This is My "Real" Blog: April 2008

Angie's Blog!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthday Blessings. . .all around!

Well, we've officially concluded the birthday celebrations. The final one came in the form of Caroine's Mother's Day Out class singing "Happy Birthday" to her while they ate cookies.

According to her teacher, she enjoyed the singing, but she REALLY enjoyed the singing when she remembered/realized that it was in her honor.

Yesterday, as you know, I posted a long entry with pictures. That was followed up by a precious video made by my friend Beth -- and posted on her blog. It made me cry, of course. But you're more than welcome to view it. Click right here.

Here are a few pictures of the past couple of days. Enjoy.

Caroline enjoyed blowing out the candles so much, she begged to do it again. Guess what we did? You're right. She blew them out again.

Caroline saw the swing set in the back yard--and immediately broke into a huge grin. Worth it? Absolutely.

Of course, we had rain the next two days. Today was sunny. Today was a swing set day.

There's no way I can express how much this little girl has changed my life. Her daddy's too. In fact, I actually got a scrapbooking layout done tonight. It feels like it's been years since I've digi-scrapped. But, boy did it feel good!

Here you go. . . .


Tuesday, April 29, 2008


No, that's not the year that Columbus started dreaming about the New World while sitting in astronomy class.
And, no, it's not the number of recipes that I'd like to try over the course of the next ten years
And no, it's not the amount of money I've spent on scrapbooking in the last year. . . .oh gosh, I hope it's not!

Nope -- that, my friends is the number of days that Caroline Dana has been a part of our family--in person, at least.

Four years ago today, she burst onto the scene, and life as we know it has never been the same.

Where there had been trains, bears, blocks, and lots of primary colors, suddenly there was pink, and lavender, and ruffles, flowers, and butterflies.

Where there had been quiet evenings spent reading, hobbying, and watching TV, there was suddenly this little bundle that needed constant attention. (And we were glad to give it)

Where there had been meals spent around the table with a pre-adolescent, dreaming about playing basketball professionally, and becoming a children's minister -- suddenly, there was this little person, with a contagious grin, a penchant for spitting up, and needs that we thought we couldn't handle. And, this precocious little boy suddenly took on the role of big brother -- and has learned what it means to be a mentor.

But, there was this girl. This precious girl that captivated every person she came to know.

A little girl that, to this day, demands attention at the grocery store just by being who she was created to be.

A little girl that brings out the best (and the worst) in me --- and shows me every day what it means to love without condition.

And finally (because I have tears to dry, and work to attend to). . .

Today, 1461 days later (there was a leap year) I celebrate how God can take a family and re-mold them into this cohesive (yet comically dysfunctional at times) group of people who love each other, and have banded together to make life for one special little princess the best that it can be . . . .because they are so in love with her, they don't know what else to do.

Oh yeah. . . I almost forgot -- Yesterday's presentation went well. . . it's easy to talk about someone you love so much. As I drove over to the college, I heard this song. . . .and I found it funny and ironic that this song came out just before Caroline was born. Of course, I was crying as I drove. Today, I'm signing off with Martina McBride's song that capture Caroline's essence so well. (Makes me jealous that I didn't write it)

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero

I am strong and wise and I know no fear

But the truth is plain to see

She was sent to rescue me

I see who I wanna be

In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal

Darkness turns to light and theworld is at peace

This miracle God gave to me

Gives me strength when I am weak

I find reason to believe

In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand around my finger

Oh it puts a smile in my heart

Everything becomes a little clearer

I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart has had enough

It's giving more when you feel like giving up

I've seen the light

It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future

A reflection of who I am and what will be

Though she'll grow and someday leave

Maybe raise a family

When I'm gone I hope you see how happy she made me

For I'll be there

In my daughter's eyes

Happy Birthday, Sweet Caroline!

Love, Mommy

Monday, April 28, 2008

Are We Really Always This Busy?

. . . the answer is "Yes!"

The other day, my favorite brother-in-law (who was, up until today) here visiting, asked me this question. I believe my answer was, "No, this is unusually busy for us."

But, in retrospect, I think we are always this busy. But, that's the stuff that makes our lives our lives. And, it's also the stuff that makes me love my life so much.

I've had a blast this weekend--staff retreat, two exciting services on Sunday, Caroline's birthday, leading worship at a dance worship recital last night, staying up until after 1 a.m. with the family. . . yep, this is the life!

I'm getting ready to go over to the college, where Mark and I have been asked to talk with some master's level Marriage & Family Therapy students about raising a child with a disability. We did this two years ago -- and I'm excited to see how our presentation has changed in two years.

Last time, we both cried. I think we'll do better this time.

Then, it's cupcake-baking time. I've also agreed to help make baskets for Edison's school festival this weekend. Yep -- it's one of those weeks again.

Steve -- be glad you escaped before the real mayhem kicked in!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Savior? I'd Settle for "Hero"

We celebrated Caroline's birthday tonight. . . even though her birthday isn't actually until Tuesday. And as you might imagine, this is just the first in a series of four -- count them -- four birthday celebrations.

We will celebrate with dinner and (another) birthday cake on Tuesday evening. She will take cupcakes to school on Tuesday, and then more cupcakes on Wednesday (Mother's Day Out).

Yes, I will be making cupcakes from now until eternity. But, it's for Caroline.

I will upload pictures tomorrow. Her big present this year was her new swingset. She did the quintessential "Oh My Goodness" stare when she came around the corner and saw it. And, the concerns that the physical therapist had about her sedentary lifestyle went out the window, in my opinion.

