Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Porch Light

I guess the porch light has many uses: welcomes guests to a bright doorway, lets trick or treaters know there is candy at "that house", and it looks nice when driving by.

My porch light is used for all those reasons. And one more. It lets me know when my girls are home at night.

It seems that every night they have somewhere to go. When did sitting home with me become so boring?? Just because I go to bed around 8:30 doesn't mean I'm not a barrel of laughs until then. They just roll their eyes when I say I'll stay up late and watch a movie with them. They know to well that I'll be asleep snoring on the couch before the 2nd main character is introduced. God love them.

So. They go out. OK.

Kalie, being 20, and being very responsible with coming in at reasonable times, doesn't really have a curfew. Besides, she is stealth when she arrives home. If event planning doesn't work out well for her in the future, I highly recommend she become a spy where stealth activity is necessary. I never hear this child.

When she was younger, I could never wait up for her, but that wasn't necessary.
I have a porch light. And if I woke after what was her curfew, the light would always be off, and she would be tucked safely away in her bed. #1 child. Not to worry about.

Now, Ashley is a different story. Yes, she is incredibly responsible, but that porch light has been left on far too long into the morning hours for my peace of mind. Last night, the porch light needed to be changed because it ran out of juice somewhere after midnight.

Being 18, almost 19, she doesn't understand why she even needs a curfew. I'm having a bit of a hard time letting this one go. She has proven herself to be very respectful, attending college and passing (both are requirements here), and holding a steady job.

Perhaps, I should lighten up a bit. And invest in florescent lighting for the porch. I heard those bulbs last longer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas is back....



For the past several years, I've decided I wasn't really into Christmas anymore. I loved the birth of Christ, and honoring him was always, daily on my mind. It was the decorating the house, buying tons of gifts, and hearing holiday music to nausium that got to me. So we often headed to Hawaii and ended up surfing on Christmas Day.

But, now we have Austin.

How do you skip Christmas with a toddler in the house?? Yeah, right.

But with the toddler, came the feeling of wanting Christmas again. I am enjoying the holiday music in my car, we've decorated the house (so, so pretty), and I've put a major limit on spending for Christmas.

When Kalie and Ashley were little, I remember watching them tear through packages, only to grab another one to tear through with little to no appreciation for what they just opened. Tearing open packages seemed to be more fun! It was then and there that I decided, "Jesus got 3 gifts at his birth, you two can have the same!" After that, I no longer went bizzerk buying tons of gifts which would be soon forgotten by January 31st.

That rule still applies today. Don't feel sorry for them. They got 3 really, really good gifts. And stockings didn't count. I put a few extra nice gifts in there as well.

This is the Christmas photo I'll be sending out this year. I hope yours is jolly and bright as we worship the One who is the reason for this season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hello, Again!

I am not a picture taker. I'm the person that sees the moment and then says, "Shoot, I wish I had my camera." I wish I had my camera this past week. I was up in Big Bear - one of my favorite places on earth!

My family - Mom, Kalie, Ashley, Austin, and myself went up the day after Thanksgiving for a little R & R. Todd stayed home to work. Little did we know....

As we headed out - I drove my mom and Austin, while Ashley drove her car with her sister. As we approached the one mile mark before getting off the freeway and starting the mountain ascent, Austin began heaving and throwing up all over himself, his car seat, and the backseat in general. Of course, being in the fast lane - God miraculously cleared all lanes as I beelined it toward the shoulder. Austin was throwing up so much that he was almost gagging. I jumped out of my seat as cars whizzed by and grabbed my son. I held him over my arm as I raced to get on the other side of the car. He continued to throw up a bit more and looked at me with pleading eyes. He wanted me to hold him close, but honestly, with throw up all over the front of him - I just couldn't see pressing him against me. So I did what any other loving mother would do - I yelled for my mom to get a quick change of clothes while I stripped him down and cleaned him off with my bottled water.

After he was settled, my mom held him and I began scrubbing his car seat on the side of the freeway. Of course, this is when the call came from my girls asking if they'd gone too far as they were now approaching Palm Springs..... I told them to stop at a gas station and ask for directions as I was busy cleaning up Austin's breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past 6 weeks. I hung up to hysterical laughter on the other end. Such compassion.

When I had done my best to make the car clean, we headed toward our destination. Ten minutes into the ascent, Austin threw up all over AGAIN. No problem, been there - done that. We had the drill down. Change Austin, clean car seat, disinfect car, start again. Poor kid. Needless to say, driving 5 miles an hour doesn't make you popular when there aren't many turn outs on the mountain road. But, ask me if I cared - not when my baby's health is in question. I politely smiled and waved back as they pointed their finger toward God and mouthed what I could only take as "I hope your son is feeling better!"

We finally arrived and started to unpack. Every floor to ceiling window looked out on the lake. It was magical. Austin seemed to be ok, but he was still looking a bit blue. We pretty much did what I intended to do for the whole week: nothing. We sat around and talked. But, Austin began the dry heaving and the doctor needed to be called. That 24 hour period was rough, but Saturday and Sunday turned out to be spent throwing rocks in the lake, driving through the village and window shopping.

The plan was for Ashley to drive Austin and my mom home on Sunday, while Kalie and I stayed until Friday. So when Austin was safely asleep, they headed down the mountain. All was well, and they got home with no problems!!!

A few hours later, my stomach started to feel a bit "off". By evening, Kalie was throwing up, and I joined her. Pins and needles racked our bodies and we could not keep anything down. Pure misery. But the lake outside my bedroom window did so much to ease my pain.

By 11:00 PM I called my mom to see how she was doing. Fine. Until we hung up - then she got it. Ashley called to say that she had just thrown up at her boyfriend's house and was heading home. Good Lord, this stuff is potent. We all suffered for 24 hours, and then it seemed to go away.

Tuesday morning, Todd called to tell me he was throwing up. Somehow this virus clung to Ashley and jumped on any unsuspecting fool that walked by. Not only was Todd now clinging to life, but her boyfriend called to say that he was also joining in the fun. I tried to be encouraging when I told them they would feel better in 24 hours. It was that "light at the end of the tunnel" I was hoping would soothe their beings. Really, though, you could care less about the end of the road while pins and needles are attacking your body at the present moment.

Carmen stayed and helped Austin with his bath and bedtime to give Todd a break. I fasted and prayed that she would not also get it. But, of course, she had a small bout with it the next day.

With guilt piling up, Kalie and I decided to leave early and come home. I looked at the beautiful lake with trees surrounding, saw all the duck families contently swimming along, and envied all the boaters out on the glassy water. Until next summer -

It was quite a week -

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Give

Boy, it's been awhile. Really - it's just been awhile since I posted anything. I've been faithfully reading my favorites everyday.

And, as I have been reading my favorites everyday, I have been feeling a tug to sponsor a child through Compassion Ministries again. My first husband and I did this years ago. And it felt sooo good. Many of the blogs that I read, Big Mama and The Pioneer Woman, have been writing about a trip to the Dominican Republic this last week where they had a chance (actually Marlboro Man and their two daughters) to meet children sponsored by this program.

If you were to come to my house right now, you would see an outdoor park located on my driveway: cars, motorized ATV's, slide, wagons, push toys, basketball hoop, tents, and various little do dads scattered all about. Now, I did not purchase all of these items. In fact, most were generously given to me by friends with older boys. Believe me, I am thankful - they each received Golden Spoon as a heartfelt thank you!

But, then check out those two other blog sites where they show numerous pictures of ramshackled houses, no toys littering anything, bare feet, ragged clothing, and some without a shred of hope on their faces. It will break your heart.

No child should live that way. I thank God for the pictures of the smiling children that know Jesus and have a hope that only I could dream of. They are not blinded by our "stuff" and are able to see the miracles that happen everyday. Although I know my God is alive and working, sometimes I can get caught up in all the "stuff" around me and "Forget all the benefits of the Lord" - which we are told not to do in Psalm 103.

Today, my husband is struggling for work. As a general contractor, life is up and down. I have gone back to work full time in order to secure our future. With our economy in a downward spiral, now is not the time to gamble with job security. Although I know we will be fine because God is and always has been faithful to our needs, I sometimes wished that we didn't have quite so much stuff. Life would be simpler without so much. Yes, I enjoy it, but I believe I could enjoy life on other terms as well.

