Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wii (ain't) Fit

We got a Wii for Christmas.

We ain't Wii Fit.

We have aching arms, so we (I) ran 4 miles; now we (I) have aching legs.

So now I (we) have resolved to do the following this year...

1. Eat 7 fruits/vegetables each day (as opposed to the former standard of 7 per week).

2. Move our entire bodies for at least 35 minutes each day. (Coach wants to amend this to read moving outside for 35 minutes each day unless the temperature is dangerous. We are currently in discussions regarding the definition of "dangerous.")

3. Drink at least 70 ounces of water per day. (Which is a good lead-in for how romance has not died in our house- but I'll tell you about that tomorrow)

4. Everyone over the age of 21 will get 8 hours of sleep; everyone under 21 will get 9.5. (This one will be tricky for me- I'm not a sleeper, but I'm a little touchy about the luggage under my eyes- so I'm gonna give it whirl)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Hullaballoo

I just have to tell you quickly that I got the best present ever from my husband- a whole box of hullaballoos and other bath sundries. Oh- you have no idea... You just cannot imagine how wonderful these things are.

A little background- we have this shop called Bathos that makes all-natural European (it always helps if its European doesn't it?) soaps, shampoos, masks, lotions, bath salts, and HULLABALLOOS. Hullaballoos are chunks of pure wonderment shaped, in this case like a cupcake. Normally, they are balls about the size of an orange. The one I used tonight was called "Ultimate Chunk". You simply fill your tub, get it, and drop that puppy in.

After you've sung "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is" the fizzing will subside and you will be left in a wonderful cocoa butter and chamomile tea fog.

Oh- I got other things- things on my list like camera equipment, a camera, a sweater, some yummy-soft pjs, but nothing beats this $7 wonder.

I also highly recommend the Milk Loaf Soap- I had myself quite a time with that last night. I'm going to try the "Butter Lump" hullaballoo tomorrow night, and then go on to the other little wonders in that box.

Now- and please understand the gravity of what I'm about to tell you- I have pledged to buy myself one "Ultimate Chunk" hullaballoo for every pound I lose. I swear, I could launch myself into a full-on food strike for these things. I'm telling you this- if I am willing to give up chocolate- they're serious.

AND- Coach upped the ante a bit and said he'd get me another hullaballoo stash if I gave up Diet Coke (I told him when we were dating that if he dispensed Diet Coke, he'd be the perfect man- but more on my two great loves later). Anyway- I'm thinking on the Diet Coke thing- we'll just have to play it by ear- I'm still thinking food strike is the way to go- but you never know...

It's a Hullaballoo of a decision.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Difference Between Moms and Dads

Hey, have you ever gone out of town for the weekend and left your little ones at home with hubby? Read this and I assure you won’t ever do it again. Thankfully, this is not a story of personal trauma- this was more of a drive-by trauma.

Sunday, AC and I stopped by McDonalds on our way to see The Tale of Despereaux - the drive-thru line was way too long and we had to make haste to Sears to pick up the Perfect Pushup contraption that Coach insisted upon for Christmas- and of course the candy run to the Walgreens across from the theater. (Because nothing takes weight off a person faster than cheeseburgers, fries, and Milk Duds.) Anyhoo- in front of us in line was this sweet daddy holding a little girl who was not yet two. There was another little girl who looked to be between 3-4 years old, and a boy who was eight-ish.

The first thing I noticed was that the preschool daughter had a very interesting drawing ON HER FACE. On closer inspection, not only did she have drawing on her face, but also some snot and what looked to be a Rice Krispie fragment. Her hair was the most impressively matted case of bedhead I have ever witnessed, but she did have a hot pink hair bow in it (you know, hair bows cover a multitude of sins). Then I noticed the leg of the toddler girl, who was riding on her daddy’s hip. The sweat pants that were black from the hem to mid-calf (and I use the word “hem” loosely as the child had on sweat pants that had been cut to the correct length!) were bad enough, BUT- it was neither the frayed hem nor the sludge (which honestly, looked reminiscent of “bar gravy”) that had soaked up the child’s leg that got my attention- it was the condition her sweet little leg that caught my eye. It was solid blue- not bruised, but colored. I was pretty sure it was Sharpie Blue, but couldn’t be sure. This child looked to have the mark of Cain on her forehead- also in Sharpie Blue. She too had the snot/Rice Krispie combo going as well as the bedhead and hair bow.

Her sweet daddy had given her an entire pack of gum to play with while he ordered their lunch. (In fairness- it appeared that he too had bedhead, but an Alabama cap had replaced the bow. He had no snot or Rice Krispies, but he did sport some serious baggage under his eyes- it was obvious he had had himself a weekend!) Blah, blah, blah…AC reminded me louder than I would have liked that you had to be three to chew gum- it’s the law.

At that point the child took a piece of gum that she had sucked on and then kneaded with her hands and stuck it in her daddy’s hair.

Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I told him he had gum in his hair; when he turned around I also noticed that he had it stuck on the tip of his nose. The preschool aged daughter began singing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (which I thought to be very perceptive and her comedic timing was impeccable). It was at that point that he told me that his wife had gone out of town for the weekend with girlfriends to finish shopping. (Explains a lot doesn’t it? Because I knew he was either a divorced dad or a widower). He went on to reveal that she had left them outfits for every day, but apparently there was an unfortunate event that involved a bike ramp and a new Labrador Retriever Christmas sweater that had driven him to the local Walmart to buy the children two sweat suits each to wear for the remainder of the weekend. He told me his plan was to simply throw them away before his wife returned home. (Because – and this is my second favorite part- “You have no idea how hard it is to watch three kids all by yourself.” Oh yeah- no idea…).

And that is when the son finally spoke (now, surprisingly the boy’s hair was neatly combed, he was clean, and he did not have the snot/Rice Krispie combo on his face). Anyway, he asked his dad how he was going to get the marker off the girls. And this was daddy’s reply:

“I don’t know; after we get finished eating we’re going to go to Home Depot to see if we can find something.”

Did you hear me? HOME DEPOT!!! He was going to ask Retired Bob to give him a solvent of some sort to remove the ink from his precious daughters’ faces.

