're having some trouble with the batteries right now. I used it for the leaf pictures a month ago -- and took over 200 pictures without even thinking about the batteries. Suddenly, it takes four pictures, and needs new ones. So, we've got to figure this out. But, the camera is awesome.

Steve & Bettie (Mark's bro & SIL) have given me a very special gift that I haven't used, yet. They gave me a web certificate for printing a book. That's right, my friends, I get to write a book. I can use blog content, or come up with something else. How cool is that?

My Aunt & Uncle got me two new tablecloths for my new kitchen table -- including 8 napkins, and napkin rings for all the napkins. Way cool. We're having company over next Friday night, so I'll be using the table cloth. We're having pizza, so I don't anticipate using napkin rings. . . .but I have them! : )

My cousin and her hubby gave me a gift card for Bath & Body works. (Chick, I'm partial to the white cherry blossom scent, but I like Sweet Pea, too)

Mark did real good this year. I had asked for an MP3 player. He got me an 8G video MP3 player. I don't know how to use it fully, yet. But on Christmas night, while laying on the couch, I was able to listen to the Eagles' new album (which rocks, by the way) and some Steely Dan. Great gift.

Mark also got me a hand-held massager, a new CM scrapbook and SB paper, two new pairs of PJs, and CDs (Jackson Browne & Bread). Can you tell we're Baby Boomers?

Because of my work, I also get some "gifts" from church members. Most come in the form of gift cards, but I also receive other "traditional" gifts. This year, I received:

a Carrabba's gift card (yum)
an Aubrey's gift card (double yum)
a couple Christman ornaments
a Willow figurine
a collection of candles & hot cocoa
an Olive Garden gift card (wowza)

And then yesterday, on Boxing Day, we received a box from our buddies Beth & family up in Canada. In this precious box was a pair of "moose" socks for Caroline. . . adorable. She also sent two USA/CANADA magnets (already on the fridge). But the gift that made the most impact was the slingshot she sent for Edison. That received an "Oh yeah!" when it was opened. Thanks, Beth!!!

I can't leave this post open-ended like this. Because in my heart, I believe it is better to give than receive. So, I'm going to run down a quick list of the things we gave this year. I'm more excited about them, than I am about what I received.

As I posted yesterday, Edison received a bass guitar. We also gave him some PJ pants, new socks, and a new fleece jacket with his school embroidered on it.

Caroline had a little girl's fantasy Christmas! She loves her dollhouse. She also received a new doll, some new Dora toys (lots of Dora toys) and a new game called Tic-Tac-Tony. Kind of a Connect Four - in the shape of a dog.

Mark received a new shirt or two. He also was the recipient of a new power drill (thanks, Mom & Dad) and a leaf-blower. I did good. Of course, he took it as a subtle hint to clean up the yard. My real intent was to make life easier.

Both my parents and Mark's parents were given a quilt like the one I made for myself earlier in the year. I also printed out my digital scrapbook layouts in an 8x8 format for them. Both gifts were very special--because I worked so hard on them, and they truly reflected my desire to be "crafty." So, I'm glad they liked them. We also gave both sets of parents an 8x10 of our family from the church directory photo shoot this summer.

It was a great Christmas. Lots of love. That's the best part, right?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It Was. . .It Was. . . .

Truly, one of my *favorite* scenes in "A Christmas Story" is where Ralphie fantasizes that he goes blind from all the times his parents have made him put soap in his mouth.

When they ask him how this tragedy has befallen him, he says (quite dramatically): "It was. . . It was. . . .SOAP poisoning!" Tragic piano music plays in the background, and you hear the parents blame themselves, and wail and moan over their misguided attempts at discipline.

Pure comedic genius.

But. . .that's not why I chose that title. (hee hee)

Edison's big gift was. . .it was. . .it was. . .

a bass guitar.

That's right. . .complete with an amplifier, strap, tuner, HEADPHONES, and the appropriate cords.

You can start praying now. Go ahead; I'll wait.

Actually, I can't wait. I've got to get back to my bedroom where I've set up a "makeshift" studio. Our pastor's retirement celebration is Friday night, and we're presenting him a scrapbook full of pictures, memorabilia, and letters of congratulation. I've got to get it done. It's not done.

My wonderful husband helped set up my studio, of sorts. He has even taken the kids out for dinner, and they're bringing me back a Buffalo Salad to go. He's far too good to me. But I can't talk about that now, I've got to go. . . .

Well, We Did It!

. . . and it was good.

Lots of laughter.
Lots of squeals and "Oh wow's" when presents were opened.
Lots of great food.
Lots of tissue paper.
Lots of hugs.
Lots of tears.

. . .and lots of minutes on the phone with Beth. (Sorry, Melinda. It was me tying up the phone line!)

Lots of love. . . Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

So. . .What Do We Do?

I've been asked by a couple of people what we do on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. So, today's post will be spent describing the next couple of hours/days.

So far, this morning was spent at work. Mark and I tried to begin a new tradition this morning--taking the family out for breakfast on Christmas Eve. If I wouldn't have had an appointment scheduled at 10:30, it would have worked.

You see, Caroline was up at 6:12 a.m., for no explained reason. She was up for an hour. . .with Mark. . .in his recliner. When he came back to bed, I *should* have gotten up, taken a shower, and let him sleep a bit. Instead, I let him warm his cold toes on my toasty feet, and we both went back to sleep.

So.....when 8:04 rolled around.....when we should have been getting ready for our 8:30 departure, we were still snoozing.