I want to smile like a child in the Dominican. I've been there myself, and I know the hardships they face. I remember what fame was given to the only house on the street with an indoor toilet. We would leave in the morning to go build a church as chickens wandered about. We'd come home in the evening and eat chicken for dinner. The nights were spent singing praise songs to Jesus. A simple life. One that deserves food on the table, clothes on the body, shoes on the feet.

God has stirred in my spirit to give again to this important cause. I've seen the difference it makes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Older You Get

the less you have to fear being sung to on your birthday! I am one of those people who do not like all the attention of the wait staff at the birthday dinner celebration. Especially, when they focus on you for 3 rounds of "Happy Birthday" in various renditions.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am happy to say it was quite uneventful.

I woke up to a beautiful 78 degree day. The perfect temperature in my book. Austin had his Tiny Tot gymnastic class. Carmen, Todd and I all went to help him maneuver through those long tunnels, do flips on the bars and walk the balance beam! How cute are 1 - 3 year olds doing gymnastics!

We then dropped off Carmen and took a long drive along the beach while Austin napped in the car. We stopped at our favorite breakfast burrito place and picked them up for breakfast at home.

The rest of the day I did pretty much nothing. But nothing is bliss when days are full of work, errands, cooking, cleaning, and chasing.

My mom and Kalie watched Austin while Todd and I went to our old Greek hangout for dinner. While we were dating, and just newly married, we would go to this place for gyros every Friday night and then watch a movie. So last night, we ate our gyros and went to see "The Duchess". I liked it, he didn't. Too sappy for him, but just right for me! I love any movie that depicts history, has a love story, and doesn't include lots of sex scenes, showing breasts, blood, violence, and horrid language. Some call me a prude. Whatever.

It was a nice evening, and a nice day all around. Today we are going to the pumpkin patch with Austin, and then hopefully resuming the nothing for the rest of the day schedule!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blessings

I'm going to try and write down/journal blessings that happen each day. I know God is amazing, but in the low times, sometimes I forget all that He has done.

Right now, with the rest of the world suffering from this depressing economy, I too am pinching pennies.

So on to the blessings:

First, my husband gave me a "two for one" coupon for a favorite deli of mine. I was planning to have lunch at my old school with some friends, and decided to pick up lunch on the way. Perfect! I ordered our usual favorite: meatball sandwich with antipasto salad. The salad would be enough to have for dinner that night, and we always split the sandwich. When I got there to pick it up, the owner told me that I had read the coupon wrong, and I needed to order some specific item for it to work. I apologized for the error, and he gave me the price cut anyway! Blessing #1.

Next, I had planned on cooking short ribs for dinner tonight. Usually I don't shop at Ralphs anymore unless I have some great coupons. Which I did the other day. I had between $3.00 - $5.00 off for some meat, $5.00 off total bill if over $20, and a free carrot coupon. So I went to Ralphs and loaded up my cart. I divided my shopping into 3 sections so I could use my $5.00 off for $20 coupons several times (I had three of them). I also divided up my other coupons/meat. What would have cost me over $100 in food, cost me less than $50.

While I was there, I checked out the short ribs. $4.99/lb. Outrageous. I'm not spending that much! But today, when I remembered our dinner plans, outrageous became, "I guess I'll just by 2 packages. I mean, if we go out to dinner, it would cost a lot more than $16.00". So I went to Ralphs again. BUT.... what did my blessed eyes fall upon? A sale on short ribs. Now they were only $1.99/lb. I rushed home to sing the Hallelujah chorus off my front porch. Actually, I snatched up 8 packages. Three for tonights dinner, and the rest in the freezer for future use. What would have cost me $50.33 cost me only $23.00, and that was with a loaf of bread ($4.39) thrown in. Can you believe the cost of bread?
Anyway. Blessing #2.

I'm looking forward to journaling all the blessings God bestows on us each day. What a great way to remember, even in times of recession, that He provides for ALL our needs.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Austin's first birthday party

Lots of neighbor kids enjoying a sweet afternoon.




Sunday, October 5, 2008

I've been locked out

of my Google account, and I have not been able to post for sometime. Of course, the biggest news is that my husband is home and I have a weekly menu once again! All is well in the household when the kids aren't starving and foraging for food.

Today was a wonderful day. I did something that hasn't occurred for over a year. I went to the movies! My mom and I went to church, picked up Subway and headed for the theater. We love having a movie marathon day. Before I got remarried and had another child, we would go to the show every couple of months and stay from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM. With pretty sore bottoms, we would waddle out filled with popcorn and the latest flicks!

Today I was reacquainted with the love of movie marathon day! We saw Nights in Rodanthye (Diane Lane/Richard Gere), Righteous Kill (Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro), and Burn After Reading (Brad Pitt/George Clooney). They were all great. Burn After Reading was probably my favorite, but Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are hard to beat.

I came home to a little boy fed and in his pajamas after a day of swimming with Daddy. I had the pleasure of reading him his goodnight stories and giving him his bottle while I rocked him to sleep.

All is well, now that Daddy is home!

PS With all the Golden Spoon dinners while Todd was in Alaska, I've managed to lose 6 pounds. I'm starting back at the gym tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Kids Won't Starve

This week, even though I haven't had time to post my full menu, I plan on cooking.

I just finished making egg salad, a huge tossed green salad, and penne pasta. I'm going to use part of the penne for tonights dinner "Shrimp and Pasta in a creamy tomato sauce" from Pioneer Woman's site. I'll put a link up on my menu side bar.

Believe it or not, I actually bought Velveta cheese. I plan to use some of the penne for a quick mac and cheese. I've never done this before, so I hope it's as easy as microwaving the Velveta to get it creamy and stirring in the pasta.

I'm also roasting a bunch of stuff. I figured if the oven is on, and I have enough room, I'm throwing in onions, potatoes, butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes. That way, my kids will have something healthy to grab during the week.

I'll be linking other items like Enchiladas and Tenderloin with melted gorganzola cheese and a yummy pasta side dish with roasted garlic and tomatoes. Anyway, tomorrow I will (hope to) post the full week of meals.

I just spoke with Todd, and if luck has it, he'll be home in a week. Good thing I'm starting to get in the cooking swing of things again!

Of course, I have a quart of Golden Spoon for dessert, since I am cooking this week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Like you, I have my favorite blogs I try to read every day. I used to read about 10 a day, but that was during the summer, when life was easy breezy. Now, with Todd gone (going on 2 months) and school back in session, I'm down to reading 2 every few days.

But...... I can feel life getting back into a routine. Which means menu planning will soon be happening again. I have enjoyed taking 2 months off from cooking. Can you imagine? I have eaten Golden Spoon for dinner more times than I would like to count.

But remember when I was working out like crazy every day. Well, I haven't worked out in over a month, and yes, I am still the exact same weight. Ugh.

Austin started walking this week. No wonder they are called "toddlers". He is so funny toddling around. He's about 50% walking and 50% crawling still. Dad hasn't seen the walking, so it will be quite a treat for him! He recognizes dozens of things but still isn't talking much. Babbling, yes. Talking, not quite.

My new school is a hit. I almost felt like I was dropped in Mr. Roger's neighborhood yesterday. I had crossing guard duty for 10 minutes before school. Now, this school is quite charming with its rosebushes out front and nice manicured lawns in front of all the neighborhood houses. As I began my crossing duty, the children were all behaved walking hand in hand with their moms and dads. Many offered, "Thank you teacher" as cars would go by and the parents would wave at me. As I was waving at a car going one way, the bus driver going the other way stuck his hand out the window, waving it my way, cheerily saying, "Have a great day!" I had to start laughing. It really felt like Mr. Roger's was about to start singing in front of the school, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day ......"

I really couldn't be happier. God had placed an assurance in my heart that this would be a good move for me, and of course, it is.

I went to Palm Springs last weekend, and will probably go again Saturday, so menu planning will still be on the "to do" list.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UGH....

I actually just wrote a lengthy post about the rotten day I had. When I was all done, I decided for the first time to use spell check, and somehow I deleted the whole thing. This just goes to show that everything that can go wrong today, did.

Friday, September 5, 2008

On My Own Again....

I'm back from Alaska, started working with students, and managing to play with Austin 8 hours a day!

Alaska was beautiful. Laid out in a grid pattern, it reminded me so much of New York. Walking everywhere to get breakfast in the morning, shopping in the afternoon, dinner at night and everything in between. They had wonderful parks for Austin that overlooked Captain Cook's inlet.

Todd and I went to street fairs, and I bought my first Ulu. A hand carved rocking blade made with whalebone, ebony and something else quite beautiful. Todd got a hatchet type for cutting through chicken bones and such. I figure I'm safe in the house alone until he returns with that on my counter.

