This is My "Real" Blog: February 2009

Angie's Blog!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

West Knoxville. . . a place so nice, I went there twice!

Yes, you read that correctly.

Mark and I took advantage of a "kidless" afternoon, and did a little shopping today. I had some discount cards that expire tomorrow. . .and I needed a new pair of jeans. So, we headed out.

I also had a graduated coupon at Joann's for some framing. Remember a recent post about projects I wanted to finish up? Yeah. . . I took a couple samplers into Joann's and had them price the framing for me.

Here's the deal. . . .you got 40% off of one framing project; 50% off of two, and 60% off of three. So, I opted for 60% and brought in three (3) samplers.

One is about 8.5 x 8.5. It was reasonably priced.
Another is 8.5 x 9. Again, fairly reasonably priced.

The third sampler? Well, let's just say that when my friend showed me the pattern, she told me it took her 3 years to stitch it. I didn't believe her. In fact, I teased her that I'd find it and complete it sooner than that.

The year was 1997.
I did some last-minute finish stitches on it this afternoon.
I stand corrected.

It's a HUGE sampler. . . each letter is about 3 inches tall, and has a corresponding figure or picture with it. I couldn't find a picture of it on the web, but with the help of my scanner, and my husband who walked me through the process, here it is:

It measures roughly 15 x 35 -- on fabric with 14 stitches to the inch (Aida 14).

It is beautiful. I promise to photograph it when it comes back in two weeks. Of course, I'm still debating where it will be hung. I am planning to hang it over "my" chair in the living room. I cannot WAIT for it to come back home to me. The frame I/we chose is beautiful. . . a reddish, weathered wide frame with a "lacing" design etched in it. As the framer guy said, it "pulls the red figures" out from the sampler. It is gonna be nice. . . and for what we paid, it had BETTER be nice.

The other two samplers were stitched in 1995 and 1997. That's right. . . I'm framing things from 13 years ago. I am so ashamed. But, I'm grateful to be completing some incomplete projects. Those will have to wait to be photographed. I have no earthly idea where the patterns are.

So, why two trips?

Well, let's see. My purpose in visiting Joann's today was to get an "estimate" on the framing costs. I had no intention of getting them done today. My coupon was good until next Saturday. But, as we talked about it, and I considered the fact that they would be done in two weeks, we decided to pay today, and get them done. Besides that, the local frame shop here in Seymour has NOT been able to receive phone calls for the past 4 days. And when I get an idea in my head. . . .

So, I picked up some chenille, some muslin, some embroidery floss, and paid for framing three samplers. The framing was around $200 -- but we're talking THREE. . . and one is pretty darn big. And when you consider that we saved 60%, I realize that I am definitely in the wrong line of work.

We talked to Mr. Framer guy, and told him that the one piece -- the biggie -- still needed a few stitches, and I needed to add my initials and the year to it. (Mark asked if I was going to put "1997 - 2009" on it). I laughed . . . half-heartedly. So funny he is. . .

I told the guy I'd bring it back tomorrow, but would leave the other two. Then my helpful husband noticed that one of the two kinda had a "crease" in it. So, we opted to take all three home, re-iron them, and finish the one. As we drove home, I realized that we paid for three samplers -- and none of them were at the store. That was just wrong.

So, on our way to pick up Caroline, I told Mark I'd probably go back tonight, submit stuff, and get it moving. He thought that was fine (I'm sure inside he thought I was nuts). So, after bringing in the stuff, stitching the steam on the oatmeal. (Seriously, that's what it needed) I stitched on my initials and put "09" as the completion year, ironed three samplers and headed back to W. Knoxville.

We live 29 miles away from Joann's. You do the math. Thankfully, gas prices are back on the somewhat reasonable side. . .but still.

When I got back into the store, the girl in the framing department looked up at me and said, "You're back?" She didn't realize I hadn't left stuff initially. We laughed. I gave her the samplers. She had me initial the forms (again). And, after making a brief stop in the scrapbooking department. . . come on, everything was 40% off. . . I was back out the door.

I checked the clock. I left the house at 5:25. I arrived at Joann's at 6:00. I left Joann's at 6:34. I picked up Edison at 7:29. I got home at 8:00 p.m.

I'm spent. But, I saved so much money!!!!!!!

I'm sure I'll type more tomorrow. . .it's been an emotional week. And, although I have some things I want and need to say, I also have clothes to put away, clean towels to re-hang, dishes to put away, and a body and mind that need to shut down in preparation for worship tomorrow.

So, until tomorrow, my dear friends. . . have a lovely rest of Saturday. Tomorrow holds the promise of a NASCAR race in Las Vegas, small group (which will undoubtedly be spent watching said race), and being back together with our church family we love so much.

It will be a good day. I can just feel it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up if I Tried.....

Yesterday afternoon was something out of a bizarre novel. Some of you have already heard about this. . . bear with me. I'm still processing. If you read yesterday, you know that I had to go to Caroline's school and pick her up from the "faux fever" she was running. I spoke with the school officials (numerous times) and we have a new "action plan" in case this happens again.

What's the plan?

1) If Caroline appears to be "out of sorts" they will check her temp (standard procedure)
2) If her temp is elevated, they will keep an eye on her (low grade temp, of course)
3) After 10 minutes, they will check her temp again.

If her temp appears to be going up, or if other symptoms (vomiting, etc.) arise (so to speak, sorry!) they will have me come get her. But, if she "stables out" and seems to be allright, they'll call -- but I won't necessarily have to come and get her.

