Thursday, December 20, 2007

One more thing...

In the all the madness of trying to get everything together for a 2-week Christmas trip, I don't want to forget something very important. It will most likely be after the first of the year before I can post again, so I want to tell you now:

Have a very merry and blessed Christmas. Be safe in your travels, enjoy your families, don't eat too much, and most importantly - remember to thank God for sending His glorious gift to us.

I love you all!

-Amanda

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2008 Resolutions

As promised, here's the link to my funky scrapbook page: Resolved. It's easier to see there than it would be if I posted it here.

**EDIT TO ADD: What the heck... here it is anyway. You can still link to it to see it better, if you're that interested. :) **


In case the small print gives you fits - here's the complete & unabridged list (plus one item that I added after I posted to 2ps).

I categorized my resolutions a bit differently this year - adding one major category and merging two others. But enough of the blather. Here ya go:

Spiritual
To read through the entire Bible in the course of a year.
To memorize 100 passages of scripture.
To read six books to help me in my walk with Him.
To devote time to prayer daily - not just when things are really good or really bad.
To create a blessings journal and write at least one thing every day.
To use my talents and abilities to glorify Him.

Physical
To lose at least 75 pounds.
To exercise 4 times a week.
To take care of myself - not to let my appearance go because I'm too tired or don't have time.
To re-learn what it means to eat healthy food.
To break my addiction to fast food.

Creative
To start my photography business.
To save enough money to buy a professional camera.
To refine my technique, especially in portraiture.
To scrapbook in digital & paper formats weekly.
To write the memories from my childhood.
To blog at least 1/3 of the days of the year.
To submit as many layouts as possible for publication.
To learn four new piano pieces.

Financial
To pay off at least half our debts.
To pay for Jeff's school without taking out loans. (might be a stretch)
To save $1000 for an emergency fund.
To curb unnecessary spending.
To make a weekly budget and stick to it.
To communicate with Jeff about all expenses.

Ta-da!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Not-so-Resolved

Since the time is fast approaching when I'll be heading out of town (and consistent internet access) I am going to post my 2007 resolutions update. Tomorrow you'll get the list for 2008 - and a link to the wicked Andy Warhol-inspired scrapbook page I did about them.

So here's the post-celebration list (in case you've forgotten).

Now for the review.

Photography & Scrapbooking

"I'm hoping later this I year I can buy that Nikon I've been eyeballing for the last several months. Until that happens, I still want to take at least a roll of film every two weeks. "

Hee hee. I got that Nikon in early spring. Now the concept of 24 pictures every two weeks is mind-boggling. I have put well over six thousand pictures through the D40. I didn't get the higher-end D80 that I really wanted, but no matter. What I have been able to learn over the course of the last few months is unbelievable. My photography has improved so much that I'm gearing up to start my own business next year! How crazy is that? I love my camera, and yet I'm already drooling over the high-end professional D300. The way I figure it, I have saved roughly $2500 in film developing costs by switching to digital in the last nine months. That would easily pay for the D300. (Hey, anything to justify a new toy!)

As for the scrapbooking - well, it's been a good year for that, too. Mom & I went to CKC & CKU (Creating Keepsakes scrapbooking conventions). Not counting the layouts I made there, I created 39 for Braeden's book, 22 for the album about myself, 11 for the Christmas album and 4 for the family album. I also made a gift album for Grandma (21 pages) and a 20-page album about our CKU trip. Then there was the 20-page "me right now" album from CKU. I'm probably missing a few, but that makes at least 117 layouts. Even though it wasn't quite 2 a week, it averages out to meeting my resolution for the year.

Also part of the scrapbooking - I am learning how to digi-scrap, and I love it! It's instant gratification. No more waiting for pics to develop. I just load them into the computer and have at it. It's interesting, because my digi style is very different from my paper style. I think I might be better at digi, but the jury's still out on that one.

So overall - this category was a great success. A++ Moving on...

Weight & Health

"After nine months of concentrated effort and another three on-again, off-again, I lost 80 pounds. In less than six months, I gained 70 back. Ouch."

Yeah.... by the summer, 70 had turned to 90. Somewhere around July I realized I'd better quit now, so I began my half-hearted effort to lose it. Again. In August I began yet another blog (because two weren't enough) to chronicle my attempts, hoping that it would spur me on to great things.

Not so much. In spite of myself, I did manage to lose 25 or so pounds, though I've been toying with the same 5 for weeks. With Christmas looming and the promise of more food than I know what to do with, my motivation is quickly fading. And exercise? That last about two months. I haven't done a thing since the end of October.

I'd have to give myself a C- in this category. I'm only not failing because I am still hanging in there, by however thin a thread.

Reading

"1) read at least two books a month, 2) read at least six Christian living books, 3) read at least six of the classics, and 4) in general, try to break away from my usual light-headed Christian romance novel."

As you can see by my previous post, this was a big year for books. I met #1 easily, clocking in with 27 books (34 if you count reading through the HP series twice). I got halfway to #2, didn't get #3 at all, and definitely hit #4 - I only read on Christian romance all year.

Grade? B

Writing

"...my first writing goal for this year is to at least begin the elusive novel."

Um....

Yeah. That didn't happen. Neither did the autobiography - but - I have somewhat allowed blogging to be my right-here right-now story. This will make entry #115 for the year. It's more than I've done in the past, to be sure.

Gotta give myself a D+ on this one.

Spirituality

Wow. I alternated between devoted follower and borderline agnostic this year. Okay, maybe not quite to that extreme, but I've definitely had my spiritual struggles. I got to the end of February before I quit my nightly Bible readings. (Honestly, I'm a little surprised I made it that far.) My prayer life has been on-again, off-again, but I can say I've done more praising this year.

I took on the teenage girls class this summer, and have loved every minute of it. It's felt so good to be involved with the kids again, and I really do enjoy teaching. It's been good for me.

After the tornado, I learned to take nothing for granted, and every time I drive past the Baptist church, I offer a quick prayer of thanks for his protection.

So... C. Could've been worse, but since I can say I have tried, however inconsistently, I'll give myself a passing grade. (Only in my application of the resolution - not my actual spiritual life.)


There you have it. Resolutions in review.

Coming soon - 2008's big list.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On Computers and Heaters

Incidentally, neither of which work very well...

Last winter, I worked from the laptop so I could sit in the living room. It's much warmer in there. I can bundle up in layers of blankets if needed and huddle on the couch. Sadly, the laptop has died. We bought it used, complete with the Isis virus. . . eventually it could no longer recognize that it even had a wi-fi card. Without internet access, the thing is completely useless. It's too slow to do anything else.

This means I'm freezing half to death in the office. I am wearing two sweatshirts and a long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and a thick fleece blanket, and my butt still feels like a frozen butterball turkey. My fingers are so cold they're numb, and my nose won't quit running. You see, the heater just doesn't quite reach to this room, and it wouldn't matter if it did - there's no insulation in this part of the house, anyway.

To further complicate matters, my desktop PC is about to kick the bucket. It's been beeping and squealing at me for two days, and I know this is not a good sign. I am pretty sure what I will purchase next, but I can't afford it right now - we are barely going to have enough money to get Jeff back into school. So I just have to pray that the darned thing holds on for a couple more months. It wouldn't be such a big deal if I didn't need it for my job. I can't really complain, anyway - I use it 12+ hours a day, and for it to be four years old, it has done remarkably well - far better than the Gateway that was its predecessor.

So say a prayer for my computer, and perhaps another that I can stay warm...

Oh, and for the checkbook. Sooner than later we're going to have to replace both of those computers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Nut

I am such a dork. I accidentally stumbled across instructions on the web to make gift bows, so guess how I spent my afternoon?

Oh, yeah. I'm crazy. Just wait till I start stamping my wrapping paper and making my chipboard tags that convert into ornaments! mwuaaahaaahaahaaa!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Own Personal 2007 Reading List

Like my title?

I didn't think so.

So... here's what I've plowed through this year. As often happens, my reading came in spurts. With two major series coming to an end this year, I found my nose stuck in a book a little more often than usual, and there's no telling how much caffeine I consumed in my attempts to compensate for late nights spent reading.

J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2 times)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2 times)

Terry Goodkind
Wizard's First Rule
Stone of Tears
Blood of the Fold
Temple of the Winds
Soul of the Fire
Faith of the Fallen
The Pillars of Creation
Naked Empire
Chainfire
Phantom
Confessor

Karin Evans
The Lost Daughters of China

Katrina Kittle
The Kindness of Strangers

Lori Wick
White Chocolate Moments

C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Shaunti Feldhahn
For Young Women Only
For Women Only

Chip Ingram
God As He Longs for You to See Him

Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time

Janet Evanovich
Lean Mean Thirteen

It's quite possible I've left something out - but I figure the list represents several thousand pages of reading. Not too shabby! For 2008, the goal is variety - I'm out of new series material, so I'll have to get into something else. Dunno what just yet...

PSA: Shutterfly

I have a new favorite thing. Shutterfly.com is the coolest, awesomest, bestest photo store on the web. I got back several items of miscellany today, including regular prints, enlargements, and digi scrapbook pages.

Fabulous, my dear. Simply fabulous. Besides the excellent quality, I received my order 3 days after I'd loaded it to the web. I am amazed that it moved so quickly. The rest of my order will follow.

Check it out. www.shutterfly.com. You will be impressed, I promise!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Broke

It must be destiny.

I think I will forever be broke. No matter what I do, there is always something . . . whenever I get close to saving a little cash, something inevitably goes wrong.

