Friday, January 30, 2009

And the winner is...

Alright, we assigned everybody who commented on both sites a number, then plugged them into and as you can barely see here, #3- Kera Honea of TheHoneaBees is the winner!
Congrats, Kera!!!
I've decided that comments are my love language. Thank you so much for playing along with our little game! Obviously, I don't value my worth on people's comments, but it sure is fun to have e-mail popping in all day (despite the fact that we were waving money in front of you, of course)!

If you still would like to win, maybe you can butter up to Kera and get her to take you to dinner with her!

And we'll have to do another giveaway soon! Which means we'll have to go out for a girls night again soon... darn... hate it when I'm forced to do that!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Girl Date and a GIVEAWAY!

I am so thankful to have been blessed with girlfriends. I can’t tell you how much they mean in my life. I hope you know that experience, too. I have some friends from elementary school who I’ve recently been reconnected with in the blogosphere, friends from high school that “get” all the goofy inside jokes and dear, precious sorority sisters who taught me more than I ever learned inside a college classroom.

The closest friends I have these days are the mom warriors out there who are slopping through the throw up, chasing down the lost sock or dinosaur and begging their toddler to PLEASE GET IN THE CAR WE’RE LATE- just like me. We are in this war, the trenches, best time of our lives together and its fun to share war stories, tips and tricks. And to laugh. I am so thankful for a big hoop and holler {and if you know me in real life- a snort} any time.

I had a girl date on Monday night with one of my favorite friends who falls into so many categories: she’s a "hometown homie", a "college sweetheart" AND we live pretty close to each other now. She’s a hilarious blogger and you should read her blog if you don’t. Becky and I have talked about getting together for a long time. And when she mention PF Chang’s, I poofed my hair, put on a shirt without spit or deodorant stains on it {at least I remembered deodorant!}, put down the TiVo remote and was there in a heartbeat.

We ordered wonderful food: I had Mongolian Beef and she had the Sweet and Sour Chicken- oh- and the lettuce wraps for an appetizer. You must get chicken lettuce wraps. And we got to catch up! Becky’s getting over cold, but she looks great- especially her flippy new ‘do! We talked about our home town, our current scarf obsessions, our families, people we know, blogs we read, etc. You won’t get all the good stuff, but know that we most likely talked about you. Uh huh. That’s right. All good, of course. But mainly we laughed and I snorted.

That's me (Hillary) on the left and Becky on the right: {Someone powdered for the picture thinking ahead that they might land on the Internet. Someone did not.}We shared deepest dreams {truly- and this was over Mongolian Beef, people}, hopes for our children and thoughts on God. We licked our plates clean {we wouldn’t want our mothers to be disappointed}, opened our fortune cookies {that was mine up top!} and lingered as long as we could without getting THAT LOOK {could-you-please-leave-so-I-can-get-another-table-of-paying-customers-in-those-chairs}, but we couldn’t go home just yet! So we decided to go shopping!

Head over to Becky’s blog to hear about our shopping, but here are the details about our giveaway:

We want everyone out there to be able to have a great girl date with a friend. So, please leave a comment on this post AND on Becky’s post before 6 pm CST Friday night. No stipulations on what to write about- just “pick me” is fine, but you need to comment on BOTH. We will draw one winner {or do it by if there are more than 2 people who’ll play along} to receive a $20 gift card to PF Chang’s or the restaurant of your choice in your city. {And if you have a PF Chang’s, you should choose them- just my thoughts.}

Even if you’re a stalker and have never commented before- come on in! Play along! Did you see? Twenty buck-a-roos as a gift from me and Becky towards a girls night out! You can do it! It’s just 2 clicks and a couple of letters. Work those fingers! It will be the easiest $20 you’ve ever made!

Here’s to Mongolian Beef and poofy hair- not combined, of course…
Good luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Forgiveness and Satan

Today I got a phone call that I wasn’t expecting. Since my home phone is also my work phone, I answered, “Hello. This is Hillary.” The man on the phone asked if this was Hillary Hart and I said, “Yes”- since I am Southern and will always go by my maiden name, too. He went on to warn me in advance that this was going to be an awkward phone call.

He told me who he was and it was a person whose name I recognized from my home town, but I hadn’t thought or heard about in over a decade. He went on to tell me that he had become a Christian about 7 years ago and was still building his relationship with God. He had recently felt compelled to talk with some people he had wronged in his past and apologize. He said that for a while he had been in a dark place with alcohol and drugs and had done some stupid things.

When we were in high school, he had gotten wasted one night and decided to go break into some cars and steal some CDs. He was later arrested for possessing stolen property, but not for stealing it. He went down to the courthouse recently, though, and found my name as a person who had listed the stolen property and wanted to call to apologize.

As I slowly realized where I fit into this story, I was taken back to that time. We had just moved to our new house and I was a senior in high school. We lived in a great neighborhood- about a block away from my high school in the suburbs- and I had some CDs and a CD player stolen one night. Dad reported them missing to the police and they were returned to me in a few weeks. They had someone else’s initials written on them- and I can see them right now in my mind- but I had never known whose initials they were until today. When they were returned, I used nail polish remover to remove the offending initials and my CD case smelled like a nail shop for a while; that I distinctly remember. All the other details are a blur.

Immediately I felt empathetic for this grown man who was calling to apologize for a 14 year old sin. At one point in my life, I think I would have felt revengeful or fulfilled, but I felt a strong connection to him. The reason is because about 6 months ago I e-mailed some dear friends to apologize for something that I said to them in passing in our sorority house kitchen. They didn’t remember it at all, but my negative words had made a lasting impact on me and were defining how I viewed our relationship and my relationship with Christ. I had denigrated their Christian group and I was still feeling guilty for it. I had asked for forgiveness a dozen times and repented, but it was still nagging me. After I e-mailed those sweet, dear friends and talked with each of them, I realized that it wasn’t them, or God who hadn’t forgiven me. I was forgiven. But it was Satan who kept bringing it into my head that I wasn’t good enough to be a Child of God. Those thoughts of, “You did ___ before; how do you call yourself a Christian” would creep into the dark places and still can if I don’t stand guard against them. The truth is that we are always going to be sinners- no matter what the sin- and Jesus covered our sins long ago.

As I shared this story with my caller, I told him that my biggest revelation hadn’t been asking the other people for forgiveness (which DID help), but it was realizing that I wasn’t going to give Satan power over my past any longer. He had already had enough influence there when it happened and he wasn’t going to have any more. God’s forgiveness is bigger than Satan.

My caller was choking up on those words and he told me how grateful he was to have talked to me. We fumbled through a few more niceties, me joking about a Dave Matthews CD (I make jokes when I don’t know what else to say) and then got off the phone.

