Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Apple and The Tree

You know the old saying used to decribe children who grow up to be much like their parents. I am an Apple... my parents are The Tree. Sometimes apples DO fall far from the tree... very far indeed. Springtime is in full bloom... and will very soon give way to summer here in the South. I must admit... my parents have a beautiful home. Their yard is equal in beauty to the house. It sits on a lake and every nook & cranny of their yard displays botanical treasures that they pick up from friends, nurseries and garden centers across our area. Many of their prettiest flowers have bloomed already and too quickly are losing their blossoms... their Camillias, their Snowball bush, their Granny Gray Beard and my favorite, their Forsythia. Soon the summer flowers will come... the roses, the Confederate Jasmine and grandest of all- their Hydrangeas. My yard, on the other hand, is not so grand. And below, I make my case:

Here in my parent's front yard is a bed of Sweet Williams... neatly enclosed in a stacked stone flower bed... perfectly weeded.

This 55 gallon drum sat in my front yard for over a week. The Money Maker got it to hold water for our new "farm" (a.k.a. his hunting land) until the property has running water. Yeehaw!

Here are some pretty purple flowers that serve as a ground cover in my parents yard. I got a close up of these small beauties... but there are hundreds more.

Here's what covers a good portion of my yard. Trees that The Money Maker... his brother and my Dad cut down WEEKS ago. Have they been cut up and stored as firewood for the winters to come? No. Has the mess been cleared away? No. Has the new pool house been erected where these trees once stood... thus, being the reason they were cut down? No.

Look at these beauties. I do not know their name... my Dad told me last spring... but they are so pretty when they're dried. They're a mustard yellow color and my parents have a huge mound of them in the front.

In my yard you'll find a spare tire for our camper. Why you ask? I'm asking the same question.

Here's a picturesque spot. An antique iron bench nestled along a garden path, under an old oak tree. My kiddos were photographed here for our Christmas card this past year. I sat here with my mom just a few weeks ago as we watched my Dad pull weeds and my nephew Cohen play. She was tired and rested her head on my shoulder. I loved that moment.

The Money Maker must have needed to rest too after cleaning our our pool. I suppose he was so exhausted he couldn't muster one more ounce of strength to put the vacuum hose away.

Here's another one of my Dad's pretty flower mounds. This one is in the back yard. My Mother cuts these flowers and brings them inside for the prettiest arrangements around her house.

Look what I found walking in my backyard!!! Not only did one of my kiddos sneak one of my precious Pibb Zeros out of the refrigerator... they drank it and then thoughtlessly tossed the empty can in the woods.

Hostas are one of my favorite flowers. That's because they thrive in the shade. I also thrive in the shade. These hostas live on the shady side of my parents house.

This broken down "For Sale" sign was in my front yard as I drove into the driveway one afternoon. "Are we moving?" I inquired to The Money Maker. No... the kiddos had found it in the woods and drug it to our front yard. After stubbing my toe on the bent post seen here walking to the mailbox the next day and then screaming "*&^%$#@#$"... I drug the rickety old sign to the side of my house. I suppose I need to eventually drag it back to the woods???

Look at this lovely pot of purple Salvia. I think it's beautiful against the thick, rich green ivy backdrop.

Against the green backdrop of my grass I found a decapitated bird last week. How lovely was that?

And here's my precious little "putty tat" that is quite possibly responsible for the aforementioned decapitation.

And I couldn't put my camera away without 2 more photos.

Here in my yard are a couple of dead Boxwood bushes that The Money Maker pulled up from around our pool but never discarded, burned or hauled away.

But you can see he has been burning. Here's the fire pit? burn area? designated location? that he loves to burn old foliage. Nothing is more exciting than to take a Christmas tree 6 months after Christmas and see how fast that sucker can dissolve into a pile of ashe. This is also the favored burial plot my son uses to bury rodents my animals kill. Squirrels. Moles. Rabbits. Obviously birds. With 3 retired barn cats and a farm dog roaming the premises... many small animals meet their demise in our yard. I don't see much death at my parents place.