Tonight's celebration included grilled burgers, italian sausage, Hebrew National hot dogs, and smoked sausage. Yes, we like our meat in our family. It was delicious. Other than the pickle/olive tray there wasn't a green vegetable to be found. It was great.

She also received a leotard, tights, and a tutu for her upcoming dance classes. I'm really getting excited about this.

Tomorrow, after church, we will go out for lunch with the family, and have another busy Sunday. It will culminate in a Mexican Fiesta tomorrow night. Yummo!

Oh. . .before I forget.

Last night, our entire church staff "retreated" to Pigeon Forge for an overnight getaway. We stayed at an 8-bedroom chalet in a remote area between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It was lots of fun, laughs, and relaxation.

My personal highlight (I'm hoping) will not wind up on youTube. We decided to play "Rock Band" which, for you newbies out there, is Guitar Hero for four people at once. I observed for a few songs--and then was dragged into the 'band' as the drummer. I suck at the drums. Seriously. The Hoover. . .Oreck. . . Kenmore Upright. . .they got nothin' on me.

We played a few songs, with me on percussion, and then I took the microphone and started singing "oldies" which is the only thing I knew. My setlist included:

"Wanted Dead or Alive"
"Ballroom Blitz"
"Last Train to Clarksville"
"More Than a Feeling"

On that last one, I actually scored a high enough percentage to be labeled, "Band Savior." Of course, being the modest person I am (heh, heh) I demanded that we wait until we reprint new business cards to have my title changed. It would be wasteful to do it sooner. . . and there's the sign outside my office. That will need to be changed, too.

Yeah, right. But it was fun.

What does Edison think? He's humiliated.
When he heard that they're threatening to put it on youtube? Upgraded to Mortified.

Isn't that what being a mom is all about?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It Keeps You (me) Running

I love that Doobie Brothers song.
They're coming to town sometime soon.

I love the Doobie Brothers. I almost said, "I love the Doobies," and left it at that.

Not a good plan.

Busy, crazy/busy day. Productive/crazy/busy day. But, a good day.

Made the Pioneer Woman's "Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich" for dinner tonight. It was a hit. So, I rock. I guess.

I must go. A 7th grade essay awaits my editing prowess. Then, a new episode of Scrubs and the Office are in dire need of my undivided attention.

I love life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


We made it through Caroline's IEP meeting. I have exactly 47 minutes until I have to pick her up from Mother's Day Out. . . so I have to make this quick. I want to accomplish a few other things before going to get her (including figuring out what I'm making for dinner tonight!) so this will be brief.

Basically, her school loves her. We knew that. We are quite fond of them, too.

She (according to the standardized test) is scoring at a pretty much 2 year - 7-9 month level. Again -- standardized tests. Skills that *they* (testing scrutiny people) say she cannot do -- we see her do.

The physical therapist was there -- she has two concerns. We need to address one; the other is being addressed.

1) Caroline's feet are flat. (Thanks, Grandpa!) When she's barefoot, she tends to roll her feet inward, and go flat. I'm going to call the Pediatrician's office today, and get her an appointment to have him look at her feet -- and give a referral to get some sort of inserts made for her shoes. I am not going to be "nazi" mom -- and make her wear them with flip-flops. But, she will wear them with tennis shoes--and with any other shoes that encase her foot.

2) Caroline is sedentary, therefore her gross motor skills are not where they should be.

Yep, she's my daughter. She prefers to sit and a book about playing outside, rather than actually playing outside. And, when she *is* playing outside, she's usually sitting down -- watching her brother.

Her new swingset that will be put together over the weekend will help, some. Dance classes will also help. Those should begin in a few weeks.

The PT suggested swimming lessons for her. Good exercise plus a necessary life skill. Need to research that. She also suggested engaging her in more active play -- getting her to *stand* to do things, rather than sitting down.

Mark and I both agree that our lives are sedentary. Our hobbies pretty much *require* that we sit. So, we're going to try and change some of these things. No, I am not going to run the Boston Marathon next spring. But, we can -- and we NEED to get more active as a family.

The PT was pretty encouraging. She said that Caroline follows visual cues, rather that following directions with no verbal cues. I agree (sort of). I can tell her, "Go get Baby Sophie out of your room." And, without pointing, looking at, or directing her to her room, she can follow those instructions. . .when she wants to.

And there's the part we all laughed about, but it was hard for me to grapple with--and it's still hard for me to even type it out. Caroline does things on her timetable and agenda. When she wants to do something, great. If she's not interested, we get that sweet little, "No." And, she attempts to blow us off and do something else.

So, many of the skills they were trying to assess in her for these assessments (sorry for the redundancy) were difficult to measure because she simply didn't want to do what they wanted her to do.

You might be expecting me to draw some great philosophical, spiritual parallel here. I could. I'm just simply not in a good emotional place to do that right now. But, I think you can see where I would head, if I chose that road.

So, figuring out how to motivate Caroline to do tasks, without bribery or manipulation is going to be my next "project." I'm assuming that prayer will be a HUGE part of this undertaking. Bringing out the best in our children is always difficult -- even with the best of kids. We're finding that Edison's mood swings (if you want to call them that) are just typical 13-year old behaviors in boys. He isn't intentionally hateful (and really isn't hateful much of the time), but his moodiness and sullenness reflect the changes he's going through. His ability to be clingy and almost childlike in needing affection (hugs, etc) and then be unapproachable and hermit-like --- well, to be honest, that's driving me nuts. But, I understand it's all about change and adapting.

