Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Not-Resolutions

It's that time again... the point where I sit quietly, alone in the living room with my dog, cat, and computer, and muse over the year's accomplishments, disappointments, surprises, and challenges. I spent some time reading over old blog posts - an enjoyable experience - and now I suppose it's time for the mandatory resolutions post.

Except I'm not doing resolutions, per se.

You see, a lot of the things I "resolved" to do didn't exactly make me a better person. A lot happened this year, and the vast majority of my list was never even begun. I'm okay with this. In fact, I'm not even going to review what I did right and what I did wrong. Doesn't matter - 2008 is done and over. Can't fix any of it now.

So this year, I am abandoning resolutions. Instead, I have a handful of goals - namely things that will pretty much have to be accomplished in the coming year for life as I know it to continue. Oh, I guess there's a few things that won't stop the world going 'round if I don't do it, but I'd like to, anyway.

1) Cut spending. With a new vehicle, school, and a soon-to-be new rent house, we are going to be very tight on money, at least until Jeff gets out of school.

2) As a family, learn to life a healthy lifestyle. Forget losing weight - that is no longer my primary goal. Yes, it still has to happen, especially if I am going to survive clinicals this fall, but I'm more interested in making my family healthy. We are going to go mostly vegetarian. I will allow my meat-eating husband the occasional steak or chicken, but frankly I am so tired of meat I can't stand the sight any more, and Bebo will hardly touch it anyway. We are also going to find some activities that let us play together as a family. I don't care so much about dedicated exercising as I do about just being active.

3) Keep up my grades - I am terribly pleased with my performance the first semester back, and I'd like to maintain that standard.

4) Read my Bible. I know, I know - this is on my list every year, and I have yet to make it past March. However, I am hoping I have found the key - a chronological Bible. A couple of years ago I bought a daily Bible, but since each day read from the New and Old Testaments, I found it hard to shift gears. The chronological Bible might suit my brain waves a bit better.

And that's it. Mostly it's stuff I have to do anyway. No numbers. No quantifiers. Just a few goals for the coming year.

I have to say, my outlook for 2009 is better than any year before it. My marriage is great, our future is looking up, and changes are coming that will hopefully make our lives better and easier. I'm excited about what is to come.

Life is good. Praise God!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home

You don't have to like the place to you live to be happy to return to your home - especially after a week of sleeping on uncomfortable beds, miles and miles of travel, and food that just ain't your thang. Seriously, every year I think I might just say to heck with Christmas altogether - the travel just makes me insane. Guess I'm a bit too much of a homebody. I was so glad to come home that the first thing I did was take a nap in my own bed - just to say I had slept in my bed again!

Besides the load of gifts that found their way to my humble abode, a new-to-us vehicle is now parked in the driveway. Jeff's dad agreed to sell us his F150. My sweet hubby is thrilled beyond all reason. I would be ecstatic, too, but I am coming just shy of that emotion - mostly because I can't drive a manual transmission. I will learn, though! It has 120,000 miles, but is in fabulous condition, and looks awesome. I have wanted a truck for so long, and it is going to come in handy soon, because...

unless something changes, we will be moving in March!! We've found a nice little rent house. It's smaller than our place, but has a big yard and is a bit off the beaten path. No more crazy people knocking on the door at all hours of the night asking for handouts. Braeden can play outside without me being worried sick that someone would drive through the yard and hit him. Plus it's only 3 year old - no frizzled wiring, stinky mold, or busted-up floors. I am sooo excited!

Now I have to go on a search and destroy mission through ten years of accumulated junk. We'll be having a yard sale probably around mid-February, in case you are interested. ;)

Gotta go now... time to reload the fridge.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

North Pole Limited

Twenty-two bucks a ticket, but absolutely worth it. Seeing Braeden clap his hands over his mouth in sheer ecstasy, watching him climb over Daddy in the seat to get a glimpse of Santa, listening to him jingle the little bell over and over - yeah. It was definitely worth it.

Each kid got one-on-one time with Santa. They served us gingerbread cookies and chocolate milk. "Elves" told stories and sang songs - heck, even my non-singing child joined in! It was brilliant, and I am so glad we went.

Early Christmas

Jeff and I agreed to buy each other one small present for Christmas - partly to save money, and partly because there just wasn't anything we either wanted or needed. My request was for the Charlie Brown Holiday Collection. In fact, I've been asking for the cartoons for at least three years now, so he knew he better get it this time. :) His only request was for a new set of poker chips.

A couple of nights ago, Jeff took Braeden to Wal-Mart and purchased my Christmas present. The first words out of Braeden's mouth were "Mommy, we got you a Christmas present and it's a surprise!" Despite his eagerness, he managed to keep the contents of the present a secret.

Today I went out to buy the poker chips. I made the mistake of taking Braeden with me. I gave him strict instructions not to even mention the present, much less spill the beans. So what does he do?

"Daddy! Mommy got you a Christmas present! It's a poker game!"

Rats! I mean, we knew what we were getting each other, but it would have been nice if he could keep it quiet for at least ten minutes! So we went ahead and traded presents, and Bebo and I are happily watching Linus tell about the meaning of Christmas.

And next year, Braeden will not go shopping with us!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa on the Polar Express

Seriously, now - it just doesn't get any better. Personal, one-on-one time with a fabulous Santa, a ride on the Polar Express, chocolate milk, a gingerbread cookie, and wearing pajamas all day long.

Yeah. Life is good!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good News

Well, for me, at least. :)

1) I got all A's for my classes this semester. I cannot begin to tell you how happy that makes me.

2) Sande Krieger, a digital designer at Two Peas, asked me to design for her. Cool beans! I'm excited about it. (Page below.)

3) The Transformers bike arrived. Jeff got it put together. No pieces were missing. The evidence is safely hidden.

4) This is my last week of work before two weeks of vacation!!!

5) Christmastime is here.... happiness and cheer... fun for all that children call their favorite time of year...

Oops. Just lapsed into a Peanuts haze for a moment.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Newest Family Member

My family has been adopted by a very skinny yellow tom cat. The little guy was stuck underneath the house, and because of the bitter cold, Jeff (against his better judgement) fed him and moved the doghouse to the front porch so the cat wouldn't be so cold.

Now, this little guy is uber-friendly. In fact, I've never seen such a good-natured, loving cat. He snuggles on everyone - including my dog! I think he must have been somebody's pet, because he hasn't jumped on the furniture one time (except for taking over Braeden's little Thomas chair), and even though he has claws, he hasn't scratched anyone or anything (except for Buddy, and that was because he accidentally stepped on the cat). And even though we'll likely be moving to a rent house soon that won't allow cats, we just didn't have the heart to make him stay outside.

So I asked Braeden what he thought we should call the cat. After all, even a short-term pet needs a name.

"Lee," he said (except it came out "Wee").

"Lee?" I asked. "Why Lee?"

"It's a good name."


"But he needs a middle name and a last name, too."

"What should be his middle name?"

"James." (James is his middle name. Lee is mine.)

At this point, I am thinking it is a bit odd and maybe even a little boring to call the cat Lee James. So I asked him what the cat's last name should be, fully expecting him to reply with our last name. What he said made me fall out of my chair laughing. With a perfectly straight face, and as matter-of-factly as can be, he replied, "Sizzle."

"Sizzle?!?! You want to call the cat Lee James Sizzle?!"

"Yup. It's a good name."

