Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hubble and Hudson

Another fun day on the town. Today for coffee, my mom and I went to Hubble and Hudson Market. It is an exclusive grocery with very fresh meats, bread, fruits and vegetables. Upstairs they have an eating area if you get a sandwich from the deli, coffee, gelato, or one of their homemade desserts. The Viking cooking school is also upstairs, surrounded by windows so you can eat and watch the classes. The produce is all very fresh, and the meat looks unbelievable. If we were going to be here long enough to cook, I would have bought the blueberry feta sausage and the chicken and apple sausage with some of the unbelievably fresh bread, probably the orange cranberry bread. I bought an Italian seasoning blend and regret not getting a bottle of Hubble and Hudson olive oil. The sample was so fresh and light, and although it was high compared to what I usually buy at Kroger, it was very reasonably priced for the quality.
After we left Hubble and Hudson, we walked to the waterway and passed several nice restaurants. It was a great walk near the Marriott. There is even a trolley that will take you to the shops along the waterway, the mall, The Market, the hotels and condos in the area.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fun Day with Mema and Big Daddy

My parents took the kids to a place calle Incredible Pizza today. My twin sister, Kimberly, and her husband and kids went with them. The kids had a great time. There was so much for them to do and the food was actually good! The hilight of the day was when all the cousins got on the bumper cars at the same time and they took up all the cars. I think Mark and I missed a fun outing!

Lunch Date

Mark and I were able to enjoy the big city together today. My parents took care of our kids and we went to a place called The Market in The Woodlands looking for great Christmas deals. It was lots of fun, and I love bargain hunting. The Market is not the most ideal place to look for bargains since most of the stores are very expensive, but there were lots of neat things to look at that you really don't see other places. Mark was so sweet and doting. He was in the mood to spend money on me, so I got a kick out of that.
For lunch we went to a very nice sushi restaurant. The martinis sounded great so we treated ourselves and it was worth it! The food was superb, and although the appetizer (sea bass salad with apples, cranberries, and slivers of green onion) was a tiny, beautifully arranged, mouth watering treat (emphasis on tiny), we left having eaten enough. We split a sushi sampler that had calfornia rolls and eel, shrimp, salmon, and bass nigiri. Nigiri is a type of sushi that has slices of fish on a mound of rice. We ordered more salmon nigiri as well as a handroll of wasabi infused fish and a handroll of habanero infused fish to give it a try. The wasabi roll was good, but the habenero roll tastes like you would think - what does habanero and sushi have to do with each other? The high quality and creativeness worked with the habanero roll, for it was good, just not outstanding like everything else.
The restaurant had a great atmosphere and great service. The artwork on the walls, which were for sale, were not only affordable, but very good! A side note on the martinis, I ordered a white chocolate martini that was so good, we picked up ingredients on our way home to fix my mom a treat tonight. She really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Traditions

Smile Cousins! Raeley, my daughter, with Lindsay (sister Denise's daughter) and Jordan (sister Suzanna's daughter).
Sarah and Mackenzie's first Christmas to share with us.

Angela (youngest daughter of Kimberly, my twin sister)wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve
One of the things I love about Christmas are a few traditions that I have grown up with on Christmas eve.
My parents, my sisters and their families, and my family all gather for a meal.
Christmas Story and Devotional Time
My dad reads the Christmas story from Luke 2.
My mom reads a story about a child who ponders what it would be like if Jesus had never come. She (mom) always cries at the same spot.
We enjoy an intimate time of talking about Christmas, sometimes someone brings an extra devotional or shares something extra special.
Egg Nog
Then Mom fixes her eggnog - she mixes it with ice cream and sprinkles nutmeg on top. I thought that all eggnog you mixed with ice cream. I didn't know people drank it out of the container until I was in college.
Santa Alert
When it starts getting late, we do a santa alert and quickly get the kids in bed. The santa alert used to be someone hearing a jingle bell from the reindeer. Now we just rely on Norad.
The Record
We pile the kids in bed and play a special Christmas record with the chipmunk song, the story of Santa's workshop, and dogs barking the jingle bell song(The Singing Dogs). It's what we *tried* to fall asleep to every year. Many of my nieces and nephews also got to listen to it, but the record burned in a house fire in 1990. I would love to find that record again, so if any of you have an old copy in your attic, please let me know! My parents only played the record on Christmas eve when we were tucked in our beds. Since I only got to listen to it that one time every year, I would try my hardest to stay awake and listen to the whole thing.
The Mad Dash
Now that my parent's house is smaller, we don't all spend the night together to wake up and also share Christmas morning together, but those were great memories - 8 cousins (my nieces and nephews), my twin sister and I all lining up on the stairs, making the mad dash into the den to see the presents left by Santa.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas in Houston

We have arrived for a Christmas in Houston. We picked Jordan up from the LCB Louisianna Center for the Blind, where she is attending their training program, a six to nine month program. We shoved her into our already sardine-liked packed vehicle halfway through the drive to Houston. When we arrived at Mema's and BigDaddy's (my mom and dad's house) we noticed they won 3rd place in the yard contest. It is significantly warmer here, but it feels like being home for Christmas. After we had been here for a while, Cameron whispered to me "Mom, are Angela and Evelyn hiding upstairs for me?" Angela and Evelyn are her cousins, my twin sister's two youngest daughters. She and Angela are two weeks apart. She was so excited, she couldn't wait to see them! She was a jabberbox, with a huge grin all night. All the kids love the attention my parents show them and I am so blessed by their relationship.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Busy Holiday Stuffing