I truly feel like God knew that this person needed to talk to me today. Not that any glory needs to go to me- ALL to an awesome and loving God. But I think the man who was living with his past as a definition of himself made the same connection I did a few months ago. That God is more powerful than even the dirtiest and worst things that you have done. He can wipe your slate clean. He can give you a new definition: Child of the King.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Pretend You are an Artist {or Ar-Teest}

Welcome back for another edition of Works for Me Wednesday. This is an amazing way to get new tips and tricks and is hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer- one of absolute favorite blogs. If this is your first time here, welcome! Here's a little bit more about me (and even if you know me you need to click there to see our new- fine- Christmas family picture posted taken last October).

This week I'd like to give you tips for painting- specifically on an interior wall. Now I'm no Bob Ross, like my husband, but I do know my way around a paint by number and I can paint on a canvas if I am drinking a glass of wine with some friends .

With that amazing amount of knowledge and talent, last summer I decided to completely and totally copy some animal shapes from Pottery Barn and put them on our play room wall. The complete post with before and after shots and paint colors, etc, is here, but if you want the quick and dirty version, I'll give it to you.

The secret to doing these big mural-esque paintings:
Is to swipe an overhead projector from your husband's office {or any husband's office- more points if you don't know the owner at all}, then copy the pattern you want from anything- book, movie cover, most likely copywrited pictures of animals from a major company's fabric- you know, anything is fine. See these curtains below? I just held up a clear plastic sheet (got that at Staples) and traced with a Vis-a- vis marker. Then I took the stolen projector with the traced picture and shot it right up there on the wall like so:

Then painted and enjoyed my fraud, um, artwork.

The animals still look great- even with 98 cent paint. I can't speak for the playroom {since I seriously had to do a double take when looking for that picture: "Is that what the rug looked like without a layer of toys and juice stains?"}, but the walls are still nice and fun.

Thanks for allowing me to recycle a tip for Works for Me Wednesday. Recycled tip, stolen projector and traced painting? WOW. Impressive. Even for me.

What goes up, must come down???

Sweet little Henry yesterday afternoon- feeling fine.

I was wondering about Isaac Newton last night- around 11:00, then around 12:00 and again at 3:45.

Henry has not been briefed on this law, so he decided to test it by throwing up several times last night.
You know what? Newton was WRONG! Everything that went down came up!

Poor little Henry must have eaten something that threw his tummy into a tizzy. At the kids' pre-school yesterday, they celebrated Chinese New Year with Chinese food for lunch. Hmmm. Could that have been the culprit? Or, Jason and the kids ate spaghetti with mushrooms last night (while I had a fab-o dinner with Becky- more to come on that) and mushrooms have made me and Jason sick in the past, but they were out of a can- not fresh. Hmmm.

Whatever was the culprit, you can imagine the lovely color of several spots on our carpet with the combination of spaghetti and Chinese- mixed with a few mandarin oranges. If it were a paint color, I would call it Spewing Coral Surprise. I guess that's why I don't work for the paint naming people.

And we changed the darn crib sheets 2 times (once was entirely on the carpet). I swear that is more than I've changed them in the past 6 months! Crib sheets are the HARDEST things to change. Apparently he'd had enough of that sheet- and the next two that we wrestled with in the wee hours of the morning.

So, 3 pair of pajamas, 2 cups of juice and 2 tired parents later, Henry finally went to sleep and, I hope, got it all out of his system.

He's eating cookies right now for snack and has been fine all day. I have now explained to him Newton's Law of Motion and told him that there would be no "tossing" of these cookies. He just smiled because he knew that I would love him and clean up after him no matter what he tosses. Maybe he's smarter than Newton...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Re-thinking the Linking

I just couldn't stand not having links over there. I'm sorry if there are too many; I actually wish there were more! There are so many great blogs out there- like books in a store- that I would read all day, if time allowed.
Or if my job allowed.
Or if the dishes, laundry, children, grocery store, husband and dogs allowed.
Yes, real life beckons constantly. Is that a bad thing? If it didn't, I guess I wouldn't have anything to write about after all...

Back to the links:
As much as I like Google Reader, it makes me feel good when people find my blog from someone else's, so I thought I'd return the favor. And in Reader, you have to click twice to get to the actual blog to comment. And I love to be updated on the right as to who has updated recently (I know that Reader does that, as well, but this is easier for me to follow). Oh, and people who love the links have also gotten on to me. Tsk. Tsk.

So, I've categorized these links for your clicking pleasure. You will have to scroll through each section to see which has been most recently updated on the top of each category. Did that make sense?
The groups are: College Sweethearts (people I know from college), Hometown Homies (people- or their husbands- I know from Dothan, AL- my hometown), Other People I Know in Real Life (self explanatory) and Always a Good Read (my nice way to say that I stalk these blogs). The last category is where I could read forever.

Hopefully soon I can get a big-girl blog and have a different page with a blogroll. It would be a page and a half long, so this one would have to do for now.

Enjoy! Click away! Stalk, if you dare. Just remember that this will suck you in easier than Facebook. Real life does eventually beckon, though... after I finish reading just one more blog.

The post you've been waiting for. Part 1

If you are a minor- or the parent of one who is standing over your shoulder- you might want to read with caution.If this was the Oprah show, the man with "the" voice would say, "Today's Oprah Show features adult content. Parental discretion is advised".

Y'all. I'm so sorry this has taken a while to get together. When you find out what all was involved with my weekend, then you'll understand.

Friday I shipped the kids off to spend the night with my wonderful in-laws. That's so we could go head up to church and school a bunch of middle schoolers on sex. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please read the beginning of this saga.

Friday night started with dinner, then a quiz to the kids in our group about what they think is sexy. {I should mention here that as we were walking towards our small group room, Jason turned to me and said, "I don't feel too great... I think I'm going to go home". He thinks he is pretty funny. I just looked at him with that look.} We passed around a picture of a baseball player and asked them if they thought they liked that person. Then we passed around a picture of a woman standing in a field and asked if they thought she was a Christian. To both of these, they all stared at the pictures blankly and said either "yes" or "no" kind of questioning the stupidity of the question. Then we passed a picture of a bikini-clad woman and asked if that was sexy. The boys immediately answered "yes" and the girls, of course, answered "no", but all of the kids did not want to touch the picture for more than 1.8 seconds. It was apparently red hot with sin and they were sitting in church, thank you very much. So, that lead to our discussion of what is "sexy". We talked a lot about media and what they are constantly surrounded with that tells them what it is to be sexy. They were much more aware of that than I thought they would be, so that was a good start. That lead into "sexy" being about your whole personality, etc, and more than just showing skin.

Next we headed to the main room to watch a video called "Why Teens Need to Know About Sex". Robin, our director, let us know before that this video was from the 80s. What she didn't let us know was that it would be a totally awesome flashback of middle school for US! It had pictures of Madonna (coned), a sober Paula Abdul, Nelson- both of them {oh, that hair!!}, and Meredith Baxter Bernie. It was a nice stroll down memory lane. I think Zak Morris's cell phone was pictured, but I can't be positive. Oh, and it talked about sex, too, and why teens should be educated, etc.

