Monday, September 5, 2011

It Was the Best of Times, and It Was the Worst of Times

I haven't posted in a while due to life just being chaotic.  Adjustments are being made, and there have been good days, great days, and some days...well...not so good or great.  It has just been life with the good, the bad, and the ugly; however, it has been ours.  It is real.  No need to deal with fiction when reality is just better in so many different ways.  With that being said, I would rather have a bad day with the Flatlander than a perfect day with somebody else.  He centers me.

The good:  The kids, all of them.  A night with rain beating down, pumpkin candles, Russian tea, and the sounds of Billie Holiday. 

The Bad:  I really don't want to go into deeper details out of respect for all involved, but let's just say life can throw you a curve.  Just when you you have a chance to inhale, you watch something fall apart.  You may want to ask God "why me", but shouldn't it be "why not me".  Every person who is under the moon tonight has problems, and sometimes they just seem to overwhelm.  My minister reflected on this just last Sunday and made several valid points, and this is what I am holding to this week:

1.  Repent:  Luke 13:1-5
2.  Reform: 
3.  Remember:  Psalm 77:7-8
4.  Revive:  Hosea 6: 1-3
5.  Report:  Be prepared to report how your hardships glorify God, your first true love.  
Someday soon I plan to "Go Tell It on the Mountain".

The Ugly:  Recently, I did a two part posting over toxic relationships, and I did so due to somebody actually acting out toward me in a manner that made me extremely uncomfortable.  Basically, they wished that my new marriage, life, and relationships will crumble around me.  Karma was going to get me.  Why?  Because we aren't close anymore.  Even though I tried to ignore her, for the most part, I must say that her attitude did bother me just because I am that much of a thought on her mind.  That my happiness bothers her so much, she must wish harm for good.  Needless to say, even though I am not a Buddhist, I really don't think that is purpose of Karma.  We don't go through life doing good to repay others with bad.  I don't see why we want bad things to happen to others.  Here is my open statement to her, "I don't want anything bad to happen to you, your marriage, or your life.  I believe you have a good heart, and you deserve to exist without pain.  My life shouldn't be your focus, as your life shouldn't be mine.  Let's just exist without being in each other's way.  Believe it or not, you are not even a blip on my radar, anymore.  I will wake up tomorrow with a clear heart and mind and move forward.  I suggest you do the same."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simplicity for Survival, Part II

To end a toxic relationship, you also need to remember that you cannot control the toxic waste that streams from their mouths.  If they were dysfunctional with you, then they will be as well without you.  Some people are also born for the fight.  They are not content unless they "have their say".  They may smile at your face and then talk freely about you behind your back, and this is okay.

What?  Yep, you read right; it is okay.   If it damages your reputation in anyway, then take direct action; however, if it is just with another person over coffee, then you know that is okay to ignore them.  Yes, it hurts.  Hurts bad, but when you attack back you open yourself to more heartbreak.  Remember, this person isn't your friend for a reason.  In a perfect, post therapy world, we should be able to say, "Excuse me, but I don't appreciate what you said."  In reality...well, it may not be met with the response you want.

You are not a bad person.  I am not a bad person, and their opinions of you shouldn't make you feel like you are.  Yet, what if you are the one trashing somebody over coffee?  Then stop.  Stop being that person.  Stop bullying.  Stop feeding your own insecurities.  We are all beautiful in our own ways, and the attempt to destroy others for your own self-gratification is only taking away from your peace of mind.  If you must vent, then vent to one trusted confidant, and make sure your opinions are balanced.  No need to drag others into a moment of muck.

So, just in case you are the one going through a detox or you are the one causing the detox, know that God knows the truth, and the truth is really in your heart on why it is happening.  Accept and move on and hopefully surprise visits in Walmart won't be that bad.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Simplicity for Survival

Something happened this week that made me want to use this forum to rant and give my side and yell and scream and vent and no.  No, I am not going to do it.  Why?  Because that is not what I want to carry with me every day.  I do not want to use my words to condemn a person or situation just based on my perceptions and so called intuition.  That is more simpleton than simplistic. 

Life can sometimes be unfair.  People can be unfair.  Add it all together, and it is enough to explode, but that is far from how I want to be.  Removing toxic relationships can be painful for both parties, especially when one can only be vindicated through hateful words and painful condemnation.  It hurts.  It does bother me, but if I respond then I am the one who creates the drama.  Not fair to either party because it doesn't promote healing.  Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and walk away without blaming the other person.

My new life contains a new fiance, new home, new job, and it isn't perfect.  The beauty of it requires sacrifice and faith in the unknown.  Be patient with me as I acclimate and remember life isn't perfect.  Just deal with your own and let me deal with mine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Planning a Party

Sunday is our engagement party.  It began as a shower, but it is now a full scale party with both genders and many people RSVPing.  I really hope it turns out well.  We rented a cabin at a local lake, so we will have access to a grill and playground.  Considering how many people are needing to be fed, I am keeping things simple with hot dogs, sausages, chicken, potato salad, seven layer salad, cowboy baked beans, fresh fruit, and a cake that I hope is as pretty in person as it was on the order form.  