All the curse words in the world could not express my extreme frustration at the moment. The problem always gets worse around Christmas - why wouldn't it? It's perfectly logical that the one time of the year when I get excited about seeing family and giving gifts to the people I love that I will be forced to endless nights of stressing over the lack of money to do what I want to do.

Grrr.... why do I even bother? Heck, I'm 30, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

Doesn't exactly seem like a bright future, does it?

Okay. Whine over.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Uh-Oh

It would seem I have acquired a new hobby, albeit unintentionally. After designing a small gift album for Grandma for Christmas, I have progressed from dabbling in digital scrapbooking to a full-blown obsession. Though I have no intention of giving up paper scrapping, there is something highly entertaining about using the computer to create effects that you just can't duplicate with a paper, pen, and stickers.

Naturally, this is dangerous territory. I didn't exactly need another hobby to spend $ on - the photography and paper scrapping are bad enough. However, having always been a quick study on the computer, I am learning how to create my own elements using the things I already have.

Unfortunately, I sense a dead computer looming on the horizon. Our laptop gave up its fight earlier this week, and my PC is developing a case of virtual Alzheimer's - or maybe its brain is just farting. Either way, I know that four years is about the most you can expect from a computer - especially when you are on it 10-12 hours a day like I am. I'm just dreading the expense and headache of transferring this huge mess of files, and I'm definitely not looking forward to the bug-laden Windows Vista. If all my stuff wasn't already in Microsoft formats, I think I'd buy a Mac.

Guess I know how our income tax return is being spent.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Yearly To-Do List

So last year I was feeling a little panicky because I had so much to do and not much time to do it. I'm much calmer this year. The first batch of cards has been sent - check your mailbox in a couple of days. For the rest I still have to track down addresses.

The shopping is going much better this year, too. I've bought presents for all the kids (the in-laws are probably going to hate me when they find out I got all the boys toy lightsabers). Gifts for the girls are a work in progress, but I do know what they're getting. Same goes for my dad. That just leaves the rest of the guys, and Jeff can deal with that.

I am not sure if I'll make goodies this year or not. I really don't want to sabotage my weight-loss efforts. If I do, I will most definitely keep it to a minimum - which will save time and money.

There are some things I want to do - like take Braeden to Rock City to see the Christmas lights. I also have a few parties to attend, though I freely admit I'd rather stay at home and watch classic Christmas movies than play yet another round of dirty Santa.

So what is my point? I guess that I'm taking it a little easier this year, and instead of letting the pace run over me, I'm trying to soak up the moments. I'd hate to miss out on the spirit of the season.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back Home Again

Braeden just melted my heart this weekend. As we were eating our Thanksgiving dinner, I asked the kids what they were thankful for. After a pause, Braeden chirped "God!" I promise you - I did not prompt him to say that! It just made me smile.

We got to spend a lot of time with Gabe & Katie the last few days. They were so much fun. Jeff took the boys to Chuck E Cheese, where Gabe requested "tokenuts" to play the games. We loaded them all up to go to the Christmas light show at the Bristol Motor Speedway. One part of the exhibit had dinosaurs, and Katie kept demanding that we "Don't . . . eat . . . di-saurs!" (Every word she says is followed by a pause. I've never seen a 2-year-old anunciate quite like she does.)

Katie loved on me all weekend, and by Saturday night, she'd finally warmed up to Jeff, too. We laughed all the way home about silly things she'd said. Gabe alternated between avoiding me like the plague (out of sheer orneriness) and wrapping me up in bear hugs and not letting go. Braeden just went along for the ride. He got a little cranky because his sleep schedule was way off, but he was mostly a pretty good kid.

Mom & I went on our annual day-after-Tgiving shopping trip. 'Course, we don't really shop for Christmas presents - we shop for ourselves - it's much more fun that way! I came home with a Cricut (courtesy of Mom getting a bigger model), new sheet music for the piano, a book, and a few scrapbooking odds and ends. Not too shabby, eh?

I love my family. I am so happy that Jeff got to go with us for T-giving this year. He was really a doll. Poor guy - he got saddled with the boys quite a bit. Their first attempt to go to Chuck E Cheese resulted in Braeden puking at McDonald's before they even got out of town. They tried again the next day, and Gabe was having so much fun he forgot to use the bathroom until it was too late, so they made an emergency trip to Wal-Mart for fresh clothes. Even so, he said he had a blast with them, and I know he got a kick out of snuggling on Katie-bug.

I have so much to be thankful for! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gratitude

In keeping with the holiday, I think it's appropriate to make a list of the things I'm thankful for this year.

1. I'm enormously grateful that we did not sustain more damage in last week's tornado. It's sad to see so many beautiful trees destroyed, but it could have been human lives instead.

2. I am thankful for friends - both new and old.

3. I'm thankful for the funniest (and cutest) 4-year-old son on the planet. He makes me laugh and smile, even when I want to throttle him. Every day he says something off-the-wall that cracks me up, and every day he does something so utterly sweet that I can feel my heart melting into ooey gooeyness.

4. Jeff is finally going to get back into nursing school. After so many delays, I am grateful for one last chance.

5. The Lord is slowly teaching me how to regain control of my eating habits. Even though I've fought Him every step of the way, He's been patient with me, and the beast is starting to tame.

6. I have the coolest parents in the world. They set a beautiful example of generosity and patience, and besides that - they make pretty good friends, too.

7. Things are going well with Jeff & me. We've settled into a comfortable peace with each other and have enjoyed more time just as a family. It's a good thing.

8. I have a job that I enjoy, that isn't too hard, that lets me work at home, and that pays better than anything else I can get locally. I don't have to drive to work and I can wear my pajamas if I want. Can't beat that with a stick!

9. I have two major outlets for my creativity - my scrapbooking and my photography. I can absolutely lose myself in either one, and I have grown so much this year in both areas. It's exciting to think that I am getting closer to going pro with my camera.

10. I'm grateful to have a mind and body that function well (at least most of the time) and enable me to do the things I enjoy most.

11. I'm thankful that God loved me enough to give me a chance to live my life - and a way to save me when I mess it up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tornado!

I thought when I moved here I'd be sheltered from tornadoes. Our small town sits right at the base of Monteagle Mountain, which has usually protects us from the worst storms.

Not so Wedneday night.

I left for church (which is right beside my house) at a quarter to seven. Jeff was at work, and it had just started to sprinkle. I wrapped Bebo up in a jacket, even though it was ridiculously warm. I knew storms had been forecasted, but had no idea there were tornado warnings for our area. No sooner had we sat down and begun services than the power went out. It was pitch black in the auditorium. Everyone that had cells turned them on, and we decided to sing a bit, say a prayer, and wait for the lights to come on.

We'd gotten through the first verse of the second song, and one of the deacons burst through the back doors screaming "Get under the pews! Get under the pews now!"

Those of you who know me well know how terrified I am of tornadoes. All I could think about was getting Braeden safely under the pew, but he was frozen in place from fear. I finally wrestled him down to the floor and wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could. There wasn't room for both of us under the pew, so I scrunched in as close as I could without pushing him out the other side. One of our elders said a prayer, and in just a few moments, they told us it was okay to get up.

I thought it had all been a false alarm - but I was very wrong. I'm still not sure which direction the thing went, but I know that it hit all the houses on the street behind me. It skipped over the corner where house and the church sits, and hit the Baptist church across the road.

I immediately began trying to call Jeff. Almost everyone around here uses Verizon, so the network was busy. I finally got through and we exchanged "I'm okays." I went to the house to inspect the damage. The power was out everywhere, and the police and ambulances were just heading to the Baptist church. I couldn't see much, though a huge limb had fallen by our old Lumina. At first I thought it had escaped harm, but I realized later that it had gotten dinged up quite a bit - though it was just body damage. Around midnight we discovered that the power meter had been ripped from the back of the house, but thankfully nothing had caught fire.

Amazingly, the house was okay. I really expected there to be nothing left - but God was really watching out for us. In fact, I think He was keeping an eye on the whole town. No one had life-threatening injuries. One woman did have a broken pelvis - but she survived being in her house when the tornado tore it completely from its foundation.

I took pictures when the rain let up, and then some during the daylight hours yesterday. You can see them on my photo blog. I've seen worse - but it's rather unnerving to realize your sense of security in a place was a false one.

Somewhere around 3-4 pm yesterday our power and phone lines were restored. Today has been (at least for me) business as usual - though I'm still offering little "thank you, Lord!" prayers every time I think of how much worse it could have been.

Oh, one more thing - the bludgeoned, half-burned recliner was still sitting in the yard, and despite debris flying all around it, it did not budge.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How NOT to Dispose of a Recliner

We had a recliner that died. No, the spring didn't break - the framework literally snapped in two. I'm talking a serious, gagging, agonizing death. Dead with no hope of recuscitation. Since we don't have a vehicle suitable for hauling large hunks of dead furniture, it has been sitting in the living room for weeks now in its sorry state. The back leaned severely to one side, making it look rather pitiful indeed. Last night Jeff decided to rearrange furniture - and this meant disposing of the chair.

Jeff is a little creative when it comes to furniture disposal. We once tried to burn a particle-board desk. The thing was so incredibly fireproof that all we managed to do was make a small black mark on the top, despite having doused the thing in gallons of gasoline. I think he eventually ended up taking a sledgehammer to it and hauling away the evidence of his failed attempt.