Yeah--that's me. I've got a preschooler with learning/emotional and developmental issues, and a teenager going through puberty.

Truly, my friends, this is the life I always dreamed of.

Actually. . . it is. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Super Quick!

Are you humming the song "Super Freak" now? If so, sorry. If you weren't before, you are now.

Sorry again.

Here's a quick rundown -- then I'm rundown and headed to bed. Yes it *is* 1:15 a.m. Yikes!

**Caroline's next IEP meeting is in 8.5 hours. (individualized education plan) We set goals, assess her progress, etc.
**Mark's mom and dad are scheduled to arrive in TN in less than 18 hours. It will be great to see them again.
**Caroline's birthday is less than a week away. I cannot believe she's going to be 4!
**Edison is in the midst of SAT testing at school. I'm sure he's doing fine -- it's kind of nice not having extra homework every night.
**The church staff is having an overnight retreat this weekend. We're all looking forward to it. . .I think.
**We're enjoying some GORGEOUS springtime weather. I nearly bought another two gerber daisies at Walmart today -- but held off because I had no containers.
**Oh yeah. . the most important thing. . .my dryer is fixed.

. . .but I still bought a new (stronger) package of clothespins. I really enjoyed that experience. I will, however, start the drying process earlier in the day than 3 p.m. Some lessons have to be learned by experience.

That's it for now -- lots to do, and I'm exhausted. I'll try to blog tomorrow after the meeting.

Peace out!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Somewhere in Heaven. . . .

I talk to myself. Sometimes I argue with myself. I seldom give myself the silent treatment, but I do have verbal discussions, nonetheless. Here's one of the debates I often have with myself.

I am torn between two theories concerning the afterlife. I definitely believe in the afterlife--but I haven't decided if people that have died and are now in heaven can *see* what's going on here on earth. Here are my two conflicting thought processes.

1) They can. Proof? The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from the Bible. There's definitely a conversation going on where the Rich Man has full knowledge of what's happening on earth. And of course, we've all been told that our loved ones are "watching over us" after they die. But is that true?

Because the other side of my brain says:

2) They cannot. There's no sadness in heaven. If a person who has gone on to "Glory" or "Iowa" or whatever you want to call it (Field of Dreams reference). . . how could they possibly see and experience what's going on here below?

There is a third line of thinking that I adopt from time to time, when I really do want to believe that my grandparents can see me, and my kids. My maternal grandfather was the only one to meet Edison. . .and Mark's Grammy is his only grandparent to meet our kid(s), so I think about this from time to time. Here's what I tell myself on days when I need to believe that they can see me. . .and my adorable kids:

They can see the current world -- but because they're seeing it from heaven's perspective, the sickness, sadness, and hurt doesn't matter. They know the end of the story -- they're living it out in the presence of God.

Shaky theology? Maybe. But on a day when I want to feel my grandparents' presence among me and my kids, it makes things a bit easier.

I'm not stirring up any type of theological debate. If I wanted to do that, I'd post this over on Beth's blog (ha ha!) and let Tony have a field day with it. I'm just thinking out loud -- on my keyboard.

Why today, of all days? Because of my broken dryer. That's right. My broken dryer brought me to this point of reminiscing today.

That's right. . . for the first time in nearly 19 years of marriage, I'm hanging clothes out to dry on the line. You'll notice that there are only clothes belonging to Caroline and towels. I'm not that brave.

Why the reminiscing? When I was a kid, I would spend a couple of weeks in Southern Indiana with my grandparents. I spent a majority of the time *in* Poseyville (yes, that's really the name) but a couple of days out of that time in Indiana was spent in Cynthiana. My mom's parents lived in Poseyville (who could make up that name, seriously). My dad's mom lived in Cynthiana. . .and Fort Branch in her later years.

When Grandma Knowles did her laundry (Cynthiana grandma) she hung the wash out on the line to dry. I would run through the sheets drying in the sunshine. And, at night, the sheets, pillowcases and blankets had that outdoor smell. If I'm not mistaken, there was a dryer in her house. . . but my grandma could save money in ways that you'd never imagine.

She saved the pickle juice for tuna salad.
She saved coffee from breakfast.
She drank the juice that was left over from the corn we had at dinner.

No, it wasn't moonshine. . .it was corn juice. And, if I'm honest, I believe I tried it a time or two, and it wasn't horrible.

But, she was thrifty. She had to be. She used those bath towels that came inside laundry detergent boxes. . . .dry detergent (for those of you significantly younger than me). And dude, let me tell you . . .we used those towels until you could read the newspaper through them.

I'd give anything to have one of those towels today -- just to hold. . .and remember.

I remember she always had grape kool-aid for us to drink--in those thin Tupperware tumblers. She wouldn't dream of soda pop in her house.

Now, Grandma and Poppa Heim? We got Mountain Dew at their house. Yep -- green bottles with the corncob-pipe-smokin' hillbilly on the bottle. Good times.

Enough memories -- back to reality. Back to today. As I hung the clothes on the line, I wondered if she could see me -- and if she was enjoying this as much as I was. Could she see Edison and Caroline playing ball? How about when they started drawing pictures on the sidewalk with chalk?

Could she hear their precious conversations? They're precious until Caroline gets aggressive, and suddenly you hear, "Caroline! Stop that! You're hurting me." It's hard to remember which one is 13 and which one is nearly 4.

As we walked through Caroline's early days, I often hoped and wished with all my heart that they could indeed see and know Caroline -- if from the distance of heaven. I wanted them to see how beautiful she was -- and is. I wanted them to be proud of Mark and me, as we raised her and dealt with those early days of her existence.