Y’all I about had a stroke. I am sure when that sweet momma finds out (and dads- she WILL find out) what happened to her sweet children- well, she’ll have to go somewhere and convalesce.

And isn’t that what started this whole mess?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 5

Seems that in the course of family events, we’ve all put on a few pounds, so it’s time to lighten things up …..again…the thought of all the salad and running and sit ups make me want to go face down in chocolate, but it is what it is… Aaaaaaah the joy and wonder that is middle-age. (I’m trying that term out- not sure if I like it or not- I’m 37, so technically it’s not really middle-age is it? Didn’t think so. Moving on, like I said- regardless of age or gender, it’s time to lighten up the hind-ends around our house. In a weak moment I agreed to let G run the ½ marathon in April. The down-side of that is that because he’s only 12, he can’t really run the streets of Nashville alone, so guess who has to run it with him? Spot on sisters- yours truly!

So, in an effort to make our food choices tasty, I have scoured my Weight Watchers cookbooks. Below is my family’s absolute favorite dish. They have no idea that it’s a WW recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas

2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans Rotel
Black pepper (to taste)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 cups shredded 2% cheddar cheese
8 Tortillas (I use flour, but you can use corn if you prefer)

Saute the onion and garlic using Pam spray. Add the cans of rotel and both peppers, let simmer until liquid reduces. Take half of tomato mixture and stir in with chicken. In each tortilla, sprinkle some cheese, then spoon 1/8 of chicken mixture into tortilla. Roll up, and place in a 13x9 baking dish. Repeat until you have made 8 enchiladas. On top of the enchiladas, spread the remaining tomato mixture and top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until cooked through.

Easy Refried Beans

16 oz can refried beans (I use fat-free)
½ cup salsa (fresh is best)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Place the refried beans and salsa into a sauce pan. Place on medium heat until heated through. Transfer to a serving dish and top with cheese.

Serve this with some corn on the cob and you have a low-fat, high fiber meal that tastes good. Dessert? As much as I’d love to give you some yummy thing, the truth is that we had strawberries on frozen yogurt.

Merry Christmas! Next week instead of giving you the menu for Sunday, as I’m sure it will be a smorgasbord of Christmas cookies and leftovers, I’m going to give you the menu for our New Year’s Eve party. We’ll be kickin it with 6 people under the age of 12, because, hey- that's how we roll.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings

Confession- I’ve never actually seen It’s a Wonderful Life. Well, I guess technically I’ve seen it all, just not in chronological order. We’re really more of a Home Alone, Elf, Christmas Vacation kind of family. Anyway- this year Christmas feels a little different doesn’t it? With the economic crisis ravaging families it just doesn’t seem right to spend exorbitant amounts of money on Polly Pockets and Guitar Hero. So, like most families, we’ve cut back this year.

Wednesday night we were at our faculty Christmas party and I was talking to AC’s teacher about spelling and such when she said something that has stuck with me. She was encouraging me and she reminded me of Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can say with great assurance that had I been immaculately impregnated, almost stoned, chastised and judged by everyone who knew me, and then forced to travel on a donkey for miles while 9 months pregnant in the cold only to give birth to a baby in a barn- well, let’s just say this- I don’t know that treasuring things in my heart would have been the first thing I did.

As a matter of fact, I can almost guarantee that while what I would have done next probably would have been a story of biblical proportions- graciousness and thankfulness probably wouldn’t have oozed from me. Nope, had I been Mary, the end of the Christmas story would have recorded some sort of hissy fit and subsequent institutionalizing of me- which is why God is God and I’m just little old me, because clearly, I don’t do well under pressure.

But ponder she did, and then she went about the day-to-day job of raising the Savior of the World. (No pressure there!)

So, rewind back to Wednesday night. AC’s teacher encouraged me to ponder more and worry less, so I went home and prayed that God would allow me to do just that. And look at what happened next:

Christmas Miracle 1 – Thursday afternoon out of nowhere it started to snow. It snowed for several hours – big flakes. Then it started to stick…then it snowed harder…then it started covering everything. Let me remind you- we live in Tennessee- it doesn’t snow here in December, and it very rarely snows hard enough to cover the ground. But snow it did. Not knowing how long the snow would last, I fed the kids sloppy joe’s for dinner and bundled them up and sent them out. AC was literally so giddy that she squealed- just went outside, twirled in circles and squealed. They stayed outside together without arguing for two hours. Then they came in, and G helped AC with her homework, an event much like the Hale-Bopp comet (it'll only happen once every 120 years). Black Nikes anyone??? They sat at the kitchen table and talked to each other and laughed…
If that’s possible, then I totally think we can achieve world peace.
It's snowing!!!

Giddy children in the snow...

Christmas Miracle 2- Saturday evening we went to Coach’s parents’ home for dinner and the nativity scene. They have done this for years – the family sits around while someone reads the Christmas story from Luke 2, and we all place the pieces of the nativity scene around the manger. There is intermittent singing- and for me and my people- it’s generally an uncomfortable evening. (My clan is not a very demonstrative group).

There are 6 children ages 4 – 12 represented at this event. All six of them have really impressive control issues that manifest themselves very differently. Y’all we sat down and read Luke 2, and I swear I even managed to sing for a few seconds during “Away in a Manger.” Then the weirdest thing happened…all six of the kids were in the floor, sans Nintendo DS, singing carols (totally unprovoked) each playing with his/her own little nativity scene that Coach’s mom bought them three years ago. It was honestly the first time a big family event has been relaxing.

All of the cousins sitting happily together.

I have to be honest- at this point I thought I needed to start watching animal behavior, because they say that animals start to act really weird before major natural disasters- I was sure that based on the oddly pleasant behavior of ALL of the children at the same time, we were witnessing the first of many signs that Armageddon was imminent.

Christmas Miracle 3- We got in the car to go home after the manger scene. It was a beautiful night, it had not been very cold all day, and there were stars everywhere. Coach pointed out the North Star- and I kid you not, the kids broke into spontaneous singing again. It was the corniest Griswold moment EVER! So, I had to pray right then and ask God to give me a sign if he was trying to talk to me or if I had just eaten too much bacon at dinner.