I want a place like my parents. I want to be the apple that doesn't fall from the tree. 'Cause it's such a beautiful place to land!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Inside The Matching Room

According to all my friends over at The Rumor Queen's site, several agencies are reporting that the CCAA has begun matching May referrals. Let's take a peek at what may be happening across the ocean right now... it being Tuesday morning in Beijing & all. This is a real photo of inside The Matching Room at the CCAA (even though the comments are mine.) Will they find our file & match it or will we wait & wait & wait & wait & wait & ........................


If I eat a bag of cookies with a diet soda... does the zero calorie beverage cancel out the calories from the cookies?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Something to Chew On

The Money Maker & I are taking the kiddos camping for the weekend. So I thought I would leave you with some of the latest statistics from The State Department to ponder over the weekend. Thank The Rumor Queen for this chart.

This is interesting!

IR3- Only one parent travels to pick up the child.
IR4- Both parents travel or the child is escorted to the States

In 2005, 7,906 children were adopted from China. That means 2 years later the numbers are down 2,453… almost 2,500 kids.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Decorating feels the Gas Crunch

I am finding a hard time thinking of things to write about... don't know why I'm so uninspired this week. So, I'm going to drag you through some projects around the house I'm working on. I've always got "a project" going on. It drive The Money Maker absolutely crazy. Crazy I tell you. But, he's survived almost 13 years... he'll make it a few more. Anyhoo... this week, one of the projects I've been wanting to undertake is switching out the fake flowers that adorn my front door. Sounds nice huh? I noticed over time that some fancy-smancy houses around our small southern town had door buckets on their front doors displaying seasonal flowers. I liked it. And because I'm a copy cat decorator... if I see something I like, I copy it. It's not pathetic on my part... it's a compliment on yours. So I started this in January. I took down the Christmas wreath and put up my new white tin door bucket. I drove 40 miles to the nearest Hobby Lobby store to pick out some fake flowers, berries and other dried "stuff" to hang on my front door for the next couple months. I love Hobby Lobby. It sucks me in and forces me to spend money. It meets so many of my needs... from scrapbooking to party decorations to decorative accessories to gift wrap. It is one of my most favorite places in the world... a Disney World for domesticated 30 something women like me. The floral department is excellent. My mother has never used "silk" flowers (silk is fancy talk for fake) but I have found that they work much better than real in certain decorative situations. And the Hobby Lobby floral department is very excellent indeed. Well, fast forward almost 4 months from that late December day. Gas prices have SOARED! And since I am spending a small fortune buying gas to drive my kiddos to activity after activity this spring I am now thinking twice before driving 30-45 miles (one way) to the larger towns that surround my small one to visit some of my other favorite hang-outs like Target and Macy's. My small town has a Wal-Mart. Doesn't every town today? And so the other day in between picking up hair detangler & milk I thought I'd just browse the Wal-Mart floral department to see what they had to offer... and thus spare myself the 1/2 tank of gas it would take to drive to the nearest Hobby Lobby store. Wal-Mart had a lot of this:

and this:

I was scared. But I determined to keep looking for some diamonds in the rough as the visions of the climbing gas price numbers on my local BP gas station marquee kept popping up before me. And after several minutes of digging and careful examination... I selected what I thought had potential to (hopefully) beautifully adorn my front door for the next few months.

Oh, Hobby Lobby... what is this hypnotic power you have over me? If the Money Maker ever kicks me out for doing too many "projects" can I come live with you?

This was my winter floral arrangement. It sure looked better IN the door bucket than laying on my pollen infested front porch. I promise.

This is what I came home with .

This is my door bucket. The white tin looks good with the white trim on my brown house.

My oldest child was bored and decided she would help me with my new design. She asks a lot to be on the blog so I think she thought if she helped me I would include her on this post. It worked.

Her hands were in the way so I made her turn around so I could use her back to steady the bucket. Two seconds after this photo she would run along to find something better to do. So much for being "trusty."

Here are the proper names of my Wal-Mart selections. I think labeling the arrangement with the proper name gives it a bit more sophistication... how 'bout you?