Then we trotted back down the hall to our small group to learn the parts of the female and male anatomy. The first page of the sheet they were supposed to label showed- what I will politely call- a gynecologist's view point of the female anatomy. Then it showed the female in cross section form. Then the next page had a male anatomy picture- complete with hair in the right places- and then a cross section. Here's the kicker- WE DIDN'T HAVE THE ANSWERS- just a completely different drawing and we had to decipher what was what. I think the kids got a kick out of us staring at the pictures, then turning them upside down- then yes, finally deciding that that was the "outer labia". If I had a nickel for every time I've said, "OK. The fourth blank down is the clitoris", we'll... I'd just have a nickel, but that's pretty much how that segment went. The kids were hilarious with the material and then started to come up with their own names. To them, the ovary looked much like a strawberry in this drawing, so that's what it became. And the cross section of the female looked a lot like a flamingo and the cross section of the male looked a lot like a golf club. {That last one is probably not a stretch for you to visualize without looking at the drawing.} The real point of this is to not only have them learn the correct terminology, but to use it. As parents, we don't shorten other names of our bodies- like call our ears something other than ears or our elbows our "el-el", so when we call the penis the "pee-pee" and make up names for other parts, then we are showing them that there is something to be ashamed of or hide about those parts. From now on, there will be penises in our house and not pee-pees! This is going to be difficult for the polite, Suuuuuthern part of me, but I think it's necessary.
With all our their new knowledge of things like the epididymus and the fallopian tubes, we marched back down the hall, ready to take on the other teams in a feisty game of pictionary. There was another church that also had 2 groups of kids there and I found myself giving our team pep talks like this, "Do you think those chumps can come over here on our home turf and take us? NO! Let's go kick their anus!!". Even with that pep talk, the visitors won by one point. Dang it. But they did have a fun time yelling "Seminal glands!" (my favorite mis-quote of the night was seminary glands) "Prostate!", "Cervix!" and "Uterus!" all together. By that time we were all about over the goofiness of the terminology. We went back to the room and it was time to answer the questions from the question box.
Earlier the kids had written down questions anonymously, we had taken them to a big room with all the other adults and discussed the correct answers. So it was time to discuss the answers with the kids.
Our first question was, "If you have sex before you are married, will you go to Hell?". Hello. Thanks for that opener. We answered by talking about sin and how you want to steer clear from all types of sin, but that God loves you and forgives you and will always do that if you repent and turn away from your sin. Amen. Hallelujah.
Over the weekend we had 4 rounds of the question box and they questions ranged from "What is a blow job?" to "What's for lunch?" and pretty much everywhere in between.

Friday night ended with the kids going home with their parents. I thought they might have spent the night at the church, but someone thought that keeping 50 hormonal middle schoolers together in an empty church after revving them up with sex talk all night might not be a good idea. Good thinking. So, off we all went to get some rest for the night. It was going to be a long day on Saturday. Lots more talk about masturbation, homosexuals, abortion and STDs was to come.
I can't wait to fill you in on the rest of it tomorrow! I'm sure you can't wait!
If you think this is awkward to read, just imagine when we explained it all to their parents on Saturday night!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When we last left the breakfast room...

It looked like this:
Then Monday night we put the chair rail in and painted the bottom half:
Same wall shown here, but just FYI, this is what the rest of the breakfast room- where we eat ALL our meals- not just breakfast- looks like:
We are renaming it the disaster room for the time being.

Tuesday night we had sex training (Please read the link if you don't what I'm talking about. It wasn't nearly as fun as that sounds.) then Jason had a "meeting" Wednesday night. But, we did plan the layout for the squares after he got home from the bar with his friends his meeting.

So tonight I had a school board meeting (not at a bar, unfortunately), but we penciled in the places for these gems and Jason hung them while I was gone! I think it's shaping up!
We still have several squares left to do, but the majority are done.

If you noticed the big space at the top of the ceiling it's because we are putting new crown molding up there. We're using 12 foot pieces and this is what ghetto fabulousness looks like bringing home 12 foot molding:
Talk about blind spot! I had a blind SIDE.

Here are the things we have left to do:
- Paint crown molding.
- Hang crown molding.
- Hang rest of squares.
- Putty all cracks.
- Touch up with both paint colors.
- Re-install all outlets and switches.
- Decorate the darn room so it doesn't look like you're staring at the sun.

In case you're interested, all the wood supplies are from Lowe's. The paint is, too: the yellow color is Deep Cowslip #5 by Laura Ashley and the bottom color is actually left over from when we moved in. It is from Sherwin Williams and is called Creamy- because nothing is actually called white!

And the chair rail is supposed to be 1/3 of the way up your wall, but we have to deal with an air vent, so ours is a little taller than that. Our walls are 8 ft. and the chair rail is at 35 inches.

The squares are 14 inches across by 23 inches tall and they are hung approx. (depending on wall length) 6 inches apart and are even from top of base boards and bottom of chair rail.

OK, sorry to bore you, but if you are a design person that might help.

And I've temporarily moved my computer station to the same breakfast room since the office is so cold. So goodnight from the yellow surface of the sun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some PG-13 material involved

If you are a minor- or the parent of one who is standing over your shoulder- you might want to read with caution.
If this were the Oprah show, the man with "the" voice would say, "Today's Oprah Show features adult content. Parental discretion is advised".

Jason and I have been suckered into {that was for you, Amanda} asked to lead a workshop this weekend called the Christian View of Sex. It is the official United Methodist Church's curriculum for sexual education (but I can't find a link for it- hmmm). Oh, did I mention that we will be teaching MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!!!! If I had a knife stabbing/ horror movie screaming sound effect I would insert it here.

Yes, Jason and I teach middle school students every week with youth, so we would be an obvious choice, I guess, but somehow the word "vagina"- or even "va-jay-jay" never comes up in our discussions on the Bible or their school life, so I'm afraid this is about to get weird. I don't want our relationships with them to go to that level of weirdness, so I'm a little apprehensive. Supposedly, we get a wonderful training to teach us how to impart their hormone-filled minds with Godly answers. Well, we got that training last night and I'm still a little scared.

Truly, the training was fine and I know the program will be great, but I am still terrified... of 6th- 8th graders. Pimply, brace-faced, smart allec kids who I already KNOW, but still they are somewhat "my" kids and I can't help to feel that parental awkwardness.

Everything is supposed to go much more smoothly after pictionary on Friday night. Yes, uh-huh. That's right. Once we get all the official body parts named and out there and the whole group screams "scrotum" all together to get their point in the game- then things are supposedly going to get easier. Oh my.

I am not a prude, nor do I think this subject matter should be skipped over. On the contrary, Robin (our trainer) made a wonderful point the other night. She said that the church did a great job of teaching kids about all the blessings that they receive from God- except this one. So, the program focuses on the positive aspects of sexuality (defined as everything that makes us a man or a woman) and teaches them abstinence with the facts. They need to know the truth since so much of what they "learn" is from other friends who don't know their ovum from their rectum a darn thing.