We decided on lunch out.

Edison and I went to the church to get candles and candle cups ready for tonight's Candlelight Communion Service at 6 p.m. Scraping candle wax out of plastic cups is harder than one might think. I have three or four cuts on my fingers, and two fingernails that are pulled away, because of wax getting under them. Ouch! But, the candles/cups are ready for tonight.

After my meeting at 10:30 (concerning tonight's midnight service) we went out to lunch--just the four of us. It wasn't spectacular (IHOP) but I got some pecan pancakes, and all is somewhat right with the world. Edison and I each had one more gift to buy, then we came home.

Caroline's down for a nap. Edison's wrapping his gift. (Santa is wrapping mine) I have a cold Diet Coke and a quiet house. There. . .you're totally caught up. Now for the real story. . .

Tonight, at 6 p.m., our church holds its first of two Christmas Eve services. We have always had an early service, but the late service has only been going on for the past 5 ot 6 years. It's a very special service. There will be lots of people at the early service (200+) but only about 25-30 at the later service. Dad preaches the late service. It's my favorite.

So, we'll be at church as a family at 6 p.m. Mark and I will both be playing in the band. . . Caroline will (hopefully) be sitting and behaving with Mom. (note to self: bring marshmallows).

After church, we'll go to my aunt & uncle's house for Christmas Eve dinner. She always (or almost always) makes a delicious beef tenderloin. It's a delicious dinner. . . followed by opening presents with their side of the family. The kids are getting Christmas PJs from us. . .so they'll open them there tonight.

Then, we'll come home....get Caroline to bed...and while Edison and I prepare to go back out for the late service, Mark will begin putting together Caroline's dollhouse. (Note: There is NOTHING on the package that says "assembly required" so we are hopeful that this won't take all night.)

After we're home, Edison will go to bed. His gift - which has been hidden in Mark's office since Black Friday - will come to the house either late tonight (elves) or early in the morning. I'd love to say what it is, but he sometimes read the blog. . .so it's not gonna happen.

Tomorrow morning, we will open gifts here with Mom & Dad. I will be making breakfast for everyone. We're having Paula Deen's "Hash Brown Quiche" and her "ultimate coffee cake" which Edison requested when he saw her breakfast show. I need to go re-read those recipes now, so I know what I'm in for.

After presents, Mom and Dad will wind their way back to their house, to get ready for dinner. We'll hang around here, play with toys, and head to Mom and Dad's house around 2 p.m. We have friends that are coming over to play games, eat snacks, and just enjoy each other.

Then, around 5:30 p.m., we'll have dinner at Mom's. My aunt & uncle and their family will come for dinner, as well. I think Mom's making a pork roast. I'm making the infamous "Swiss Apple Cashew Salad" only this time I'm adding a twist. I'm going to throw in some dried cranberries, too. (Red + Green -- eh?)

It should be a very fun couple of days. I wish I was feeling better from this sinus infection. I'm getting there -- but I'm still not nearly 100% yet. I am thankful for good doctors, and even better medicines.

I'm also thankful for a Savior. It's so easy -- in all the craziness and last-minute stresses, to forget about the importance of this day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Helen -- I just noticed the time -- it's nearly daybreak on Christmas morning in Australia! I pray you're having a very Merry Christmas with Hughie & Katie!!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Six Thousand Words. . . .

Just trying to share the love. . .and catch you up on some recent events.

The first picture is from the WalMart presentation a week and a half ago. Behind me (to the left) is our buddy, Jay Huff, who manages a WalMart store in North Knoxville. Next to him is Melissa Ownby, manager of our local WalMart. Next to Caroline & Mark is the Rucker Family. Kristy, Doris, and Jim have become our friends through DSAG. Kristy is a hoot. They are a very loving, supportive family. They inspire me every time we get together with them.

These next two pictures are from Caroline's Christmas program at Mother's Day Out. I was so proud of her. Not only did she remain where she was supposed to be, she smiled, and jingled that bell.

This is from this morning. Mark and Caroline always come to church after Edison and I go in early. Often, Mark will take a minute and take her picture--especially when she's wearing a new dress. This is her Christmas dress. As someone put it today, it's very "me" in its style. If I had my way, all of Caroline's dresses would be slightly old-fashioned with that cute little Peter Pan collar on them.

Mark also took a few pictures of treasured ornaments this morning. This first one is from our visit to Biltmore Estate a couple of years ago. That has become a tradition. . . buying a Christmas ornament from whatever place we find ourselves on vacation. We have some very special ornaments because of this tradition.

This next ornament is one I made (probably) 12 years ago. Back when Edison was a baby, a friend from Illinois invited me to take part in a craft show/open house she held in her home. I made simple cross-stitch ornaments, and patchwork items, like this stocking. Every year that I participated, I made money. A couple years, it was some serious money. I've entertained thoughts of doing it again, but life is way too busy these days for crafting a that level.

Sorry that this post is so late in the day. Our internet service has been intermittent (my kind word) all afternoon. Thankfully, Blogger saved my draft of this post, otherwise, I'd have been in tears somewhere.

Edison and I did a little more last-minute shopping tonight. Mark's going to go visit the elves in a few minutes. . . after giving Caroline her bath.

This, by the way, is her 2nd bath of the day. That's right, we played in poo-poo again this afternoon. . .at least I wasn't home alone dealing with it. And yes, my nose is working better. Thanks for remembering.

Thought I'd share another recipe from our "stash" this year. I made these last night. I forgot how good they are.