And with a name like that, there's no way I can get rid of the little guy now!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Headlines on Yahoo!

Note the three that are on the news page of Yahoo! this morning:

Poll: Calif. gay marriage ban driven by religion

Couples staying together because of poor economy

Abortion not seen linked with depression

Folks... if you don't believe that a Christian world view is under attack, think again. The media no longer has any compunction about criminalizing Christians for our beliefs and actions. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. Does it you?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snow Days & Bicycles

Wouldn't ya know it? School was out yesterday. It was obvious - plastered all over the local news. Today, I searched all the same venues (we don't have a radio), finally concluded that school was in session, and sent a cold, unhappy husband off to take the boy-child to school.

Then I got this call from an even unhappier husband. Turns out school was cancelled after all. It wasn't on the news, the school website - anywhere. They tell me there's a number to call, but I couldn't find that, either. At any rate, the unhappy husband is (happily) sleeping, and the boy-child is "playing" Transformers on the XBox. For a kid who can't read, he's doing remarkably well. Truth be told, I think he just likes destroying things, rather than going to all the trouble of completing a mission.

Wouldn't ya know it (part 2)? The awesome Optimus Prime bike that I ordered for the aforementioned boy-child is arriving here. Today. How in the world I am going to keep it a secret from him, I do not know. Of all days for the county to decide to have a snow day!

And since I need to get back to the important stuff (work & study), I will leave you will another picture of my cute little self. Ta-ta!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Here's a bit that I've worked on this week - and I'm thinking I might see if the Pope will call it a miracle. Two pages done in a week like I've had is pretty impressive! LOL

Monday, November 24, 2008

In the news today...

Cops Close Church Service

November 23, 2008 - 7:09 PM

Half the members belonging to Avondale Church of Christ held Sunday services outside today. They're singing outside because Chattanooga police shut down service inside and removed everyone from church this morning.

We learned it's part of an ongoing battle that restarted when minister Gerald Taylor along with part of the congregation came to worship today after a year-long battle over the pulpit.

"Its not the thing that usually happens at a church but keep in mind churches involve in spiritual warfare and it will show its face in different ways," says Avondale's Minister Gerald Taylor.

This church's warfare has been going on for four years.

"There have been two churches been worshiping at this church like I said one doesnt want elders, others do and some just standing back waiting for us to duke it out like Mighty mouse and fight to the finish," says Avondale Elder Frank Bradford.

Members say leadership divided in 1994 because they didn't agree on the church's direction. The dispute prompted a civil lawsuit between members of the men's business committee, church elders and Minister Taylor.

A judge eventually turned the church over to Samuel Cosely and John Tucker, who were part of the Mens Business Committee.

"The courts gave the whole church over to two men, two men one is a bookkeeper the other is a jackleg preacher. They don't want spiritual leadership they cant endure sound doctrine so they formed a social club," says Bradford.

However, some members say this fight is far from finished. Minister Gerald Taylor says the Supreme Court overturned the originally ruling and named him the rightful minister of Avondale Church of Christ. But when he came to claim his position in the pulpit it resulted in this.

"Hopefully we can begin a discussion. Toward some kind of resolution," says Taylor.

Today we tried to talk to Samuel Cosely, John Taylor and their attorney John Anderson. All three of them said no comment.

Seriously? They went to court over whether or not to have an eldership? Whatever happened to submitting to the eldership? And that whole part about having an eldership in the first place? And not taking your brother to court? I've heard all kinds of ridiculous stuff from the CoC in this area, but this one really takes the cake.

And we wonder why it seems that the church of Christ is dying out, when this is the example we're plastering across the news! (mental headslap)


Did you hear that?

Yeah. It was my brain exploding. Too much data. I overwhelmed it, and it crashed. . . and burned.

Ohhhhhhhh, I am so tired! I feel like I'm in an absurd race against time to cram as much information as possible into my little pea-brain over the next two weeks. I've been doing well this semester, but the finals are comprehensive, and that means a whole lot of review has to happen. I took off Wednesday so I could get at least two tests out of the way. When I get back, then I have to worry about finals. I'm going to make arrangements today to get proctors for nutrition and A&P.

I know now that my hopes for a quiet, restful Thanksgiving were merely pipe dreams. I'll be toting along the full backpack of textbooks and notebooks, and hoping to squeeze in study time between the turkey feast and Black Friday shopping. (Hey, a girl's gotta have her priorites!)

But you know, for all my complaining, whining, and general fussing, I have actually enjoyed all the insanity. It is so satisfying to be learning again - I guess I'll always be a student at heart, if not in name. And besides that, I'm feeling pretty confident in my ability to snag a spot in the program next fall. I'm excited about the shopping process - I'll have to buy everything from a laptop to a stethoscope.

For now, though, I have to get back to work. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks - there is much to do!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Go Elf Yourself!

I jumped in the game a little too late to do one of these last year - is it not the cutest thing ever? I just wish my face didn't look so bizarrely orange. And I didn't put myself in the middle - the program did that. (Though I am kinda the boss, so maybe that's appropriate.)

Go Elf Yourself!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Braeden-isms

Oh, the things a kindergartener learns!!!

I picked him up from school yesterday and made a stop at the bank. He was begging for a sucker, and I told him he could have one only if the clerk offered. She didn't. I thought the ensuing meltdown would distinegrate the floor and everything around us. I told him he could have a piece of Halloween candy when we got home. He chilled, and picked out a pack of Skittles as soon as we walked in the door.

A few minutes later, he appears with a pack of Reese's Pieces. "Please open these, Mommy."

"Nope. I said you could have one piece. That's enough for now."



"I'll be your best friend!"


"I don't like you anymore."

"I thought you were going to be my best friend!"

"Not now. You told me no!"

And so it goes...

Later in the evening, the dog ate Braeden's supper - the last can of Spaghettios. (Now before you start fussing, I have the pickiest kid in the universe, and I will give him almost anything if he will just eat something.) That meltdown was worse than the first one, except this time I actually felt bad for him. When he calmed down, I heard him yelling at the dog. I told him to chill out, and he said, "Mommy, Buddy is a bad dog. He disobeyed the rules. He disobeyed Jesus and God."

I couldn't quite hold back the chuckle that escaped over that one. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hybrid (aka, Bi-Scraptual)

It's only natural that in our digital age, art would also take on a digital slant. This has certainly been true of scrapbooking, but somewhat like an older generation who resisted leaving their rotary phones, some scrapbookers actually seem to feel threatened by digital scrapbooking. I've heard all kinds of arguments - ranging from "digital elements will be the end of our beloved paper products!" to "It's just not scrapbooking if you can't touch it."

I straddle the fence on this "issue" - because I love both forms. I like to say I am a bi-scraptual. :) Now that I have a really fabulous printer, I can actually combine the two forms and get the best of both worlds. Until today, I hadn't made the jump because I kept over-thinking the process.

I wanted to do paper. I have missed that side of it tremendously, and besides all that, I seriously need to thin out my stash. BUT - as usual, nothing I had actually matched the colors for the week. So I mapped out the design, adjusted papers in PSE to (mostly) match, printed out what I needed, and stuck on the letters, photo turns, and brads. Voila! Except for a slight title crisis, it all came together nicely. And I have to say, I'm patting myself on the back for the clever title. LOL

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jumping through Hoops

Yup. Today my official job title is "acrobat" - because all day I've been jumping through hoops to get everything lined up for nursing school. And that's just the application process!