I am doing the decorating myself, and I am using the color scheme I had planned to use when I was organizing a church wedding.  Navy and hot pink it is.  I super glued 10 mason jar centerpieces Saturday, and I plan on filling them with wildflowers.  I want to keep things rustic and simple, but I still think small twinkle lights will  make it there some how.  

This party is becoming more and more important, and I think it is because I am no longer planning a church wedding with family and friends.  When the big day arrives, it will be just the two of us with our kids, so this is my only chance to include everybody.  Yeah, they were with me the first go around, but they have also been with me as the world turned upside down on me.  They were the ones who believed in me when nobody else did, and for that, I need a way to say thank you; the engagement party is one big thank you for their love and support.

This party is also a good bye.  I am in the process of moving, and I won't be in our area on a daily basis anymore.  I am already spending more time there than here.  Bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking for the Little White Church

Clingmans Dome with my Head Literally in the Clouds
The destination wedding to Gatlinburg is on; more of a weekend retreat than destination.  The original date is still off due to events we didn't see coming, but that is life.  In order to be prepared (biggie for me), we ran down to TN this past weekend with research on the brain.  I wanted to see the chapels before I sent money, and I am really glad I did.  In case any of you have used the chapels in downtown, this is not judgmental in any way.  Every  wedding should match the bride AND groom; however, I really don't want to get married next to Ripley's Believe It or Not.  Love that place, but not dream wedding material for me.  It worked well for my groom's dad, but I want to be away from the sounds of the tourists.  Tourists can be a loud bunch.    With that in mind, I am happy to report we did find a place with a lot of potential.  The Chapel in the Glen is beautiful and tucked on a mountain several miles outside of town.  Quiet and peaceful are the two best words to describe it.  She took us into the chapel, and it just looked perfect for what we had in mind, just us and the kids.  Nothing tacky, which has been a worry for the groom's mother.  No Elvis at the door with wedding book in hand, which disappoints Thing One.  Simple, sweet, and beautiful.  I am interested in a waterfall service below the chapel.  This also appeals to the groom since he loves the look of overhanging trees.

Now the hard part...when.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Simple, Wanna-be Cook Goes Country

Today began with taking my granny to her monthly doctor's appointment.  Since she was a good girl and didn't cry, I took her to a local drive in for lunch. After traditional fast food bliss, she and I wanted something completely different for dinner, and thanks to our local produce stands, we were able to have half-runner green beans, new potatoes, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, and homemade blackberry cobbler.  Yummy!

My contributions were the tomatoes and cobbler:

Simple Blackberry Cobbler:
When I was about six, I would climb the hills behind my house to pick berries for my neighbor's cobblers.  I would bring my basket into her kitchen where she always asked if I had been eating the berries.  I would shake my head and say, "Nooooooooo", even though I was covered in sweet, purple evidence.  If you go picking, be careful since blackberry bushes seem to attract copperheads.  This recipe came from my neighbor's kitchen to my mother's to mine.
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
About two-three cups fresh blackberries

1.  Mix sugar, flour, milk and melted butter together until smooth.
2.  Pour mix into a baking dish that is buttered, floured, or sprayed with oil.
3.  Sprinkle berries over the top
4.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about an hour or until the top is golden brown and the cobbler is bubbly.
Doesn't get any easier or better than this

Simple Recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes:

Make a batter from 2 cups flours, 1/2 cup corn meal (or panko crumbs), salt, pepper, and just enough milk to make it smooth.
Dip your tomato slices and fry.  
Some time ago, I Googled how to keep fried foods crispy and read that you should put fried food in a colander.  Place it over a paper towel on a plate and let the oil drain.  Whoever posted this, thank you!  Perfect for fried green tomatoes.  
The colander in this picture is about sixty years old and actually not a colander at all.  My granny bought strawberries in the 1940s and kept the plastic container.  This is the only colander she has ever used.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

Today has been a busy one.  I have been running the roads since 9 AM this morning, and I am ready to relax with the magazines I never have the chance to read.  First stop was to open a checking account with a bank that has a branch in the town I am moving to this summer.  Then Thing Two had an eye appointment.  Turns out he needs reading glasses due to a focusing issue.  I did chuckle at the way it was worded.  Pizza and light shopping ended with me picking up my engagement ring (had to throw that in), but that is nothing compared to what I found when I made it home.