I reminded them that children with Ds tend to be little "heaters" and can run random fevers without even trying. I also told them that I would send a short-sleeve shirt in her backpack in case she seems to be overheating from her long-sleeve shirt.

They were shocked at the idea that she came home with a lower-than-normal temperature. And, I may have ticked off the school secretary that actually took her temperature. But, I assured them that I wasn't mad -- I was just confused and frustrated at Caroline's apparent "miracle recovery" as soon as we got home.

So, we'll see how today goes. But that's not the weird part of yesterday. Read on, please:

I put Caroline down for a "nap" around 3 p.m. yesterday. She, of course, did not sleep. (big surprise there) While she was in her room, I watched Dr. Phil. I don't ever watch Dr. Phil, but he had the mom of those octuplets on with him yesterday. (Part 2 of a 2-part series)

That girl has some serious issues. My buddy Stephanie (That Chick) wrote a very good post about her. Please read it, if you want another great view of this story. But again, that's not the weird part of the afternoon.

Around 3:45, a little girl came to the front door. I assumed she was selling Girl Scout cookies. She bounced up, knocked, and looked back at whoever was bringing her to the door. I answered the door, and a man approached the door with the little girl.

The following conversation is truly what happened. I'm still in shock.

Guy: Hi. Would you like to adopt her? (referring to the little girl)

Me: What?

Guy: You can have her if you want her.

Me: What? What are you saying?

Guy: If you want to adopt her, you can have her.

Me: I'm sorry. (seriously considering passing out) I have two kids. I. .. I. . .

Guy: So, you don't want her? Because, you can have her.

Me: (trying to figure out which gov't agency to call) No. I don't want another child

Guy: Well, I noticed that you've got some shingles missing on your garage roof. Do you want me to fix them?

Me: (very suspicious -- and grateful that Caroline was out of sight) NO! I don't want anything.

Guy: Okay, if you don't want me to do anything, I'll leave. (He and the girl get in the car and leave)

At this point, my mind and hands began racing. . .

1) I made sure the front door was locked
2) I made sure C was still in her room
3) I made sure the garage door was closed
4) I answered the phone (it literally rang at that point)

I talked to my friend, Kelly, who called about DSAG stuff. She told me to call the police. I called Mark first, and then, at his insistance, I called the Sheriff.

Caroline decided that her nap was done. . . and she came out of her room and started to play. I explained to her that there would be a policeman coming to the house. She didn't seem to care--she just played with her Little People and had fun.

Ten minutes later, an officer was at my door, taking notes -- and hurrying off to see if they were still in the neighborhood. She and Caroline had a nice conversation, too.

Just after the officer left, the dispatch from the Sheriff's office called again -- verifying some more information, and thanking me for calling. I had, in the meantime, called Mark and asked him to pick up Edison from school. He agreed, and told me to try and relax.

I did -- until the sheriff's deputy arrived back at the house. She pulled in the driveway and came back to the door. They had decided to make a formal report of my "visit" and she needed some details.

I was grateful to have made enough mental notes to give them some details:

** The little girl was wearing a striped t-shirt, and had brown hair
** The "dad" was wearing jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a red ball cap
** The car was dark -- blue or black
** He had dark hair and a "scruffy" beard

So, as the officer made her way out of the subdivision, she stopped and talked to people out walking to see if they'd seen the suspicious car. No one had seen him.

Here's where the story gets kind of funny (kind of). . . .

After the officer left the second time, I noticed two ladies out walking in the neighborhood. Mark was making his way down the street after getting Edison. When he got into the driveway, I decided that I'd go out and talk to them. I thought they ought to know why -- and I thought I'd alert them to the people, as well. (I didn't know the officer did that) So, as Mark took Caroline down to get the mail (their little ritual) I walked down and met a couple of my neighbors.

One of the ladies was on the phone. I approached them, and realized that the woman on the phone was talking to the police. They explained that the officer had told them about the suspicious car as she was leaving the subdivision. She told them to be on alert. And they were.'s where it gets funny.

I noticed Mark was walking into the house -- with his beard. . .dark clothes. . . blue car. . .and red baseball cap. Oh, and he was carrying Caroline. He had a little girl with him.

My new friend was calling the police because she thought Mark was the guy -- and that he had come back. I assured her, and the dispatch on the other end of the phone, that Mark was the man of this house. And, that the child he was carrying already belonged to me. He had not made me an offer to adopt her....nor had he offered to fix the shingles on the roof.

I was able to laugh with my new friends. Thankfully, they had good sense of humor. Of course, they were concerned that the little girl I was initially offered was the child from Florida that is missing. I checked the internet--it is NOT the same girl.

Our best guess is that these were "travelers" trying to scam money out of unsuspecting citizens. As weird as it seems, I hope and pray that's what happened. Because I cannot get this little girl out of my mind. If, indeed she is part of a group of travelers, she is at least surrounded by some sort of a "community." I loathe the fact that trying to dupe people is a way of life for her. But, she appeared to be happy, and reasonably healthy.

But, God help me, if she was actually the unwitting victim of a horrible father who was willing to simply "give his child away" to anyone interested -- I don't know how my heart would process that.

Regardless of the situation, I know my decision to turn them away was the right thing. God has given me a home and two beautiful children who are my first priority to protect. The fact that Caroline was home forced me to be more vigilant than ever. I didn't take any chances because she was nearby.

and then it hit me. . . .

Our visitors arrived at exactly the time that Caroline would have been getting off the bus from school. I would have had the garage door open to wait for the bus. . . which would have left me and the house vulnerable to strangers.