So as I was in the kitchen, making biscuits for dinner and yakking on the phone with Mom, I heard a loud metallic thwack. I closed my eyes and prayed for patience, then turned the corner to see what the cause of the interruption was. Jeff was attempting to break apart the chair with a claw hammer and small crowbar. After several minutes of unsuccessfully bludgeoning the chair, he came begging for the kitchen shears, with which he proceeded to cut off as much of the upholstery as he could.

Finally he gave up and decided it would be easiest to burn the remains. Now remember - Tennessee has been in the midst of a severe drought. You may have heard of that Tennessee town that ran out of water? That's not 15 miles from my house. It struck me that burning may not be the best disposal method, but I grabbed up Braeden and followed for the show in spite of my misgivings.

Jeff put the chair in the middle of the back yard and lit it in two or three places. For a moment the fire burned contentedly, as if begging for a marshmallow roast - and then Hell suddenly appeared in the backyard. Apparently this chair was not made of the same flame-resistant stuff as the old desk was. When the upholstery lit - it dang near exploded. Within seconds the flames were raging 10 feet in the air, and Jeff was running for the water hose.

I never would have fathomed that burning upholstery could smell so utterly loathsome. I felt certain the chair was getting its last revenge - my eyes are still watering from the stinky, putrid smoke. Blech. It was truly foul. Thankfully, I'd closed the kitchen windows, so the house didn't benefit from the smoking remains.

Once Jeff had thoroughly doused the chair, we left it to smolder in the yard. The torrential downpour that came last night doused any hope of it reingniting.

Now for the fun part - how long will Jeff let it sit in the back yard before he finally hauls it away?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Beginning of the End

It's official. With the arrival of Halloween, the craziness of the end-of-year festivities has now begun. Tonight we'll deck out Braeden as a policeman and let him beg candy from the trunks of our church members' cars. I'll employ every tactic imaginable to avoid said candy. Tomorrow I'll start worrying about Thanksgiving dinner and what healthy sides I'll prepare.

There will be Christmas cards to make, gifts to buy, a house to clean and decorate, cookie dough waiting patiently in the freezer, and a plethora of parties and events to attend. Life will get wilder as the days grow shorter, and we'll all find ourselves tumbling toward an inevitable exhausted end, staring at each other on New Year's Day, wondering what in the world just happened.

And you know something? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Political Opinion

Politics suck.

I absolutely despise all the backbiting, snarling, hateful gameplay of the politicians that the media feels obligated to broadcast 24 hours a day. It's disgusting. So much so that I refuse to listen. The very instant even a snippet of political news catches my ears, I change the channel. I do not want to hear it.

The whole debacle just makes me sick. I get so angry and so frustrated, and it's simply not worth getting stressed over. Therefore, I am taking a laissez-faire approach to the 2008 election. Two days before the polls open, I'll look at the candidates. Most likely I'll vote for whichever poor soul gets the Republican nomination. Then I'll bury my head back in the sand for the next four years.

There you have it: my political stance.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fires

It has been insanely dry this year. In fact, I heard on the radio that this kind of drought only happens in my corner of the world about every 100 years. Given all the mountains around here, frankly I'm surprised that we haven't had more problems with fires. When one ignited over the weekend, I couldn't resist the photo op. Perhaps this belongs on my photo blog, but the pic wasn't as good as it was interesting, so I'm sticking it here. I believe the fire is out now, but we still haven't had the first hint of rain. Our parched little county is in desperate need of water.




Monday, October 15, 2007

Not-So-Random Bits of Miscellany

Having completed an entire mini-album this weekend, the Scrapbook Bug has bitten and burrowed deep into my skin. I think I may use my spare time this week to catch up on Christmas albums and all of the portraits that I have laying around.

Tomorrow I get to pick up my new glasses! I got two pair - one with black frames and one with silver. I can hardly wait - the black ones are SO cute, and totally new for me. I know I won't wear them all the time, but since I can be hard on glasses, I thought I'd splurge and get two pair this time. The silver pair is much more conservative, but still stylish. I always seem to opt for a unisex frame. Guess it's a rebellion against the gosh-awful gargantuan pink plastic frames I wore in the 80s.

Jeff is taking me out tonight! He has the day off, and is taking Bebo to Chuck E Cheese this afternoon. Bebo was soooo excited. He's been once before, with Grannie and Peepop. He was talking our ears off this morning before they left. Anyhoo, I'm hoping I can convince Jeff to eat at Applebee's tonight. Their Weight Watchers menu is so good, and I like going there because I know exactly what I'm dealing with. Afterwards I want to go to the bookstore to search for books about world religions - the topic of choice for my Sunday morning girls' Bible class. Of course, if I can finangle my way to Hobby Lobby, that wouldn't hurt, either.

I almost forgot - Big News! Jeff was accepted back into nursing school! He'll start again in January. I am so happy - it means that finally our lives are back on track, and once again there is light at the end of the tunnel. Someday, I would very much like to live a semi-normal American life, ya know?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Life with Allergies

Ugh. My nose won't quit running, my eyes are so itchy I think I've actually scratched the surface a little, my throat aches, my sinuses feel like someone is gouging them with very long needles, and I think my head will explode.

I hate this! I suppose I'm used to it by now - I've had allergies all my life. I never could see the point in allergy testing and shots. Why inject myself with more of what I'm allergic to? Besides, my problem is things like dust, cut grass, and pollen. I can't exactly avoid these things. It would be much simpler if I was allergic to, say, bananas. To avoid the allergy, don't eat bananas. When you live in Pollen USA, and the weather is so dry that it looks like a reincarnation of the Dust Bowl, there's no getting around the allergy.

I think I might single-handedly keep Puffs in business. God only knows how many Kleenex I've gone through in my lifetime!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Please?

MEMO

To: the weather
From: Amanda
RE: fall season

It has come to my attention that despite the official start of fall, the temperatures are more indicative of late summer. Grass and leaves are brown at best. Please see to it that the temperatures drop at least 20 degrees, and that enough rain falls to give the leaves and grass sufficient color for the autumn season.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Purge & Simplify

Without speaking too loudly, I will let you in on a secret: there's a possibility we'll be moving in a few months. It depends on what happens with Jeff and school. In the meantime, he has shifted into serious attack mode.

Nine years of living in one house is naturally going to cause an accumulation of clutter. When you factor in two total slobs and a preschooler, that clutter turns into utter mess. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that housekeeping is not my "thing." Now is time to rectify that. We will be throwing away, giving away, and destroying a great deal of the things filling this old house.

Then the real attack will begin.

There is so much work to be done - carpets need to be deep-cleaned, the bathroom floor is literally caving in from a leak, the kitchen has to be re-tiled and re-painted - well, you get the idea. Nothing in this house is ever easy. Every "simple" project we've tackled has turned into a nightmare of epic proportions. I secretly wonder how long it will take Jeff's enthusiasm to fizzle like flat soda.

I sense a serious headache in the making.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Three "Top 10" Lists (in no particular order)

Modern Conveniences I Wouldn't Want to Live without:

1. laptop computer
2. coffee maker
3. microwave
4. blender
5. car
6. air conditioning
7. telephone (but not my cell phone)
8. DVD player
9. caller ID
10. email


What I'm NOT Crazy About:

1. rudeness
2. green beans
3. bad grammar & spelling
4. my cell phone
5. politics
6. loneliness
7. uncertainty
8. summer in general
9. telemarketers
10. rap "music"


Things I'd Splurge On IF Money Were No Object:

1. top-of-the-line computer
2. Nikon D200
3. shoes, shoes, shoes
4. baby grand piano
5. 1977 Bandit Trans Am
6. scrapbook supplies
7. state-of-the-art kitchen
8. 11x17 scanner
9. 12x12 printer
10. my own personal fountain machine

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tales of My Exciting Life

I feel that I should post something, because I haven't been as prolific as I'd like. The problem is that I have nothing witty, profound, interesting, or even dull and bland to write.

It's just a day. As usual, I had little sleep. As usual, the dog is barking outside. As usual, work is quiet. As usual, Bebo is on "da mountain " with Peepop.

I think I am just going to be thankful for the peace and quiet.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fall

Is it really already halfway through September? Seems like I've spent the last several weeks in a fog. Days pass without my knowledge.


Hmm... that means I really need to start thinking about Christmas presents. And budgeting to get Jeff back into school. And buying Braeden winter clothes.


--->slight rant<---


I hate shopping for Bebo in the winter! The child is so insanely skinny that finding pants to fit him is nearly impossible. This is complicated by the fact that he's only four, but the height of a six-year-old. If the pants are long enough, they are so big in the waist they just fall to his scrawny little ankles. It's been this way from the very beginning. Poor little guy never had one ounce of baby fat. Summer is no problem; in fact, he often wears shorts sizes 2 years behind what you would expect.

I usually buy up clothes for next year when they go on sale at the end of the season. When I pulled out the stuff intended for this summer, it was all waaaay too small, so I didn't stock up this year. He's got no jeans or dress pants for winter at all, and maybe 2-3 pair of sweatpants. We're a little better on shirts, but not by much. I'd better get going - cool weather can't be too far away now.

--->end rant<---

I do so love this time of year. When the air cools down and dries out it just makes me happy. Last night brought a soft rain that's continued falling through the moment. It will make for a wonderful afternoon nap, not to mention moistening down the dust that has plagued us for weeks.

I live right on my town's main road, and I love listening to the sound of tires driving through the rain. It's so soothing.... so calming.... so relaxing....