Fast forward five minutes. We are driving down the interstate in silence (a miracle in itself) listening to Bing Crosby when Coach and I witness a shooting star together! Okay, okay- but shooting stars? So, we get the kids home, and I have to run to the grocery store for milk and dog food. I drive the five minutes to the Kroger down the street; I put Sara Groves in the CD player and am listening to that and praying to God AGAIN- (he knows I’m terrible at signs- you pretty much have to hit me square in the nose with the point you’re trying to make).

Y’all I saw four more shooting stars on the way home (The trip to Kroger is 2.8 miles round trip). I saw more shooting stars in 30 minutes on Saturday night than I’ve seen in my entire life!

So, just like the wise men got a sign in the stars two thousand years ago, God talked to me in the sky.

This Christmas season instead of worrying, you’ll find me pondering things like the excitement the kids have over Clyde (our elf) and where he’ll appear next, their laughter at the same old movies we watch every year, their explanations and thoughts on the importance of Jesus’ birth, the Christmas carols on the radio, G breaking into song for no real reason, and a general good will towards men that I haven’t seen in a really long time.

And most importantly, I'll be pondering this:
“… the star that they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” Matthew 2: 9-10

Because sometimes we just need to look to Heaven for a sign.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Deck the Halls- Christmas Tour of Homes

Merry Christmas Everyone! Welcome to our home. Now, understand, I'm still relatively new to this picture thing- so the order is a little willy-nilly, but you'll get the idea. I love love love nutcrackers, so I have a small-ish collection.

Below is the nativity scene I inherited from my parents this year. The funniest thing- I have thought for as long as we've had this (1975) that my mother painted it. Turns out, as I was telling my kiddos this year about how their Neme painted it, she just looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and said, "No I did not, I bought it at the flea market when you all were little." So much for heirlooms...

This is not a Christmas decoration- it was a wedding gift from old family friends. It hangs up year-round, but it is a reminder of the season.

Our breakfast room (really where we eat all the time). Our real breakfast room is my car!

Our tree. We've learned our lesson- we used to go to this tree lot that was not close to where we live. The kids would complain about the cold and play hide-and-seek; I would be disillusioned and upset because they wouldn't act the way I thought children should act when searching for the perfect family tree- so I would get mad and pout a little on the ride home. Then- the aggravation of the lights would cause another tense moment in the house. So- this year- we found the perfect solution to the problem...HOME DEPOT. Coach and I looked at 3 trees, picked the second one, the kids ran through the aisles playing hide-and-seek caring little about the tree we chose, and all is well in our home. Home Depot was our first Christmas miracle.

A full shot of the mantle and nutcrackers.

It snowed! Thursday evening we got 3 unexpected inches of snow...in Tennessee...in early December...and today it was 61 degrees outside. Christmas miracle #2.

Merry Christmas!
Tomorrow I'm writing on the unbelievable Christmas miracles God has sent our way in the last few days. They are small, but whispers from Heaven about what is really important. With all the uncertainty in our country, it was really good to get a personal whisper from Jesus this week, and I just have to share it.

Sunday Supper - Edition 4

Home Sweet Home...(it's not our home sweet home, but for someone it is.)

As long as we're pretending- this is our sweet little dog who resides with us in aforementioned home sweet home. AND, our children eat all of their vegetables-without having to be told, and they always use their manners, and they never burp at the dinner table. How about that for a string of untruths?

The truth is that we do live in such a wonderful little town; it has a beautiful historic district, it sits right on top of the battlefields of the Civil War, and if you've lived here for any amount of time- you know a whole lot of folks, and I love knowing a whole lot of folks. Honestly, I didn't used to be a big people person (ironic since I teach school and have to deal with 400 people at their most difficult age), but as I've gotten older and life has happened to me over and over again, I have learned to not only appreciate, but to cherish the oddities that are people.

Anyway, every year there are a few festivals that take place downtown. There's the Jazz Festival, the Main Street Festival, the Pumpkin Fest, 4th of July, and in December- "Dickens of a Christmas." We love this one. There are dozens of people dressed up in Victorian clothing- there's a Scrooge that walks the streets handing children pennies and saying "Bah Humbug!" There are ghosts, fairies, and children who carol. I'm telling y'all - I eat this up. So, in honor of "Dickens of a Christmas" this is what I planned for Sunday Supper:

Standing Rib Roast
5 lb. standing rib roast, bone in
garlic powder
kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper (to taste) on the roast and pat. Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan with the rib side down and the fatty side up. Roast for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the roast in the oven; do not open the door. About 1 hour and 1o minutes before serving time, turn the oven on to 375 and reheat the roast for 30-40 minutes. Do not remove the roast or reopen the door from the time the roast is placed in until the final roasting. Remove the roast from the oven and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest for 25 minutes before carving.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
8 medium baking potatoes
One 8oz pkg cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pint sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onion
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350. Pierce the potatoes and place on a baking pan. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until very soft. Peel and mash the potatoes in a large bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Add the cream cheese, butter, 1 cup of the cheese, and the sour cream. Stir well. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir again. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and place the potatoes in a dish. Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, until hot. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup Cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole and return to the oven for about 5 minutes (until the cheese melts). Garnish with the green onions and bacon.

Green Beans
1 ham hock
1 & 1/2 pounds of fresh pole beans (break and string)
1 onion sliced
Break and string the pole beans. Put them in a dutch oven and cover with water until water is about 1/2 inch above beans, add onion. Salt to taste and place ham hock in the beans. Bring to a boil. When the water boils, turn it down to low and let the beans simmer for about 90 minutes (until tender) Add more salt if needed.
Mama's Fudge Pie
3 Tablespoons of Hershey's cocoa
2 Tablespoons of flour
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons butter (melted)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pie crust (not deep dish)
Mix the cocoa, flour and sugar. Pour butter over and mix. Add the eggs and mix. Finally, add the vanilla and stir. Pour into the pie crust. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (it should be gooey in the center). Serve it with whipped cream or with ice cream- it's your call, and good either way.