Sugared Almonds

3 c. whole, natural almonds

2 c. sugar

1 c. water

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking (stirring sorta constantly) until they are sandy. It will take a while....12 - 14 minutes. Once they turn sandy, turn the heat down and continue cooking them over low heat until the sugar begins to carmelize. At this point, be prepared to turn them out onto a greased cookie sheet. They will need to cool before being broken apart and enjoyed.

Note: You can eat them at the "sandy" stage, too - but they're not as tasty as when they carmelize. I began these in a 3-qt saucepan, and moved them to my 6 qt dutch oven. When they become "sandy" they are trickier to stir than I remembered. Regardless, they are a delicious treat. If we have any left, they'd be great tossed on a salad.

Oh. . . .the meaning of the title? If a picture is worth a thousand words, this post is. . . . see what I did there?

Merry Christmas "Adam!" (he arrived before Eve)


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Better Than Medicine

I've been wrapping Christmas presents for the past 45 minutes. It's amazing what that has done for my well-being (emotional and physical). It's also helping to remove "Mount Junque" that has been accumulating in the corner of our bedroom.

I was going to name it "Mt. Crap" but we're not supposed to say that here at Chez Aubrey.

It's also exciting to see presents under the tree. Of course, Caroline hasn't figure out that there are presents down there. That should make things. . . uh, let's say "interesting."

She spent some time at my mom's this afternoon, while I went to work and Mark & Edison went shopping. None of the presents under Mom's tree looked like they'd been disturbed, so I am hopeful that we'll be able to enjoy some gifts under the tree for at least a day or so.

I really am feeling some better. . . not 100% by any stretch, but better.

It's not a train. . . .

. . . that light at the end of the tunnel. It's me feeling better. I'm still coughing like a 20-year smoker, but I'm feeling much better.

Thanks for the well wishes, and prayer.

I will try to post more later. Maybe with reports of wrapped presents, or something like that.

. . . we'll see. For now, I'm enjoying breathing, and *tasting* my food.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 21, 2007


I did it.

I went to the doctor this morning.

Of course, I had to wait an hour and a half, and then another half hour when I got in the exam room.

But. . . she said that I did (indeed) have a severe sinus infection and the evidence of "tons of drainage" in my throat (no strep).

She gave me some treatment options. . . I opted for a cocktail. Yep - dropped my trousers for a two-hitter. Benadryl on one side (ahem) and Decadron (steroid) on the other.

Other than the apparent hot flash that I'm still waiting for from the decadron. . .oh, and the possible insomnia tonight, I didn't mind the cocktail at all.

I can actually breathe through both nostrils, and although I still cannot taste any food, I have no signs of nausea or dizziness.


She also gave me a prescription for a strong antibiotic that carries a warning for nausea. . . and a decongestant/antihistamine/expectorant that says it can make you dizzy or drowsy.

How's that for a Friday morning?

I'm going to bed.

Edited. . . to add: One fringe benefit to a severe sinus infection is a hampered sense of smell. So much so that when I just now went into scrub Caroline and her bed thoroughly (she had smeared poo all over herself and her bed) . . . I didn't smell a thing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You Know it's Bad When. . . .

you can't even taste the cheese on the cheesy chex mix. This "crud" in my head/chest/throat/sinuses is some sort of vagrant mutation. One minute I'm barking like a seal, and the next, I can't keep kleenexes up to my nose enough.

. . .but who's complaining?

I finished up Edison's teacher gifts tonight. Bless his heart. . .he wanted to help make the next batch of Buckeyes (recipe to follow) and although we usually work well as a team. . . .

not so much tonight.

Oh well. They're done. He even wrote himself a note and plastered it on the garage door so he won't forget the tins on his way to school.

In other news. . .

Caroline made it through this year's Christmas program at her Mother's Day Out program just fine. She even "jingled" her bell when she was supposed to. And most importantly:


That's my girl.

Can't write more, except a recipe. I have mucho work to do. . . .and I'm still walking around in this "fog" and I'm taking longer and longer to get things done. I'll be so glad when this is over.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!!!


1 stick butter (softened)
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1-1 lb. box powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

1 (12 oz.) package of chocolate chips
1/4 block of paraffin wax

Mix together the butter & peanut butter. Stir in the vanilla. Incorporate the powdered sugar into the sticky mixture a little bit at a time. You should use most (but not necessarily all) of the powdered sugar.

The mixture will be kind of stiff, but still workable with your hands.

Roll into small balls (smaller than a walnut). Allow them to "chill" in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and wax in a double boiler. When completely melted, pull balls out of fridge/freezer, and begin dipping them - using a toothpick. Only cover about 2/3 of the buckeye with chocolate.

After you are done dipping them, you can smooth over the toothpick hole (if you choose to). Store in the refrigerator.



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday. . .Bark Bark!

I officially sound like a barking seal. The "crud" has settled into my chest. Insert whatever joke you find necessary.

Today is my sweet husband's birthday. After enduring a long day at work, he came home, helped with transition so I could get to church and prepare for orchestra practice (he fed the kids). Then, he dutifully came to practice, ran copies when I ran short, and participated in one of the LONGEST rehearsals I swear we've ever had.

He then came home to six extra people in the house--gathered to celebrate his birthday. We ate cake. (yum) He opened gifts. I think I surprised him with a Donald Fagen Trilogy set of CDs. After helping corral kids to bed, he sat down long enough to take a breather, and Caroline started crying.