I opened the door to find my eldest cleaning the kitchen.  A beautiful sight for my tired eyes, but she was beaming from ear to ear.  She had made the perfect egg (sunny side up) and homemade pancakes.  The recipe came from a website.  As she happily went out of the room, I nibbled a leftover pancake, and wow, she impressed me.  They were delicious and better than most adults'.  I have to admit I miss the little tow head that stood in front of the pantry and asked for "hot yummies", but I am blown away by the independent young lady she has become.  My baby is an extraordinary young lady, and I am humbled that she is mine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blueberry Dreams Done Simply

I love blueberry pancakes, and today I indulged by making my first batch of blueberry syrup.  My favorite critic seemed to enjoy it!

Blueberry Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice

a.  Mix sugar with cornstarch
b.  Over medium heat gradually add the water, stirring as you do
c.  Add blueberries and lemon juice
d.  Bring mixture to a boil and stir constantly for two minutes

Very simple!  I added my extra blueberries to my pancake mix and served warm.  The recipe makes three cups, so I now have extra for the weekend.  Waffles anybody?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Summer Reading Treat

So far this summer, my reading has centered around education and professional development.  I am switching school districts this fall, and I am looking for inspiration, page by page.  Needless to say, I became a bit bored.  My choices were good, but I got a hankering for  Here is what I found so far:

Bubba and the Dead Woman
This mystery is free right now for Amazon Kindle, and I have to say it was entertaining.  The bad guy is not that difficult to figure out, but that didn't deter me from finishing it in one evening.  This characters are a hoot, especially Bubba's mama.  A nice, little mystery.

Still Life with Murder (Gilded Age Mysteries #1)
Now it is time for something completely different.  The characters are far from light and fluffy.  The mystery is dark and complex, and I cannot get enough.  Nell becomes the unlikely governess for a wealthy family right after they discover their two sons have died in Andersonville.  Three years later, the eldest son is very much alive and accused of murder.  He is far from perfect with an Opium addiction, and the author doesn't gloss over the character flaws.  I wouldn't call the mysteries "gritty" but they do have an edge to them, and once I began to read, I couldn't stop.  I finished book two last night, and I have a feeling I will have the entire series read by July.  There are six books in all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To Be or Not...Internet Connection Has Been Lost

A fellow teacher Facebooked yesterday that she was reading an article about the future of textbooks in the technological age, and it began a conversation with a colleague about what should we expect.  Basically, they are going the way of the dinosaur.  In the near future, netbooks and E-book readers will take the place of the big, bulky books your children or grandchildren are carrying. 

On one hand, doesn't that sound amazing?  No more back strain by the ripe old age of thirteen. The resources online are endless, and less trees will  be destroyed.  Children, who are naturally geared toward the new and shiny, will easily adapt to the changes, and most will excel.  We then can drive them to school in silver jumpsuits and flying cars.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology.  My kindle is my new favorite toy, and I love how easily I can zip in and buy a book and zip out to read.  I would love an I-Pad.  Don't see one in my future, but it would be fun; however, we need to realize that using technology is easier said than done, especially in rural or urban areas with higher rates of poverty.

First and foremost, technology fails, big time.  We are using an online computer program for summer school this year and guess what happened after lunch yesterday:  we lost Internet connection.  We had a plan to go and grab...insert gasp...textbooks, but the final bell rang, and the children skipped merrily home.  We lost seat time due to the fact technology is completely unpredictable.  My own desktop, hooked up to my Smartboard, proves this on a daily basis since it takes twenty minutes to just  boot up, if I am lucky.  The same teacher workstation is so outdated, I have to use another computer in my room to just open my school email.   The list can go on and on and on.

Yes, I know, in the long run the argument is based on expenses.  Every thing in education is based on the bottom line; however, technology doesn't last forever.  Within moments of purchase, your items go immediately out of date.  Things need updated.  Computers need to be replaced.  School boards don't have the budget in coming years, and then none of this happens.  Then what?  My district can't even afford to replace the English textbooks we are currently using.  They are over fourteen years old.  How will they be able to do yearly upgrades? 

They next argument is that this will allow every student the ability to do more and learn more ( and pass more state tests).  Well, maybe not.  Not every student in my school has the ability to access the Internet at home. If I offer a technology based assignment, I have to present an alternative to the students who are unable to go online.  We even have students who live in areas where cable companies fear to tread, and have you even looked at the online packages for most satellite providers?  Downloading is only free from midnight to six AM?  Seriously?   Once again, a one size fits all solution to a diverse population isn't the answer.