But then the other part of me wanted them to be spared from the sadness and anxiety of her open heart surgery. And, when I adopted the idea that they saw with "Heaven Vision," I knew that they knew it was all okay.

Listen -- there are times in our lives that we tell ourselves all sorts of things to get by. This was one of those times. Thankfully, we're four years on the other side of those days.

I laughed as I hung the clothes on the line today, because I wondered how many times Grandma Knowles hung clothes out -- only to see dark clouds on the horizon (just like me today). Of course, I decided that God was reminding me that He's always in control, and sometimes the dark clouds come when we least expect (and certainly don't wish for them.

So far, the rain has held off. And being the clothesline novice, I haven't the foggiest idea of how long clothes must remain on the line. Seeing as I started at 3:30 this afternoon, I may be moving a load of damp clothes into our bathrooms to dry the rest of the way. We'll see.

We're having the dryer looked at tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be an inexpensive fix. . .and a speedy one, too. But today, as I stood in the sunshine, I realized that this little experience was not only good for me, but for my pocketbook (and probably the earth, too). Now that I've made the investment in clothespins, I may do this again, throughout the summer.

We'll see. There really is something about soft, fluffy towels, straight out of the dryer!

Time to sign off. Oh. . while I was out, I took a few more pictures. Here is a little sampling of my "container" gardening.....


Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Make my Heart Sing!

Okay, so here are the pics from our trip to the zoo, complete with my commentary. (You know that's what you came here for, right?) Oh well, read on at your own risk. . .

Our first interaction with wildlife occured with the rhinos. (No I'm not going to spell it out) We never really did get Caroline at a good enough angle to actually *see* them, but we'll show her the pictures, now that they're uploaded to the computer.

Here are the girls -- on their way to a fun day at the zoo. It was actually kind of chilly in the morning when we arrived. I was glad to have a sweater on. Later in the day, I wished that I had dressed in layers. But, at this point on our excursion all was right with the world. Looks that way, doesn't it??

Near the area where DSAG had its picnic is the "Barn Loft." Inside this charming (and fragrant) structure live some rats (in cages, of course), a mouse, a snake, some barn owls, and pictures of Appalachian farms. It's a fascinating little shack -- but like I said, it smelled. So, we didn't linger inside very long. In the picture, I believe I am pointing out RATS to my daughter. Doesn't every mother live for this moment in their daughter's life? (ick)

Outside again, where the air was fresh and clear -- we found a big turtle statue made of metal. I need to go back and find the pictures from a couple years ago. It was SO hot that day, I don't believe we got Caroline to sit on the turtle -- for fear of 3rd degree burns. Today, however, she was more than willing.

In yesterday's blog entry, I mentioned meeting a family with a baby boy named Lucas. Here you see Caroline getting to know Lucas up close and personal.

. . .and what's good for Caroline is even better for Mommy! He is such a precious little guy! It was such fun to snuggle with him, and plaster all sorts of kisses on his little face. What a treasure!

The zoo has a butterfly exhibit right now. Pretty cool. Lots of cool butterflies--but hundreds of butterflies + lots of kids + windy day + two doors being open at once = escaped butterflies. And, of course, they neglected to tell us to watch where we walked until someone had unknowingly trampled a monarch.

No, it wasn't me.

We went to see the camels. I didn't realize how close they could get to you -- so I thought Caroline might like to meet one up close.

Yeah. . .think again. She grabbed ahold of the back of my sweater and hung on for dear life.

What I didn't realize, though, was that "Joe" (my name for the Camel) could smell the juice boxes in my purse. That's right, as he walked along the edge of the fencing, while I was holding Caroline, he started CHEWING on my brand new purse that was hanging on Caroline's stroller.

Of course, my shrieking was overlooked because Mark was buying that crap (sorry, Mom) that they sell in vending machines to make the camels come find you -- and terrorize your daughters -- and eat your handbags.

Okay, this next picture is just one of many we have. As we walked up toward "Chimp Ridge" (could you make up a name like that?!?) we saw this brown bear. He was just laying around at first. We pointed him out to Caroline -- and she was extremely interested in him. At some point, he got in the tub of water you see in the picture. But then, just like, "Oh well, you people bore me so. . ." he laid his head down. Well, look and see. . . .

I literally could have stayed there for another hour and watched him. He was just that cute. I foresee a digital scrapbook page with this series of pictures. Too much fun!

These next three don't include any real wildlife -- well, except for the last one. But, it was a great family day -- and that's (hopefully) what you've tuned in to read and see. Humor me if it's not!

This girl has got these boys wrapped around her little finger -- and she knows it!

. . . and then there's Mom. . .trying to be cool. So, I challenged my son to hold a Madagascar (I think) Hissing Cockroach. He didn't. I did. I had to prove myself. I am cool. I am strong. I am NEVER doing that again!

Note: No pocketbooks or cockroaches were harmed during the writing of this blog entry. For further questions, please contact the owner of the blog. If you're an animal rights activist, and you have questions about names given for animals. . . get over it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So-o-o-o-o-o-o Ti-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-red

That's right. I'm too tired to upload pics from the camera. You see -- Knoxville is a city built in and around various ridges/mountains -- whatever you want to call them.

Where I grew up....the zoos were as flat as. . . .(fill in whatever one-liner you choose) Brookfield, Lincoln Park. Flat Lands abounding.

Here? Not so much.