Now, put out your Christmas dishes in the dining room and teach your munchkins how to decide which fork to use, etc. It's a lot of fun and the dinner is a yummy one.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 3

Well, so so sorry, but here's the truth. I didn't cook, not one time, all weekend long. (Except if you count making the chocolate chip cookies- and the only reason I made those was to eat a little bit of the batter. It seemed an awful waste not to go ahead and bake them- so I did, and now we've got 3 dozen pieces of heaven waiting for us when we get home from school tomorrow.)

What I did do was watch an entire day of football with my husband on Saturday - if you didn't see it- check out the uniforms from the Army vs. Navy game Saturday- Navy killed them, but Army had the absolute sweetest football uniforms I have ever seen! Camo football pants! Please understand, I am not a camo lover by nature- never owned any camo wear of my own- but I will say the ensemble Saturday was memorable.

Oh how I do love men in uniform!

Anyway- we also watched the SEC Championship (I am a huge UT fan- that would be Tennessee, not Texas- citrus orange- not burnt) Now, UT did not play because, well frankly, we were awful this year, BUT I was counting on Alabama winning. Now, don't misunderstand me- the only time I will EVER cheer for Alabama is when they are representing our very awesome football conference- but I have many many many friends who are Alabama fans, and they HAD a shot at the National Championship.

None of that really matters though- the real reason I needed Alabama to pull out a win was this: 120 Christmas letters that went out in the mail Friday evening. Apparently in all my UT Vol/ Phil Fulmer distress I failed to notice that while, yes, Alabama was undefeated- THE ONLY TEAM IN THE COUNTRY WITH THAT DISTINCTION- apparently Florida wasn't having a bad season either. Usually I keep them on my radar all season long- it's just generally a good practice where gators are involved, but for some reason (Ole Miss) I didn't give them much thought- so here was my thought process...

Alabama would win on Saturday, play for the National Championship in January and hopefully win so as to prove that the SEC is truly the best football conference in the country- life would be blissfull and then spring would come and it would be time to buy new sandals. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO- Florida ruined all of it- and most notably my Christmas letter where I very ignorantly declared that at least Florida didn't have a chance at becoming the National Champions.

Turns out- they do and the Christmas letter is total nonsense except for the part where I, in a VERY weak moment, admit to mooning everyone in a tanning salon by accident on my birthday.

Needless to say, there was a lot of drama here this weekend, and no one can be expected to cook anything in those conditions- so we ate grilled cheese tonight.

But- here's a hint - cook those babies in a waffle iron and let the cheese ooze out of the sides and brown (burn) on the waffle iron- husbands love that and think it's really hard to do. Serve it up with some KC Masterpiece chips and left over pumpkin pie and all will be well!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 5, 2008

20 Days Until Christmas

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? Sets them under the tree- although this year since the gifts are small and expensive he's hiding them and sending the kids on a scavenger hunt!!!

Colored lights on tree or white? White

When do you put your decorations up? The day after Thanksgiving

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Peppered Beef Tenderloin

Favorite Holiday memory as a child: On Christmas Eve my brother and I were always so wound up about Santa and Christmas that we couldn't sleep - so we would stay up all night (or try to) in his room playing video games or with Star Wars figures or something and just hang out. We did this until we were in college- (not the Star Wars figure part- but the hanging out all night)

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was 8; family friends told us because they thought it was wrong to "lie" to children- I haven't gotten over it yet

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Coach puts the lights on; I pull out all the ornaments, and the kids put them on the tree. It's a lot of fun because they get new ornaments each year and I write their names and year on them; they love to talk about what we did that year or what special significance the ornament has; they also like to fight over putting the snowman ornament that I got when I was in Kindergarten on the tree- it's made of felt and looks brand new- it's 33 years old!

Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love Love Love it!!!

Can you ice skate? Yes- just not very well

Do you remember your favorite gift? Adoption Doll- hands down - Christmas 1981

What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? "There were shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a gift to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12

What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Cheesecake, cookies, fudge, Butterscotch cookies...

What is your favorite tradition? Old tradition - getting the tree and decorating it; New tradition- Elf on the Shelf

Which do you prefer, Giving or Receiving? Both! Giving is a lot more fun now - especially giving to people who never know we gave- so fun to do!

What is your favorite Christmas Song? "The Holly and the Ivy"

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Okay

Ever recycled a Christmas present? No

I Tag the Texans- Copy and paste this- provide your own answers and please let me know when you're done! Thanks a bunch!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inapoopriate Dinner Conversation

Why is it that when you leave a table full of 6-12 year-olds alone for any period of time, the conversation goes directly to bodily functions? Saturday night while we were trying to get everyone fed and get the lights on the Griswold family tree, the kids started their silliness which quickly went to crudeness.

I let it go on for a couple of minutes hoping that they would correct themselves, but they did not. Here's the rest of the conversation:

Me: Hey- do not talk about bodily functions at the dinner table.

G: Okay mother (he uses that to make me angry- it's his sarcastic name for me)

V: (laughing hysterically and at a pitch that only dogs can hear)

AC: (laughing) Okay mom...buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurp

Me: Seriously, it's inappropriate to talk about that kind of stuff at the table

AC: You mean it's inaPOOPriate.

G, AC, & V: Hysterical laughter

Me: (eyes rolling and trying not to laugh) Yes, it is inaPOOPriate.

I have to hand it to the kid- she's funny when she wants to be. I just pray it's a trait she learns to use for good and not evil.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Teenagers- Keepin' It Real

I teach English...to high school students...everyday...

I know, I know...

It's okay though- don't feel too sorry for me.

The upside is this- It keeps me on my toes so I'll know exactly how to spy on my kids when they are older; I occasionally get good fashion tips (OCCASIONALLY); and they provide good laughs

For instance, just today I overheard this conversation:

"This morning I set my shoe on fire to see what it would do." said Boy 1

"What did it do?" replied Boy 2

"It caught on fire" Boy 1 retorted

"Seriously?" Boy 2

"Seriously man- just as soon as I lit it, it totally caught on fire." Boy 1

This is your future people- let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 2

Okay- so Thanksgiving is Thursday and the kiddos aren't around on Sunday this week, soooooo we are having French Dips. These things are beyond fabulous, and they are incredibly easy to make. And the best part? They cook in the crock-pot, so it's brainless.