How's this for goofy? I have Comp 2, Honors English, and a CLEP credit for Comp 1. But because the CLEP didn't transfer, I can't graduate CSTCC. Have to have it for the degree. Doesn't matter that I'm a kick-butt writer (okay, so I'm feeling a bit high on myself today), or that I aced honors English. Nope. I had to call Harding and ask their poor records guy to dig through their closet of "old" files to find the original paperwork. Amazingly, he located it. (Bless him!)

So that's one hurdle down. Now if my high school can do the same thing for a Chemistry class I took about a hundred years ago, I'll be in great shape.

On a side note: I found my very first gray hair. And though I know it's gross, it's still laying on my desk, carefully placed so as not to brush it away. I almost feel proud of it. It's really more white than gray. I am even debating the possibility of scrapbooking the occasion.

You don't need to tell me how bizarre I am.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Hurt.

My feet, my legs... everything just... hurts.

Thursday I went shopping at Chattanooga's YMCA Christmas fair. Concrete floors, 3 hours. Friday I went grocery shopping and did some housework. Hard floors, 3 hours. Today I cooked. Kitchen floor, 4 hours.

Because of the heel spurs, I wind up favoring my feet and standing/walking in positions that are somewhat unnatural. This makes my legs and back hurt. Ugh.

On a more positive note, I did some fun shopping on Thursday and spent time with a friend (rare for me). Last night and this morning went relatively well, and even though it took a while, I have six delicious meals for this week - all WW Core, incidentally. Well, mostly Core. Close enough. It'll take a bit to get it all posted on the recipe blog, but you can look for it by the end of the day tomorrow.

This economy is rough. Inflation is driving up the price of everything (gas being the notable exception). I used to be able to cook good stuff for an entire week on $75. Now I can't get out of Wal-Mart for less than $125, no matter how carefully I plan the menus.

So the vegetarian thing is seeming more like a good idea... but it's going to take me a while to rebuild my recipe arsenal. So I've decided to ease into it a little at a time. That way I don't get burned out on the same dozen recipes over and over. Plus, as I learned last week, sometimes a substitution that seems like it would work can actually destroy a recipe. Gotta work on my technique a bit before I rush headlong into the world of vegetarians.

And on that note - after four hours of cooking, I smell like an odd mixture of crab, onion, chilies, squash, chicken, and roast. Think I'll take a shower now.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. - Romans 7:15-20

*sigh* Do you know how hard it is to accept that constantly overeating just might be a sin? I only pass judgment on myself, no one else.

Can't seem to stop myself....

Thursday, November 13, 2008


There is one brilliant advantage to digital scrapbooking and crafting - once you design the project, you can hit print as many times as you want. Even better, you can upload it and have somebody else print it for you. And so it is that you lucky folks on my Christmas card list this year will be receiving a nice 4x8 digital card from yours truly.

I am so proud of myself for at least getting that much done! Now about those presents...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Than Meets the Eye

Because my blog was looking boring . . . this is all the rage at my house right now. In fact, Jeff & I secretly enjoy Bebo's fascination with Transformers, because it means we get to relive a favorite piece of our childhood.

I did this for an ad challenge at 2ps, and I LOVE how it turned out. Not your typical Halloween page, but then "typical" has never really been the first word I'd use to describe myself. :)

Best news!

So this week has taken a bit of an upturn in the last day or two. Jeff had a rather pleasant surprise last night (don't want to go into details, but it was definitely a good thing).

Bebo has been snorting, snotting, hacking and coughing for days now. I've been chalking it up to allergies, because I was a lot the same way when I was his age. But Jeff insisted we keep him home from school yesterday, so they made a little trip to the walk-in clinic. Bebo has a sinus + chest infection. Apparently it's a heavy-duty one, too. We're doping him up on some tough antibiotics, and hopefully will get it resolved for him. I know that doesn't sound like good news, but I'm actually relieved that the doc didn't just send us home with an OTC RX for cough syrup. At least this way we can get it fixed. Besides, he's not feeling too awfully bad, and he's not contagious. He just coughs a lot.

And... what really makes me happy.... I was up at midnight to register for next semester's classes, and both were marked as closed. I panicked - couldn't believe they had filled up that fast. But I just got an email from my A&P teacher, and she's holding A&P2 open for those of us in the online A&P1 session to have first dibs at a spot. I am thrilled. Now if I can just get the biology department to open up another slot for Microbiology, I'll be in good shape.

In related news, last night I hauled my rear over to CSTCC for an information meeting about the nursing program. I didn't really learn anything new, but I do feel better about my chances to get in the program. In fact, unless there are 40 applicants with perfect records, I think my spot is solid. I'm a little short in a couple of areas, but I should more than make up for it in others. I'm going to send off my application before the week is out, and there will be one less thing to worry about.

I can't believe this is all falling into place so neatly. Kinda scares me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Old Pictures & Scrapbook Pages

In case I haven't already mentioned it, I am loving my new scanner! It's so much fun to drag out old photos and finally get to scrap them without fear I'll ruin the only photo I have of me in a diaper standing on the counter sucking on a popsicle at two-and-a-half years old. (Okay, there are probably a zillion photos like that, but you know what I mean!)

Jeff was making fun of me because I keep looking through these old photos of myself, but what he doesn't understand is that every time we were at Nanny & Pa's, that's what we did. It was expected, and anticipated, and maybe our favorite part of the visit. I miss having Nanny tell us stories about the pictures. So it's just natural to enjoy browsing through these old pictures today. The only difference is that now I can scrap them, too!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I've had it. Last week was the crappiest I've had in ages, and this one isn't off to a better start. I am utterly exhausted. I worked my butt off all week to lose weight, and instead gained a pound and a half. Both of the classes I need for next semester were full within 20 minutes of registration opening - and this was at midnight!! I spent $125 at the grocery store, only to have all my great-sounding new recipes be total duds. Now I'm stuck eating a bunch of crappy food all week. The house is a complete wreck, I have more going on this week than I can possibly handle, and I just want to crawl in a hole and hibernate for the rest of my life.

Could just one good thing please happen today?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Prayer

Dear Lord,

Even though my heart is sick at what our country has done, I know that you are in control. I know that neither candidate could live up to the standards that your Son set for us (none of us could!), but it saddens me, nonetheless.

My insides are in turmoil, but I want to express my gratitude to you. You have given me a place to live that is free from fear, free to choose, free to express, free to just be. Our country is beautiful, with a beautiful heritage. You have given us so much to be thankful for - far too many things for me to ever remember or enumerate.

I know in my head that you are in charge, but sometimes my heart needs to be reminded, Lord. Please give me a spirit of peace and not of fear. Help me not to worry too much for tomorrow. Gently remind me that tomorrow will take care of itself.

And Lord, even though I have such an intense dislike for the man, please be with our future president. Let your precepts be his guide; lead him into decisions that are good for our country, good for its people, and most importantly, will cause your church to grow.

Our nation is forgetting you, Lord. We are brushing you aside so easily. For that, I beg your forgiveness. If hardship or a lack of freedom is what we have earned, then let us bear the weight without complaint. Give us hope for tomorrow. Please don't let our children suffer for our sins.

You are in control. Use this to your glory. I love you, and I am so grateful for the rich blessings you've given me.

In Jesus' name, amen.


First I scrapped. Now I'm about to go do some heavy-duty exercise. Anything to get my mind of this awful election!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pa & Me

For the color blog - wasn't I cute? :)

Color Combo 95

It's over!!!