Phew! the race is on to get Christmas baking wrapped up - literally, and to get packed. Pray I'll keep my cool - I am STRESSED! I'm glad my kids are big helps! I don't know why I decided to make caramel popcorn this year. I am so tired of popcorn with all the boyscout popcorn we sold.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am in shock. I called Phillips Garden Center to check on the landscaping plans we are having drawn up for our back yard. The sweet lady, Michelle, who was working on them, was tragically killed in a car accident on Saturday on Hwy 78. It was in the newspaper this weekend. She has a young son and a daughter a little older than Cameron. Another death of a young woman. It has made me stop and think. I plan on savoring the little things and making each hug last a little longer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trainers and their diets

Funny story - we have a new trainer. He came to the Christmas party yet he had worked for us maybe four hours on Friday, his first day. At dinner he passed up the appetizers before the meal. We cajoled him to partake of the strawberry butter and bread yet he still declined and Mark asked him about his diet. It's the typical trainer diet; a little more extreme and not as much protein as we would have thought. Talking eating habits is a topic of interest to trainers, so no, my husband was not out of place asking this (to those of you not in fitness circles.

You can imagine my surprise when he was at the dessert bar and turned around with SIX brownies on his plate. After I picked my mouth up off the floor, I asked him if he wanted any toppings on all those brownies - oh where were my manners? I really did say ALL. No, plain was fine. He doesn't do dairy! I was once again tickled when I saw him later with TWO thick pieces of pound cake. Once again plain (to alleviate guilt?) Guy, next time just eat the bread! He took it all in stride. I'm still laughing!

Christmas Staff Party

Saturday night was our Christmas Staff Party. It went great! We had a good turn out, and it's neat because we have some staff that drove 3 1/2 hours to have dinner with us!
We went to Romies for dinner, which is a small restaurant that serves gourmet southern cooking. It has awesome food! When we go there for dinner, our favorite - and I mean favorite entree is their ribs. It is a special, they don't have them as a staple on the menu. The menu (notice I'm starting with food first!):
Ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes and green bean bundles
Shrimp and grits.
They served a broth over the shrimp and grits, which is the first time I've had that before. It is different enough that I had a hard time comparing it to Harvey's new menu item of shrimp and grits with andouille sausage. My goal was to see which was better, but they were just too different for me to pick. The ribeye was great, too. It was one of those nights where I was so disappointed when I was full, the time to stop eating came too quickly. Before the meal we ordered artichoke dip and crab dip, which were both tasty as well.
OK, back to the party. Mark and I got there early and invited the staff to meet us at the bar early for drinks, and a few staff came. It was a nice, intimate time of conversation before we moved to the table which was too large to talk to everyone. Every year we joke about playing musical chairs halfway through dinner. Next year I might very well do a Chinese fire drill!
Dessert and awards were at our house after the meal. I had planned on having a dessert bar with brownies and pound cake and toppings. The toppings were homemade chocolate syrup, caramel sauce (Smuckers), Cool Whip and homemade whipped cream, pineapple topping, cherry pie filling, almonds, vanilla bean ice cream, and a cherry for the top. I envisioned creativity and lots of people smothering their desserts making killer brownies that would make TGI Fridays envious. So I was disappointed when I saw brownie after plain brownie. Oh well, everything else went great.

Awards ceremony - as many of you know, we had virtually a complete staff turnover this summer. All of our staff were different at this Christmas party. So, no one knew we gave awards to everyone. We could, at this point, make up traditions and no one would know any different! This year we threw in a huge bonus for the salesperson of the year. I won't bore you with the other categories. They all focused on sales and club culture. That was my favorite part of the night. Susan (our partner) and Mark and I have already thought of a few fun things to add next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Cutout Cookies

Stars, Chirstmas trees, angels, candy cane cookie cutters. Lots of sprinkles, m&ms, green icing, and the not-quite-red pink icing. Floured noses, sticky hands,and powdered sugar snow mountains. Throw in friends and sugar highs, messy tables, and very messy floors. We are thankful for good friends.

If I can just scrape hard enough, maybe these cookies will come off! Mom, watch the timer. You're too busy talking!

Ever since the first year I was married, I would get together with friends and we would divide and conquer holiday baking. It became a tradition and I always smile when I use my candy thermometer because Amy C. gave it to me in honor of our failed divinity. My kids are older and they love helping in the kitchen now. We had a blast baking cookies with our good friends, the Huffmans.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Memory Of

In Memory of Emily Horn

Today was the funeral of Emily Horn, wife of Bear Horn, and mom to 2 week old Tripp and 6 year old Garrett. Please keep their families in your prayers. It was unexpected and very sad.

Bear is the son of Doug Horn, and my boys go hunting on Doug's land. Doug and my father in law Mitchell grew up together and they are a special family to us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday scared of the storm

Cameron was scared last night during the storm, so she slept in the boy's room and sweethearted Jonathan climbed down from his loft bed and slept on the floor next to her, no sleeping bag, just his blanket and pillow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Computer Crash!

Well, my computer crashed. I'll post when I can. I guess I'll have to keep my thoughts in my head. Scary. My car is still in the shop, too. This marks week three. And Mark is going out of town. No car, stuck at home with four kids, no computer, Christmas activites and shopping, very scary! Well, I'm off to run errands while I have a car. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bible Story of sacrifice

I learned something today, not unusual, but you know when you think you know something well, and you get comfortable with it, familiar with it, and you don't really think too hard? I was reading a bible story to my kids this morning from Luke. It was about Jesus' time in the wilderness when he was fasting. That is an amazing story to me because it paints such a vivid picture in mind and my soul. I can feel the longings he must have for food, the physical exhaustion, the discomfort. It's a wonder he could still think and not be delirious. Then the Devil approaches him and paints even more pictures in my mind, full and overflowing with images. He tempts Jesus on three levels - physical(food), emotional - power(the world and wealth), and spiritual(jumping off the tabernacle). What if Jesus had jumped off of the Tabernacle? What would be the significance? We know he is going to be performing miracles constantly now that his ministry is beginning. Would that be so bad? Overlook the obvious fact that He would have sinned by not trusting God but tested Him instead, it just seems to lack in severity and drama when compared to the other temptations. But consider this point - what if Jesus had jumped and been seen to overcome death by the many people present? Would he have then been put to death as our sacrifice? He might not have. It was not the right time for his immortality to be revealed. God's timing is important, and it is perfect.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Cameron was setting up the children's Nativity. I was asking her who each person was. She was so excited when she saw the piece she had been waiting for, baby Jesus. He was with his mom and dad. I asked their names and she said Mary and Moses!