But, it was a phenomenal day. We re-met a family that we first encountered in October at the Buddy Walk. Their baby, Lucas, was just two weeks old. He is a thriving little guy -- even let me hold and kiss all over him for a while today. So precious.

All of these kids that share this extra chromosome are. . . Henry, Jenni, Caroline, Lucas, Sloan, Lexie, Anthony, Lydia, Jonathan, Riley, Lucy, (seriously, I could go on and on and on. . .) And, days like today -- spent at a zoo which requires you to climb some serious slants to go see chimps and ostriches (which, by the way, I learned really freak me out)...well, days like today are totally worth it. Why?

1) We saw "effelants" and "beezus" (zebras)

2) We celebrated the uniqueness that ties over 500 families in a 17-county area together.

3) We we took them out and showed the rest of KnoxVegas we're not ashamed of them

4) It was sunny, breezy, and cool enough to wear a sweater and not get sweaty.

Yeah, it was an awesome day. Will I sleep like the proverbial baby tonight?


And tomorrow? Pictures.

. . . and Maddox, and Katie, and Houston, and Alex, and Preston, and Matt, and Alexis, and Madison, and Bianca, and Luka, and Ryan, and Morgan. . . . I could do this all night.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Bowing to Public Pressure

Monster Cookies
(makes 3 dozen LARGE cookies)

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 stick margarine (I use butter)
1 1/2 c. peanut butter (smooth)
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 t. soda
4 1/2 c. oatmeal (quick-cooking)

4 oz. chocolate chips
4 oz. M & Ms (plain)

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the first seven (7) ingredients. When this mixture has come together smoothly, add in the oatmeal, chips, and candies. This can all be done in a Kitchen Aid mixer, but the last step needs to be stirred by hand if you're using a regular mixer

Drop by large scoop (Pampered Chef) or an ice cream dipper onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cookies are ideal if they're just a "tad" brown. Let them sit on the pan for at least 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack (Pampered Chef) to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container. These will remain chewy and delicious for a good week. They never, ever last that long around here.

Couple notes:

1) I have doubled the recipe many times -- it's basically an 18 oz. jar of peanut butter plus 1/2 cup. If you double the recipe, be prepared for some hand-mixing. My Kitchen Aid mixer can handle it -- but it's a stiff dough--and there's a LOT of it when doubled.

2) You can make smaller cookies. That's probably a more weight-sensible thing to do. But, then they'd be "Mini Monster" cookies. And in my book, that's a muppet. And although they're cute -- they lack the ferocity of a REAL monster.

3) You can use store brand or (gasp!) generic chocolate chips. However, I do NOT recommend generic M & Ms. It's really just a 1/2 cup. And, that's two regular size bags, last time I checked. Of course, making these cookies gives one a great excuse to buy the big bag. You know, in case of an emergency or something.

I got this recipe from a dear friend in Chicago. Bonnie (and her husband Curt) made these cookies many times when we went to their home. Lots of great laughs. Amazing piles of cookies. And, of course, some great music. I miss Chicago. Sigh.

I'm gonna go have another cookie.

p.s. Why do I keep saying "Pampered Chef" in my posts? Well, my buddy Ann (mamachef) reads my blog faithfully. . .and sells Pampered Chef. I figure it's one of those "you blog about my products, I'll throw you a freebie" thing.

Probably not.
Oh well. . .

What's a Girl to Do?

"Eat ice cream."

Yesterday was the perfect day to get ice cream after picking Edison up from school. It was warm and sunny, and at Sonic, it was "Happy Hour" and all drinks and slushes were half-price. Of course, Mommy was the only one to get a drink that was half-off. Caroline, as you see, had ice cream. And big brother????

A root beer float.

Oh well, it was delicious and fun. We followed that trip with a stop at the store for some pots for outdoor plants, potting soil, and then off to the garden center for plants.

One RED gerber daisy
One white geranium
Lots of asparagus ferns (my faves)
Two lavender plants
One rosemary plant

And, we are officially gardening for the year.

When Mark came home, we cleaned out flower beds of "extra" leaves that got blown into them during the winter months. We even uncovered some lily plants. Go figure.

Every muscle I own from my shoulders down to my calves aches from the work -- but it was sooooooo worth it! I'll take pictures today when I get back from a 2nd trip to the store for more containers. (I never buy enough, oddly)

I also have to run to the grocery store for Monster Cookie ingredients. Our college ministry is holding a coffee house tonight, and I promised cookies. That will be fun.

Tomorrow is DSAG's Zoo Day. They are predicting rain. Please pray with us that the forecasters are wrong. We have a little girl that is very excited about seeing elephants, tigers, and bears (Grrrrrr!)

So, we have all the classic signs of a busy weekend here. What else is new??? I hope to post again tomorrow evening with lovely pictures from a SUNNY day at the zoo.

Until then. . .or until I think of something else to blog about. . . .Happy Friday!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dreaming of April. . .in April!!

Today, rather than try to come up with something clever, pithy, or thought-provoking, I thought I'd let the intense beauty of God's creation do the talking.

Okay, let's be honest. This is MY blog. I rarely, if ever, let pictures alone do the talking. But, I do want to share my utter bliss at Spring's arrival here on our little end of the cul-de-sac. It is amazing to have the house be so quiet, and feel the warmth of the sun pouring in the windows. . . and then to step outside and be hit by the intoxicating fragrance of flowers, all the while being serenaded by birds?

Girls, (and boys) this is about as good as it gets. I'll take you on a little virtual tour. Follow me.