And I think it turned out nice. I really do. And I saved at least $20.00 in gasoline. More money to shop on eBay for more Southern Living at Home products... just kidding Money Maker!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keepin’ it Real:
Country Grandma

I am really lucky to still have my Grandmas. Both my Grandmas are awesome but, I have 2 very different Grandmas… I have City Grandma and Country Grandma… kinda like the childhood story of the city mouse & the county mouse. City Grandma is never at home… she’s either playing cards, on a cruise, at the beach with her girlfriends, antiquing in the mountains or at supper club. Country Grandma is always at home. Except to go to Wal-Mart, the beauty parlor or a doctor’s visit she doesn’t go outside. She lives with my parents… in a basement apartment designed just for her & my grandfather (God rest his kind & beautiful soul.) County Grandma loves TV. She also loves to talk. Talk & talk & talk. She knows lots of information because she watches lots of T.V… and do I mean LOTS! Country Grandma is 87 years old and probably because her mind is older and in the house 99% of the time & always watching TV, her real world & her TV world are beginning to collide. And boy can it be confusing! I remember when my best friend Mandy’s Grandma Barbee used to think the weather man on the local news was one of her doctors. She’d compliment his choice of ties or remind someone to remind her to tell him how handsome he looked on TV. We used to get a big hoot out of that. Country Grandma isn’t there (yet.) She realizes these people are on TV but she’ll talk about them like they are her family or friends. Here’s a recent conversation:

Me: Did you see when Cohen (my nephew- her great-grandson) gave his stuffed Elmo his pacifier the other day… it was so cute!
Country Grandma: Yeah, wasn’t that so cute. You know Elizabeth was talking today about the hard time she was having getting her little girl to give up the pacifier.
(At this point I’m like… Elisabeth? Who is Elisabeth? Do we know an Elisabeth?)
Me: Oh really… how old is her little girl? (I play along hoping to acquire some more clues on who this Elisabeth is.)
Country Grandma: Oh… I don’t know… 3 maybe. She had her before Rosie came on the show.
And suddenly I realize we’re talking about Elisabeth Hasselback from "The View." And we continue the conversation about pacifiers and how Elisabeth made up a story about the “Passy Fairy” and that her baby might take to sucking her thumb if she does get that pacifier away. Just a normal conversation about our family friend Elisabeth Hasselback.

One day last fall we were all ohhing and ahhing over how pretty my mom looked in her new wig. She lost her hair with chemo and got a “hair prosthesis” which was actually very beautiful and becoming on her. Here’s how that conversation went:

Us: Oh Mother… we like it… really like it… it looks good.
Mother: Yeah, I like it too and it doesn’t get messed up in the wind.
Us: (Laughter)
Country Grandma: Well do you know last week Lynette ripped her wig off in front of everybody to tell them she had cancer. They were all just shocked!
Us: Oh, that’s terrible. (We have NO idea who “Lynette” is… we know we don’t know a Lynette. So we have to ask…) Now who is Lynette again?
Country Grandma: On Desperate Housewives… don’t you watch that?
We’ve told her 100 times we don’t, but she does and it’s just like she’s the 5th Desperate Wife and keeps us informed on what’s happening with the gals on Wisteria Lane.

We mostly get updates from all her friends from ABC's Daytime line up... Regis & Kelly, the gals from "The View" & all the characters from her "stories" (soap operas.) She tells us all about the local news and focuses on the smallest stories and is always so shocked when we don't know about them too. Example:
Country Grandma: Did you hear about those horses up in _______ County?
Me: No... what happened?
Country Grandma: (in a disgusted voice) Oh come on... they burned in a barn fire!
Me: Gasp
Country Grandma: Yeah... all 5 of them... couldn't save a one.
And on she chats about robberies, car thefts or other "news" stories on page 10.
But, I'm happy these "friends" keep her company throughout the day. They're dependable and consistent. The news informs her, "Dancing with the Stars" entertains, her "stories" have been a lifelong companion... out living all her friends, she stays young & hip thanks to "American Idol," she keeps an eye on the weather and informs us all of anything severe coming our way, she can catch church on TV if her back hurts too bad to go. I love Country Grandma and when she's gone (hopefully a long time from now) I'll probably miss the stories that confuse and catch me off-guard today.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hamburgers 1o1