I hate being negative, and to be honest, I want this to work.  I want to see technology incorporated into the curriculum in a manner that is productive and reliable.  I want them to prove me wrong.  I want to see my children with their school paid for I-Pads growing and learning in ways I never could.  I want their success in this miraculous age we live in; however, maybe we need a more realistic view of what life is really like for our students.  Maybe we need more than the latest fad.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Simple Wanna Be Cook Makes French Toast

Yeah, so what.  Big deal.  I know, French Toast is not rocket science, but I had a house full of people and not much time on Saturday until a wedding (not mine).  How was I going to feed them?  A few weeks ago, I read about making French Toast the night before and then baking it.  That sounded perfect, and this is what I did with the ingridients I had on hand:

1.  One loaf of French Bread.  I cut it into about one inch slices
2. One cup of heavy whipping cream
3. Five eggs
4.  A dash of vanilla
5.  1/2 cup of sugar
6.  Cinnamon
a.  Whip the eggs with the cream and vanilla
b.  Layer a baking pan with bread and pour mixture to saturate. 
c.  Refrigerate overnight
d.  Preheat oven to 400
e.  Pour sugar and cinnamon over the bread
f.  Bake twenty minutes
g.  Serve hot

I wish I had a picture, but people were too hungry.  My son ate it with bananas and syrup, and asked for more.  Since he is my most critical eater, I took it as a compliment.  This recipe will be made again soon, but I am thinking of making a blueberry syrup to go with it.  I also like making eggnog French Toast in the winter, and I believe this will translate nicely with a little nutmeg instead of cinnamon. 

I will take pictures. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Kindle Treat

"I teach, therefore, I am...poor."  John Pearson, Learn Me Good

Thanks to my lack of summer reading, Amazon introduced to me to the hilariously honest Learn Me Good.  Even though I am not an elementary school teacher, I still found this book to be a realistic view of not only the first year of teaching but teaching in general.  This isn't for you if you are looking for new ways to use a Venn Diagram or wanting the politically correct Another Casserole for the Educational Professional.  This isn't that kind of book.  Learn Me Good instead reminds me that there is a time to laugh, mostly at myself. 

Teaching can be an adventure. People often have their opinions of public education and educators, but I don't think you fully understand teaching unless you spend time on the front lines (No, Sunday School doesn't count, and yes, politicians, I am talking to you).  From the moment I began the prologue, I knew this book is different.  First of all, I like how it is an epistolary memoir; the tone is more conversational and relaxed.  The emails add to the humor, as you imagine two geeky (saying this with only the love that a fellow geek can convey) friends, joking between work mishaps and The Big Bang Theory.  By the time the book was over, I wanted to be in his address book.  I wanted more.  Thankfully, Mr. Pearson is a blogger at Learn Me Good .

I also enjoy the fact this book isn't all cutesy and huggy with butterflies and rainbows.  Teachers do experience those moments, but come on, not on a daily basis.  A student has vomited on my desk. 'Nuff said.  I hypervenelate every time test scores are released. I find NCLB idealistic.  Mr. Pearson may not agree with my statements, but in my fantasy school faculty, he understands enough to hand me a brown bag before I pass out.  In other words, this book is by a teacher who teaches, not a consultant who...well, who knows what they REALLY do.  

So, here is my call to action:  stop taking yourself so seriously and check out Learn Me Good by John Pearson.  I was lucky enough to get it for less than a dollar but the 2.99 is workable, even on a teacher's salary.

Buy Learn Me Good

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Paris Wife, Part Two: So This Is the End

The novel ended just like the history books.  No startling revelations or new found secrets.  It just was.  She lived her life, and we can just go to Wikipedia for his.  I have to admit I became obsessed for several days with the many characters that breezed through.  Who were they really?  What significance did they make?  I Googled their images and wondered about those hot days in Spain that were so critical to Hemingway. Of course, this novel wasn't their story, so we didn't really get to know their motivations; instead, they were characters who fretted their hour upon stage and then no more.  This made the illusion of Paris more real because who really knows the superficial. By the way, the biography of Duff is fascinating, and she knew how to make a grand exit. Too bad she wasn't explored more.

Desperation filled the climax and falling action of the story.  Could you, would you try to save a marriage that gave no sense of fulfillment?  Could you, would you sacrifice yourself for the love of another?  It is easy to read the fiction and grumpily say NO, but what do we actually lose when we love?  How much do we throw out and never see returned.  The Hemingways burned bright and then burned out.  The failure of the marriage seems to have haunted Hemingway where he later wrote A Movable Feast, and I have to wonder did the myth actually live to regret his actions and heartbreak, not just to Hadley, but to the others who followed him to ends of the world and back.  Why him?  What exactly was his power?   Was it basically the thoughts of changing the man?  Comfort to the loss?  Rescuing that that cannot be saved?  Maybe it was just lust. Maybe all of the above.  Women break every day trying to save the broken.

The resolution to the story feels rushed and a bit tacked on, but I cannot see how it would be otherwise.  Time passed quickly, and then it is over.  After I closed the last page, I couldn't help but wonder how much of the novel is accurate, but the glimmering characters give more to the idea of myth vs. reality.  To know the full truth would only take away from the mystery.  Sometimes fantasy is better.