This brilliant red azalea bush is just outside our garage/side door. I didn't even realize it had bloomed until I pulled back into the driveway this morning. That red JUMPS out at you -- but the view of it is hindered by the large Bradford Pear tree to the right of the driveway. (I'm trying to justify the fact that I hadn't noticed it until now)

There is some special maintenance that azalea bushes need (acid feed) so I'm going to get some, and treat these babies. They are too gorgeous to not maintain

This is a closeup of my dyanthis plant. I can call it "my" plant -- because a year ago, we began the process of buying this house that I love so much. However, there is a story behind these flowers, and I'm so excited to share it with you.

You see, we bought this house from a dear friend from church. She was, and is, one of the sweetest ladies to grace this earth, in my opinion -- and I'm biased. Years ago, when I was the church secretary, Thelma (previous homeowner) would fold and stuff the Sunday bulletins for me. I was working part-time then, but I also had a pre-schooler.

Wait! That's still true. My life is just one big revolving door, isn't it?! Sorry, slight digression there.

Anyway, Edison always came along with me when I would drop off, and/or pick up the bulletins from Thelma. He would come into the house, stopping for a moment to say "hi" to Ralph. . . the cement pelican that stood guard at the front walk. Ralph did not stay with the house when we moved in. Ralph now lives with Carole, one of Thelma's daughters. But, Edison always talked to Ralph as we came up the sidewalk.

One day, as we were dropping off, or picking up (simply cannot remember) Thelma asked me if I was interested in some plants. She was clearing out some dyanthis plants from her flower bed -- they creep -- and she was willing to share them with me.

I took them with me -- and planted some in front of our sidewalk at the "old" house. They have a fragrance that is literally intoxicating. I love the smell. . . . and whenever we would open our bedroom window -- which faced those plants -- you could smell them inside the house.

Well, here it is.....years later, and I'm blessed to enjoy that same fragrance from those same original plants!! I realize this may not mean much to some of you -- but to me -- it's just more evidence of God's provision and leading in my life.

Now, I'm not sure what these plants are. They may be a variation of hostas. There are hostas all along the back wall of the house. These leaves will quadruple in size. No, really, they will. . .and they're beautiful

And yes, I do need to get out and do some weeding in the various flower beds. So far, I haven't put anything in the ground, and have vowed not to do so until we've lived here a full year. I wanted to see what was here -- what was lying dormant -- and know where things need to be added.

The west wall of the house (shaded early in the day -- full sun later) may be the future home of some rose bushes. I love roses. I'm not great at growing them ... but I love them. (Hint, hint -- they make lovely birthday and Mother's Day presents. . . to those of you who are aware that those two events are forthcoming). But again, I digress. . .

This is one last shot. It's the azalea bush that's right outside my front door. You can see that the blooms are a brilliant white. I think, because of our weather lately, only the side that's shaded (facing the house) has bloomed. But, in the next day or so, there should be more blooms all over this bush.

There are also evidences of my favorite flower of all time growing in the shade of these azaleas. Lily of the Valley. Seriously. They smell so good you could eat them. But, please don't. Especially mine. I can't wait to watch them bloom, and then bring them inside for that delicious smell to invade my kitchen, bathroom, living room, uh. . . you get the picture.

One other plant that appears to be growing out back is a peony plant. I love peonies. We had them in our yard in the first house I remember -- growing up. I seem to recall my grandparents having them, too. Bright pink flowers, wet with dew, and ants crawling all over them. That fragrance. Oh my goodness. Another favorite.

Our neighbors have a lilac bush. I have sworn that I am going to cut some blossoms some night -- after everyone's asleep. Growing up we had a lilac bush outside the window in the room I shared with Lori. That's another one of those fragrances that just intoxicates me.

Do you realize how many times I've used the word intoxicate? I am grateful that every incidence of its use has to do with fragrances and not another form of the word. (Another lifetime. . . we won't go there today) But there is something about floral smells that almost makes our spirits drunk with bliss . . . unless you have allergies. . . .or can't smell. I truly am grateful today for every sense that God has given me. My brief walk through the yard this morning alerted and excited all of those senses. . . .even just the taste of newness in the air.

Could there be a better time of year? These words, from a song by Out of the Grey called Dreaming of April sum up this entire post. When you get done reading, you'll wonder, too, why I didn't just cut & paste them. . .?

Where is the face I long to see
Pictures of her in my mind
They say that she will soon return
I know she'll be here any day now
Just breezing into the room
Her sweet perfume can send my senses
Dreaming of April
Praying for her to arrive in all her finery
I'm dreaming of April
Maybe she'll linger this time
Turning to smile at me
These clouds of grey march in endless procession
I'm waking every day
Dreaming of April
I never know how blue the sky
Until the dark days came
These wistful words keep whispering
How much I used to take for granted
The beauty of her eyes
Till mine grew dim with winter, now
I'm Dreaming of April
Praying for her to arrive in all her finery
I'm dreaming of April
Maybe she'll linger this time
Turning to smile at me
When these days of grey march in endless procession
I'm waiting for a change
And dreaming of April
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I've Been Scooped

This has happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again. Last night, Mark edited some footage I took of Caroline (which I intended for my blog) and put it on his blog. I suppose, since he downloaded the editing software, and did all the work, he deserves to put it on his blog.

Last night, I got her to sing for the camera after dinner. What began as "Away in a Manger" morphed into "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." But, in her best programming fashion, she brought it back to "Away in a Manger" at the end. I don't think she changed keys. . . although if she did, the transition was seamless.

Yep. She's my daughter.