We will not only talk about facts, act out situations and play games, but there is also a question box during each session. EACH of the kids will have to write a question to put in the anonymous question box so that no one will no who wrote what. Thankfully, there is a time period built in after each session where all the leaders go into a room, furiously write down all the questions on a big post it note pad {giggle and snicker at some of the questions} and then we get strategic tips {okay fine- probably the whole answer} from Robin on how to answer. We also have a notebook full of resources and facts, so I'm sure those will be helpful.

I can go ahead and tell you that I am taking deep breaths right now. {I think I can do this. Yes, we can do this.} The hard part- honestly- is going to be keeping a straight face. There are only so many times I can think, "That's what she said" without collapsing into giggles on the floor. And Jason and I have to sit across from each other in the room- which I do NOT think will fit well into our strengths. If you happen to know us in person, you know that we are goofy. Dorky goofy. Who in the WORLD asked us to do this again? That would be my good friend Amanda- the Youth Associate at our church. Shown here with her husband Larry as Batman and Bat Woman. As you can see, she obviously has impaired judgement. But she and Larry will be the other group leaders, so we will definitely have a fun time comparing notes with them.

So, I am going to have to channel my inner adult this weekend and make this happen. Our sessions are Friday night and all day Saturday. Then we have a 2 hour session with the parents to tell them what we talked about and then what their kids (in general- no specifics) think about sex and their sexuality and how they can continue the conversation. So, any prayers that you've gotten lying around and you want to toss them our way would be greatly appreciated.

I'm off to read up on STDs, homosexuality, the clinical terms: erection, semen and intercourse.

That's what she said.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An Interview with Henry

Last night I finally bit the bullet and painted the breakfast room walls- at least the top half of them. We're doing a chair rail (tonight) and painting the bottom half white.Note my planned (school bus) yellow shirt from Discovery Weekend in case I got paint on myself. "In case". Who am I kidding? I am a horrible painter- as far as not dripping/ spraying is concerned. I scraped some random paint off the breakfast table today. OOPS!

Ollie walked in this morning and shouted, "It's BOO-tiful!", then he later described the room as having a "pile of paint" on it. My thoughts exactly.

So, it was little brother's turn to tell what he thought about the room.

Henry IS very talkative and actually has a pretty impressive vocabulary (thanks to his brother). A fine example of the poor second child syndrome is that Henry knows who Lightning McQueen is and one of his first words is "McKeen". Wouldn't the folks at my home trailer park be proud?

So, aside from watching all together too many movies, Henry has also honed his interview skills. Please see below:

* Notes before you view:
- Although it looks like the video was time warped from the 70's with that brown tone (a-la Olan Mills), it was just something goofy on my camera. Or maybe the brand new sparkling gold walls. Either or.

- Henry is not a morning person.
- Ollie thinks every question is directed towards him and is working on his brotherly patience.

- Henry is thrilled when he gets a word in edge wise.

I think he might be fighting to get a word in for the rest of his life. Poor guy. But at least he will be on top of all the race cars in his class at school.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Spam- It's not just for dinner anymore

OK, I have been spam-ified in my comments section. As much as I hate typing in stupid letters for word verification {nulistif or myreght}, I am going to have to add that into my comments area. I am so sorry. Please blame the foreigners who put goofy things like "I read your article and pass on to acquaintances Gucci Bag" with a link to some other crazy spam site. How do I know they are foreigners? Well, I'm just guessing by the linguistics. Much like the e-mails that you get that say, "Dear Sir, I have many money and need safe location to invest while I come to U. S." and things like that. I also got a few interesting "love" suggestions, if you know what I mean. And while I'm all for love and good solid relationships, I don't think most of those flames are ignited in the comments section of a family blog.
The thing I hate most about the word verification is that the letters are kind of whompy. Sometimes you can't ever tell if the F is a T or a M is really an RN (all are lower case). You know what I mean?
So, again, I apologize for the inconvenience, but unless I want to spend my days deleting pleas for stationary, millionaires who are searching for a bank account or cheap leather goods, then it's just a step that has to be taken.

In a related note, do y'all ever read Stuff Christians Like? It's a very funny blog, that stemmed from the Stuff White People Like blog that has taken on a life of it's own. Jon, the author, even has a book with Zondervan coming out with all the stuff in the blog! I will definitely get it- super funny.
Here's the tie in: in his comment section, people have started giving definitions of what they thing the word verification should mean. For example, if the word is {xanitu}, the commenter would write their comment on the post, then put "WV (for word verification): Xanitu- a spin off of Xanadu that is performed only in mime" or something silly like that. So, it's fun times just to read the comments section! You should check it out.

Have I mentioned how much I like your comments? It's hard for me to imagine that people actually read my ramblings and then comment on them. You really make my day.
Thank you!
And thanks for taking the extra step to spell out n-o-l-p-i-e or whatever the word verification will be.
Maybe I'll send a "fine" leather bag or some "low price" personalized stationary your way as a reward.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's taken me 3.5 hours...

And I could have been sleeping, but I have now read all the blogs from this past week that I missed out on!
I actually said out loud to my husband, "I have been so busy with work this week that I haven't gotten to read my blogs". And it sounded like an old grandma who watches "her stories".
Here are some of the highlights from my "stories" tonight:

First and foremost, please pray for this family.

In other notes {insert your own smooth transition here}, Jason would tell you quickly that this could be me. I have a whole post percolating about my use of lip balm, but this picture will tell you my view on it.

And I have actually told Ollie before to quit crying and that "NO- we could not go to church right now and quit asking." So this rang true in my home.

And for a good perspective on the public potty- visit here.

Or a good laugh at our gifted children- go here.

The title of this post is ghetto pinata. You'll enjoy. I'm sure of it.

And this is an older post, but my hometown homies will enjoy this one. I played softball (do I need to insert here that softball was a cool sport in our hometown?) with a gal named Anne Turner (those are both first names- it's Alabama, y'all) and she turned out to be an amazing designer. And she's friends with a guy I graduated from high school with's wife's twin sister. They were in design school at Auburn together, apparently.
You got all that? Well, it doesn't matter. This kitchen renovation will make you think you know her, too. Or it will make you want to know her. It definitely makes me wish I would have stayed in touch with her! I would love to see what she would do with my kitchen (and everything else in my house...).