I don't believe I can put into words how utterly overjoyed I am that Halloween is over. Yes, it was fun, but by the time I'd had two parties, a field trip, trick-or-treated twice, did two costumes, carved one pumpkin, and took a nutrition test, I was ready to collapse in a sugar-and-caffeine-induced coma. I am absolutely exhausted today, but there's a sense of relief that I don't have a major test for a couple of weeks (the psych test on Wednesday doesn't count - I get five chances to take it!)

Anyway, now I'm going to be racing toward a Thanksgiving countdown - gotta get those tests out of the way before I leave so I can actually enjoy my holiday. I'm going to try to scrap the rest of the Halloween stuff before time gets away from me. Here's one layout I did for Bebo's kindergarten book. Isn't his monster just the cutest?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Do not worry - I do have pictures of the actual pumpkin, TBSL. (To Be Scrapped Later) We had a good time, even though the boy-child was more than a little tired & cranky. Frankly, I'll be glad when the week is over and we all come down from the sugar high.

More Than Meets the Eye...

Check out this bad boy! I knew I wanted to do a Transformers pumpkin for Halloween, then time got away from me and before I knew it was Thursday and I had to carve the pumpkin now or it would be too late! So I hunkered down over the table for two and a half hours and created a masterpiece.

Okay... maybe not a masterpiece exactly. I had pitiful tools to work with, and the design was thin in places and had to be held together with pins. Still - I am quite proud of my efforts. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So There!

It's been a hectic week. Besides chasing after good test grades, I've been dealing with Halloween costumes, Halloween parties, laundry, cooking, and a zillion other things. In fact, I totally and completely forgot Parent-Teacher conferences were today! I will never forgive myself...

So I was stomping around the kitchen, and Jeff decides to do his I'm-an-idiot-so-why-won't-you-smile routine.

Spoken in a baby-coo voice: "Aw, baby, smile. You know it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown!"

Without a pause, I responded, "Yes, but what if I want the exercise?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Environmentally Conscious Eggnog

Wait... it's just two scrapbook pages, totally unrelated except for the colors - from Color Combos Galore:

Crunch Time

No, not sit-ups (though I should be doing those, too). Nah, I'm on a head-long race into the last six weeks of school. By some sick twist of fate, all three of my classes have generously arranged a test due on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Since I do not want to spend my entire break with my nose stuck in the books, I'm going to have to pace myself to get the material done before the weekend.

I am also fast approaching the burnout stage. I had a big A&P test this weekend, and at least 25% of the material were questions we hadn't covered. Hate it when that happens. I spent my entire weekend studying the wrong stuff. Now I have to hunker down on Nutrition, and this is going to be a really hectic week, what with Halloween and all.

But I should say this - I am actually quite excited. Wednesday is Braeden's school trip to the Pumpkin Patch, and Friday I get to help out with the Halloween party at school, and then there's trick-or-treating, and then we have a party to go to. Busy, but fun. Mostly I'm excited about getting to see Braeden enjoy himself. He's going to have a ball.

I will leave you with a quick spread I did about Bebo's report card. He's doing just fine - we really only need to work on his handwriting skills. If he's anything like his daddy, his teachers may just have to settle for sloppy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Musings on a Fall Morning

Have you felt the blessedness that is the cool, crisp fall air? Oh, it makes me happy and tingly all over! I love wearing fluffy sweatshirts and the way the house smells when you first crank up the heater and my nose turning red from the wind and the promise of the holidays...

Yeah, I know, I say it every year - but I love fall!!!

But... I'm drowning in a sea of bones and muscles - way more information than my brain is willing to compute at the moment. Stress levels are high. Thank goodness I always feel invigorated at this time of year, because I certainly need the extra energy.

Tomorrow I have my teeth cleaned (an experience I never anticipate with much excitement), there's a quiz on Friday, and Saturday will have to be spent studying, studying, studying. And cooking - I am really loving the weekend-cooking bit. It saves time and energy, because I only have to heat up the oven one time. I like that!

Jeff has applied for a job at Park Ridge as a nurse tech. Say a prayer that he gets something besides icky pizza delivery soon. We need the money!

Braeden is a pill, as usual. He's doing great in school. Currently he's in a phase where he's constantly asking, "What does ____ start with?" And he likes to spell, too - except his idea of spelling is to string random letters together - such as pxybmorlagekla - and insist that it spells train.

I am thinking we may need to take him to a speech therapist soon, though. No matter what I do, I can't convince him that "L" is not pronounced with the same sound as "W." It's almost as if he can't hear the difference. I'd hoped he would outgrow it when school started, but so far, no luck.

I am deep in Christmas preparations, too - trying to come up with ideas for spectacular-but-handmade gifts that I can 1) easily afford, and 2) people will actually like. Tricky.

And speaking of tricks, Bebo got an Optimus Prime out for trick-or-treating, and he is so proud of it. I do believe Thomas the Tank Engine is on his way out. The first thing we look at when we hit the toy aisle is now the Transformers section. He still passes by the trains, but only briefly. Kinda sad, actually. I will miss Thomas.

And now that I've bored you to tears with my rambling, I really must go. Enjoy your fall afternoon!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Color Combo #93

For the color challenge...

Play Happy

I should really be studying.... but I couldn't help myself. I had sketched out a layout design, but it just wasn't doing anything for me. So I tossed the paper to the side and ignored it. But this morning, when I saw the paper again, the paper was on its side, and I realized I had the layout all along. I just need to turn it over! So here 'tis, and with that, I am gone!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Onesie Card Freebie!

I really wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can't. All credit goes to Lauren Meader. I first saw it on 2peas, and here is a link to her blog. She's posted directions to do this with paper if you aren't digitally inclined. I asked her permission to post a digital template for those of us who prefer our crafting on the dark side. :)

The template has two cards, each on their own layer. You will need the ability to print a borderless 8.5x11, so if you can't, just delete one card and tip the other sideways. Enjoy - making this project is an absurd amount of fun!

Onesie Card .psd file

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Did you look at the really cool site I linked to in yesterday's post? Really, check it out... good stuff. Anyhoo, one of the pictures totally inspired this layout - which was a ridiculous amount of fun to do. I'm actually thinking of framing it, if I can find the right size frame. It would fun to duplicate with paper, but I enjoyed the challenge of doing it digitally. And how cool is that quote?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eye Candy

No, really.... it's candy. Check out the loveliness (just don't go hungry!).

Eye Candy

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Break

Ah, fall.

Sort of.

I'm not sure 80+ degrees counts as fall weather, but the leaves are starting to turn (if only slightly), and the air has lost the sickening humidity. The calendar tells me it's fall, so despite what my thermometer says, I suppose it's truly fall.

Braeden is on fall break for the entire week, and Jeff & I technically have fall break today & tomorrow. I say "technically" because our teachers didn't get the memo. We still have tests, big assignments, and midterms to deal with. At any rate, I decided to at least pretend to take a break, so I've done a bit of scrapbooking. JES's fall festival was last week, so I did a page for Bebo's kindergarten book, plus I did one for the color blog (lemme tell ya, that one was agony - but I can't post here until Janet posts to her blog). Oh, and I did a hybrid card/gift bag for a baby shower present, too.