School is now in full swing as well. I have wonderful students this year. The class is low in academics but high in fun loving spirit, so I think all will be well.

Austin is just about to start walking. He walks "along" everything, and is now known for taking an occasional step before retreating to his fast and furious crawl. Babbling like crazy, but not a lot of language yet. He is all boy though. Loving his bucket, shovel, swing time, and playing at the mall.

He's now clammoring for my attention, so I'll post more later. And I promise to take care of the blue next time!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pardon the Blue!

As you can see, I really don't have any idea what I'm doing. Last night I decided to spiff up my page a little. Of course, I haven't hired anyone to help me like all the other amazing blog pages out there. I'm on my own. Which is very scary.

So.

Because I really am not creative at all - I'm actually color challenged, also impatient - the blue will be staying for awhile.

I'm leaving tomorrow for Alaska to visit Todd, so I don't have time to play with the color chart.

I did try to make it as pleasant as possible. The orange, gray and yellow were definitely wrong. This blue will have to pass for awhile.

Thank God there are no blogging police out there monitoring the pages. I would definitely be locked up for this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm Busy, This is a recording.....

You might as well just hand me a hammer right now and let me start beating myself up. I'm the worst blogger ever. I love reading them, I do. But to take the time to write just never happens. I've even given up on my menu planner while hubby is away.

But, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, Jesus", right. So, on my behalf.... here's what is happening....

1) Moving school sites (classrooms)
134 boxes later with no where to put anything. God did bless me with Vons Pavilions shelving. As I passed by a Pavilions parking lot, I noticed lots of shelving units sitting idle and looking quite unwanted. When I inquired about the shelves, he said that me and 5,000 others would like them. But. He then looked directly in my eyes and told me that I could have them (after a few phone calls to higher ups)

A couple of my husband's workers did an amazing job installing them in my classroom, so now I only need to finish unpacking my 134 boxes and fill up them shelves! Yahoo!!!

2) One year old lives here..... need I say more?

3) Husband is in Alaska, while the one year old stayed behind with me...

4) I'm leaving Friday for Alaska (with one year old) and need to wrap up a few loose ends.

So while I enjoy reading everyone's blog, forgive me for my lack of blogging. Hopefully when I get back from Alaska, and school is in full swing, I'll be a tad bit more faithful. Until then....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Woman's Week at the Gym

This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular workout routine. Something funny to help with the pain.

Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, my daughter (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me.
Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear.

My daughter seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

____________ _________ _________ __
MONDAY:
Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Belinda waiting for me. She is something of a Greek goddess - with blond hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!!

Belinda gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which she conducted her aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!

Belinda was encouraging as I did my sit- ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time she was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!

____________ _________ _________ __
TUESDAY:
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Belinda made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then she put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Belinda's rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT! It's a whole new life for me.

____________ _________ _________ _
WEDNESDAY:
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.

Belinda was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. Her voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when she scolds, she gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.

My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Belinda put me on the stair monster. Why the hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Belinda told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. She said some other shit too.

____________ _________ _________
THURSDAY:
Belinda was waiting for me with her vampire-like teeth exposed as her thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late - it took me that long to tie my shoes.

Belinda took me to work out with dumbbells. When she was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom. She sent another skinny bitch to find me.

Then, as punishment, she put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.
____________ _________ _________ _
FRIDAY:
I hate that bitch Belinda more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic little cheerleader. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat her with it.

Belinda wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the damn barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.

The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

____________ _________ _________ __
SATURDAY:
Belinda left a message on my answering machine in her grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing her voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

____________ _________ _________ __
SUNDAY:
I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my daughter (the little shit) will choose a gift for me that is fun -- like a root canal or a hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Tired!

I have a new deep affection for every single parent out there.

While Todd's away, the weekends are mine alone with Austin. Thank God in Heaven that he is a great kid. If he was fussy, whiny, miserable, or obnoxious in anyway - I'd pull the plug on my life. There, I said it.

But.... God in His infinite wisdom knows what we need, right. I'm not a strong woman, like all the other moms with difficult children. I had one 18 years ago, so I guess I paid that price way back then. And believe me, I'm still paying. Oh, yeah... she's amazing, wonderful, and loyal, but difficult to boot.

Anyway, enough of the sniveling.

This weekend we

played at the mall playground
played at the park
played in the pool
took long walks
went to church
played in the family room
played at a friend's house

Why do they call it playing?? I'm exhausted. We played so much that Austin fell asleep last night at 7:00 and slept 12 hours. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

And now Carmen is here. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Today I will act like a responsible teacher and begin to unpack the 134 boxes I moved to a new school site, arrange a classroom, read over my new student's packets, and haggle for some classroom furniture. Forget the lesson plans. My students will have the first 3 days of school learning and appreciating all facets of P.E.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm A Leavin, On a Jet Plane.....

The day is here. Todd leaves for Alaska for 6 weeks.

Several months ago I began praying about our summer finances. I'm a teacher - so no worka for me in the summer! That was a pact I made when I signed my credential and sang the hallelujah chorus on my front porch.

Todd, being a general contractor, gets work. And then sometimes doesn't. Well, for the first time in a looooong time, he didn't have another job after he wrapped up the last one. Scary times.

But.

Like I said, I had begun to pray back in May about the future. Or the next couple of months. whatever. And the Lord laid on my heart very clearly that July would be nada and August something would happen. I have been praying for years now that Todd would become an "employee" of a company, rather than own our own business, and we would not have to pay for

employees
taxes
liability insurance
taxes
worker's compensation
taxes

you get the picture.... Oh, just to receive bountifully, and not have to give it back every April. When it comes out of your weekly check, it doesn't seem to have the same effect on me.

So, when the call came a couple of weeks ago that his old company wanted to rehire him, I resumed my spot on the front porch and began belting out the chorus like never before.

Two days ago he signed his contract! Today he leaves. That part kinda sucks. But, on the other hand - since I am trying to look at the bright side..... here's my list!

1) Clean house
2) I don't have to cook dinner
3) Which means no dishes
4) I can sprawl out on my bed whichever way I choose
5) No petty arguments (especially when he mentions I should put a few blonde streaks
back in my hair)

Yeah - the list is pretty puny considering how much I'm going to miss him.

Austin and I might be flying up to Anchorage to meet him in a couple of weeks. We'll see... until then, I'll just have to use up all that free time doing something else... Did you say, "Shopping??"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Have You Learned?

Over at Lysa Terkeurst's blog, Holly is filling in this week while Lysa and her family are at church camp. She posted today about a few things she has learned. The list was VERY GOOD! Two of them especially made me stop and ponder.

I decided I wanted to chronicle some of my list, then post back to her comment section.

I've learned that it is easier to tell the truth.
I've learned that patience goes a long way with a one year old.
I've learned that it's cheaper, easier, and healthier to cook a meal than order out.
I've learned that if you sow a smile, it does come back.
I've learned that God does supply all my needs according to His riches.
I've learned that I can count on God no matter what.
I've learned that time spent with your children is a huge investment.


What have you learned?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Uncluttered On The Inside

I love a clean, organized house. In fact, I am the kind of person that requires a clean, organized house. It is hard for me to think, plan, or execute anything if there is disorder all around me.

It is the same way in my classroom. I don't think I could ever be a kindergarten teacher because of this! I do love organized chaos, however. And as a teacher, there is plenty of organized chaos during art lessons, math manipulatives time, or silent reading with students all over the floor cuddling with blankets, pillows and books.

I have always prided myself on how well my surroundings look. Last week during my devotion time, however, God pointed out something very humbling to me. In James 3:16 it says, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." This scripture is tied to others talking about Faith. Faith that produces Wisdom. When we are in a place where we are leaning first on God, then we can rest in Him knowing He will take care of our needs. In this place, peace will be found and there is no need for jealousy.

Lately, I have been missing time with my husband. His daughter, Jaycie, was here for two weeks, so they spent some wonderful time together. His work has been keeping him away from home until late in the evening. Both of us fall asleep way too early. He gets up before I do and is usually gone. Lots of valid reasons why we haven't had time alone!

But.

Little bits of resentment started to creep into my heart against all the things that intruded on our time alone. Did I mention we have a one year old as well! But, during my devotion, God shined the light on this as jealousy which brings disorder on the inside! It's hard to live an uncluttered life with disorder ruling the nest!

