Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wiinter Wonderland

The snow is amazing right now.  Huge, fluffy flakes are surrounding me, and I am sitting in wonder of it all.  I am not thinking of bad roads; I have no place to go.  I am not thinking of anything but this moment, this place, and this time.  I am thinking of rich hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream and candy canes.  I am thinking of apple, cranberry, and walnut pie for tonight's dessert.  I am thinking of my granny's potato soup, and how she makes it perfectly.  I am thinking of a blue eyed man who I believe is also thinking of me.  I am thinking of going sledding with two children who still believe in the magic of it all.  Perfection is here and not within the open packages that still reside under the tree.  Today and this one moment will last a lifetime. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, it can be a season to be stressed, tired, overwhelmed, and all of the above, but for you,  I hope it is also a time of blessings, peace, and good will toward men.  I wish you all the happiness in the world to you and yours. 

I am getting ready to head into the kitchen to prep for my Christmas Eve luncheon.  My family gathers here prior to church to watch my kids open their gifts, and I usually just do finger foods:  Paula Deen's chicken salad, variety of breads, cheese ball, and sweet and sour meatballs.  Dessert will be eggnog pound cake, cookies, cookies, cookies, and a chocolate chip cheese ball.

Here is the link for the chicken salad:  http://www.food.com/recipe/paula-deens-pecan-chicken-salad-377918

Can't forget the chocolate cheese ball.  This is the first time I have made it, and may I just say wow!  I want to thank my friend K. for mentioning it on Facebook,  I so have to make it again next weekend for New Year's:  http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/chocolate-chip-cheese-ball/Detail.aspx

To my children:  I love you, and you are blessings on every level.  I believe in you always, and thank you for teaching the truth behind unconditional.
To my love:  Well, after seventeen years, we are finally getting it right.  I thank God every day for you finding me again. You were my past, you are now my present, and yes, you will be my future. 
To my parents:  Thank you.  You have my back always, and I am very blessed to have been raised by two moral, loving people. 
To many of students:  It has been a year since you said goodbye to a friend, and I remember him as well.  I pray you will find peace.
To one who knows:  You can say anything you want, but I will not dwell in the drama that you create.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  ~Charles Dickens

Monday, December 13, 2010

Country Living's Onion Pie

Today I began testing a few recipes for our upcoming Christmas party.  To be honest, I didn't want to try an onion pie for the first time at the party, and it is a snow day after all.  It was either this or catch up on the other 130 things I need to do by this weekend, and food always wins. 

I found the recipe in Country Living magazine, and here is the link:  http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/onion-pie-recipe-clv1210

It doesn't get any easier than this.  It only took about ten minutes after the onion were sauteed.  It is basically mix, bake, forget.   Of course, my Thing Two won't touch it.  In fact, as he helped me crack the eggs, he said could not understand why anybody would want to ruin a perfectly good pie by adding onions.  Thing One is older and has a more sophisticated taste.  She puts ranch dressing on her french fries.  She really liked it, but on Saturday, she wants me to add more bacon.  My opinion?  I like it, and more bacon won't hurt at all. About two more slices.  It isn't a main dish with the rather rich flavor but it is a great appetizer.  I may even use it again as a side dish.  Yes, this is one recipe that will staying in my little red recipe box.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Know You Are a Scrooge...

by annonymous:
If your only contact with three spirits on Christmas Eve is gin, vodka and bourbon -- you just might be a Scrooge

If you turn on the lawn sprinklers on Christmas Eve to keep carolers away -- you just might be a Scrooge

If you buy all of your Christmas gifts at a store that also sells gas -- you just might be a Scrooge

If you get your Christmas Tree at a rest stop at night -- you just might be a Scrooge

If you give bathroom fixtures as Christmas gifts -- you just might be a Scrooge

If your favorite Christmas movie is Jurassic Park - you just might be a Scrooge

If your idea of Christmas dinner is a six pack of beer and a cheese log - you just might be a Scrooge

If you think "Ho, Ho, Ho" is a line from a Rocky movie -- you just might be a Scrooge

If your favorite pastime is putting defective bulbs in your neighbors' string of Christmas lights or defacing Christmas lawn characters with eggnog - you just might be a Scrooge

If your only holiday decoration is a rotting pumpkin - you just might be a Scrooge

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow Day!!!!!!

The kids and I are home for our first snow day, and I know this will be a pain in May, but for now, this is bliss.  The housework is finished, so I have a few hours to just be lazy, and I can really do lazy.  In fact, I think I have it down as an art form.  I have Christmas music playing, snow falling, and hot chocolate with whipped cream and peppermint.  Ahhhhhhh.

Well the kiddies are drinking chocolate, but I have a cup of Russian Tea, and it is my favorite winter time treat.  I had an email yesterday asking for the recipe, so I am going to give two.  One is for you who prefer to steep your own tea.  The other is a mix I make and store in an airtight container. 
Russian Spice Tea

Instant Russian Tea :  I use this one, but I did change it a little.   I cut back on the tang by 1/8 cup and added 1/8 cup of instant lemonade.  I also like to use the mix as last minute gifts during the holiday season.  Take a dollar store basket and fix it with a mason jar with pancake mix, assorted syrups, and Russian tea.  Yummy. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Apple Puff Pancake and More

Every other week in the summer, I fix my daughter a puff pancake with fresh berries. I use my cast iron skillet,and we shimmer organic raw sugar over the berries when finished to give it a little extra sweetness, plus I prefer the texture. Well, last night, as the snow fell, I kept coming back to the puff pancake for Sunday breakfast, but alas, no berries. My eyes caught the bag of green apples and the things that make me go mmmmmmmmmm.

Being the good Appalachian girl I am, I always have apples on hand. I have been known to open a can of cooked apples for what we call "fried apples", but my kids and I like it better when I simmer butter, sugar, and green apples. In the winter, I often add cranberries and serve it over pancakes. Well, the question loomed, "How can I mix the two?"