Could it be that God -- in his infinite, perfect, and holy wisdom -- was protecting me by having me pick up a little girl with a "faux fever" from school a couple hours early? Could it be that HE was involving himself in the minutae of my life -- keeping me from my sewing that I so desperately wanted to do -- to protect me and my precious daughter from danger?

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "Plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11)

It's not just for plaques and t-shirts, my friends. This is the verse that has been Caroline's verse all along. I claim it. I cling to it.

. . .and I know He's taking care of me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are you KIDDING me?!?!?

I went into the office a little bit later than normal today. I didn't have much to do. Just a few things to be ready for tonight's rehearsal.

I got them done. I went up to my office. All was going well when the phone rang.

Barb (our secretary) rang it through to my office. Yep. You're right.

Caroline's teacher was one the phone.

"She's running a fever, and she has spent the entire morning crying and weeping. She didn't eat breakfast or lunch. You need to come get her."

I asked what her temp was.


Okay, I'll come and get her.

Now, bear this in mind, I knew that when I waited in the lobby for her to come out to me, she would start smiling, talking and running as soon as she got to where I was waiting.

I was 100% right. But, I didn't take into consideration that she would yell (happy stuff) and run to the van.

I got her home, and checked her temperature. Any guesses?

96.3 (last I checked, that was not considered a fever). I'm just saying.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Ash Wednesday

Even though I don't typically celebrate Ash Wednesday in the traditional fashion. I am going to participate in Lent this year. Edison and I talked about what I would give up. I nearly decked him when he suggested I give up caffeine. That would be bad for everyone.

Here's what I've come up with. . .and I think it will be a good thing.

I'm giving up recreational computer time for Lent. (Mainly Facebook)

I'm going to update my blog, and read blogs each day (or, at least 3x per week). I am going to check Facebook once a day. I've already done it today--so I'm done until tomorrow. But, other than that, I'm going to focus the next 40 days on really using my free time wisely. I don't have a lot, so I plan to make the most of those precious hours each day/week.

I did this last night, without even realizing what I wanted to give up for Lent. I spent 3 hours in my bedroom -- sorting through unfinished stitching projects, and getting finished projects ready to be shipped off to places unknown. (Laura & Kweku -- I need an address!!!) I found a couple quilting projects that are nearly complete -- but need a few more hours of work.

I wrapped gifts. I threw away trash.

I just was. And it was good.

Have a lovely day -- I will try to post pictures from our National Pancake Day celebration last night. I used two of my Christmas gifts -- my new batter bowl, and my new griddle. It was lots of fun. However, not everyone participated in National Pancake Day -- because Caroline doesn't like pancakes. (Go figure)

She? Had a quesadilla -- her new epicurean obsession.

So there you have it. An update. A blog post.

Now, I've got to get back to work . . as I've said many times:

"These worship services don't plan themselves!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Done. . .Finished. . Finito

I finished the hand quilting on Caroline's quilt. I posted about it here.

It's kinda embarrassing that it's taken nearly two years to complete it. Wait--let me be totally honest here.

I started hand-quilting this baby LOOOOOONG before I knew there would even *be* a Caroline.

That's right. I started hand-quilting this blanket on a mission trip that Mark and I helped lead back in 2003.

Five years.
If my head wasn't pounding so much, I'd calculate the months, days, hours, etc. But, I'm not that dedicated.

Needless to say, I am excited to be finished with this project. I have to still put on the binding, and wash it. But, I'll try to do that this evening.

For now, I have another buh-jillion projects to finish. I just wanted to share my joy that I'd finally finished this hand-quilting project. I'm sure there are more to come. Sigh.

It really is an enjoyable hobby. It's just time-consuming.

Last night was a marathon cooking/baking event for me. Beginning about 3:45 yesterday afternoon, I made:

2 loaves of honey whole wheat bread
2 loaves of banana bread
1 batch of no-bake cookies
1 batch of homemade meat sauce (for lasagna)
1 batch of tuna salad
1 pan of lasagna
1 small pan of tuna casserole (in the freezer)

Yeah, I was exhausted by the time it was all over.

And? For those of you keeping track, Mark definitely saved money by shopping at WalMart. He added a few things to my list (which included meat, but no diapers) and spent around $85. The only thing on my list that he couldn't find was bread flour. And, he added a few boxes of frozen entrees AND a box of Life Cereal (and batteries) to the list. So, until we hear otherwise, we are going to do the bulk of our grocery shopping at WalMart.

Sigh. I hate shopping enough already -- now I have to add a 15-minute drive to the mix. Oh well. I suppose our family's survival in tough times is worth those 30 minutes, eh?

Okay, with that, I am outta here. I have Season #2 of the Office (DVD) here with me -- and the two of us (DVDs & me) are headed to my bedroom where I hope to be lulled to sleep by bad jokes and awkward silences. Oh, and "Ryan Started the Fi-Uh!"


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just About Wiggled Out

Note: I didn't say "wigged" out. . . but I could. For some reason, my delightful daughter is currently addicted to the Wiggles.

And, not just the Wiggles videos that we own (currently I think we own 9). No, she likes the "Lights, Camera, Action" episodes that are on the special features on some of these DVDs. The only problem is that these features are only 15 minutes long. So, by the time I get it going, and she's happy, they're done -- and she wants another one.

And, trust me, there's nothing like hearing your daughter say, "I would like to watch Lights Camera Action, Daddy!" over and over and over again. . . . actually there isn't anything like it. With her speech issues and developmental delays, a 9-word sentence -- in context -- is a blessing beyond words!!