Oh, dear - I need earplugs or something, because I'm going to fall asleep before work is over!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Resolutions Update

One of my resolutions was to read more this year, which I have done. Here's what I've dug into so far:

Fiction:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
All 7 of the Harry Potter books (twice each)
White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick
The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans
The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Religious Nonfiction:

God as He Longs for You to See Him by Chip Ingram
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

I have an entire blog dedicated to weight loss, so that should give you a good enough picture how I am (or am not) doing there.

As for the photography, I have run more than 5000 pictures through my camera since I bought it early this spring. I'm amazed everyday at how much better I've gotten, and wonder how I could have debated the film vs. digital issue for so long. If you're in doubt, and can afford it - go with digital. The simple ability to learn immediately from your pictures is worth the extra cost. I've paid for the camera several times over in the cost of film & developing that I've saved.

I haven't quite scrapped 2 layouts a week - it goes in spurts. Before CKU, I'd started my "me" album, and I created another one that's more journaling-based at CKU. I have done several layouts, though. My scanner crashed so I haven't been able to upload all of them to 2peas, but hopefully I'll be getting a new one soon and can catch up.

No go on the autobiography yet - but I'm blogging rather consistently, and I enjoy it. I don't do it on every post, but some are more focused on the writing style than others. Keeps me in practice, ya know?

Spiritually I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped - but I suppose I never will. I'm trying, though. It's a rather personal thing.

Overall, I am pleased. For once I made reasonable resolutions, and have done a decent job of keeping to most of them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Hate Bugs

In case you didn't hear me the first time, let me repeat myself so there can be no doubt:


I hate bugs.


I learned about the whole Circle-of-Life thing in science class years ago, but I still hate bugs. They are not natural. I can tolerate ants and flies, and that's about it. Anything with more than four legs just gives me the willies. I can't even bear to squash them - the crunch sends shivers up to my hair. I swear I can feel it for days. Ew. My typical Death to Buggy method is spray them with bug spray - or, if I'm out, to suffocate them in AquaNet.

Unfortunately, my house is old and drafty, so at any given time I have a veritable menagerie of bugs to keep me company. The bathroom and kitchen seem to be the congregating points for the critters that take up residence here. No amount of bug spray, ant traps, or insect bombs eradicates the problem. I'm still not used to it.

So. . . this morning I decided to shower before work. Normally I shower at night or on my first break (one of the many advantages of working at home), because most days I am not coherent enough to tell the difference between the razor and the shampoo at the ungodly hour of 6 o'clock in the morning.

I stumble from the bed, miraculously missing spinal injury on the train Braeden left in the hall, and blunder my way into the bathroom. As usual, I toss my towel over the shower curtain - and then I see it, brazenly lounging in the bottom of the tub.

A meatbug.

Of course that's not the technical name. Years ago we had an infestation of these ultra-fat crickets. Think Danny DeVito with six scrawny legs. My sister and I christened them meatbugs, and that's what I've called them ever since.

Now I know that this insect is not going to harm me. But I have to get it out of the tub before I can shower, and this poses a problem. Crickets jump, you see, and if that thing lands on me, you'll be reading my obituary in the paper - death by cardiac arrest. It's getting late, and I know I'd better hurry if I'm going to start work on time. I look around for something to zap the bug. (Hubby had the AquaNet squirrelled away somewhere, and it takes too long, anyway.) I decide to grab a hand towel and try to trap the bug underneath it. Maybe I can wad it up in the towel and safely deposit the whole thing on the front step without having to feel it squirming through the terrycloth.

But the cricket is faster than my aim. I throw the towel down, and it jumps out of the way. Thank God it stayed in the tub! After a few minutes of this game, I realize it's time for Plan B. It's in the shower already, so maybe I can convince it to take a leisurely swim down the drain.

Turns out this is one seriously stubborn cricket. I can see the darn thing straining against the flow of water, hanging on for dear life. So I turn on the shower head and aim it right at him. He reaches for the shampoo and belts out "Singing in the Rain."

Okay. . . so it wants to play dirty. By now, the hand towel is soaked, and I have a moment of brilliance. Physics says the wet towel will be faster and more effective than the dry one, so I should be able to bury my little contender in a sea of wet purple. Praying that my aim will be slightly more accuracte, I lob the towel into the tub as hard as I can.

Bingo! The meatbug is trapped!

But what to do with the towel? I'm not about to wring out the water with the cricket wadded inside and risk the crunch of exoskeleton. So I head to the bedroom in search of a container for the wet towel and drowning cricket. Finally I yank the garbage bag out of my wastebasket, carefully wad the cricket up in the towel, and deposit it in the trash. Then I place the whole thing outside the bathroom door. Don't want to risk another invasion while I'm nekkid in the shower.

By this time, I have exactly two minutes and thirty-four seconds to clean up. So much for waking up easy.

I still haven't moved the trash can, though I did inspect it for signs of cricket later. Apparently it made a valiant attempt to escape, but I guess a leg got snagged in the towel. It lay where it fell, having died an honorable death.

Next time I'm waking Jeff. He can squish the bug.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sleepin' In!

Jeff worked at a party at the restaurant last night, and Bebo went up "da mountain" with Grannie & Peepop. This left me at home, relishing the quiet and doing nothing that could possibly be construed as useful. I probably gave up around 2:30 this morning and went to bed.

Then I slept until I wanted to wake up! (Which was exactly 11:17 am.) Oh, bliss! Oh, delight! No four-year-old wanting apple juice, no alarm reminding me to get ready to work, no nothing. Just sleep & laziness.

Tee-hee! For a minute there, I felt like I was in college again!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Brain Cells

I'm afraid this post will sound narcissistic - but I certainly don't mean for it to come across that way. Here's the deal: I think my brain cells are beginning to atrophy. As dorky as it sounds, I really want to learn something. I need a challenge.

I'm reasonably intelligent (here's the narcissistic part). Though never formally measured, my IQ usually ranges from 130-140 in informal testing. I did well in school, and I have a pretty darn good memory (except when it comes to birthdays). But it's been eight years since I was in school, and I miss it! I find myself browsing bookstores for the classics and working logic and sudoku puzzles, but it just isn't quite what I'm looking for.

I need calculus or something like that. Perhaps that's why nursing school is so appealing right now - the prospect of digging into complicated biology and memorizing drug dosage calculations and creating care plans is intriguing.

Unfortunately, I can't go to school right now. I've got to get Jeff through first, which leaves me wondering how to proceed. Wish I had that Brain Age game - but I don't have the console. I'm bored, and I need something intellectual to do.

Yeah, I know I am weird. Nerdy. Dorky. Whatever. I could easily be one of those "professional students," given unlimited time and resources.

Bye now. I'm off to search for more puzzles.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yes, I'm Crazy

I was feeling a little stir-crazy last night. It's one of the downsides to working at home, especially when the weather is rainy and dreary for several days in a row. Jeff had the night off, and he didn't want to do anything but veg in the recliner (not that I blame him after a 70-hour work week), so I loaded myself up and drove to Chattanooga. Trips there used to be a frequent occurrence, but I rarely go more than once a month now. I didn't have any particular goals - just look at something besides the four walls of my disaster-area house.

There are three stores that I always try to visit when I'm in town: Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and Books-a-Million. I wish Wolf Camera wasn't in the mall. I hate navigating the parking lot, so I only go when I have to be at the mall for something else. Anyhoo... I love craft stores, especially at this time of year. Hobby Lobby in particular puts an insane amount of holiday decorations on their shelves.

You guessed it - I'm about to say the "C" word.

Yes, I know it's still only August (barely). Yes, I know we still have almost four months to go. And yes, I know that most of you think I'm insane.

But I simply love Christmas! Nothing makes me quite so giddy as to wander down aisles of baubles, tinsel, and lights. It doesn't matter if it's 100 degrees outside. Christmas is the promise of cooler weather, and family, and home, and baking cookies, and creating cards and homemade gifts. I can't help it - it makes me smile! Knowing that soon XM radio will add back the Christmas music station, and that in a few more weeks I'll be seeing Frosty & Rudolph on TV again. . . what a happy thing. I love my annual game of searching out unique snowmen to add to my collection. I love that Braeden is old enough for Santa Claus this year. I love crafting homemade presents to give to my family. I love perusing endless cookie & fudge recipes in pursuit of the perfect treat.

Maybe it's because I hate the summer so much, but the promise of Christmas is simply delightful. I am always happier then than any other time of the year. For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been all about tradition and fun.

And I don't care if you think I'm nuts!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sounds I Love

Inspired by CKU...

1. Braeden's laughter
2. tinkling of Christmas bells
3. cars driving through the rain-soaked streets
4. piano music
5. click of a shutter
6. wind in the trees
7. '90s music
8. feet crunching on new snow
9. wind chimes
10. a cappella music
11. ocean surf crashing on the shore
12. pop of opening a can of soda

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Right Now...

1. It is 10:53 pm.

2. I am wearing one shoe.

3. My shoeless foot is tucked up under my other leg.

4. I am listening to Tchaikovsky on XM Pops

5. It's sprinkling outside.

6. I can smell my Starbucks French Roast coffee in the kitchen. It's brewing now so I can have iced coffee in the morning.

7. My dog is pacing the floor.

8. My stomach hurts a little bit.

9. I am sipping on Diet Mountian Dew from Taco Bell.

10. I am rocking slowly in the recliner.

11. There's a bouquet of flowers on the piano that my husband sent to me yesterday.

12. Sitting on the endtable next to me is the following: a folded paper towel, the aforementioned Taco Bell cup, my makeup, my thyroid medicine, the DirecTV remote control, my cordless phone, a glasses case, a travel-size can of shaving cream, two different brands of solid deodorant, four pens, a box of tissue, my Weight Watchers book, my Weight Watchers points slider, a small plastic container that had hummus in it earlier, three ponytail holders, the edge of a pack of mild taco sauce, and a few crumbs leftover from lunch. Amazingly, I can still see the table underneath all that.