My experiment began like this: Basic Puff Pancake recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Women, page 42.
2 Tablespoons of butter melted in a glass 9 inch pan
3 eggs or 6 egg whites
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Whisk eggs and then beat in the rest of the ingredients until mixed. I added a sprinkle of vanilla on a whim. Do not over beat. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

I took the basic recipe and layered green apples in the batter. Sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on the top.
 The results were delicious.  The pancake was not too sweet, and the apples were not too soft.  This isn't a pie at all.  The tartness of the apples was the perfect addition to the batter, and I will be making this again in the future for sure!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Chicken Taco Soup: Good for the lazy cook, Like Me

Ingredients:
1 lb. cubed cooked chicken breast
1 packet of taco seasoning
4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can of sweet corn
1 jar of salsa ( I prefer Herdez mild salsa)
1 cup of uncooked elbow macaroni

Bring seasoning, broth, and water to a boil. Add chicken and salsa and reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes. Add corn and macaroni and simmer for additional ten minutes or until macaroni is tender. Garnish with nacho chips, cheese, and sour cream if you wish.

We are in the midst of our first snow, and this was a big hit with Thing One and Thing Two (my children). I also broke out the bread machine for the first time this winter. Ah, soup, bread, and Russian Tea while watching The Thin Man. A perfect recipe for a snowy Saturday night.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Unless You Are Sookie...

You cannot read my mind. Nope, it is something you will never manage, and on the plus side, I will never read yours. Wow, that is wonderful. I really have no desire to know what you truly thought about this or that, no more than you should know about my obsession with Tom Brokaw. Ooops, I guess I let that one out of the bag, but doesn't it make sense. I guess if I want to you know about me and what I need, then I will have to let a few things out of the bag.

People everyday scream and shout to be heard, blogs, message boards, Facebook. They crave and desire attention not being found in the reality. Hey, I am not judging; thus, my own blogs, message boards, and Facebook. We all need to be heard, and we all need acceptance. Basic human instinct. My problem is how we get this attention. My feelings were hurt this week because my significant other didn't respond as I wanted. Was he being insensitive or inattentive? No, he just didn't see the significance of it in my own life. He lives three hours from me, and he wasn't there to see how depressed I really was. So, when he didn't call but rather texted a good night, my feelings were hurt, even though I knew he wasn't feeling well himself. I had a great pity party and pouted the rest of the night. Boy, that showed him. Why didn't I text that I needed more? Why didn't I tell him I was hurting? Why didn't I call? Because I assumed he knew and understood. My mistake. He knew I went to a cousin's funeral, and I was sad. He checked on me through the day via texts. He said he wished he could have been with me. He even texted my daughter with support, but he didn't know how much it affected me. He didn't see my tears. I didn't cry to him. He didn't know how much I loved my cousin because I didn't share it. I justified my actions by saying I didn't want to be a bother.
That, my friends, is poppycock. If I expect him to be a partner then I need to let him in completely. I don't need to be angry over imagines wrongs because even though I am worth the bother I shouldn't be arrogant enough to expect more than he can give. Nobody should just sense how I feel. I shouldn't assume how others should act and react to me. That isn't open communication; it is manipulation. It has potential to be toxic. If I choose to mention what I am wanting, and my needs are stil not being then I will need to examin the big picture.
The attitude adjustment needs to shine in all my relationships. To be honest, my tween doesn't have the insight to respond as an adult, and I shouldn't expect her. I need to realisticly look to the people in my life and treat them realistically.
Last night, on chance, we had a rather open discussion on communication. He ex would call him insensitive, but in reality, he was clueless about her expectations. He asked me to tell him when I need to talk and be honest about how I feel so he can gage his own actions. I, in turn, agreed. Maybe, just maybe, he is on to something. Must have read my mind.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dance

I haven't posted in a very long time because, to be honest, I didn't have much to say. Oh, many things were happening, but as Mary in the Bible, I just pondered it in my heart. Sometimes you have to retreat to learn more about yourself. This week brought me out of my hiatus. I have experienced love. I have experienced pain, and I have experienced loss. Tuesday we will bury one of my favorite cousins. He has suffered so long, and it is always difficult to say goodbye, but I have been blessed to know him. Larger than life he was.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Simply the Best

Okay, she is happy. Since her husband left her, she has lost weight and is wearing jeans she hasn't had on in five years. Five years ago, they were also separated. Her soon to be ex is wondering why she didn't care during their time together. He is also losing weight. He is feeling better about himself. I did the same when I was separated from my ex. To be honest, I became frumpy during the last few months of our marriage. My entire being was lost within a haze. Why? Why do we get motivated by loss and depression? Why do we become complacent during the times of comfort? Isn't that when we should be at our best?

Now, I am being healthier, and yes, I am doing it for me, but I would be a liar if I said that other people noticing is nothing to me. Wait, let me even try to say that with a straight face...nope, can't do it. If you are looking for false modesty, come back some other time. I like positive attention. In receiving this positive attention, I have done some reflection, and I noticed a simple fact about myself; I am at my best when surrounded by healthy relationships. Boy, that was ground breaking. When I am with happy, healthy people, I want to be happy and healthy. I want to be my best for those I love. The question is why do we slack with time? Is it because we develop the attitudes of "I have my man" or "love me for who I am"? Yes, we need unconditional love as is, but did I hide behind it as an excuse? Is it we forget to challenge ourselves when other people are demanding our time and effort. When do we stop loving ourselves in trying to love others? How can we keep this happening? I wish I knew.

I just know that there have been people unworthy of my best, and that wasn't their fault or mine. I just invested too much time in the lost. I am now taking care of myself for me and my children, and yes, we are worthy. If and when I fall in love, it will be with somebody who is worthy, AND I will give that person my best because we both deserve it. If a relationship brings me down, then that is not the healthy relationship I am needing. This extends to lovers, friends, and community. I deserve to be me at full speed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can I?