As God so patiently pointed out, as I begin to pray for time with my husband, time will present itself. Rather than be jealous, be thankful for his children, work, and abilities to make a nice home for us. As we turn our hearts around and align them with God's will, peace always follows!

Tonight we are going out on a date night! We love the show "Hell's Kitchen", and we will be dining at London, Gordon Ramsey's restaurant. I'm looking forward to this time alone! Did I mention that he is leaving Saturday for Alaska? He'll be gone for 6 weeks - Oh mercy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Summer Fun Photo Contest




Over at 5 Minutes for Mom they are celebrating summer with a photo contest! Click here if you would like to participate. Just pick any photo that represents your idea of summer and submit it to their site! Deadline is August 13th at 3:00 EST. Winners posted on August 15th. You can write a description of your photo, or let it speak for itself! It will be fun to see all the wonderful views of summer through this contest!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Workout Update #2

I'm frustrated.

I worked out every day, or at least 4 days a week, for 3 1/2 weeks. My body did change. I think. But the scale did not budge.

Then I got mad. I decided to rebel by eating everything I looked at for an entire week. And skipped the gym, to boot. The scale remained the same.

Now I am sick with what Austin had last week, so again, no workout. I'm not eating quite as much, and I do plan to start my routine up again on Monday.

Until then, my scale and I are no longer on speaking terms. I simply roll my eyes at it and move on.

Share with me any secrets you have, I'm sure I need them!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Onion Straws

Some of this week's menu is taken from The Pioneer Woman's cooking section. Last night we tried the Onion Straws, and boy were they a hit. My husband couldn't get enough of them.
Here is how easy they are:

ONION STRAWS

1 onion - sliced into thin rings
1 quart buttermilk
flour
cayenne pepper
salt/pepper
Vegetable Oil

Pour oil in a deep skillet about 1 inch high. Heat to 350 or until water sizzles when added to the hot pan. Slice the onions and soak them in a bowl of buttermilk. Place a 1 - 2 cups of flour onto a dish. Sprinkle cayenne, salt and pepper on top of flour. Stir to combine dry ingredients. With a fork, remove rings from buttermilk and place in flour mixture. Coat well. Drop individual rings into the hot oil. Brown on one side then flip and brown other side. Cooking should take 3 - 4 minutes is oil is hot enough. Remove rings to paper towel and salt.
Serve with ketchup, ranch, or favorite dipping sauce!

If you would like step by step directions with pictures, click on Onion Straws in my menu planner on my sidebar and it will take you to Pioneer Woman's link! Enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Book Review....

It has been 17 years since I had a one year old running around the house. Since that time, I have carpeted, put in new windows, furniture, and even accesorized! Never did I think that I would one day be "baby proofing" again. But, as fate would have it, I am! Although I am enjoying everyday with my little guy, I really hoped that I would not have to put away everything in order to keep it safe. Actually, over time, I have forgotten the majority of things a one year old does, and rather than learning one day at a time, I decided to read about it.

My girlfriend lent me a book called Your One Year Old by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D., Frances L. Ilg, M.D., & Carol Chase Haber. This book talks about the fun loving, fussy 12 - 24 month old in realistic ways that began to clear the cobwebs from my earlier motherhood days.

Understanding your child makes ALL the difference in the world to a stress free,somewhat peaceful year. Knowing that my child is naturally curious, seems more mature than he really is, and is one big bundle of gross motor activity makes it easy to know that removing objects is easier than constantly saying "no". This is the age where the child is still "becoming". By two, several of the major components will be in place for an easier time: language, movement, abilities.

The book is separated into chapters covering routines, general characteristics, individuality, techniques, and abilities. It is an easy and fast read. Although at times I thought it was written in the 1950's, the copyright is dated 1982. Children are timeless however, and much of the book does characterize my son at this point in time. This is a series of books each designated to a specific year.

If you are wondering about your little one, I highly recommend this series. My friend borrowed this book from her library at the Children's Learning Center at Long Beach City College where she works as a Child Development Specialist and they still refer to the collection.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stopped Dead in my Tracks

I love to plan.
I love to make lists.
I'm such a control freak that I actually put times next to my items on the list.

This was a whirlwind week with many activities planned. My husband's daughter, Jaycie, is down from Alaska visiting for 2 weeks. This Sunday is Austin's first birthday. And Todd is surprisingly slow at work. All adding up to lots of fun entertainment for me to plan. So plan I did.

But.

Somewhere between the Orange County Fair, the Getty Villa, and the Santa Monica pier, Austin got a fever. Now, he is a trooper. He'll party with the best of them. No slowin him down. But. As a responsible mother, uh hem, I had to cancel the Aquarium today and most likely the Concert in the Park tonight.

We're hoping we can still go to Palm Springs tomorrow and Sea World for his birthday on Sunday. But, that is a wait and see kinda thing. For now, I think I'll make that dreaded doctor's appointment since it's Friday, and we all know that without medical attention his fever will reach an all time high over the weekend.

So, instead of a fun packed day, I'll go to the DMV (I've needed to do this for a few days now), head to the doctor's office, and maybe hit the grocery store. Oh, joy.

No worries. There's always next week to plan!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today is the Getty Villa

Yesterday was lunch with friends then off and running to the Orange County Fair. What a hoot! Austin saw elephants, goats, chickens, rabbits, bulls, water buffalo and so much more! He loved all the animals and let everyone know with his ear splitting yell! He cannot contain his excitement, and it balls up into one hoop'n holler.

Today we will be visiting the Getty Villa. The place where J. Paul Getty lived. His museum with all his art and furniture is amazing. A stone building etched into the hillside overlooking LA. But, his home, what a treasure. It is filled with marble, granite, art, pools, gardens, the likes of which very few compare. It is set in the beautiful surroundings of Pacific Palisades. It always amazes me when someone (a lottery winner, a rock star, movie star, CEO,....) has that much money to him/herself. I always wonder why we have homeless and poverty stricken areas in the world. If only one person could not hoard all that money. I know that they also give back, but what if they made the same as the average Joe and the profits went to feed the world.... OK another blog...

I'm sure we will oogle with the best of them as we walk through his mega mansion.

Tomorrow we will all be visiting the Long Beach Aquarium and then going to the Concert in the Park. Saturday is Palm Springs and Sunday is Sea World in San Diego....Whew...

Comment me and tell me your week's plan! I need some good ideas!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Win a Blog Makeover!

Do you like the way your blog looks? Does it represent who you are? Do you wish you had a blog, but don't know where to start? Head on over to Casual Friday Everyday to have a chance to win a new blog look!

I've entered. If I don't win, I hope you do!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Been Almost A Year

since I had a day to myself. I really can't remember ever being alone in the house this past year. On the 2 occasions I do remember the 15 minutes of complete quietness, I just stood like a dope looking around. Todd was back from the market with the milk long before I found my Martha Stewart and living room couch.

Well today Todd took Jaycie and Austin to the California Speedway to watch a friend of his race his car. Todd loves Nascar. One year for Christmas I bought him 40 laps on the race track up in Fontana.



So.... with my new found freedom, I spent the day like this.

I woke up late and had my coffee. Is there anything better than coffee in the morning? I think not.

Then I took Austin for a walk to Grammie's house. She was actually sitting in her kitchen when she heard Austin screaming out of pure happiness at her approaching house. We were just turning the corner 3 houses away from hers when she came out to greet us. I'm sure all the sleeping neighbors were thrilled on their Sunday morning to have my son so happy to see Grammie's approaching house.

Church was next. What a great message today. It was about the cycle of getting a deeper relationship with God. If you want the 5 steps, comment me and I will be happy to share!

Todd, Jaycie and Austin were suppose to leave for the race around 11:00. Church is over at 11:15. I was in sheer joy anticipating the quiet house I was about to come home to. Then we turned the corner onto my street and I saw it. My car was still in the driveway. WHAT??? Why was I even surprised. It took them until 12:30 to get out the door.

I was going to a play with my mom at 1:00, so for 30 minutes I stood in my kitchen and enjoyed the quietness - with Paula Dean showing me how to make a scrumptious looking lasagna.

The play was at our little local theater that my mom and I subscribe to every year. It is a blast. First lunch at the local Mexican restaurant, Panchos, then a great little show in a round-about theater. There are 3 sides for the audience to observe the play performed in the center. The sides have 4 rows going up and only about 20 seats across. Very quaint. Today's play was "Of Mice and Men". The Steinbeck classic. It was super!

From there I rushed (the play went long) to a much needed Shiatsu. We used to go weekly. It's now been 5 weeks since I had a massage, and boy did I need it - what with all the Turbo kicking I'm doing now.