  Hemingway explored masculinity in his novels, and The Paris Wife seems to be the antithesis of his very nature.  Every aspect of feminine relationship is explored:  wife, mother, lover, child, sister, friend. Hemingway may tell us what it takes to be a man, but Hadley allows us to understand the egnima of the woman.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Paris Wife: Reading and Wondering, Part I

Hemingway:  the man, the myth, the power.  I have always been fascinated by his mystique, but I have given very little thought to the women who shaped him, four wives and one pretty nurse.  The Paris Wife focuses on Hadley Richardson who was Hemingway's first wife and the one during the Paris Years, and this example of historical fiction is leaving me with a hollow feeling.  To be honest, I can only read it in bits and pieces.  Maybe because I know how it ends, adultery and divorce.  

I know somewhere there will be a sense of female empowerment.  You can see where it is shaping, and in this age, I cannot imagine publishing a book about a doormat; however, the author is now showing how overwhelming Hemingway was in life and how dependent Hadley must have been.  She was emotionally attached to her dysfunctional family, never fully comprehending her father's suicide and her larger than life mother.  The fictional Hadley never felt the desire to live until she encountered the enigma of Hemingway, a man several years her junior. She was emotionally stunted and years younger in experience, so her happiness was hinged on a man who wasn't able fully to love without fear.  He left before his women could.  

At this point in the book, I just want to slap her.  As Cher says so elegantly in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!"
Each step is a process, and we are to experience life with her, but at this certain point, I am just thankful not to be married to writer in Paris during the 20s and dealing with his emotional issues.  Greek tragedy is based on catharsis, and this book, in a way, is cathartic.  Her obsession is allowing  me to clear my own mind of the relationship garbage that seems to creep in and makes me doubt myself.  In that sense, this is a good book for me, right now, but if only I could yell at her to stop and regroup.  Don't build your life around one person, Hadley. People are fallible, and they will break your heart if you only live for the myth you create in your own mind. She can't hear me.  She is too torn between being the Victorian child or the "modern" woman in Paris.  She thought she could save him.  Poor Hadley, because thanks to Oprah, we know he is the only one who can save himself.  

Maybe this is why I haven't made a life commitment since my divorce until recently.  Love is scary and dangerous.  It is scary to lose yourself into one person.  It is even worse to lose yourself in the ideas of  the life you want but not fully realized.  You become a shell or ghost; a shade just going through the motions.  Your home is filled with the shadows of the possibilities of life but nobody is fully living.  Love shouldn't turn you into less than what you really are.

So far, Hadley is merely a shade mirroring the life being lived by Hemingway.  Hopefully, soon the pages will reveal a stronger voice and one worth hearing.  

To be continued...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Everybody Has Got Their Problems...

That was said to me this week,and it is so true.  Sometimes we get caught up in our own world that we forget that everybody is mired in their own quagmires of reality.  Bills need to get paid.  People die.  Cars crash or break down.  Hearts are broken.  Before we say a harsh word or make an assumption, maybe should we take a moment and remember everybody has got their problems.  Your world may be in discord, but so is that woman over there and also that man in the back.  We are all strangely united in joy and in pain.

I know this won't make our own struggles easier.  Only faith, hope, and love can do that, but maybe we are here to make their loads a little lighter.  What can we do to bring a smile?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sadness on a Sunny Day

He sent a friend request on Saturday on Facebook, but I didn't find it until yesterday.  Email buried under several others.  He died on Tuesday.  I couldn't breathe, I just couldn't.  This is unreal.  He was a sweet, gentle man, and I cannot imagine his final days or  the fear as he faced his final moments.  I am dedicating the following video to him.  He sang it for me once.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Too Soon

Two weeks ago, two classmates died within days of each other and were at the funeral home at the same time.  I dressed in my funeral black and paid my respects to both.

Easter Sunday one of my best friends from high school died.  He was gone in a blink, and I was unable to say good bye.

This week a friend of mine was murdered by his wife.

In the process of it all, I stop, I grieve, and then I go to soccer practice or work or church or to the store.  Every step is a reminder that they are gone, and I will never see them again.  Every step reminds me I have miles to go before I sleep, but they are now still.

Every step makes me takes a deep breath of gratitude, and I move forward.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Roads That Lead to Us

A few months ago the county decided my neighborhood needed a new bridge.  Turns out we were about to fall in the creek.  During the time of our bridgeless existence, we had a fake road that was built where the trains once ran.  As of yesterday, our bridge is operational, and our fake road now leads nowhere.  They took out a section because it was causing flooding issues; however, for a brief time, it was the road that led to us.  To me, that makes it important.  Thing One captured it for a 4-H photo essay, and it reminds me how sometimes we find beauty in the most unexpected places.  What was once so inconvenient is now a refuge.  Peace and beauty are present in every turn.

I now must search my heart for the moments I hide. This Easter I must look and acknowledge the fears and pain that has taken up residence in the darkest corners.  Open and welcome the tears because I know some of my greatest victories were born from these unguarded moments.  Sweep away the cobwebs and embrace the blessings God gives me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Simple Cook Strikes Again

Tonight is the end of my mini-spring break.  Due to snow, we only were allowed two days off, and those days were spent landscaping my grandmother's backyard and every day chores that don't seem to get done every day.  Yesterday I was able to take Thing One and Thing Two to my cousin's for lunch and a play date with her babies.  There are several years between our children, but the Things had a blast with their "baby" cousins, and the baby cousins loved playing with the big kids.  We live several hours apart, so days like yesterday are special.  I am moving closer to her in a few months, and I really hope we can get together more often.