At this point, I need to abandon scrapping and move on to something more productive... like actually reading the material for the Psych test I have on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Facebook, Cooking, and Grades

I finally gave in... thanks to a pesky friend who kept poking me with Facebook stuff. I'd signed up ages ago, but the social networking thing just escapes me. Heck, I don't even like to carry a cell phone. (Jeff says that's because I'm antisocial. I prefer to think of it as Socially Reserved.) I'm still trying to figure out how to use the thing, but if you're on it and search for my name (Amanda Gates McCain), you can probably find me. Be my friend!

In other news, I've got a big day ahead of me. I have to work on my Nutrition test, and then (speaking of nutrition) I need to spend a few hours in the kitchen cooking up meals for the week. If you want some new dinnertime inspiration, check out my recipe blog. I'll be adding recipes for Aromatic Couscous & Veggies, Curried Coconut Chicken, Peanutty Noodles & Chicken, and Ranch Chicken & Rice.

And finally - I thought I'd give you an update for my online classes. I just totally aced my A&P lab midterm. My average in the class is somewhere around a 95. Psych is mostly a joke, because it's 100% open book open notes open computer. Heck, he even gives us links to sites to help us with the test! LOL And Nutrition... it's a little tougher, and a lot more frustrating, mostly because the course doesn't feel organized to me. At any rate, I'm still doing well, but I will admit that I will be happy with a B when the course is over. I think.

I told Jeff last night that I have never worked this hard for a class. Ever. Stuff has always come so easily to me. It's not that I am having trouble understanding, but there is So Much Stuff. For instance, I thought a skull was a skull. Nope. There are 22 bones in the skull, plus sutures and a zillion markings to remember. Eeek!

The good news is that I am really enjoying it, no matter how much work it is. I have long wanted to put my brain to good use again, and exercise the old neurons. And besides, I'm the quintessential dork - I just like school. I like to learn. It's fun, okay?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In the News

Braeden has made his debut in the paper - and they didn't get his name right. I don't mean misspelling, which I fully expect to be a common occurrence. No, they didn't even get close. Heck, take a look for yourself:

Chad and Melissa? Um, no. Oh well - at least it makes for a good scrapbook page.

And I forgot - Braeden got his school pictures back. Oddly enough, they sent us a package and then asked us to pay for it. It seemed strange, because I could have easily scanned the photo, sent back the entire package, and gotten pictures for free. I was honest, though, and forked over the $40 bucks. I just wonder how much money they lose from scanner-savvy parents. At any rate, his expression is somewhat amusing. I get the feeling he had no idea what was going on, and then went into Big Boy Mode. He looks so much older than five in the picture!

Tonight is the school's Fall Festival - I think it's their fundraiser for the year. I wish I could be more involved, but it will have to wait until I'm out of school. I need to charge up the camera so I can get lots of pictures. I need material for Braeden's scrapbook!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A book! A book!

Would you believe - I actually read a book! I didn't really have time to read a book, but once I start, I can't quit. Odd as it sounds, I probably set a record - it took me 3 days to finish it. Usually I finish a book in one sitting, but I just couldn't do that this time. Certain things override pleasure, such as study and sleep. ;)

Incidentally, I bought the book last weekend on my girl's day out. My hubby, who I abandoned to entertain the boy-child, decided to go all romantic on me, and when I returned home with the book in hand, he just stared at me and said, "No, you didn't." It took a second to realize that lying on the coffee table in front of me was another copy of the book he bought just to be sweet.

I read his book, instead of mine. :) I can return the copy I bought later.

In case you're wondering, the book is Brisingr. Not the best-written series I've ever read (can't touch Harry Potter or Sword of Truth), but considering the author was 15 when he wrote the first book, it's pretty good stuff. Perfectly enjoyable fantasy fiction - a nice break from the monotony of textbook studies.

Speaking of studies, I should quit rambling and get back to it. I'll leave you with a scrapbook page I did of my nephew, Branden. I don't see him much, and he is really growing up fast.

Color Combos Galore

Monday, October 6, 2008

Anatomically Correct

It's Monday... I survived the Week from Hades (year-end inventory + 2 tests). I even had a fairly relaxing weekend. My friend Elle & I hung out in Huntsville Saturday, and yesterday I even got a nap!

There's someone I'd like you to meet. This is Herman:

Herman arrived in my A&P lab kit, along with a brain and an eyeball. (I will be nice and not show those to you.) We've been working on the skeletal system this week, so I've had Herman fully assembled on my desk for a few days now. Braeden is fascinated by this 3-foot tall skeleton. He likes to point to parts and ask what they are. One day he pointed to the pubic bone, and said, "Dat's where the weiner is."

Not wanting to overdo it, but at the same time to give him at least a hint of an anatomy lesson, I replied, "You're right. That's where the boy's weiner is."

To which he responded with all the tone of a anatomical expert, "Yeah. Girls don't have weiners. They just have butts."

I'll leave you with a digi page of Braeden. Have a good week!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Our government has voted to give themselves even more power in the private sector, line their pockets a little more - and make us, Joe & Jane Taxpayer, pay for it.

Just watch... this will only be the first in a series of attempts to a bail out an economy that would heal itself if just left alone. Kinda makes me glad I'm too broke to feel the difference.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Thank goodness - the long, crazy, busy week is over! I had to stay up until almost midnight last night to wrap up the inventory postings for the company. Today I am seriously dragging, but at least I can breathe a little. My two tests are out of the way, so I can start focusing on midterms and memorizing the names of fifty zillion bones. (Okay, so really there are 206, but a lot of them have multiple parts that have to be learned, too.)

Anyway, it's Wednesday, which means a bit of a break for me. Braeden will go to Grannie & Peepop's after school, so I can choose from a) study time; or b) nap time.

Think I'll go with the latter.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Maybe you haven't heard of this movie. It wasn't a Hollywood big-budget production. In fact, it was done almost entirely on volunteer work. Remember Kirk Cameron, from Growing Pains? He's the only "real" actor in the movie.

So you're probably not excited, huh? Let me tell you - this is hands-down the best relationship movie I've ever seen. I was amazed to see how accurately it portrays relationships - not just in the main character's marriage, but in the relationships of all the characters.

Rather than bore you with my account, just check out the website for Fireproof. If your marriage is anything less than perfect, I highly recommend seeing it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scrap Stuff

Here's a cute one I did for Braeden's kindergarten book. I wanted to roll on the floor with laughter when I first heard him sing this song - he screams out that last word, and I could just imagine the chaos that would ensue when 20 other kindergarteners did the same thing. :)

This is for the color combo blog. I'm a little behind in posting this week. :0

Monday, September 22, 2008

And So It Begins...

The week from Hades, also known as Year-End Inventory Week.

Besides being strung out all week long (and next, for that matter) managing inventory counts at four locations across the U.S., I also have two tests, two labs, a baby shower, and a school event at JES. Oh, and Jeff has a ton of homework this week, too, which means he will wait until the last minute and expect me to pick up the slack for him, or at least totally rearrange my schedule to accommodate his last-minute shenanigans. (Can you tell I'm a little irritated at him?)

Anyhoo - it has begun. Wish me well, and maybe say a little prayer that the nice people with the white jacket don't show up at my doorstep.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Color Combo 89

First, let me 'splain... I know that "surf & turf" usually refers to steak & seafood. It's a play on words. Maybe not the most effective one, but a play nonetheless. It seemed appropriate at the time, in my half-asleep study-induced haze.

Note to Self

I am so tired. My brain feels like mush, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. So this morning I took time to do something for myself, something that I love. I scrapbooked. Not for an assignment, just stricly because I wanted to. And in the process, I gave myself a pep talk, too.