Home at last. And no one is here. It is getting dark as I type this, and I'm starting to miss Austin. I'm ready again to give back. The Lord knew what he was doing when he made Sunday the Sabbath day. No work. Relax. Rejuvinate.
What a blessing today was. I will look forward to again next year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer with a One Year Old!

Today was park day. Life with a one year old means ALWAYS having a plan. Which involves being out of the house. DAILY.

Gone are the days of alternating between lying on the couch reading Martha Stewart Living and consuming massive amounts of Food Network cooking shows. Rachel Ray? Who's Rachel Ray??

Today we decided two parks were in order. First the Nature Center. What an amazing place. I live next to a gajillion acre park. There are four or five sections each with fun things to do: train rides, paddle boats on the lake, duck ponds, library,
tennis, softball, playgrounds, and a nature center. And when Austin grows up and wants to join in the model airplane flying, remote powered boat races, and archery, it's just a walk or bike ride away.


Jaycie, Ashley and Austin on the trail



Ashley, Austin and me















We all love the turtles











After the nature center, we went to the playground park. We pushed Austin in a swing until he couldn't see straight anymore!

Tomorrow is the National Train Show. Model trains, trains made out of legos, and train rides. God have mercy. This is only the beginning......

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Little Austin

You are less than 2 weeks away from your very first birthday. Daddy and I are still trying to figure out if we will spend the day at Sea World with you and your sisters or have a party at home.

The year has flown by so fast. You are on the verge of walking. Today we spent one hour at the mall's playground where you delighted in every other child. You smile and laugh and want to play so badly with each and every one of them. It is such a joy to watch you try and engage others. You have a sweet heart, my little man.

Fearless. I am so proud of the way you are so independent and fearless. Nothing can stop you when you set your mind to it. Whether it is standing and reaching for the highest object or jumping from the pool's 3 foot ledge. You are simply fearless.

At this point in your life, you

hate sitting in your high chair, and opt to eat anywhere but there
love spotting helicopters and airplanes
had your first love affair was with your ceiling fan
would spend all day playing and climbing on the backyard waterfall if we let you
love taking walks with Grammie and looking at the spinning bee and flower pinwheels
enjoy driving anywhere
get excited when Carmen arrives every morning
stand up and play with your diaper genie
climb the stairs in 10 seconds flat

What a blessing you are my little champion. Your sisters adore you. Grammie can't remember life without you. And Daddy and I feel like the luckiest people in the world.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Work Out Update

Yes, my friends, I went to TKB (turbo kickboxing, for all us locals)today and FINALLY found an instructor willing to go at a snails pace to help poor old folks like me. She actually taught the class. I learned all the routines, and now I feel like I can join in the fun!

It was a gentle reminder to me as a teacher, as well. I need to make sure that I am not cruising along through my lessons assuming that everyone is on the same page as me. It really helps to slow down sometimes and let things sink in!

Anyway.

This begins my third week of working out. I'm averaging 4 days, but am trying for 5. And I think my body is changing. HOWEVER, like I said in a previous post - my past weight loss consisted of nothing for 3 weeks, then boom - 5-6 pounds lost on the 3rd or 4th week. Well. I am exactly the same weight I was when I started this gig. So I am expecting some great things come this weekend. Or maybe into the beginning of next week.

Tomorrow is my lift class, then a pool party for a girlfriend's birthday. I have to remind myself that I am only allowing myself ONE treat a day. Seeing that I treated myself whenever, wherever, however I wanted for the past year - my body should be changing now right?!

Hopefully I'll be posting the good news soon.....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just to pass time...

Austin and I have become members of the Long Beach Aquarium.



And then a Day at the Beach

Well, I must say, I'm mighty proud. Yes ma'am. Mighty proud. Not only did I work out 3 days during the week, I did a double workout today. At 8:00 AM, I was turbo kicking with the best of them. Then at 9:00 we went straight into a SET hour - cardio with weights. I celebrated by eating a Hershey's chocolate bar. I believe in the rewards system.

My mom and I then took Austin to the beach. What a beautiful day. Sorry for those of you that are in heat waves, hurricanes, or whatever else our bizarre weather throws at us. We played hard, then went to Golden Spoon. Okay, two treats. Austin was exhausted, but didn't feel like sleeping. So okay, into the pool with you. We swam and played in the waterfall until he was crying. Not even overhead helicopters could cheer up this boy. A short walk to look at spinning pinwheels, then back home.

It's funny. While we're out. No problemo. He is the happiest, quietest, most content looking at everything around him little boy. But at home... Holy Moly. Chase him up the stairs, down the stairs, away from the plants, yada yada yada...

I bought Todd a new grill for Father's Day. We pulled out the box it came in, put Austin in it and filled it with toys. Nope. Austin wasn't having any of it. I sat in the box with him and his toys. This worked for all of 4 minutes. Time for dinner. Nope. Not eating.... Okay, bathtime. He loves water so this was entertainment for 18 minutes. Todd finally got him a bottle when my head started spinning around and now the two of them are bonding. From down in the depths of my office - I can still hear him crying. It must be hard being 1, going to the beach, eating ice cream, swimming in your pool, having meals cooked for you, cleaned up after you, a nice warm bath drawn for you, a warm bottle of milk served to you with soft music filling the room.... No, I'm not bitter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Yummy Pasta Salad

It's been awhile since I put up a recipe and linked it to another site. I'm going to link this to Saturday Stirrings at I Throw Like a Girl and Monday Menu Planning at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

I've served this several times over the last few weeks, and it is a hit with everyone!

Yummy Pasta Salad
Serves lots and lots - usually with left overs!

1 package tri colored noodles
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1 can medium olives, chopped
1 jar artichoke hearts in oil (you can use water also)
1 small red onion, chopped
8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss with dressing.
Refrigerate before serving - not necessary, but it tastes a little better I think.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Something to do while waiting for your favorite tv show to come on....

I saw this on another blog and thought it looked fun! If you try it on your blog, leave me a comment with a link!

A is for age.
44 - but I feel like I'm 20. Must be the Turbo Kickboxing.
B is for burger of choice.
Turkey burger with chipotle in adobo sauce!
C is for what car you drive.
2006 Saturn VUE - best car for the money!!! Equipped with hands free calling - now very necessary in our NO CELL PHONES WHILE YOU DRIVE state.
D is for Dog's name.
Bo. We put him down April 11th. Best dog EVER.
E is for essential item you use every day.
Toothpaste. Oh and SPF 30 moisturizer.
F is for favorite tv show at the moment.
Hell's Kitchen. I love Gordon Ramsey - sassy mouth and all - you donkey.
G is for Favorite game.
I LOVE ALL GAMES - especially Rummy with my husband. - I am looking for a couple who wants to play Pinochle though.......
H is for Hometown.
The same town I live in now-- Long Beach, CA
I is for instruments you play
I can play Color My World on the piano
J is for favorite juice.
I like CranRasberry with 7up if I have a craving for juice - which is not often.
K is for who you'd like to kiss.
Definitely Austin. I could kiss him all day and night.... nothing beats a baby kiss.
L is for last restaurant you ate at.
Lucille's last night - Unless Golden Spoon counts and that was just minutes ago.
M is for your favorite Muppet.
I have to admit - I don't know all the muppets. I guess the girl pig - forgot her name.... sorry.
N is for number of piercings.
Just my ears-- two in the left ear, one in the right.
O is for overnight hospital stays.
Many.
P is for people you were with today.
My family, Carmen, neighbors, my dental hygeniest.
Q is for what you do with your quiet time.
Read, Blog, Sit in the quiet house doing nothing.
R is for biggest regret.
Too personal.
S is for status.
Married!
T is for time you woke up today.
7:00
U is for what you consider unique.
Each one of my three children
V is for vegetable you love.
Roasted squash, grilled zucchini, cauliflower with melted cheese, garlic broccoli,...
W is for worst habit.
Being bossy
X is for number of x-rays you've had.
TOOOOOOO MANY.
Y is for yummy food you ate today.
Golden spoon yogurt - just chocolate with St. Nicks Mint!
Z is for zodiac sign.
Libra - I do tend to weigh both sides of things. My husband just calls me fickle.

The Sweet Days of Summer

Does every city have Concerts in the Park? I sure hope so. Our great city of Long Beach has one every Friday night. The LB Municipal Band plays everything from Dixieland to Broadway tunes - each Friday being a different theme.