Today was a lazy day that consisted of our Easter Cantata, two meals cooked, housework, and I finally planted my herbs.  Somewhere in there, Thing One and I walked three miles on the temporary road leading to our house.  Our bridge is being reworked so we have a fake road where the trains once ran.  We basically drive four miles to go one, but the views are amazing.


You may be asking what does this have to do with my cooking or lack of cooking skills.  During my too-short-vacation, I purchased my first copy of Cooking School magazine from the Taste of Home, and I am impressed.  The recipes are basically idiot proof.  This magazine is one I will keep and not recycle. I find many foodie or cooking magazines pretentious, but this one is true to the idea that it can make you a better cook.   Each page is filled with one idea after another with helpful hints that even I can do.  I also like the fact the magazine is broken down into easy to find categories.  I am currently planning a wedding party brunch and Easter dinner, and I am able to find what I need as I need it.  Basically, I am impressed.  I have already tried several recipes this weekend, and the breakfast pizza was a hit with kids and grandmother (tough crowd) and Provolone Chicken Sandwiches were amazingly easy and yummy.  I always expect something good with Taste of Home, and the Cooking School Magazine didn’t let me down.  I will be buying the next issue.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Mother's Daughter

I told a person, who once was in life, I was getting married, and in passing I mentioned the groom's politics which was greeted with a the comment, "Well, I guess you are now just like your mother."
Wait, did I hear sarcasm there?  Oh, wait, you aren't giving a compliment, are you?  Oh, due to the fact, she doesn't believe the same as you then she must be wrong.  You need a villain in your story, and you choose those who don't measure up to your personally developed standards, which have done you wonders.  I'm sorry, but it would be honor to be like my mother.

 She is brave.  She has battled several diseases with courage and grace.  No matter how bad things have gotten, she has never felt sorry for herself.   She doesn't feel the need to moan and groan about the lot life has given her. Instead, she moves forward to the next day with gratitude.

She is honest.  She lives her life in completely honesty, and yes, sometimes, I would rather hear a more peaceful truth, but it is always easier to live in fantasy than in reality.  She is a woman of integrity and honor, and she lives her life behind closed doors as she would in the public square.

She is smart.  She can talk politics, religion, entertainment, and philosophy, but she doesn't have to hear her own voice to prove to others she is capable.

She is generous and loving.  I have seen her give her last fifty to a former student.  She has sacrificed time and time again for her family.   Even when it hard for her to get up in the morning, she is there for those who need her. For the past eight years, she has supported me as I faced one life changing event after another.  Sometimes she may be vocal with her opinion, but her judgement is sound and done with love.

She is my mommy.  I will not apologize for being close with her.  Even when we don't see eye to eye, I know her love is true.  It is with pride I say I am my mother's daughter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

*Some of my Favorite Things*

Here are a list of random item that are currently putting a smile on my face:

1.  HomeGoods

2.  The return of wedges

3.  Pedicures

4.  My kindle:   Here is my latest adventure:

It is the perfect companion to my rereading of Macbeth

5.   My soon to be wedding ring

6.  Gardening

7.  Trying to cook

8.  Spring evenings listening to the frogs. 

9.  Fried pickles

10.  Fresh fruits, espcially watermelon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wedding Planning for Dummies

So I sit, almost forty, with a few bridal mags and a glazed over look in my eye.  This seemed to make more sense fifteen years ago with the first go around.  I have all the plans for a church wedding but it seems too formal, too indoors, too I-just-don't know.  The details overwhelm me.  It is fun to dream, and I maintain the second wedding is more fun than the first due to the freedom of being more sure of self.  I know what I like, in other words.

So I sit, almost forty, and throw it all out the window.  Well, not all of it because I still like the groom, but the rest is going on hold.  Instead I am googling Gatlinburg Weddings.  Just us and our kids, in a garden or by a waterfall, sounds blissful to me.  A weekend just for us with only us.

To be continued...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Do I...Yes, I Do

I am engaged.  I love him; he loves me.  We get along.  Our kids get along, and we enjoy each other's company.  He is an amazing, loving, generous man, and I am more than blessed to know him, but this isn't about him.  It is going back to a question that was asked yesterday, "why do I deserve this?"