Anyway, you are welcome to view the video here . . . .on Mark's blog. Sigh.

Monday, April 14, 2008

YUM -- Lemon Chicken!! - Edited to add a PICTURE!!!!

I'm posting a recipe because, frankly, I'm sneezing my fool head off, and by the time my kids go to bed (God, please make it soon!) I will not be in any shape to blog. ::hee::

Even as I type, my kitchen (and the rest of my house) smells heavenly because of Lemon Chicken. I'm not claiming to be the Pioneer Woman -- and I'm certainly not going to post pictures of said chicken from stage 1 to stage 14, but I will share my recipe. Here you go:

Lemon Chicken (serves lots of happy people)

Chicken (duh)
Lemons (again, duh)
1 onion
1 stick butter (or butter + olive oil to equal 1/2 cup)
cooking oil
salt & pepper

Here's what you do. . . .brown your chicken pieces (I use bone & skin-on breasts) in the butter (or oil & butter combo). Do not cook the chicken completely, but get the skin (flip it over, too) brownish.

I put my browned chicken breasts into my Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker/Bowl combo. However, I have also put this into a 13x9 pyrex dish. I just like the bowl/baker combo.

Over the semi-cooked chicken, pour this mixture:

1 clove of garlic (mashed with 1 t. salt) **
1 cup lemon juice (fresh is best -- but you can use bottled)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 T thyme (whole, not powdered)
1/2 t. pepper
1 cut up onion

**you can use that pre-minced garlic (I do) and it works just fine.

Once you pour this "goo" over the chicken, you either need to put a lid on the pot and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. OR. . . .you can put it back in the skillet and cover it and cook it over medium heat for an hour. I like the baking option.

I usually serve this with couscous, oven roasted potatoes and carrots, or (tonight) Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice. YUM.

Tonight I'm making the rice, a green salad, and cooked broccoli. I'll probably make the boys some corn muffins, too. We'll see. It depends on how "strong" I feel. I love bread, and all bread-related products. Though they're not illegal on Weight Watchers, per se, they do use up points that could be spent on "other" items. . . like cooked chicken, fruit, or high-fiber veggies.

Also? I've found a new treat that is very tasty, indeed. They're Weight Watchers cookies. I bought two boxes of the Soft Oatmeal Raisin cookies that only have one point each. They're a fairly thick cookie. They're not as filling as those "breakfast cookies" but they'll do in a pinch.

I guess that's all for today. As I mentioned previously, the sneezing and sniffling are driving me crazy. So, dinner will be followed by a 2-Benadryl "cocktail" which will hopefully lead to some peaceful slumber.

Happy Sleeping (and not sneezing) Everyone!!

Oh. . . I almost forgot two monumental things.

1) We're supposed to have a hard freeze tonight. People are pulling up plants (Dad) and bringing them inside. You'd think this was Canada, or something.

2) The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I'm not sure how many of you were able to watch it. (We did tape it, Beth & company) It was very good. If you've read the book *and* watched the movie, you undoubtedly noticed how they left major portions out. They only had two hours -- the omissions made sense.

What I didn't remember, however, was the utter destruction of their marriage (infidelity included). Sorry for that spoiler. But, I panicked a little when I realized (mid-movie) that I had sent a notice out to our church -- encouraging people to watch the movie. I'm still employed, so that's a good thing--I had a slight panic attack! : )

However, I think I did a dis-service to anyone for whom I recommended the movie, if I gave them the impression that it was all about a child with Down syndrome. And, if I'm honest, I think I leaned more toward the Ds aspects of the story, rather than the destruction of a family because of lies and deception.

(By the way, my house smells amazing right now)

But, as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I was amazed, impressed, overjoyed, and excited to see my child's "condition" shown in such a positive light. AND. . .to see an actress with Down syndrome do such a remarkable job in her role.

So. . . would I recommend it again? Yeah. But, I probably would 'pick and choose' the recipients from our church family. And, I'd try to be a little bit more realistic about the plot of the movie/book. I guess I got sidetracked because this particular LifetimeTV movie wasn't about an abused wife, drug addict, or runaway teenage girl! : )

Sunday, April 13, 2008


That is the one word that will describe this blog entry to a t. . .

First, some random shots from the weekend. . . .We celebrated my nephew's birthday last night. He turned 14. The part about that that mortifies me the most? He was 7 months old when Edison was born. That's right. . .in 7 months, I will have a 14-year old in the house. And from what I remember when I was 14. . . it will be a disaster.

Oh well. . .that's still 7 months off, and who's to say the disaster hasn't already arrived, eh?

This is Andrew. He's a funny kid. Both of my nephews have a fun (cynical, sarcastic) sense of humor. As I often say about myself, I don't know where it comes from. . . DAD. But, he's the birthday boy, so it's all about him. We even (nearly) got a smile out of him.

Caroline is fixated with her baby cousin, Carson. In fact, although we were celebrating Andrew's birthday, you'd have thought the entire gathering was about Baby Carson -- because that's where Caroline's attention was focused. Of course, she wanted to hold, feed, pat, pick at, and otherwise annoy the heck out of Baby Carson. I call it "loving on him" but no matter what you call it, she was bound and determined to get her paws all over him. See what I mean?

But, ironically, Big Brother was the one who got the honors of holding and feeding him. I think he probably enjoys the most because after four years (and then some) of Caroline. . .and Kylie 'round these parts. . .he's enjoying having (another) boy cousin--even if he *is* only 6 weeks old!! (I also suspect that he's enjoying holding and feeding Carson because he's gotten so used to younger kids - babies - in the past couple of years) Caroline's early years were complicated, so he didn't get to feed her like I think he wanted to. He really enjoys it now. I just think of it as another amazing part of his sensitive spirit that she has brought out in him.