It starts at 6:30, but getting there a little early helps. Usually the crowd averages between 500 - 600 people. Picnics are everywhere. We brought KFC - very low end. I walked around with Austin to check out the other fare.... tables were set up with candles and wine, cheeses, fruit, handmade sandwiches, pastas, and yummy looking desserts. There were pizzas, lots of take-out, and the park even has Hagen Daas and BBQ'd hot dogs for sale. Kids and dogs run randomly throughout the tables, and no one minds because it is warm, outside, and the music fills the air.

Check out your city for a Concert in the Park. This week I have my eye on a Movie in the Park down towards the beach.... All are free, and all provide great family fun!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Turbo Kickboxing

Yes, my friends. I went to the 10:00 Turbo Kickboxing class and kicked some butt.

Ashley went with me. She is now my new workout partner. I asked Kalie if she wanted to go, too. She made some weird noise and I took it as a no.

As I stood at the door with the other 100 people waiting to stampede, I struck up a conversation with the gal in front of me. She told me that I would probably have a hard time this time around, but "stick with it and you'll be fine". Oky Doky.

The doors opened, and men and women literally raced for the front. I'm a front kind of gal also, so I elbowed, I mean politely took my place front and center. Being a teacher, I know how important front and center is when trying to learn something new.

Anyway. The teacher asked if anyone wanted to know anything before we started. No one spoke. I timidly asked if she was going to lead the first timers through this painful experience. She quickly, and I mean in 27 seconds flat, went over ALL the different moves we were expected to perform. I looked at Ashley. She being tall, blonde, and only 18 had a smirk of confidence on her that not even a nervous mother could break.

The music started. The kicking, jabbing, upper cut, upper cut, side step and kick routine started. I took it a bit easy. After all, I have a bad back. Did I ever mention that I'm a little clumsy as well? The music continued for ONE HOUR. I sweated, I kicked the girl behind me, I laughed, I upper cutted while everyone else was jabbing. But, you know what? I burned calories, and that's why I'm there. It is so good to be 44 and not care anymore!

Later in the afternoon, I called my gyno for the all important visit. As I was speaking to her secretary, Liz, I heard Dr. Gonzalez mention something to her. Liz said that Dr. Gonzalez saw me in class today. She was in the back.

Then I heard the laughing over the phone.

Whatever.

Monday, June 30, 2008

And So It Begins.....

Today was the day.

That old familiar drive back to the gym.

Without Julio there to push and prod me, I wondered what kind of workout I would do. It really helps to have someone there pushing and prodding.

I decided that I would walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes. That would be a decent start. I walked at a pace of 3.5 - 3.8 mixing it up every few minutes, and set the incline between 0 - 2.

As I walked, I noticed through the glass window the men and women using a step and weights bobbing up and down. And the realization came that they were all being pushed and prodded.

Yes. This would become my workout for the next several weeks until I was feeling good enough to push and prod myself once again.

So, here's the upcoming schedule:
Monday 8:00AM Step/Weights
Tuesday 10:00AM Lift (intense strength training - treadmill for cardio..)
Wednesday 10:00AM Turbo Kick - I did this once before.... we'll have to see.....
Thursday 10:00AM Step/Weights
Friday 8:00AM Yoga
or 10:00AM Lift

Sounds good, right? I weighed in this morning. Last time I weighed myself on that scale I was 16 pounds lighter - so that's the goal....

I'll keep you posted.

I need to jump in the shower and get ready for my last shopping excursion with my Girl Scouts. They have all graduated, and as a token of their 13 years of scouting, they are all picking out a Tiffany's piece of jewelry with the money they earned over the years. We were suppose to go on a senior trip, but trying to come up with a date that all could go was the equivalence of turning water into wine. Yes, it was on the miracle spectrum. So a piece of jewelry and lunch it is.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back from Big Bear

What a gorgeous week up on the lake. I'm home again, which always feels good, but Big Bear is such a relaxing place to re-energize!

Todd and I spent our anniversary on Wednesday, June 25th......



swinging with Austin


helping Austin slide for the first time




at an ice cream social


on a lake cruise


and at the zoo!

Austin turned 11 months while we were up there. He is standing,and he said 3 words: duck, ball, dada while actually looking at Todd!

We will be back up there for Thanksgiving week with the changing leaves and possible snow on the ground. Ski season opens that weekend, and I'm sure Austin will be walking, if not skiing, by then!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A few things.....

1) I apologize profusely to anyone that checks this blog for a weekly menu. The strange thing is... I was pretty regular until I started posting for this blog! I'm not blaming..... just sayin......
* We are leaving for Big Bear for a week tomorrow, so again.... no menu.....

2) Ashley graduated from high school...


Now I just have another 17 years until all my kids are out of high school!

3) I am officially going back to the gym. I have 15 pounds to lose. Anyone out there trying to lose weight this summer? Do it with me! I'll post my weight loss (or gain, ugh) every Saturday! When I lost a lot of weight after having Ashley
(52 pounds) it went something like: nothing lost for 3 weeks, then week #4 dropped 6 pounds. We'll see this time around!
My plan is to treadmill/eliptical everyday and do weight training M,W,F.
I will treat myself to an It's a Grind mocha drink for my reward. Daily.

I'll try and post from Big Bear :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Last Day....

I said good-bye today.

I closed the door and didn't even shed a tear.

As I walked away, I knew something good was going to take place.

After 11 years, I'll have a new place to call home.

I'm leaving my school site and heading to another.

Change. Growth. Renewal.

I'm ready.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

KIDSGUIDE

I was at the doctor's office last week with Austin, when a CALENDAR magazine caught my eye. I have been diligently praying for things to do with a soon to be 1 year old. I opened the magazine and was pleasantly surprised to find things to do every single day! Check them out at Kidsguidemagazine.com if you're in my area!

The magazine I have is geared to Southern California, but hopefully there is a kidsguide for you!

A few of the ideas in the magazine include:
Concerts in the Park
Exhibits, Festivals, Fairs
Library events
Camps

Over at Cheaper by the half dozen, Marybeth Whalen asked for comments on summer fun. Go here for more ideas!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just back from Palm Springs

My husband and I are driving to Palm Springs these days as if it's a trip to the local market because I forgot to buy milk.

It is 2 hours away, but once you travel a road enough times, landmarks become familiar, and it actually seems as if it goes faster!

We bought a house out there, and we are decorating it, shipping old furniture from our house out there, and becoming indebted to IKEA. It is so cute, though! We have been going out on Saturday at 4PM once the truck is packed and coming home Sunday around 2PM

Besides that.... this is my last week of school! Yahooooo! The bummer is that I will be leaving this school site after 10 years and moving to another school. I have boxes all over my room, and my friend and aide in the classroom is helping me sort through EVERY book, EVERY paper, and EVERY file. Talk about too much stuff! Thank God I am not a keeper, or stuffer, or whatever you call someone that hangs on to things. I'm of the opinion that if I haven't used it, worn it, needed it, or liked it for 6 months it becomes the official property of Goodwill. I would clean out my daughter's rooms when they were little and hide the stuff in the garage. If they didn't ask for anything in the "going away" bag, then it left our house for good!

This leads to a very "uncluttered" life!

I hope to be back by Thursday - my first day of summer. Then I can share pics of Ashley's graduation, Austins first haircut, Kalie back home, and just the general craziness around here. Oh yeah, and a kitchen update.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

These Days are BUSY, BUSY, BUSY....

Summer is almost here... I repeat this phrase several times a day!

This week started out with Austin back at the doctor's office. One hour and 45 minutes later, the doctor walked in and confirmed that he has ezema (I have no idea how to spell that....) He had the reddest rash all over his bottom, and I feared it might be food allergies. Neither of my girls ever had a food allergy, so I've never known what one looks like. I really dreaded the thought of that, since Austin eats EVERYTHING! Luckily, (I guess) it was only ezema.

Well, after the doctor's impromptu visit, which killed a couple hours of my day, we still needed to go to Walmart, the bookstore, and the teacher supply store. By the time I got home I was exhausted.

Unfortunately, everyday this week is like that. Although I do have facials and hair appointments sprinkled into the hustle and bustle.

After all, Ashley is GRADUATING on Thursday! Yahoo!! Another one safely through the California educational system. She plans on playing Water Polo for a college close to home.

Tonight, on the menu, we are BBQing pork loins. I need plenty for the luncheon that my teammates and I are putting on at work tomorrow. It's a summer picnic theme - so lots of BBQ! We even have some black, plastic ants to sprinkle on the tabletops!

