Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's My Friday!

Happy Friday to me!  No, I'm not crossing the date line, just taking the day off tomorrow.  For once, my day off is something for fun instead of an obligation (doctor's appointment, sick kid, etc.)  My Middlest turned 9 a couple of weeks ago.  For her birthday, she wanted to go see Kenny Chesney.  And so did I but I didn't have anyone to go with.  Since he was coming to Little Rock soon, I bought 3 tickets.  I offered to let her take a friend and she chose her sister.  So tomorrow, instead of work and school, we are going on a road trip.

My husband has a doctor's appointment there tomorrow afternoon.  Instead of taking both trucks, we just decided to carpool, take the baby boy, and make a day out of it.  The kids and I will play in the park while he's at the doctor, then we're going to introduce the kids to one of our favorite restaurants, Purple Cow, home of amazing greasy cheeseburgers and yummy milkshakes, maybe some shopping (it is VA payday tomorrow!) and then off to the concert, while the boys go see a movie.  It should be a fun-filled day, free of most responsibilities.  The girls are looking forward to dancing at the concert and hoping to get on the big screen.  It should be loads of fun.  I've been to a KC concert many times but have never taken the girls.  I can't wait!

My washing machine died earlier this week.  We're a family of 5...we go through lots of laundry.  My husband (aka Amateur Mr. Fix-It) diagnosed the problem.  The dial wasn't working properly because it was stripped.  I ordered a replacement dial from PartSelect on Monday evening.  The part and shipping together were less than $15.  Mr. FedEx delivered the new dial on Wednesday.  How's that for customer service?!  I didn't pay extra for speedy shipping and they promised it in 3-5 days.  My washing machine is back in business, thankfully.  If you have a dying/dead appliance, I definitely recommend that you check there before you replace it.  They will even help you select the part to fix it.  All you need is an Amateur Mr. Fix-It.  Depending on my mood, I may even loan mine out.  

Right now, my oldest is playing Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii.  I remember the original DKC on Super Nintendo.  We played this all the time in college.  Her dad and I spent many, many late nights trying to beat it.  It was great entertainment.  The music on here is the same as the original.  It's great.  It took me a few days to even want to try to play it because I was afraid I wouldn't get the hang of it on the Wii.  I did and I may stay up after the kids go to bed and play it.  Cheap entertainment.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twice in One Day

I felt the urge to post again today.  I'm feeling pretty bummed about the MIA puppies.  Beagle mama took off into the cold wet woods again this afternoon and I sent Meg to follow her.  Husband came home about that time and went with her.  They came back empty handed again.  After this cold and rainy day, my only hope is that they made it to civilization and were adopted by a family.  Or adopted by a Coyote mama.  I doubt we will find them now.  So I'm bummed.  

On a happier note, our middle-ness cooked dinner tonight almost all by herself.  I used another Johnsonville free Italian sausage coupon courtesy of She SpeaksWe're not really big fans of spaghetti and meatballs but I really love meatballs.  I looked up a recipe on and then improvised from there.  Yes I realized that mayonnaise is an odd substitute for egg but sometimes you have to work with what you've got.  My usual egg substitute is applesauce but that didn't go with meatballs.  In the end, the meal was spectacular, especially when you consider it was prepared primarily by a 9 year old.  The only thing she needed help with was browning the meatballs, and only then because the oil was popping up on her.  

Improvised Johnsonville Italian Meatballs

1 pkg. Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mayonnaise (subbed for egg)

In a large bowl, combine the milk and bread crumbs.  Mix well and add mayo.  Add sausage and mix all together well (think meatloaf--use your hands).  Roll into balls.  Brown in a skillet doused with olive oil or any other kind of oil.  Warning--they will brown very quickly and may burn, I think because of the mayo--cook them over LOW heat. 

The Middle-ness served them covered in spaghetti sauce (the pureed veggie kind) and loaded onto hot dog buns for meatball subs.  Marvelous.  She impressed me.

Ugh, it's past my bedtime.  I'm still going to read the book I'm so engrossed in right now, America's Women (see left side).  I'm not a history buff, never have been, even though my husband is a history teacher.  I'm just not a fan.  Amazon recommended this book to me, I don't know why, but I used a gift certificate and bought it.  It's fascinating!  I'm even thinking about taking a woman's history class at the college just for fun.  Of course I learned about the Pilgrims, the Revolutionary War, etc., in school but never once was there a focus on the role of women during the different eras.  This book definitely puts an interesting spin on history.   