“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy” ~~Walter Anderson

To love, to relate, to understand, we have to remove boundaries and become vulnerable. The question is how do we do that once the boundaries had been set in stone. Who has the strength to even begin to knock them down? Who has the nerve? Who has the patience? We are often so caught up in our own crap that we forget to see what is real. Then in moments of reflection we stop and realize "oh yeah". We make bad decisions for all the wrong reason, being easily distracted by our own hang-ups, but we are constantly searching for what is concrete. Then when our lives move from the abstract to the concrete, we feel like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole. We struggle to comprehend our surroundings. We can accept the falsehoods of the life we desire more easily than the truths of our reality. We put the joker on a pedestal, expecting a show; yet, we are shocked when he fails to perform to our expectations. The reality is sharper and more painful, and with that we begin to applaud the imaginary because it is safer.

Safer is not always reliable. It is what it is, and then life becomes predictable and shallow. People cannot fit into our prefabricated designs. So, with that in mind, I pick up the sledgehammer and swing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Just the Normal Sunday Update or Is it?

Wow, what a week! It was a summer blockbuster within itself with the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. First of all, my poor Thing Two fell during his school picnic and is beginning the summer with a broken arm. As my mother said, we are just surprised it hasn't happened before now. He is an extremely active child who has been taking evening runs since he was ten months. He rolled across my living room at four months and crawled at six. He is taking pretty well to the cast, and it hasn't slowed his video game playing at all.
Yesterday, his sister went to a sleepover, so he and I had the entire day with just the two of us. We went out for pizza and then to The Prince of Persia. I am not a video game purist so I really enjoyed the movie. Just a perfect, popcorn munching, adventure flick for a stormy Saturday. We then came home and Thing One watched the original Clash of the Titans. The stop action monsters bugged him more than the current use of CGI. His reasoning makes sense to me: they look like the monsters in HIS head. He loved it though because, at the moment, he is all things Greek mythology.
As of WW, I haven't followed it closely this week with the finals, graduation, and Thing One's arm in a sling, but I haven't gained. In fact, the blouse I wore to graduation hasn't been worn in months. It was the first time I have worn it without a jacket. Motivation to do better this week, but I have something tempting sitting on my counter, a KitchenAid mixer. Wow, it sure is purdy...and free. A very, very dear friend gave it to me since his mother has two. I used it today to knead my biscuit dough, and Thing Two and I just played with the features. I am now dreaming of the pasta attachment. I don't know what I am having for dinner tonight, but something will be mixed.
Oh, and I cannot forget this week brings two of my summer pleasures, True Blood and the World Cup!!!!!!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

WW Update

Several years ago, I was a health freak. I very rarely ate meat and worked out every day I could. I drank plenty of water and felt really mentally and physically. What happened? I got married. No, I am not blaming him and our marriage, however, we were low on cash and time. Also, he liked meat, and I wanted to make meals to please him. We also discovered when we had cash, there were places called restaurants that would cater to our every desire. I still could have made wise food decisions, but I didn't. Finally, after fourteen years, I have now decided it is time for me to eat like a grown-up. In other words, if I want to dodge the diabetes bullet, I need to take responsibility for what I eat. Yes, it is easier to reach for the burger, but being a grown-up isn't always easy.

Well, I am now two weeks into the program, and I am liking the results and the freedom. I had pizza Friday night with my family. I had real food, and I still balanced my life with the plan. As of 8 AM this morning, I am down 7.7 lbs. I lost two just this week. My biggest problem is trying to drink the recommended water. If I am not thirsty, I don't do it. The greatest accomplishment is my renewed desire to work out. I am truly enjoying my 5K walks. I seriously thought of joining a friend in the couch to 5K running challenge, but I have a bad knee. The doctor told me at twenty-two not to run due to the deterioration of the knee, and I cannot forget it. I have no desire to end up needing a replacement years before I should.

I also want to congratulate somebody I love for joining WW with me. We can do this together, I promise. I am cheering you on, 110%

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I am not cooking out today. My grill was damaged this winter, and the one I had at my mom's washed away. Oh, well, it doesn't really bother me. I have had a very nice relaxing weekend with reading, sleep, friends, movies,and reflection. There is also potential, but that is for another day. Yes, it has been very nice indeed, and I have forgotten how much I love summer nights.

With the joys of summer creeping up on me, it would be easy to forget what this day is. It is a day of remembrance. In Appalachian, we also take this weekend to remember our loved ones who are no longer here. It is our "Decoration Day". We travel to different cemeteries, clean graves, and redo flower memorials. I am not financially able to decorate the graves of my extended family, but I know the old, country cemeteries like the back of my hand. I know the stories of those who now rest there, and I tell my children about these people. One day I will be a memory, and I don't want them to forget how they got here in the first place. To know our heritage, we often find ourselves. I walk like my great-grandmother who died in 1957. I laugh like my other great-grandmother who died the year I was born. My son has the eyes of my great-grandfather who died in a mining accident in the 20s. It is a privilege to have this information, and I think I am very lucky to have met them in the memories of others.

My great-grandmother told my father it rained on Memorial Day because the angels were crying. I think they grieve for those who have nobody to grieve for them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weight Watching

I have a confession: I am at my heaviest weight ever without being pregnant. How? Why? I am not using food as a security blanket; I like to eat. I love cheese. I love fried foods. I like eating out when I can. I am also not twenty-one anymore, and the cheese, fried foods, and fast foods are catching up with me. This year I have also taken care of everybody but me. I am hoping this summer will bring some changes. I will be forty in eighteen months, and I don't want to enter that decade with excess weight and feeling dowdy. I don't want the health problems that seem to come with my family name. I want to be a positive example for my daughter. Eat to be healthy and don't obsess with weight. I have always wanted to show her that beauty is there no matter the size. We need to celebrate the inner beauty, but my body is my temple. We should celebrate ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to be our best. I am NOT talking about being skinny. I am talking about being able to run, play, jump, and embrace the lives we should have. I have a young spirit, and it is time for it to shine.