I'm not sure why I'm on this food kick. But, I am. Springtime will soon give way to summer and in our neck of the woods that means grilling out... A LOT! And the food my family loves to grill out the most is hamburgers. I agree... there is nothing quite as delicious as a well grilled summertime hamburger. Cheese... lettuce... mayonnaise... salted tomato on top... yum! yum! Problem is... by July 4th, I've eaten so many grilled hamburgers that I'm turning green and I've ingested so much charcoal, propane and/or lighter fluid infested animal flesh that I'm sure I'm growing some sort of massive tumor in the deep recesses of my gut. But for last night... they were good... the first burgers of the season. The Money Maker had the kids out on the boat. I made the sides... and kept putting off making the patties because I don't really like mashing raw meat with my bare hands. But alas, the time kept passing by and I knew if I wanted to eat before midnight I better have everything ready to grill when he got home. So today, I thought I would share a hamburger making trick that I have learned. This trick, I learned from The Money Maker and it works surprisingly well. It's a guarantee for even patties that will all cook the same.

Start with the pack of meat. I can't look at it or I won't eat it. I'm scared what may be in it. I try to cut into even chunks.

Then get a salad plate and a soup bowl. These poor dishes have digressed in ways they never imagined when they sat on a well kept, beautiful, sweet smelling store shelf in the mall. They have fed animals... they have been left under the playroom couch filled with spoiling cereal milk... and now they are tools used to smash raw meat into patties.

Here is the chunk I cut off.

Then work the chunk of meat into a ball. This is the worst part. I hate when I can feel the juices (a.k.a cow blood) squishing through my fingers. I have to do it over the sink in case I barf.

Then sandwich the ball of hamburger in between the plate and the bowl.

Mash gently.

Wah-lah. A perfect patty. I'm sure there are machines I could buy off an infomercial for $19.99 that does the same thing... but why when I have the tools right in my cabinet.

I clean the entire area with my favorite product for cleaning raw and potentially hazardous food materials and cow blood left on my counter.

Here they are. Pretty, ain't they? All even. I sprinkle with salt... add a little Dale's (I prefer Worcestershire sauce but we didn't have any) and wait for the grill to heat up and grill them to perfection.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Springtime Sandwich

Do you ever get in a pattern of eating the same thing everyday for lunch? My girlfriends and I always eat salad on Wednesdays at Ruby Tuesday's. Growing up, my dad ate tomato soup & grilled cheese everyday. Well these days I'm addicted to tuna fish sandwiches. I put as much dill relish as tuna in the mix. Yum! Yum! It's cold & fresh and feels like springtime. Do you like dill relish? The other thing I MUST have dill relish with are hot dogs... or kilbasa. We use to eat a lot of hot dogs in our house but then Baby #1 saw a show on T.V. (my kiddos are addicted to the Discovery & History Channels) about how hot dogs are made of animal organs. We all barfed a bit. But I love to talk about how hot dogs are made because Baby #3... my Baby Boy... informs us they're made of "pig contestants" ... instead of intestines! Hee hee... I think it's so funny. I don't ever want him to outgrow it. Even if the other kids make fun of him. This is a worthless piece of personal information about me and my son and even my dad, that you wondering why you now know.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Housewife Drudgery

There are certain things I like about being a housewife. I enjoy laundry. I enjoy vacuuming. I enjoy sewing. There are other things I don't enjoy. I don't enjoy mopping. I don't enjoy doing dishes. Sometimes I don't enjoy cooking. And I NEVER enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator. As a result... it ends up looking like this:

So bright and early Monday morning I was ready to tackle this infestation of grossness & confusion. I won't gag you with the moldy spaghetti I found or shock you with the number of expired yogurt containers I had to toss... but I did document some interesting discoveries.

I'm not really sure the last time we had K.F.C... I know it has NOT been in 2008!

This graphic photograph speaks for itself!

I do use parmesean cheese a lot... we love Italian! But 4 bags? Have I never heard of making a grocery list? As you can see I'm not a brand snob... I must alternate between name brand parm and bargain brand parm. If I'd use an entire bag first I may save enough money to always buy name brand... or even organic!