I other news. . . .
She and Edison both went back to school on Friday. It was time. I blew off a meeting that I was supposed to attend on Friday morning. After getting everyone out the door, I went back to bed. I believe I slept off and on until about 12:30 that afternoon. There was a "Psych" marathon on USA, and I "watched" it as I slept.

It really is a strange sensation to fall asleep in the middle of one episode, and wake up in the middle of the next one. Same basic characters -- same snarky, fun dialogue -- just a totally different setting & story.

So, what's going on now. . . .
As I type, I am waiting for two (2) loaves of banana bread to come out of the oven. I also made a batch of Honey Whole Wheat bread today. I love this stuff--and I've made it so many times, I can make it without looking at the recipe. I also made homemade meat sauce for lasagna. I was going to have lasagna tonight, but I don't have enough parmesan cheese to make it for dinner tonight. So, after my "grocery store fairy" (Mark) gets back from WalMart, I'll make lasagna. And alas, we'll eat it for lunch tomorrow.

And that brings me to. . .
Speaking of WalMart, Mark, and groceries. . .I wanted to share a few thoughts on the current US economy. It's getting nearly more press than A-Rod or that mom with 14 kids in California (oy vey). And, although it definitely is headline worthy, I am getting a bit weary of all the bleak talk.

This is not, mind you, because I naively believe everything that the newscasters say. For the most part, I think they are full of hooey. Bottom line: Our economy is a mess. We have been wasteful. We have been selfish. We have made some dumb, dumb mistakes.

It's not all our fault -- it's not all the government's fault. But, mistakes have been made for the last 15 years or so (political comments purposely omitted) and we are now paying the price for those mistakes. So what are we doing about it?

Well, for one, we're not panicking.

As of yet, we haven't pulled Edison out of private school. We haven't dug up a garden out in the backyard (it's supposed to snow tonight, by the way!) We haven't sold all our worldly goods on Ebay. We haven't pulled our retirement out and traded it in for gold (there's not that much left!)

We are however:

*giving God his part of what He's given us
*buying brand-name ketchup (I just can't do generic)
*still investing part of our income(s) into retirement accounts
*pursuing paying off our consumer debt (as soon as possible)
*putting money back into our local economy (on occasion)
*contributing to other needs/organizations as we can

We are trying (today, actually) getting groceries at WalMart. We've heard from a couple friends that WM's prices are better than our two local grocery stores. So today, while Mark was out running errands, he took a list of things I need to WallyWorld. We'll see. One of the keys to consider is that WalMart is about 10 miles away, while our local grocery store is only 3 miles. So, I can't just go running out to WalMart when I need something -- these trips will have to be thought out. . .and I'm kinda impulsive.

Mark and I have tried eating out less this year. It's done a couple things for us:

1) given us more family time around the table
2) made us aware of how much is wasted on eating out

I'm also shocked at how much prices are inflated from homemade to store-bought, or restaurant food. I'm a halfway decent cook, so this is also good for me to "flex" my cooking muscles.

I am reminded of Jesus' teaching in Matthew. And, the Message translation says it so beautifully:

"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds."

I remember, when we first got married, I would literally freak out when I went to the grocery store. The first time I "stocked" the pantry and got stuff for the fridge (ketchup, mustard, etc.) it was $75!! Twenty years ago, that seemed like a lot of money. These days, it feels like a week's worth of groceries (minus diapers & meat, sadly!)

But when I'd freak out, I tried to remember that scripture -- that God was going to take care of me. . or us. I reminded myself that I was living in HIS care. And, if he cares for birds, and provides for them, he'd also provide for me.

So, as things look more and more "challenging" on the horizon, I'm going back to my "Word of the Year" for both 2008 and 2009 to get me through.

This means cherishing and pursuing the simpler things. . . homemade food, hand-crafted gifts, encouraging notes sent by mail, family game nights, and other simple pleasures that, until now, have been bypassed for ease and convenience.

I have to be honest and admit that on the one hand, I'm nervous about the future. On the other, I'm really curious to see how God will work through this situation. And, I'm encouraged to see how we (as a family, and as a country) will band together to survive what some are calling the worst depression we've ever seen. That's right, I said, "Encouraged."

Be blessed. . and if nothing else, keep wiggling!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It was inevitable. . . .

When you teach your children the joys and blessings of sharing, you trust that they'll not only learn, but adapt their thinking to be one of sharing.

My kids are really good at sharing. Of course, their toys are different -- but it's still amazing how often I hear them arguing over toys. Really. It happens.

This gives me plenty of opportunities to remind them of the discipline of sharing with others. I think they're beginning to get it.

...because they gave me their germs. That's right. Now, I'm sick.

It works out well, however, because I was going to take today off. And, with Edison home (in addition to Ms. Croup) I have a little more flexibility in the "let's entertain Caroline" department.

But still, I feel crappy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Never Said. . . .

. . .things were better.

'Cause I'd be lying.

Conversation via phone:

E: Mom, I was just calling to see if I can stay for back work today.

M: Which class?

E: Math.

M: Okay, does this mean no football workout?

E: Hold on a second.

Sets down phone. 45 seconds pass.

Teacher arrives. Finds phone. Picks is up.

T: Who are you holding for?

M: Edison A_____

T: Oh. Okay, just a second.

M: Okay.

Another 45 seconds, or so, passes.

Teacher returns.

T: He's gonna have to call you back.