Tomorrow night we will eat out after we pick up Kalie at the airport! Yahoo!!! Kalie will be home for a few days! She comes back for good on the 4th of July. She'll be transferring out to the Anaheim (Disneyland) Doubletree Hotel. Can't wait!

Thursday will be spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread for everyone before heading off to the graduation ceremony.

As I type this, Austin is standing up in his playyard. I can't believe he'll be a year old next month..... Time is going so fast.....

And I am soooo busy, busy, busy.......

I probably won't have time to post until this weekend.
So, until then~

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Monday nights with Jimmy

We had the most horrible scene happen on our culdesac a few weeks back. I was making dinner in the kitchen with Todd, and Austin was playing at our feet. Austin was getting a bit bored, so I decided to go downstairs and call my mom for a second. It maybe was 5 minutes after all.

When I came back to the kitchen, Todd stood at the window looking out calling my name. My neighbor's car was parked directly in front of our driveway with two Park Ranger cars behind her. (We live near a large park) As I went outside, I saw 5 police cars lining our street. I hurried around my friend's car to the driver's side to see what the problem was just as a policeman was throwing my friend to the ground. Her face was contorted on the hot black asphalt as blood ran into her eyes. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I told the three policeman surrounding her and holding her down, "This does not look good". Which I repeated 3 times. One of the officers came to me and told me to back away. I stood there a bit stunned as I repeated my phrase. He replied that "this" didn't look good either, and he lifted his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in the back of his pants.

There was a mom and son whom I didn't recognize standing a distance away, and they filled me in on the flat tire my friend had and the offer of help they gave. Unfortunately, my friend was drunk and got back in her car. She weaved down the road and hit another curb with the other tire and popped that one as well coming to a stop in front of my house.

This gal is my older sister's age (10 years my senior) and has been a close friend of my sister's over the last 50 some years. She was a deputy at one point in her life, thus she always carried a gun. I'm sure she was just taking it out to show the officers, but being drunk, she must have done it in a way that was a bit alarming to the men.

I rang my neighbors bell. This frail old man of 86 came out with a look of horror as he witnessed what was going on in his front yard. His wife was being cared for by his daughter. She is 90 and suffers Parkinson's disease and Alsheimers. Now what was he to do. Within a matter of hours, his daughter was taken to jail and his wife was put in the hospital.

They are both still there today. This frail old man cries as he gives me updates about his family. I have visited him, celebrated his birthday with all our neighbors, and check in on him daily. But, I have wanted to do a little more.

After reading Lysa Terkeurst's blog I decided to have Monday night dinners with Jimmy.

His daughter is facing up to 19 years in jail, and his wife may never walk through their family threshold again. If you are the praying type, please add this family to your list. Only God can give us the grace to walk through the fire in order for us to be made into gold. We don't know what the future is, but we do know who holds the future.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Weekly Menu

Last week, two of my items got bumped from the menu, so I'm leaving them on for this week. I do have a new dinner that I can't wait to serve tomorrow night!

Apple & Onion Stuffed Pork Chops with Pineapple-Orange Glaze

Tonight is my bosses retirement party. Todd and I have been talking a lot lately about retiring. We've looked over our long term plan and can not wait for the day we hang up our B & B shingle. It's hard to believe Austin might be 14 by then!

Until then,
Happy Cooking!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Weekend Update

Thank God for weekends.

Friday was a whirlwind of working until 1:00, a baby shower in the afternoon, then Ashley's senior banquet that evening.

Saturday was relaxing in the backyard, swimming with Austin, shopping a Walmart for nothing in particular which = $137.00. How does that happen?? Same thing at the grocery store - go in for milk and eggs - come out with enough food for 3 weeks of good eatin! I ended the evening with church. I'm starting to do this a lot more now. If we have no Saturday evening plans (which my husband tries to avoid at all costs - he's the sit in a chair, watch a movie, and asleep by 9:00 kinda guy)then I head off to church.

Our church, Cottonwood Christian Center (can be seen on TBN and KCAL 9 for those in the LA area) pastored by Bayless Connelly will be moving to our new home the last week of June. This is tremendously exciting. This amazing man preaches 2 Saturday evening services and 4 services on Sunday. He knows the Word of God and he preaches grace and salvation. In our new home, which seats 4,000, yes, we are growing my friends, he will only have to preach a total of 3 services. Anyway....

Today started off with playing with Austin, then headed out to breakfast with a girlfriend. She introduced me to a fantastic new place with homemade muffins, sticky buns, and other delicious treats. I hear the treadmill shouting my name.....
Then my husband I got our weekly Shiatsu. If you've never had a Japanese style massage, I highly recommend it. Good for the body, good for the soul!

In the afternoon, I attended the Gold Award ceremony for one of my girl scouts. I've been a leader since Ashley was in Kindergarten. They are all now seniors off to UCLA, USC, Colorado State, etc.... It is awe inspiring when you see what these girls are capable of!

Dinner was Turkey Stroganoff - an old family favorite. Austin is sleeping, Todd and Ashley are watching Pirates of the Carribean, and I am ready for bed. But, tonight is the beginning of "The Next FoodNetwork Star" which I'll need to stay up to watch. Anything with food and competition is good watchin in my book!

Have a great week! Can't wait for next weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Potluck

Last night we celebrated my neighbors 86th birthday with a potluck at my house. I grew up in the house I now live in, although it has been updated from the 60's with a few modern features! I bought it from my parents who supervised the building of it when my mom was pregnant with me. I am now 44 years old!

We live on a culd-e-sac with 12 houses. They were built in 1963, and my parents bought it in the $30,000 dollar range. Houses in my tract are now going for 6 figures. It makes no sense.

Six of the 12 houses are still occupied by the original owners. The parents of my friends that used to make Halloween cupcakes for each of the 14 kids on the block, take turns watching us play kick the can past dark, and repair all the broken windows smashed by flying baseballs came over last night to celebrate an old friend.

They came with their potluck dishes and stories of my now grown friends and their babies. The new kids on the block swam in the backyard, the moms now my age watched the kids and shared stories, dads BBQ'd and drank beer, and the older crowd sat around swapping stories of "how it used to be".

It was a wonderful night filled with food, laughter, and memories shared. We have all decided to potluck every couple of months. We marveled that we could all live on the same street, and yet we wave hello and goodbye with little more than that.

I encourage you to throw a potluck for your neighbors.

Reconnect
Get to know someone new
Create traditions

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy 10 month old birthday!

It's hard to believe that 10 months have already come and gone.

You are just on the verge of crawling on your hands and knees - so far it's only been army style!

Your 4 teeth should be joined by a few others soon if the white specks are any indication!

You smile, giggle, and charm your way into everyone's heart!

I've decided to put a quarter in your piggy bank every time someone mentions your beautiful blue eyes - you average a couple dollars a day!

You will sit quietly enjoying your own company while you play!

Listening to music, playing with instruments, or being sung to are always a big hit!

Bath time and being in the jacuzzi with dad are definitely your highlights in the day!

Grammie visits you every morning, and often comes in the afternoon/evening to hold you and love on you!

I enjoy you everyday! You are my little man, and every month is a treasure!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Handwriting Analysis

What does your handwriting say about YOU?

Happy Memorial Day!

Besides being a wonderful holiday that eliminates one day of school from the yearly calendar, we have much to be thankful for regarding our men and women in the service.

Thanks to anyone who has served, is serving, or will serve to defend this great nation!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A lesson in taking medicine

What child/baby likes to take medicine? Especially with a syringe stuck in your mouth.

For the last 7 days, Austin has had to take not one, but two, different types of medicines. The first couple of days there was a lot of squirming, crying, and even throwing up. It did not go well.

Then about 4 days ago, we told him it was medicine time, and there was only a little whimper. Todd held him in the cradle position while I put the syringe to his mouth. He tightened his little lips, but then slowly opened his mouth. It takes four pushes on the syringe, giving 1/4 t each time, to make medicine time complete. It is a very full syringe. With each 1/4 t, Austin would open his mouth and wait for the next dose of his nasty medicine before swallowing.

Because he is taking his medicine so nicely,
1) it goes faster
2) is easier on everyone
3) he is getting better

I started thinking about the way we act when we need to take our medicine. A little dose of humility, a shot of attitude adjustment, a syringe full of conviction.

One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to remind us of various things. I pray the next time I need to take my medicine, I see Austin laying in his daddy's arms opening his mouth ready and willing for his portion.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Finally a Weekly Menu!