A great week of school, but....

We have had a good school week this week. We started a new unit, Rome, and it covers the nativity. How cool is that?!! We are motivated to truck on through even though it is the Christmas season and there is so much other stuff to do. I mean, who wants to study the nativity in January? Well, I just drank a hot cup of coffee and ate a piece of delicious pumpkin pie from a friend, and I was reflecting on our good week (despite Monday being a little rough, if you remember that post!) and I noticed how messy our house was. Here are some photos for all you homeschooling moms out there to soothe your souls and relieve your guilt. The long table was where we did school today, because the usual table(see black table in picture) was still messy from yesturday. That's 6 loads of laundry on the couch and surrounding areas. I'm sure you all recognize the sink.
I think it's going to be a long night! This is the juggling act.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Best Friends

Cameron and Allie

Kids are fun!

Cameron has been romping around after lunch throwing a paper airplane she made. She said, "This is so fun, mom, I think I'm invected to it!" I said, "You mean addicted?" She said "Yeah, I am having so much fun I think I am addicted of it!" How cute!

Last night the kids ran an errand with Mark and first Robert rushed in and quickly asked "Is Raeley here yet?" I said yes and as the door immediately shut, the front door opened and Jonathan asked "Is Raeley here yet?" I had just enough time to say yes, when he, too quickly shut the door. Almost immediately as that door shut that the garage door opened and Robert stormed in. "MMM, something smells good in here!" We hear the front door open and Jonathan storms in. "MMM, something smells good in here!" I couldn't help laughing. Mark walks in and I tell him the story and he said when the boys came back out, they both waved at him the exact same way and then ran inside, one right after the other!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I just posted my menu and thought, I wonder if this will actually come to pass as I had planned. I wonder if we should post at the end of the week what we actually cook. I'm just in a mood. Speaking of food, my nephew Ryan, kinda mentioned me in his blog. Not really, but every year at Thanksgiving with my side of the family, I make two things, sweet potato casserole and orange stuff - as Ryan called it. He mentioned the orange stuff in his blog. If I don't make it, his mom does. One year I even found them hiding in the kitchen fighting over it!

I had one of those days today. I thought it was going to be a great school day. I had actually prepared the entire week - copies of everything already done, all items for activities on hand, read all the lessons! Even started making pages for a lapbook. That much planning rarely happens with me. Well, it being the first day after a vacation, the kids were all out of sorts. Restless, low attention, I think still on a sugar high. I also didn't start our "together" school until 10:30 am because I wanted to get a little bit of work out of the way. The kids were supposed to do their independent work, but given their state of mind, they needed me in the room constantly. Even lunch was a chore today. Well, we are going to end on a good note. I'm going to play a board game with them before they go to bed.

Menu Monday

Monday - Greek leftovers again!
Tuesday - Pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes and apples, english peas
Wednesday - Turkey (not leftovers!) with rice, veggies, and fruit salad
Thursday - sandwiches
Friday - spagetti

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Greek Feast

We had quite a houseful for the Greek Feast. There were 13 adults and 7 children. Last meal we all sat at one table and talked about the culture, what they ate, a typical day, and what my kids had learned. That may have been my favorite part of the whole dinner. This meal the kids came in ( we had two tables for adults and the kids ate in the other room) and stood in a line and we asked thm questions. They didn't do so well. It felt like we were baraging them with questions. They didn't quote their memory work from Psalms 139, and Robert had memorized all 24 verses. I also forgot to set out all of their projects. Before we sat down to eat, after appetizers, the kids performed their play. It was a big hit! I wanted them to have fun and not be nervous, so I didn't have them memorize the lines. One of the families we invited to the dinner also participated in the play and making masks for the play. We had to make a few last minute changes because Auggie was sick, so Robert ended up having more parts. He was the narrator, and to introduce the play, he froze. He didn't want to pop out on stage and start talking. All the kids got nervous, and froze a little. I thought that was really cute.

Here are the projects we did with this unit:
7 days of creation book
body/body organs picture
looked at cells in a microscope (Thanks, Jane!)
cells study
FREE elections lapbook
made clay Greek vases
wrote and acted out a play on a Greek Myth
made masks for the play

The food was great and we all had a lots of fun.
Here is the menu:
Tiropites (cheese filled filo pastry)
Melitzanosalata (grilled eggplant dip)
Tzaziki (yogurt and garlic dip)
Main Course
Greek Salad
Moussaka (Greek casserole layered with eggplant, ground beef, and cream sauce)
Pitas stuffed with meat and tzaziki
Koulouria (Butter Cookies twisted into braids or figure 8's)

Here is the website where I got many of my recipes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Coooking for the Greek Feast

Today we had the Greek Feast. I know, I said we would be going out to a Greek restaurant for this one, no long hours in the kitchen cooking, and I was very excited about that! But, since I didn't have to cook a lot for Thanksgiving, and we were going to be able to invite family that usually wouldn't be able to come, I decided to go ahead and do it. This decision meant two things - we had to end the unit a few days early, and we really didn't wrap things up or spend a lot of time on review. I did make sure my kids finished their projects which we were going to display, but that was about it. I was also proud of myself. I'm the stereotypical "I can do it all myself" over committing type of person. I had other people contribute to the meal. I was going to have a scaled down Greek Feast, but as I was preparing for the meal, I replaced the easy stew with Moussaka, because what is a Greek Feast without Moussaka? I also made homemade baklava, because what is a Greek Feast without baklava? Then I saw this recipe for homemade pita bread, and I have never made pita bread before..... then I saw this recipe for an eggplant dip that sounded really easy, and I love eggplant.... so I over commited myself again.