Just Breathe

I've had a hard week and it's only Tuesday!  Lord please help me make it through the rest of the week!  

For my first followers, thanks!  It boosted my mood 110% to see that somebody is reading my randomness.  It really does mean a lot to me :)  

One of these days, my blog will include pictures.  Right now, my trusted camera has disappeared.  Long story short, it was in it's bag hanging on a dining chair and then it wasn't.  I'm desperate to buy a new one but rumor has it that my husband and my sort-of daughter are conspiring to get me one for Mother's Day.  So I am forced to be patient.  That's not one of my strengths.

The weather in Arkansas right now is giving me seasonal affective disorder, I'm convinced of it.  The sun pops out occasionally, just long enough to get my hopes up and then disappears again.  Today we have cold rain.  I don't mind rain when it's warm but cold rain just makes me want to curl up and read or, even better, sleep.  This does not give me good feelings about our missing puppies.

We have 6 Beagle-Schnauzer puppies that were born on Valentine's Day.  I really wish I could put up pics because they are adorable.  They are fat and happy and have started following Beagle mom around the yard and through the woods.  Sunday we discovered that 4 of them were missing.  There's no telling how many miles we walked through the pastures and woods (not all ours) calling for them.  They're yappers so I hoped they would answer me.  We looked until dark Sunday night and my husband reassured me that they would be ok for one night.  When we got back to the house, 2 of them were waiting on us.  2 down, 2 more to go.  We looked again yesterday and I convinced my husband to go look around 10PM.  He searched and I cried.  I do not understand my emotions about this though.  The puppies were accidents.  She got pregnant before we could get her fixed.  I haven't really bonded with them because they have to go to new homes.  I can't feed 6 more dogs, we already have 4.  But they are cute and cuddly.  Maybe it's the mother in me that just can't stand to think that they're out there alone and hungry.  The parable of the lost sheep came to mind last night.  I have 4 puppies at home (that I can't keep) but I'm obsessed with finding the 2 lost ones (that I can't keep).  The cold rain lessens the chance that this will have a good outcome.  

Something good did come out of this situation Sunday.  The baby girls and I were wandering aimlessly through the woods yelling for them and trying to follow Beagle mama.  My oldest is 10 and she's very savvy in her outdoor skills so she separated from me and the middle one to follow the dog.  She was within earshot but the woods are thick and couldn't see me.  I told her to go down the ridge to the pipeline road and wait for me.  My husband came up on us and offered to go retrieve Meg from the road.  I'm not the most confident outdoors person either but I was hit with a spark of confidence.  I wanted to go get her.  So I set off down the ridge and got to her.  We walked back to the power line clearing talking and singing and bonding.  She even held my hand.  It was very sweet.  I'm glad we are getting along.  We tend to butt heads sometimes because, as my husband says, we are just alike.  I don't buy into that theory so much but we are similar.  Ok so maybe we are more than similar.  

I have to share my dinner recipe last night.  I didn't cook it but I walked my husband through it via text message.

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle Lawry's Hawaiian Marinade
1/2 to 1 whole pineapple, diced
1/2 chopped bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 lime

For the salsa (make a few hours ahead)
Mix the pineapple, peppers and juice of 1/2 lime in a bowl and refrigerate.  I usually add about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro but husband forgot that last night.

For the chicken

Marinate in bottle of Lawry's for at least an hour and grill until done.  Slice thinly.  Serve with salsa on a tortilla.  The chopping gets a little tedious but it is well worth it.  This is one of my favorite meals.  The salsa just gives it a fresh taste.

That's all for today.  Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday

It's a lazy Sunday after a hectic weekend.  I have known for a week now that my parents were going to stop by this morning on their way back home from Oklahoma.  I have put off cleaning my house all week.  And instead of cleaning all day yesterday, we took the kids to dinner and a movie.  On a side note, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is awesome.  I think it's actually better than the first one.  Loved it.  Had Olive Garden for lunch (also loved it) and then to the movies.  I actually think Olive Garden saved us some money at the movies.  Normally we spend $30-40 on movie food and drinks.  This time, we splurged on OG instead of Chinese buffet and the carb overload kept us full through the entire movie.  I didn't get hungry for dinner until around 8pm and then I only ate a little.  

Back to the story...we cleaned until in the evening, even the kids.  Around 11pm, I started getting a migraine (frequent side effect of going to the movies--I blame the flashing lights).  I took my medicine and dashed off to bed.  The husband and kids kept cleaning and when I woke up, my house was mostly clean.  I'm very impressed.  I did have a little urchin in bed with me who snores almost as much as his daddy.  But he cuddles so sweet when he's sleeping.  