So, enjoy my hours of "research". I'm here to serve.
You are welcome. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Only Thing Warm Is My Heart

It is freezing. Fah-reeeeezing. In Alabama.
I purposefully reside in Alabama to be warm. In general, I am anti-freeze (not the liquid, but I guess that fits here, too). I realize that you can’t change the weather and that there is no use complaining about it, but it affected my attitude today.
Today’s high was 25 with a wind chill of 9. (I realize that this is nothing to some of you, but it is COLD to me.) The kids went to pre-school in heavy shirts, sweaters, fleece lined jeans, big jackets and hats. They put that kid from The Christmas Story to shame. (I would have given them scarves, but I was afraid they would choke each other- or worse- look like girls.) I warmed the car before we left and then we ran and jumped in as fast as we could. Brrr. It makes me shiver to think about it.
Then I came home and started to work in my basement office, but it was so cold that I couldn’t think straight. My brain cells were slowing with the temperature, so I came upstairs and relocated to the breakfast room. I finally got warm, got a lot of work done, but I was still in a gripe-y mood ALL day because of the cold.
See, it’s not that I mind skiing- or even snow- but bitter cold with no white stuff when it’s beautiful outside is just not fair. It’s like the cold air slaps you in the face when you open the door to a beautiful, sunny and what should be warm day.
This afternoon I happily retrieved my children and was glad to hear they had a nice day at pre-school. (If you don’t count the fact that they were cooped up inside staring at the gorgeous day and the playgrounds outside- because it was too cold to exit the building.)
We blasted the heat all the way home and pulled up our driveway. I got out and got Ollie out of the car first like I do everyday. And, just like I do every day, I kissed him on the cheek and told him that I loved him.

And then he said it. He said, “I love you, too, mom” for the first time.

I mean, he’s said that he loved me when he was asked to, like Jason saying, “Tell mommy bye and that we love her”, but he’s never said it on his own accord- without cajoling or candy up for grabs.
So, I gave him a big hug and pulled him out of the car. All of a sudden I didn’t mind the blistering wind. And I got over my cold ankles that came about because I couldn’t find long socks- just the short running ones. And we didn’t have to run back inside because I wanted to somehow gather up the cold air that held those words.
But we had to get inside, un-bundle and get ready for nap. And after a short, but strong tantrum over big Thomas, Annie and Clarabelle, my sweet, precious, angel boy turned back into a 3 year old boy who is a lot of fun, but a little opinionated.
But today he is a 3 year old boy who loves his mama and that’s all that matters.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Hardest Person to Shop For

Hi! If you are joining from Rocks in My Dryer, Welcome! Feel free to learn about me here.

Have you ever had that person that is just impossible to shop for? I'm sure you've been through this at Christmas, but I can always somehow come up with pictures of my kids for Christmas gifts arranged in some special manner (mouse pad, calendar, tattoo) to appease most relatives. My in laws like calendars, my parents like pictures in big, fancy frames and my lips are sealed on the tattoo.

My biggest challenge came a couple of years ago when my father-in-law turned 60. He truly has everything. Book light? Check. Musical tie that plays the theme to Top Gun? Check. A shamwow? Well, probably not at the time, but CHECK, now, I'm sure. My mother-in-law got him a car if that tells you how far she had to reach to find something for him. And he even already had one of those.

Seeing as how the car wasn't in my budget (and was already taken), I had to go with something a little less mobile. The day before his party, I came up with an idea to list 60 things about him that we love. I got together with my husband and my sister-in-law and her husband (on speakerphone traveling over for the occasion) and we easily came up with 60 funny stories, inside jokes, quirky things and special meaningful things that make him who he is. I wrote them all on a poster board and wrote at the top: "60 Reasons YOU are the Greatest Dad and Grandpa in the World". I did measure so the lines would be even and wrote in different colored markers, but other than that, there isn't anything special about the poster board and paper. But, the memories on there are priceless. They range anywhere from, "Jumps like a kangaroo" (what he did for our baby at the time to entertain him) to "Always leads his family in prayer before meals". This poster board would have made Hitler cry. I love to give a gift to make someone cry and this one is right up there with my best!

Following suit, we easily did the same thing from my mother-in-law the next year, but the big challenge came this year!

My husband's grandmother turned 90 years old. ( There is a whole side commentary here waiting to be hashed out: I don't know if I WANT to be 90. She makes 90 look good, but I'm afraid I'll be hanging on to my blue hair and my walker with one bad arthritis-ridden hand. Back to the topic...) To say that there is nothing to get for her is an obvious understatement. She already has the Top Gun tie, too.

So, I was enlisted to make a poster for her with all her children and grandchildren contributing and this is what it looks like:

The writing had to be super tiny, but I was able to fit it all on there. Oh, and the heel on my right hand looked like my palm used to look when I'd hold on to Skittles (hoarding them from my sister) in the summer. Be careful of the smudge.

So that is what has worked for me in the past and I hope you are able to use the idea for your next hard to shop for person!

That is, if they don't have a shamwow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Name this post! I'm out of "clever" tonight.

Have y'all ever done the Sips n Strokes or painting classes? We have one in Huntsville with a girl who is really great. Here is her website if you live around here. This is the second painting that I've done with her and I've been happy with the class both times!

I've painted at a different place in town, too, for a birthday party for a friend and that was great! I think they are all fun. Here is the bottom line:

A bunch of women yakking + wine + feeling like you are creative = good times.

Tonight we painted a cross that I have been excited about for a long time, but have never been able to do it before tonight.
Here is the set up: several round tables, lots of easels and canvases and everybody trying to follow instructions, but really asking, "What did she just say?". Here is my cross about half way through. And the group of friends that I was painting with. We all just kind of ended up there without much planning and it was an entertaining group- as in we laughed the whole time. We posed in front of the "model" piece of art because ours were all- lets just say- a little different from that one. Oh, and those shirts are smocks, in case you are questioning my fashionista layering technique. Here is my finished project! I'm kinda thrilled with it! I just don't know where on earth it will go. I'll post another picture once I hang it up somewhere.

And with the wonderful piece of handmade art, I also walked away with some life lessons:

  • The grass is always greener. (If you are using green this can be literally true, but in my case it was figurative.) I would walk around and think, "Oh, that is great" or "Why didn't I do that" or "I'm going to knock her over and take that home", but when I came back to mine, I still seemed to like it. It wasn't that bad. I think the theme for the song "Love the one your with" would fit here properly.
  • There is such a thing as TOO much of a good thing. For example, gold paint, can in fact, be too much. Not in my case, but I bore witness to some examples tonight.
  • Everything is relative. Everybody had a completely different painting and we were all working with the same paints, instructions, canvas, etc. It was wild. Reminded me of this verse. Everybody has different viewpoints and interprets the same image differently, like everyone has different talents and uses them differently.

Good night. I hope you get those "Doo doo duh doo, doo doo duh Doot"s out of your head before too long.

You're welcome.

Sad confessions of a lunch packing mom

I have the lunchbox blues. Please, please help. I need you to be my Zoloft.
Let me start off with this: I have the option of paying for a catered lunch for my kids at pre-school. The lunch is from Jason's Deli, so it's quasi-healthy, but doesn't include all the things that my kids usually eat. They eat a lot.

I would probably have to pack more than just what they would get from that lunch. So, I just bite the bullet and pack their lunches every day. I won't lie and tell you that I like it either. It's about as much fun as a root canal, but I do it, danggit. I have been known to say that this was the bane of my existence. Dramatic? Maybe. Honest? Youbetcha.

Oh, and I'm cheap and don't want to pay for that lunch that I would have to supplement. Have I mentioned that I'm cheap, before? I think I might have here. Or here.