Here's what happened with the pita bread. I had timed it out so that I would make the baklava while the dough was rising for the pita bread. All of this is time sensitive. You can't take too long on either one of them. Mark gets home from hunting and he's in a playful mood. I had made chili for dinner and he's munching in the kitchen and goofing off with the kids. I am the object of this loving goofing off. OK, he's flirting with me. I am a very task oriented person and if it weren't for his measure of silliness in our family, I think we would be a stick in the mud family. However, these are two very serious tasks, and I am quite enjoying myself. Baklava is easier to make than it looks, and it's fun. I usually don't have a large block of time to just cook uninterrupted. However, since Mark came home, I have been very interrupted. I was threatening him, and threatening to banish him out of the kitchen, yet he wasn't taking me seriously. So, done with baklava, on to pita bread. I blame Mark for the next set of events. Can you believe that I forgot to roll out the individual pitas? I just rolled them into balls and stuck them in the oven. When I realized what was happening, I pulled them out and Mark, Mitchell (Mark's dad) and I were squishing them down. I was yelling hurry! Squish! faster! keep squishing! I wouldn't let Mitchell stop. He is such a sweet man, and he would do anything for me. He kept squishing. Mark knew he was in trouble, so he kept squishing. Of course it didn't work. He concedes, I can blame the pitas on him. I had such a fun evening, I didn't mind. Everything else turned out great, though!

Good deals

While I have good deals on my mind, Here's another one. A few days after big holidays like Thanksgiving, check the grocery store for lots of goodies that are marked down. I almost got a turkey today. I saw them marked down, but didn't pick one up right away. Then, when I went back to get one, they were all gone! There was lots of meat marked down so I grabbed a few packs and already made up some hamburgers. I wonder if you can freeze pumpkin pie? I did splurge on donut holes.

Black Friday

I am one of those crazy people who thinks it is fun to wake up before the sun and stand in claustrophobic, unending lines to save a few bucks. Every year I drag my husband with me and he asks me the same questions. How much money are you spending? Is it really worth it? I got up yesturday and drug my husband and listened to his questions. I have fun doing it. So he dropped me off at WalMart and was off to McDonalds before coming back and secure our place in line. Then I saw the line. and I couldn't even walk around the store very quickly. The big ticket item I was after was already gone, and I decided the $4 jeans probably were, too. So I called Mark and had him leave his place in line at McDonalds to pick me up. I convinced him that my mental sanity trumped his hunger pains. So he dropped me off at Toys R Us and left to get back in line at McDonalds. Well, this place wasn't much better. I should have run out of the store flailing my arms and sat with him at McDonalds, enjoying the morning with my husband. But that would have been fanatsy, because reality was that I was determined to find some kind of great deal. Not only do I find bargain hunting fun, OK, addicting, but I had to redeem myself to my precious husband since he is such a good sport to suffer through the torture with me. Could you imaging hating the kind of black friday environment (which I cringe to think about because Toys R Us and Walmart were unbearable without the rush of really getting a good deal) and still doing it? What a great guy.

Back to Toys R Us - I should have known not to stay when there were no shopping carts! I grabbed a few of the items I wanted and decided to get in line until Mark came back since I couldn't carry anything else. I was waiting for 30 minutes to save $15. Seriously. And other deals were possibly being compromised, so I walked out.

On to JC Penny. I didn't get many Christmas presents there, but I did find clothes for my children that I got great deals on! I did get a few gifts, and I use the great deals at Christmas for birthday presents as well. I finally had to call Mark (he was standing in line at Best Buy) to help me because I was so tired from carrying the bags around! And I had a few more things to buy that I just couldn't carry. I did my damage there! I think I will stick to the mall in 2010 (I don't attempt Black Friday in Houston TX. Way too many people). This year some of the stores had a total discount over your entire purchase. Pretty cool.

Then we went back to WalMart and happened to get there as the clerks were restocking items around the store that were part of the specials yet were for some reason not bought. I ended up getting a few of the things I wanted (still saved less than $50) and there was no line. This was all by noon. Pretty productive day. I love good deals! My friend, Penny, has a website that is teaching me lots of great tips on getting good deals.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am thankful for
The early winter rising sun,
A hot cup of coffee,
Snuggly hugs with early morning warmth,
And that's just my morning!

I am thankful for my family;
My attentive parents who made growning up so great,
My fun sisters who are just what sisters should be,
My sweet and thoughtful inlaw family and their families, too!
Blessed and cherished.

I am thankful for my husband who adds so much to my life.
He reminds me not to take myself so seriously and to laugh.
We are so great together, sweeter than pb and j,
More electrifying than Ben Franklin and his key, stronger than duct tape.
Wonderful and encompassing.

I am thankful for my children who are the sunshine in my day.
Their fun laughter makes my heart sing, their beautiful smiles warm my heart,
Their sparkling eyes bring tears of joy to mine.
Precious and sweet.