Once he got her back down, he checked his e-mail, and set off for Kroger or Food City. I am seriously barking like a seal. He's gone to get me Vicks Vapo-Rub. Yeah, I'm gonna smell suh-weet for him on his special day.

Hopefully, when he gets home, he'll be able to put his feet up. But knowing him. . .

he won't do it.

I love you, Mark. I hope your birthday didn't totally suck!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Angie's Top Five List

Tonight's category -- from our home offices in Wahoo Nebraska. . . (vague Letterman reference). . .Top Five Reasons You Wish You Taught the Aubrey Kids. . .

Reason #5 - Buckeyes
Reason #4 - Martha Stewart's Peppermint Bark
Reason #3 - Grandma Knowles' Skillet Cookies
Reason #2 - Dark Chocolate Coconut BonBons
Reason #1 - Buttery Almond Crunch

Yes, these are the five (5) types of goodies that each of Caroline & Edison's teachers are receiving this year. I just finished packing nine (9), that's right I said NINE tins for Caroline's teachers.
Sorry, can't resist a little quote (misquoted, of course) from Ferris Bueller's Day Off . . .
NINE tins? I don't recall NINE tins?
NINE tins. That's right. . .NINE tins.
Two schools. . . .gotta count bus driver & assistant, speech therapist, etc. So, I made ten tins to send with her to school tomorrow -- and to Mother's Day Out on Wednesday morning.

I still have to make three tins for Edison (I'm out of tins, by the way) and in order to do that I will have to make another batch of Buckeyes. Someone has been "grazing" (his words) on the top layer of the Buckeye box in the refrigerator in the garage. He blames me for leaving this stuff "laying around" the house. Seems to me, there are carrots and celery laying around, too, but you don't see them disappearing like crazy, now, do you?

Here is some evidence as to why the list was created. I also added pictures to yesterday's post about my flowers. They're even prettier today. Started filling out. So lovely.

Oh, and I just had to post this last picture. For some reason, I am all about trees this year. Christmas trees, to be precise. I made the button trees. I have trees all over my house. And, then I found this little gem. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it.
And yes, Mary (mother-in-law) I found it at Ivy's. You probably already guessed that, didn't you? If you ever make your way to lovely Seymour, TN, there is this little shop inside our pharmacy that has the most phenomenal gift and collectibles. (And they spell it correctly) They carry a limited line of Yankee Candles (yum!) and all sorts of treasures. Whenever I need to find a unique birthday gift for someone, I almost always find it at Ivy's. They've opened a new home dec store about four doors down from the store inside the pharmacy. I haven't been in there, yet. Mark is (undoubtedly) afraid of my first visit. . .there's lots of homespun fabrics, and delicious shelves, wall sconces, and picture frames. He's right to be afraid.
Oh well. . .it's getting late. You can tell I'm still under the weather. When 10:30 is late to me, you know something's up.

My gift to you. . . the recipe for Reason #1. This stuff is amazing. If you like Almond Roca candy, you will be in heaven with this.

Buttery Almond Crunch

1 T butter (soft)
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1 c. sliced almonds

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil. Butter the foil with 1/2 T of butter. (I just spray PAM on it). Spread the other 1/2 T of butter around the edges of a heavy saucepan.

In that saucepan, bring the 1/2 c. butter, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil & stir until the color turns a golden brown** (approximately 3 minutes)

Stir in the almonds and quickly pour them into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm. Invert pan, and remove foil. Break into pieces.

**This "golden brown" part is crucial. The very first batch only got to a taupe-ish tan, and the candy is still good. But, it's not the way it should be. The three batches I made tonight got to that golden brown stage, and they are absolutely delicious.


Spoke WAY too soon. . . .

Yep, that's me. I should never have said something so blatant as, "I think it must have been a 12-hour bug, or something. . ." because it has come back to bite me where I sit.

I am sick. Achy, stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, you name it. . .if it's listed on the Nyquil box, I've got it.

And what am I doing about it? I'm going to work.

No, not to spread the germs to my co-workers. I'm going in because we gathered gifts for a family in need that lives on the Apache Reservation near Show Low, AZ. The gifts need to be wrapped and sent (today, if possible). For some crazy reason, I wound up in charge of this project. I suspect it's because I have the least to do at this time of year.

That, my friends, was a creative use of ironic sarcasm. Did it work?

Whether it worked or not, I am going to work. (Did you see how I did that?)

Hey Melany, send me some Buckley's. . .please!? (only kidding)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blown Away. . . .

. . .yep, that's me.

What I suspect was a 12-hour bug seems to have nearly come and gone. I woke up at 4:30 this morning, in a cold sweat. I suspect a fever broke. That, or we're rehearsing for menopause. Either way, Mark slept through it, so it mustn't have been that horrible an experience for him.

I made it through both services this morning. . . although I was faltering through the 2nd one. I shouldn't have sat down in the chair. During first service, I walked around. My eyelids got awfully droopy during 2nd service. Oh well, I made it through. And, at the end?

Well, this is where the title of the blog came from. I was presented with a dozen roses and a Walmart gift card. Pretty cool.

I was not expecting this at all. Surprises like that are pretty suh-weet, to put it as my dear friend Melany would say. (Canadian pronunciation, maybe?)

Edison's just arrived home from his youth group Christmas party. Caroline's in bed. I have coconut bon bons that need to be dipped. Once they are, I believe I'll be ready to make some teacher gifts once and for all.

Yikes, I'm tired. But. . . at least I'm not feeling sick. . . well, sick-er.