After coming back from Virginia, then Austin being terribly sick, and my trying to get over this cold yada yada yada, I finally have a weekly menu!

Here is one of the recipes I will be doing this week. I got all of the menu from Kraft's magazine Food and Family - summer edition 2008 for just $3.95. Actually, my mom gave it to me. But, you can also go to their website at Kraftfoods.com and check out their recipes there.

This week it's all about few ingredients, easy, fast, and somewhat healthy!

Because so many of the recipes call for strawberries, I'll be buying 1/2 flat to make smoothies (4 ingredients), Berry Squares (7 ingredients), and Strawberry Whipped Sensation - see below. I'll be serving this at a potluck on Wednesday night with neighbors.

If for any reason you can't find the recipes on line - and you don't feel like buying the magazine, just email me at teachsaunders@aol.com, and I'll be happy to email you the recipes!

Happy cooking!

STRAWBERRY WHIPPED SENSATION

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1 can (14oz) Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tub (8oz) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
8 Oreo cookies
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Line a 8 x 4- inch loaf pan with foil, with ends extending over sides of pan. Mash 2 cups of the strawberries in large bowl. Stir in condensed milk and juice. Stir 2 cups of the whipped topping into strawberry mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Finely chop cookies. Combine cookies and butter. Spoon over whipped topping mixture in pan. Cover cookie mixture with ends of foil and gently press cookie mixture into whipped topping mixture. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Invert dessert onto serving plate when ready to serve; remove pan and foil. Spread remaining whipped topping onto top and sides of dessert. Slice remaining 2 cups of strawberries; arrange on dessert. Store leftovers in freezer.

Makes 12 servings.

HEALTHY LIVING: Save 30 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per serving by using Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk, Cool Whip Lite Whipped Topping and Reduced Fat Oreo Cookies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nothin's Better than a Pickle




at least in our family. And Austin is truly one of us!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kalie's Coming Home - Maybe Austin will crawl

After spending 5 months in Virginia, Kalie has decided to come home. We had such fun in Virginia spoiling her.:) No wonder she misses home. What I'm most excited about is the ability to watch her love all over Austin. Maybe he'll start crawling and walking with her around. Did I mention he's just slowly starting to army crawl and generally uses rolling to get around. And he'll be 10 months old next week.

Today, I took him to the doctors for a second opinion. I decided my opinion, being the first, wasn't enough to keep him healthy. I began giving him Albuterol a couple of days ago for his chest cough, which the doctor applauded. He then added to the medicinal arsenal with every body's favorite - Amoxocillin. The beloved curer of all childhood problems. At least in my family - 18 years ago. I remember it fondly.

Anyway, while we were in the waiting room, there was another little boy, Matthew, who was 3 days older than Austin. He went zooming around the room crawling, and he also grabbed at furniture to stand up with. His 4 year old brother was prompting him the whole way.

That's when the epiphany hit.

My hypothesis is this: If a child has an older sibling, they will crawl, walk, run faster than a child who does not. I bet if I looked up studies, I would find this to be true. My own experience shows that Kalie (firstborn)walked at 10 1/2 months. Ashley (21 months behind) walked at 8 months. No doubt trying to keep up with her sister.

I'm praying that Austin crawls soon and walking is too far behind.

I'm really not sure if this is true. What has been your experience??

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dear Austin

Sweet baby boy. You are such a delight. For the past week you have been sick with a cold, maybe the flu, but a runny nose and cough for sure!

We got back from Virginia, where you were such a trooper. We flew on 4 different airplanes going there and back, and the moment we started the take off, you fell asleep in my arms. On 3 of the planes, you slept the whole way! The longest flight, from LAX to Philadelphia, you played in Grammie's and my lap and flirted with the flight attendant. She was so taken with you - she pinned you with United wings!

When we flew late into the night to get home Sunday, you were still a trooper, sleeping and playing so Mama could rest.

Monday was your first swim lesson. What fun you had talking with all the other babies there. You were a pro kicking your feet and splashing in the water. Since Daddy takes you swimming everyday - you had no fear!

But, a little cough followed the next day. You still played all day and were such a love. Wednesday, a little more of a cough, but Daddy wanted you to go to swim lessons again. I reluctantly said yes.

For the past 4 days you have had one whopper of a runny nose, slight fevers on and off, and a horrible cough. You still sleep through the night, except waking twice last night, and you are napping right now.

With not feeling well, you haven't had much of an appetite. But everything else is going along as if you were fine. You play, smile, shake your head "no" to everything, and clap your hands.

You are such a champion!

I love you, my little man. I hope you feel better soon.
Mom

Friday, May 16, 2008

Food For Less vs Ralphs

I have been a Ralphs shopper for years.

It is clean, organized, convenient, friendly, and so I thought - reasonably priced.
Little did I know.

My sister, who is the most frugal woman you will ever meet, started talking about a Food for Less that just opened around the corner from our home. My sister lives a couple blocks away from me in our tract of houses. But, around the corner in the direction of Food for Less is a less than desirable location. It is also a store where many men sit around waiting for someone to drive up hoping to get hired for the day. Which is fine, but I don't want to navigate around them trying to get into this particular store - or so I thought.

Last week, on the morning news, I saw a woman named Terri. Years ago, I would go on her website and find out about the latest sales at the grocery stores. She would give tips and coupons trying to help people save money. Well, that morning she was talking about saving money on a GPS that was listed as $229 online, but at Best Buy was marked for $450 or so. They honored her printed copy of the add for $229 saving her a load of money.

This got me thinking again about all the ways God had spoken to me about being responsible with my money. How I was wasting so much money was amazing.

So, with fear and trepidation, I decided to do my shopping at Food for Less and see. I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the store and it was clean and organized. The shelves were lined with food labels that I normally purchase. To top it off, all the customers said hello to Austin, chatted with me, and the workers were very friendly. It was truly a great experience.

Then I went home, dropped off Austin and the groceries and headed for Ralphs - with my receipt. I went up and down the aisles looking up every item I had just purchased.

Yes, you guessed it. I had saved anywhere from .50 to 3.00 on EVERY item.

Claussen pickles at FFL $3.00 Ralphs $4.69
Coffee for my hubby FFL $2.29 Ralphs $4.49
Similac for Austin FFL $6.39 Ralphs $7.99

And on and on. I spent $97.60 at Food for Less. Ralphs would have cost me $179.20.

They happened to be out of Similac at Food For Less, so I approached the manager at Ralphs. He recognized me and said hello and asked how I was. I said I was livid. I couldn't believe how Ralphs was ripping off people. It took everything in me not to stand in the aisles and share my receipt with all the shoppers. I showed it to Mike, the manager. He said he knew, and more importantly, that he shopped at Food For Less also. I asked him to sell me the Similac for $6.32, and he agreed!

Well. I must say, I will not be frequenting Ralphs anytime soon, unless there is a major manager's giveaway.

It feels good being frugal, knowing I am saving my family loads of money. I encourage you to do a little comparison shopping in your area. And negotiate whenever possible!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back from Virginia

Wow! What a week!

After having leg/hip trouble last week, and a quick trip to Virginia to see Kalie, life is finally getting back on course.

My mom, Austin, and I flew out to Virginia Beach to spend a few days with Kalie. She is working at the Double Tree Hotel, but is quite lonely out there. She is a social butterfly, but she seems to be having difficulty making new friends. After being there, I can see why. There are plenty of Navy families, but not a lot of young adults! My ex brother-in-law was in the Navy for 20 years, which brought him to Norfolk. Kalie has been staying with her aunt and uncle, but unfortunately, no luck with the social aspect.

To make a long story short - she's coming home. She has set up some interviews with the hotel out here, and hopefully she will be hired. She's flying out for her sister's graduation in June. She also applied to a college out here, and she will either be starting the court reporting program or hotel management program in the Fall.

The best part of the trip was being reunited! She hasn't seen Austin in 4 months. That is eons in baby time. But what fun it was when she saw him clap for the first time, start eating real food by the bucket loads, and even waved once! He is growing sooo fast!!

When we got home, I got sick from the lack of sleep and air travel. I'm doing much better now! Austin started swim lessons this week!


I'll post more, but for some reason, I couldn't download all the pictures I took!

Anyway, I'll be posting a menu probably on Saturday. I went to the grocery store yesterday and had quite an experience. I'll save that story for tomorrow. AI is almost on - I think Syesha is cute, but I hope it's down to the 2 Davids.