I don't think the question was asked in a mean spirit, and it was taken out of context, but my daughter told somebody that I deserved all of this, implying I deserve to be happy.  She was asked why.  The question honestly confused her, and she didn't completely understand what was being asked.  An ex boyfriend was mentioned, and this really confused her.  He and I have not dated seriously since the autumn of 2006 (haven't dated anybody seriously for four years), and she couldn't grasp why he was even mentioned.  To be fair, I have kept my personal life separate from my mommy life as much as possible, and I am not a serial dater.  I cut ties quickly in order to protect our family unit, but yes, I dated A. for many years.  He was good to the kids and to me, but he was not meant to be my husband.  My daughter even said a few days ago, she knew he wasn't the one; however, does this mean I shouldn't marry P because A was in the picture for a bit?  Should I pull away due to the fact others may not approve?  Should I discredit my own happiness?  The answer is no.  I deserve to be happy.  I deserve to be loved, and I deserve this chance to love. 

If I look more closely at the situation, I come to the realization that I never wanted to remarry until this moment.  I say that is a God thing.  I haven't wasted opportunities on false hopes and fake dreams.  I have been caught up in romance a few times, but I do tend to have a realistic approach to life.  I praise God for that.  I have stayed true to my heart, and that is P.  I loved him when I was only twenty-one, and this time around is even sweeter.  I deserve this chance.

It won't be perfect, and marriage should not be perfect.  It is about forming a bond that should last an eternity, and if that was easy, there wouldn't be divorces.  I have been down this road before, and that is another reason why I haven't given my heart.  I have sheltered it and tended it's grief (thank you Anne Sexton for the metaphor).  Giving it freely is a tremendous step, and I think it takes courage to hold on to something that has the potential to kill you.  I admire anybody who has the ability to say "I do" long after the wedding bells stop chiming.  I want a future without boundaries.  I want love with the imperfections it brings.  I want to have hope and faith.  I do.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I am moving, as I type.  All of my belongings are in boxes in the living room.  My world is a swirl of chaos that I cannot even comprehend.  I hate this part right here.  I hate boxes of clothes, papers, and stuff...just stuff.  Things that don't really matter, but I cannot bear to even throw away.  My memories are torn apart and it will be months before I will find a sense of belonging again.  This is just a stepping stone kind of move.  Moving to my grandmother's house until this summer when I say I do to another address.  I am now a transient. 

It was a good opportunity to rid myself of some things, and yes, over fifteen bags and boxes went to Goodwill.  Every time I pulled up to the door, I found a sense of renewal.  It is a wonderful experience to free yourself from the clutter of the everyday.  Now if only I could find the house cleaning fairy to come and do the rest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finding Peace in the Small Places

Hello.  My name is Robyn, and I hide in my car.  That may be an exaggeration.  I am not really hiding, but there is something peaceful about the car.  My kids run into the house.  The radio is still on, and I am...alone.  For one moment, I am silent as a listen to music.  I lay my head back and close my eyes.  I become heavy into the seat.  My body almost becomes liquid, and I melt.  Golden. Then I hear a noise.  The passenger door is opening, and it is either Thing One or Thing Two, "Are you okay, Mommy?  I don't want you to be alone."

I have to smile at the irony.  I laugh, kiss the top of the head being presented, and then a nugget of truth is revealed.  I don't want to be alone either.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Hills Are Alive...

With two girls screaming.  My daughter and I went hiking today.  I live nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, and there is a cemetery directly behind my house.  After that you have nothing but hillside.  She and I went straight up the mountain and hiked over to the neighboring community.  It was wonderful to see our world from that height. It felt empowering, and then reality came.  Going home downhill was fun, but let's say not as much fun.  Well, let's say missing the cemetery and veering too far left was not as fun. Finding the hollow, but also finding the steep drop to a creek wasn't as fun.  Climbing down and jumping the creek was not as fun, but we did it.  Yes, we did it.  We walked the short distance back to our house feeling a sense of wonder and pride.  We could have whined and complained but we climbed the mountain and came home again without a whimper.  A lot like life I dare say.  You reach the summit but sometimes you then have to come down.  Sometimes you have to jump a hurdle or two to reach solid ground.  Sometimes there are briers holding you back, but then you feel the road beneath your feet.  It is going to be okay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And That Has Made All the Difference

I have a friend who is struggling right now with several different problems all at once, and it is becoming overwhelming, almost to the point of inactivity.  Today at work he said worry flooded his soul and for a moment he imagined us as just specks in the universe.  None of it mattered in the grand scheme of things.  Instead of bringing the peace of epiphany, it made him feel alone and insignificant.  Why bother if it all doesn't matter?  Thankfully he pulled himself away from the negativity and relaxed in faith.  It is important because this is our lives.  No, it may not be newsworthy, but our problems matter.  We should not have guilt over having bad days.  We are not living in ingratitude when we acknowledge our own pain and limitations.  Worry is a natural, human emotion.  Fear is real.  Pain happens.  It is how we live and respond to our worries, fears, and pain.  Only when we find the truth of our pain can we release ourselves into our faith and live in thanksgiving.   It is easier to walk in faith when the world is bright and shiny but acceptance of the dark enlarges our perceptions of what truly matters.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't You?