Merry Merry!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Having a Hard Time Swallowing. . .

. . just about everything. I have a sore throat. I have probably picked up something from one of my children. You gotta love that. Send them off to school. . . .they bring home knowledge and germs.

I'm sure it will pass, and all will be well, but still. Timing is everything.

Last night (and most of the day) was spent plotting, planning, and baking. My sugar cookies (no-roll) were allright. Sort of disappointing. The recipe I have for cranberry bread does *not* translate easily into muffins. What I ate for breakfast had the right taste, but consistency and texture left alot to be desired.

I *did* manage two batches of cookies that were successful. I made what my Grandma Knowles always called "Skillet Cookies." However, looking through a recipe book, I saw them referred to as, "No Bake Co-Co Date Cookies" or something like that.

They're made of dates, butter, sugar, rice krispies, and coconut. YUM. Truly, these were my favorites that Grandma made for us each year. She also made divinity. I'm debating on whether or not I'm that brave. If I am, I'll be trying it out tomorrow afternoon.

I also made a batch of Buckeyes. These are good -- I don't care what you do. I don't think you can mess them up, really. One of Edison's teachers is a diehard Ohio State fan, so his tin of cookies will be primarily Buckeyes.

Today, I've made a batch of Peppermint Bark (Martha Stewart's version) so far. It's very good. I keep telling myself that the mint is good for my throat. (Yeah, right!) What MS does that no one else seems to do is add a cup (or so) of Rice Krispies. It stretches out the bark, and gives each bite a little *crunch* that adds to the overall experience of the bark.

I've got the stuff to make dipped pretzels (rods & twists). I also have designs on making an almond crunch and coconut bonbons. However, I have NO powdered sugar in the house. (How did THAT happen?) So, nothing else is happening until I get to and from the store.

Happy Saturday, everyone! For those of you up North -- enjoying lots of winter weather -- we salute you. I wish we could trade. It was 65 degrees yesterday. I need winter. Really, I do. It might kill some of these germs my kids keep bringing home. . . . .

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's a Bird. . .It's a Plane. . .It's SuperMap!

No, I didn't type that wrong. SuperMap is the map (aptly named "Map") on Dora the Explorer with a red cape.

We are enamored with SuperMap. I never would have thought checking out one video from the library could change our lives the way it has. Who knew?

These are exciting times. . .
Mark, Caroline and I ventured to our local WalMart store this morning, along with another family from DSAG to accept six (6) checks totalling $5,875.00 for the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee. They have a community grant program, and six of our stores gave up to $1,000 each to support our Changing Lives program.

The Changing Lives program allows us, as a group, to make presentations to doctors, nurses, hospital staff, educators, and professionals about individuals with Ds. . . and give them tools to work with parents and extended family members.

It makes me sick to realize that still today, parents *can* be encouraged to "send away" or institutionalize their child with Down syndrome. I cannot imagine our lives without Caroline. I don't, in fact. I refuse to picture our family without her. She truly completes us.

Through the Changing Lives program, we can show professionals (who should know better, in my opinion) that a family's future can be greatly affected by the way they deliver a diagnosis. If expectant parents are told their child will have Ds, and are made to feel like it's the literal end of the world, guess how they could respond?

On the flipside, if parents who are expecting a child with Down syndrome are given solid information, resources, and positive feedback---it's an entirely different world.

Now, don't get me wrong. . .there's still some grieving that has to be done, whether before or after a child arrives. The "perfect" child you were expecting may not have arrived, but God's perfectly designed child has, or will arrive. And these doctors and nurses who interact with new, or expecting parents, can make all the difference for them.

The family that accompanied us to WM this morning has a daughter, Kristy, who is 26 years old. She is hilarious, engaging, sweet, and very loving. Everyone at our local Walmart knows her, and they love her very much. I told the associates this morning that Kristy's family didn't receive a lot of positive strokes when Kristy was born--but they loved her, and raised a beautiful daughter who has a lot of love to give.

By contrast, when Caroline was born, we received a lot of positive encouragement from professionals--especially a couple of nurses that I will always cherish. but, those first couple of days of Caroline's life could have been just terrible had we not been supported by our family, friends, and the great folks at the two hospitals where she and I spent her first week of life.

So, long story/short. . . our group will be able to continue sharing this message, and (re-)training professionals for the next year or so -- without added expense to our group -- because of the generosity of these stores. Man, this has been a great day.

Oh. . . .and after we were done having our pictures taken, I did a little more last-minute shopping. And yes, I know it's not officially "last minute" because Christmas is still over a week away.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Mark has the camera with him. When he brings it home, I'll post some pictures of the big event this morning.

Now, while we continue to watch "SuperMap" I'm off to wrap a few presents. . .I think.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Closing the Books

Last night, we were able to "close the books" on the Children's Christmas musical. We took 19 kids to a local Assisted-Living center, and sang (most of) the songs from the musical. One thing I always forget about nursing homes in general. . .they turn the heat WAY up. Oh my gravy. It was hot in there. . .and no, it wasn't me!

But, the people loved the kids singing. One of the residents is a member of our church, and the great-grandmother of four of the kids in the choir. She was especially proud. While one of her great's sang a solo, you could hear her behind me. .."That's one of mine. Isn't she good?"

Love that. I really do.

Caroline's not under the weather, but she's certainly not on top of it, either. But, I'm grateful. This time, last year. . .hospital and croup. This year. . . running away from us at church (to go see the babies in the nursery) and reading books with reckless abandon.