Here's the situation, though: my poor kids have a lot of the same foods over and over again. Not only because the foods are easy to pack, travel well, don't grow mold in a matter of hours, etc., but also because their mommy can't think of other things to pack!! I'm out of creative juices (or juice boxes in this situation)!

I used to be the Queen of the Lunchbox, but I've gotten into a rut.

Here are my standard "guidelines": meat, 2 veggies, 2 fruits. (They get loads of whole grains at breakfast, so I don't feel bad about leaving those off the lunch list.)

Meats: Ham, chicken or hot dog (yes- the bad ones, they just taste better)
Veggies: Corn, Lima beans, baked beans, black eyed peas, green beans (anything in a can- I am NOT good at cooking frozen veggies. They end up burned on the edges and frozen in the middle when I cook them.) And I send fresh carrots, broccoli or celery with Ollie because he has chomping teeth (vs. his brother) and loves those. AND they give him ranch to dip them in. (Time out here to get a collective *AMEN- Hallelujah* for dipping accessories like ketchup and ranch!)
Fruits: Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches in a little cup, cantaloupe, pineapple (canned), oranges (mandarin canned ones), pears, apples.

(OK, well I'm okay with fruits, thankfully because they will eat any fruit, but I need serious help in the other areas.)

Sometimes I get a little wacky and throw in a cheese (cubes or stringed) or a pasta (like the oh-so healthy Easy Mac). I feel really proud of myself on those days. Or I might send a soy nut butter (2 children in Ollie's classroom are deathly allergic to peanuts) and jelly sandwich with Ollie in lieu of a meat to spice things up a bit. Last week I was desperate and even sent Bagel Bites. I hope the teachers didn't talk about me at the microwave.

I need help!! Please click on Comments and take a few minutes to tell me your kids favorite things that you pack.

I try not to send things that they will completely hate because I want them to eat. I normally try new things at home so I can force them to try it with threats of taking away toys see if they like it before it's carted off to participate in pre-school. It might be traded for something, so it has to at least be a contender.

What? You see potato chips here? I do NOT know what you're talking about...

I also need tips on lunch box containers. I have to have a size that will fit into their lunchboxes, but I am SO tired of the cheap $1 ones I got from Target (that they don't sell anymore!!). I only have 2 lids without cracks left and I clean those and use them everyday. It would been nice if the packages told you not to dish wash the lids, but apparently the level of instruction on a $1 container isn't quite what it needs to be. Or didn't translate from Chinese. Or wasn't a concern while they were filling it with lead. Whatever.

They need to have separate areas for each food (that quirk comes to my beloved children courtesy of my husband) and preferably can be dish washed.

Go wild with your ideas and tips! You can do it!
Thanks in advance!! You're the best!

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Ode to My Son at 15 Months Old

Tractors in toilets and balls in my shoes,
Cars in the fridge, could it all be from you?

Unrolled toilet paper spread ‘cross the floor,
You’re all the way boy, just looking for more.

You’re into the dog food more than the pets,
That can is full of vitamins, I bet.

You push all the trains then tear up the tracks
It’s demo you love, as a matter of fact.

You have a fake cry that’s terribly sad,
Stealing glances to check if we’ve been had.

You love your big bro’, trail him to all ends
I hope one day you’ll be more than just friends.

That sweet toothy grin sure makes your mom melt
I’m sure no other has felt what I’ve felt.

I hope you seek God who brought you to me
I know that He has great plans, just you see.

A train engineer or a court jester?
A lawyer, doctor, dog food taste tester?

Whatever this life has in store for you
Please give your best because God did for you.

And know that our love will never taper,
As long as you clean up that toilet paper.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What did you just call me?

First, thank you all so much for your wonderful dishwasher tips and congrats. Our new addition is fitting into our family quite well. He is quiet and still does what I tell him to do. Nice for a change. And, I bought the Electrosol tablets at Sam's. Thanks for the tip!

Over Christmas, I had another flare up of an embarrassing problem. Not my fever blisters, although those showed their pretty little heads, as well, but a different one.

This one is much further down- all the way down to my left foot.

I do know my left from my right. This is just a model of my lovely right foot on Christmas Day. It is proudly displaying a gift from my mother-in-law. A gag, recycled gift, but a gift, nonetheless.

I get this massive bump in the middle of it when I stand on it for too long. Apparently, all the cooking, shopping, cleaning, teacher gift making, candy eating baking, etc that comes along with Christmas pushed me over the edge. It was either that or the "Christmas should not be about materialism and to-do lists, but about quiet preparation time" soap box that I tend to get on pretty often.
Hmmm. Hard to tell.

Let's just say that it looked like the peak of Mt. Everest was in the middle of my foot. (Five points to anyone who knows what wonderfully- named man was the first to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.) It was painful, a little ugly, but worst of all, I couldn't wear my hot mama black boots without severe pain.

So, I did what any woman would do. I wore the boots anyway and called a podiatrist.

I saw the foot doctor today and - even though it isn't flared up nearly as much as it was- he could still tell there was something there.

So, he sent me to X-ray.

I met a very nice old lady there who was hoping to get to be able to wear 2 shoes today for the first time in 3 months. She'd had a boot on one foot and then the other.
I made jokes about her one clean shoe at home.
She told me I looked far too young to have 2 children.
I miss her.

After X-ray, I went back to the room and it was just what he thought it was: a Ganglion Cyst.

What did you just call me?

That's right- some sort of foul sounding cyst. EEWWW.
Well, it's also called a "Bible" cyst, so I'd like to think that Jesus got them, too.
And would you like to know why it's called a Bible Cyst? Because people used to drop Bibles on them to get rid of them.


My options to get rid of it are 1) Bible dropping 2) deal with it or 3) surgery.

Although I do live in a Bible-beating area, I'm going with option #2. I think Proverbs warns against option #1.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is another picture of Ollie from his dress-up montage the other night. He is saying, "To infinity and beyond!" Except his "beyond" sounds like "Byhooond"- thus the O sound you see here. He still loves Buzz (and there are more links if you need them).
What am I going to do when this doesn't fit him anymore? I think if he leaves it on long enough that it will mold to his body.

Yes. That's what I want the pre-school kids to remember about him. He'll appreciate that in middle school.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Toy Story

Hi! If you are joining from Rocks in My Dryer, Welcome! Feel free to learn about me here.

My version of Toy Story goes like this:

  • Baby is born and there are a small amount of soft small toys in the home.

  • Baby gets a little bigger and small soft toys are put away to make room for medium sized toys with few pieces.

  • Mommy knows where every toy is and dutifully puts them back with their proper pieces in the correct location every night.

  • Baby has first Christmas and number of medium sized toys increases as well as number of small parts in each toy.

  • Mommy still knows where each toy and piece should call home.

  • Baby has a few birthdays, a younger brother and more kids meals (with toys) and shaped chicken nuggets that he should be allowed to ingest due to FDA regulations.

  • Mommy cannot find her keys or coffee, much less care about where the Little People bus driver, lid to the special color wonder marker and Henry's coal tender belong (still missing).