French Dip
1 2-3 pound bottom round roast (or chuck roast)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons of rosemary leaves (dried)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use the less sodium kind)
1/2 cup hot water

6 rolls (I buy Asiago cheese rolls from Kroger- they are crusty and so good)
Swiss cheese slices

Put the roast in the crock pot and sprinkle the garlic salt, pepper, thyme, & rosemary on the roast. Drop in the bay leaf. Pour the soy sauce and hot water in the pot. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Shred the meat with a fork; place on rolls, add a slice of cheese. Use juices for dipping.

That's if folks! And believe me, they will think you are a genius!

Asian Slaw
8 oz. bag of slaw
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup roasted almonds
1 pkg. of Oriental flavored ramen noodles crushed (save the flavor packet- you'll need it for the dressing)

1 flavor packet from Oriental ramen noodles
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix slaw and onions. Put nuts, seeds, and noodles together, but don't add to the slaw until just before serving. When you're ready to serve- put the nut mixture in and pour dressing over it all and mix.

We usually have roasted new potatoes or shoestring french fries too. We'll probably forgo dessert as Thanksgiving dessert offerings will be obscene. I'll put recipes up on Tuesday for those just in case you want to give one a go!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Channeling Ingrid Bergman

I took an online quiz that supposedly tells you which throw-back actress you are most like. Turns out, I'm Ingrid Bergman. We'll see...
"I am unique" (what they mean is "weird, but in an endearing way")

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me
* Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.(Chocolate is also appreciated and goes quite a long way in interpersonal relationships)
* Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
* Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision. (Especially in matters of fashion and food)
* Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
* Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting! (Seriously, don't)

What I Like About Being an Ingrid
* my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
* my ability to establish warm connections with people
* admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
* my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
* being unique and being seen as unique by others
* having aesthetic sensibilities
* being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid
* experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
* feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
* feeling guilty when I disappoint people
* feeling hurt or attacked when someone misunderstands me
* expecting too much from myself and life
* fearing being abandoned
* obsessing over resentments
* longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often
* have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
* are very sensitive
* feel that they don't fit in
* believe they are missing something that other people have
* attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
* become anti-authoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
* feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce) (or in my case- as a result of The Love Boat going off-air)

Ingrids as Parents
* help their children become who they really are
* support their children's creativity and originality
* are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
* are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
* are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

If you want to take the quiz click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 1

Sundays are special times at our house. We go to church, we usually go to our favorite tex-mex place afterward for lunch, and then we go home to change clothes and play for the rest of the day. Everyone's favorite part of the day is....SUPPER!!!!!

I have to admit- I can cook- Paula Deen has nothing on me. So I thought I'd share what we're planning on eating for supper on Sunday each Saturday just in case you'd like to try it too. This week I swear I will introduce you to the final three in the family- V., Coach, and me- Mama K (that is the name I've earned myself at the high school where I teach).

Like I said- I can cook which has made me really popular with all our favorite single male friends; anyone having a baby, suffering an illness, etc.; and some of my students. (It all started with a bet I made two students about the Tennessee vs. Georgia football game this fall- I made the bet in April of 08- I had no idea the team would become an absolute train wreck this fall- but hey- Go Vols! - Anywhoo- I made a bet with two future Bulldog athletes that if UT lost I would cook them dinner- if they won- they had to take me to dinner- I lost... So, guess who's coming to dinner?)

Anyway- Coach works hard with the boys he coaches to teach honor and thankfulness and integrity- so he brags on me a lot (blush....). Now they all beg to come over so they look for things to bet on that are weighed heavily in their favor. And I love it, I absolutely love it. We teach in an affluent private school- and some of our kids suffer a deprivation that is heartbreaking- they drive cars that cost more than I make in a year, but they don't have the attention of their parents- so we try to be a safe place. Some of the kids have great parents- but as any parent knows- the more help the better- it actually does take a village- so we've partnered with parents to keep kiddos safe- sometimes they will talk to me or Coach when they wouldn't normally talk to a parent- it's a responsiblity we don't take lightly. But- I digress (as I so often do).

So- here's what we're eating tomorrow:

Braised Brisket
  • 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 head of cloves - cut in half
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 (4 lb) beef brisket
  • Olive oil
  • 3 Large Carrots cut into chunks
  • 1 Onion halved
  • 2 Celery stalks cut into chunks
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (crush by hand)
  • 3/4 Bottle of dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves only)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 325.

Drizzle brisket liberally (seriously, liberally) with olive oil, then season meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a large Dutch oven or heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add some olive oil (I don't know how much- just "some" pour until you count to 3). Place the brisket in the pot and sear on both sides to form a brown crust. Remove from pot and set aside. Add carrots, onion, and celery. Brown vegetables, then add the tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Add the brisket back to the pot, cover and roast in the oven for 3 hours until the brisket is fork tender. Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Strain out the vegetables and pour out some of the excess fat, then pour over the brisket. Slice brisket across the grain and serve over the AWESOME potatoes (to follow)

Serves 6-8

AWESOME POTATOES ("Champ" as Williams-Sonoma calls them) This is an Irish recipe- yummy!

  • 3 Cups of lager-style beer
  • 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 green onions, white and green portions, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter (optional)

Pour the beer into the bottom pan of steamer, place steamer incsert inside and cover the pan. Set pan over medium heat and bring beer to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the insert, cover and steam until tender, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, add the green onions and mash with a handheld masher until the mixture is mostly smooth, with some small pieces left unmashed. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter, then gradually add the cream, beating constantly with a wooden spoon until the potatoes are creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Puor the 3 tablespoons of butter into the well and serve immediately.

Serves 8

Red Onions Roasted with Balsamic and Honey

  • 3 red onions, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 325.

Put the onions on a jelly-roll pan, cut side up- drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Season with salt and pepper- then top each with a pat of butter and fresh thyme. Bake for 40 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelized around the edge.