M: Allright.

T: He's in the bathroom. He's sick.

M: Sick, as in sick?

T: Yes.

M: Okay.

You couldn't write a life more exciting than mine. You think you can?

I dare you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Update. . .on the Update

The doctor confirmed: it is croup.

I knew it was. Duh.

But, he was able to give her a dose of the steroid that she typically gets in the ER. And, hopefully, any germs she might have encountered at the doctor's office won't be nearly as lethal as those encountered at your local ER. I'm just sayin. . . .

She's in good spirits, for the most part. She ate a good lunch. She sort of ate her supper. She sang songs with me. She sang songs for the nursing staff -- after getting a shot. That's got to count for something.

But still, she's sick. Probably home for 3 days this week. I'm shooting for Friday morning. Not making any definite plans, but I'm hoping.

The one extra special bright spot in our day? This mystery package arrived from Minnesota today. There were "messages" written all over the outside. Messages from some sweet, lovely, wonderful girls that I love.

Thanks, Beth & family for our box. We loved every part. Caroline hugged, kissed, and literally "rocked" the doll to sleep. She even sang "Rock a bye, Baby" to it as she rocked her.

. . .and yes, I took pictures. I'm just too bleary-eyed to post them. I'll shoot for tomorrow.

See what I did there? Shoot....for posting pictures...and a verb for taking pictures is...shoot...

Yeah, I'm done. You're tired of my puns.
Me? I'm just tired.

Oh! If I would have failed to post this, I would NEVER have forgiven myself. My wonderful husband pointed me in the direction of a blog I ADORE. If you're a child of the 60s or 70s, you will enjoy this immensely. I did. I found myself going back to the very beginning of her blog (2006) and reading every entry there. (I actually stopped because Caroline started the "coughing & hacking" and we needed to attend to her) But still. . . go. Read it. You'll enjoy it.

. . .and you'll see my comments from time to time!

Update -- and an explanation

Okay, I didn't get two things accomplished last night, but I have a good reason.

1) I intended to put links for my two favorite restaurants -- Aubrey's and Puleo's Grille -- on the blog last night. I remembered after I hit "publish," and was in the midst of updating them. ..

2) I didn't hit any blogs like I had intended. . .


Caroline woke up with croup last night -- about 11:36 or so. I stayed up with her until about 3:15 this morning. Mark took her outside for the obligatory "walk in the cold arctic air" while I called the on-call nurse.

This morning, she's not running a fever, and we've already spent 20 minutes in a steamy bathroom (the nurse's choice for home treatment over being outside).

The doctor's office opens in 18 minutes. I'll call them as soon as they open, attempt to get her in for an appointment, and watch how my week unfolds in a completely different manor than I had thought/hoped/expected.

. . . they call it parenthood.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Has it really been a WEEK?

Holy cow.

I'm so sorry. I never meant for this much time to pass between blog posts. I've been busy. Not extraordinarily busy, but I have been kinda busy.

Here's what you missed:

Caroline didn't have school on Friday. It's her winter break. Please don't get me started. As far as I am concerned, they have had three winter breaks thus far. . . Christmas, two (count 'em) TWO sets of snow days, and now this 4-day weekend.

Oh, and it may become a 5 (or more) day weekend. She appears to be coming down with a cold of some kind. Yeah, I'm thrilled beyond words.

Edison was also off half the day on Friday, and off today. He has a major term paper due in a few weeks, and the rough draft is due this Friday. We had a brief "come to Jesus" meeting tonight, and minus his TV this week, he may just get it turned in on time. (Don't get me started on that, either)

Our weekend was full, but good. We went out to dinner with my parents on Friday night. We went to my second favorite local restaurant here. This is my favorite. But, in second place, this place deserves a visit if you make your way to our neck of the woods.

And for those of you who are wondering, NO, I didn't eat healthy on Friday night. I had a seafood sampler, and all of the seafood was fried. I enjoyed it -- but realized that a grilled salmon, or even a lean steak would have been a better choice. Oh well. .. life lesson learned.

On Saturday, one of my precious friends at church had the pastors' wives (and me) over for a Valentine's tea. She included me -- partly because I'm her friend, but also because I'm a female member of the church staff -- and it was really cool. She treated us to homemade quiche, all sorts of wonderful appetizers, chocolate chip scones, a delectable tortellini salad, and HUGE heart-shaped sugar cookies.

It was so fun to sit and talk with our pastor's wife, my mom, another friend whose husband is on staff, and my friend Janet, our hostess. She has been praying for us all month -- and she gave us a special gift as we left. It was a wonderful day -- although it went longer than we had expected. She said "11 a.m. until 1 p.m." but I didn't get home until 3:30! Yikes.

On Saturday, I had planned on making us a turkey dinner for Valentine's Day. I know that's not very traditional -- and with my longer-than-planned tea -- it didn't happen. I baked the turkey, and sliced it for later consumption. We have enjoyed delicious homemade turkey sandwiches on homemade honey whole-wheat bread. Kinda made up for not having a big turkey dinner on Saturday.

Oh, what did we eat? We ordered out pizza. We opened Valentine's cards, and a gift or two from Arizona. (Thanks Mary & George -- I actually got teary-eyed when I pulled out Fireproof) The kids loved their gifts, and the chocolate. (They're my kids!)