I am thankful for God's unfathomable love,
His irresistable grace, and His generous provisions for us.
I am thankful for my Lord, Jesus, and the Holy bible, my guide.
Adoration Abounding!

I am thankful for the autumn breeze, the colorful leaves,
A crackling fireplace and a glass of wine,
Fine foods, finer friends, and fabulous family.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prepping for the Holiday....sort of

It's a busy day! Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we will be having company stay with us. I'm sitting down to get off my feet for a minute and catch my breath. I like to fit as much as I can into every opportunity, and although that's lots of fun, I tend to go too fast, and not plan enough. I won't have time to clean my house like I would like to before company gets here. I wanted things to look impressively clean - for two main reasons - because I will take time to visit with family and relax and I would love to look around and know that I wiped every windowsill and vacuumed all the dust bunnies up, that's honestly the main reason. I really do love a clean house although it's obviously and usually not my top priority. The second reason is, well, because I'm having company! I'm hoping to at least get the sheets washed and put on the beds! But today has been a fun, full day.

We are doing unit studies this year, and at the end of every unit study, we have a big feast. Since we are at the end of a unit, and family will be in for the holidays, I decided to have the feast during lunch on Saturday. So, instead of cooking for Thanksgiving, I am cooking for our feast. I have invited around 20 people over for it. Everyone is bringing something, but there are a few things I wanted the kids to experience, so I am doing more than I intended to. It usually takes us a good four days to wrap up our school work, put the finishing touches on our projects, and prepare for the feast. We will do it in two days, and throw 4 more kids into the mix! Our friends, the Huffmans, will be participating in some of the events.

Check out the masks they made for the play they will be performing! We also made Greek cookies and an appetizer with cheese and phyllo dough. I've always wanted to cook with phyllo dough before.

I will say I picked easy recipes for Thanksgiving. I'm making celery stuffed pimento and cheese and ice box pie. I'll do those in the morning and maybe I'll get enough done tonight to have a slow, relaxing morning. Hey, I can always hope, can't I?

Wordless Wednesday

Popcorn, Popcorn, Popcorn!

The boys are getting ready to deliver the popcorn they worked so hard to sell. Don't they look handsome in their uniforms?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Menu Monday

OK, I didn't think that I would want to get into blogging to keep up with all the set blog entries, but I was so inspired by Anita'a menu, that I thought I would post mine for the evening meals this week:
Monday - leftovers (deer!) -start marinating salmon
Tuesday: Salmon (my favorite recipe!), rice, carrots, lima beans -start soaking beans for chili
Wednesday: chili and salad
Thursday: Thanksgiving at the Thorns in Fulton, dinner that night leftovers or pizza.
Friday: chili and salad (made on Wednesday, since I'll be caught up in the After Thanksgiving Day Sales and preparing for the Greek Feast)
Saturday: Feeding 20+ people at the Greek Feast to end our unit. Post menu later.
Sunday: leftovers or something from the freezer

Monday, November 24, 2008

Relaxing Weekend!

We had a relaxing weekend this weekend. Mitchell (Pawpaw) hung out with us Friday night and Saturday took the boys hunting again with Mark. Saturday morning we hung out and visited over coffee. I had way more than my usual one cup! I enjoyed a peaceful and quiet afternoon. Raeley was hanging out at friends' houses in the neighborhood. Oh yeah! She also spent some of the afternoon teaching herself html code. I know, I'm impressed, too!
I can't remember the last time I had the house to myself without anything pressing to do. Cameron was with me, but she was quiet and sweet. I had dinner on the table when the guys got home. It was deer meat from last year, and it was tender. I kept forgetting about it, and I never know how to fix it. I usually like to grill it. Saturday night I sauteed it in a skillet with Lipton's onion soup mix and a little bit of water. Pretty easy and really good! The way the guys prepare the deer meat, it really takes the game taste out of it. We ate it with brussel sprouts, potatoes sliced into circles and baked in the oven till soft, carrots, and bread. I love red wine with dear meat, too! Enjoy the picture of Mitchell with Cameron!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekly Report

I can't believe it is Friday already. I feel like I can just copy what we did last week. Here is a look at what we did:

Bible: We only got around to memorizing Psalm 139
Writing: Olympic Rules (boys) Who's Who of Greek Mythology (Raeley)
Language Arts: None
Grammar: J - adjectives, Rob - study for cumulative review and take test, abbreviating addresses Rae - predicate adjectives, degrees of adjectives
History and Science: Review Greece and the body (we are wrapping up our unit)
Project: Ancient Greece Vase out of clay (Jane did it with the kids, Jane is the wonderful lady who homeschools my kids one day a week so I can work!)
Math: improper fractions- J, converting units into fractions - Rob, distributive property (whatever that is) - Rae
Art: We started paper mache masks for play they wrote last week.

Integrity (or lack thereof)

I am waiting on my husband to get an email off his chest so we can go work out. I understand why he has to do it. It is an employee issue of the worst kind because it involves integrity. It would continue to mull in his mind.
I usually don't put anything on here about work since it it quite a possibility that my staff may read the blog but I am sitting here waiting for him, I don't want to go outside and play with the dogs (too cold), or clean the house (too mundane), so I thought I would vent.
Let me start off by saying that we have a great team of staff working for us right now, the best we have ever had. Many are new because recently we have had several employee issues that we have unfortunately had to deal with. All because of a lack of integrity.
We had one employee blind sight us by going to work for a competitor. I wish I could tell you what else he did. Your mouth would drop open, and you'd be picking it up off the floor. We also had one, possibly two employees steal a significant amount of money from us. Another employee, when he knew he wouldn't be staying around, was making all kinds of "deals" with people who would sign up with us. Then he was very angry that we did not give him a parting bonus!