6 servings

Death by Chocolate (My dear old friend Amy- who lives in Houston- gave me this- it will "make your tongue slap your brain" as Coach says)

  • 1 boxed brownie mix prepared (I used Ghiradelli Double Chocolate)
  • 1- 6 pack of Jello Chocolate pudding ( I use the fat-free as if it really matters at this point)
  • 6 Full size Heath bars
  • 1 big tub of Cool Whip- (Again- I use the fat-free- but at this point it doesn't really matter)

Cut the brownies in half- crumble the first half on the bottom. Cover with 3 pudding cups, 1/2 of the cool whip, and 3 crushed Heath bars. Repeat- brownies, pudding, cool whip, crushed Heath bars.

This one is sooooooo easy and soooooooooo good. It is hands down, my family's favorite dessert.

Enjoy your dinner- and let me know how it goes. If you make any substitutions or improvements, I'd love to hear them! Happy Sunday- love big!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Face to Face with Maverick

Picture it- I'm sleeping soundly, the room is a comfortable 56 degrees (totally serious- hormones apparently are not my friend), I have the ceiling fan going on high (Coach affectionately calls it the North Wind) when the dogs start barking and acting weird. They proceeded to bark incessantly all night- so, I spent my entire night getting up letting them out- they would run around the yard chasing what I thought to be a squirrel or something stupid- putting them back to bed, and then they would start again. They kept on…and on…and on… until 4:00 am… Finally, Coach got up- went outside and met Maverick on the deck to his great surprise…

This is Maverick- 100% pure bred Pit Bull and 100% not ours- all 120+ pounds of him. (His owner said he weighed in a little over 120 at his last vet visit) Is that blood around his muzzle? You've gotta feel for the kid (a college kid)- he was distraught this morning- said he was so worried that someone would shoot Maverick because of the way he looks. No, really? You think?

Through a long and involved process that involved a sheriff’s deputy and a middle of the night/wee hours of the morning Google search, we located the father of Maverick's owner- a funeral embalmer named Clyde (absolutely serious, I couldn't make this up if I tried) who lives nearby.

We put our heads together and devised and ingenious plan to get rid of the monster dog. I was to keep Coach on the cell phone to alert him of any movement from the dog while he sprinted from the garage to his truck. I was assigned to distract the dog. (I figure what better way to distract and calm a gargantuan pit bull than with perpetual camera flashes???) So, naturally I photograph Mr. Maverick whilst Coach makes a getaway.

Naturally, the next step is to go bang down the door of Mr. Funeral Embalmer at 4:00 AM.Oddly, and might I say much to Coach's dismay, there was no answer to his midnight rapping. So, Coach calls Mr. Funeral Embalmer (thanks to the wonder of Google) and again, gets no answer. Coach comes home- "gets a visual on the dog" (and I phrase it this way because that is exactly what Coach said. Turns out- the dog didn't really appreciate the flash so he took off running into the dark of the yard just as Coach returned from Mr. Funeral Embalmer's house. I told him to just make a run for the door and he said, "I'm not getting out of this car until I get a visual on the dog" So now things are so totally cool because it feels like we're in an episode of CSI, but I have gotten off on a tangent) - So, he gets the aforementioned "visual" on the dog and proceeds to high step it to the house. We get one hour of uninterrupted bark-free sleep.

Don't you worry though- this story ain't over yet, sweet Maverick waited for us all night. He laid in wait in the creek behind the house hoping our dogs would come out this morning. Fast forward 90 minutes, Coach let our two dogs out to eat and use the facilities when-- UP FROM THE CREEK HE AROSE- Coach said it was like being in a bad 80's horror movie. The dog literally came bounding up the bank from the creek toward Coach and the dogs. So another high-steppin' run later our three were back to the safety of the garage.

Finally at 8:00 am, and again- a loooooooooooong story, Coach contacts the owner by phone- said owner tells Coach to call the dog by name (which we find out at this time is, in fact, Maverick- sure, of course it is, what better name for a 120 pound pit bull with blood red eyes?) and grab him by the collar (yeah right) and hold him until he gets there.

The finale? Sweet Maverick is now back with Mr. Funeral Embalmer and none of us were eaten for breakfast. (The picture does not do him justice- really my whole head would fit in his mouth with room to spare)… Notice the red eyes- that’s not the flash…that’s the evil coming out.

And of course, this would only happen at our house.

Sit, Maverick, sit. Good dog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Make a Joyful Noise

The baby; the second child; the girl; the princess. Yep, that's what came next. Much to G's dismay, just short of his fourth birthday, God delivered a baby girl to us via a sweet teenaged mom named Lindsey. Because of complications after G. was born, I had to have an emergency hysterectomy to save my life, and so God completed our family through adoption. Soon, I will tell that story, I just want to make sure that I give Lindsey the honor of a full post about her sacrifice and decision, and today- well, today is about AC-(aka "Pea Pod" or "ToughPriss").

My mom called her "joyfully disobedient" when she was just a toddler. Enough said? Oh no- not yet. That doesn't begin to tell the story- but I don't know if anything could tell the whole story.

I need to confess something. Until August of 2000, I judged parents based on the behavior of their children. I would look at parents who had children spiraling into some sort of sugar fit and just shake my head in pity and disdain. G. was such an easy baby- slept through the night at 3 1/2 weeks; never got sick; didn't cry much; traveled well; and was generally a happy little dude. As he got older he was VERY obedient, easily taught, and by nature he is a "pleaser." He didn't cry in restaurants, didn't throw tantrums, and adhered to my schedule without so much as a whine. The parenting thing was a breeze- I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my other friends were having issues and talking about the difficulties of being a new mother. Parenting was a walk in the park.

Don't you just love how God just lets you get good and smug in your self-righteousness before he lets the floodgates open?

August 21, 2000- the gates opened and the water flowed. AC has been a whirlwind of activity. Now don't get me wrong- she is a delight- an absolute delight. And since I offered no DNA, I have no problem telling you the child is gorgeous. And she's smart, and she has a personality that draws people to her. I swear, when she was an infant, going to the grocery was a 2 hour ordeal because she waved and smiled and flirted, and we ended up talking to almost everyone in the store. I used to swear that I could go to the grocery with Julia Roberts and get much less attention.