She was up last night from 9:30 until some unspecified time. Boy, was I glad we have "Charter On Demand." They have episodes of her favorite shows available, literally, at the touch of a button. We watched an episode of Dora the Explorer. That helped. Made me want to pull out my hair, but it calmed her down. You just gotta love that Dora chick!

Other than that, I'm off today. (My usual day off) The staff is taking our pastor out for lunch today. It's his last official day in the office. His retirement is in a couple weeks, and he has a handful of unused vacation days. He's taking advantage of them. Seems to me that I could do the same thing. . . and show back up sometime in February. But that's not going to happen.

After lunch today, I hope to get a little Christmas shopping in. I could call it "last-minute," but I've been known to shop on the 23rd before. That's really last minute.

Edison's gift(s) to Mark should show up sometime in the next couple of days, and Caroline's big gift should be here by the first of the week. It is going to mean re-arranging her room, but it will be worth it.

There are twin babies. . . and all sorts of furniture for the "mansion" so I think we'll have a good Christmas. Shhhh, please don't tell her!

And yes, I would post more about Edison's gift on here, but he reads my blog from time to time. Let's just say that he and one of Beth's (45) children will have something in common and leave it at that.

Well, I've got to leave for lunch in about an hour. Still lots to do, and somewhere in here, I'm supposed to squeeze in baking Christmas cookies, and making treats for teachers.

. . . OH, and the most exciting news of all?????? They say we might get snow showers on Sunday!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thank God for the Internet

I'm nearly done Christmas shopping.

Peace out.

Does Editing Count?

I didn't get any "crafting" done last night. Edison has a speech due today (the written version) and although this one is much better than last year's speech (it's a yearly event) this one needed some assistance.

Edison really is a good kid. He's smart, witty, charming, very helpful, sensitive, and funny. I'm just finding, lately, that it takes real acrobatics to get top-notch work out of him. He has the ability. He has an expansive vocabulary and amazing recall. It's just like pulling teeth to get that above-average work to come flowing out of him.

So, at 8:30 last night, we began proofreading and editing a 558-word essay/speech extolling the virtues of Yellowstone National Park. He was supposed to write a speech about a famous American Landmark. We've never been to Yellowstone. It was not his first choice.

Other choices were:
The Statue of Liberty (never been there)
The Grand Canyon (ditto)
The Twin Towers (again, not in our lifetimes)

Other kids had chosen these sites, and he graciously gave them up and chose Yellowstone. I don't think he minded. . . although I really would have loved to hear what he would have said about the Twin Towers.

My favorite part of his speech are his opening and closing thoughts. He unified them by bringing it back full-circle at the end of the speech. He starts out telling how the praise & worship chorus, "How Great is our God" is one of his favorite songs, because when he thinks about how great God is, he cannot help but think about God's creativity. At the end, he brings it home with the idea that this beautiful national landmark illustrates the words of this song.

I love it. I love him.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snarky? Anyone?

I take no credit for my son's sarcasam.

Okay, I take full responsibility. He was responding to a book that I've been needing to read for some time now. I haven't delved very deeply into it. But, I'm starting to think that I could write a prequel, or sequel, or at least give Dr. D. some annotations.

This is just one of the little angels that graced the stage last night, and last week in our performances of "Miracle on Main Street." We survived the production. . . by the grace of God.

This is my boss. He portrayed the part of the (shady) Mayor of the town. He did a great job "hamming" it up for the crowds. I won't say that it was typecasting. . .but no one else could have pulled this off with such. . .finesse. Yeah, that's the word!

Getting 27 kids together for a group picture is a feat in itself. You'll notice that there's a lamb being suspended by its ears by one of the shepherds. That really sums up this entire production in one precious little word picture.

It's been a (stereo)typical Monday. Lots to do. . . and not lots of time to get it all done. Oh well, why should December be any different than the rest of the year, right?

I could write more -- but I really need to give some serious attention to some Christmas gifts for Edison and Caroline's teachers. I'm still at a loss as far as what to do. I've also got some more (small) projects that need to be finished.

I love this time of year. No, seriously, I do.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Chicken Bones. . .all the way!

. . .it will make sense later. I promise.

Today was one of those "marathon" days that make me question everything about my life. (Well, almost everything!)

The day began in the McDonald's Drive-Thru with Edison. He insisted that he was buying breakfast this morning--he is on the stage crew of the Children's musical. Today was a "last-minute-remind-the-kids-of-the-stuff-they-forgot" rehearsals. Our first performance on Wednesday night was great. Tomorrow nights' should be even better. These kids are psyched!

After rehearsal, we had to re-set the Worship Center stage for services tomorrow. Move orchestra stands, plug in lights, move the piano (I did NOT participate in this one), set up the drums, replace chairs, replace flowers, straighten up audience chairs. You get the picture.

We got home around 12:45 p.m. Fixed a quick lunch for Edison (really quick) and tried (unsuccessfully) to get the princess to take a nap. She "rested" on my chest, but never slept. I, on the other hand, dozed a time or two. But Caroline? Nope.

2:00 p.m. - baby shower for a friend. So, at 1:45 p.m., I'm getting dressed up for the shower, dressing Caroline to go along (she likes parties) and wrapping my gift. No, I hadn't wrapped it yet. Don't chide me. It only makes it worse.