I baked a white cake (round pan & square pan) and turned them into a heart. I made homemade buttercream frosting (tinted it PINK) and Caroline put red sprinkles on it. Of course, if we'd have opened the box from AZ sooner, we'd have seen the four containers of Valentine's sprinkles they sent to us. (whoops)

I'm sure we'll be making sugar cookies soon, and we'll use them again! :)

On Sunday, our small group had our annual Daytona 500 get-together. There was lots of great food, including homemade pork barbecue (using the pork loin from Tuesday night) and my favorite dessert: Peanut Butter Sheet Cake (like TX Sheet Cake -- but with Peanut Butter). I will post the recipe sometime soon. It's amazing.

We watched the race -- enjoyed it. Even though it was cut short by weather. I was sad that my guy didn't fare so well, but the season has just begun. It's gonna be a great year!!

Today, it was back to work -- only both kids were home (see 1st paragraph!) Edison babysat Caroline for me while I was in meetings this morning. When I got home, we realized that Caroline was starting to exhibit signs of a cold, so instead of taking her to Edison's orthodontist appointment (that's right -- we got to go there, too), Mark came home with her and stayed while I took Edison to W. Knoxville.

While we were out there, we decided that stopping by Hobby Lobby and Cedar Springs Christian Store were in order. I got some acrylic paint, fabric, and yarn at HL (not for the same projects) and then at Cedar Springs, Edison and I both picked out CDs. Mine was a special $6 CD -- and we listened to it the whole way home. It was really good!! Here's a link. It's really good -- and only $5.99 in the store. Really. I wouldn't lie.

So, tonight was kinda boring. Hamburgers, broccoli, and baked potatoes for supper. Edison was "forced" to work on his term paper until it was bedtime, and I've been sequestered in my room, on the laptop.

After catching up with some friends on facebook, I realized that I hadn't blogged in nearly a week, and that brings me back to where I started.

So, I guess that means I'm done, right?

Now I'm off to read YOUR blogs!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20 Years in 7 Hours? Totally worth it!

This morning, while perusing Facebook, I noticed that some college friends were in our local area.  I kinda knew they were heading our way, but they were even closer than I'd thought.

Next thing I know, the secretary informs me that  "John & Lisa Gilpin" are here to see me.

My friends, it had been 20 years since I saw them last.  It was like time had stood still.

Lisa and I traveled together during college -- on a recruiting team.  We sang in a mixed quartet ("mixed" being the keyword) and earned a large percentage of our tuition by recruiting students to come to Milligan College.

Years passed.  I'd heard that they were in Colorado.  Then, I heard Texas.  Recently, through Facebook, I learned that they were in Indiana -- where most Milligan alumni hail from, or return to after graduation.

This week, they're spending time at a timeshare in Gatlinburg.  But this morning, and then tonight, they were at Chez Aubrey.  We had a great dinner (even invited my parents) and spent seven hours catching up on old times.  We pulled out yearbooks, scrapbooks, and told all sorts of stories.  

It was bliss.  Even though my Paula Deen Cream Cheese Pound Cake fell.  And, my pork roast nearly didn't cook long enough.

It was utter bliss.  I ate food that's not good for my diet.  I laughed at stories I hadn't heard in years.  I got a chance to share Caroline's story with people who just met her for the first time.  And I got to hug two people that meant a lot to me during my college years. 

. . . I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend a Tuesday, can you?

p.s. Sylvie -- you're next on my list!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

So That's What the Sun Looks Like. . . .

We are enjoying an atypical winter in East Tennessee. Our "normal" temps in February should be in the 50s, with lows in the upper 30s at night.

Last week, and a couple weeks prior to that? Freezing -- and below freezing temps. Totally not our usual winter.

This weekend? And the rest of this week? 60s and inching up toward the 70s. Not the run-of-the-mill winter weather, either.

This is just very, very odd -- and very, very nice.

As I type a woodpecker is gorging himself on birdseed in our $4 bird feeder from WalMart. Ten feet away, another bird -- a blue jay I think, is wolfing down more food seed from the $3 bird feeder I got at Family Dollar.

I've decided that bird feeders themselves do not need to be expensive. They're birds.

But, we have really enjoyed watching birds the last couple weeks. My in-laws got us a suet holder, and suet feed. They also got us a mesh pouch (finch feeder) which became necessary when Edison broke our other finch feeder trying to open it. (teenage boys...sigh) We see all sorts of birds these days--everything from finches to woodpeckers to blue jays & cardinals. It's like the World Series out there -- vague baseball reference. Sorry.

Other than that, things here are pretty sedate. We survived the Bud Shootout last night. Jeff Burton was knocked out early -- he was totally victimized by a few other cars who were driven by irresponsible boo. .. I mean, drivers. Sorry.

Kevin Harvick (#29) won. He's on the same team as Jeff Burton, so I guess I'm glad he won. I'm certainly glad a couple of drivers did NOT win. It's almost as much fun rooting against someone as it is cheering for someone.

Editor's note: Beth, I am so proud of you for attempting to watch NASCAR. Yes, I must admit, there are quite a few cuties on there. That's not my sole motivation for watching, but it certainly makes it more fun.

This morning's services were very enjoyable. The last four or five Sundays have been exceptionally good. I can't put my finger on it -- but I'm very grateful for the people I work with. They are a lot of fun.

This afternoon, Mark and I took part in an ordination service for our new Associate Minister. This means that he can now marry people -- it's pretty cool, actually. The sermon, delivered by one of his Bible college professors, was exceptionally good. It reminded me -- although I am not, nor will ever be ordained, how special it is to be called into the ministry. I was reminded that I am to love God. . . love people. . .and exalt Christ at all times.