Did you know that there is a man who's business decisions revolve around putting us out of business at two of our locations? He is known to be an untrustworthy man. He is so bothered by our existence that he followed our new area manager to a gas station and when he found out her connection to us, offered her a job on the spot - not knowing anything else about her. Cornered her at a gas station! I am chuckling that I described him as an untrustworthy man. Some people reading this would be angry that I characterized him that way, for he is scum and that was way-too-pretty.
No one likes to be targeted or taken advantage of, but to me it runs even deeper than that. It's an issue of integrity.

Gee, look at the time. I guess we won't go work out this morning. I'm going to do yoga with my wonderful daughter and then fix me a cup of coffee instead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boy Scouts

Robert and Jonathan have recently started Boy Scouts. They really enjoy it. Robert carries his Webelos book with him often and will just start working on the badges. They recieved their first badge last night at the pack meeting. Jonathan was so excited. He expected the whole family to go, but Mark was out of town and Raeley and Cameron stayed home. Talking to his sisters he said, "I just don't think you realize what a big night this is. We are getting our first Boy Scout badge. This is the only time it's going to happen. You only get a badge for the first time once!"

Tonight we went to a City Council meeting on behalf of the Boy Scouts. I am glad the City Council was proficient with the meeting, it was less than an hour. It was neat to see how many men on City Council saluted the Boy Scout Salute when they said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kenya Blog by Ryan

My nephew Ryan is in Kenya, Africa on a short term medical missionary stint. He will be there 3 months. He has a blog about it and his posts are great! Check it out at

A little about Ryan: He is taking time off in between college and med school for this mission trip. He enjoys working out and eating healthy which I find inspiring in my line of work! Don't let his big frame intimidate you, he's the sweetest guy, and he's very thoughtful of his mom and his Mema. He is active and enjoys a good game of hoops.

Ryan was supposed to leave a few months ago, but a truck ran over his foot (a drunk guy backing up into a crowd of people in a parking lot) and he had to have surgery three days before he was to leave. We will miss having him home for the holidays, but he was determined not to put his trip off any longer to the dismay of his mom. Since I haven't seen him off crutches, I picture him hobbling around in a third world country (sigh). I have been assured that he and his ankle are doing just fine. Even so, there he is, in Africa, braving the green mumba snakes on a bum ankle. Oh well, he probably couldn't dart from one even if he had a healthy ankle! (sorry for the brute honesty Denise!)

Pray for him as he works in the hospital; not to get sick while working on the sick, not to get malaria, to be safe from snakes and other poisonous beings, and for his ankle not to bother him.

Love you, Ryan!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekly Report

Here is what we accomplished this week in school:

Bible: Characteristics of God vs Greek Mythology, memorizing Psalm 139
Writing: Olympic Events (boys) Who's Who of Greek Mythology (Raeley)
Language Arts: Myths - The kids turned a myth into a play.
Grammer: J lost his book so did review work, Rob - irregular verbs and review for verb test, Rae - limiting and descriptive adjectives
History: How Greek culture infiltrated the world through Alexander the Great conquering many nations and spreading what he loved from Greece; Peloponnesian War
Science: Parts of a cell
Project: Book of Creation
Math: intro to fractions - J, mixed fractions - Rob, exponential notation - Rae
Art: portraits, eye placement

Monday we spent the day in Birmingham - Mark took the kid to the science museum, which they said was GREAT! Raeley and I went shopping. Thursday we spent the morning helping Cameron learn her lines for the play. It was a hectic week in terms of school, but they are still talking about the Dialog in the Darkness exhibit and the Science Museum.

A day with Dad

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh the Drama!

Tonight our shy little Cameron had her first stage debut. She was a mouse in a play. One of her best friends was a mouse also, so she could cover for Cameron. Good thing since Cameron didn't say too much. It was a fun night. The drama class did a great job. It is a neat experience to see talent unfold before your eyes in children you know. You get to see them step up on stage and shine!

Cameron looked so cute up there. It is so much fun to watch little girls in their best friend relationships. The girls are starting a club and they wear blue eye shadow to show they are in the club. The girls are ages 5, 7, 8.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dog story

While I was gone in Charleston, I got this email from my husband, Mark (CJ and Buster are our dogs):

Wow, CJ almost killed Buster just now. Luckily, I was still up (and even still had my shoes one) when I heard this horrible howling coming from the back yard. This was not your normal barking or howling, but a that of a real fight and pain!

When I got to the back door, I saw CJ swinging Buster around by his neck! I fumbled with the door locks in a panic and finally got outside to where they were wrestling around on the ground. I started yelling at CJ to let buster go, but it didn’t do any good. CJ was listening to me because he glanced at me, but kept swinging Buster by the neck…and then I realized that it was by his collar.

When I yelled again, CJ stopped moving long enough for me to stand over him and see what was wrong. CJ’s bottom canine tooth had gotten caught in Buster’s collar. Poor Buster was then all twisted up so that he was getting choked and could now barely breath. When I reached down to try and loosen him, something must have hurt CJ because he immediately bolted, Buster started yelping again and biting at CJ. The two were both in a panic and making things worse.

Again, I yelled at CJ to stop and this time straddled his back to hold him steady while I tried to loose Buster. It was scary, because both dogs were hurt and not sure what to do and I had to get pretty close to see what to do. A lucky tug on my part and CJ walked (sorta hopped) free and went back over to the porch. Buster, poor thing, just laid there while I checked his collar and made sure he was ok.