Well, with that in mind I joined Weight Watchers Online. I did it once before after my Thing Two was born, and I did well. I have been using Sparkpeople, and I love it because it has all the tools and it is free, but I am not very disciplined with the spark. I am actually sparkless. I think it is due to the fact it is free. I don't feel the urgency to use it. I am hoping that my mother's sensible genes will remind me that if I am paying for WW, then I should use it. If I can be more disciplined then I may go back to the Spark. It is a great site, and you need to check it out.

Yep, yesterday I drove past Tudor's Biscuit World. We had two soccer games, three hours apart in two different counties. We had to eat on the run, and Tudor's has a strong pull. I kept on driving though and went to Subway for their new breakfast menu. I am also down three pounds.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Calypso Shrimp: For Those of Us Who Don't Cook That Often


I was going to make the recipe from The Cookbook for Women, but I forgot to do something...the orange marinade. Yep, I had marinade less shrimp, sigh. Well, don't fear, I still managed to cook a 25 minute shrimp dinner that pleased two members of our household. Thing Two is not a shrimp person and preferred fish sticks with his green beans.

Calypso Shrimp For Those of Us Who Don't Cook Often:

Saute shrimp with a tablespoon of olive oil, fresh peppercorn, sea salt and clove of garlic.

Take one can of black beans and drain. Mix well with fresh pico de gallo. I didn't make mine from scratch. I bought the Marketside brand from Walmart, and it is delicious. I tossed it together with the shrimp and then served everything over brown rice. I am thinking of using wheat tortillas in the future.

I want to also recommend the Cookbook for Women. The recipes I have tried are wonderful and appealing. The instructions are easy to follow, and the pictures will draw you in. It my current favorite cookbook, but it goes beyond food. It inspires lifestyle changes for women of any age. It is the perfect reference book for any woman from 20 to 99.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cranberry-Apple Chicken

So, so simple, and every person in my house ate without complaint:

1 lb. chicken breast pounded to desired tenderness
1 can of sugar free apple pie filling
1 box of chicken stuffing mix
large handful of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.
Fix box of stuffing as directed and add cranberries in the last step. Stovetop makes a cranberry flavor, but I prefer to adjust to our tastes.
While the stuffing sits, lightly brown chicken for about two minutes on each side.
Layer a baking pan with the apples, add the chicken, and then the stuffing.

Back covered with foil for 25 minutes, remove cover and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Quick, super simple, and delicious. Pork loin may be substituted for the chicken.

My daughter mocked me for making a weekly menu. She checks it and laughs about how we can't eat this or that because it isn't listed. Yeah, yeah, but she sure didn't mind as she ate this dish. She may think I am being silly, but making a weekly menu has really saved time and money. The night before a grocery trip I make an excel spreadsheet of daily meals, ingredients needed, and the cookbooks being used. Nothing is set in stone and anything can be adapted. I switch days or switch ingredients as needed. Now, I have already mentioned it is saving time and money, but it is also making for more creative and fun meals. It hasn't been the usual spaghetti every few days. I know millions of men and women do this every week, but I am now an official believer. I will let you know how Thursday's Calypso Shrimp with black bean salsa turns out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spa Day

There is something about late spring and early summer that makes me want to reconnect with myself. Be more, do more, live more. I emerged from my winter cocoon and spread my wings for flight. I look east to the waters of the Atlantic to relax my body and mind. I look over the mountains and creeks for adventure and family. I look to fields for healthier foods to fuel myself. I soar.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Ran Away...

I had a spring break. No, there will be no videos of Robyn Gone Wild...or least I hope not. It really wasn't that kind of weekend, but it was one of relaxing and remembering that I am still me. I haven't lost me. I am still here dancing and swirling in my muchness. It is amazing how amazing food, amazing friends, and amazing weather can make you feel more like yourself.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sad Day in West Virginia

The other four miners were found dead. The Governor said they had not received the miracle they were hoping for. God be with their families and friends as they try to make sense of this tragedy. Yes, every thing happens for a reason, but sometimes it it difficult to see what that reason may be.


Good-night! good-night! as we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
To cover up the embers that still burn.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

With a Heavy Heart...

Today somebody posted on Facebook that mining isn't a job but rather a generational way of life. So true. I live less an hour from the mining tragedy, and it is a reminder that a second, one second, can change everything. My family is no longer underground, but the coal dust is still in my blood. Today I have been remembering those from decades past.

My papaw was born in 1916. Two years later, Paul's older sister, brother, and grandfather died from the Spanish Flu. He grew up at the head of a hollow as the spoiled baby of the family, and he even earned the nickname "Baby Paul". One thing Baby Paul loved to do was to bring his Daddy his lunch bucket. He walked to the mines, playing along the way, but one second in 1925 changed everything. There had been a mine explosion, and it caused the mine's roof to collapse on my great grandfather, crushing him. As the young boy approached, he saw the emergency crews,and a man came up and said, "Go tell you mother. Your Pa is dead."

My great grandmother found him on the porch crying.

My great grandparents had a wonderful love story. She had been engaged to a teacher, but she broke up with him when she saw the striking man coming over the hill on a horse. He had long "yellar" hair and deep blue eyes. She never loved another man. My daddy was her favorite grandchild, and my daddy has those deep, blue eyes. My son does as well. They are blue as the sky and can see through your soul. They also share a common name. Yes, even though 84 years have passed since that day, as long as I breathe, his story will be told.

The debate over mining will go on, but people sometimes forget that there is more. Our communities survive on this paradoxical industry and the miners who go underground daily. They are fully aware of the dangers, but they have families who depend on them. They go deep into the dark, just like my great grandfather, my grandfather, and for a brief time, my father. My prayers are with all women who have packed their buckets. My prayers are with the children who stay at the windows, waiting. My prayers are with the community who lost so many. My heart is deep in the mountains, and I hope and pray we never see anything like this again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter



This morning I found myself queasy from a bout of food poisoning, so instead of going to Sunrise services, I stayed in bed. I still felt the anticipation of new birth and new life. I swear I could fill the energy move through my veins. The sun peeped over the hills and filled the valleys. The birds woke up with a glorious song, and their voices filled the air. It was an amazing moment of renewal.