Oh, and by the way - I got a 96% on my first A&P test! It wasn't the highest grade in the class, but I'm okay with that. I'm excited that I did that well, and now that I have that first test over with, I know better what to expect the rest of the semester.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now Hiring - Brain Cells Not Required

Seriously, how hard is it to get a simple order right? Really... I wanted a #2 combo with diet Dr Pepper and a #10 combo with diet Coke & apple dippers. You would think I had asked for chardonnay and Rocky Mountain oysters, as confused as the cashier was. He really must have asked me at least 10 times what drinks I wanted. I was trying to be patient... really, I was.

But seriously, folks. It's not that hard to type an order into the screen. I've seen them. Everything it written out for you. It's not complicated.

Maybe McDonald's should consider changing the words to pictures....

Monday, September 8, 2008

Color Combo Challenge #89

Drive-by Update

If it's a big incoherent, I apologize. I am floating from all the medication I took to try to ward off another sinus infection.

- I lost a pound last week.

- I finally got to get a printer & scanner. They should both arrive next week!

- Braeden got his first Scholastic book order last week. Oh, the literary happiness!

- I have my first A&P test due by Sunday. I am a bit nervous, but ready for it to be over with.

- Jeff decided to get cable for football season. I suspect we'll disconnect it this winter, but for now, I am happy because I get to was Smallville again.

- Speaking of Smallville, Season 7 comes out on DVD tomorrow, so I'll have time to catch up on the episodes I missed before season 8 starts.

- I was going to wait for the Big Reveal until I had gussied it up, but since I am in such want of time right now, here is a link to my new foodie blog: Real Food, Real Folks. Check it out - I will updating again shortly. All recipes are tried-and-true. :)

That's all I have time for - ta-ta!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Strange things happening...

Not exactly things that go bump in the night, but it's amazing how many inanimate objects have suddenly started doing things all by themselves.

Just ask Braeden.

That glob of toothpaste on the floor? It got there all by itself.

Apparently, his underwear got a little stained up, too - and that was also all by itself.

This one really freaked me out - Braeden's safety scissors actually cut holes in his socks - you guessed it - all by themselves.

And on the living creature front, would you believe that a bug is capable of squishing itself?

Yeah... strange things are going on around here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take a Deep Breath...




Whew. Good news - the check was cut yesterday and should be mailing today. With a little luck, I'll have it in my hands by Friday, and I can buy the rest of my textbooks next week.

Braeden didn't have school today, so I let him spend the night at Grannie & Peepop's house. He would only go if I promised that Granny, Gabe & Katie would not leave without him. (Mom is picking us up on Friday to head to her house for the weekend. Dad is out of town and she didn't want to be alone all weekend.) Anyway, I think Bebo is starting to grasp the concept of time a little better. On Monday, first thing in the morning, he asked, "Mommy, are we going to Granny & Papa's house in five more days?" Today, he called me from Grannie's cell phone to ask, "Mommy, are we going to Granny & Papa's house in two more days?" It cracks me up, because he is counting down the days as if it was his birthday or Christmas!

I will leave you with my page for the Color Combo Challenge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You'd Better Duck - I'm Gonna Start Shooting!

I am so incredibly infuriated with Chattanooga State's financial aid office!!! They won't answer the phone, they won't answer emails, and they won't even post an update! Jeff heard last night that they were telling students it would be mid-September before they issued refund checks.

Hello! By then most of us will have had at least one test, and several assignments! We wouldn't have taken out aid if we didn't need it. I know they have the money, so what in the world is taking so long to process it?

So yeah. I'm peeved in the worst sort of way. I am going to be able to scrouge by with Psych & Nutrition, because I was able to find the first few chapters online for free. I ordered the A&P book (thanks to Mom) today, and hopefully I'll have it by the end of the week.

It's highly irritating. I was on the phone the second the office opened up this morning, and I got the same routine -

Please hold. We are experiencing high call volume at this time.
There is no one available to take your call. Please hold to leave a message.
This is CTSCC. Please leave a message.
This mailbox is not taking messages because it is full. Please hold to talk to someone in the financial aid office.
Please hold. We are experiencing high call volume at this time.

This was at 7:30 am - no way were the lines backed up that fast! They're just putting everyone on hold and refusing to answer the flippin' phone!

So, yeah, I'm on the warpath. The least they could do is update the website or their phone messages.

Now that I've got that out of my system, I'm off to make chili. It sounds yummy on a wet, rainy, unseasonably cool day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here I Go

Charging into the week...

Yesterday I picked up Pride and Prejudice, which I will start as soon as I finish Eldest. Braeden received the aforementioned Wall-E toy, and I began the preliminary work in the first of my online classes, Nutrition.

Today was relatively quiet, given the week just past. I went to church, ate dinner with Jeff, slept for a peaceful nap, created a scrapbook page for the Color Combo challenge, went to church, and now I'm here, blogging. Soon I'll read a few books to Braeden, and I'll close the night by reading the first chapter of the Nutrition textbook. (Okay, I realized that sounds like a lot, but it isn't, really. Today truly was low-stress.)

My heel spurs are giving me fits, though. I want so badly to do some of my old Firm workouts, but simply can't take the beating at the moment. I've got to figure out a way to do strength training without a video and without being on my feet.

Anyhoo, tomorrow starts Anatomy & Physiology - the class that concerns me the most. Not because it will be tough (it will), but because it will easily require the most work. I am going to have to be so careful to manage my time.

On a side note: it is highly amusing to me, the way inanimate object in my home do things all by themselves. For instance, Braeden just told me he needed clean underwear. Apparently his got dirty all by themselves. ((insert wry grin here))

I am off to find something suitable for supper. Good night!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mentally Fried, Dead Toy

It's been an unbelievably tough week. I've worked looooong hours, and my brain is absolutely finished. I don't even have creative juice at this point, which stinks. I think tomorrow I am going to take Braeden to Chattanooga. It will be good to get out of the house for a while. Besides, we have an important purchase to make.

Remember the hoopla at my house about Wall-E? Well, the little Wall-E toy was so deeply loved, just as any child loves that most special toy, that - eh - well, he lost his head. Literally. It was played with so much that the thin plastic neck just gave up. There was no way for me to fix it. Bebo knew he had to throw it away, but the poor little guy just stood over the trash can, staring at the now-headless Wall-E. It brought back memories - me, about that age, standing over the trash can, staring at a stuffed pink cat that had been re-sewn so many times there was nothing left to mend.

So I naturally promised to get him a new Wall-E. He loved that toy so much; how could I refuse? I think we'll swing by the bookstore, too. I have an itching to pick up some of those cheapie classic novels. You know - Jane Austen and the likes - you can always find a $5 novel in some of those inexpensive lines of books. And we might hit the scrapbook store, too, just for the heck of it.

Sometime tomorrow my online courses will open, so I expect to spend some time in the evening perusing the workload for the next few weeks.

Oh, and I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers online. Again. I have come to realize that I simply can't do it by myself.

And... well, that's all, folks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

School & Scrapbooking

It's been a week now, and the routine almost seems to be normal now. Granted, I still haven't started school myself (found out today that my online classes won't kick into gear until Saturday. Why then, I don't know.). At any rate, I sent Bebo off this morning, happy as a lark.