See? I don't lie about these things....!

Finally, I leave you with a picture of Caroline at our luncheon the other day. The Buttercup Tea Room is a neat little place for a light lunch, and then lots of fun shopping. I didn't buy anything per se, but I came home with lots of fun ideas for things that I can make a lot cheaper than they were selling them for. (Go figure!)

She had a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich, fruit, and a few chips. She's becoming quite the young lady. She's also becoming quite the little "parrot." It's amazing the phrases that come rolling off her tongue the very minute she hears me say something and can repeat it.

Yes, that *does* make me more careful about what I say . . . especially in front of her!

I'm off to get some more "work" done this afternoon. I have begun embroidering a few new wall hangings for my living room. My goal? To get them done before the family arrives for C's birthday. (two weeks) I just might be able to pull this off. . . it's simple embroidery (backstitch) and the framing is cheap and easy. So, if I can get them done, I'll have a "Four Season" sampler set hanging in the living room in the next week or so. I have the Fall Sampler nearly done. Winter and Summer will be the hardest -- lots of little details on those.

I was thinking about my word for the year. . .simplify . . . (and YES, this *is* where the post begins to really get random, sorry) and the fact that I have simplified my life in some ways, but in others not so much. I tried to think of certain hobbies or craft projects that I could release, so as to simplify my life. I haven't been able to do too much in that realm. Each project (craft type) has its place, and therefore cannot be given up. See?

Crocheting -- baby blankets for friends with new babies

Embroidery/Cross-stitching -- projects around my house

Scrapbooking -- I think that's obvious, isn't it?

Quilting -- it's my secret passion. I just don't have enough skills

And there are a host of others. . . .but I think at the base of each one is the desire to give gifts to people that are more than just "things" purchased for them at Target or Babies 'r Us. There's a measure of love that is put into every gift that I make -- whether it's a scrapbook page, baby afghan, throw quilt, or tea towel. And the thought of giving those things up -- for the sake of time, or simplifying my life just breaks my heart.

So, at least for now, those hobbies aren't going anywhere. I am, however, going to do away with the notion of home canning, reupholstering furniture, or taking up calligraphy. I figure a girl's got to sleep sometime.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

I Did It!

That's Caroline's new "tag" line for everything she does that she decides needs attention and recognition. At the end of every song she sings by herself --

". . . . the Bible tells me so. I did it!"

It's really precious.

But, I'm having an "I Did It!" moment this afternoon that I want to share with you. No, I didn't lose another 10 pounds. But, I'm really trying to do better these days. Two key elements that are missing:

1) water
2) exercise

When I get a grip on the two of them (so to speak) I'll be posting more positive weight-loss posts. Sigh.

I wanted to share pictures of my curtains that I made. No, they're not the most intricate design on the planet -- in fact, they're about the easiest. Three folds that are pressed, and five long seams. Truly, that's it. Here they are -- from both sides of the room:

I am very proud of these little curtains. They're plain, simple, and they coordinate so well with the overall style of our room. Thanks for indulging me a bit. Here are some more random photos:

This is Caroline "singing" at her program the other night. I get really frustrated trying to take pictures at her programs, because the light in that auditorium is even worse than at our church. . .and that's saying a lot!

This is Caroline -- just this morning -- eating her dry Lucky Charms and drinking apple juice while watching Max & Ruby. It's Friday. . .on Friday, just about anything goes. If she wants to eat her breakfast in front of the TV, I let her.

We had another "I Did It!" bathroom success this morning. I'm not discouraged that we haven't completed the process, yet. It's going to be a long one -- but when we're on the other side, I will be a very, very happy camper.

My sister and her kids are in town this weekend, so we're doing lots of fun family outings together. This afternoon, Caroline, Lori, Becca, Mom and I went out to the Cranberry Hollow - Buttercup Tea Room in Lenoir City for lunch. (Very, very yummy food) Caroline sat up at the table like a sweet little girl -- and then proceeded to get grape jelly all over her face, hands, dress. . . I think there may even be some between her toes. I will post pictures of that tomorrow.

I'm amazed at how quickly my niece is growing up. She turned 7 in January. Amazing how quickly those seven years went by. . .although the past four have been kinda crazy/busy ones for us.

While we were driving to the Tea Room, my in-laws called. They're going to fly out for Caroline's birthday. I'm thinking of not telling Edison, and letting him be surprised. He doesn't read my blog -- that I know of -- so it will be fun to surprise him. (Oh, by the way, Steve? Your mom and dad are coming to town when you guys are!)

So, there you have it. It's a sunny, warm, breezy -- and soon-to-be stormy Friday afternoon here outside of luxurious KnoxVegas (as Mark calls it). We're headed out for dinner again tonight -- to one of my fav-O-rite places to eat. So, I'll be sure and take the camera for more fun, goofy family pictures.

Have a great weekend!!

Oops---I almost forgot to mention this!!! On Saturday evening, at 9 p.m. (eastern) Lifetime TV is airing the "Memory Keeper's Daughter" which is a movie made from the best-selling novel. I read the book last year -- it was a tough read for me. But, it is such a great story. Mark and I are encouraging everyone we know to watch it, if they can, because it shows a lot of the love, potential, and hope that children with Down syndrome possess. If you have never read the book, I highly recommend it!