Happy Easter to you and yours, and even if you aren't a believer, go out today and embrace this miracle of spring. Awake to the beauty around you and allow it to nurture your soul.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring? When Did You Get Here?

I have snowmen up in my house. I didn't even notice. I haven't been home much lately due to family illnesses, and I just turned a blind eye to my own surroundings. I don't have anything up with a bunny or egg. Well, to be honest, since we the snow slammed us constantly for so many months, I almost am afraid to put up anything up for the change of seasons. I don't want to jinx it. Oh, well. Maybe today is the day to recognize that changes must be made.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

So tired...

1. Of my state messing with my health insurance. Come 2011, I may not be able to take my children to the doctor, and then I get an email from my state rep. saying sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. Yeah, and if you take away my co-pays as a state employee, I may be sacrificing my vote for you for the greater good.

2. Mistresses. It seems that mistresses are getting all the glory in the press, and our infatuation with these women is wrong. They are being rewarded for their behavior. The man is at fault. No denial there, BUT it takes two. The mistresses were full aware the men were married. No shock there, but they continued with the affairs for their own personal gain. Now, the media flocks to them. On a personal note, I am tired of seeing this at a local level as well. Just this week I saw a girlfriend rub her victory into the face of the wife in a humiliating online forum. Why? Where is there victory when children and family are involved involved? Karma, sweetie, karma.

3. of being overwhelmed. The spring has burst upon me, and I feel like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole, except there is no Johnny Depp on the other side. Oh, well, that is life, and it happens. Everybody falls through the hole, it is how we handle Wonderland that makes the difference.

4. Bullies. I HATE bullies. My daughter dealt with one this week beautifully. The boy was spreading lies because she wouldn't "date" him. They are eleven. She went to the guidance office, asked for advice, and the guidance councilor handled it on a school level. Thing Two then handled it on a personal level, and hopefully, the situation is now a memory. I am proud how she stood up for herself and her friends, but it is a shame she had to do it at such a young age. I remember though. Kids are cruel. Then they sit across from you at a reunion planning committee meeting and act like your best friend. Once again, Karma.

5. of people who back up without looking. I know, sometimes it is hard to see in a parking lot, but this wasn't the case in my situation. Thank goodness I noticed the break lights going off and moved. Also, I live close to an intersection where "right on red" is allowed, but some believe I should stop at my green light to allow them their "right". No, babe, that isn't how it works. Sometimes I wish I had a monster truck...bahahahahaha.

Okay, the negative is being released. I am shaking it off and letting it go. My next post will be a lot more positive.

Friday, March 19, 2010

OMG

I was at a hospital today for over 12 hours as my grandmother had her heart cath. I was the only person in my family to be there, and this may very well be the defining moment of my adulthood. We did this alone and scared, but she and I did it. She is now home resting, and I am with you.

Now, this was not my OMG moment. Nope. OMG came this afternoon in the hospital waiting room. The room is plush with big, comfy couches and a flat screen television. There is even a patio 6 stories up that allowed me to enjoy some of the sun while Gran slept. After the 6 stories rush of wind hit, I went inside, plopped down on a sofa and began to watch CSI. I noticed a young man come in about 14. No big deal. I got the remote, turned the screen to March Madness and dozed a for a few before heading down the hall. I checked on Gran and then decided to go to the grill and pick up a milkshake for her. As I stepped on the elevator, I notice the boy walk by, and then, just as the doors began to close, a paper airplane crashed into the elevator. It was a note to the "Lady in Black". Oh, how sweet, right? NO. That kid has a dirty mind, but I guess he figured this was his chance with an older woman who appreciated college ball.

Needless to say, I said no.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So I Had a Bad Day

No biggie, but I am truly fighting the pity party. I feel drained. I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually spent. I am thankful for so many things, and due to this, I feel guilty for my party of one. I just think the stress of the past month is finally catching up with me. I have been the "Pollyanna". I am the upbeat, all will be well persona, and now that the sun is shining again, I feel like falling apart. I just want to hunker down and cry. I am almost creating situations so I can just wail one out. I am in a fighter's stance looking for a battle deep down I don't want to fight. I just want to wake up and feel secure that the day will bring something positive.

The second thing is that somebody who I had hoped would be more of an emotional support proved, once again, that I cannot depend on him. I have wonderful friends who have really provided the support I needed, but my female readers should understand the desire for more. This is a good thing though. I finally think I am emotionally ready for more. Okay, this has been said before, but I may mean it this time. I now understand what I do need in my life. I have trust issues. I often do not feel worthy of good things, and I know I allow this to affect my relationships. I pick those who will not ask for a long term commitment from me. Not good, but it did allow me to become comfortable in my singleness. I have also learned that being alone is better than being miserable. I did not settle for something I really didn't want. This eye opening lesson did bring something good. It led to a date. Yes, you read it here first; I had a date with a dear, sweet friend who I have crushed on for sixteen years. We do not live close to each other, but the planets aligned. Even though, that one date may be it, I was out there. I willingly spent time with an adult male who isn't a family member. As the old Christmas cartoon once sang, I put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just Another Day

I couldn't go to Lexington with my mother for her surgery because of my grandmother's illness. I also didn't want the kids to miss three days of school. However, with all of this going on, I am now officially in charge of three households. I am to get the mail, take care of the pets, and feed the birds. My mother's house cat eats better than most people I know. I have to admit, I am stressed. I figured this out when I found a peanut butter egg in my hand with no memory on how it got there. I am your classic stress eater, and I hope to get past it tonight with my first zumba class. Maybe if I move and groove I won't stand over the kitchen sink with some goody in my hand.