13. I am rocking faster.

14. I am wearing three rings: my temporary wedding ring (until I can afford to replace the one that mysteriously disappeared when Bebo was just an infant), a sapphire ring Jeff gave me for Christmas a few years ago, and my mother's ring.

15. I have scratches on both my arms. They were probably self-inflicted.

16. The curtain is folded up a little and needs to be straightened.

17. The lights behind me are on, but not the ones in front of me.

18. I am really starting to need to use the bathroom.

19. I am the only one at home.

20. The door is unlocked and will probably remain that way.

21. I'm still not feeling the effects of the sleeping pill I took 45 minutes ago.

22. My contacts are still in, and I'm debating whether to sleep in them tonight.

23. My skin is dry and itchy, mostly on my tummy. Weird.

24. The dog is getting more intense about going outside.

25. It's 11:10 pm.

26. I'm going to bed.

The Elusive Sleep

Somehow, it seems that I have forgotten a basic lesson: how to sleep. In truth, it's not so much how to sleep as it is how to go to bed.

I stay up ridiculously late for someone who has to start work at 6:30 am.

Take last night, for instance. I had the worst headache of my life yesterday, starting around 2pm. I tried to sleep it off, but could only lay in bed wishing my head would just go ahead and explode. Finally giving up, I took half a bottle of Aleve and two Sudafed (in case it was sinus-induced). Somewhere around 8pm the headache subsided enough to return to semi-normal function. At that point I had to go to Wal-Mart for a new iron and Pull-Ups, then returned home to do my nightly posting and attempt to clean my house before FEMA showed up thinking it was a natural disaster zone.

It was well after midnight before I finally got to bed, and closer to 1:30am before exhaustion tamed my racing brain and forced me into nothingness.

So here I sit, in my comfy recliner, laptop in hand - supposedly "working," but so sleepy I can barely hold up my head. I simply must start going to bed at a reasonable hour - 10pm would be best - but I just can't make myself do it. I look around at all the things that need doing and I cringe. The stupid thing is I barely got anything accomplished last night, in spite of staying up so late. Trash was picked up from around the house, the dishwasher was loaded and ran, and I squeezed in a load of towels. That's it. I must be the most inefficient woman on the planet.

Tonight I am not going to eat after church. I am coming straight home, doing my nightly post, and going to bed.

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Childhood Books

On a whim, I ordered A Wrinkle in Time from Amazon the other day. I'd remembered liking the book as a kid, but couldn't recall what the book was about. I'm a few chapters into it, and now I remember why I liked it so much. It's highly imaginative and really quite intriguing.

It's made me think that it's time to slowly start collecting books from my childhood that I would like my kids to read. Do any of these sound familiar?

by Judy Blume:
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing
Superfudge
Freckle Juice
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

by James Howe:
Bunnicula

by Beverly Cleary:
Beezus and Ramona
Ramona the Pest
Socks

by Maurice Sendak:
Where the Wild Things Are

by Sid Fleischman:
The Whipping Boy

by Patricia MacLachlan
Sarah, Plain and Tall

Those are the ones I can remember right off the top of my head. I just hope they're all still in print!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back from CKU

If you read all my blogs, you will see a common theme for today - it's my back-from-CKU exposition...

Anyhoo, I had a blast! We came back with roughly $350 worth of various and assorted goodies, from albums to rubons to paint daubers. We stayed at the lovely Opryland Hotel, indulged in decadent Haagen-Das ice cream (who knew there was such a thing as Bailey's ice cream??), and gabbed about life in general until late at night. It was amazing. I so desperately needed that break.

I also got ideas for Christmas presents - but I'm not telling here! :) Don't worry - it actually doesn't involve scrapbooks.

On other slightly different topics. . . I've been wondering what to do with my photographs of stuff - flowers and bridges and night lights, et al. I had a brilliant idea - I will put them into a digital scrapbook! After I collect 50 or so, I will send it to a book binding company and have it bound into a coffee table book. Coolness, huh?

Anyone want a coffee table book?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Country

I'm going to start a new country, and I'm going to call it Procrasti-Nation. Okay, bad pun.

It might be my worst habit. I am notorious for taking my good ol' easy time, then rushing around at the last minute.

Which is exactly where I am right now - rushing. I'm scrambling to get my pictures together before Wednesday. Then I have to pack my scrapbook bag (and my clothes). Jeff's birthday is tomorrow, so I won't have much time then.

So why am I blogging????

Friday, August 17, 2007

Primer on Email Etiquette

I'm a little hot under the collar right now, and the air conditioner is working just fine. I received an email that wasn't intended for me - but it was about me. It came from someone I genuinely liked, and that someone was rudely accusing me of lying.

I didn't lie to her. The situation was beyond my control. Furthermore, had she responded months ago to the questions I'd asked, the problem would probably have already been rectified.

In case you didn't already know, it is extremely unprofessional to bad-mouth anyone via email. Not only do you run the risk of the wrong person seeing it, you also make yourself look very stupid.

I emailed back with a simple message: "I'm confused. Are you talking about me or someone else?" I don't expect a response, but I'm sure she'll get the hint.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On scrapbooking (and air conditioning)

Thank God, the air conditioner is fixed. It is really beyond how people survived 100 years ago - wearing layers and layers of clothing with no a/c. Am I spoiled? Yeah, probably. Do I care? No.

Now that I can actually work in the computer room again (it's been unbearable the last several days), I have to spend some serious time working out my photographs for CKU next week. I have seven days left to get ready, and a LOT to be done. I must admit that I am looking forward to the weekend. The intense scrapbooking sessions always seem to awaken my inner artist. There's just something special about the process - it's way more than the glue dots and papers. Each page I complete is leaving behind a piece of myself for future generations. I hope they enjoy the glimpse of the life I live right now. Sometimes I wonder how long the albums will last and who will eventually see them. It's nice to think that they will become some descendant's treasured books.

I don't always journal on my pages, but it is easily my favorite part of the process. Writing has always come naturally to me, and I enjoy telling the stories of my everyday life - sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. Those words are the soul of my scrapbooks. Without them, there just wouldn't be the same life. I will likely never be the type who gets published in every magazine, but I'm okay with that. I know I'm reasonably good at what I do, but even if I wasn't it wouldn't matter. Being famous isn't the point, is it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yippieeeee!!!!

Thank goodness, the air conditioner is finally fixed. It's slowly cooling down. The thermostat maxed out at 95, so I don't know how hot it actually got in here. It's back into the 80s now. Amazing how cool that feels after 95+!

Now I'm off to the PC. I need to work on my pictures for Creating Keepsakes University (CKU). I have barely scratched the surface of what needs to be done, and I only have a week left. Yikes!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Day Three

Still no a/c. The repairman came back fairly early this morning, only to tell me that the fan motor was burned out. Turns out it's a special, oddball motor. They only see a couple every year. He didn't have any in stock and had to order them from Chattanooga.

Naturally.

I have the crappiest luck. I just had a feeling that it wouldn't get fixed. Again. It has been an utterly miserable day. Since I work from home, there is no escape. My car doesn't even have air conditioning. The best I could do was lunch at Subway and supper at Taco Bell. Then I hung out at Wal-Mart for an hour or so, until I'd looked at everything I could possibly want to see.

I got home, planning to hop into a cold shower. Guess what? It's so hot that even the water in the lines was warm!

Yes, I know I'm whining, and I don't give a d*mn. I simply do not handle heat well. And it seems like every year this stupid air conditioner goes out during the hottest time of the summer. This has been by far the worst episode. It's never taken so long to fix it before. I'm just praying that they'll be here in the morning and I don't have to wait all afternoon for the repairman.

I need football season, and orange leaves, and crisp breezes. I need cold, clear autumn mornings, hot apple cider, and chili cooking on the stove. I need to wear my comfy old Harding sweatshirt, and my pink windbreaker, and my ratty brown Doc Marten wannabes.

In the meantime, I need Prozac. Better yet - tranquilizers. Put me in a coma until October. Please!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Now I really, really, REALLY hate the summer!

We spent $170 for our a/c to be fixed. It worked for about twelve hours. Now it's dead again. We do not have the money to fix it. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to fix it, which means trying to get ready for church in a stinky, sweaty house.

Excuse me while I go cry.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I REALLY hate the summer!

Our temps have been hovering at 100 degrees. Heat index is upwards of 105.


Would you believe that our air conditioner has gone out? The repairman is here. I couldn't believe he was working on the weekend. I was so grateful! I just hope it's fixable. I don't think I could take a whole weekend of this.

Dear Lord, please make fall come quickly!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

OW!!!

I hurt all over! I don't mean a little irritating hurt - I mean aching down to my bone marrow hurt. My butt, my arms, my neck, my legs, my shoulders, my waist - all of it. Yeeee-ouch!!!

The cause of all this agony can be contained in a small box of free weights and one DVD case. In an attempt to improve upon my shapeless self, I bought the newest FIRM series - if you are up watching infomercials at the ungodly hour of 6am, you'll know what I'm talking about. I had an older set, but my dearest son accidentally broke one of the DVDs. Besides, I wanted something new and different to motivate.

The cost of motivation is high! I am going to become a stockholder for FlexAll at the rate I'm using the stuff. I expect the soreness to wane eventually. I'm so horribly out of shape (but really, when have I ever been in shape?) that it doesn't exactly come as a surprise that the workouts are kicking my tail with a vengeance.