So now the parents have come and gone, they only stayed about an hour.  At least my house is clean now!  And we were able to exchange Christmas gifts for the kids finally.  We didn't get to go home for Christmas because my husband (D) had basketball tournaments all through break.  We only got 2 days off at a time and that's not enough time to make the almost-5 hour trip and visit my family and his family and then come home.  Our intentions were to go home in January, when things slowed down a little.  D ended up in the hospital the 1st week of the year and we've been sidelined ever since.  I took off quite a few days when he was in the hospital and really can't afford to take off too many more.  After years of going to see them, we are insisting that they come see us for now.  

I made a great, yummy casserole for lunch.  I found the recipe on and modified it a little to fit our tastes and what was in my pantry.  It was so good that I'm eating leftovers for dinner!

Johnny Marzetti

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage that I had a free coupon for!)
8 oz rotini (I used 9 because I discovered boil-in-bag 3 minute rotini and I used 3 3oz bags)
2 cups Italian cheese blend
1 can Ro-Tel (I use mild because I'm the only one in the house who likes spicy stuff)
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (I used more because there wasn't much left in the bag after I took out 1 1/2 cups)

Brown the beef and sausage together.  Add onion and pepper and cook 5 more minutes.  Add Ro-Tel and tomato sauce, stir well and set aside to cool.  Boil rotini.  Place cooked and drained rotini in a well-greased 9x13 pan.  Top with all the Italian cheese.  Pour the meat mixture on top.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and top with cheddar cheese.  Bake 5 more minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before eating.  

Disclaimer about the Johnsonville Italian Sausage...I am a member of a community called She Speaks that provides products for free in exchange for my honest feedback.  I may feature many products in my blog that I've gotten free in return for my feedback and promotion (if I like the product and choose to share it).  I will ALWAYS be completely honest in my reviews and let you know the good, bad and ugly.  That said, on to my Johnsonville spill...

I've never cooked with Italian sausage.  Never.  I think of pizza sausage when I think of Italian sausage and I picture caraway seeds and I hate the taste of caraway seeds.  I was given 2 coupons for free Johnsonville sausage and my task was to try it and see if I liked it.  I'm already a fan of Johnsonville's Beddar Cheddar smoked sausage so I was tempted to use my coupons for something I knew I liked.  I stopped myself though.  The point of the She Speaks campaign is to get people to try the Italian sausage.  And I would have never paid $4+ for it if I wasn't sure I would like it.  The good:  I was really surprised how it added a depth to my casserole.  Just 1/2 pound mixed in with the ground beef added such an interesting flavor, it gave it a little kick.  Not a spicy kick, but just more depth.  Yes the casserole would have been good with just ground beef but those bits of sausage just enhanced the flavors.  The bad:  I didn't buy bulk Italian sausage, I bought links which meant I had to cut the casings off to get to the sausage.  It was a little weird so I made my daughter do it.  She's less squeamish than me!  The ugly:  Nothing ugly, but I can't say the good and bad without the ugly.  It just feels incomplete.  So there you have it.  I'm now a bigger fan of Italian sausage.  I'm not sure if I would eat them like I do hot dogs but in my casserole, it improved it.  My next effort with Italian sausage is meatball subs later this week.  Stay tuned. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stupid Mistakes

I am queen of stupid mistakes lately.  Last night, I didn't eat dinner.  That shouldn't be a major issue except that skipping meals is a trigger for my migraines.  Ugh, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. with a well-developed headache and immediately realized what caused it.  My wonderful husband moved quickly and got me an ice pack and a protein shake, just to get something on my stomach.  I hoped that it would be enough "food" to kick the headache but it wasn't.  I sent a text to our office manager and skipped work.  That will hurt tomorrow.  It's payday and I make pretty good money.  My paycheck will be short and I will have work piled on my desk but sometimes you just need to recover.  I managed to sleep until noon, shower, stay awake for about 30 minutes before I crawled back in bed for another few hours.  Another shower and some caffeine managed to kick the headache and I was able to make it to church tonight.  I still feel a little woozy--that post-migraine drunkenness.  Any migraine sufferer can tell you how that feels.  Lesson learned, pay attention to meals.  Unfortunately, they are also triggered by lack of sleep, too much sleep (like today, I will be lucky not to get a rebound headache), and powdered cheese.  As much as I love nacho cheese Doritos, I can only eat a handful.  I don't have that much willpower.  It's probably best that I'm not able to eat them, otherwise they would become a food group for me.