I also want to take a moment and thank many of you for your comments and emails. It has really helped me survive the past few weeks. I even had a coworker yesterday to listen to Thing Two's reading homework for me yesterday so I could finish up on paperwork. It was only fifteen minutes, but it lifted a bit of urgency from my evening. Thank you, G., for your strength, love, and especially your support. I want to thank my pal, C., for her magical ability to make me laugh when I want to cry. R., even though your life is upside now, you have been my rock. Thank you. In case P. ever finds this part of me, thanks for just knowing what to say. Makes up for the times when you didn't :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

When There Is Time for Love, I Want to Be There

For men who have ever uttered "I wish I could be there to help some way" or "IF you ever need me...", listen carefully to these words of advice. Find a way. Be there. Show up. Do something completely unselfish for the one whom you claim to love. False words and unfulfilled promises will always be remembered, and so will sincere words, a held hand,and the comfortable silence that follows.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Update...again

Pacemaker is in, and my grandmother is doing some better already. Today was very good with our family gathering around the table and talking all at once. We still have many uphill walks to make, but tonight was truly a blessing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring is Just Around the Corner

Even though we may have rain tonight, and snow and really cold temps are in the forecast, today has been wonderful. The sun was shining, and the kids have been walking, climbing, jumping, and playing outside for the past several hours. I was even able to finally clean up my yard and get rid of the winter yucks. I am thinking of trying my hand at a vegetable garden, but I am not exactly gifted with a green thumb. I am willing to try though, and I swear, one day, I will grow pumpkins. I had beautiful vines a few years ago, but my grass cutter put the end to those dreams. There is always this year.

There is something about putting down roots and watching things grow. Even though I do not want to buy a house right now (commitment phobias), I do have an idea of what I want in a dream home:

http://www.dreamhomesource.com/country_house-plans_DHSW65569.hwx

I found this a few days ago and fell in love. It has everything I have ever wanted in a home. Now, I just need to fall in love with a carpenter and maybe hit the lottery.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update

The doctor told my mother that she didn't have the worse cancer to have, and this type, if caught early, has a very high survival right. She will have surgery in two weeks. He also told her that to remember that even with this good news, this is still cancer. So, good news and a reality check, and we are very thankful for both.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Out of Rhythm

I have so many snow days now I cannot even remember my former life as an educator. I almost dread going back now because I feel detached from everything. It feels like summer vacation in the Arctic Circle.

Tomorrow we are taking my mother to the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center to see the progression of her disease. I have faith there will be a positive post about the outcome of that visit.

Speaking of faith, today begins Lent. I hope if you stumble on this blog and you are searching for something to believe in, you find it. I hope you find whatever proves to you that you are important, and you are part of something bigger than yourself. Whatever journey you choose, may it bring it peace and acceptance.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sometimes I'm Just a Damsel in Distressed Jeans

I haven't been myself for the last two weeks, and it is a combination of family illnesses, work, and February blahs. I really, really do hate this month, and sometimes I just want to sleep through it. I have shared my feelings with a few friends, and I now have one male friend who thinks he can save me. He wants to protect me from the nastiness of life. He wants me to share with him.

I can't. There is nothing more to share. I have no desire to wax poetic about my woes because the truth has already been said. I am sad. I have family members who are sick. There. Then I get an email that says, "Talk to me."

I thought I had.

I am needing friends right now. I am thankful to have a friend who wants more, but I have nothing enlightening to say, and the constant "knight in shining armor" routine doesn't blend well with my chemical makeup. Never has. With our history, he should know that already. I am a woman who has fallen in the knight's arms before, and tragedy brings infatuation and not true, lasting love. Knights live the role of the savior, and the damsel feels weak and guilty. After a while, they resent the fact the other person cannot maintain the character.

All humans need help now and then. We should be able to ask for it without obligation. We should help without making the other person feel less than what they are. I don't need to be held yet, and the constant reminder of it being possible doesn't allow me to feel fully connected with my reality. I just want to be blue. The beautiful words of physical comfort seem more like a ballad for a stranger instead of my daily existence.

Talk to me about movies and books. When I think I have something to say, I will and don't force it. Don't force me to be the damsel. It is not a costume that fits me. Allow me to be the emotional wreck because nobody can fix grief, and my grief is from the pain of my loved ones. I can't fix theirs, and you can't fix mine. We just have to experience it. Instead of trying to "fix" it, just nod with understanding and let me rage if I need it. Let me cry. Let me laugh. Just let me be me.

BUT if I am ever tied up to a post with a dragon coming, I know who to call. The same goes for you. When the dragon comes for you, holler. I will be there because I have your back. I may not be able to slay it, but wow, we will have one heck of a story.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Honesty with the C-word

My son is the only one who is willing to say it out loud. Cancer. There, I wrote it. I am looking at it, and there it is. Cancer. My mother has cancer. The cancer is not rare, and it has a high survival rate. She is most likely in stage one. Cancer. Even with all the positives, it is still ugly. It is still harsh. It is still not right. This is my mommy, and my mommy has cancer.

Tonight my son walked in and said, "Mom-mom, we need to talk."

She put down her book and asked, "About what?"

"Well, duh, cancer."

Finally, there is the white elephant in the room, and Thing Two is the only one not ignoring it. Stepping around it isn't going to make it better.

He also told her later in the evening she shouldn't take out the trash because she has cancer. Did he offer to take it out for her? No, but it is the thought that counts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Today

My family received bad news. My mother is sick, and even though the doctors are positive, hearing it, knowing it has taken us the wind out of all of us. The C-word, the real ugly one, is a shock. I keep saying it over and over in mind so I can get use to it. I cannot even imagine what she is thinking. I know today has moved in slow motion for her, and she is restless; yet, when I left her this evening, she was cooking dinner for my dad. She was doing what she has done for the past forty-two years. This is one reason why I love my mommy. She has an amazing strength that I think skipped me. She is solid and self-reliant. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Five Liberating Facts

1. I hate peas. Please stop trying to make me eat them. No matter how hard you try, I just don't like green, smooshy things. Not now, not ever. Even as a baby I spit them back, and I am not that much different now.