3:15 p.m. - leave shower for DSAG Christmas party (sort of ) across town. Caroline and I traveled by van; Mark and Edison by Honda. We actually met up with them -- and followed them to the church. Party was nice. Caroline is pretty much terrified of Santa Claus. Go figure. She agreed to sit on his lap, but kept a vice grip on my shoulders. Yes, I *am* in Caroline's Santa picture this year!!

Partied with the DSAG families until 6 p.m. Left - drove through Wendy's with the kids. Ate supper when we got home (slimy, undercooked fries), laughed, sang songs, and gave Caroline a bath after supper. Sometime in there, Mark arrived home. He actually put Caroline to bed. But only after we sang her new favorite song, "Chicken Bones." I swear to you, this is what it sounds like she's asking for....

. . . it's Jingle Bells.

I laugh. A lot.

We sang Chicken Bones uh. . .er, Jingle Bells, Rudolph, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Oh, did I mention that she has re-written that song, too? It now goes:

We wish you a merry Christmas!
We wish you a merry Christmas!
We wish you a merry Christmas!
And a Happy New HAIR!

Of course, because we laugh, she will never change it from "hair" to "year!"

After she fell into bed (literally) we never heard another sound. She partied until she dropped. Yes sir, that's my baby!

I worked on stuff for church tomorrow morning. I could have gone back into the office, but I was already in pj pants, and although people *do* wear them in public I wasn't going to risk seeing anyone. (There was a Sunday School Christmas party going on near the offices. I stayed home.)

While working, I caught up on blogs. You really do need to go to Beth's blog and read about Jenni's birthday. What an amazing family. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me rejoice at the blessing I have received in a kid like Caroline. What a trip. Not every day is a ride on Space Mountain. . .some day's it's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. But, it's always joyful. . . why, it's the happiest place on earth!

Tomorrow is the first of our pastor's last four (4) weeks with us. He is retiring at the end of the year. I can't believe it's coming to a close so quickly. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him the past 13 years. Now, for those of you who know me well. . . or know him. . .you know that when I say "thoroughly" I mean I've enjoyed every bit of it -- the good and the bad -- the hilarious and the heinous -- the good times and the groaners. He has helped me become the believer I am today--and has certainly helped shape me into the worship leader I have become. . . .not that I've attained anything to boast about. He has helped me see where I fit in the Kingdom. I am better because of this. My family is better (I hope) because of this. And, I pray daily that our church is better because of this.

Anyway, the official countdown has begun. When the year ends, so does his over 40 years in ministry. Wow. The next couple of Sundays could get emotional. . . .and since I'm that "wimpy" worship leader who crumbles when things get emotional, I'm going to sign off, and try to get a little more sleep than I usually do on a Saturday evening. Our final performance is tomorrow night--and I doubt I'll be squeezing in a nap tomorrow afternoon.

I love my job. Really, I do.

Happy Sunday!!

Magic Time

I've been making cards. Last night was the start. Tonight, I wasn't able to do a whole lot of anything else, so I made some more.

These are tonight's cards. Mark says he likes the following one the best:

I've decided to make thank you cards, primarily. The center front card below looks like it comes from Minnie Mouse, but I really like it.
These are some of the cards from last night. I've still got to get the hang of this new camera.
This was my favorite from last night. The "noel" was made with a stamp. If I could write like that, I wouldn't need anything else!

And this. . . my dear, dear friends. . . this is where the magic happens.

In other news, tomorrow (today, actually) is Jenni's birthday. Beth's oldest daughter and my daughter share that same "little something extra" that makes them so unique and special. Jenni is a lovely young woman. Beth has written a beautiful tribute to Jenni at her blog. I encourage you to go there, and celebrate with me, a wonderful young woman that I hope to one day meet in person. I told Beth that I picture (in my heart) the time when our girls will meet--and walk down a lane together--Jenni holding Caroline's hand, and smiling and pointing out flowers and birds. I know, I know. . .but I do see them meeting one day, and discovering that they have more in common than an extra chromosome. They have love, laughter, joy, a supportive family, great friends, and a world of possibilities in front of them.

I'm gettin' kinda sleepy. It should be a fun (but long) day tomorrow. We have a 2nd dress rehearsal for the Children's musical in the morning. I also have an early rehearsal with the soloist for Sunday morning. After those two, I need to make sure all is ready for the services on Sunday. There's also a baby shower for a friend. . . and the DSAG Christmas party.

Sounds like a typical Saturday for us. Oh yeah, and it's spaghetti night. Mark even picked up the garlic bread tonight. Yumm-o!!

OH. . . and I am the worst daughter in the history of mankind. Well, no, I guess Lizzie Borden would win that contest. . . but I feel like I'd make the top three. Today was my dad's birthday. I have his birthday present--he LOVES Starbucks' Christmas Blend. Edison and I picked him up a pound the other day. But today, in spite of the fact that I had planned to take it to him, I actually took Caroline and "bugged out" of the house when we lost power. I didn't get a chance to call him or go by the house. I know. I stink.

So, I'll be taking his present to him either tomorrow morning, or Sunday morning. I know he'll understand. His power was out at the same time mine was. It made for a great excuse for me to run to West Knoxville, and get some more supplies for Christmas gifts and crafts.

I didn't get nearly as much ribbon as I would have liked, but Hobby Lobby had a lot of their Christmas scrapbooking paper on clearance. I also picked up the "thank you" stamps I used on the cards tonight.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, December 07, 2007

Crafty Crafterson

I got the inspiration for these button trees from Ali Edwards' blog a couple of weeks ago. I really like the green one -- I'm still trying to figure out how and where to display these. My house, as always, is a work in progress. My Christmas decortions are no exception.