When I went back over to the porch, I checked both over as carefully as I could. Buster’s throat was drenched from CJ’s saliva, and CJ had some blood on his left cheek. I’m not sure if it was from CJ’s mouth or Buster’s paw, but there wasn’t too much of it. Both dogs were very subdued, and I got on to CJ a bit more. I think both knew they were in trouble and were sobered by the event.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just my week so far....

Rambling thoughts about my week. We made a very last minute decision to go to Atlanta. We needed some things from IKEA, and we did pretty good not loading up with lots of things we didn't need :) There was an exhibit there I wanted to see, and I thought, big city, Christmas shopping! WOOOO - I know, you are impressed! I planned ahead and actually thought about not waiting till the last minute. I wonder if I really will get those Christmas cards out? I really do love big cities. They have the BEST Target there. My town does not have a Target. So we had stressful, try to make the best of it, kinda fun trip to Atlanta. I got to see my Uncle George and cousin Ron and family for a short time. The kids were way overextended. But we went, we saw, we shopped.

Mark and the kids unloaded the car when we got home. I went to get the dogs and stop by the grocery store. When I got back, I remembered some of the Christmas gifts I had bought. I was looking for the bag and curious if the kids looked in it. Finally I saw the bag on our bed and quizzed the kids as to who put it there. No one admitted to it, so I took that as a good sign. A few minutes later, Cameron came bounding into the room with a Disney Princess Wii game. "Look what daddy bought me!" The little curious trickster had gone to look in the bag! Why didn't I see that coming? "No honey," I said, cringing, as I knew I was about to burst her 0h-so-happy bubble. "This was your Christmas present from MawMaw and PawPaw. I guess I'll have to take it back to the store!" Oh, the silence. Oh, the stillness. Oh, how we tried not to laugh. But we understood the gravity of disappointment. Maybe Santa will bring her one just like it. But duh moment for me. Why did I think a bag on our bed would be ignored by the kids in the house? I know sometimes I just don't think.

So we are back in town and getting everything back on schedule (in my dreams maybe...) but there is hope for me yet. I went to bed early last night so I could wake up and work out. I cooked dinner early tonight so the kids could get in bed at a decent time. They even did homework - a concept they can't quite grasp being homeschooled. They cleaned their rooms and we also played a game together as a family. By the way- Mark is sick to his stomach and even played with us in between bouts of running to the bathroom. Yes, it's that bad. Everything went great (except for Mark), but now it's past my self appointed bedtime. I HAD to get caught up on my blogs.

Side rambling before I head to bed. I was reflecting on some memories during our beautiful drive to Atlanta and realized that in way too many of my special memories I have been so dog-tired! I am going to try to plan my day better to get more sleep. I don't want life to pass me by and only be half awake for it. One reason for the fewer posts as of late. Goodnight!

Dialog in the darkness

I went to an exhibit in Atlanta this weekend. It was called Dialog in the Darkness and it replicated what it feels like to function in different situations when you are blind. We went with my brother in law's sister and her daughter, Rebecca and Rachel. It was nice to see them.

My niece and nephew are visually impared and it was a remarkable experience. I was able to identify with them on an emotional level. It was neat to see how the ground feels different under your feet, and how space is so hard to measure.

Here is food for thought: My niece and nephew do not see people and then make judgements about them. I would think they "judge" people by listening to them, a much more accurate way, wouldn't you agree? I "judged" my guide by listening closely to her, her tonal inclinations, the way she reacted to what people said, her level of patience. How would people judge me if they could only hear me? I shudder to think. My impatience would shine through quickly.

I wanted to touch those around me and it was much more acceptable to put your hand on someone's leg when you were sitting next to them. Touch in general was much more accepted. Not a bad thing. The personal space bubble - I'm not sure if it existed.

It was very easy to bump your head (or knee or anything else for that matter!).

There were many things I learned through the exhibit yet I am stuck on the whole premise about not being able to judge people on physical appearance. If you are judging by what you hear, you want to hear the people. You really listen and you pay attention to their feelings. As I rush through life, I rush through people.

I think I will wear blinders for a while and really get to know those around me. That alone could be lifechanging.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Costumes and Neigborhood Party

I am not a big proponent of Halloween. I do not like witches or anything evil and halloween personfies that. I do let my children go "trick or treating" and this year we had a neighborhood party. With Halloween on a Friday I thought this would give us a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors better. It worked out great and the hilight was bobbing for apples! Allie joined us again this year. My kids know that they can not wear any costume that supports the occult, but Raeley wanted to do a "traditional" costume and the ghost seemed like such a spoof with glow in the dark eyelashes. It fit her personally great! Robert was Indiana Jones, and Jonathan was Mutt, his son in the latest movie (although he was confused with Elvis a time or two). Cameron was Belle, and made such a lovely princess! Allie was Snow White, another beautiful princess!

Pumpkin Carving

My dad, for one reason or another, is usually in town to carve pumpkins with the kids. This year they wanted to get a little more fancy. Robert carved his own pumpkin, and then finished Cameron's pumpkin. Big Daddy helped Jonathan. It was fun and the pumpkins turned out great! Raeley painted hers black and cut starts out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Overview of Charleston's Food Scene

High Cotton
Great food, helpful staff, prompt service.
Prices are high, but menu selection and quality of the food reflects the price. Not really any reasonably priced bottles of wine, you'd be better off ordering by the glass. The mixed drinks were not worth the high price, except for the Caipirina (pronounced Cap-a-ree-na) which is a brazilian drink made with cachaca. The Caipirina may have been the best one I'd had in the States, and it is rare that bars stock cachaca. The Mojitos were not very good. The Espresso Martini was not tasty at all, yet they touted it as one of their favorite martinis. The deserts were delicious, small portions and high prices, though. High Cotton makes its own pickles, sausage, and sauces that are delicious! They also have coffee made exclusively for their restaurant that is available for purchase. Several of the food products are from local farms and ranches.
They serve several menu items that are different, like chile rubbed Texas venison, duck hash and stuffed rabbit dishes. The rabbit was very good, but my favorite was the Bourbon Glazed Eden Farms Pork Chops. I got the shrimp stuffed Carolna Trout, and it was very good, but dissapointing after I tried the rabbit and pork chop dishes.
We went to the Sunday brunch there also. They had several different flavors of mimosas which were great. The brunch was not a buffet, but they several different menu items. My favorite was the eggs Benedict atop crab cakes and fried green tomatoes. The prices were very, very reasonable. Once again the atmosphere and service were great.