I'm telling myself this is all a good thing. Soon enough I will start seeing results, and the lovely new me will be worth all the pain and gain.

In the meantime, bring on the FlexAll!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Invention

They've invented self-cleaning ovens. Now will someone please invent a self-cleaning house?? It never ends. Jeff is off work today, and by tomorrow my house is going to look like leftovers from a trailer park hit by a tornado. There's laundry to fold, dishes to wash, carpet to vacuum, tile to mop, supper to cook, sheets to change, furniture to dust....

I'm getting tired just thinking about it. One of these days when I strike it rich (ha!) I am hiring a maid.

And I will not be the type who cleans the house before the maid gets here, either.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Recipes

I haven't posted much in the way of cooking goodness lately, and since I've tried several new recipes in the last few weeks, I thought it was high time to share the wealth.

Aromatic Couscous & Veggies

3/4 c . orange juice
1/2 c. water
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. whole-wheat couscous
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 med. zucchini, cut into 1/4-in slices
1 med. yellow squash, cut into 1/4-in slices
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes

Bring the orange juice, water, and 1/2 tsp. of salt to boil in a small saucepan. Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff couscous with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add zuchcini, squash, onion, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, cayenne, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies start to soften. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Serves 4. PER SERVING (3/4 c. couscous & 1 1/4 c. veggie mixture): 366 cal, 7g fat, 11g fiber. 7 WW pts per serving.


Chicken Souvlaki with Rice and Yogurt Sauce

8 chicken tenders
2 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 c. plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 c. finely diced cucumber
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. olive oil
2 c. hot cooked brown rice
2 c. shredded lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion

Combine chicken, vinegar, 1 minced garlic clove, oregano, and 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine yogurt, cucumber, mint, remaining minced garlic clover, and remaining salt and pepper in small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side.

Arrange 1/2 c. rice on each of 4 plates; top with 1/2 c. shredded lettuce, 2 chicken tenders, 1/4 of tomato and onion, and 1/4 c. of yogurt sauce.

Serves 4. PER SERVING: 282 cal, 6g fat, 4g fiber. 5 WW pts per serving.


Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes

2 c. shredded cooked skinless chicken breast
20 small seedless grapes, halved
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 onion, grated
1/4 c. plain fat-free yogurt
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 c. mesclun salad greens

Combine chicken, grapes, carrot, celery, parsley, and lemon juice in medium bowl.

Combine onion, yogurt, curry powder, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss to combine. Divide mesclum among 4 salad plates and top with chicken salad.

Serves 4. PER SERVING: 171 cal, 4g fat, 2g fiber. 3 WW pts.

(Note: I add 1/4 c. fat-free Miracle Whip to keep the salad from being too dry. It does not affect points.)


All these recipes came from Weight Watchers Ultimate Flex & Core Cookbook.

Monday, July 23, 2007

So Much to Do...

So little time.

I really hate gospel meetings. I know, I know - I should be thrilled to listen to God's word, right? I do enjoy that - I just hate being subjected to four days of some country preacher's soapboxes. That's what our gospel meetings usually entail. It completely shot my whole week. So now I have to play catch-up.

Besides the usual mounds of housework, I have to prepare my "homework" for Creating Keepsakes University. I'm actually quite excited about it - Mom & I are going in August. Friday we'll be taking various classes, and Saturday we'll be making an entire album. To prepare, we have to collect quite a few pictures, all specific subjects and sizes. I'll be helping Mom do the editing on hers, since she'll never figure that out on her own, and I'm the one with Photoshop, anyway.

If I'm lucky, my new workout equipment will come in the mail this week. I ordered the new FIRM set that you see on the infomercials when you're awake at 4:30 in the morning. (Should I say if?) I know it will kick my tail, but the new versions have an "express option" that cuts the workout time in half. Otherwise I'd never have ordered them. 55 minutes is longer than I can spend or survive!

My stomach hurts. It kept me up all night, too. Ugh.

I can be really random, can't I?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Don't worry - I'm not going to put up spoilers just yet.

As I'd planned, I stayed up all night to read the book. It took roughly 5 1/2 hours. (Granted, I'm a pretty fast reader.) It was everything I'd hoped for and expected from the last book. Rowling is simply brilliant. Don't think I've ever read anything that engrossing. I started crying a hundred pages or so from the end and didn't stop until I read the last words and closed the book. At one point, I was absolutely sobbing. No book has ever made me cry like that before.

I truly hope she decides to create a totally new world and a new series of books. It would be a shame if this is the last we see of J. K. Rowling.

Now I'm off to start Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. That will take considerably longer; I believe there's 14 books in the series, with the last coming out in November. Never saw myself as a fantasy fan, but if you like Harry Potter, you will most likely enjoy the Goodkind books as well. He, too, will be wrapping up the series this year - an end to a long, arduous, exhilarating, and sometimes heart-breaking journey. I'm looking forward to it.


On a slightly different note - I had a fabulous time last night. I tried tofu for the time (loved it), saw the HP movie (it was very much like I'd imagined in the book), and most importantly, gabbed for several hours with a friend that I believe is a "kindred spirit." It's been a long, long time since I had that much fun crammed into one evening. Probably going to make this week feel rather mundane! LOL

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Big Day Tomorrow!

I am so excited about tomorrow I can hardly stand myself. A friend is meeting me tomorrow afternoon, and we are going to see the new Harry Potter movie, eat at PF Chang's (a new experience for me), and . . . drum roll, please. . . wait in line at midnight to pick up the newest and last Harry Potter book! I am just nutty excited. I get to spend time with a friend, catch a movie, eat out, get a new book. . . and spend time with a friend. That is a rare thing for me these days.

Don't expect to hear from me anytime soon. I plan on staying up all night tomorrow to read the book!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Thirty

So it's really not as bad as people make it out to be. I feel no different now than I did before my birthday. Actually, it was a pretty decent day. I had a couple of disappointments, but since my birthdays are historically rotten, thirty was a definite improvement.

Jeff got me a book I wanted and a CD set from one of my fave Christian groups. I was impressed, because I had given him no clues whatsoever. We headed to Chattanooga and saw Transformers, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was probably the best movie I've seen since Star Wars Episode I. 'Course, I am a child of the 80s - as were most of the people in the theater. I was amused - the only kids there were with their 30-something parents, and there were multiple mobs of 30-something guys there. It was just plain cool.

I really really really wanted hibachi grill for lunch, but the place was actually closed. I was annoyed - after all, they're Japanese, not American! It was the only restaurant in town that was closed for the holiday. Grr.... I told Jeff he'd better give me a rain check, and we wound up at Chili's.

We don't go to Chattanooga without hitting the bookstore, and I bought Bebo some books from the clearance rack. He hasn't put one of them down since I gave it to him. Cute. Then came the sucky part - I had to buy something to wear to a wedding I'm going to tomorrow. I really despise clothes shopping. It's frustrating and depressing. If I find something that fits, it's cut too low in the neckline. Makes me utterly crazy. But I did manage to find an acceptable (if somewhat dorky) shirt to wear. I'd like to beat in the brains of today's fashion designers.

We went to church - oh, rah! - ate out at Shoney's - oh, rah! - and attempted to set off a few fireworks in the backyard. Braeden was, as usual, terrified, so we aborted the show early and called it a night.

So that was how I closed out my 30th birthday. No big deal, really. I was surprised (and maybe a little disappointed) that no one at church noticed, 'cept my Grannie and Peepop. Oh, well. Such is my life - I tend to fly under most people's radar.

Yawn. Must go back to work now. Ugh. Fridays suck.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Baaaaad Monday

I am not having a good day. (I am also a master of understatement.)

I woke up 15 minutes early from a ridiculous bad dream about an HIV-positive vampire who broke into my house and said he'd bite me or my son. If I didn't choose, he'd kill us both. I couldn't go back to sleep.

After 15 minutes of futilely trying to go back to sleep, I finally stumbled out of bed and into the kitchen, where I began to gather up the trash. On the way out the back door, I managed to piss off a wasp. It proceeded to sting me on the temple a quarter an inch from the edge of my eye. Holy crap, that hurt!

I'm supposed to be preparing a major training presentation for Thursday, and I can't seem to get going on it - I've had one stupid interruption after another. I'm going to wind up waiting until this evening when nobody can call and bother me.

Jeff was supposed to get paid today, but because of tax confusion - he's working in Alabama and Tennessee - they didn't do his check. The accountant is trying to figure out how to tax his income. It may be tomorrow before he gets paid - and we need it now!

Oh, I need a nap!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bible Class

I've been teaching a girls' class this summer, using the book "For Young Women Only." While it's been enjoyable so far, this morning's topic is going to be difficult at best, impossible at worst. I almost skipped this chapter, but then decided I'd better not.

The topic is modesty - but it goes deeper than that. The point of the book is how guys react to girls and the things they do. I already know I'm going to offend several girls this morning - probably the ones wearing necklines so low I can see their underwear. In fact, if I don't have a few parents breathing down my neck afterwards, I'll be more than a little surprised.

I know that in my day I have worn things I shouldn't, but the reality is that fashion has changed significantly in the last ten years. I simply didn't have the same choices when I was in high school. Even today, as a Big Girl, I find shopping for clothes to be a complete exercise in futility. You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to find a shirt without a plunging neckline, or a pair of shorts that didn't threaten to reveal your underwear to the world. All I can say is thank God for capris. I have approximately 5 shirts in my closet. I own one pair of jeans and one pair of capris. That's it. That's all I can find to wear that doesn't make me feel any more self-conscious than I already am.