This first tree is probably my favorite. I used green, red, and brown buttons and white pins. I'm working on a "pinless" version with shades of green buttons. It has to be done in phases, as the glue dries OH so slowly!

This second tree is more "feminine" I suppose. It is white buttons with pearly jewel-tone pins. (expensive) When did stick pins become so expensive? If you want white ones, or these cute jewel toned pins, it's like $2.50 for a box of 150. Ridiculous. I'm not happy with the top of this tree, but I haven't figure out how I want to change it.

I spent some time making cards at a friends' house last night. She's a rubber-stamper. I have a few stamps, and one stamp pad. I bought stamps at a party at her house a couple of weeks ago with the intention of using them ONLY for scrapbooking purposes. Making cards is really fun. I'll try to take pictures of them soon, and get them posted here, too. I used their idea book (Stampin' Up) and my papers and tools. I like what I came up with.

Other than that, it's Friday morning. I'm arguing with myself as to whether or not I want to go out and get some necessary items for upcoming projects. I'm running out of ribbon. I know, I was mortified, too! But if I go get ribbon, we're talking Hobby Lobby or A.C. Moore. This is one of those situations where Walmart just won't cut it . . . so to speak. (sorry)

Happy Friday!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Someone Has Been Up to Something. . . .

My friend Christa obviously has too much time on her hands. But today, this link is providing minutes of entertainment for Caroline and me. We're staying home today--doctor's orders.

She's like a completely different kid today. Amazing.

But, she and Edison have been "elfed" and we want to spread as much Christmas cheer as we can. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Say a Little Prayer. . .EDITED

. . .for Caroline, please?

She woke up this morning whimpering. For the past hour, she has been "lounging" on either Mark or me. She's not well. I don't think it's croup. I pray it's not RSV.

Regardless, she's not her typical self, and that's worrying.

. . .and yes, thank you for remembering, tonight is our first performance of the Children's Musical.

God's still good!!

Update: Just got back from seeing the doctor. I love this man. He is not our usual doctor, but he was Edison's primary care doctor when he was little. So gentle. So thorough.

. . .so pleased that she does NOT have RSV or croup!! He said her throat is raw, and he can hear a little bit rattling around in her lungs. But, no pneumonia.

She fell asleep in the car - and while we sat for an hour (seriously) because of a head-on collision one subdivision over from ours - got some rest. She's in bed now. I think I need a nap, but I tend to feel worse after taking a nap--especially on a "production" day like this!

I am, however, eating a bowl of yummy soup that one of my choir members dropped off at the church for me this morning. I have so many blessings. Amazing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Good Golly Buddy Holly

She hasn't told me what yet. I believe it's some sort of Christmas surprise. . . ? My friend Beth has been asking for photos in recent days. I sent her most of the pics from Saturday's blog entry (plus a few more for good measure). As you might imagine, a good portion of those pictures were of Caroline.

After receiving them, she graciously pointed out that she needed pictures of "the boy" as well. So tonight, while procrastinating some of the work I brought home, I dug out (digitally) pictures for her. After weeding through hundreds of pictures, I realized that I needed to dig myself out of the (PMS induced) pity party I was enjoying, and realize just how blessed I am.

Maybe it was the Christmas music playing in the background. . . or the fact that Mark had taken the kids out for some shopping and supper to give me some much-needed space. . .or the scent (and non-scent) of the 10 or so candles I've lit. . . I'm not sure what it was. But, I was moved to tears to realize that I don't deserve these kids. I don't deserve my husband. I certainly don't deserve the love of my extended family. And, at this time of year, I realize very humbly, that I don't deserve a Savior.

. . .and yet, I've been blessed by all these things. Here are some of the pictures that brought about this epiphany.

Caroline & Edison - Christmas 2005. The year of the flu bug. Both were recovering when this picture was taken. Mark would come down with the flu about 3 hours later.

There was just something about this girl from the minute she arrived on the scene. She still stops on every trip through the kitchen to gaze at herself--whether in the dishwasher or the oven door.

While Caroline was recovering from her open heart surgery, Edison went to Build a Bear Workshop and made her the teddy bear (the shirt says "Princess") and the dog for himself.

But, this was the picture that got to me. I realized just how far we've come in the past three years. . .or the past thirteen. God has given me two uniquely wonderful children. These two are best friends, partners, and lifelong buddies. I could NEVER ask for more.

Hey, did I mention? You're blessed too. Want proof? Go find yourself some pictures. I guarantee you'll find a blessing!


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Over 200 Pictures. . . .

Did I mention. . .? Mark and I got a new camera for Christmas!! We are very excited about the new addition to our family. I used a camera similar to it this past summer, and fell head over heels in love.

To celebrate the new camera, and to document the colossal amount of leaves in our backyard. . .remember, it's a new house. . . .I took over 200 pictures of Edison and Caroline, oh yeah, and leaves. Yesterday afternoon was fun. I am still sore from raking leaves, but it was worth it. Enjoy!

(Yes, Beth, I will send you any of these and others, if you'd like!)

One of the features on this camera that I love is the increased megapixels. It also has a much stronger zoom on it. Made these pictures so much fun to take!

Then, I started playing with flash and light. . .oh, and creative framing.

And, did I mention? My daughter is in LOVE with leaves. We had to drag her out of the middle of the leafpile. And yes, we put her straight into a warm tub with hot, soapy water.

Here's a few more pictures. . .