So that is where the plot currently is. Or WAS. Until I decided to take control of the toy clutter after Christmas.

We all know that somehow your home implodes like pop rocks and Coke after Christmas (Where did they get that toy? Did it walk into the house? It is an action figure...). Our living room and playroom became a huge dumping area for the toys.

Not the crummy stuff. Oh, I toss those "character building" Chic-fil-A books and/ or CDs immediately. Come on Chic-fil-A. That's only if I don't turn them back in for free ice cream. Did you know you could do that?

But medium sized decent toys. That have lots of pieces and are learning toys so you feel guilty about tossing them and your mother will ask where it is next time she visits. The toys were seeping (crawling, maybe?) into our whole house. I was stepping on train tracks/ Mr. Potato Head's angry eyes/ magnetic talking letters in the bathroom. My bathroom. The sanctuary.

Welcome 4 new bins from Tar-jay. All things like puzzles, cars, coloring books, medium sized toys were separated into equal amounts for each bin considering craft vs. play, older vs. younger, car vs. tractor, equal toys for each age, etc. Who am I kidding? I kind of tossed them all in there. (But I did try to spread it out a little because I have issues.)

Here is the spreading process:

Here is the trick: we only get ONE OUT A WEEK for the kids to play with! Who really needs 8 coloring books at once (besides an octopus)? The kids think it's like Christmas all over again. We could have just brought out all that old junk. I don't know why we spent tons of money on new junk. Maybe this is why.

We put one away tonight and brought a new one out. BIG party 'round these parts. Doesn't take much, I guess. Here are the other 3 stored properly (and clogging up our coat closet a bit) and patiently waiting for their turn.

So, that's what's working for me right now. I'm enjoying seeing the floor for the time being. Hopefully the system will last for a while if I can remember to (and have the strength to- those boogers are wedged in there!) change out the toys. And maybe the boys won't beg for certain toys that are "locked" away.

I don't want to have to get out my angry eyes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My New Love

I'm having a new love affair. My compatriot is short and stocky, but don't let that fool you. He is clean and shiny- just like I like 'em. I push his buttons and he does just what I tell him to do. And he can take anything I can dish out.

His name is Whirl. Whirl Pool. And he is a gold edition. (I think that means he wears a big gold chain.)
Is it a little sad that I am over-the-top-beside-myself excited about this dishwasher? I think NOT! If you had seen my old dishwasher (it did have a bottom panel, but this was right before the guy removed it):
Then you would know my pain. I got the serial and model numbers and still couldn't find out what year it was originally made. The installation guy thought it was around a 1988 model- 20 years old!
In order for a dishwasher to be installed, you have to take out all the things from under your sink. Amazing what all is in there! (Jas: I found the GOO GONE!!! It only took 6 months!) I had about 4 Lysol sprays, 2 big bottles of Murphy's Oil Soap and 14 different ways to clean my counters/ windows/ carpets, etc. It just kills me that none of these get used. What a shame. I did reorganize and toss a lot of things, because I didn't want the new dishwasher to be embarrassed of his neighbors.
Without further ado, here he is:
Stainless front, buttons on the top where no children can touch them (for about a week until they figure it out) and a nice handle that says, "pull me open and all your cares will go away". Or something like that... It also has the flatware rack in the door and the top shelf is adjustable. If I could type while I was jumping up and down I would be doing both.
Here are some tips I learned from the install guy:
1) He says to ALWAYS use Jet Dry. How about that? I've NEVER used it and he said it was the best thing you could do. I wonder if he works for them?
2) Most new washers prefer and even say in their manual to use granulated soap- not the liquid kind. Hmph! I've been using liquid for as long as I can remember- from Sam's, of course. I guess I'll switch to those little tablets. He said those were great.
3) Don't turn off the dishwasher when the install guy takes your old washer out to the car. He is performing some sort of test and will get mad at you.
I would like to thank my in-laws for this wonderful Christmas present! Only my mother-in-law could give me a dishwasher without me being offended. She knew I'd love it!!!!
I guess all that's left to say is, "Welcome home, dishwasher. Welcome home."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Wild Hair

OK, so we've had a few "wild hairs" around here lately.

Ollie decided to dress up in 4 different costumes last night after we went to dinner with some friends. He had free ice cream after dinner which apparently turned him into a wild man. Here he is as (I'm not making this up- it's on his name badge on top of the "muscles") "Officer Awesome". Sounds like it might be a little too risque to me for a child's Halloween costume, but they don't ask my opinion about these things. And I'm sure they think the parents will get a kick out of it. The outfit did NOT include a boom box, so I guess I'm okay with it. Henry had some wild hairs, so we just covered them up. (This was playing outside on New Year's Day.)And I decided to paint our breakfast room yesterday. Or just this portion of it. Because I just got one of those little sample cans at Lowe's and now it will probably be a week before I get back to get the real gallon can. I like the color, though. And I think we're going to do a chair rail and wainscoting at the bottom to break up the different bold colors in every room. That was Jason's idea. And I went to design school- if that tells you anything about my designing ability. I'll post the final pics when we get it done. Don't hold your breath.

Post Script: What kind of a friend am I? This color is Deep Cowslip (make up your own definition of what that is here) #5 by Laura Ashley and sold at Lowe's.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Better In Bulk (and this isn't about my hiney)

While I am entirely too snooty to darken a automatically opened door to Wal-Mart, I love Sam's Club. If you live in Iceland and aren't familiar, Sam's Club sells huge quantities of things at wholesale prices to businesses (but is also open to the public). So, you can get a 20 pound tube of sausage at half the price per pound you would pay at a grocery store. Sam's Club and Wal-Mart are owned by the same company- God. Wait, no, that would be Sam Walton- or his family since Sam is dead.

I have read several articles (the portion of this book about Wal-Mart is the best) and seen TV programs about the rise of Wal-Mart and how they take out local businesses. But the people that trash the company are the same ones that flock there because they have lower prices. It's a vicious cycle.
I just go to Target for things I don't need 144 of to avoid the inner conflict. Is that so wrong?

I used to be all for Costco (and even thought they were better than Sam's- I hope you didn't miss up there that I'm a little snooty), but then they built a new Sam's (clean, well-lit, etc.) much closer to our house, so I'm a re-convert (since I loved Sam's first). I am Cheapy Saleserton and love a good deal (thanks to my dad), so this place makes me happy. Now, the trick is to buy things that you will actually use a lot of and not let it go to waste. I have perfected this to an art form.

I started jotting a list to include here of all the things I regularly buy at Sam's. The list includes 37 things at this point. That's just a little embarrassing, so know that I do a lot of shopping there.

In lieu of my long list of favorites that I buy at Sam's, here are my tips if- for some reason- you are a Sam's novice.

1) Get a business membership, if possible. It costs an extra $10/ year, but I used my company info and now I can go at 7:00 am with the special people. There will be people buying cartloads of cigarettes and mozzarella cheese (hopefully not in the same buggy), but there won't be many of them. Early in the morning is the BEST time to go to Sam's. You might even get to hear their meetings in the cafeteria where they go over what has sold the best, stock prices and then, of course, the Sam's "S-A-M-S" employee cheer.