Blossoms was advertised as a mid range restaurant, but the prices were only a little less than High Cotton. They did have some lower priced items like pizza. The food was of premium quality, but smaller portions. We all left feeling adequately full, too full for desserts. The wine was reasonable, but there were not that many choices. It was a very enjoyable experience. Great, prompt service and the staff was attentive. The decor was very cool! I ordered a salad and a pasta dish, and the goat cheese on the salad was very, very smooth. Both dishes were delicious. The pasta was homemade.

Fleet Landing Seafood Restaurant
Great service! I can't say enough about the excellent service! It is a casual restaurant on the waterfront, and the prices are a step below High Cotton and Magnolias. The food was great also. The pimento and cheese appetizer tasted almost like my mom's, so it tasted fresh and homemade, but it just wasn't quite as good. The crab brushetta appetizer was a little bland, but again, fresh tasting. The flounder was excellent, as was the she crab soup - best she crab soup we had in Charleston. Charleston is known for it's she crab soup, so you HAVE to get it while you are there, and I'd suggest getting it here. If you like fried fish, don't pass up the flounder! The fried oysters were good - I'd say excellent, but some oysters tasted better than others. The ones that were good, however, were very good. The shrimp and grits were awesome. The grilled swordfish over polenta was good, the fish was cooked just right and had a good flavor, but the polenta was bland. We had a great time at this restaurant, great casual atmosphere and best service at any restaurant.

Kamenskis is THE place for dessert and coffee. The coffee was excellent and the variety and quality of the desserts were great. I split the ice cream brownie with my twin sister, and we wolfed it down. I could have had another dessert if it weren't for the sugar high. They have a selection of mousses, and my mom, having an affinity for mousse said was a good, smooth and creamy mousse. My sister got one of their cakes that she said was moist and flavorful. Had we been in Charlston longer, we would have come here again!

Mediterranean Deli by Tristan's on S. Market - I do not know the name of this place. It is a great choice for a quick lunch. If you are shopping at the marketplace, you can take a quick break but not get tired of things taking too long. You order at the counter and they cook from scratch. The Mediterranean plate was very good and authentic. The hummus, however, could have stood a little more garlic, the baba ganoush had a spice in it that I am not used to, and the tabbouli could have used a little more twang with lemon juice. All that to say, I would definitely order it again given the opportunity! The chicken salad sandwich with cranberries and pecans was excellent! The chicken pesto sandwich was also a good choice. Chicken breasts sandwiches can be bland no matter where you go, but this one had enough variety in it to hold my attention. The service was great here, also. I highly recommend this place!

East Bay Crab ShackWe went to the East Bay Crab Shack right next to the hotel (Lodge Alley Inn) on East Bay and it was great for the price. After the high quality food we had been getting, you could tell the quality difference, but the amount of food and the price were great. Decent service, too. They have posted their recipes on their web site, and there are coupons there, also.

East Bay Coffee Shop has a good atmosphere, and cool decor. They draw fun leaves on the foam on top of some of the coffees (Au Lait) so make sure you look for it! One day the coffee was much better than the other day, and the baked goods were not worth mentioning. I'd rather Kamenskis, but this was a few doors down from the hotel and the feel was much more modern.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 3, Charleston, SC

Today I slept in until 8 am WooHoo! I jumped out of bed quickly, because Kimberly had to get to the airport, and we were going to go to the slave market. It was called Ryan’s Mart and it was where slaves were traded in Charleston. It was very humbling to think of how we thought it acceptable to view people as property and had no regard to family except to use it in the lives of slaves to manipulate them. As I write this, I feel so inadequate by the statements I have mentioned. What do you have left, if you don’t have your freedom? Terrible, terrible, and a few of the quotes rang in my soul ,like, “Am I not your sister and your daughter?” It was deeply riveting.
We all dropped Kimberly off at the airport and went to Middleton Plantation. The grounds were quite remarkable, and my favorite part of the visit there, besides seeing the old, majestic oak trees, and how ancient they looked, was seeing how the southern economy, so strong pre-civil war era, was affected during the civil war and then was further affected at the abolition of slavery. The knowledge the slaves brought over from Africa shaped Charleston, especially pertaining to rice and indigo.
Our garden guide talked to us about formal gardens, symmetry, and depth of illusion. Amazing what you can do with plants and landscape architecture. The wood nymph statue was gorgeous, but the secret gardens were disappointing. Just a small grassy field covered in grass and surrounded by high bushes. Francis Hodges Burnett’s book of the Secret Garden, being my favorite book as a young girl, I wanted to see blooms pushing through the dirt, a high wall, rose bushes, ivy, and tall trees. What I saw was a grassy field planked by bushes. We saw so many things, though. The plantation was self supportive, including pottery, woodworking, and weaving.
We finished the vacation in Charleston at Magnolia restaurant, and it was all delicious food. We had a great time laughing and embarrassing dad with all the racket. Only one night and half a day left, then I get to fly back to my family. Charleston has truly been a charming, genteel, southern city, ripe with history.