We're struggling, though... the task of writing is leaving him utterly frustrated, and I don't know what to do to make it better. Last week he was supposed to learn the letters M and S, and numbers 1-5. He can recognize all of those, but writing them is another story. He gets frustrated and just starts scribbling. I'm left scratching my head, wondering if I'm pushing him too hard or not enough. I hate that he had homework his very first week of school - it doesn't seem fair, though I guess the schools are being pushed so hard by No Child Left Behind that they don't have a choice.

Anyway... I'll leave you with the page I did for the Color Combo challenge this week. I've had this photo of Bebo for more than a year and I've always loved it, but was never quite sure what to do with it. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.

Color Combos Galore

Friday, August 15, 2008

Books: One Copycat Copies Another Copycat

From my friend Elle's blog, who copied the idea from her friend Phoe's blog...

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on the list.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Colorize (RED) the books you love.
4) Asterisk (*) the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated"

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (Well, most of it, anyway)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (I've been reading this for months... it's slow-going and I am somewhat bored but I keep trying)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger*
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (I tried, years ago, but the way Mitchell wrote the dialogue kept bogging me down. I may see if I can borrow it from Mom and give it another go soon.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams*
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I've read about half the series)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini*
37 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
38 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40 Animal Farm - George Orwell
41 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown*
42 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
44 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
45 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
46 Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
47 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
48 Lord of the Flies - William Golding*
49 Atonement - Ian McEwan
50 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
60 Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jone's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie*
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (Does being in the pit orchestra for the musical count?)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's August

And that means we'll start seeing Halloween decorations on the shelves soon, which means that Thanksgiving stuff will be out next, which means that in a month or so the Christmas decorations will come out in full force!

(Don't laugh, but I'm listening to the Glen Miller Orchestra: In the Christmas Mood, and I'm feeling rather festive this morning.) :)

It's August, and that also means that Braeden has almost finished his first week of school, which means that next week it's my turn to start, which means that our lives are totally turning upside-down.

It's August, and that means that the stifling heat will gradually become more bearable, and that means that before we know it the leaves will start changing, and it will be time for a fall camping trip.

It's August, and that means Jeff has a birthday, which means that I can tease him about being 31, which means that he'll tease me for turning 31 before he did.

It's August, and that means that another year is more than half over, which means it will be Dec 31 before I know it, and that means I'll blink once and have to start remembering to write 2009 on my checks instead of 2008.

It's August, and I am nowhere near meeting any of my New Year's resolutions, which means that I'm feeling a little irritated with myself, which might mean that I make August resolutions instead.

And with that - it's August, and I have to go back to work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Day!

I actually had the presence of mind to make a small video clip of Braeden's conversation after the first day of school, but it is struggling to upload to Blogger. I'll try again tonight - if you can get past my annoying nasally voice, you'll probably get a kick out of it.

In the meantime, here's the lowdown:

Sometime before six, I heard Braeden up and moving about. I just couldn't drag myself out of bed yet (not after being up past midnight), so I waited until the alarm went off at 6:15. The instant he heard my door open, he popped out of his bedroom and announced, "Mommy, I was awake before you!" He was obviously very excited, because he is never that lively so early in the morning.

I was actually glad he was up so early. It gave me time to snuggle with him and talk about his big day without being rushed. Since I had taken off work for the morning, I was able to spend the time with him. We had a delightful breakfast of whole-grain Eggos with chocolate chips sprinkled on top and apple juice. Today I'm adding peanut butter and making sandwiches so he won't wind up so hungry at the end of the day (more on that later).

Sunday evening I rushed around, checking every list, making sure the "pack-pack" was loaded, filling the lunchbox to see if it would all fit, making sure the Thermos wouldn't leak the Spaghettios, ironing his shirt, etc. I let him pick out his shirt, and he chose his new black Transformers T-shirt. Somehow he looked so big with his Transformers shirt and backpack. (Okay, so he really was big - he towers over all the other kids in his class.)

The morning actually went very smoothly. I was able to take pictures, and Jeff even stumbled out of bed to enjoy the festivities with us. Before we left, we said a little prayer asking God to help Bebo behave and enjoy the day, and we also prayed for his teacher. I'm glad we did that.

We found total chaos when we pulled into the parking lot. Nervous moms, excited kids, crying babies, harried teachers - everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get nowhere. They "released" us to go to the classroom.

Braeden's teacher has decorated the room in an ocean theme. There are fishies and other critters everywhere. It's really quite cute. I was so proud of him yesterday. . . he walked into class and sat down in his seat. He was so quiet, yet attentive to what was going on. Jeff told him we were going to leave, and he said, "No, Daddy, you can't leave!" I thought we were going to have a crying fit, but he stayed calm. He looked nervous when we left, but he was just fine.

Then came the hard part... enduring the rest of the day. I thought it would never end, I was so anxious to see my boy and find out how his day went.

You should see the pickup arrangements. The kindergarten and first grade students are picked up in front of the school. There's a big circle, and kindergarten parents go to the inside and first grade moms are on the outside. They actually have traffic controllers who fill the circle as tightly as possible. Once it's filled, they stop the traffic, and moms get out to collect their tired-but-happy kids. When everyone's loaded and the remaining kids are safely out of the way, they empty out the circle and start all over again.

Jeff could see Bebo before I could. My "little" man was head-and-shoulders above the other kids, which made me laugh a bit. I went to retrieve him, and he was quite happy to see me. We got in the car, and Twenty Questions official began. (To be demonstrated in the aforementioned video, if I can ever get it uploaded.)

Here's the strange part. The first thing he said was "Can I eat my Spaghettios?"


On closer investigation, the only thing he ate was the packet of Yo-Gos. He left the Cheez-its, granola bar, and Spaghettios. Then he said his teacher wouldn't let him eat the Spaghettios.... this made no sense whatsoever, and the only other thing I could find out was that he did eat a cheese sandwich and hash browns. Incidentally, this was not on the school menu, so I haven't the slightest idea where it came from! I have emailed the teacher to see if she knows what happened.

My suspicion is that he wanted to eat the Spaghettios at snacktime, and she told him to wait until lunch, and he interpreted that as meaning he shouldn't eat them at school at all.

Today I'm sending a Lunchable, with explicit instructions about what is a snack and what is lunch. :)

He obviously had a good time. We sat down to do school-fun (a.k.a. homework), and he was more focused than I've ever seen him. I used PSE to make a practice sheet for writing his name. It was really the first time he's done that, so I feel obliged to save it.

This is officially long enough. More on the Great Lunch Debacle later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Most Important Thing

Tomorrow's the big day, and instead of being excited about it, I spent my afternoon at a funeral and the rest of the day being extremely irritated with my boy-child. My personal theory is that antibiotics make him act out - and he's been pushing limits all day long.

After church, we sat down to a light supper. As we talked about school, I reminded him of the most important thing that he do in school - that he obey his teacher and be kind to his classmates. He agreed rather vehemently, and then came around the table to my chair.

"Mommy, do you know what the most important thing is?"

"What, baby?"

"The most important thing is that I love you."

This old girl, cranky and tired though she is, just welled up with tears at the innocent sweetness of this precious little boy. Ah - but he wasn't finished yet!

"Are you going to miss me, Mommy?"

I nodded, unable to speak.

"Don't worry, Mommy. I'll always be your friend."