2. I don't like her. There, it is out to the universe. I know she is smart, quirky, and funny, but she betrayed me. Her actions hurt not only me but also my children. I can forgive, but that doesn't mean I have to like her. No soul searching on this one and nothing profound to say. I don't think I hate her because that emotion is just too powerful to throw around wildly, but yeah, I am heavy on the dislike.

3. I don't want a pet. I love kittens and puppies. I love to play with kittens and puppies, and I seem to be running a half-way house for strays, but I don't want to be a full time pet owner. I don't want the smells, messes, and responsibilities that come with fur or scale. I just don't have time for it. Maybe one day but not now.

4. I really do try to eat healthy. I want to live by example. I drink water. I watch for sugar and hidden chemicals. I buy organic milks and cheeses, but deep down, the only thing I want is a cheeseburger. No, not a turkey or veggie burger with cheese. I do that 90% of the time. I am talking about a heart attack between two buns with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mayo...real mayo. Sometimes I just want REAL bacon and not turkey or tofu. Sometimes I just want REAL white bread with the bacon or grilled cheese. Oh, and please get the real cheese and not cheese product.

5. I thought I didn't but I do.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Hope They Stay True

Shakespeare once wrote "to thy own self be true", and I quote it often in my classroom. I do not want students parroting my thoughts and fancies. I want them to discover the world for themselves. Think outside the box and dare to be different. I have marched to my own drummer, and I have found that my most unhappy moments in life have been from trying to "fit" into some preconceived concept of what I should be. So many times I have tried to be "more" of what I thought people wanted. I am ashamed to admit this, but I have even tried to change myself for a man. I know. How stupid was that! It didn't result in the hilarity of The Ugly Truth; instead, I lost a bit of my soul as well as my heart. That was a moment of pure, ugly truth, and I vowed never again. Life should be experienced as an original and not a poor, blurred copy of what may be.

Thing One's stepmother, grandmother, and I have been making a collective effort to show her that it is okay to just be Thing One. She plays soccer because she loves it. She loves being strong. She loves being smart. She loves being herself, and I hope and pray every day she stays on this path. She is more self-aware than most adults I know, and it would be a tragedy for her to ever mistrust her instincts. Women are often afraid to be themselves in a world of quick fixes and plastics. Nothing scarier than removing our masks and revealing our true selves, flaws and all. We have all fallen victim to the propaganda of it at some point, but it is up to us to either sink or swim. As of right now, Thing One is swimming. This leads me to another of my favorite quotes, "keep on swimming" from Finding Nemo.

Oh, and here are two statements from my kids this week:

1. Thing One stayed up with me one night to watch a movie, and a "Girls Gone Wild" commercial came on, and she became incensed. She couldn't believe that women would act that way for attention. Her exact words were, "Can't they see how demeaning this is to women? If an eleven year can figure it out why can't college kids?"

Excellent point, Grasshopper, and I hope you remember this when you are nineteen.

2. Thing Two cannot be left out. He just got out of bed and ran in while I was typing and began to rant about how stupid Romeo and Juliet are, and that Shakespeare got it wrong. He said, "Suicide isn't romantic."
He watched The Suite Life of Zach and Cody before bed, and they mentioned the play, and the poor thing was bothered by it. After he had his say, he gave me another kiss and went straight to bed. I am impressed, and maybe this week we will read Hamlet for a bedtime story.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reality My Aunt Fanny

http://tvwatch.people.com/2010/01/12/jakes-bachelor-blog-being-cheated-on-sucks/

I am not to gossip, but...

Okay, this link is one reason The Bachelor gets on my nerves, and I can never make it through a full season. First of all, the women always come across as desperate, and that reminds me too much of high school. Second, it just seems gross. Finally, the hubris of the chosen one is a turn off. This is just me though. Considering I am basically a twelve year old boy trapped in the body of a thirty-cough year old woman, this doesn't appeal to me. I really don't want to appear condescending, I just prefer Ghost Hunters. My girlfriends usually love the drama, and even my grandmother is a huge fan. She very rarely misses a season. I think though the latest scandal may be too much for her.

A contestant developed a relationship with a producer. She was sent home, and he was fired. Then according to people.com, the man who is dating fifteen women complains "being cheated on sucks". Uh, do you think? Try it when you are actually vested into the relationship. No picnic. The best part is according to RealitySteve, the whole scandal was created by the show to get rid of the contestant because she was unhappy with some unfulfilled promises given to her by the production team. Now, this is getting interesting. Do you mean that sometimes thoughts and actions are manipulated on reality television? Who-hoo, but I think the drama behind the scenes may be more interesting than the show itself. Somebody pop the corn.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More of the Same

My hillside is completely covered. The main highway looks clear, my hollow looks icy, but my hill is horrid. My neighbor's SUV is firmly planted at the bottom, and they are walking up and down. I am hoping that my landlord plows it again before Wednesday, but they are expecting several more inches tonight. Okay, I know some you Northerners are shaking your heads. This is spring time in Minnesota, but my community doesn't handle snow well at all, and we are not use to the constant snow and cold. I live in rural Appalachia, and our hills and hollows isolate us not only from the rest of the world but also each other. Oh, well. It isn't all bad. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we are just vegging. Imaginations are being used. Games are being played, and books are being read. I think I could really be a hermit.

At least I can catch up on my reading. I am going further into the Southern Vampire Mysteries. I love True Blood, but I really do enjoy the books more. Two completely different entities, and perfect escapism. My daughter can keep the shimmer. I will take the Viking.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Snow Day Update

1. Julie and Julia is a delightful film. I wonder if my generation still says "delightful". Well, the movie is good, and it is cute, but it fails to grab the complexities of the novel. No, it isn't the most profound biography, but the movie doesn't really grasp her insecurities and desires and messes. Plus, it doesn't really show the deliciousness of it all. Julie is far, far, far from perfect, and that is why I loved the book. The movie just makes her imperfections look cute and perky. Even with that, I still liked it. Perfect to watch under a blanket with a hot cup of coffee.