Sounds easy. . .trust me, it's not always.

But, we are super happy for John & Christine. He's an awesome addition to our staff, and he's going to be a phenomenal minister. I was grateful to be asked to participate in the worship leading aspect of the day.

Once we got home, I spent a little time catching up on Facebook, and am now getting ready to start corraling some scrapbooking materials together. I am in charge of a "Bring Your Own Craft" night at church tomorrow night. We just want our ladies to have a chance to get together and fellowship. Hopefully, it will be a good time.

I haven't hardly touched my SB stuff in months. So, I'm kind of hoping this will jump start my scrapping again. We'll see.

I am going to sign off with an excellent recipe I made earlier this week. It's a great veggie frittata. There are four (4) servings, and each one only counts as three (3) WW points. Totally awesome.

Veggie Frittata

2 whole eggs
8 egg whites
10 oz. box chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed well
1/4 c. chopped red pepper
1/4 c. chopped red onion
3 scallions, sliced
1 roma tomato, seeded and cut into small pieces
2 oz. feta cheese (crumbled)
2 T grated parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil

In an oven-proof skillet (9- or 10-inch), saute the red onion, red pepper, scallions, and tomato in olive oil until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine eggs & whites, spinach, and cheeses. Pour egg mixture over the sauteed veggies. Cook on the stove for 5-6 minutes -- until the bottom is slightly set. Put in 350 degree oven until the center is set.

Slice into four (4) equal pieces. Enjoy!!

When I made this last week, I added some leftover sliced mushrooms (canned) to this, as well. That definitely gave it some "oomph" but it would have been fine without it. I also used a carton of egg substitute, rather than separating that many eggs. I wouldn't know what to do with that many egg yolks -- and no, I wouldn't want to make homemade noodles if I cannot eat them!

One night, instead of eating spaghetti w/meat sauce with the family, I had a slice of frittata, and put 1/4 c. of the spaghetti sauce on it. That was tasty. But, again, the frittata stood very nicely on its own.

So, I'm probably going to make it again tonight. The rest of the family is probably going to have grilled cheese -- and that's killer on Weight Watchers. One sandwich is 13 points!!! That's far too much of one day's points to waste on a sandwich.

So, there you've got it -- bird watching, NASCAR commentary, and a recipe. Kinda one of my more typical blog entries, eh?


Friday, February 06, 2009

Can you hear that? Seriously. Listen.....

I'm sitting at my little computer hutch/desk thingie.
Caroline's getting her hair dried back in my bathroom. (Mark does the bathtime routine)
Edison is asking for help cutting the last of science fair exhibit pieces (it's due Monday)

And. . . .
The phone isn't ringing.
The dishwasher isn't running (yet).

If you quiet yourself, just for a minute, you can hear it. . . . shhhh. . . there it is.

The boys are practicing and doing some initial quailfying at Daytona. That's right -- it's just one week away. What's just one week away? The Daytona 500, you silly goose.

I know, I know. . .for many of you, NASCAR evokes images of skoal-dipping, stained-Tshirt wearing rednecks howling like wildlife as Dale Earnhardt's #3 car (may he Rest in Peace) is monumentalized to the tune of a Jodee Messina ballad.

It's not that bad, really. But, I've missed watching my favorite race car driver since the final race in November. What? You cannot remember who is my favorite? I'm happy to remind you. Here he is. . . .

It's Jeff Burton, driving the #31 car for Richard Childress Racing. He's got a new ride this year. No longer driving the AT&T car, he's in the CAT car. NASCAR trivia buffs might enjoy the fact that about six or seven years ago, his older brother, Ward Burton, drove the #22 CAT car. I'll have to accustom myself to watching for black & yellow, instead of bright orange, white, and baby blue. Trust me. . . I'll adjust.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm exhausted from a busy day that began by baking lasagna at 8 a.m. I worked a pretty much full day to make up for the copious snow days that plagued us earlier this week. And then, after working and picking up children, I had to deliver said meal that I began cooking at 8 a.m. And yes, of course, making dinner for my family had to be done, as well.

We had spaghetti. Much easier than lasagna.

So, with that, I'm outta here. I've got me some qualifying to watch, and I have some projects to finish up this weekend -- including Gooner's afghan. (tee hee) And, we've got a full weekend to boot. I may even get a little scrapbooking done. . . we'll see. It's been ages. I think I remember how to do it!

Oh and one last dealio??? Please join me in wishing my Milligan buddies (and fellow bloggers) Laura and Sylvie a happy birthday. It's actually tomorrow. These two women are definitely cut out from different cloths -- but they are amazing, wonderful women who love their families fiercely, and inspire me by their friendship. (Even if said friendship endured a 20-year hiatus before Facebook reunited us!)

Happy Birthday, girls. I love ya!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow Days. . .

. . . yeah, they're much more exciting when you're a kid.

Caroline is going back to school tomorrow for the first time since Monday afternoon.

Yeah. It's been a long week. But, we've played basketball with Edison. . .
. . . baked chocolate chip cookies (slice & bake)
. . . read countless books
. . . colored in coloring books
. . .sang with the Praise Baby DVDs
. . . giggled at the Wiggles (that almost rhymes)
. . . folded clothes
. . . dressed baby dolls
. . . rearranged the sun room
. . .changed a few pull-ups

. . .and actually had fun.

But, it's time for her to go back to her peeps. . . Mikey, Savannah, Isaiah, Ms. Rhonda, and John the Bus Driver. She misses them. She must. She keeps talking about them!