I was sick when I discovered this 1/2 a roll of old cookie dough! How did that go uncooked... or even eaten raw with a spoon... yum! What a waste!

And after filling a bag and a half of garbage I was left with this. Ahhh. I even took out the shelves and cleaned them with hot, soapy water. It's Thursday and it still looks like this. How long can I keep it going?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gotta Bust His Chops

This is why Dads don't do sunscreen. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but I'll have to admit that Day #1 at the beach I was in charge of sunscreen... and did a darn good job. I've already posted about my infatuation with SPRAY sunscreen and the miraculous job it does protecting my kiddos from the sun with only a quick spray of the skin. Day #2 dawns. The Money Maker decides he's going to "do" sunscreen this day. He huddled all the kids in the condo bathroom (because he said I wasted 1/2 the spray doing it on the balcony because of the wind) and I suppose thought he was doing a "better" job by spraying and then rubbing the spray into the skin. This is the result of his work. OUCH! Baby #1 came in with a nasty back burn. We spent the rest of the night applying coat after coat of aloe (tip: keep the green jelly bottle of aloe in the fridge... cools the skin & feels good!) How much more simple can "SPRAY" sunscreen be? You "spray" it on the skin. No rubbing required. This is why we give him one name. He's proven that besides not being The Bath Giver or The Supper Cooker or The Carpool Driver... he's also not The Sun Screen Applier!

Monday, April 14, 2008

New Week. No News.
We're into the 2nd week of April now... 1/2 way done and we still do not have any new news about our Lilly. We are to contact our agency in "a couple weeks" to see if they have new information. We sure thank all of you for your PRAYERS and KINDNESS... so many of you have been a tremendous encouragement to us. I have some good posts to do but The Money Maker has my cordie thingie to transfer pictures from my camera to my computer... so I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Love It!

I'm back with a few products that I totally LOVE and want to pass along... one girl to another.

First, I'm absolutely addicted to these fuzzy, chenille "lounging" socks. The ones that are so soft & warm. Now... I did NOT use to be a sock person... except when wearing tennis shoes. But our house that we have now was built on a crawl space & in the winter the cold air underneath the house really chills the tile & wood floors. So I started buying these socks to wear around the house at night. Then I started sleeping with them on. And then I bought more pairs. Now, I wear them all the time when I'm at home. Problem is... it's starting to warm up... they're going to make me hot... I might have to walk around barely dressed to keep cool 'cause I won't take off my fuzzy socks. When at the beach last week I didn't take any. I suppose packing I thought... beach, sun, sand, surf... fuzzy slipper socks didn't fit into that equation. I missed them desperately. Though my feet weren't necessarily cold. Odd.

Second is SPRAY SUNSCREEN! This is the greatest invention since sliced bread! Oh the time I spent rubbing in lotion sunscreen on wiggly, squirmy little bodies when the kiddos were small. Now... it's zap the front... coat the back... wah-lah!!! all ready to go outside! It's TOTALLY worth the 6-9 dollars you pay per can! We were laying on the beach & I dig in my bag and pull a can out to spray my legs. The Money Maker goes... "how much does that stuff cost?" Uh oh, I thought. So I mustered up the courage to be honest & said "'bout 7 dollars." He shocked me by saying "It's worth every penny!" And when The Money Maker says that... you KNOW it's worth it. And I don't think I'm the only one. Moms all up & down the beach were spraying their kiddos too. It's "da bomb baby!"

Finally, my favorite of all is the Neutrogena Sunscreen Face Stick. Love it! And the Neutrogena one is THE BEST! With SPRAY sunscreen I usually buy the CVS brand... I have discovered generics work just as well as Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic, etc. But with the face stick... I stick exclusively with NEUTROGENA! You cannot find it at Wal-Mart... you have to go to a CVS or Walgreen's. I have an affection for Neutrogena products anyway, and love this one because it's a.) oil-free... I have enough face trouble without jamming my pores with some lard based sunscreen b.) it doesn't irritate my face... mine & little kiddo faces can be sensitive. If I come at my face with that Coppertone pink baby sunscreen, it starts stinging before I can get the top off. This will not sting sensitive skin.