Dear God, thank you for blessing me with this most precious of gifts, and help me to always remember, even when he's a handful!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life as We Know It

It's Friday.... come Monday, our routine will change forever. Bebo will start school, and Jeff & I will start just a couple of weeks behind him. I had all these great plans to wake Bebo up early so he'd be used to getting up, then he got sick. Now instead of getting him up, I'm doing my best to keep my wiggly 5-year-old in bed as much as possible. Last night I entertained him by playing Wall-E & Burnout 3: Takedown on our borrowed Xbox 360. I had planned on putting together the new recumbent bike, but Jeff had the only Phillips-head screwdriver large enough for the project in the car, accompanying him as he delivered pizza. So the bike will be assembled tonight.

I've started an 8x8 digital album for his kindergarten year. I figure I will combine his other years of elementary into a single book, but kindergarten is kinda special, ya know? Here are pages 2 & 3 (Page 1 will be his school picture, so obviously I'll have to wait on that one.)

Do you like? I have decided to go with a common scheme - the same background, same two fonts, and purple w/red accents - for the entire book. I'm torn between feeling constricted and freed by using a scheme. Part of me like the creative ability to do exactly what I want, and part of me likes that I won't have to think too hard about putting it together.

Somewhat in that line of thinking, I am gearing up to start Christmas presents. I have a few ideas that I think will be fun, depending on whether or not I get my new printer before November.

And I suppose that's enough for today. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Doctor Visits

My insurance company is going to love us.

I had a physical today - it's something I've never had done, and I figured it was high time. I had my cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid checked; a mole burned off my back; and a got prescription for an anti-inflammatory to treat my oh-so-painful plantar fasciitis.

I came home to messages on my machine from Peepop - apparently Braeden was feeling pretty puny, so Grannie brought him home to us so Jeff could take him to the walk-in clinic. The little guy is so prone to allergies that it's tough to tell when they've developed into something more. The doc said that today it's not strep throat, but it could be by tomorrow. So Jeff is at Wal-Mart now, semi-sick child in tow, waiting on my prescription and Braeden's, too.

And in other news... I just got an email saying that my new exercise bike has arrived at Wal-Mart! With a little luck, maybe I can coax Jeff into taking me this afternoon to pick it up.


Bad news yesterday. . . a girl who was friends of the kids in the youth group at church, who attended a lot of our events, who worked at Sonic and had the sweetest personality. . . was killed yesterday in a freak accident. Apparently she was helping some people move and was in the back of a pickup. They believe the wind caught a mattress that was in the truck and threw her out of it. She sustained fatal injuries from the accident.

I was shocked when I heard the news last night. She wasn't one of those kids who was always in trouble. Every time I saw her, she was bubbly and cheerful. And then, in an instant, she was gone. It made me hug Braeden a little more tightly. No parent should ever have to hear those words - the awfulness of it is overwhelming to even consider.

Say a prayer for her family and friends, and love on your own a little more closely.

Monday, August 4, 2008

We Have a Teacher!

I can't tell you how much I've dreaded this week... I worked myself into a near frenzy worrying about kindergarten. Tonight we went to an assembly to meet his teacher - and God came through for us! His teacher is someone we know through church, a very sweet young woman who remembered Braeden and seemed happy to see him.

Word cannot express the relief I felt! Somehow, even though I don't know her well, it makes all the difference in the world that he has a teacher I'm at least a little familiar with. My antsy heart has settled considerably. My boy and I are going to be just fine.

Here's a pic (I know, I know, but I can't stop myself!). It's blurry, but good enough. :)

Color Combo layouts

Saturday, August 2, 2008

School Supplies

I really wonder how parents of more than one child do it! We went last night for the Big Shopping Trip. Since the elementary wouldn't give us a list (said we had to wait until we find out who his teacher is on Monday), and this is Tennessee's tax-free weekend, I decided the best thing would be to pick up the list from other school and just guess at what he would need. (Don't get me started on my irritation with the school over not giving out the lists when everyone else in the area has!)

Anyway... we went late last night when the store wouldn't be so crowded. Braeden picked out a Transformers backpack - yet another signal our little man is growing up on us. We bought so much stuff - $100 worth, in fact. That included the previously mentioned "packpack" and two pair of shoes, plus endless pencils, crayons, markers, folders, and the like.

When I was a little girl, the school supply shopping trips were such fun. I loved choosing my folders and notebooks, then coming home to sort and organize all my supplies. Really, it's one of my fondest childhood memories. I think Mom has some video of me and Sarah sitting on the living room with our goodies spread out all around us.

I suppose because it was such a big deal for me, I wanted to make it special for Braeden. We let him choose the color of his folders, and his packpack, and his pencil case. He probably got the most excited over the boring jumbo pencils we bought for him! LOL That's my boy!

Monday evening we'll go to the elementary to meet his teacher and get the 'official' supply list. Hopefully there won't be too many items to add to it.

Sigh.... one more weekend. Just a few more days before our lives make a very big change. As much as I wish I could slow down time, I have no regrets. Except for a short part-time stint at daycare, he's been home with us most of his life. He's gotten to play and spend five years just being a kid. Now that he's going to add student to his list of life-roles, I'm profusely thankful that we gave him that time to just play and do exactly what little kids should be doing - being themselves.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Where has this year gone? Braeden starts school next week, with Jeff & I beginning two weeks later. Heck, Cracker Barrel has already started putting out Christmas decorations!

I wish I could slow down. Even though I don't feel like I've committed myself to a great deal - certainly less than some people I know - I sometimes wish I could lead a simpler life. Less hassle, less fuss. But I suppose it's not to be.

In other news...

I had a unique experience today. If you go to my photo blog, you'll see photos of lovely swallowtail butterflies. As I watched, these lovely creatures danced all around me. They circled me and each other, playfully skipping on the wind. Then it was almost as if they wanted me to take their picture. First, one, then the second, then a third landed and quietly posed as I snapped picture after picture. It was a totally wonderful thing to happen. Don't you love seeing God's creation?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

You are invited to my pity party!

Ever feel intensely grumpy? Like everyone is intent on making your life miserable, and the planets have aligned precisely in such a way as to cause every little thing to go wrong that possibly could?

Yeah. I'm having one of those weeks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God and Cruella deVille

Regarding a conversation with Bebo last night (for reference, "Carrera" is how he pronounces "Cruella")...

It was bedtime. Past that, actually, and because Jeff was going to be out until the wee hours of the morning cleaning ovens at Domino's, I let Braeden sleep with me. I just like knowing where he is when it's just the two of us at home. But Braeden didn't want to sleep, so he was doing some serious stalling.

B: Mommy?

A: Yes, Bebo?

B: I just gotta tell you somefing.

A: (yawning) Okay.

B: Is God wif me?

A: Yes, baby. God is always with us.

B: And he's gonna take care of me?

A: Of course.

B: Does God hate the bad guys?

A: No, sweetheart. God loves everyone, even though we sometimes do bad things that make him sad.

B: Really?

A: Mmm-hmmm... it's like how sometimes you do bad things, but I always love you anyway.

B: Oh!! . . . . Mommy?

A: Yes?

B: Does God hate Carrera?

A: (suppressing a chuckle) Well, Cruella isn't a real person, but even if she was real, God wouldn't hate her.

B: Even though she drowned the puppies?

A: Yes, dear.

B: Oh! Mommy?

A: Braeden, go to sleep!

(Before you think I'm an awful Mommy for avoiding one of those "teachable moments," let me note two things: 1) by this time it was past 11:30; and 2) we've had this conversation many times before!)