What about me? I'm gonna go back to work and try to make a dent in the pile of stuff (crap) that's found a home on top of my desk.

Then? It's Saturday--and we're all back together again.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Some back photos. . . .

I realized that there are some photos missing from the "journal of my life" Here you go. Enjoy!!

When we got snow a couple weeks ago, the kids went outside. Caroline decided that she wanted to make a snow angel -- until she realized you got cold when you laid down. As you can see, we didn't have all that much snow, but she attempted a snow angel anyway.

That's one thing I love about living in Tennessee -- if you enjoy the snow, but only for a brief time, you're in luck. It never stays around for very long.

Question. (For you office fans out there). How does one potty train a stuffed animal? Just the other day, we found Caroline in her bathroom with Maria. When we asked her what she was doing, she said that Maria was going potty. Here we see Maria learning what Caroline's learning.

Remember this little guy? My cousin's baby boy??

He turned 1 year old this past week. I cannot believe a year has gone by already. We went to his birthday party on Saturday afternoon. It had a John Deere theme. Lots of fun -- and lots of toys. You gotta love first birthdays. They're so much fun!!

Sorry for the weird formatting today. I actually do best when they're centered. Oh well.

Here's a picture of the day Becca and Caroline made their "Build a Bear" friends. I can't remember if I posted it or not. I love the picture.

I'm going to stop here. This formatting stuff is really driving me crazy. I'll see if there are more pictures to post. I know I took some cute ones of Caroline on Sunday -- I just can't find them. When I do, I'll be sure and post them as well.

Have a great Tuesday!!

Bring it on, Mother Nature!!!

When I was growing up (yes, this will date me) there were commercials for Chiffon Margarine. You cannot even *find* a margarine named Chiffon anymore. . .so that's got to tell you something. I just remember the running joke, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature. . . !" And then this sweet grandmotherly looking woman would cause lightning strikes, and show her wrath. And the jingle would play:

"If you think it's butter, but it's not. . . it's Chiffon!"

There you go -- a walk down Madison Avenue, via Memory Lane. Wow. I'm getting old.

One might think Mother Nature is having a bit of a bad day today by our weather. Mind you, it's not like she's extremely peeved . . or even experiencing PMS or a migraine. But, we did get a little snow. Therefore, by 12:30 p.m., both of my children had been dismissed from school (a rarity for Edison) and we were on our way home for the afternoon.

That was not without its drama, however. Edison had the second of two nosebleeds as he was coming out the door of his school. He had grabbed one lone paper towel, and we had no kleenexes in the car. And this was an unusually bad nosebleed.

What did I do? Grabbed a spare diaper that was in between the front seats of the van. That's right, we drove down the snowy, slushy roads -- me tense because of the stress, and Edison hemorrhaging into a disposable diaper.

Yeah, it was one of those afternoons.

We turned the day around, eventually, by taking the kids out to build snowmen. Today's snow was that wet, mushy, "good packing" type of snow. And my did we have fun. Wanna see?

As soon as I opened the door, Caroline was out -- she paused at the edge of the yard for just a second, and then, she started making her way around to the back yard before we could catch up to her. I think she wanted to swing on her swingset.

Seasons don't mean diddly to a 4-year old.

She and Edison started building their snow creature, and found that although it was good packing snow -- too much pressure wasn't good for the snowman.

At one point, he had a 6" waist -- kinda looked like Barbie. At another point his arms got "loved" off.

I went inside for a carrot. When you only have baby carrots -- you have to carefully place the nose. At one point I nearly ran my hand through his little snow head. . . .but eventually I "packed" enough snow around his baby nose to hold it in place.

It was love at first sight. We had to stop her from kissing the snowman too much, because she nearly knocked him over at one point.

That's my girl -- love 'em until it hurts. . . .or until one of you melts. :)

We just learned that, indeed, both kids have another snow day tomorrow. I'm afraid there won't be a lot of snow left. I think it's more preventative because of icy roads and such. Regardless, we'll all be home together -- watching the Wiggles, making popcorn, finishing Edison's science fair display board (the last one for a year or two) and enjoying some quality time together.

What else is going on? Let's see -- I did finish Mom & Dad's table runner (Christmas present). The quilting turned out nicely -- it wasn't exactly perfect, but then again, consider the source. I forgot to take a picture of it -- but will do so the next time we go to their house. It really turned out pretty.

I started making some burp rags for one of my "kids" (Vanessa) to take back with her to Arizona. She's a missionary to the Apache people in Show Low. Mark and I went on a mission trip out there before Caroline was born. One of the ministries they have is a "mommy store" for young girls who have babies and need supplies for them.

These are just simple flannel burp rags -- but they're kinda cute, if I can say so myself.

I'm also nearly done with Laura & Kweku's baby afghan. . . so it will be on its way to them very soon. I love the colors. Very non traditional. . . but knowing Laura like I do, it will work well!

I also got squares cut out for two throw pillows for our bed -- and I got squares cut out for a new throw for our living room. I have found that I sew best when I have my mp3 player on. . . don't ask where I "store" it while I'm sewing. (No strap -- I put it down my shirt) I figure it keeps Michael McDonald very, very close to my heart. . .where he lives anyway! Regardless, I do very well with classic pop playing in my ears. The past couple weeks, it's been the best of the Doobie Brothers and the Eagles. No better way to sew, I promise!

I guess that's about it. I don't think I posted this picture from our previous snowfall (2 weeks ago) so enjoy this picture -- I've printed it out, and it's on the credenza in my office.