My other epic mistake for this week involves bad accounting.  Suffice to say I'm missing some money that doesn't belong to me.  I suspect that it may have been stolen but I can't really prove that, just a suspicion and I'm not going to accuse anyone.  Repaying it from my own pocket will be painful, but necessary.  God never promised life would be easy, He just said it would be worth it. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I was gift shopping at (my very favorite place to shop!) and it recommended Listography books to me.  List your life.  I clicked around and they have several neat little books for list makers.  I think they would make great gifts.  I will try to add a link but I'm still a blog rookie so it may or may not work.  If not, just search for "Listography" on Amazon.

Listography Journal 

I may try to occasionally blog in today.

10 Simple Things I Love
1.  Diet Dr. Pepper
2.  My stinky Schnauzer
3.  St. Augustine Grass
4.  Checking the mail and finding no bills
5.  When my phone works properly
6.  Decorative paper clips
7.  Post-it notes
8.  The smell of wet concrete just after a rain
9.  When our usually grumpy mail person smiles
10. Summer songs on the radio when it's not summer

It is spring break here and my kids and husband are out of school.  I was a little jealous because I wanted to stay sleeping this morning!  Our almost 4 mile hike on Saturday has caught up with me.  I'm a little more sore today that I have been.  

My almost, not quite, feels like she is sister in Arizona was raving about the Renaissance Festival she went to last weekend.  Normally, that's not my thing.  Then I looked at her pictures.  And she told me there's one in Oklahoma in May and she will be home then.  I'm sold.  They have Pirate Weekend.  I have an odd obsession with pirates.  Crazy I know.  I think it stems from Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.  I'm sure I'm not the only woman on the planet to swoon over Jack Sparrow.  So in mid-May we are going to dress up in Renaissance and pirate clothes and spend the weekend doing medieval things.  I can't wait. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A very happy birthday

Yesterday our middle child turned 9 years old.  It's hard to believe that she is already 9.  Time really does fly.  She is our unique child.  There is absolutely nothing about her that conforms to what most people would consider *normal*.  Above all, she is pretty smart.  I'm not just saying that because she is mine, she really is smart.  Not necessarily academically smart, she does make good grades but that's not so important to me.  It's her thought processes that amaze me everyday.  We laugh and describe her as random, which is 100% accurate.  She comments on things that the rest of us don't usually think of.  Her teacher (who I am infinitely thankful for!) commented that she seems to think differently than the average 3rd grader.  Concepts that take other children longer to grasp, seem to just come naturally to her.  Again, not necessarily math and spelling, but more advanced concepts like diversity and apartheid.  Honestly, I couldn't care less if she ever learns to spell diversity and apartheid.  If she understands the concepts and impact of them, I will consider her education a success.

For her birthday, she chose to go hiking.  It's something we've been trying to do as a family for a few months.  We have hiked a few smaller trails and we all seem to enjoy it.  It's great exercise--and when I woke up this morning, I realized just how great!  We hiked almost 4 miles yesterday on a moderate to strenuous trail.  Physics and geography tell me that it's impossible for that trail to be uphill both ways, but that one was!  I feel those 4 miles!  We did have a great time and she chose to roast hot dogs and marshmallows for her birthday dinner.  

Next week is spring break for the husband and kids.  In some ways I'm a little jealous that I don't get the week off, but in other ways, I'm glad that I can relax at work!  The husband and kids will the the house picked up and in order and I will come home to dinner every night!  I'm looking forward to summer for the same reasons!  It's hard to imagine that I was a stay-at-home mom for 9 years.  I was home and kept busy.  Now if I miss a day of work, I'm bored and restless.  It's quite a change from a couple of years ago.  I understand how stay-at-home moms sometimes don't understand working moms and vice versa.  I've done both, and cycled through not understanding both!  

Today I am resting.  At least physically I'm resting.  Dustin and I will play Scrabble all day on Facebook.  That's our favorite hobby lately!  I need to catch up on my Bible study before tomorrow's meeting.  I'm a little behind.  I'm reading a great book on women's history that I want to get back in.  I will let Dustin and the kids cook dinner.  I'm going to rest.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing...