Back to the topic at hand...

How am I supposed to convinced these girls to tone it down and cover it up when their parents are letting them out of the house looking like that? How do I get through to them that the boys around them are having a hard time worshipping in church because of the girls' attire? (I know it's tough on the guys - I've been watching their reactions for months now.) I just have a distinct feeling I am going to be the target of some serious post-class grumbling.

Oh, well. It needs to be said, and I guess somebody's gotta do it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

On my mind today

I freely admit that my mind wanders a lot, especially when it's quiet at home, with nothing going on, and XM radio playing quietly in the background.

Topics of interest swirling around in my gray matter tonight include:

Jeff sent me flowers the other day. I wonder how long they'll last. More importantly, I wonder how long his niceness will last this time...

My sister is an absolute idiot. I used to think she was smart. I've changed my mind.

I need to get Braeden's new dresser cleaned out and loaded up. Dad brought it a couple of weeks ago, but I still haven't had a chance to put it to use.

I hate VBS. Our VBS sucks. Really. I don't know why we don't just let it die already.

Do I eat the cookie dough ice cream in the fridge or should I take Bebo to Sonic for a treat?

Is it worth a trip to Wal-Mart to buy the 50-cent box of spaghetti that I forgot when I went grocery shopping?

I really can't wait for my birthday. I am so excited about seeing Transformers, but I can't decide what to do about Braeden. He won't sit through the movie, but I don't want him at a babysitter's all day either. Maybe we'll catch a matinee and then get Bebo for the fireworks. I'm looking forward to taking pictures again. Hopefully I can snag a good spot without too much light to watch.

Did Doege read my blog?

I hope the ant traps work in the kitchen. We go through the bug problem every summer. It's a fact of life when you live in an old, uninsulated house - no matter how clean you keep the kitchen. If I absolutely have to, I'll call the exteriminator. I just hate the smell of their spray.

I really like listening to the US Country radio station on XM. It's all the 80s & 90s stuff that I grew up with. It's country before it got obnoxious.

I feel so sorry for my poor dog. We still haven't figured out exactly what happened, but it looks like someone tried to detach his tail from his body. He had a massive gash that went almost completely around the base of his tail. The skin separated nearly two inches. The poor fella got shaved around his butt, so it looks like somebody tried to give him a French poodle haircut and gave up. He's got tons of stitches, and thankfully he hasn't tried to chew them out. I just feel awful for him - he can't get comfortable no matter how he sits, and he's afraid to go outside. I really wish I knew what happened to him. The cut was fairly clean, which makes me think a person was responsible - but Buddy is so territorial that I can't imagine he'd let anyone get close enough to hurt him without chewing the idiot to pieces. Guess I'll never know what caused it.

That's enough randomness for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home

Funny, isn't it? You don't necessarily have to like home, but it still feels good to return when you've been gone for a while. There's just something about your own pillow, and your own recliner, and your own hairdryer. After a few days on the road, those things feel comfortable like an old friend.

Our trip went as well as could be expected. Bebo & Gabe went from giggling to fighting and back to giggling the entire trip. Katie spent a lot of time blowing raspberries, which left drool running down her chin and Braeden cackling like an old hen. Actually, when you consider that Gabe & Katie are not the road warriors that my child is, the journey went quite well. We arrived at my aunt's house Saturday morning to find Grandma already there. Bless her, she looks so tired now. The years have certainly caught up to her. She's lost weight and moves very, very slowly - and only with much assistance. Even so, she was glad to see the little ones. We only stayed a few hours. It was obvious that she was getting tired, and we had a long way back, anyhow.

More than a few comical moments occurred, so allow me to share a couple:

One night I had the kids in the room with me while Mom was getting ready. I was tweezing my brows in the mirror, and Gabe asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he said, "Cool! I want to do that when I'm a girl!"

I hadn't said much to Braeden about our trip, because I didn't want to listen to an endless barrage of "We go see Grandma Gates now?" Mom, however, told Gabe all about it, so he was very excited about seeing her. It didn't take long for his exuberance to rub off on Bebo, and before long I heard them singing "Grandma Gates, Grandma Gates, Grandma Grandma Grandma Gates" to the tune of the old 70s-version Spiderman cartoon. I had to laugh - Braeden has the remarkable ability to sing a tune perfectly.

I closed the weekend feeling quite proud of Bebo. He behaved very well, for an utterly exhausted 4-year-old who'd been tied to a carseat for four days straight.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oklahoma

...where the wind comes sweepin' down the plane....

I am heading out with Mom, Braeden, and my sister's two youngest kids. They've never met my grandmother, and it's been about six years since I last saw her. It will be a wild trip - we're leaving this afternoon and will return Sunday. Keep us in your prayers - for a safe trip and quiet kids!

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Obsessive Personality

It's really Kevin's fault. He's a good friend of my husband's. He loaned us Smallville seasons 1 & 2. It took - oh, about half the first episode to get totally and completely hooked. I have a bit of a thing for the whole superhero genre, anyway. The Superman-as-a-kid angle is simply fun. It doesn't hurt that Tom Welling is so stinkin' hot. Be still, my beating heart!

Anyway, so now that I'm reduced to watching reruns while waiting for the start of Season 7 this fall, I've let myself slip into total Smallville stupidity. I'm watching all the old shows again, regularly checking in at the cult websites for rumors & spoilers (Supergirl is going to make an appearance next season), and anxiously awaiting September.

All this is actually symptomatic of my overly obsessive personality. When I get into something, I really get into it. I'm doing the same thing with the Harry Potter books. I read all six books, then the speculations book that Jeff got me for our anniversary, and I am currently halfway through Book 3 again. Yeah, I know - it makes me utterly dorky. But I felt an overwhelming compulsion to scour the books one more time, searching for the elusive clue that might tell me if Sirius is really dead, and who might die. . . well, you get the picture. It seems that I move from one obsession to the next, happily immersing myself in a universe far more exciting than my own. I've done it with books, TV series, video games. . .

Now if I could just channel that same energy into keeping my house clean!

Friday, June 8, 2007

You put your left foot in....

I love light-hearted humor. Mom sent this to me today, and even though rarely give heed to forwards, this one just cracked me up. Enjoy!

Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Shut up. You know it's funny.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Not a Reject

Something interesting and entirely unexpected happened in my last two days at the office.

People were actually happy to see me. It caught me completely off guard to have so many folks walk in the office, see me sitting there, and say something like - "Where have you been? We've missed you!" I even had one person try to convince my boss to make me work in the office again!

See, here's the thing: I am actually a shy person. I clam up like a frightened mollusk when I'm forced to endure parties. I don't mingle well when mingling is the only purpose. Even though I occasionally enjoy an alcoholic drink, I'm not at all interested in social drinking. You couldn't drag me into a club or a bar if you chained me to a dolly and rolled me in the door. Because of this, a certain someone (who shall remain unnamed) has informed me that I am a social reject; I'm anti-social and people don't like me.

I was starting to believe this person - until today. I do enjoy people; I am just more comfortable in controlled situations, particularly when it's one-on-one. And people do like me. Surprise, surprise.

I really needed that!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ugh

I gotta get up early 3 days in a row.

I happen to work with one of my only friends in this town, and she's going on a cruise this weekend. Lucky dog. Since it is vacation time, half the office is going to be out, too. This left me to fill in at the office. Naturally, I would not deprive my friend of her cruise, but I have grown fond of my solitude at home. It's so much more pleasant not to have to answer stupid questions face-to-face (I can stick out my tongue when I'm on the phone), and I love not having to wear makeup. Now I have to get up, dress up, and otherwise put on a fake smile for every character that walks in the door - and let me tell, I will see quite a few. Because my employer is not exactly high-paying, we get lots of riff-raff, and their lives are colorful to say the least.

I suppose it will be nice to see people - Jeff thinks I need more interaction than I get - though I've been away from the office for nearly a year now, and the vast majority of the people I knew are long gone. Ah, well. It's just Thursday, Friday and Monday. I suppose it could be worse. I just hope that the end of the month duties that she sees to don't wind up slamming me along with the regular job that I have to do.

Perhaps by this weekend I'll have an opportunity to take some pictures (and edit the ones I've already taken). Though I should be doing housework, scrapbooking and picture-taking definitely hits higher on my list of Fun Things to Do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Every now and then I get in these phases where I can't sleep. Usually I can just take a light dose of an OTC sleeping pill (like Unisom) for about a week and I'm fine.

Not so this time.

I was so tired all day yesterday that I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and just stay there. But I was strong! I resisted! Surely if I didn't take a nap I'd sleep well come bedtime. I even took my trusty little blue pill. I yawned all the way to bed last night, laid my head on the pillow, and

ding!

I was wide awake.

I tossed and turned, stared at the clock, counted sheep, recited poetry... nothing helped. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning I finally drifted into la-la land, but didn't stay there. I still woke up several times after that.

Somehow I stumbled out of the bed and made my way to computer this morning. I'm struggling to keep my eyes open again, kind of like Mr. Bean at church (if you haven't seen that sketch, you simply must. It's hysterical.)


Tonight, I'm taking two pills - at 5pm!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

It's been a long time since I felt like scrapbooking. After the convention, though, I felt inspired, and let me tell you - I have been going to town on some scrapbook pages!

