Thursday, May 29, 2008


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.

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 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, and I'll be happy to email you the recipes!

Happy cooking!


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.

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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Falling off the Bed and the Garbage Truck

What an exciting morning!

Many firsts for Austin. We started out the same - Todd came in with my coffee (God bless the husband that brings coffee to his sleepy wife in bed), and Austin followed closely behind. At 7:00 Sesame Street began the day. As an adult, I am really enjoying this show. It is so much better than the gossip and gore on The Early Show.

Of course, I needed to wash my hair this morning. So, in a rush, I asked Ashley to watch Austin while I jumped in the shower and made quick time with the shampooing. In record time, I was out and blow drying (the dreaded task of women with medium length hair). Ashley left for school, I smiled at Austin, and carried on this laborous task. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I watched as in slow motion, Austin rolled off the end of the bed landing on a heap of large cushy pillows. From there he rolled again off the large cushy pillows to the floor doing a complete roll on the hardwood.
WOW! I don't know who was more shocked! I ran to him as his eyes began to well up, but the little champion didn't even shed a tear. He simply looked around, shook his head, and I'm sure wondered what on earth just happened.

Just then, we heard it. The Garbage Truck! Austin had never seen the garbage truck before. With my hair somewhat dried, we ran for the door. I opened it just in time to see our can being lifted high in the air. Austin was amazed! We hustled out to the sidewalk to catch the neighbors cans being emptied, then across the street to see the cans go flying on the other side. Silent amazement! It was almost as sacred as watching a hovering helicopter. Quiet, heavy breathing with a small shudder every now and then.

How awesome is it when we get to share these special moments with our children?

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Ok, Dawn, over at Because I Said So commented on how to get a word crossed out, and now I've got to
try it. Hope it worked!
Obviously, I need to keep trying.

STAR Testing and Corn Pudding

Wow! What a week! We started the dreaded STAR testing at school this week. I hope all of you with little ones (2nd - 11th grade!) have been sending off the kiddos with full tummies and bright eyes after a good night's sleep!

Since I teach special education, I wonder about this test year after year. My students, who are so fortunate to be in the special education program, still need to test "at grade level" regardless of their instructional level. These scores then factor in to the schools API which funds the districts and labels the school sites as acceptable (a score over 800) or a school improvement site (a score below 800 for two years in a row).

This test does nothing but frustrates students who are already frustrated with school to begin with. Have you ever been asked to do something that you really didn't know how to do, but had to do it anyway?

Anxiety. With a capital A.

That is why after testing all last week, we are having a huge Cinco de Mayo fiesta in our classroom tomorrow! There is nothing like tacos, chips and salsa to make students feel better! A new day, a new week, a whole year before the dreaded STAR test returns!

Oh - I'm making my Corn Pudding for the fiesta. This is one of the easiest and tastiest dishes you will ever have in your recipe box. Here is the recipe:


1 15(oz) can whole kernel corn (do not drain)
1 15(oz) can creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch ungreased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.