I very rarely give personal notes in my blog, but after I did a few people wondered if that blog was about them.  The answer is no.  The blog was dedicated to a shadow from over a decade ago.  You can say I had to address something in order to move on, and I am moving on in a glorious fashion.  The blog was ambiguous to protect the names of the innocent and not so innocent.  In order to laugh over it all, I am now dedicating a song to somebody.  No, I don't think you are vain. It is just a song. Enjoy a giggle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Merry Fat Tuesday to You!

I love Christmas and the ribbons and lights that go with it, but my truly favorite time of the year is about to begin. I embrace the Lenten Season as a child reaching for a new toy. I anticipate the spiritual growth and renewal of spring. Tomorrow I will go for ashes in hopes of being reborn as the Pheonix.

So where does that leave Fat Tuesday? Partying up? No, no here, except I will take my family to a pancake dinner tonight. I was going to make Po Boys, but sitting around with my granny in a beautiful church sounds more fitting.

I am still trying to figure out what I am giving up tomorrow. Penance anyone? I am focusing on moderation of everything. Less Facebook, less food, less idelness, less television, less talking, more meditation, more quiet, and more listening.  I am truly finding a simple life is the best led life, and I want to use Lent as a way of finding a more abundant life bathed in simplicity. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Months!

Yep, it has been two months since my last trip here. I just haven't felt like sitting still for long periods of time and writing. Really, nothing to share. Well, there is but once again, I was just letting it happen instead of writing about what I want to happen. With this in mind, I think I am being more productive and I am happy. I am in love. Gushy kind of love. The kind that makes me giggle at little pink hearts and dream big dreams. The best part is that he loves me. Oh, yeah, I am in love with him at the same time as he is in love with me. I know it happens all the time, but wow, think about that. To be in love at the same time just amazes me. I remember being about six in the front of my mom's car, without a seatbelt (70's) and wondering out loud how hard that must be. She told me it would happen one day to me, and she didn't lie.

Enough about that. I just threw it out to the universe, but there is no need to ram it down your throat. It is what it is.

With that said, here is a new recipe:

I modified the recipe by using Frank Red Hots because is there really any other kind. No, I think not. It is the sauce that counts, after all. Also, if you are looking for a healthier lifestyle check out All the benefits of other weight loss sites but FREE. Gotta love that.

Now time for something completely different:

A personal message to the one who once knew he that should not be named: Look, I know what happened, and I don't blame you, and I am not looking for confrontation. Yes, many lives were hurt, including two very special people whom I love, but like all good disasters, many factors contributed to the ship sinking. I am not a victim. My life is better than ever, and it took the disaster for me to find true peace and happiness; however, I won't be thanking you anytime soon. It is always a rough road when trust is destroyed, but know, at one time I called you friend, and there lies the rub. Every action has a positive or negative reaction. Many years ago our worlds exploded from said actions, and even today, on peaceful sunny days, vibrations are still felt. Those vibrations will be felt for many of us for several more years to come, but thankfully, we have the grace to move forward instead of going backwards. To directly confront you would be, at least for me, one huge step backwards. So, I just type this to be said and removed from the swirling in my my head. I don't absolve nor do I need to forgive, but I must have my say. I was the only one without a voice and now I am heard.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

They say what you are doing on New Year's Eve will be what you will do for the rest of the year.  Sounds good to me.  I was surrounded by friends and laughing.  I felt love, joy, and peace.  There was excellent food and conversation, and messages from the one who couldn't be there but has my heart.  Yes, I can handle that for the rest of the year.

Normally, I hate the new year.  It is my least favorite holiday.  From Halloween to Christmas, my life is filled with fun, planning, and anticipation, and then...blah.  Doesn't help my birthday is in January, so I have a reminder I am a year older.  From this bah-humbug approach to the new year I have formed my resolution.  No dieting since I have been working on that still from last year.  No, I don't smoke.  I am focusing instead of finding the good in January, February, March, and well, you get the idea.  I plan on prayerfully finding a purpose other than what I see on the surface. I am removing the obstructions that threaten my joy.  I am loved by somebody, and I sometimes doubt.  I do not doubt him, but I worry and doubt the fact we can actually have a future.  I doubt myself.  No guarantees in life, but I pessimistically rip apart the peace that should come with the joy of connecting with the twin flame. Sometimes I even doubt I will find happiness with somebody, and that isn't fair to me.  I read yesterday that misery is in the anticipation.  Basically I anticipate the worse and then I find my misery.  You know, we may one day break up. Don't want that, but bad things happen; however, I will look to finding hope in anticipation instead of despair.  I will hope for the best, plan for the best, and deal with the worse if it does occur.  I will trust myself.  I will believe I am worth it this New Year.

May you find peace within yourself this year.

Perfect Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Today was a very busy but lovely beginning to our Halloween Festivities.  My husband and I went to a Farmers' Market that was featuring ...