2. After watching a movie about food, I was hungry. I had the ingredients for pizza, but that seemed boring after watching Julie work her way through French cuisine. What I really wanted was a greasy pizza roll from the local BP. Yep, gas station food is the best. Instead I took Pillsbury pizza crust and lined it with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, ham, and a few spoon fills of pizza sauce. I folded it like a pumpkin roll, brushed it with butter, and sprinkled it with garlic powder. It wasn't a BP miracle, but it was soooooo good. Junk food sometimes makes the best meals.


3. I live close to nature. Last February, I heard a knock on my bedroom window and saw five deer in my yard with one being a little two personal. I never knew Bambi was a voyeur. I have also seen opossum, bob cat, raccoon, snakes, field mice, and yes, we had bear tracks last summer. My grandmother's favorite part of nature are birds. She loves them, and ever knick knack in her house concerns something with feathers. I often stand in her dining room mesmerized by the collection of birds that now reside in her trees because of her various feeders. Well, I will never garden like her. I will never cook like her, so I went and bought my first feeder. How have I lived these many years without a bird feeder? My son and I are now officially in love with bird watching. We have a lovely (do we still use that word) variety of birds outside our kitchen window. Cardinals are our favorite, but even though Blue Jays are the most gorgeous of all, they are evil, mean birds. Pretty creatures get by with more.

Enjoy your day, and please stay warm.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Latest Cooking Obsession

I began to keep house thirteen years ago, and I became a functional cook. I made okay meals for survival. After a few years, I became what I call a frantic cook. My ex worked 5 AM to 2 PM, and then I worked 3 PM to 1 AM, and there was a one hour window for a family meal. I basically cooked glorified lunches. Nothing complex but once again the food was functional and practical. The ironic thing was I collect cookbooks, and I had them at my fingertips, but I never went outside my comfort zone until about four years ago. I dated a man who is an excellent, professional cook, and he gave me a desire to create. Well, then came along Food Network, and an obsession was born. Do I now cook every day? Heck, no. My mother keeps my children until I get off work, and I love it when I go to her house, and dinner is on the table just waiting for me. Do I always pick complex, flavor rich meals? Nope. Do you? Sometimes function and speed is better than anything. I also have an eight year boy who doesn't like to think outside the box. He prefers chicken and well, chicken. No matter what happens at my house, I have yet to see anything as bad as this:


This show fascinates me to no end, and I sat spellbound with the first episode. My children sat spellbound. People who cannot even open a can of soup are expected to become restaurant chefs. I really feel for them because most of them just have a strong desire to please. The professional chefs come across as rather arrogant and superior but yeah, this is "reality" television, and that is part of it; however, It makes me want to pull for Team Red. Chef Beau MacMillan looked like the bigger jerk of the two, and it seemed he would rather belittle instead of actual teaching.

My personal favorite didn't even make it to the final cut. Sauvion boiled an entire chicken and topped it with cheese. I have to say it was the most creative meal I have ever seen, and I also found his bald burliness strangely attractive. Here is his video response to it all:


If you want a better chicken, try the Engagement Chicken from Glamour magazine. It is legendary because men seem to pop the question after eating it. I have yet to use its powers for evil, but it is wonderful and worth a try.
http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2006/07/engagement-chicken

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow Day Rememberance

The last year of my marriage I lived in a cute little Cape Cod. It was old, but it had and old world charm, and I miss the drafty, smelly thing. It even had it's own little courtyard coming off the kitchen. That January, we had a few snow days that shut down our entire town. I couldn't go to work. He couldn't go to work. My mom was visiting and was trapped with us. It was marvelous. Thing One was three and had never seen so much snow in her life. She was amazed and viewed the world in wide eyed astonishment. Our yard was a sloping hillside of various levels, and it was perfect for her to sleigh ride. The world was a marshmallow dream come true.
The next day we made it back to work, and my mom was keeping the preschooler and infant, and as she prepared lunch, the preschooler came in and asked to go out in the snow. My mom said she could, but she had to go get dressed. She came back in with Capri pants, cloth tennis shoes, and a sun hat. I think she was only big enough to reach her summer items. My mom being a practical woman quickly told the preschooler she had to change clothes, but Thing One is a stubborn child. She immediately threw one of her Katie Kaboom (Tiny Toons Reference)fits. My mother didn't lose her cool or yell. She just opened the kitchen door and put Thing One in the snow and closed the door. In about fifteen seconds, there was a knock. Thing One came in and went to her bedroom to find more appropriate clothing. After that, a good time was had by all.
Funny, I would love to say she has grown out of that stubbornness, but alas that would be a lie. To be honest, I love her ability to hold true to herself, and I love the strength that she possesses. She is one of the coolest people I have ever met, and I know life with her will be one heck of an adventure. Even better than a snow day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Official Snow Day

Okay, kiddos, what should I do to celebrate the beauty of a snow day? Here is what I have so far:

1. Clean out laundry area. Well, I had to put up something like this because my mom reads my blog, and this will make her so proud. Hi, Mom!

2. I have board games and hot chocolate ready to go.

3. Maybe I can lock the kids in their rooms and watch True Blood.

4. Email my friends at work and rub it in.

5. Home Shopping Network Vs. Food Network. I wonder who will win.

6. Facebook

7. Writing silly blog entries

8. Read all those parenting ideas in magazines about what to do on a snow day

9. Take plenty of headache pills to handle the pain that comes with #8. You are to use the duct tape to make an indoor hop scotch board, not to pin your brother to the wall.

10. Go back to bed


I think I now have my winner. Bed it is. For lunch though, I do have a special treat. I found snowflake pasta at Homegoods (love that store). I bought it some time ago specifically for the first snow day. Yeah, I know, but I am all about the cheese factor. Wait...cheese! Homemade snowflake mac and cheese. Oh, yeah, this will be the best snow day EVER!