She is brutally honest, not one bit shy, and has never met a stranger. As a matter of fact, just Friday night she befriended Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Albert Haynesworth (Titans Football Player) all in a matter of 90 minutes at a local high school football game. Of course, I missed all of it because I was watching the game, but she came back and told me about Faith and Tim's family, and showed me the autograph she got from Mr. Haynesworth. Oh yes- the child never misses a beat.

So, I told you she is a pretty little thing. She was just as darling as a two year old. Garrett's favorite AC story is the one where she got punished for drawing on the walls (for the gazillionth time).
So, the backstory is- she colored on the wall a gazillion times. I told her if she did it again I would have to spank her. Fast forward 20 seconds- I find another mural in Sharpie on the wall behind her bed. (Keep in mind the child is 2!). So, I go down to get her Sharpie in hand. She sees said Sharpie and walks directly to me with her little head down. Now- she's in little yellow footie pajamas with a duck on them and she smells like baby lotion and Johnson's shampoo- so already it's a heartbreaker. I pick her up and ask her what she did.

"I draw you picture mommy."

"I see that- didn't I tell you not to draw on the walls?"


"Why did you draw on the walls then?"

"Because it's prettier."

"Well, you know what I have to do right?"

"I get a spankin'."

"Yep. AC I don't like to spank you."

"It's okay momma." (first stab of the heart)

So we start to walk upstairs so that I can spank her and then throw myself off the roof- AC singing a song, me fighting back tears. (What is wrong with this picture?)


"What AC?"

"Will you sing me a song about Jesus?" (stab #2)

And there you have it- parental failure to launch punishment- toddler masters the fine art of manipulation.

She is a joy; a tiresome joy. I am not a high-energy person; she is. I am not an extrovert; she is. I am not a morning person; she is. I used to think of myself as a talker-I'm not; she is. She is compassionate, she is loving, she is a natural mother, and she is wild. Seriously, she is wild, she is rebellious, she is free-spirited, AND- the kid has got some serious spunk.

Beth Moore talks about how her youngest, Melissa, was a difficult child to parent. In so many ways, AC is like Melissa. So, when Beth wrote this I wept. Partly because I was thrilled for Melissa and her upcoming wedding. But, mostly because I was tired.-I mean pray for the second-coming kind of tired. It had been one of those days with AC that made me pray that she wouldn't hate me when she was older, because it felt so much like I was just on her all day long. Beth's letter offered hope and comfort that strong-willed, rebellious girls can turn out to be great lovers of Christ. So now, my prayers are a little different in regards to my Pea Pod, and our days are much better.

And she is a daily reminder that life is precious, family is precious, and at the end of the day, when things start looking really bleak- maybe we should get down off the roof and just sing ourselves a song about Jesus.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WOW I'm actually making a post!

WOW.....Twice in one week. Now this is a new record! :)

I decided to go ahead and write this morning because I am too tired to start working. Nevermind that I have already been here for 30 min. and I have only turned on my computer and responded to 2 emails. I really need some coffee!

My eyes are KILLING me today! I went to the eye doctor about 2 months ago and got a new prescription and a new kind of contacts because I could never seem to throw the old ones away after 2 weeks. This new kind I am supposed to change every month, and although I am supposed to be able to sleep in them, my doctor recommended that I take them out once a week so my eyes could rest. WELL, I only slept in them 2 night and my eyes hurt SOOOO bad. I could barely drive work this morning because of the sun. And now, this window view I have at work is not working out well either! As long as there is no "direct" sun light, I am o.k. I hope they start feeling better soon!

I am also supposed to be going to lunch with a girlfriend of mine that I have not seen in like FOREVER! We have both been extrememly busy with our jobs, and it seems like every weekend for the past few weeks, someone in my house has been sick. Let's hope this weekend is better.

We are also going to venture our first "trick or treat"ing on Friday. I have never taken the kids, mind you Kaitlyn is only 3. This should be fun though. We have plans to meet another friend of ours with her kids, and probably her sister and her kids as well and let the kids have some fun. We never did the "trick or treat" thing growing up. Our church usually had something going on that we would dress up and go to, but we never went around our neighborhood, so this will be a first for not only my children but Mommy too!!!

Saturday is my neices' birthday party. My sister does a "halloween" theme party for them every year, so I will take the kids for that as well. I am sure that Kaitlyn will have fun dressing up again and going to play with her cousins. PLUS, my sister has a new baby they just adopted so I get to play with her. She is so sweet and little, but i have not seen her in a month!

My husband is going to the Florida/Georgia game on Saturday, so he will not be joining me, but I am sure the guys will have fun. Not sure why Florida/Georgia, because they are not fans of either, but I am sure it will be a good game, and the tickets were free. Heck it's FOOTBALL, who cares who's playin right? :)

Well, I guess I better get some work done!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Crappy Soup


It seems that now is the perfect time to introduce you to my oldest, G-man. He is 12- enough said. He is a bundle of moods, smells, and sarcastic faces- just an adorable little guy. Anyway, I thought maybe the best way to introduce the munchkins was to tell a story about them that somehow illustrates just exactly who they are, and thus the recipe and blog about my infamous "Crappy Soup."

Others refer to it as Tortellini Soup, but here it is now known only as "Crappy Soup." And I'm telling you it's so easy a toddler could make it. S0 first, the recipe (s) - I have to give you the recipe for pesto pinwheels too- because you can't eat soup without pinwheels.

Crappy Soup (The First "Flying By the Seat of Your Pants" Recipe)
1-2 cloves of garlic minced

Olive Oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pot and saute the garlic)

48 oz. chicken broth

3 cans of tomatoes (I get Hunts garlic, onion, & basil)

1 Family Size package of refrigerated three cheese tortellini

dried or fresh basil (to taste)

Saute the garlic in the olive oil. Pour the chicken broth and tomatoes in the pot along with the basil and bring to a boil. CAREFULLY, pour the tortellini in the boiling mixture and let boil 2-4 minutes until the tortellini are desired tenderness. Done! (it literally can be from bag to table in about 20 minutes with very little effort.