2) If you have to go on a Saturday, go at lunch. You can get a whole meal of little tiny samples if you can fight off the other people trying to get that half of a Bagel Bite. You have to be ruthless. Leave your manners near the old lady who checks your card at the door. And you can cruise by a couple of times if you act like you really might buy that sample. Those little sample ladies love it when you act like you might take home their 14 pound lasagna platter if you could just have one more bite.
Or send your children for several. They have no dignity under 5 and cannot be blamed. Just pretend like you are getting on to them and then eat the samples with a face that apologetically says, "I guess this is just what we have to do" with mock embarrassment. In my mind you should shake your head a little in disgust while you chomp down with a tiny little spoon.

3) If you are there on a day when they don't have free samples and you are there at lunch, eat at their cafeteria. The food is horrible and greasy, and there are very limited choices, but you can get a foot long hot dog and a gallon of soda for about $1.50. Really. Oh yeah.

4) Never, no never, buy a huge gallon of peeled garlic cloves- unless you are fighting off vampires. Just trust me here. It will never get used. And your refrigerator will smell like an Italian died in there.

5) Get gas there. It's easy to get at the cafeteria, but they also sell it outside at pumps. (And you can also pick up a pack of 485 antacid tablets if you get the cafeteria induced kind.)

My love for Publix is well-documented, so please don't think that I've switched my alliance. But I have a little bit of pantry space and a deep freezer in the garage, so I'm okay with larger quantities on some things. Oh, and I'm cheap. Did I mention that?

I hope you love Sam's (or Costco, if you swing that way) like I do. I spend a lot of time there. You might have picked up on that since I know the employee cheer. Really, where else would you buy toilet paper? You know you're going to need that for a while. Or baby wipes, batteries or frozen pizza? I should go work for them in their PR department. Do you think they'd let me work there if I told them I wouldn't step foot in Wal-Mart?
If only a one-size-fits-all blue vest looked good on me...

Friday, January 2, 2009

How We Met

Since you asked after this space shuttle mention, here is the story of how Jason and I met.

WARNING: This story includes alcohol, bowling and sappy cheesiness that is uncharacteristic.

I have to tell you that this seems surreal to type as I'm eating breakfast with our children. Our 3 year old is distraught because we can't find Henry's coal tender to be at the table with him. He also just told me his hand was "sad" and I had to kiss it to make it better. And our 1 year old is in a high chair deciding what to feed the dogs for breakfast- cheerios or bananas- his constant struggle.

So, let me swat the dust off this story for you.

When I was in 6th grade, I went to Space Camp with a friend who had asked me to go with her. Her dad found out that you could get a cheaper rate if a friend came with you, so she talked me into it. We got to miss a whole week of school and then did a report about it when we came back. My grandmother paid for me to go, so she still claims that she's responsible for Jason and me meeting.

While we did NOT meet in 1990 as Space Camp campers, we did meet in 1998 as Space Camp Counselors. See, I did not leave Space Camp thinking that I wanted to be an astronaut; I wanted to come back to be a Space Camp counselor. I thought it was the coolest place in the world and I just knew I wanted to work there. Dorky? Yes. But when I went back in 1998 to work there, I was surrounded by my own kind: space geeks.

At our counselor orientation with about 100 new employees, they told us to look around. And then said, "because traditionally at least 4 of you will get married". I'm still not sure if that was a scare tactic or a promise, but I will never forget it.

I found out (first-hand) later that all the conditions to make a love connection are there at Space Camp: 1) you are in a close environment that is it's own microcosm of the world- as in, you eat, sleep, work and play there 2) everyone has to have at least 2 years of college so some of your wild- I just got to college and WOOOOOOOO- days are out of your system and 3) you find out someone's true personality when they are around children.

I saw Jason teaching Shuttle Orientation under the Space Shuttle Pathfinder one of the first days that I was in training. He was definitely cute and had a great way of relating to children. But I only saw him in passing for a few weeks after that. Then we met again at a party in the dorms. We were playing cards and drinking (chewing?) jello shots. Apparently, I was allergic to whatever alcohol was in the jello shots and broke out with big whelps all over. (Let me note here that while I said that we lived at Space Camp, that summer there were so many counselors that I lived at the UAH dorms which were down the street. So there is not any alcohol on the Space Camp facility in case you are a parent and want to send your child there. Obviously, I would highly recommend the program if you're okay with hungover counselors .)

So, I think Jason kept asking me if I was okay because of the large red whelps on my face and neck. I really know how to get a guy's attention, don't I? Oh well. It worked.

We went bowling with a big group that next week and we made a bet: if he won then we would go out on a date and I would pay for it and if I won then we would go out on a date and he would pay for it.

Pretty sneaky way of asking me out on a date, but I thought it was cute and played along. He only beat me by one pin. And he did end up paying for the date.

We went to IHOP (the only place open since I worked the night shift from 3pm- 11pm) and stayed there for 4 hours talking. Then we saw each other every night that week. After our 3rd date, I stayed up all night because I could not quit thinking about him. It was the weirdest sensation. I called my mom at 6am and here was the conversation:

Mom: Who in the world is calling at 6 am?
Me: It's me.
Mom: Are you okay?
Me: Yes, I've met the man I'm going to marry. (I'm sure that was sap oozing out of her phone at this point.)
Mom: OK. How long have you been dating?
Me: 3 daaaaaaaaaayyyss. He's wonderful.
Mom: Well, you might want to date him a little bit longer.

And so we did. We dated long distance (which is painfully hard) for 2 years while I finished college 3 1/2 hours away and saw each other every weekend. I came to work at Space Camp for any possible break so we could be in the same city. We even got a dog (Leia) together my senior year and had "joint custody".

After college they offered me a full time job at the Space Center, so that's how I got here for good! And we got engaged in September of 2000 and married in April of 2001. (I guess I should say that that's how I got here for good.)

So, over 10 years later, we are still in it for the long haul. I still think he's cute and he still makes me kick my heel when I'm with him. Even with an orbiter on his head.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fair Warning

Here is your fair warning. I'm about to clean up this blog.
I'm willing myself (I won't call it a "resolution", but you get the gist) to make my blog simpler and easier to read.
The "fair warning" part is here to let you know that I'm taking off the other blog links on the right. There are just too many of your fun blogs that I love to read and they are cluttering up things.
So, if you happen to be a lurker or a stalker follower of other blogs that are linked here, please either add them to your favorites, become a follower through Blogger or do what I'm doing- subscribe to their RSS feed. This isn't as scary as it sounds. Instead of clicking on blogs or links to see if they've been updated, you can get all the updates you want sent to a webpage that you check at your leisure. It's actually very easy and makes your life a bit simpler. Here are all the details. Really. Do not be afraid (Mom), you can do this.
Off to do more research to make this a nice and reader- friendly blog! Let me know your ideas if you have them.

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