I have too many cookies.  And I need to get rid of them!  This is my 1st year as a Girl Scout leader and my girls so a lot of cookies!  Unfortunately, my record keeping leaves much to be desired.  I can't get my money to balance, I have unsold cookies and parents that still owe me money.  <sigh>  

I have too many puppies.  Our Schnauzer (my baby) fathered 6 puppies with our Beagle.  They are cute as can be, but there's 6 of them!  I can't keep 6 more dogs!  I walked outside to find the kids and I said "Hey guys" (talking to the children) and out of the doghouse came 5 bundles of energy looking at me.  The 6th one is lazy.  He won't come out until everyone else does, then he decides it's ok and he needs to be in on the action.  They are so cute but I don't have any takers yet.  

It's just about time to think about the garden for the year.  Our grass hasn't needed mowing yet but it looks like it's getting ready to grow.  Of course, with 4 grown dogs running all over the yard, they may keep in down!  Not to mention the 3 kids keeping it pressed down.  And I'm sure I will have potato vines growing everywhere.  I bought the boy a potato gun.  Not one of those guns that shoots whole potatoes, this one shoots potato plugs.  There's no telling the number of potato plugs he's shot in the yard.  

It's past my bedtime!  Til next time :) 

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Future Without Me

I wrote my will today.  Not that I'm expecting something to happen, but you never know.  I work for an attorney so I see people in and out making out their will and planning for the future without them in it.  Since my legal documents are free, I decided that I had waited long enough.  We had already decided who would get the children in case we both die at the same time.  Oddly, we chose a couple who are not our relatives.  Both of our parents are older and raising small children would be a burden to them.  I'm sure they would never consider it that way but I want them to have a life as close as possible to the one we have planned for them now.  I have one sister whom I love dearly but she is a single mother.  Nothing against single mothers, in fact, I admire the job she and other single parents have to do.  Saddling her with three extra kids, even her nieces and nephew, would be a burden.  My husband has one brother, whom I love dearly.  In fact, he lived with us for several years and labeled himself the "manny."  He is great with the kids and I know that he would take great care of them.  But he's single and wild, not yet grown into his sense of responsibility.  Undoubtedly, he would take the children, gladly.  But it would also be a burden to him; a premature end to his never ending childhood.  

So we chose our friends.  It wasn't a decision we took lightly.  Our friends who are only a few years older than we are and whose kids are a few years older than ours.  Our friends who parent the way we do, who live a lifestyle similar to us and whose home is like a second home to our kids.  Not that it would be an easy transition, but it would be a smooth transition.  So we put it in writing, it's official.  Not that it can't be changed but it feels good to make plans.  Even if they are plans for what happens after me.  

And now for a funny conversation between me and my dear, much younger friend, Paula...

Me  "I'm such a hermit.  And I miss you too."
Me  "I never go anywhere.  Work, walmart, home.  And church.  That's pretty much my life."
Paula  "That is depressing.  Not going to lie to you."

So now I'm explaining how it has really been nice to slow down and uncomplicate things for a while.  My life is much simpler now.  In early January, my husband was hospitalized with stroke-like symptoms, and eventually diagnosed with transient global amnesia and multi-factorial migraines, which, to date, have not completely subsided, despite the doctors' best efforts.  For the past couple of months, we have really just taken things one day at a time and cut out all the unnecessary drama.  It took me a little while to embrace that.  I'm sort of a control freak.  Eventually, I know things will speed back up a little but I don't want to go back to where we were before.  Things were out of control.  Now, we're moving slower, making more conscious decisions, acting deliberately.  Living on purpose, with purpose.  And it feels amazing. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fun Family Day

The good thing about using your cell phone as an alarm clock is that it springs itself forward.  I actually did wake up on time for church but then we started talking & planning & ended up missing our window of opportunity to get ready for church.  We will worship today from the top of Mt. Magazine & enjoy the wonders of His work. 

The kids have chosen their walking sticks, holey jeans & old shoes for the hiking trails that are upon us.  Couldn't find the camera so I may try to post pics from my phone...not sure how that will work yet.  It's a beautiful place & we haven't explored too much of it, even though it is the closest state park to us and the tallest mountain between the Rockies & Appalachians.  Cloudy skies but no rain in the forecast.  I'm sure it will be a few degrees cooler up on top & I may regret my choice to wear a short sleeved shirt. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome welcome welcome to the big blue house...

For the record, I have no idea why I picked that title.  I don't live in a big blue house.  I do like Bear in the Big Blue House.  When I thought of welcome, that's what popped into my head.  It seems appropriate since I'm using this blog for things that pop in my head.  There's so much extra stuff swimming around in there that I really don't have room for.  I thought if I could just pour it out--like in the Harry Potter movie--I would be better off.  So this is me pouring out my brain, and my heart.