Variations: my kids get picky about the chunks of tomatoes, so I occasionally puree 1-2 cans of them before adding which makes the broth thicker. I have also added spinach to it so I can pump some veggies in them- most of the time they don't notice- just tell them the herbs are fresh!
Pesto Pinwheels
1 can of Crescent Rolls (I use Pillsbury low fat)

3-4 Tablespoons of prepared pesto
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Unroll the crescent rolls and keep the dough in the rectangle. Pinch together the perforations a tad. Then spread an even layer of pesto on the dough. Top with a layer of parmesan cheese. Roll that baby up from the longest side, cut into 1/4 inch slices and bake in at 350 for 10-15 minutes (until they are brown) and serve.
That is the fastest dinner I know- it travels well; does wonders for friends who are under the weather (Our foodie friend who regularly eats out in the trendiest of places thinks I can walk on water because of this recipe!)

Now for the story...

It seems my little buddy gets tired of a food quicker than the rest of us. The first time I made the soup he was my biggest fan. He raved, ate several bowls, and remained pleasant for well over an hour. That was the first time.

I will admit that because the entire family was so excited over this soup that I did make it quite a bit. Maybe even once a week, maybe. Anyway, one evening last winter I called them to the table, but when I walked through the living room G-man did his guilty "thing." I walked through without saying a word and as I passed him on the computer he minimized the screen and said "Nothing."

"What?" I ask.

"Nothing." he said.

"I didn't say anything. Why are you saying 'nothing'?" I ask.

"I thought you asked me what I was doing so I said 'nothing.'"

"Clearly that was Satan speaking to you son, not me. But now I'm curious, what are you doing?"


Well, you know that wasn't going to get it, so I made no big deal of the exchange, went into the kitchen to finish putting the dishes on the table and gave him a moment to take care of his business on the computer.

Oh, how I love parental control software! Now, keep in mind I was all worked up thinking I was going to have to call John Stossel and possibly a counselor once I discovered what I was sure was going to be a predator on the prowl for my baby. Really, I was sweating, I had butterflies, and I had already prepared myself for the fact that I was going to miss Extreme Home Makeover that night.

Imagine my surprise to find that he had been e-mailing his buddy. They had been going back and forth over the Valentine Carnation Massacre of 2008 (a story for another day) and G-man finished the exchange with (and I'm doing this from memory):

"I have to go. My mom made this crappy soup that she makes all the time and I have to go eat. But for the record- I can't stand (child will remain nameless for obvious reasons) he's a retard."

OH NO HE DIDN'T. Not my sweet child that I have talked to until I was blue in the face about being kind to others and never talking about people behind their backs - not to mention insult my cooking. So, I send a reply from the secret places in my parent software that says...

"G-man, this is your mother. Your crappy soup is getting cold. Come to dinner now. As for the developmental delays of your friend that you seem so obviously concerned with, I think it best that tomorrow you spend some time with him at lunch so that you can get better acquainted and can apologize for your inability to control your tongue. Love you tons! Mom"

Oh hey, did I tell you that I teach in the upper division of the school that he attends? Have I mentioned that I eat lunch right before he does? And did you know that I see him every day when he comes in to sit down? Oh yes, some lessons are painful to learn.

The good news? G-man and aforementioned "retard" are now friends and he has reconciled himself to again liking the soup.

Ivy- The Cat Dog

Ivy used to be the baby. I say used to be because she was the companion we got for Holly, my baby. Santa Clause brought Holly to the kids in 2005. They named her "Holly Berry" as a play on actress Halle Berry's name and for the Holly bushes that grew outside our house. Holly lived most of her early life on a 25 acre farm with several other dogs and children (we rented a house on the farm of some dear friends).

Anyway- I remarried, and we moved from the very small farmhouse to a bigger home with a smaller yard (1 acre to be exact). Holly became very lonely as she didn't have Russell (he best friend in the entire world who was also a Jack Russell Terrier with the personality of a little old man). So, the next year on New Year's Day, Ivy joined the family.

We named her Ivy because we love the Christmas Carol "The Holly and The Ivy" by Bing Crosby. So we had Holly and Ivy- until May. Holly died on the Monday before Mother's Day. They were playing together in the yard and somehow Ivy's lower jaw got caught up in Holly's collar and it twisted. Holly was strangled, and even worse, Ivy was caught in the collar and could not get free. So she spent at least a couple of hours attached to her buddy.

Needless to say, she was traumatized. She has never been quite the same. She is not an affectionate dog; she doesn't run to you and jump up on you like Mack. Instead she stays a very close distance away from everyone but her family. If you are a stranger she barks.

She is a cat caught in a Lab-mix body. She is quiet, moody, only affectionate when it suits her, and VERY low maintenance. Which works well as Mack, the other dog is exactly the OPPOSITE of her. She is sweet-spirited and every so often, when you're not expecting it, she will walk up to you, sit down, paw you on the leg and then lean her head up against you to be petted.

But- her God-given talent is hunting. Oh the girl can hunt. We live in an old neighborhood and we are lucky enough to have an acre of land with a creek in the back. We are also blessed with many mature trees. Which means we are also blessed with rabbits, possums, squirrels, birds,moles, frogs, snakes, occasional coyotes and deer, and I kid you not, this summer we even had a Blue Heron. Ivy has hunted down literally dozens of specimens in the last two years. Just yesterday she brought me a small frog. (She's very thoughtful that way- she always brings you what she catches, puts it at your feet, and then sits for you to pet her- and we never taught her to do that!)

Last spring the kids were eating breakfast and watching the dogs from the large window in the breakfast room that looks out on the backyard. They were both laughing at Ivy because she was on the hunt and had found a rabbit. They found her crouching down and creeping to be very amusing. Anyhoo- Ivy lept at the rabbit and the chase began. I told them not to worry, Ivy couldn't possibly catch the rabbit before it ran out of the electric fence perimeter.

Well, I was wrong. Turns out, Ivy was much more stealth-like than I gave her credit for, so the kiddos witnessed Ivy catch a rabbit and behead it in a matter of seconds. Seriously, one of the most impressive things I've seen in a while.

Now my oldest child, G-man, was distraught and repulsed. The youngest, AC only had this to say:

"Well G-man, you better hope that wasn't the Easter Bunny or you can hang up getting a new DS game this year."