I decided to make an album just about myself. Everything to this point has been my son, or my family, or something besides me. So I bought a funky pink plaid binder just for pages about me. So far, there's only one pic of me in there, but that's okay. I'm giving myself permission to scrap about the things I love and the things I hate. It's not about being witty, or having perfect design, or even getting published. It's about giving my grandchildren and great-grandchildren a picture of myself. It's about creating something that people can thumb through long after I'm gone and learn about who I was. No, I don't think I'm anything fascinating or worthy of acclaim, but I'd like to think that my descendants will be as interested in me as I am in my ancestors.

In all this, I'm learning to enjoy it again. Because I'm letting all of my pages (not just the ones about myself) be a little more real, I'm finding joy in it again. Sure, there will always be event pages - you know, birthdays and Christmas and first day of school - but I want my books to tell the story of our lives. The everyday things that made us who we were - in 100 years, those will be far more interesting than endless pictures of birthday cakes and candles.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Weight Woes

My heart just isn't in it.

I simply do not have the drive to lose weight. Instead, I'd rather bury myself in an avalanche of Krispy Kremes and pizza. I just don't have the energy to be healthy right now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mom accosted me for not updating my blog, so here goes.

Um. . .

Ah. . .

Well. . .

There's nothing to tell, that's what! I have done a bit of scrapbooking. I hope I can get out with the camera again this weekend. I'm starting to have withdrawal symptoms!

Mostly I'm feeling a little down in the dumps. It's partly the onset of summer. Muggy, steamy, hazy weather does that to me. It's partly because I'm mad at hubby.

Sigh. I need chocolate.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Weight Loss Challenge

I'm officially down 8.2 pounds now. This week will be a challenge, though - Mom & I are going to a scrapbook convention. Though I am eagerly anticipating the weekend of paper and glue, I am not so excited about the food options available to me. Realistically, I don't know what we will get into. We'll be taking some snacks, but meals will be the real problem. With both of us trying to diet, maybe we can keep each other on track. No doubt, it will be a challenge.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Day out with Thomas

Because of circumstances well beyond our control, the trip didn't live up the the expectations we'd had for it. Between sick kids, lawyer's appointments, and a very uncooperative sister, our group was whittled in half. Even though there was a bit of a cloud over the day, we still had a great time.

Words cannot adequately describe my son's obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine (and trains in general), so it goes without saying that he had a blast. The event was held at a railroad museum. It had lots of engines and cars on display, and Braeden took to deciding which one of Thomas's friends each engine was. We rode the train, of course - and had pictures with Sir Topham Hatt & an inflatable Percy (those of you with Thomas-obsessed kids will know exactly what I'm talking about), visited a petting zoo, and tore through a hay maze. Though Branden is almost too old for Thomas, there was no doubt he had a good bit of fun. Bebo was on cloud nine, and is still talking about it today.

There's nothing like seeing the light in your childs eyes when he's doing something he loves. I guess that's why my sister makes me so sad. She's never taken that joy in her own children.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Big Party

Yesterday we went to a party. At least that's what Braeden called it. Actually, it was a smallish carnival set up for the Cornbread Festival. Let me take this moment to reiterate how hilarious I find it that the only thing we have to celebrate is cornbread! But I digress...

Carnivals are interesting things. I suppose if a philosopher-type were to study the psychology of carnivals and how people react to them, it would be an interesting study in human depravity. Throngs of people will spend $4 to ride a cheap, thrown-together kiddie ride that can do little more than some version of running in circles, and they will do it over and over again. They plunk down money for rigged games that only produce cheaply made toys that will burst at the seams if the fuzziness doesn't rub off first and eat food so laden with grease that it makes riding the aforementioned attractions a recipe for a vomit fountain. Lovely, eh?

In spite of the absurdity of the whole thing, there is something about it that's just plain fun. And really, that's why we go, isn't it? Even though it had rained and every step risked soaking my feet in nasty mud (and every ride posed a threat of a wet bottom), and even though I'm on a diet and the funnel cakes were seductively calling my name like a siren, and even though in the back of my mind I kept wondering how much money we were spending - despite all of that, it was a great deal of fun. Just to see Braeden laughing and squealing on the rides, running from one to the next as fast as his skinny legs would carry him was worth any perceived sacrifice on my part.

Maybe that's the real appeal of carnivals - for a few brief moments, even a 30-something can feel like a kid.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

My child is a piece of work. Allow me to illustrate:

Yesterday when I picked him up at the sitter's, she gave me a strange look. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "I didn't expect to see you. Braeden said his daddy was picking him up because you were hurt and had to go to the hospital." Needless to say, I am perfectly okay! No clue where he got that idea!

A few days ago I asked him what he wanted for supper. "A-fee-esa potatoes (fiesta potatoes from Taco Bell) and a drink and a straw for my cup." Guess he was worried he'd have to suck his drink through the lid...

I decided to grill for supper one night, and he wanted to play outside with me. I agreed. Then he asked me if he could play in the dirt. I said no; I didn't want him getting his hands dirty before suppertime. His response? "What about my foot?"

Four-year-olds. Gotta love 'em!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bored, bored, bored

There can be no doubt that Friday is my slowest day. In fact, I've only received one phone call and only four or five emails today. I find myself inventing things to do to earn my paycheck. But I can only invent so much, so here I am, blogging about being bored.

And in that spirit, here are some things I often do when I'm bored. Some are better than others, I admit.
  • Sleep
  • Eat
  • Take pictures of anything and everything
  • Watch Star Trek reruns on TV, or worse -
  • watch the Maury Show
  • Read (currently working on The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien)
  • Surf the internet
  • Drive
  • Sit quietly and do absolutely nothing
  • Stare at the pantry, hoping something delicious will magically appear
  • Go to Wal-Mart
  • Scrapbook
  • Play piano (only when I'm alone - Bebo won't let me play without his "help")
  • Talk to Mom
  • Spend time on Yahoo! Answers

What I should do when I'm bored:

  • Clean the house
  • Catch up on laundry
  • Spend time outside
  • Take pictures
  • Scrapbook
  • Play piano

What's just plain dangerous when I'm bored:

  • Going to Wal-Mart (spend $ I don't have)
  • Eating (gain weight I don't need)
  • Staring at the pantry, hoping for something delicious to magically appear (see above)
  • Watch the Maury Show (lose brain cells)

Oh, will three o'clock never get here???

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

Like everyone else, I'm saddened by the events Monday. My heart goes out to the parents of not only those who died, but also the parents of the killer. They not only lost their son, but have to bear the burden of knowing he was responsible for so many deaths.

I just hope that our lovely politicians don't capitalize on the event in their run for the presidency. That would be the ultimate height of tackiness - and sadly, I expect nothing less from them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

American Idol

I have succumbed.

Didn't think I ever would give in to the American Idol craze. Thought it was dorky. But this season has most definitely drawn me in. I've been eagerly anticipating this week's performances - I couldn't wait to see what the divas would do with country music, and I was excited to see Martina McBride, anyway.

In case you're wondering, I'm all for Melinda to win. Jordin would be a close second. None of the guys are doing anything for me, though I admit that Phil surprised me tonight. Sanjaya lived up to his usual mediocre expectations - so much for his surprise performance last week.

Now I realize that you really care what I think. I promise - no more Idol commentary until the end of the show.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Progress Report

This week: down 1.8 pounds
Total: down 6.2 pounds

I'm averaging 2 pounds a week. I can tolerate that.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Randomness

Not much today. Jeff's parents came for a visit. FedEx will deliver a new camera lens Monday. I got 3 2-gig SD cards for $13 each. I think I'm going to have a good weigh-in Monday if I don't blow it between now and then. It's raining.

That's 'bout it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Revamping Recipes

The downside of the Flex program is that you have to count points for everything - which can be a little complicated when you're trying to deal with casseroles and other multi-ingredient dishes. I finally set up Excel to calculate points per serving for me (never could get the Weight Watchers recipe builder to work) and I've entered all of maybe three recipes so far. It's just a pain in the neck, because you have to get all the nutritional info, blah, blah, blah.

Last night I took what could potentially be a fattening mess of goo and toned it down considerably. It's worth it to reduce the amount of cheese and use low-fat instead of fat-free. The fat-free stuff just doesn't melt. Instead it creates little pockets of cheese-like goop that freakily manages to retain its shape. Ew.

So here ya go: Cheddar Chicken Spaghetti. Sounds delish, eh? Only 5 points per serving!

7 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c. low fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 small jar pimientos, drained
1 c. fat-free milk
1 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken
salt & pepper to taste

Break spaghetti in pieces and cook according to directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine soup, 1 cup cheese, pimientos, milk, chicken, and salt and pepper. Drain spaghetti and mix well. Pour in a greased casserole dish (8x11 would suffice). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c. cheese on top and bake 5 more minutes, or until cheese melts. Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Another Weigh-In

Bad week. No, just bad Amanda. It is so hard to be good! I heard someone say that it's harder for those of us who are addicted to food. Unlike other addictions, you can't just quit eating cold turkey. The source of your problem is always in your face, like it or not.

That being said, I gained .6 lbs. I'm actually happy with that. I wore heavier clothes than usual because of the weather, so in reality I probably just maintained. Given the Easter candy that's been singing my name, the baby shower with ultra-healthy tuna croissants and cake (tongue firmly planted in cheek), and the late-night fast food runs, I am thankful it wasn't far worse. I suppose it's something I will always struggle with.

But this is a new week. I'm going to try planning menus. I should have done that last week, but obviously it didn't happen. Perhaps it will help to plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks.

One more thing. Please pray for my family. My sister is being undeniably stupid right now, and a lot of people stand to get hurt from her shenanigans.